In his continued mission to improve higher education across New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie today announced an $86.3 million improvement project at a ceremony at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). This is the largest of 176 construction projects approved by voters last November that will provide modern facilities at universities and colleges throughout the state.
"To compete successfully for high tech industries of the future, New Jersey's colleges and universities need the best facilities and the best-trained workforce in the nation," said Governor Christie. "This NJIT project will help us meet the demand for science and high tech jobs that will drive the future economic growth of the Garden State. Today, we are taking an important step toward making sure that New Jersey's colleges are second-to-none."
"This project will completely transform the former Central High School into a modern hub that will be the cornerstone of our future growth for many years to come," said Joel Bloom, president of NJIT. "This is a great day, and critical to achieving NJIT's education, research, enrollment and graduation goals. We have anticipated this day for many years, and we are very proud of this project and grateful to the taxpayers for their support of our University."
NJIT's Strategic Enrollment Plan 2013 anticipates enrollment growth to more than 14,200 students by 2020, which would constitute a 50 percent enrollment increase from 2011 and a 75 percent increase over 2005.
The NJIT project will include:
A Center for Innovation and Discovery that supports innovative learning programs and application of emerging knowledge through hands-on laboratories, design and modeling studios, state-of-the-art classrooms and research areas.
Three floors of academic and research space for a Biological Sciences Education and Research Complex that will bring together researchers and students from biology, biomedical engineering, pharmaceutical chemistry, biophysics and mathematical biology.
Teaching/learning centers that include a new Math Engagement Center; a new Composition Engagement Center; a Teaching Effectiveness Institute; and centers for advising and pre-professional mentoring.
The project expands educational opportunity and access for State residents. Currently, 50 percent of NJIT's students are minorities. Nearly 40 percent of all NJIT undergraduate students are first generation college students and more than 15 percent of entering undergraduates qualify for the State's Educational Opportunity Fund program.
"Our State Review Team selected projects that were compatible with State priorities, including economic growth and innovation," said New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks. "As we build our innovation ecosystem, this project is the epitome of smart design and forward-looking thinking. It is the perfect alignment of curriculum with workforce demands."
New Jersey will need to fill 269,000 STEM-related jobs by 2018. Historically, NJIT has provided more than a quarter of New Jersey's engineers, and more than 95 percent of the degrees awarded by NJIT fit directly into the targeted employment needs of the State, university officials said.
Governor Christie signed legislation placing a $750 million General Obligation construction bond on the ballot last August. Voters approved it in November and regulations were promulgated by December. Secretary Hendricks sent out a solicitation package and hosted an information session in February, and by March 25, colleges and universities submitted more than 250 applications for funding.