Our Board

The College of New Jersey

Michael Bernstein, Ph.D., Interim President
Kevin Drennan, Trustee

Ramapo College of New Jersey
Dr. Cindy R. Jebb, President
Adam J. Sabath, Chairman

Kean University
Dr. Lamont Repollet, President
Linda Lewis, Trustee

Stockton University
Joe Bertolino, Ed.D., President
Madeleine Deininger, Vice Chair

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

New Jersey City University
(Jersey City)
Andres Acebo, Interim President
Carlos Lejnieks, Trustee

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

Adam J. Sabath, Trustee
Ramapo College of New Jersey
  • Is a 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.
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. 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.

Michael Bernstein, Ph.D., Interim President

The College of New Jersey
  • Michael Bernstein, interim president of The College of New Jersey, began his two-year term July 1, 2023.
  • An accomplished educator and administrator, Bernstein previously served as provost emeritus at Stony Brook University, having also served as that institution’s interim president from August 2019 through May 2020. During that time, he guided the university through unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, including a move to fully remote instruction in 2020.
  • Bernstein also held the position of provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook from 2016–19, overseeing numerous initiatives aimed at supporting the university’s missions in research, scholarship, art-making, and teaching. He also fortified various programs focused on increasing the number of underserved and underrepresented students, enhancing retention and timely graduation outcomes, and facilitating the orientation (and success) of international enrollees.
  • From 2007–16, Bernstein served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Tulane University, where he helped guide the institution’s recovery from the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina.
  • Bernstein spent 20 years at the University of California, San Diego (1987–2007). A faculty member in the departments of economics and history and of the science studies program, he also ultimately served as dean of arts and humanities and chair of the history department.
  • His tenure at The College of New Jersey represents a homecoming for Bernstein, who began his teaching career in the Garden State at Princeton University. From 1982–87, he was an assistant professor of history, teaching U.S. economic history and assisting in general U.S. history and economics instruction.
  • The author of six books and numerous articles, essays, and commentaries, Bernstein also serves as a senior consultant with Keeling and Associates, a consulting and professional services firm that works exclusively in the field of higher education.
  • Bernstein received his PhD (1982), MPhil (1980), MA (1978), and BA (1976), all in economics, from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. His teaching and research interests focus on U.S. economic and political history, macroeconomic theory, industrial organization economics, and the history of economic theory.
  • A native of New York City, Bernstein has two daughters who are currently pursuing professional careers in Los Angeles. His domestic partner of over 20 years, Patti Harp, retired some years ago as a senior business affairs officer at UC San Diego.

