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February 24, 2006
CONTACT: Marguerite Beardsley
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NJ Commission on Higher Education Appoints New Executive Director
and Adds Two New Members

At its February 24, 2006 meeting, the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education appointed Ms. Jane Oates to serve as Executive Director, effective March 2, 2006; the Commission also welcomed two new Commission members, Kurt Landgraf and T.J. Nelligan.

The Commission’s new Executive Director, Jane Oates, has since 1997 been Senior Education Advisor to U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, serving as lead advisor on higher education policy for the Senate Democratic Caucus. Prior to that, she directed field services for Temple University’s Center for Research in Human Development and Education and worked on teacher induction programs in Philadelphia. She dedicated her early career to teaching special education students.

Governor Jon S. Corzine recently tapped Ms. Oates to be his senior policy advisor on higher education and asked the Commission to consider her as a candidate for its Executive Director position as it completes its reorganization. Given its responsibility to serve as the state’s planning and coordinating agency for higher education, the Commission sees the establishment of a direct relationship with the Governor’s Office and the state policy and planning table as a means of significantly enhancing New Jersey’s higher education governance structure.

“Jane Oates brings a depth of knowledge, wealth of experience, and strong work ethic in the area of higher education and public policy,” stated Francis J. Mertz, Commission Chairman. “Her addition to the Commission completes a two-year effort to reestablish higher education as a central voice in state-level policy and planning.”

“I’m excited to be joining Governor Corzine’s team and particularly honored to be asked to serve as Executive Director of the Commission on Higher Education. Governor Corzine is committed to making higher education a priority and working with the Commission and the college presidents to improve a public and private system with a proven track record of access and institutional excellence,” commented Ms. Oates. “I’m also very pleased that Dr. Jeanne Oswald, whose impressive leadership has served the state so well, has agreed to stay on at the Commission.”
In February 2004, the Commission appointed Dr. Jeanne M. Oswald to serve as Executive Director, with a specific charge to reposition the Commission by assessing its responsibilities and organizational structure and defining leadership needs of the future; she had served as Deputy Executive Director since the creation of the Commission in 1994.

“ Dr. Oswald has worked with distinction under difficult circumstances over the past two years to reorganize the Commission and move the long-range plan forward,” stated Kevin Collins, Vice Chairman of the Commission. “She has achieved all we asked of her and more. Ms. Oates’ extensive background combined with Dr. Oswald’s tireless dedication augers a very bright future for higher education in New Jersey.”

“ I am honored to have the opportunity to work with Jane Oates and gratified that the Commission will play a greater role in state policy and planning,” stated Dr. Oswald. “Higher education is a cornerstone to the economic development and quality of life in New Jersey and is integral to planning for the future.”

Ms. Oates holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a master’s degree from Arcadia University; she has also completed additional graduate courses at Temple University.

Additional experience and expertise were also brought to the Commission as two new Commissioners were sworn in at the meeting. The new members are Mr. Kurt Landgraf, from Princeton, who is President and Chief Executive Officer of Educational Testing Service; and Mr. T.J. Nelligan, from Little Falls, who is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nelligan Sports Marketing, Inc.

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 Last Updated: February 28, 2006
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