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Michael A. Bernstein named TCNJ’s 17th president

Michael A. Bernstein
Michael A. Bernstein, 17th president of The College of New Jersey. Photo: Anthony DePrimo

Michael A. Bernstein has been appointed The College of New Jersey’s 17th president, following a vote this afternoon by the school’s Board of Trustees. Bernstein has served as TCNJ’s interim president since July 1, 2023. The appointment is effective immediately.

“Dr. Bernstein is an extremely accomplished educator and a transformational leader,” said Rebecca Ostrov, chair of the TCNJ Board of Trustees. “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.”

“My profound thanks to the TCNJ Board of Trustees for their confidence in me, and to the greater college community for such a warm welcome into our Lions Pride,” said Bernstein. “I am energized by the thoughtfulness, creativity, and commitment of our community as we work to write the next chapter in TCNJ’s extraordinary history.”

A former professor of history and economics who began his teaching career at Princeton University, Bernstein has served at all levels of higher education administration, including department chair, dean, provost, and interim president. As provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Tulane University, he navigated the institution’s recovery from the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina. In 2020, as interim president of Stony Brook University, he led the school through the unprecedented challenges posed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a move to fully remote instruction.

“Throughout his career — and particularly among us over the past year of challenge and change — President Michael Bernstein has demonstrated the skill and character to navigate toward opportunity while sustaining our mission, strategy, and values, said TCNJ President Emerita Kathryn A. Foster, Bernstein’s predecessor. “Under his inspired and thoughtful leadership, TCNJ embarks on an exciting next chapter of continued excellence, inclusion, and innovation. Our college, this eminent and beloved place, is in good hands.

TCNJ President Emerita R. Barbara Gitenstein, who oversaw an academic transformation in the early 2000s that positioned the institution as an exemplar of U.S. public higher education, agrees.

“During Dr. Michael Bernstein’s months as interim president, I have been struck by his appreciation for TCNJ’s mission,” Gitenstein said. “He is someone who listens and cares deeply about the college’s commitment to student success, which has at its center high-quality programs and faculty who engage their students as both teachers and scholars. Congratulations to the Board of Trustees, Dr. Bernstein, and The College of New Jersey on Michael’s appointment as President of TCNJ.” 
 
Academic leaders who have had the opportunity to work with Bernstein have also praised his selection.
 

“Michael Bernstein is an outstanding scholar and academic administrator with a very high degree of emotional intelligence,” said Tulane President Emeritus Scott Cowen. “He has all the attributes of highly effective leaders in academia as well as the experience of being a very effective dean and provost at outstanding universities in both good and trying times. Since I was born and raised in New Jersey, I am particularly pleased he will be the next president of TCNJ.” 

“Michael Bernstein is a star,” said Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber. “I’ve known him since 2007, when we both served as provosts. He is an accomplished scholar and dedicated teacher who cares deeply about student-faculty interaction, faculty scholarship, and academic rigor. These values have shaped his extraordinary service as provost for both Tulane University and Stony Brook University. I have no doubt that Michael will continue to be an inspiring leader for The College of New Jersey, which is one of America’s greatest public liberal arts colleges.”

TCNJ President Emeritus Harold Eickhoff, who served from 1979–1998, believes that Bernstein is the right leader to write the next chapter in the institution’s history. 
 
“In these troubled times of our beloved profession, public higher education’s need for strong, purpose-driven leadership has never been greater, Eickhoff said. “Dr. Michael Bernstein, as interim president of TCNJ for the past year, has demonstrated that he is that kind of leader. The trustees have chosen wisely.
 

Bernstein received his PhD (1982), MPhil (1980), MA (1978), and BA (1976) in economics from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. His teaching and research interests focus on the economic and political history of the United States, macroeconomic theory, industrial organization economics, and the history of economic theory.


 

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