‘Turnaround expert’ Amoroso to serve as state monitor at NJCU

Appointee will have oversight of all fiscal operations, budgeting and staffing at Jersey City university

Henry Amoroso, a noted turnaround specialist of public and private entities, has been appointed as a state monitor at New Jersey City University, the state announced Wednesday.

The appointment, by Secretary of Higher Education Brian Bridges with the support of Gov. Phil Murphy, will give Amoroso oversight of all fiscal operations, budgeting and staffing at the school. Amoroso will have the authority to override any actions by the president or its governing board of trustees — but, he must abide by all collective bargaining agreements.

This appointment marks the first time the secretary of higher education has appointed a monitor in accordance with a law enacted in July. The law (which many feel was written with NJCU in mind) grants the secretary authority to appoint a state monitor under certain circumstances as well as conduct comprehensive audits of a public institution’s finance and governance operations in an effort to ensure greater fiscal accountability and transparency at the state’s public institutions of higher education.

Within six months of the appointment, the statute requires Amoroso to develop a fiscal accountability plan that will detail benchmarks the university must meet, as well as remedial actions it must take, for capacity and fiscal controls to be restored. A transition plan also will be developed by the secretary that, if successfully executed at the institutional level, would conclude the monitor’s appointment.

Murphy said the appointment is the next step in righting the ship at NJCU.

“New Jersey is proud of the many options our state offers individuals seeking an affordable, high-quality postsecondary education and must work to ensure these institutions can continue to provide the first-rate education students deserve,” he said.

“The appointment of Henry Amoroso, a highly respected turnaround specialist, will help us safeguard our promise to New Jersey students and protect the public interest by promoting financial stability and accountability at New Jersey City University. Our students, their families and the people of New Jersey deserve nothing less.”

NJCU interim President Andrés Acebo said the school welcomed the help.

“Our community is grateful for the continued support and commitment we are receiving from the state to bring the university back to full strength,” he said. “As a public anchor university that the community has depended on for nearly a century, we look forward to working with Mr. Amoroso to continue to advance the collaborative efforts that have moved us from crisis to recovery. Strengthening and faithfully stewarding our unique mission and elevating our extraordinary community to greater heights propels us all forward.”

Amoroso currently is a tenured associate professor of legal studies at Seton Hall University’s Stillman School of Business, a practicing attorney and a strategic adviser to several government entities, businesses and nonprofits within and outside of New Jersey.

With service on almost two dozen boards and advisory committees and as a top business executive, Amoroso has decades of experience in diverse large-scale strategic planning and facilitating successful million- and billion-dollar transition and turnaround efforts.

He said he is eager to get started.

“I am deeply grateful to be entrusted with this role and to leverage my diverse organizational expertise to secure a stronger financial and operational footing for NJCU,” he said. “By repairing the financial harm caused by bad actors, we stand to restore confidence in the education offered and, more importantly, ensure the institution can fulfill its mission to provide high-quality education to its current students and remain a credit to the wider community.”

Bridges said the impact will be great.

“We have a responsibility to protect the significant higher education investments made by students, their families and the state,” he said. “With the appointment of Mr. Amoroso, NJCU unquestionably gains a seasoned expert whose acumen and values will help realize positive transformation and future solvency for the university. Equally, by taking this first step under the new statutory authority vested in my office, we become better fiscal stewards of the investment made in our institutions by thousands of students seeking access to an affordable, high-quality postsecondary education.”