In Memoriam - Nathan Weiss ’48

A native of Newark, NJ, Nathan Weiss, age 90 and President Emeritus of Kean University, passed this life on April 9, 2013 at his home in Egg Harbor Township, NJ with his beloved wife at his side.   Dr. Weiss served as President of Kean College of New Jersey, now Kean University, for 20 years, retiring as senior president of the state colleges in 1989.  In 1961, he joined the Newark State College Department of History and Social Sciences and six years later became a full professor and department chair.  In 1969, he became President and also continued to teach every year until 1999, ten years after his retirement.

He has been described as a "man for all seasons" as he clearly understood the words of Kipling who wrote, we must "walk with crowds nor lose virtue, and talk with Kings, nor lose the common touch."  In this light, he became known as something of a "maverick" as he vigorously pursued a vision of higher education that is open to all students, regardless of age, gender, disadvantage, or minority status.  He considered Kean College as "the college in the service of the people of New Jersey."  

Dr. Weiss began his career as an educator (in his perspective, the highest of callings) at Fallsburgh High School (NY State) after serving three years with the U.S. Army Air Force in the Pacific Theater.  He received a BA from Montclair State College (now University) and an MA from Rutgers University.  In 1961, he earned a PhD in government from New York University, and, upon his retirement, he was the recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from Kean, Montclair State, and Jersey City State, honoring his contributions to higher education and his beloved state of New Jersey.  The University also recognized his contributions in 1998 by naming its graduate division the “Nathan Weiss Graduate College."

As an undergraduate student, Dr. Weiss was an honor-athlete playing football and track and was later inducted in the Montclair State College Athletic Hall of Fame.  Football was one of his lifelong passions and, as President of Kean; he inspired the creation of its football program and was inducted into its Athletic Hall of Fame.

Throughout his professional life, Dr. Weiss authored books and articles related to the occupation of Japan, governance, collective bargaining, and politics; and was a frequent speaker throughout New Jersey in addition to serving as a member of numerous organizations, including a term as President of the New Jersey Public Administrators Association.   His presidency included some of the most tumultuous years in higher education and is documented in his book, "At the Center of the Storm: Reflections of a State College President."  In 2010, he published a personal life memoir entitled "The Streets of Newark to the Halls of Academia, An American Story."

In addition to his wife, Dr. Bernice vanSteyn-Weiss (Rydell), of 31 years, he is survived by a son, Dr. Michael L.Weiss (Dr. Michelle Weiss); brother, Dr. Seymour Weiss (Dr. Judi Weiss); daughter, Paula W. Attryde (Joseph); granddaughter, Lena Weiss; brother-in-law, Peter Van Steyn (Cass); sister-in-law, Gloria Mohr (Dr. Kent Mohr); Dorothy Harth (Richard); and 21 nephews, nieces, and great nephews and nieces.  He is pre-deceased by his parents, Paul and Lena (Berman) Weiss, a son, Steven, and a niece, Beth Weiss.  

A commemoration program celebrating the life of Nathan Weiss will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, 2013 on the East Campus of Kean University in the Enlow Recital Hall, 215 North Avenue, Hillside, NJ.  A military burial and private interment was held at the State of New Jersey's Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown, NJ.  Those who wish to honor him through contributions may do so through the Kean University Foundation for the Steven J. Weiss Scholarship or the Howard Skarbnik Endowment; through the Montclair State University Foundation for the Dr. Nathan Weiss '48 Scholarship; or a charity of their own choosing.