NJCU announces new leadership in Division of Student Development and Community Engagement

New Jersey City University announced that, following an extensive search, Erin McCann has been appointed as the university’s next vice president for student development and community engagement, while Joy Smith has been selected as the inaugural associate vice president for student persistence. Both administrators will return to the university after previous tenures serving the NJCU community earlier in their higher education careers.

A lifelong Jersey City native, McCann, who will assume leadership of the division July 29, will return to NJCU after serving as the vice president of student life and development and the university Title IX coordinator at Saint Peter’s University since August 2019. While at St. Peter’s, McCann had oversight of the dean of students, student activities, Recreational Life Center, residence life, counseling, health services, dining services, campus safety, conferencing and external events, and the NCAA Division I athletics program, and was a member of the cabinet and Executive Leadership Team. McCann also assisted in obtaining over $750,000 in grant awards and orchestrated multiple large contracts, including pouring rights, dining, student health and sports medicine. She had direct supervision of 10 senior-level professional staff members and overall supervision of approximately 100 professional and support staff, 150-plus student employees and 125 third-party contract employees.

Previously, she served from 2011-18 as the associate dean of campus life, judicial and academic standards, and the chief Title IX investigator.

Meanwhile, Smith has served in leadership roles at Georgian Court University in Lakewood since September 2016 — most recently as associate provost for student support and services beginning in August 2022. The new associate vice president for student persistence role was created to drive many of the goals announced in the university’s first Academic Master Plan unveiled in February, and concurrent Strategic Enrollment Plan released in April. The role will be responsible for leading and enhancing the university’s efforts to promote student retention, persistence and success, including tailored support and specialized individual assistance. In this role, Smith will design and implement strategic initiatives aimed at improving student engagement, academic success and overall college experience. Collaborating with the Division of Academic Affairs, Smith will utilize data-driven approaches to identify and address challenges, which ultimately will foster student achievement and increase graduation rates.

“I am pleased to welcome Erin and Joy home to New Jersey City University to lead our recently reimagined Division of Student Development and Community Engagement,” interim President Andrés Acebo said. “As our university continues to focus with steadfast purpose on its refreshed mission to center and uplift our students, I am confident they will drive significant leadership to our student success goals and our student persistence initiatives as outlined in our Academic Master Plan and Strategic Enrollment Plan. I am especially grateful that two servant leaders whose careers previously brought them to NJCU believe so wholeheartedly in the important work we are doing that they are driven to rejoin our community. Each of their unique academic journeys will strengthen the innovative work we are doing on behalf of our extraordinary students alongside our compassionate faculty and staff. I look forward to their commitment, contributions and counsel as we pave new paths at NJCU.”

NJCU transformed the former Division of Student Affairs into the Division of Student Development and Community Engagement in November 2023 with four key pillars: a student-centric approach, expanded support services, community engagement and a cultural shift to cultivate a community culture in every aspect of university life.

The reshaped division continues to prioritize the holistic development and success of its students and offers new initiatives to address the diverse needs of NJCU’s student body, including social services and mental health support. The division’s mission is to provide comprehensive support and opportunities for the holistic development of students, ensuring they graduate as well-rounded individuals with the skills, knowledge and resilience to succeed after graduating from NJCU.

“I am ecstatic to be returning to NJCU as the vice president of student development and community engagement,” McCann said. “The moment I stepped back on campus this spring to discuss this opportunity, I felt like I was returning home. The NJCU community is special, as are the students we are privileged to serve every day. I am so humbled to have this opportunity to lead this division and the chance to engage and support the students and our community.”