Our Board

The College of New Jersey
Kathryn Foster, President
Robert A. Altman, Trustee


Ramapo College of New Jersey
Peter Philip Mercer, President
Adam J. Sabath, Chairman

Kean University
Dawood Farahi, President
Linda Lewis, Trustee

Stockton University
Harvey Kesselman, President
Madeleine Deininger, Trustee

Thomas Edison State University
Merodie Hancock, President
Dr. Kemi Alli, Trustee

New Jersey City University
(Jersey City)
Susan Henderson, President
Vij Pawar, Trustee

William Paterson University
Richard J. Helldobler, President
Frederick Gruel, Trustee

Adam J. Sabath, Trustee
Ramapo College of New Jersey
  • Is the Immediate Past Chair of Ramapo College’s Board of Trustees, having served as chair from 2009 to 2012 and as vice chair from 2007-2009.  He joined the board in 2005.
  • Is owner of the Advocacy Group, LLC, a lobbying and government affairs firm.
  • Received a bachelor’s degree in social work from Ramapo College.
  • Previously worked as the Chief of Staff to Senate President Richard J. Codey, and prior to that served as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
  • Mr. Sabath is currently Chair of NJASCU.
Dr. Kemi Alli, MD, Trustee
Thomas Edison State University

  • Appointed to the NJASCU Board in September, 2018.
  • Dr. Alli assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of Henry J. Austin Health Center (HJAHC) in May 2015.  She previously served as Chief Medical Officer from 2008.  She has been a Pediatrician with HJAHC going on 20 years.
  • Dr. Alli obtained her undergraduate and medical degrees from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.  She completed her residency from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Pediatrics in 1998.
  • Dr. Alli serves on the Board of the New Jersey Primary Care Association, New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute and Thomas Edison State University.
  • Dr. Alli is devoted to the Trenton community and works with organizations like Trenton Health Team and serves on committees like Horizon New Jersey Health’s Quality Committee.  In her free time, Dr. Alli enjoys cycling and has taken part in the annual Anchor House Ride, riding over 500 miles in one week to raise funds and support for those children in the community that need it most.
Dr. Robert A. Altman, Trustee
The College of New Jersey

