New Jersey Commission on Higher Education

Looking to the New Millennium:
New Jersey's Plan for Higher Education

Foreword, Vision, and Context

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Adopted by the
Commission on Higher Education

October 1996

Members of the Master Plan Steering Committee
Mr. Alfred J. Cade
Chairman, Commission on Higher Education
Chairman, Master Plan Steering Committee

Dr. Robert Albright
Commission Member
Dr. J. Barton Luedeke, President
Rider University
Dr. Stanley Bergen, President
University of Medicine &
Dentistry of N.J.
Dr. Robert Messina, President
Burlington County College
Dr. John Noonan, President
Bloomfield College
Dr. Saul Fenster, President
N.J. Institute of Technology
Dr. Jeanne Oswald
Deputy Executive Director, Commission
Mr. Edward FitzPatrick
Commission Member
Dr. Glen Gabert, President
Hudson County Community College
Reverend Thomas Peterson, Chancellor
Seton Hall University
Dr. Martine Hammond-Paludan
Executive Director, Commission
Dr. Irvin Reid, President
Montclair State University
Dr. William King
Commission Member
Dr. Robert Scott, President
Ramapo College of New Jersey
Dr. Francis L. Lawrence
President, Rutgers, The State
Past Chairman, Presidents' Council
(member and co-chair until July 1996)
Ms. Gloria Soto
Commission Member
Mr. Joseph D. Williams
Past Chairman, Commission
(member and co-chair until July 1996)
Dr. Edward Yaw, President
County College of Morris
Mr. Donald Loff
Commission Member



The Higher Education Restructuring Act of 1994 established a new structure for coordinating higher education in New Jersey. The structure consists of three principal components:

The structure was designed in this fashion to eliminate unnecessary state oversight and to encourage creativity and innovation at the colleges and universities within a coordinated state system. The marriage of institutional autonomy with statewide coordination provides an appropriate framework for the development of a dynamic higher education system that includes various types of institutions with clearly differentiated missions.

The student assistance component of higher education is administered by a separate entity, the Office of Student Assistance. The New Jersey Higher Education Assistance Authority and the Student Assistance Board continue to oversee state student assistance programs, with the exception of the Educational Opportunity Fund Program, which is within the Commission on Higher Education.

Within this context, the Commission on Higher Education initiated the development of a long-range plan for New Jersey higher education in consultation with the Presidents' Council.

Recognizing the need for a comprehensive planning process, the Commission appointed a 20-member Steering Committee composed of Commission members (including three from institutional trustee boards), Commission staff, and institutional presidents from all sectors. After significant deliberation regarding critical state needs and the environment in which higher education will operate in the years ahead, the Steering Committee developed a draft vision statement and recommendations for higher education. The draft document was disseminated, and broad public input was invited. Over 100 individuals, some representing organizations, presented public testimony or provided written or oral comments. In addition, small group meetings were held with various constituencies to discuss specific aspects of the document. The testimony and subsequent dialogue were particularly beneficial and guided the further development of the plan for submission to the Presidents' Council and the full Commission for consideration.

After reviewing the document, receiving additional input from the higher education community, and making final revisions, the Commission formally adopted Looking to the New Millennium: New Jersey's Plan for Higher Education in October 1996. With this plan, which will be refined and updated regularly, the new tripartite coordinating structure establishes a shared vision of excellence for the state's higher education system into the 21st century.

Although often referred to as a master plan, New Jersey's Plan for Higher Education does not include highly prescriptive recommendations. Rather, it articulates a vision and characteristics of excellence to inspire future action, coupled with broad policy recommendations to guide institutions and state policy makers in their planning. The plan goes beyond the needs of institutions to focus on ways in which higher education can be more responsive to the needs of students and society. The recommendations recognize the need to establish a correspondence between the state's ambitions for higher education and the resources necessary for their achievement. New Jersey's Plan for Higher Education asserts two imperatives: the state must provide adequate and stable funding so that institutions can live up to their potential in serving students and society, and the state and institutions must make prudent choices to ensure quality with finite resources.


The vision for New Jersey higher education and the related characteristics of an excellent higher education system which follow reflect a set of ideals to guide state policy and institutional decision making into the 21st century. Both the vision and the characteristics derive from societal needs for higher education and assumptions about the future. Realization of the ideals reflected here will require a continuing commitment and intensified effort by the higher education community, as well as support from state policy makers.

New Jersey's system of higher education aspires to be among the best in the world, embracing excellence, access, and affordability. The quality of the state's public and independent colleges and universities will serve as a magnet to attract both resident and nonresident students and highly qualified faculty. Institutions will model tolerance and civility, celebrating the diversity that creates rich learning environments. A major force in developing the full potential of New Jersey and its people, higher education will serve all residents who have the interest and potential to learn, regardless of their economic circumstances.

The state's higher education system will develop and nurture the citizens and leaders of the future, preparing individuals for fulfilling lives, rewarding careers, and lifelong learning. Technology will strengthen the system and improve access, efficiency, and program effectiveness into the 21st century and beyond. Through teaching, research, and public service, colleges and universities will support the state's public policy goals of economic growth, social stability, and enhanced quality of life. New Jersey will value and support its investment in higher education, and institutions will seek innovative, collaborative approaches to meet the challenges ahead, committed to serving a globally competitive society.

Characteristics Of An Excellent System Of Higher Education

Any outstanding system of higher education is guided by characteristics of excellence to which the system and member institutions continuously aspire. Such a system:

New Jersey's system of higher education already reflects many of these characteristics and seeks to embrace and exemplify them fully in its continuing quest for excellence.