Kevin Drennan, Trustee

The College of New Jersey
  • Kevin Drennan serves as Managing Director in Mercury’s Westfield New Jersey Office where he specializes in government affairs. In this role, Kevin is responsible for strategic advising and legislative advocacy.
  • Most recently, Kevin served as Executive Director/Chief of Staff in the New Jersey Senate Majority Office. As Executive Director/Chief of Staff, he managed a staff of 40 people, created the policy agenda as well as communications plans to drive the agenda forward. Some key policy successes include the elimination of cash bail, legalization of cannabis, stabilization of Atlantic City, improvement of the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities, increasing the minimum wage, expansion of paid family leave, improvement of K-12 funding, creation of the first Urban Research University, the development of the state’s first veterinary school, the rebirth of the City of Camden, improvement of the State’s economic incentives, movement towards increased development of solar and wind and the stabilization of the state’s three nuclear power plants.
  • Before joining the New Jersey Senate Majority Office, Kevin worked at a prominent telecommunications and entertainment company in New Jersey where he worked with regulatory agencies, government officials, and other regulated companies related to the telecommunications industry. He also worked in the healthcare field leading the government affairs team for one of the nation’s largest companies in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
  • Kevin also has led voter contact teams from school board races to United States Senators. He was the Get Out the Vote Director/Voter Contact Director on two New Jersey gubernatorial campaigns and on two United States Senate campaigns.
  • Kevin earned his B.A. in Political Science from the College of New Jersey and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University. Kevin lives in Hamilton, NJ with his wife Rachel Holland and two daughters Eva Marie and Jacqueline.
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. Cindy R. Jebb, President
Ramapo College of New Jersey
  • Cindy R. Jebb, Ph.D. became Ramapo College’s fifth president on July 6, 2021.
  • Dr. Jebb retired from the U.S. military after 39 years of service.
  • As the first woman Dean of the Academic Board at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Dr. Jebb’s responsibilities included service as Dean of the Faculty and Chief Advisor on all curricular matters.
  • She provided leadership, management, and supervision to the Academic Division’s approximately $80M annual budget, 869 faculty and staff, 4,400 undergraduate students, and seven academic buildings.
  • Over the course of her career with West Point as professor, department head, and dean, Dr. Jebb successfully led the complex, diverse, and mission-oriented organization through two crises: the federal hiring freeze that adversely impacted appointed civilian professors and phase one of the COVID 19 pandemic, emerging stronger each time. During these crises, Dr. Jebb reorganized and transformed roles and responsibilities through deliberate functional analyses, best practices of talent management, and strategic planning–all while fostering student achievement.
  • Prior to her appointment as Dean, Dr. Jebb fulfilled roles as Director of Comparative Politics and as Professor and Head of the Department of Social Sciences at West Point. In these roles, she led efforts to redesign curriculum, grow student internship opportunities, launch student and faculty mentoring programs, advance diversity and inclusion initiatives, and develop donor support. Further, she co-chaired West Point’s Middle States Accreditation Self Study and assisted in establishing West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center and Conflict and Human Security Studies Program.
  • A former military intelligence officer, an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a well-regarded scholar and instructor, Dr. Jebb has taught courses in Comparative Politics, International Security, International Relations, Cultural Anthropology, Terrorism and Counterterrorism, and Officership. She is the author and co-author of three books, two monographs, and a variety of journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers. Dr. Jebb has also served in command and staff positions at home and abroad; conducted human security research in Africa; and completed study projects in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, Dr. Jebb has led and moderated speaking engagements across the globe alongside prominent individuals such as the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, presidential advisor David Gergen, Secretary Madeline Albright, and journalist Tom Brokaw.
  • A native New Yorker, Dr. Jebb earned a B.S. from the United States Military Academy at West Point, a M.A. in Political Science from Duke, an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University. She is married to Dr. Joel Jebb, and they have four adult children (including their daughter-in-law) and one grandchild.
Joe Bertolino, Ed.D., President
Stockton University
  • Joe Bertolino, Ed.D., was named the sixth President of Stockton University on March 3, 2023.
  • President Joe, as he is affectionately known, has been a social justice educator for almost 30 years and is passionate about student success and access to higher education.
  • Since 2016, Dr. Bertolino has led Southern Connecticut State University, a public institution of 9,000 students in New Haven, Connecticut. There, he has pursued several key priorities, including: raising the university’s profile; establishing Southern as Connecticut’s public university for social justice; expanding community outreach and partnerships, building strategic enrollment and streamlining students’ paths to earning a degree.
  • Prior to joining Southern in 2016, Dr. Bertolino was President of Lyndon State College in Vermont from 2012-2016. From 2004-2012, he held multiple roles at Queens College/City University of New York, including Vice President for Enrollment Management, Vice President for Student Affairs, Executive Assistant to the President and Chair of the Department of Student Personnel.
  • He also held the roles of Dean for Community Development, Academic Advisor and Associate Dean for Residential Life at Barnard College in New York from 1996-2004. Dr. Bertolino has taught leadership development classes for undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Dr. Bertolino has been recognized with numerous outstanding professional awards. He is a member of seven different national honor societies including Omicron Delta Kappa and Golden Key. The American College Personnel Association presented him with the prestigious Annuit Coeptis Award twice as an outstanding new professional and as an outstanding senior professional.
  • Dr. Bertolino’s major initiatives at Southern include a branding campaign that reintroduced the Southern to the region and beyond; the school’s first comprehensive enrollment management plan and the creation of a range of workforce needs-driven degree programs, including a palate of accelerated graduate offerings and the first Doctorate of Social Work program in New England. Additionally, Dr. Bertolino developed partnerships with area community colleges to provide smoother entry into a four-year institution and initiated new community partnerships at multiple levels to establish Southern as a good neighbor.