  • A member of the Board of Trustees of The College of New Jersey since 2006, has over 30 years experience serving New Jersey higher education through board service in the public sector.
  • Has been a member, and chair, of the Board of Trustes of Mercer County Community College, of Montclair State University, and of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities (NJASCU).
  • As Chair of NJASCU, he served ex-officio as a member of the New Jersey Board of Higher Education, and was a member of Governor Whitman’s Task Force on Restructuring Higher Education in New Jersey.
  • Between 1980 and 1995, as Vice President of ETS, he supervised the on-going test development, statistics, research for, and operation of various programs, and led the expansion of ETS’s international activities, including those in China, Japan, Korea, and the former Soviet Union.
  • Is involved in Princeton Adult School (where he serves as Treasurer) and the AARP/IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, where he serves as a volunteer tax preparer and site coordinator in Princeton and Lawrence.
  • Earned an AB at Harvard College and a MA and PhD at Columbia University.
  • Mr. Altman is Vice Chair of NJASCU Board.
Madeleine Deininger, Trustee
Stockton University
  • Member of the Stockton University Board of Trustees since 2007.  Ex-Chairperson of the Board, current Executive Committee member and Chair of the Development Committee
  • Founder and President of the Sonoma, California-based Kismet Wines, Inc. where she has developed highly successful national marketing and sales programs for Californian and European fine wines
  • A 1980 alumna of Stockton where she received her baccalaureate in Liberal Studies.  Upon graduating from Dartmouth College in 1985 with a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies, she founded Kismet Wines, Inc.
  • Recipient of an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane Letters from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
  • Institute of Governmental Studies/University of California, Berkeley Visiting Scholar 2017 – 2019 Shared Governance in Higher Education
  • General Partner at Bedrock Vineyard, which supplies premium grapes for Ravenswood, Bedrock Wine Company, Carlisle, Ridge, Turkey, Biale and other wineries in Sonoma and Napa Counties.
  • Member of the Board of Trustees for Stevenson School (pre-K through 12th grades) in Carmel and Pebble Beach, California, Maybeck High School in Berkeley, California and was recently named to the National Advisory Council of the Institute of Governmental Studies at University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Dawood Farahi, President
Kean University
  • Was selected the 17th president of Kean University at a special meeting of the board of trustees on February 24, 2003.
  • Has spent more than 20 years of his career at Kean University, where he has served as a professor, chair of the Department of Public Administration, and special assistant to the president for operations.
  • Formerly served as chair of the faculty senate, special assistant to the president for technology, and special assistant for enrollment services.
  • Was selected Kean University’s “Teacher of the Year” in 1996, and “Graduate Teacher of the Year” in 1993.
  • Earned a PhD from the University of Kansas, where he was a Fulbright scholar.
Dr. Kathryn Foster, President
The College of New Jersey
  • Dr. Kathryn A. (Kate) Foster became the 16th president of The College of New Jersey in 2018.
  • Dr. Foster, a New Jersey native, and a scholar-educator with over thirty-five years of experience in public higher education, comes to TCNJ from the University of Maine at Farmington where she served as president from 2012 to 2018.  Prior to the presidency, she was a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, on research leave from the State University of New York at Buffalo, her academic home from 1993 to 2012.
  • Dr. Foster earned her B.A. in geography from The John Hopkins University, her M.C.P. (city planning) from the University of California, Berkeley, and her PhD in public and international affairs from Princeton University.
  • Under her leadership, UMF turned around a five-year decline in enrollment, bolstered experiential education, and aligned programming and investment through the university strategic plan, campus master plan, recruitment and retention plan, advancement plan, and marketing plan.  With renewed attention to campus facilities, UMF refurbished its gymnasium, created a student learning commons, improved classroom spaces and lounges, upgraded residence halls, and built a biomass heat plant, which, together with geothermal wells, significantly reduced campus dependency on fossil fuels.
  • A fully engaged administrator and frequent public speaker, Dr. Foster established The Public Classroom, UMF’s speaker series bridging university and community, expanded university governance, and energized the university’s Board of Visitors.  She worked closely with the University of Maine System Chancellor and Trustees to chart strategic directions for the public higher education system in Maine.  Foster served as chair of the presidents’ council of the North Atlantic (athletic) Conference, chair of the strategic plan committee of the Council of Public Liberal Arts College, and member of the boards of the Greater Franklin Development Corporation and JMG (formerly Jobs for Maine’s Graduates).  In 2016 Dr. Foster was named by Maine magazine as one of the “50 People Charting the Future of Maine.”
  • At the State University of New York, Dr. Foster was Director of the University at Buffalo Regional Institute, an award-winning research and policy unit informing regional issues with focus on the binational Buffalo-Niagara region, and Associate Director and Co-PI for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Building Resilient Regions.  Prior to 2005, Dr. Foster served as Chair of the University at Buffalo Department of Urban and Regional Planning, where as a faculty member she taught graduate, undergraduate, and honors courses in regions, planning, economics, and governance.
