150 West State Street. Trenton NJ 08608 -- 609-989-1100 office

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Association Staff

Barbara Berreski, JD, MS

Chief Executive Officer

Director, Government & Legal Affairs



Patricia S. Berry

Chief Operating Officer


Pamela J. Hersh

Communications & Public Affairs


Support Staff

Charlene R. Pipher

Executive Assistant/Web Design


Terry Toth

Part-Time Secretarial Assistant


Contact Info

New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities

150 West State Street

Trenton, New Jersey 08608

609-989-1100 office

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Who We Are

New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities - the leading voice for public higher education in New Jersey.

Acting as an advocate in the state capital and throughout the state, the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities (NJASCU) supports the missions and well-being of senior public institutions of higher education.  In cooperation with trustees, students, faculty and campus administrators, NJASCU plays an active role in developing and proposing state higher education policy to better serve New Jersey's citizens.  Its members are the eight senior public institutions of higher education:  The College of New Jersey, Kean University, Montclair State University, New Jersey City University, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Stockton University, Thomas Edison State University, and William Paterson University.

Rowan University, which recently assumed the status of a research institution, now is an affiliate member.

Specifically, NJASCU does the following:

  • Analyzes and monitors public policy issues and legislation affecting its member institutions.  Issues include: college access and affordability; higher education finance trends and comparisons; trustee governance, student welfare, ethical standards; unprecedented enrollment demand and the need to increase capacity; addressing the needs of evolving student populations;
  • Collaborates with public institutions on communicating and promoting the distinctive excellence and advantages of New Jersey's senior public institutions of higher education; and
  • Creates educational and public service opportunities for those interested in the success and sustainability of New Jersey's public institutions of higher education.

The Association played a key role in achieving landmark legislation in 1986 and 1994, which transferred important fiscal and administrative authority to the campuses from state government, emphasizing trustee governance and direct public accountability.  The state colleges and universities in New Jersey are among the nation's most autonomous public institutions.

If “Free College” Sounds Too Good to be True, That’s Because It Often Is 
September 13, 2018

On the morning of September 13, 2018, New Jersey Secretary of the Office of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis gave a thoughtful and thorough summary to the NJ Assembly Higher Education Committee of the free community college pilot program being implemented at select community colleges in the Spring 2019 semester. 

Before talking about the free college program, Secretary Smith Ellis emphasized the importance of her office completing a higher education master plan/vision – a process in which all sectors of higher education will have input and in which all comments about the free community-college initiative will be considered. Her comments before the NJ Assembly Higher Education Committee indicated a desire to make the initiative as simple as possible for the prospective student. She addressed only the pilot program (which does have an income restriction) and made no specific comment on the free-for-all (no income restriction) vision articulated by the governor during his campaign. The goal of the administration is to make the community colleges truly open-access educational vehicles – no barriers – going back to the founding principle of community college. She made no mention of the impact on four-year schools – private or public – and this has been an issue in other states. The members of the committee had several questions, most of them procedural, a few of them philosophical (specifically, the wisdom or lack of wisdom in providing a college program in which the student has no financial skin in the game.) But Assembly Committee chair Jasey promised to invite the Secretary back for further discussion once the pilot program is initiated this spring.

Supreme Court Upheld Presidential Travel Ban
June 26, 2018

On June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court upheld Presidential Proclamation 9645 which imposed restrictions on the entry of citizens of eight countries into the United States (Chad was removed from the list in a revised Proclamation on April 10, 2018).

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) was one of the higher education associations that submitted an amicus brief in support of the state of Hawaii and in opposition to the Administration. Today, AASCU president Mildred Garcia issued a statement expressing regret about the Court’s decision.

We believe the ban and the Court’s ruling will continue to damage US standing overseas and further cement the perception that America is less welcoming to international students than it has historically been. The Proclamation – the third version of the travel ban – does include exceptions for international student and scholar visa categories for all but three of the countries listed (Syria, North Korea, and Somalia). In the case of Iranians, however, who represent the largest group of international students and scholars affected by this order, continued eligibility for “F,” “M,” and “J” visas will be conditioned upon unspecified “enhanced screening” which may serve as a de facto method of preventing their entry or re-entry into the United States.

Several higher education associations have banded together to form a powerful voice for DACA reform.  See their letter to Congressman Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, here.


Profiles of NJASCU alumni whose work is making a difference in the lives of others.  The website will feature a new profile each month.  Please submit suggestions for profiles to Pam Hersh or call (609) 256-8256.

NJ State Assemblyman Jamel C. Holley (District 20), New Jersey City University, Class of 2002; Kean University, Class of 2006

“The first,” “the youngest,” “the most” are superlatives defining New Jersey State Assemblyman Jamel C. Holley, a New Jersey City University undergraduate alumnus and Kean University graduate alumnus. His goal is to embrace a public service career that would be defined by yet another superlative – “the best,” specifically “the best” at helping others.

In 2002, Jamel earned his B.S. in criminal justice from New Jersey City University (NJCU) and followed that in 2006 with an M.A. in public administration from Kean University. He was the first in his family to go to college.

In 2001, before he even finished NJCU, Mr. Holley was appointed by New Jersey’s deputy majority leader to serve as chief of staff. That appointment earned him as the youngest chief of staff in the State of New Jersey for any of New Jersey’s 120 Legislators.

