Governor Chris Christie Selects Acting Deputy Commissioner of Education Rochelle Hendricks as Secretary of Higher Education

Trenton, NJ – Bolstering his commitment to improve the quality and effectiveness of New Jersey’s system of higher education, Governor Chris Christie today announced the selection of Rochelle Hendricks as the State’s Secretary of Higher Education. Hendricks currently serves as the Acting Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education, where she has been a key advocate for education reforms that demand accountability and positive results for children.

“Rochelle Hendricks is an extraordinary, reform-minded professional who has provided tremendous leadership and a sincere commitment to taking on the vital education challenges facing New Jersey’s students for more than 20 years. Most recently, Rochelle provided indispensible leadership in the Newark Public Schools while a new superintendent was selected and on key education reform initiatives for the state,” said Governor Christie. “I could not be more pleased that Rochelle has agreed to continue building on that strong record as a member of my Administration, and I thank her for continuing her public service in this new capacity. I am confident that Rochelle will be an integral force in advancing a blueprint for educational excellence that will strengthen our institutions of higher learning, ensure quality education and prepare our students for future success.”

Hendricks, who recently served as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education, provided critical leadership in the search for the Newark Superintendent of Public Schools and has worked closely with interim-superintendent Deborah Terrell during the transition period. During that time, she also was instrumental in helping craft the Governor’s education reform plans including the creation and appointment of the Educator Effectiveness Task Force and superintendent pay cap implementation.

Prior to joining the Department of Education, she worked for over 15 years at Princeton University in numerous capacities including Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Educational Opportunities Program and Interim Director of the Women’s Program. 

Hendricks began her career as a teacher at the Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School District, where she taught for three years. She joined Governor Kean’s Department of Education in 1987 and has previously served in various capacities within the department. As Assistant Commissioner for School Effectiveness and Choice, Hendricks has overseen key reform initiatives and areas, including the Offices of Board Development, Small Learning Communities and School Culture, District Schools, Turnaround Partnerships, Inter-District Choice and Opportunity Scholarships, Charter Schools, Career and Technical Education, and Online Education. She has also served previously in the department as a Director of the Professional Development Office, Manager of the Office of Policy and Planning in the Administration Division, and Assistant to the Deputy Education Commissioner.

“I am deeply honored and grateful for this opportunity,” said Hendricks. “Education is empowerment and I look forward to working with Governor Christie to improve and transform our institutions of higher learning while fostering an environment of excellence that enhances opportunities for our students and strengthens our economy through a well-prepared and qualified workforce.”

Upon confirmation, Hendricks will assume the dual responsibilities of Secretary/Executive Director of the Commission on Higher Education. She will be responsible for providing coordination, planning, policy development, institutional licensure and advocacy for the state's higher education system. In addition, she will advise and make recommendations for consideration to the Governor as well as examine and recommend opportunities for joint purchasing and other joint arrangements that would be advantageous to the institutions. She will also serve as an ex-officio member of the Commission on Higher Education; State Employment and Training Commission (SETC); State Council for Adult Literacy Education Services; New Jersey Commission on Environmental Education and the Governor’s School of New Jersey.

In January, Governor Christie received the recommendations of the Higher Education Task Force, chaired by former Governor Tom Kean, which outlined recommendations to address the challenges facing higher education in New Jersey now and in the future. At the same time, Governor Christie signed two new Executive Orders focused on implementing and further pursuing the Task Force's recommendations to strengthen New Jersey higher education. Executive Order No. 52 created the Governor’s Higher Education Council and Executive Order No. 51 formed an advisory committee to develop specific recommendations for graduate medical education. 

Governor Christie’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget continues to demonstrate a firm commitment to higher education by maintaining support for colleges and universities while increasing funding for student aid programs by $20 million. In addition, community colleges will receive authorization to issue an additional $59 million of capital improvement bonds for which the State will pay debt service.

New Jersey’s 31 public and 32 independent higher education institutions enroll 429,000 graduate and undergraduate students.

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Press Contact:
Michael Drewniak
Kevin Roberts

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