New Jersey is the ninth most populous state in the nation, with 7.9 million residents in 1995. The urban areas in the northeastern part of the state are the most densely populated, while the population is relatively sparse in the rural counties of the northwest and south.

The state's population is racially and ethnically diverse, with substantial variations in the composition of various regions. Statewide, 13% of the population is African American, 9% is of Hispanic origin, and 7.2% is other races, primarily Asian. Twenty-five percent of the population lives in households where English is not the primary language, reflecting the large immigrant population in New Jersey.

With respect to the state's labor force, distribution among the various industrial sectors is not dramatically different from the national profile. New Jersey has more nondurable manufacturing (such as pharmaceuticals) and less durable manufacturing than the nation as a whole. The state also has more workers in finance, insurance, and real estate. New Jersey has more scientists and engineers per capita than any other state and is an international leader in corporate research and development. Overall, the state has higher- than-average concentrations of workers in executive, administrative, managerial, and administrative support occupations, and a lower-than-average concentration of workers in service occupations (other than private household and protective services).

According to a recent study, New Jerseyans are more likely to enter college by age 19 than their counterparts nationally. However, 38% of undergraduate students, primarily the more affluent and well-prepared, leave New Jersey to attend college in other states, and the proportion of students who enter New Jersey institutions from other states constitutes only 9% of the state's undergraduate population. This long-standing pattern of inmigration and outmigration has not had a negative impact on the educational level of the populace; 30% of New Jerseyans have at least an associate degree and 25% have at least a baccalaureate degree, a higher than average level of postsecondary educational attainment.

Despite the level of postsecondary educational attainment, a recent survey indicates that 1.4 million of the six million adults in the state score at the lowest literacy level, and 23% of the state's residents over age 24 lack a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma. The state's wide diversity in educational levels is reflected, as it is nationally, in a growing income gap between the rich and poor. Income levels and educational attainment in New Jersey are closely linked, and they vary substantially by county, with the lowest levels of income and education concentrated in the rural and urban areas of the state.

New Jersey produces fewer degrees relative to population size than other states and the national average. This is partly due to the relatively small size of New Jersey's higher education system (in terms of both the number of students and faculty, and the number of institutions), and partly due to the state's high outmigration rate and low rate of inmigration.

New Jersey's higher education system consists of 56 institutions, including 19 community colleges; eight state colleges and one university; three public research universities; and independent institutions, including 14 four-year colleges and universities with a public mission, three degree-granting proprietary schools, and eight theological institutions. In fiscal year 1996, the annual state budget for higher education totaled $1.4 billion. However, because of competing demands for limited state resources in New Jersey and across the nation over the past seven years, funding for higher education has not kept pace with rising costs.

In fall 1995, New Jersey higher education institutions enrolled a total of 333,000 credit-seeking students, of whom 284,000 were undergraduate students and 49,000 were graduate students. Approximately 9,400 full-time faculty teach at the state's colleges and universities, assisted by a large number of adjuncts, part-time faculty, and teaching assistants.

New Jersey's system of higher education is a valuable resource that helps the state to achieve social and economic goals and enhance the quality of life for New Jersey citizens. It is therefore essential to link statewide policy goals with an innovative, effective system of colleges and universities.

The primary objective of the plan for higher education is to promote excellence, access, and affordability in the most cost-efficient ways possible. The institutions collectively must meet the varying needs of a diverse citizenry for undergraduate education and workforce training, prepare graduate and professional students for leadership in their chosen careers, address critical needs through public service, and extend the frontiers of knowledge through research, sharing the fruits of discoveries to the benefit of society. To achieve the necessary balance of services, there must be adequate support for institutions of various types -- community colleges, independent colleges and universities, public four-year colleges and universities, and research universities. Without clearly established institutional roles, available resources for the system may be spread too thin, and the resources necessary to ensure excellence will be diluted.

The degree to which an institution fulfills its mission and meets its objectives is a measure of excellence. Therefore, it is essential that each institution establish a distinctive mission and focus its resources selectively on achieving that mission. The strategies necessary to achieve objectives can be discerned best by each institution when its governing board is clear about which programs are essential to the institution's mission, what it costs to support each program, and the prospective sources of the necessary funds.

The state and its higher education system will face many challenges in the next decade. Fiscal constraints and pressure on colleges and universities to be more cost- effective will persist, as will the demands of the marketplace. In order to thrive, institutions will have to respond to societal and economic needs more effectively and efficiently than ever. While rigorous institutional reexamination and reorganization are essential, they are no more essential than the need for a commitment on the part of the state to provide resources sufficient to support an excellent system of higher education.

The following recommendations provide a set of broad policy guidelines based on assumptions about the future, societal needs, and the vision for higher education. As such, the plan differs from past detailed operating plans and is more strategic, pointing out specific areas that must be addressed and establishing a framework to address them. The recommendations are organized in two sections -- recommendations for higher education related to critical state issues and essential conditions for achieving the vision for higher education.

A periodic review of the implementation of the recommendations will track progress and allow for further development and refinement as needed. Some of the recommendations will be addressed initially by the Commission, the Presidents' Council, special committees, and other entities. Some may lead to legislation or require allocation of resources by the Governor and Legislature. Ultimately, however, the strategic implementation of many of the recommendations rests with boards of trustees and members of each college or university community. The plan, therefore, is a beginning. It sets the direction and the focus to achieve the vision set forth for higher education.

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