NJIT names architectural historian — and interim dean — to lead its College of Architecture and Design

Headshot for Gabrielle Esperdy Gabrielle Esperdy, headshot Gabrielle Headshot

New Jersey Institute of Technology on Wednesday said it appointed interim Dean Gabrielle Esperdy, a noted architectural historian, as dean of its Hillier College of Architecture and Design. Effective July 1, Esperdy will steer the execution of HCAD’s strategic plan in close partnership with the Newark-based institution’s other colleges.

Esperdy’s roots with NJIT run deep. Before becoming interim dean in 2022, she had taught architecture at the college for 21 years, earning awards for excellence in teaching and research. She also serves the broader university community as a member of the Women Faculty Advisory Committee and Digital Humanities at NJIT. In addition, she chairs the Bauder Scholarship Committee and is on the search committee for vice president of human resources.

“Sometimes a search affirms what you already have; in this case, a thoughtful and passionate leader who connects well with students, faculty, administrators and staff members alike,” NJIT President Teik Lim said. “Also, we gain continuity and someone who already understands Hillier and its long-term priorities. This is a win-win.”

Under Esperdy’s leadership as dean, HCAD is expected to play a significant role in the strategic priorities of the institution to enhance student success through experiential learning, community engagement and incorporating resources from industry into the curricula

Colleagues describe Esperdy as innovative, knowledgeable, engaging and approachable — qualities that became more visible during her years as interim dean and now serve as a foundation for her new role.

“The dean should promote the incredible work that our faculty and students are doing in art, design, architecture and urban design, cultivate partnerships with communities and with industry and get our alumni involved,” Esperdy said.

Esperdy said she looks to rethink how architecture and design education is delivered, with a particular focus on studio culture, and help students develop the critical thinking and power skills they need to use new tools, including artificial intelligence.

“We have the potential to do that and we have the talent and expertise to do that. Hopefully, we also have the will,” she said.

Esperdy’s appointment comes a month after NJIT named Jamie Payton dean of its Ying Wu College of Computing. Women now lead half of NJIT’s six academic colleges.