Beneath a blue sky and past an arch of colorful international flags representing the nationalities of some 106 NJIT students who held them, marched this morning’s processional into the Naimoli Family Athletic and Recreational Facility for the installation of Dr. Joel S. Bloom. Bloom would be installed some two hours later as NJIT’s eighth president.Leading the colorful parade marched two dozen university and college delegates, officers, state officials, trustees, overseers, deans, and college and school representatives. The intentional international theme reflected NJIT’s diversity, which U.S. News and World Report ranks 6th in the nation.
Former NJ Governor and the former president of Drew University Thomas H. Kean opened the remarks. Bloom served under Kean, celebrated then and many would say still now as New Jersey’s education governor. Kean spoke of joining Bloom this summer on a stroll through campus and observing his enormous pride. “NJIT and Joel Bloom are just perfect together,” Kean quipped, paraphrasing the popular tourism slogan that was once synonymous with his administration.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker spoke of how leadership is not a title, but a way of life. Of Bloom in particular he noted: “He leads with a moral compass, imagination and what our city, state and nation needs.”
NJ Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks noted how pleased she was to be here on behalf of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. And then with enthusiasm and smiles explained how she and her dear friend Joel Bloom both worked under Kean. “I want to say how really pleased I am to be here on stage with my dear friend President Joel Bloom,” she said. Then she paused and repeated even louder, an extra breath between each word, “President Joel Bloom.”
NJIT alum C. Stephen Cordes (’72), managing director and member of the executive board of Clarion Partners in New York City, an investment advisory firm specializing in real estate, opened the ceremony and served throughout as the master of ceremony. Renee Karp, of Texas, the incoming president’s sister, delivered the invocation.
The big event was, of course, the installation ceremony followed by the passing of the presidential medal and mace to Bloom from Board of Trustee Chair Kathleen Wielkopolski and Chair-elect, NJIT alumnus Stephen P. DePalma. Highlights of the new president’s speech follow.
• Academics will be enhanced this year with a new cadre of faculty -- more than 30 new professors with exceptional, multidisciplinary expertise in such areas as sustainable systems, ubiquitous computing or “digital everyware” and convergent life science and engineering. Another 30 faculty members are to be hired over the next two years.
• The quality of life on and around campus will continue improving. The most visible campus improvement will be the opening next fall of the Warren Street Village, a complex adding 600 beds to NJIT's residential housing, along with a new restaurant, convenience store, fitness center and more, which Bloom has actively supported since the plan’s inception. The Village is the initial phase of the larger Gateway Project, led by NJIT, to redevelop 20 acres along MLK Blvd, a main thoroughfare adjacent to the campus. Newark’s former Central High School, now owned by NJIT, is the site of improvements that will eventually include smart-classroom technology, new telecom and computer networks and new lounges.
• Business and industry partnerships with universities to advance research and commercial development will grow. NJIT has had a long-standing commitment to economic development both in Newark and the state. The NJIT Enterprise Development Center, the state’s oldest and largest business incubator, supports 90 resident companies with 800 employees, $82 million in expenditures and $67 million in third-party funding.
Under Bloom’s watch, student enrollment increased from 7600 to over 9500 students, including increases in female and minority students. NJIT’s average SAT math score is now in the top quarter nationally; Dorman Honors College enrollment increased 70 percent totaling 685 with combined average SAT scores over 1350; articulation agreements are currently signed with the state's high-tech high schools and 19 county colleges; and accelerated joint admission agreements exist with UMDNJ Medical and Dental Schools, St. George’s Medical School, SUNY College of Optometry and more.
In his role as dean of the Dorman Honors College and vice president for student and academic services, Bloom has been integral in shaping NJIT’s academic plan.
Bloom expanded the Center for Pre-College Programs to prepare students for the rigors of science, mathematics, engineering and technology education; with the college deans and faculty, he expanded honors courses and undergraduate research, established the university's medical and health committee of faculty to advise and assist undergraduate students entry into graduate and professional schools and to coordinate the health-related NJIT disciplines; he increased retention and graduation rates, plus more.