An inside look at the current issues facing Montclair, NJ.
Michael V. Pettigano
Montclair State University has been designated by the state as a public research university.
When Montclair State University students return to the state’s second largest university in September, they will be attending an institution with a new designation: public research university.
This comes after Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation on Friday that designates MSU as a public research university. The legislation was sponsored in both the state Senate and Assembly in June by several officials, including those representing Montclair such as state Sen. Nia Gill and state Assembly members Sheila Oliver and Thomas Giblin.
The Senate approved the bill by a 35-0 vote while the Assembly approved the bill by a vote of 75-0.
Gill said in a statement to The Times, “Montclair State University has done remarkable work over more than a decade to expand its educational programs and research initiatives. In light of its success, Montclair State has earned the status as public research university and this law formally conveys this designation.”
Montclair State University President Susan Cole told The Montclair Times that the legislation came about after she approached Gill recently to look into the state granting this designation.
Cole said it would follow the school’s classification as a research doctoral institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, and classification by the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education’s Office as a doctoral degree-granting institution.
She said the significance of the designation for the school is that it would put it on par with other public research universities in the state and across the country.
Cole pointed out that the state legislature still saw MSU as a state college, and that the designation helps the university receive more funding and recognition from the state as fitting its status as a university serving over 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
“Having this designation is a leg-up for us and will enable us to be competitive,” Cole said. “Getting out of that [state college] category is very important.”
Cole said the legislation being signed is an acknowledgement by the state that is “both very appropriate and very welcome,” and is a reminder to the state to better utilize the school’s resources.
She said one of the short-term advantages for the university being designated as a public research university is MSU not having to operate under New Jersey regulations for state colleges, which would allow the college to easily enter into public/private partnerships with various entities for construction and other projects.
Another short-term advantage of the designation is expanding the eligibility of Montclair State students for tuition aid grants — a figure estimated at 630 additional students each year.
Cole said the long-term impact of being a public research university is that MSU can attract top faculty and students, along with federal research dollars.
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