At the 20th anniversary of The Graduate School celebrated on November 9, doctoral students, Fulbright Scholars, faculty, deans and pioneers in the creation of the School gathered to acknowledge the milestones achieved toward bringing research and scholarship to the heart of University life. Fittingly, the celebration took place in The Graduate School’s new home, which for the first time can be found on a map in the center of campus.
Recognition as a doctoral research university is putting Montclair State on the map throughout the state and nationally. “What we are celebrating,” noted Provost Willard Gingerich at the event, “is a serious advancement of higher education at Montclair State University.”
For the past two decades, The Graduate School has worked to meet the educational, career and intellectual goals of students – and the needs of the region. “The growth illustrates the wide-ranging research opportunities we provide for the next generation of scientists and professionals,” said Dean Joan Ficke in an interview prior to the celebration. In her toast leading to a slideshow highlighting 20 years of achievement, Ficke looked forward, acknowledging “the extraordinary excitement that is associated with our future.”
The Graduate School has been central to the transformation at Montclair State, said President Susan A. Cole. “To be a university, we need to have a strong graduate faculty, strong graduate programs and terrific graduate students. Graduate students bring to an institution something that nothing else can provide and it creates the synergies of excitement around research and scholarship, faculty and students, that enable us to create an institution that can achieve the vision we have for it.”
Richard Lynde, who served as Provost and academic leader when The Graduate School was created, sent remarks shared at the celebration. “The story of The Graduate School is really the story of people: the staff, the Graduate Council, the school and college deans, the graduate coordinators and advisors, and perhaps most of all the faculty,” he wrote.
It is also a story of firsts. Montclair State was the first New Jersey state college to offer master’s degrees, was the first to offer a doctoral program at a New Jersey senior public institution, and was the first state institution to offer multiple doctoral programs.
This year, nearly 4,200 students – about 20 percent of the University’s total student enrollment – are pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees, post-baccalaureate certificates and certification in nearly 100 graduate programs. “It’s been the most transformative experience of my life,” said Janice Marsili, a PhD candidate in Teacher Education and Teacher Development, who was among the graduate students at the event.
Recognizing this momentum and growth, the University was named a research doctoral institution in 2016 by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. In 2017, Montclair State was further designated a New Jersey public research university.
National rankings highlight the University’s strengths, including U.S. News and World Report, which placed the graduate education program among the nation’s top 100. Accolades also highlight the Feliciano School of Business MBA, which NJBIZ readers placed in the top three out of 25 New Jersey institutions.
There are a number of promising avenues for the future. Already, Montclair State physics faculty are helping to unravel the mysteries in space as part of the international LIGO Scientific Collaboration. It is among the examples of the University’s expanded research activity, funding and partnerships.
Twenty years from now, “one step, one year at a time,” Montclair State University will take its place as a major graduate institution, Cole predicted. “The reputation is beginning to be established. We are on the path. I believe in that path. And I believe we are going to get there.”