The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Saturday June 15th

Michael Bernstein to serve as 17th TCNJ president

The Board of Trustees voted to name Michael Bernstein the 17th president of the College at its June 6 meeting (Photo courtesy of TCNJ / Anthony DePrimo).
The Board of Trustees voted to name Michael Bernstein the 17th president of the College at its June 6 meeting (Photo courtesy of TCNJ / Anthony DePrimo).

By Matthew Kaufman

Michael A. Bernstein will serve as the 17th president of the College, following a unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees on June 6.

Bernstein has served as the College’s interim president since last year. Among other academic roles, he previously served as the interim president of Stony Brook University and the provost of Tulane University.

Several former College presidents gave their thoughts on Bernstein in a College news release, including Kathryn Foster, whom Bernstein replaced last year.

“Under [Bernstein’s] inspired and thoughtful leadership, TCNJ embarks on an exciting next chapter of continued excellence, inclusion, and innovation,” Foster said. “Our college, this eminent and beloved place, is in good hands.”

From the beginning of Bernstein’s tenure as interim president, his mission has been to stabilize the College’s budget, which has faced rising deficits in recent years. In his first address to faculty last fall, he raised eyebrows by suggesting that the College should explore differential tuition pricing based on major.

Since that first address, Bernstein introduced the LIONS plan, which stands for “Linking Innovation with Operational Nimbleness and Sustainability.” Through this plan came the formation of various working groups, which were tasked with identifying areas of the College’s budget that could be cut, or areas with opportunities for revenue generation.

Final recommendations from the working groups were released on May 9 and contained proposals to end the College’s contract with Barnes and Noble, open a “spirit shop” in the library, reduce the College’s foreign language requirements and create a School of Graduate, Professional, and Online Education, among many other ideas. 

At this time, the president wrote in an email that not all proposals would be implemented, and the administration would conduct deeper analyses before the proposals would begin to be carried out.

And on May 2, Bernstein recommended a 4% tuition increase for the 2024-2025 academic year. The Board of Trustees will finalize tuition and housing costs at its July meeting.

Rebecca Ostrov, chair of the Board, said in the news release that Bernstein’s emphasis on new ideas is what the College needs right now.

“Dr. Bernstein is an extremely accomplished educator and a transformational leader,” Ostrov said. “Over the past year, he has mobilized our community to think creatively about how we innovate and extend an unparalleled TCNJ education to new audiences. I am thrilled that he will continue to dedicate his considerable talent to our institution.”

In an email to the campus community following the Board vote, Bernstein expressed his appreciation for the College and said he looks forward to ensuring its continued success. However, the president wrote, “This effort is grounded in the need to ensure our financial sustainability in the face of very strong headwinds confronting virtually all colleges and universities.”

“We are developing exciting new ways to extend the excellence that is the hallmark of a TCNJ education to new audiences,” Bernstein said in the email. “I remain energized by the thoughtfulness, creativity and commitment that have gone into this effort thus far, and I eagerly look forward to a continuing collaboration with you to build our future.”


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