New Jersey City University (NJCU), formerly Jersey City State College, opened in 1929 as the New Jersey State Normal School in Jersey City. It became "New Jersey State Teachers College at Jersey City" in 1935 and renamed Jersey City State College in 1958, a liberal arts institution in 1968. Thirty years later, in 1998, the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education approved university status for the local college and its present name, New Jersey City University.
While New Jersey City University's physical presence has dramatically changed, its founding mission for access and excellence of this urban institution remains. The campus has expanded six-fold; the number of buildings and facilities has grown from one structure to 26. The academic focus expanded from its original teacher-preparation training to offering 32 undergraduate degree programs and 19 graduate degree programs. The student body has grown to over 6,000 students from across New Jersey, the United States, and many countries around the globe.
(Adapted from an essay by Ellen Wayman-Gordon, Director of Public Information, New Jersey City University)
The Early Years (1929-1944)
1927: The New Jersey State Normal School at Jersey City was chartered. The institution was built to accommodate 1,000 students and an eight-room demonstration school in its one building, Hepburn Hall, on ten acres on what was then Hudson Boulevard.
1929: The New Jersey State Normal School at Jersey City opened and immediately expanded its two-year teacher education curricula, making it the only teacher preparation program in the United States to offer a three-year program. A faculty of 12, which increased immediately to 29, served a local Hudson County student population of 330 women and one man.
1935: The name was changed to New Jersey State Teachers College in Jersey City. The institution was authorized to offer a four-year teacher education program and award the bachelor of science degree in education.
1936: In cooperation with the Jersey City Medical Center, a degree program in health education and nursing began a program in the training of school nurses.
The End of World War II and the Post-War Years (1945-1958)
1946: The G.I. Bill enabled many veterans to enroll in the four-year Arts and Sciences Program, resulting in the rapid growth and expansion of the program.
1950: The Arts and Sciences Program was eliminated due to the graduation of many World War II veterans.
1955: The institution's first physical expansion took place: a small addition to Hepburn Hall enabled the library to expand its holdings to 65,000 volumes, and Fries Hall Gymnasium was constructed. The institution graduated 83 students.
1958: New Jersey State Teachers College at Jersey City became Jersey City State College and was authorized to award the bachelor of arts degree.
The Middle Years (1959-1974)
1959: The institution began to offer a master of arts in elementary education.
1962: Grossnickle Hall, a four-story academic building, opened. Jersey City State College began to administer the A. Harry Moore School to enhance its Special Education program. JCSC became one of the few colleges in the United States with a special-education demonstration school.
1963: Mrs. A. Harry Moore received an honorary degree of doctor of letters from the college at a Convocation celebrating the merger of the A. Harry Moore School with the college.
1964: To accommodate a more geographically diverse student population, the institution opened its first dormitory, Vodra Hall.
1966: The state governor named the College's first Board of Trustees, according to the Higher Education Act of 1966.
1967: Enrollment totals reached 5,700 students, 4,900 undergraduates, and 800 graduate students. Full-time faculty numbered 179.
1968: The Forrest A. Irwin Library opened. Jersey City State College became a multipurpose institution, authorized to develop a liberal arts program and to enlarge its teacher preparation programs. 1969: The demonstration school in Hepburn Hall closed.
1970: Rossey Hall, a six-story academic building, opened.
1973: The five-story Science Building and the JCSC Women's Center opened; the Cooperative Education Program was established with 25 students in paid work assignments.
1975: The Department of Nursing was established.
Beyond 50 Years (1975-1990)
1976: The Student Union Building opened (renamed the Michael B. Gilligan Student Union Building in 1985). A 50,000-square-foot building on West Side Avenue was renovated to house the Center for Media Arts.
1977: The Department of Business Administration and the Peter W. Rodino Institute of Criminal Justice were established.
1978: The Saturday Semester Program began, offering students class-scheduling flexibility in scheduling classes for credit and non-credit study.
1980: The Department of Computer Science was created.
1982: The Department of Media Arts was formed.
1985: The institution received a $5.7 million Governor's Challenge Grant for an expanded Cooperative Education Program across all academic majors. From that award, JCSC became New Jersey's premier cooperative education college.
1986: Autonomy was granted to higher education institutions in New Jersey.
1989: The Coop Dorm was opened to house 100 undergraduates.
