Aerial Photo of Campus
News and Announcements

Montclair Preparing the Next Generation of Higher Ed Leaders

University’s Higher Education Capstone Conference to showcase work in diversity, inclusion and equity

Posted in: Announcements, Homepage News and Events, Teacher Education

Jake Hutchison
Jake Hutchison, a candidate for the Higher Education MA, is researching why students choose a certain school.

Montclair State University is shaping the next generation of leaders prepared to address the challenges facing higher education today, including leading social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion efforts on college campuses.

“It’s a critical time to do this work,” says Educational Leadership Associate Professor Blanca Elizabeth Vega.

With issues of diversity, equity, minority-serving institutions and college access explicitly built into the Higher Education (MA) curriculum, the culminating projects of students in the master’s program include research on underrepresented and at-risk populations, everything from student success to faculty development, Vega says.

The projects will be showcased on Friday, May 3 when the MA in Higher Education program hosts the annual Capstone Conference for graduating students. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. in University Hall, Room 1010.

“Montclair sees its role as shaping future practitioners and researchers who understand the complex problems and issues in higher education and the changing demographics,” says Kristie Damell, an adjunct professor overseeing the capstones who works as Associate Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator at New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Angelica Martinez
Angelica Martinez, at a recent campus event for commuters, is researching the barriers to participating in such activities.

The capstone projects reflect the master’s students’ varied interests. For instance, two of this year’s graduating students are tackling issues in the University departments where they work.

Angelica Martinez, graduate coordinator of Commuter Life, is researching the barriers facing commuter students in getting involved in campus activities and ways to improve their sense of belonging. “I’m working on a survey to gauge where that focus should be,” she says.

Jake Hutchison, a graduate enrollment generalist for Montclair, is researching why students choose a certain school. “I’m working on collecting better data from accepted students to understand how to improve admissions practices,” he says. His research reveals a gap between the number of accepted students and those who eventually enroll. “I’m trying to understand why that is happening,” he says.

To learn more about the MA in Higher Education program, please reach out to Jeff Bendett, coordinator for Recruitment, Enrollment and Partnerships, at

Photos by University Photographer Mike Peters.