  • Examples include establishing a residency by the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and the Long Wharf Theater at Southern, featuring on-campus concerts, classroom visits, hands-on learning experiences, and internships. The Barack H. Obama Magnet University School opened at Southern – the result of a signature academic partnership with the New Haven Public School System that will provide expansive experiential learning opportunities for Southern’s teachers-in-training. Southern also entered into a multi-million-dollar partnership with the Yale New Haven Health System that will see the School of Nursing double the number of its nursing majors by 2026, helping to address a critical nursing shortage in Connecticut heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Under President Bertolino’s stewardship, alumni philanthropy and engagement at Southern expanded dramatically, with record philanthropy levels established in each of the last three annual Days of Caring.
  • Dr. Bertolino holds a Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration & Leadership Development from Columbia University; a Master of Social Work from Rutgers University, Camden; and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology/Sociology from the University of Scranton.
  • Dr. Bertolino lives with his partner of almost 30 years, Bil Leipold, Ed.D., and their dogs. Together, Joe and Bil have 12 godchildren and two grandsons.
Andres Acebo, Interim President
New Jersey City University
  • Andrés Acebo is a Hudson County native who grew up in Union City, N.J., and has maintained strong ties to the community. He is only the second Hispanic to serve as the leader of a four-year public institution in the state of New Jersey — following in the legacy of another NJCU leader, Dr. Carlos Hernandez, who led the institution as its 11th president from 1993-2012. Acebo is also the youngest known president to ever lead a public university in the State of New Jersey.
  • He most recently served on the vetting and due diligence team for the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) and Alliance for Latinx Leadership and Policy (ALLP) partnership to identify U.S. Department of Justice presidential nominees for the Biden/Harris transition.
  • Acebo currently serves as a Deputy Regional President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and Chair of the Special Committee on Cuba. He serves on the board of the Cuban American Alliance for Leadership and Education (CAALE) — a non-profit board that serves first-generation students in the NJCU community.
  • Furthermore, he serves on the board of the North Hudson Community Action Foundation, which helps underserved members of Hudson County with equitable access to healthcare and social services.
  • Acebo has been recognized as a Rising Star by New Jersey Super Lawyers, a Top Latino Lawyer by Latino Leaders Magazine, a Top Lawyer under 40 by the Hispanic National Bar Association, and as a Diverse Attorney of the Year by the New Jersey Law Journal. In Fall 2022, he was recognized as a 2022 “Latinos 40 Under 40” award recipient by Negocios Now, in recognition of leadership by young Latinos in the New York metropolitan area. This fall, Acebo was also honored by the Boys Scouts of America-North Jersey Council with the 2022 Good Scout Award, in reflection of his service to his community.
  • Acebo holds a B.A. from Brown University and a Juris Doctor from Rutgers Law School. He is a proud product of Union City public schools in Hudson County. He resides in North Jersey with his wife — an NJCU alumnae — and three children.
Carlos Lejnieks, Trustee
New Jersey City University
  • President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties, to the university’s Board of Trustees.
  • Serves on the Finance & Audit Committee and Mission Committee.
  • Became CEO of the Newark-based organization in 2008 and within four years, saw it flourish — expanding its service from approximately 100 youth to over 1,100 annually. Under his leadership, BBBS has received numerous awards from local, state and national entities, including a formal recognition by President Obama. In 2016, he was asked to ring the Closing Bell at the Nasdaq in celebration of National Mentoring Month.
  • He is the immediate-past Chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Jersey.
  • He was given the inaugural Presidential Medallion from NJCU where he also delivered the institution’s commencement address.
  • Also serves on the Brown University Alumni Association Board, the Board of Regents for Saint Peter’s University and is a Trustee for Jersey City Medical Center/RWJ Barnabas Health) and St. Benedict’s Prep.
  • He has served as a Commissioner for the New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance Real Estate Commission since 2018.
  • He is immediate-past Chairman of the NJ Charter Schools Association and is also co-founder and Vice Chair of Democracy Prep Public Schools — a high performing network of schools serving over 5,000 youth based in Harlem, N.Y. In 2006, he received Democracy Prep’s “Change the World” award for helping create the school.
  • Served on President Barack Obama’s Regional Finance Committee, Governor Chris Christie’s Education Transition Team and Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Transition Team.
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. Lamont Repollet, President
Kean University
  •  Was selected as the 18th leader of Kean University by the Kean Board of Trustees on May 11, 2020.
  • Previously served two and a half years as the Commissioner of Education under New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy before becoming Kean’s president. During his time as commissioner, he oversaw the shift to remote education amid the COVID-19 pandemic and played a key role in planning for the 2020-2021 school year.  He also oversaw the expansion of early childhood education; promotion of a school culture that embraces social and emotional learning; and the strengthening of STEM opportunities for students. During his tenure, New Jersey’s public schools were ranked number one in the nation in the Education Week “Quality Counts 2019” report, which captures key data to assess a state’s educational performances.
  • From 2014 to 2018, Dr. Repollet served as superintendent of the Asbury Park School District. New instructional and organizational approaches that he brought to the district helped increase the graduation rate by 30 percent.
  • Before that, Dr. Repollet served as principal of Carteret High School, where his leadership garnered national recognition, earning him a reputation for decreasing the achievement gap.
  • Previously served on the Kean Board of Trustees from 2011 until 2018, assuming the role of secretary as well as chair of the Academic Policy and Programs Committee. While on the board, he visited Wenzhou, China in 2012 when Wenzhou-Kean University first opened and returned again to speak at WKU’s second commencement in 2017.
  • In 2018, Dr. Repollet was honored as an Outstanding Human Rights Educator by Kean’s Human Rights Institute. Most recently, he received the 2019 Medal of Excellence for Distinguished Service from The College of Education at Rowan University, the 2019 Trailblazer Award from the Innovation for Equity Summit and the 2019 Conclave Image Award from Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
  • Dr. Repollet received his bachelor’s degree in communication from The College of New Jersey, his master’s degree in education administration from Kean University, and a Doctorate in Education from Nova Southeastern University.