Provost Speaks to the Importance of a Bachelor’s Degree


Jeffrey H. Toney, Ph.D., Kean University provost and vice president for academic affairs, told a statewide gathering of leaders in higher education, government and business that the value of bachelor’s degree cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Serving as an expert panelist at the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities (NJASCU) annual Higher Education Symposium, held Thursday, October 19, at the Trenton War Memorial in Trenton, Toney said the value of a college degree is measured in opportunity.

“You can’t measure freedom from a cycle of poverty, of escaping from the tyranny of limits imposed by where you were born, what you look like or whom you love. You can’t measure the value of proving those wrong who didn’t have faith in you, or the joy of following your dreams, of finding a career that never feels like work because you love what you do. You can’t describe the beauty of a vista at the top of a mountain until you’ve climbed the path. A college degree can do all that, and more,” Toney said.

Noting that 85 percent of the jobs expected by 2030 haven’t been invented yet and that a post-secondary education is needed for 99 percent of the new jobs added to the economy since 2011, Toney urged those in attendance to work together to eliminate obstacles to higher education for all prospective students.

“I have the honor to speak to you today because great teachers and mentors took a kid like me – first in his family to go to college –  by the hand and guided me, sometimes pushed me, up the path. Too many young men and women have potential locked inside them,” he said.

The purpose of NJASCU’s annual event is to stimulate discussion among state government, business and higher education leaders about significant issues challenging New Jersey’s public higher education institutions and affecting not only the hundreds of thousands of enrolled students, but also every resident and business in the state. The two breakout sessions at this year’s event focused on The Importance of a Bachelor’s Degree for New Jersey’s Economy and Institutional Strategies to Contain Costs and Public-Private Partnerships. The keynote speaker was former New Jersey Governor James Florio, who said the value of a bachelor’s degree goes beyond the individual.

“Less obvious is the value of a bachelor’s degree for sustaining a civil society and our democracy. The bachelor’s degree provides the tools to accommodate change, to develop analytical skills, to acquire intellectual courage, to engage with and understand others,” Florio said. “Higher education is crucial to prepare a new generation of leaders.”

New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Assistant Commissioner Jeffrey Stoller gave a presentation that charted two documented trends – with more education, median incomes increase dramatically and unemployment rates plummet. He offered eight cornerstones of success to promote and encourage higher education, including increasing high school/college partnerships and strengthening two- and four-year college partnerships. In both of these areas, Kean University is a leader in the state.

Also participating in the symposium were New Jersey Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr.; New Jersey Assembly Higher Education Committee Chairwoman Mila Jasey; New Jersey Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald; Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker; The College of New Jersey President R. Barbara Gitenstein, Ph.D.; Montclair State University President Susan A. Cole, Ph.D.; Ramapo College President Peter P. Mercer, Ph.D.; Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman, Ed.D.; Thomas Edison State University President George A. Pruitt, Ph.D.; William Paterson University President Kathleen Waldron, Ph.D.; New Jersey City University Business School Dean Bernard McSherry, DPS; Rowan University Senior Vice President for Facilities Donald E. Moore; New Jersey Business and Industry Association President Michele Siekerka, J.D.; NJASCU CEO Michael Klein, Ph.D.; and NJ Spotlight Editor John Mooney.

Photo Caption:

Kean University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeffrey H. Toney, former New Jersey Governor James Florio and Thomas Edison State University President George Pruitt at the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities annual Higher Education Symposium, held Thursday, October 19, at the Trenton War Memorial in Trenton.


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