  • Dr. Foster is the author of The Political Economy of Special-Purpose Government (1997), Regionalism on Purpose (2001), and dozens of book chapters, articles, and policy reports.  She participated actively on several New York State task forces, including the New York State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness, and was selected by Business First in 2007 as its Woman of Influence in Public Policy.  Earlier in her career, Dr. Foster was a lecturer at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Swaziland, and, in 2000-2001, as Visiting Fellow at the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard University.
  • Dr. Foster enjoys golf, hiking, photography, maps, road trips, theater, gardening, writing, travel, bicycle riding, interior decorating, visiting state capitols, and attending cultural events of all kinds.
Frederick L. Gruel, Trustee
William Paterson University
  • Recently retired as President and CEO of AAA New Jersey Auto Club.
  • Previously, Mr. Gruel held several positions in higher education including Vice President of Administration and Finance at Thomas Edison State College, and Assistant Director, Office of Community College Programs for the State of New Jersey, Department of Higher Education.
  • Earned a BS from Fordham University and an MBA from Florida State University.
  • Appointed to the William Paterson University Board of Trustees in 1992.  He served as its chair from 1996-2000 and again since 2012, and vice chair from 2000-2004.  He has also chaired several board committees, including Finance and Audit, and Institutional Development.
  • Chair of the Newark Regional Business Partnership (NRBP).
  • Mr. Gruel is Immediate Past Chair NJASCU.
Dr. Merodie A. Hancock, President
Thomas Edison State University
  • Assumed office in March 2018 as the fourth president of Thomas Edison State University.
  • Served as president of SUNY Empire State College in New York from 2013-2018.  Served as vice president at Central Michigan University Global Campus and held teaching and administrative leadership positions at the University of Maryland University College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
  • Currently serves on the boards of Greater Trenton, Inc. and Choose NJ.  Also serves on the American Council on Education’s Council of State Representatives.
  • Holds a PhD in urban services and education administration from Old Dominion University, an MBA from Claremont Graduate University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Scripps College.  Earned a certificate from the Institute of Educational Management from Harvard University, a certificate from the University Professional Continuing Education Association Leadership Academy at New York University, a certificate in Process Design and Implementation:  Reengineering and Change Management from Michael Hammer and Company and a certificate in Nonprofit Board Leadership from the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy.
Dr. Richard J. Helldobler, President
William Paterson University
  • Assumed office on July 1, 2018 as the eighth president of William Paterson University.
  • Dr. Helldobler brings 30 years of higher education experience through a variety of academic and administrative roles along with prestigious fellowships to the University. As a first-generation student of immigrant heritage, this lens grounds his work in serving students for whom education is a means of social mobility and economic progress.
  • Previously served as interim president of Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago from July 2016 to March 2018. During his tenure there, he led the institution through an historic two-year budget impasse, as well as a number of significant initiatives. Most notably, Northeastern received a 10-year reaffirmation from the Higher Learning Commission.
  • Prior to his appointment as interim president at Northeastern, he served as provost and vice president for academic affairs, overseeing all matters related to academics, including the oversight of four colleges, the library, admissions, recruitment, and other areas. He spearheaded the creation of academic programming for its El Centro location, which opened in 2014, worked to increase retention and recruitment efforts, and established the Center for College Access and Success which significantly increased research grants brought to the University.
  • Prior to joining Northeastern, he served as vice president for academic affairs at Shepherd University in West Virginia from 2009 to 2012. His leadership at Shepherd focused on academic alignment to the Association of American Colleges & Universities Liberal Arts and America’s Promise (LEAP) standards, a redesign of all academic programs to meet a 120-credit degree requirement, restructuring of the academic catalogue in an electronic format, and increased retention and licensure pass rates. A new general education program was designed and approved and Shepherd received a 10-year reaffirmation accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
  • President Helldobler joined Shepherd after nearly two decades at California University of Pennsylvania, where he served as chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and associate provost/associate vice president for academic affairs. During his tenure there, he led successful accreditations from the Higher Learning Commission, National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, Council on Social Work Education, and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Among his administrative accomplishments were the establishment of a university-wide faculty mentoring program and a faculty handbook. He chaired numerous committees, including the Administrative Council, General Education, Institutional Self Evaluation, and the Department Chairs Forum.
  • He was the founding artistic director for CalRep Pennsylvania, a pre-professional summer theatre program, and The Mon Valley Ballet Theatre, the resident ballet company at California University of Pennsylvania. The Mon Valley Ballet Theatre was the first university company invited by Ukraine’s Minister of Culture to perform at the famed National Operate House in Kiev. His numerous credits include choreography for The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and Symphonic Led Zeppelin, and direction of Candide, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Fiddler on the Roof. His research has resulted in articles in the Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, among others, and Quick Tips for Civic Engagement with Indiana University Press.
