(Attention Editors and Reporters: Dr. Altenkirch is available for comments today, May 30, until 6 p.m. central time and 9 a.m. -6 p.m. tomorrow, May 31, 2002. Office: 662-325-3570. Home: 662-324-1944. )

Robert A. Altenkirch Appointed New NJIT President

NEWARK, May 30- Robert A. Altenkirch, vice president for research at Mississippi State University (MSU), has been named the seventh president of New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), New Jersey’s public technological research university. Altenkirch will succeed Saul K. Fenster who will retire as president after 24 years of service to the university.

"Robert A. Altenkirch is a strategic academic and research leader. His results-driven involvement in university research, teaching and administration provides an outstanding base for the president of a growing scientific technological research university like New Jersey Institute of Technology. In Dr. Altenkirch, the university is very fortunate to have such a broad-gauged, experienced academic leader to carry it forward," said NJIT Board of Trustees Chairman James Kennedy who chaired the university’s 13 "member presidential search committee.

Commenting on his selection, Altenkirch said, "It is an honor and privilege to be asked to lead one of the nation’s fastest growing technological research universities. I look forward to working with the boards, university administrators, faculty, students, and staff as we continue to grow one of the nation’s finest research institutions, one that is responsive to the needs of students and to the state alike."

Altenkirch brings to NJIT a wide background in university research, teaching and administration with extensive experience in program development, fundraising, and federal relations. His strong teaching and academic career at the universities of Kentucky, MSU and Washington State was followed by his return to MSU as vice president for research. He served Kentucky as professor and chair of mechanical engineering, MSU as professor and dean of the College of Engineering, and Washington State as professor and dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture.

New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey endorsed the selection, saying: "Robert Altenkirch’s interests and background complement the direction of the State's policy which calls for vigorous cooperation between the state research universities, industry and government."

During Altenkirch’s tenure as MSU vice president for research, science and engineering, expenditures as reported to National Science Foundation (NSF) increased dramatically--57 percent from 1997 to 2000. In addition to the research program, his responsibilities encompassed congressional relations, intellectual property management and economic development. While dean of engineering at MSU, he led the effort to secure NSF funding for the establishment of the MSU NSF Engineering Research Center for Computational Field Simulation in 1990. Additionally, the Center was instrumental in helping the State of Mississippi attract a $1 billion Nissan manufacturing plant now under construction.

Current NJIT President Saul K. Fenster approved of the choice. " I am delighted with the selection," he said. " I know from our conversations and knowledge of Bob's background, that his range of interests is broad and does fit NJIT well . . . today and for the future."

A mechanical engineer, Altenkirch holds a Ph.D. from Purdue University, a M.S. from University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S.M.E. from Purdue. In addition to his hundreds of publications and presentations, he is a reviewer for numerous professional journals. He is a member of several professional societies including Phi Eta Sigma, Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi, American Society for Engineering Education and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He is a Fellow of ASME.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Altenkirch is married to Beth Harsch Altenkirch. They have two children.


NJIT is a public, scientific and technological research university enrolling more than 8,800 students. The university offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees to students in 80 degree programs throughout its six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. The division of continuing professional education offers adults eLearning, off campus degrees and short courses. Expertise and research initiatives include architecture and building science, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and science, information technology, manufacturing, materials, microelectronics, multimedia, telecommunications, transportation and solar astrophysics. Yahoo! Internet Life magazine cites NJIT as a "perennially most wired" university.

Contact Information:   Jean Llewellyn
(973) 596-5546