From the Information Age to the Future (1991- to - Present)
1994: The four-story Professional Studies Building and the state-of-the-art Athletic and Fitness Center opened.
1996: The Center for Public Policy and Urban Research was established.
1997: President Carlos Hernandez appointed a task force to consider a change of institutional status and a name change.
1998: At its March 24th meeting, the Jersey City State College Board of Trustees approved the submission of a formal petition to the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education requesting that the institution be granted university status and renamed New Jersey City University. The New Jersey Commission on Higher Education approved a change of institutional status and accepted the name change at its May 29th meeting. The University was restructured into three colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education, and the College of Professional Studies.
1999: The University's four-story Forrest Irwin Library was completely redesigned and renovated to provide a spacious, modern facility with high-tech capability for study and research.
2000: The NJCU Library was dedicated in October and renamed the Congressman Frank J. Guarini Library.
2001: The University introduced myNJCU, the initial application of "portal" technology to provide members of the University community with a single integrated point for immediate access to personally relevant information and a gateway to resources available on the World Wide Web.
2002: In September, the University Academy Charter High School enrolled its first ninth-grade class of 125 students.
2003: A two-story-56,000-square-foot Visual Arts Building opened in September. It is surrounded by a sculpture garden that features a work by the sculptor Maya Lin, whose "Vietnam Memorial" in Washington, DC, is internationally acclaimed.
The University Academy Charter High School opened in a redesigned commercial building on West Side Avenue. New Jersey City University joined with the City of Jersey City, the Jersey City Board of Education, and New Jersey Transit to collaborate on the "Bayside Project," a redevelopment proposal for a 700-acre section of Jersey City that stretches from Communipaw Avenue south to Stevens Avenue and Bergen Avenue west to Newark Bay.
2005: NJCU dedicated the John J. Moore Athletics and Fitness Center for the 1956 alumnus and former chair of the university's Board of Trustees, 1989-2005.
2006: The University dedicated the six-story, 77,000-square-foot George Karnoutsos Arts and Sciences Hall, designed by renowned architect Michael Graves in collaboration with STV Architects of New York. The building of modular precast concrete features a pyramid tower that heightens the structure and an entrance with distinctive portico columns. It is named for Dr. Karnoutsos, a 1955 alumnus and a retired professor of philosophy, who donated $2.5 million to the University. It also dedicated the William J. Maxwell College of Arts and Sciences in honor of Dr. Maxwell, a 1958 alumnus, former history professor, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, former president, president emeritus, and distinguished service professor of history and education.
2007: NJCU dedicated the Deborah Cannon Partridge Wolfe College of Education to honor the 1937 alumna, teacher, theologian, and humanitarian.
2013-2022: Dr. Sue Henderson was inaugurated president of NJCU in 2013 as its twelfth president and the first woman to hold that post. She succeeded Dr. Carlos Hernandez, president for nineteen years. Dr. Henderson holds degrees from the University of Georgia and Georgia State University. She previously was the chief operating officer and vice president of institutional advancement at Queens College of The City University of New York.
2015: The NJCU School of Business opened at Harborside Plaza 2 along the Jersey City waterfront and financial district. The two-story instructional facility features a simulated trading floor and two data science centers. The Business School is associated with the university's Small Business Development Center, Business Development Incubator, and Institute for Dispute Resolutions.
The Confucius Institute opened at NJCU to teach the Chinese language and culture. It is in partnership with the Jilin Huaqiao University of Foreign Languages, a private university in China.
2016: The university continues to develop University Place, its 21-acre West Campus between West Side Avenue, south of Carbon Place, and Route 440. The four-story student residence--the first of several proposed buildings--opened in September. It is a Public-Private Partnership--the first "P3" privatized housing project in New Jersey. Five market-rate apartment buildings and a performing arts and residential building for the Joffrey Ballet School and its students are planned.
2019: The renovation of the Science Building on the main campus was completed. It houses the Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth and Environments Sciences departments and features research laboratories, a greenhouse, an observatory, and Geographic Information Science Lab.
2021: The university opened an off-site campus location, Squier Hall, at the former Army base at Fort Monmouth, expanding its presence in Monmouth County with programs in nursing and cybersecurity. Squier Hall was the former 1930s Signal Corps site.
2022: Andres Acebo, the NJCU executive vice president, was promoted to interim president in January.