  • President Helldobler has served as a mentor for the Leadership Institute for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and chaired the association’s task force that retooled the national standards for promotion and tenure for theatre faculty.
  • A 2005-2006 American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow, he has remained closely connected to the Fellows Program having served as co-chair of the Professional Development Committee, secretary of the Executive Board, and as a nominator, and was presented with the Fellows Service Award in 2015 for exemplary continued service.
  • He recently completed Harvard’s Institutional Executive Management Program, and was invited to be part of a think tank at the University of Pennsylvania on the changing nature of public higher education.
  • He has served on the board of directors for the Auditorium Theatre, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, the Renaissance City Choirs, the Persad Center, and the Pennsylvania Arts Collaborative.
  • President Helldobler earned his PhD in theatre and master of arts in speech and theatre from Bowling Green State University, and a bachelor of business administration degree in marketing from the University of Toledo.
Dr. Sue Henderson, President
New Jersey City University
  • Became twelfth president and first woman to hold the presidential title at New Jersey City University on August 6, 2012.
  • Served Queens College of The City University of New York as both Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Institutional Advancement where she spearheaded the development of a first-ever residential housing project and international programming for students and faculty, having served prior to that as Provost and Chief Operating Officer at Georgia Perimeter College, Lawrenceville Campus, a bricks-and-clicks institution.  Coordinated and completed a successful $100-million comprehensive campaign at Queens College.
  • Experienced as an educator, having taught mathematics at the collegiate and secondary levels for over 37 years and been involved in the calculus reform movement that stressed active learning, multiple approaches, and the effective use of technology in the classroom.
  • Earned a PhD in higher education from the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in math education from Georgia State University.
  • Serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce, the Society for College and University Planners Board, and the “Big Brothers/Big Sisters” Advisory Board.
  • Is active in women’s organizations including the American council on Education Women’s Network where she speaks nationally.
  • Is a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the Mathematical Association of America, the Hudson Vicinage Advisory Committee on Minority Concerns, the NJ Business and Industry Association’s Education and Workforce Development Committee, and the NJ Presidents’ Council Task Force on the Alignment of Higher Education Programs and Workforce Development.
  • Presents frequently at professional conferences nationwide and has published on effective teaching practices in the collegiate mathematics classroom, organizational change, and strategic planning.
  • Has received numerous awards for her work as an educator and administrator, and has been recognized by community and professional organizations, including the Queens Chamber of Commerce, which named her one of the top 10 businesswomen in Queens in 2007.
  • Is a member of the inaugural class of the American Council on Education’s New Presidents Institute and a graduate of the Harvard Institute for Educational Management.
  • Dr. Henderson is Immediate Past Presidents’ Chair of NJASCU.
Dr. Harvey Kesselman, President
Stockton University
  • Dr. Kesselman is the President of Stockton University and has more than 30 years experience in higher education.  His leadership roles at Stockton include: Provost and Executive Vice President; Dean, School of Education; Interim Vice President for Administration and Finance; CEO of the Southern Regional Institute (SRI) and Educational Technology Training Center (ETTC); and Vice President for Student Affairs.
  • Dr. Kesselman remains involved in many national academic organizations.  He serves on both the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education’s Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACAO) and on the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Higher Education Advisory Council.  He is a frequent presenter at the American Assoication of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).
  • Has been active in the New Jersey educational landscape for many years.  He has been appointed by five different governors to serve as the senior college representative on a number of authorities, committees and task forces.  He served on the Executive Committee of the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA), which oversees New Jersey’s $1 billion student financial aid program.  He has been the senior public college representative on that board since the mid-1990s.
  • Served on the Governor’s Task Force to improve the NJ STARS program; participated on the New Jersey College and Career Readiness Task Force; advised the New Jersey State College and University Presidents’ Council regarding accountability and assessment; represented the senior public colleges and universities in the NJ Committee of Experts on Campus Sexual Assault Issues; served as one of six representatives appointed by the Chancellor of Higher Education to author and develop the NJ Student Unit Record Enrollment (SURE) statewide data and monitoring system; founded and chaired the SRI & ETTC Consortium, which includes more than 90 school districts throughout New Jersey; and serves as a reviewer for the Middle States Association Commission on Higher Education.
  • Dr. Kesselman has also served on numerous national grant reviews, authored and promoted policies for legislation, maintains a strong record of successful grant preparation, and continues to serve as a consultant and speaker.  He is actively involved in his community, having been elected to Township Committee, the School Board, and has been appointed to various other community and civic organizations.
