Rochelle Hendricks named New Jersey higher education secretary
May 16, 2011
For decades, New Jersey had a powerful chancellor of higher education who oversaw a large and formidable department that kept a tight rein on the state’s colleges and universities.
But in 1994, then-Gov. Christie Whitman vowed to give New Jersey’s colleges and universities more autonomy and abolished the chancellor job and the entire department.
Over the years, colleges enjoyed their new-found freedom — but many felt they had lost their voice in Trenton as the state repeatedly cut funding for higher education.
Thursday, Gov. Chris Christie gave colleges an advocate again with the appointment of Rochelle Hendricks as the state’s first secretary of higher education.
Hendricks, currently the state’s acting deputy education commissioner, will not have the power to set tuition or approve degree programs. But she will serve as an advocate for higher education within the governor’s cabinet at a time when the state’s public colleges and universities are dealing with years of funding cuts.
"This is a knowledge-based economy," Hendricks said. "Higher education has to be not only supported, but we need a passionate advocate to move us forward so that every student in New Jersey has access to an opportunity for attainment of a degree."