Opinion: Lawmakers reaffirm their support for New Jersey City University and interim President Andres Acebo


We applaud the servant leadership the state and our communities have witnessed from NJCU Interim President Andrés Acebo, JD President Acebo is the only current Latino to lead an institution of higher education in New Jersey and the youngest to ever public university in our region. Stands. Equally notable, he also personifies the stories of the students he serves as a first-generation, public school-educated son of working-class immigrants, born and raised in Hudson County, who became the first person in his family to attend the went to university. He exemplifies the promise of equal opportunity and higher education. His passion for and connection to the community and mission, which he has remarkably led out of crisis into a period of significant revitalization, has earned us confidence in his continued leadership to lead the university into its second century of service with stability, community involvement, strategic growth and student-centered services. His passion and leadership have earned him significant honor and distinction.

New Jersey City University is one of the oldest minority and Hispanic institutions in our state. Nearly half of predominantly commuter students identify as Hispanic/Latina/o. Thirty percent identify as Black/African American, and at least eight percent identify as Asian American Pacific Islander. Two-thirds of all students are first generation, and the vast majority come from low-income and working-class households.

It serves the most socioeconomically diverse student population of any public university in New Jersey, with a publicly celebrated history of encouraging social and economic mobility. At the start of this year there were almost 1,700 graduates, an increase of 11.6% in the number of diplomas obtained compared to last year. This is a testament to the resilience and new emphasis on student success in and for the community.

Public records confirm the university’s significant progress at an unprecedented pace under Acebo’s leadership. A global rating agency improved the university’s financial prospects for stability while achieving new milestones in access and affordability, responsive academic and curricular reform, shared governance, labor relations and community engagement.

The University is led with exceptional resilience in dealing with challenges posed by the global pandemic, disruptions to higher education and structural and systemic financial issues. Quick and decisive action, a commitment to shared governance, collegial work with organized labor, community engagement, strategic planning and implementation, and a student-centered, mission-driven commitment have positioned the university to better serve the communities we represent.

“The University has developed strategies and engaged internal and external stakeholders in several key areas, including:

1. Stabilize the institution’s financial trajectory by developing and implementing the NJCU recovery and revitalization plan;

2. Strengthening community ties by leading a community-wide process of reviewing and renewing the institution’s mission and vision to reaffirm and reaffirm the institution’s historic commitments to students, families, and our community building, including those who have been historically underserved and underrepresented;

3. Establishing an achievable, transparent, and community-supported roadmap by developing and implementing an integrated NJCU Strategic Plan, consisting of an Academic Master Plan, a Strategic Enrollment Plan, and a Student Development and Community Engagement Plan;

4. Strengthening access and affordability for students through a revision of the general education curriculum to ensure seamless transfer for all New Jersey community college students, intentional connections and partnerships such as the concurrent admissions program with Hudson Community College, which provides direct pathways for provides degrees, guarantee programs and shared resources for community college students;

5. Renewing the institutional aid structure and process to ensure that students with financial need are supported in ways that reduce their future financial burden, including for our state’s undocumented students through the partnership with TheDream.US;

6. Building and strengthening relationships with key community stakeholders to ensure a robust and thriving Hudson County and New Jersey economy through initiatives such as the Project Labor Agreement (PLA) and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) focused on providing internship opportunities for NJCU students; And

7. Building and strengthening opportunities for immigrants and first-generation students through the MOU signed with GLACO – Grupo Latinoamericano de Cónsules en New Jersey – to initiate higher education programs and services tailored to the Latin American and Latino community in New Jersey to advance their educational outcomes and career development, and to build partnerships between Hispanic higher education institutions and NJCU faculty and staff to deliver mission-aligned programs in the most diverse communities in our country to promote.

These are just a few highlights of the recent and significant transformations being led at New Jersey City University under unique representative leadership and stewardship. We have witnessed the tireless work of the university community to place itself on a stable footing, reorganize and reallocate structures, processes and resources, and ensure that students have access to a dedicated and committed faculty and staff will have continued and improved, serving the State of New Jersey.

We applaud the work of the students, faculty and staff of President Acebo and NJCU. We unequivocally support their continued leadership and work to ensure stability, community engagement, strategic growth and student-centered services.

This op-ed was written by State Senators Angela McKnight, Raj Mukherjee, Nellie Pou, Teresa Ruiz, Brian P. Stack, Assemblywomen Eliana Pintor Marin, Jessica Ramirez, Barbara McCann Stamato, Shanique Speight, Shavonda Sumter and Assemblymen John Allen, Julio Marenco, Gabriel Rodriguez , William Sampson and Benjie Wimberly, and includes members of the Latino Legislative Caucus, Black Legislative Caucus and Hudson County Legislative Delegation.

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