  • He received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Stockton, his master’s degree in Student Personnel Services/Counseling from Rowan University, and his doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Widener University.
  • Dr. Kesselman is Presidents’ Chair of NJASCU Board.
Linda Lewis, Trustee
Kean University
  • Appointed to the NJASCU Board in January 2019, having served on Kean University’s Board of Trustees since February 2003.
  • She is a Guidance Counselor at Elizabeth High School in the Elizabeth, NJ school district where she also serves as a member of the school-management team.  In addition, Ms. Lewis is an education and management consultant, providing services to private, public and nonprofit organizations.
  • Ms. Lewis served the federal government in the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights from 1978 to 1986.  She was charged with supervising equal-opportunity specialists and secretarial staff in the Post-Secondary Division.  Ms. Lewis was also charged with overseeing written and verbal information to the division’s director and the regional director regarding complaint investigations and compliance reviews.  In addition, she conducted workforce analysis of the utilization and underutilization of the handicapped, women and minorities in the workforce and reviewed post-secondary institutions in Region II to determine whether or not they were in compliance.
  • From 1978 to 1984, Ms. Lewis conducted investigations under the authority of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Americans with Disabilities Act and the Vocation Rehabilitation Act.
  • Ms. Lewis was director of Affirmative Action at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY from 1977 to 1978.  After obtaining a Master of Arts in guidance and counseling from Atlanta University in 1974, she began her career as a psychological counselor at Bloomsburg State University in Bloomsburg,
Dr. Peter P. Mercer, President
Ramapo College of New Jersey
  • Became Ramapo College’s fourth president on July 1, 2005.  He previously served as dean of the law school and then as vice president (administration) and general counsel at the University of Western Ontario, where he was a professor of law.
  • A former visiting research scholar at the University of Michigan, he has also been a faculty member at the Unviersity of Calgary, the University of Detroit and the University of Windsor.  In 2005, Rotary International appointed Dr. Mercer a Paul Harris Fellow.  He has received Teacher of the Year awards from the University of Calgary and the University of Western Ontario and the Distinguished Service Award from the Canadian Association of University Business Officers.
  • He has authored, co-authored and edited two books, numerous articles, book chapters and reviews.  His recent publications have focused on the legal profession and professional standards as well as the unique features of higher education administration.
  • He earned his LLM and PhD from the University of Cambridge, and a JD from the University of Western Ontario.  For sixteen years, he has also served as principal instructor in the Senior University Administrators Course held at the Banff Center, Banff Alberta each June and he is a member of the faculty of the Harvard University Seminar for New Presidents held every July.
  • Dr. Mercer is also immediate past chair of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities Presidents’ Council.  Under his leadership, the NJASCU launched the New Jersey College Promise Action Network, a resource which linked over 9,000 people who care about the nine state colleges and universities with those in a position to make these institutions a higher priority — including the New Jersey Governor and Legislature.  He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Presidents’ Council.
  • Nationally, Dr. Mercer is the American Association of Colleges and Universities representative to the Advisory Board of Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges.
  • In addition to the higher education sector, Dr. Mercer’s service also includes membership on the Board of Directors of the Commerce and Industry Assoication of New Jersey and the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce.
  • During Dr. Mercer’s time at Ramapo College, the college has been increasingly regarded as a great value and a superior institution.  Ramapo College has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report as among the “Best Regional Universities in the North,” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine as a member of its “The Best Northeastern Colleges” list.  During the same period, Ramapo College has also benefitted from implementing sound financial practices yielding a bond rating from Standard & Poor’s that was recently raised from A- to A stable.  In addition, the college’s comprehensive capital campaign, “Further Our Promise,” surpassed its $40 million goal nearly 18 months ahead of schedule.
  • Over the past several years, Dr. Mercer has led Ramapo College through an ambitious and transformative campus-wide building program that has resulted in the completion of the Anisfield School of Business, the Bill Bradley Sports and Recreation Center, the Overlook and Laurel residence halls, the Sharp Sustainability Education Center, and the Salameno Spirituality Center.  The college is currently undergoing a comprehensive renovation to its academic complex that will yield state of the art science and research laboratories and other instructional and social space.  The new two and one-half story center doubles the size of the college’s current nursing simulation lab and adjoining computer labs.
Vij Pawar, Trustee
New Jersey City University
  • Vij Pawar is one of the founding members of Pawar Gilgallon & Rudy, LLC.  His practice is concentrated on commercial maters, such as contract disputes, consumer protection and business litigation.
  • Member and Former Trustee of the Morris County Bar Association
  • Trustee – Morris County Bar Foundation
  • Former Chair – Morris County Bar Association, Minority Lawyers Committee
  • Former Member – District XA Ethics Committee on Minority Affairs
  • Parsippany Indian Association
  • Former Law Clerk to Jack L. Lintner, J.A.D.
  • Former Morristown Municipal Prosecutor
  • Former Member of Morristown Zoning Board
  • Mr. Pawar received his JD from Rutgers School of Law Camden; and BA from Virginia Wesleyan College, Virginia Beach.