Robinson begins role as interim chancellor at Rutgers-Newark

Jeffrey Robinson, a longtime educator and leader at Rutgers University – Newark and the co-founder of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, on Monday officially began his tenure as interim chancellor at the school.

Robinson is succeeding former Chancellor Nancy Cantor, who left the post to become president of Hunter College.

Robinson said he is eager for the opportunity.

“Rutgers-Newark is a gem in the crown of Rutgers University because we have figured out how to have a vibrant university that is a hallmark of access and opportunity for all, and produce award-winning scholarship that transforms fields of study and engages local and global communities,’’ he said. “Our strength is found in the diverse voices that our students, faculty, staff and stakeholders bring to the table.”

Robinson has been on the faculty of management and global business at Rutgers Business School since 2008, and was named provost in 2022. He has a broad academic and professional background spanning business, the social sciences, public policy and engineering.

Robinson’s work at Rutgers addresses community and economic development issues for urban metropolitan areas in the U.S. and abroad. He has developed grant-funded research projects on high-growth-oriented African American women entrepreneurs, social innovation and minority representation in technology entrepreneurship.

He is the co-editor, along with Johanna Mair and Kai Hockerts, of the research volumes “Social Entrepreneurship,” “International Perspectives in Social Entrepreneurship” and “Values and Opportunities in Social Entrepreneurship.” His most recent manuscripts are related to urban social innovation, indigenous social enterprises and entrepreneurship for economic development.

In 2021, Robinson was named the Prudential Chair in Business. For the past five years, Robinson has partnered with the federal government to develop programs and initiatives intended to make the tech sector more inclusive. His work is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Much of Robinson’s early work to advance social entrepreneurship as a driver for economic development was done through the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers Business School. As co-founding assistant director, he helped to create programs that have supported more than 500 entrepreneurs in the region.

“My experience as a convener of scholars and stakeholders will serve me well as interim chancellor,” he said. “I believe we can accomplish so much if we work together towards common goals.’’

Robinson is the co-author of two books published by HarperCollins Leadership. Released  in 2010, “Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game-Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness gives Black professionals advice on navigating workplaces where they are in the minority.

The sequel, published in 2022, is “Black Faces in High Places: 10 Strategic Actions for Black Professionals to Reach the Top and Stay There,” which this year won an Axiom Award, one of the top honors for books about business.

Both books were co-authored with Rutgers alumnus Randal Pinkett, Robinson’s longtime friend and business partner, who rose to fame after he refused an offer to share his win on “The Apprentice,’’ sparking conversations about racism in the workplace.

Robinson, who was born in East Orange and raised in Parsippany, holds five academic degrees spanning engineering, urban studies and business. He completed a Bachelor of Arts in urban studies at Rutgers College and a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering at Rutgers School of Engineering, a Master of Science in civil engineering management from Georgia Institute of Technology as a GEM Fellow, and an M.Phil. and Ph.D. in management and organizations from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.

Among the organizations that have sought him as a consultant are Fortune 1000 corporations, foundations and leading social sector organizations, including KIPP Schools, Legrand North America, the National Urban League and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications.

Robinson is the recipient of the Aspen Institute’s Social Impact Faculty Pioneer Award for his research, service and teaching activities at the intersection of entrepreneurship and society.  His course, Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, was recognized as a model of Innovative Entrepreneurship Education by the U.S. Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship.  Over his nearly 25-year academic career, he has been the keynote speaker or presenter at international events and conferences on six continents.

He has played leading roles in convening cross-sector interests through events such as the Inclusive Innovation Summit, New Jersey Social Entrepreneurship Summit and International Social Entrepreneurship Research Conference.