Expediency, vision, and leadership: Factors in the development and growth of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, 1881–2002

Leroy Thomas, Fordham University


The US Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century led to many inventions that advanced the nation's economy. As the economy improved, the need to educate the citizens in the nation's industrial centers became evident. Manufacturers needed skilled managers to compete in the new market economy. Early efforts to train skilled craftsmen for the factories had limited success. In Newark, New Jersey, the Newark Technical School was established to advance the economy and improve the lives of its citizens. Manufacturers and their trade organization united to create the institution in partnership with the local school system. That institution became The New Jersey Institute of Technology. This study examined the history of the institution, focusing on the following areas: (a) Major administrative decisions that impacted on the development of the institution into a public research university, (b) The impact of changes in the leadership of the university on its growth and development, (c) Decisions at the local and State levels affecting the development of the university, and (d) How the university leadership faced the dilemma of maintaining traditions, yet be forward thinking and lead change. The topic explored was best suited to a historical research methodology. The historical approach supplied quantitative and qualitative data from the administrations of seven leaders of the institution. Additional data were obtained from interviews of one former president and a current senior vice president, as well as reviews of laws, reports, and other documents from state government and the institution's accrediting associations. The research concludes that the institution's growth and development remained consistent with its original mission. The study also concludes that the university faces challenges engendered by a focus on research, faculty recruitment, changes in technology, and reductions in state funding. There are two perennial challenges. The first is the need to recruit more women students and faculty. The second is to convey its accomplishments to a wider audience, within New Jersey, and nationally. As the institution embarks on a new century under a new administration, a review of how such challenges were met in the past may provide guidance for making future decisions.

Subject Area

Higher education|Education history|Inservice training

Recommended Citation

Thomas, Leroy, "Expediency, vision, and leadership: Factors in the development and growth of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, 1881–2002" (2004). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3134451.