Jonathan G.S. Koppell has been selected as Montclair State University’s ninth president, the Board of Trustees announced today. A nationally regarded scholar of policy, organization and management who transformed the public affairs college at Arizona State University into one of the largest, best and most innovative in the nation, Koppell will start on August 2.
Board of Trustees Chair Francis M. Cuss said the Board is excited about the appointment and will act formally on it at the June 22 Board meeting.
“Jonathan Koppell was the clear choice for all the Trustees, who were impressed with his energy, his passion, and his dedication to the ideals of public higher education,” Cuss said. “He is an experienced and visionary leader with a very strong record of increasing service to students and communities, of supporting and advancing the work of the faculty, and engaging donors and alumni in the mission of his institution. He has created mutually beneficial partnerships with many external organizations and communities, and he is known on his campus as a fierce advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity. All of these qualities, coupled with his experience as a teacher, a scholar and an administrator, make him the ideal choice for Montclair State at this moment in our history.”
“I could not be more excited about joining Montclair State University,” Koppell said. “At a pivotal moment in higher education, this university – with its deep commitment to serving the public interest and advancing student success – has an opportunity to define the future. I am so impressed by what the faculty and staff have accomplished with President Cole, and I am confident we can build on this foundation in bold, imaginative ways that contribute to the prosperity, health and well being of New Jersey and the nation.”
As Montclair State’s president, Koppell will lead one of New Jersey’s largest and most successfully diverse public research universities, one that serves more than 21,000 students enrolled in some 300 degree programs offered by 10 colleges and schools on a 252-acre campus.
During his decade-long tenure as dean of ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and vice provost for public service and social impact, the College more than doubled its enrollment, becoming the nation’s largest comprehensive public affairs college, serving more than 9,000 students in bachelor’s, masters and doctoral programs. He also led the College to significantly improve its student retention and graduation rates through new and innovative counseling and student-support initiatives. Koppell quadrupled fundraising at the college, secured one of the largest gifts in the university’s 136-year history and tripled research funding to exceed $30 million annually. The College is ASU’s most diverse. The majority of its students are from underrepresented minority communities, and nearly two-thirds are from lower-income families.
Known as one of the most entrepreneurial leaders at Arizona State, an institution that is widely regarded as one of the nation’s most innovative universities, Koppell has guided Watts College to add some 20 new degree programs, greatly expand its online offerings and global programs, launch a unique joint college in Hainan, China, and create the nation’s first Public Service Academy. National rankings skyrocketed under his leadership with numerous programs now rated in the top 10 nationally.
“Jonathan has been a transformational leader at ASU, launching innovative programs to serve the public interest, increasing student access and success, advancing diversity among the faculty and college leadership, and greatly enhancing research expenditures and philanthropic support,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “He is a firm believer that public universities play a fundamental role in advancing nearly every aspect of society. I have every confidence that Jonathan will fully apply his lifelong dedication to higher education to further elevating Montclair State University.”
Koppell has been a leader in the Phoenix metropolitan area and across Arizona, an important voice who has created deep, collaborative partnerships to address critical challenges from homelessness to youth disengagement to broadband access. He launched a public-private partnership embedding support services within Section 8 housing in downtown Phoenix and created a series of public-serving centers and institutes, including the Design Studio for Community Solutions, the Congressman Ed Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service, the Senator Jon Kyl Center for Water Policy, the Center for Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the Center for Human Capital and Youth Development, and the Center for Correctional Solutions.
He will succeed Susan A. Cole, who is retiring after 23 years of service. Under her leadership, the University nearly doubled its enrollment and rose from a well-respected regional master’s institution with an almost entirely commuter student population to become a doctoral research university with a sizable residential student population and a growing national reputation.
Cole recruited a highly diverse student body, hired hundreds of talented faculty members, opened four new schools and colleges, built some 4 million square feet of new academic space and modernized many teaching and research facilities, added housing for thousands of students, installed a highly efficient energy infrastructure that includes one of the few campus microgrids in the nation and added a train station providing direct access to midtown Manhattan.
“Over the past two decades, Montclair State has evolved into a large, highly complex research university, expanded our service to New Jersey and the nation and built on the historical values of this institution to create a welcoming and supportive university dedicated to serving students who aspire to lives of accomplishment and contribution to society,” Cole said. “I am confident that Jonathan Koppell understands this university and will work with the campus community to continue to secure a meaningful future for Montclair State and the students and the state it serves.”
“Montclair State, under President Cole’s leadership, has experienced a transformation that is nothing short of remarkable,” said Board of Trustees Chair Cuss. “At this moment in our history, we are now poised to build on those accomplishments and make an even greater impact on our state and on our nation.”
Brian Bridges, New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education said, “Montclair State has made an outstanding choice for its next president. Dr. Koppell’s accomplishments at Arizona State are quite impressive, and he has been engaged in a significant body of innovative work. I look forward to working with him in the years to come.”
Koppell brings to Montclair State a national reputation as a leading scholar of policy, organization and management. He earned doctoral and master’s degrees in political science from the University of California – Berkeley and a baccalaureate degree in government from Harvard University. At ASU he holds the endowed Lattie and Elva Coor Presidential Chair as Professor of Public Administration and Policy and is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. At Montclair State he will serve as a faculty member in political science.
Before becoming dean, Koppell was director of ASU’s School of Public Affairs. He began his academic career at Yale University, where he held faculty appointments in the School of Management and led the Milstein Center for Corporate Governance Performance.
He serves on the boards of several community and nonprofit organizations and has been a visiting scholar at the Brookings Institution, a Markle Fellow at the New America Foundation and a Fulbright Lecturer in Shanghai, China. He is the author of books and articles on global governance institutions, public-private hybrid organizations and corporate governance.
Koppell, 51, is married to Jennifer Steen with whom he has two high school-aged children. The appointment represents a return to his home region. A lifelong Yankees and Jets fan, Koppell grew up in the Bronx and graduated from the Bronx H.S. of Science, the son of a New Jersey college professor and a longtime New York elected official: Kathleen Sunshine a former dean and professor at Ramapo College and G. Oliver Koppell a former New York State attorney general, state assemblyman and New York City Council member.
Chairman Cuss expressed his appreciation to the Presidential Search Committee. “This committee, which included faculty, staff, students, alumni and trustees, presented the Board with a diverse slate of outstanding finalists,” he said. “The Board thanks them for their careful, thoughtful work.”
Montclair State University is a research doctoral institution ranked in the top tier of national universities. Building on a distinguished history dating back to 1908, the University today has 10 colleges and schools that serve more than 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in some 300 doctoral, master’s and baccalaureate programs. Situated on a beautiful, 252-acre suburban campus just 12 miles from New York City, Montclair State delivers the instructional and research resources of a large public university in a supportive, sophisticated and diverse academic environment.
To learn more about Dr. Koppell, please visit the Presidential Search website, where you can find a copy of his curriculum vitae, a list of his key accomplishments, and links to his social media accounts.