On November 2, 2004, Mr. Holley at the age of 25 won the seat of councilman in the Borough of Roselle, and, by doing so, he earned the designation as the youngest councilman in Union County. In November 2011, Mr. Holley became Mayor Holley, and became the youngest mayor ever elected in Roselle’s 117-year history.

Most recently, in January 2015, Assemblyman Holley was appointed to fill a seat in the New Jersey General Assembly representing the 20th Legislative District (including the municipalities of Elizabeth, Hillside, Roselle, Union). By doing so, Mr. Holley became the first African-American to represent the 20th Legislative District in the New Jersey State Legislature.

Assemblyman Holley describes himself as a most passionate supporter of New Jersey’s public education system (K-16), because he never would have acquired all the professional superlatives without “the amazing educational support.”   Read more.

See our previous alumni profiles here.

Quick Takes (below) are current brief updates on legislative and policy issues being followed by NJASCU

Stockton University in Partnership with Recovery Court Program Transforms Lives

 September 12, 2018


Stockton University’s partnership with the Atlantic County Recovery Court program won special recognition on September 11, 2018 in a ceremony at the Atlantic County Courts Complex.


But, the real winners of the partnership were participants in the program who have benefitted by obtaining job offers at the university and scholarship funding.  “I can’t tell you what it means for our program to have this relationship,” said Superior Court Judge Mark Sandson.


After meeting with Judge Sandson in March, Stockton officials developed a program that so far has offered employment to three Recovery Court participants, and provided scholarship funding to help another, Luana Cordeiro, who never finished her degree in criminal justice from Kean University after becoming addicted to cocaine and heroin.


Stockton President Harvey Kesselman called Judge Sandson and Assignment Judge Julio Mendez for their “outside the box” thinking about how to help participants.  He told the other participants in the program attending the event that he hopes more of them also have the opportunity to attend Stockton.


Ms. Cordeiro, 34, said she was in her final semester at Kean in 2009, preparing for final exams, when she lost control of her addiction to cocaine and heroin.  “All I had left to do was finals to graduate,” she said.  “I had been a dean’s list student.  But I never took those finals and I never graduated.  I got high instead.”  She said she spent the next five years mourning her lost chances by getting high, getting arrested and losing custody of her children.  She resisted rehab opportunities and finally in 2014 was turned into police by her mother.  Read more

Kean University Offers Five New Academic Programs, Responding to Demands of a Changing World

September 12, 2018 

Five new degree programs have been added to Kean University’s academic offerings for the 2018-2019 academic year to meet the growing demand for healthcare professionals and offer students a global perspective in an evolving job market.

 Bachelor’s degrees in community health education, therapeutic recreation, and global studies, and doctoral programs in occupational therapy, and counseling and supervision are all new to Kean this academic year.  Altogether, Kean offers 50 undergraduate majors and 60-plus graduate programs and options.

 “At Kean, we are transforming the education we offer to meet the demands of a changing world.  This is reflected in the addition of four new healthcare-related programs, as well as the new global studies major,” said Kean President Dawood Farahi, PhD.  “By increasing doctoral programs, we also give our students the ability to pursue their dreams as far as they wish – to the highest levels of education.”  Read more

Ramapo College of New Jersey Welcomes a First Year Class that is Four Percent Larger than Last Year’s Class

 September 6, 2018


Ramapo College of New Jersey on September 2 welcomed 1,539 new “Roadrunners” that include first-year and transfer students.  The Class of 2022 boasts 955 first-year students, the second largest first-year class in Ramapo’s history and 4% larger than the class of 2021.


New residential students moved into their residence halls in the morning with the help of the Roadrunner and more than 425 student-leader volunteers.  New commuter students also checked in throughout the day.  Students and their families were officially welcome during New Student Assembly in the Bradley Center where they heard welcoming remarks from President Peter P. Mercer, members of the administration, student government and Parents’ Council and then transitioned to the College’s Arching Ceremony.


During the college’s outdoor Arching Ceremony, President Mercer greeted each of the new students as they walked through the Arch, symbolizing their entry to Ramapo College.  The day’s festivities were rounded out with a barbecue, games, and bouncy houses on the Bandshell lawn.


“The Ramapo College Class of 2022 represents a highly talented, diverse, and motivated group of students in whose academic development and personal growth we are strongly invested.  One need not look far from home to see that our communities are too often teetering, challenged to meet their economic, societal, and civic obligations for reasons ranging from the management of scarce resources to the undervaluing of cultural competency in decision making.  When we welcome the Class of 2022 to Ramapo College, we simultaneously welcome the next generation of critical thinkers and conscientious leaders – a responsibility and privilege that each faculty and staff member on our campus does not take for granted,” said President Mercer.

NJASCU is part of the Innovation NJ Coalition

Innovation NJ is a coalition of busineess and academia established to promote policies that foster an environment for innovation in the state that will: 

  • encourage increased private and public sector R&D and the commercialization of new medicines, technologies and products to improve our quality of life;
  • stimulate economic growth in New Jersey;
  • retain and advance high-paying jobs in the state;
  • retain and advance high-paying innovation-related jobs in the state; and
  • increase the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) related graduates from New Jersey colleges and universities.

Learn more

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