Campus Green: Management Practices at New Jersey’s Senior Public Colleges

Education, Featured, Policy — By Paul Tyahla on November 23, 2010 at 3:59 PM


The New Jersey Legislature and Governor Christie are simultaneously examining the effectiveness and affordability of the state’s public higher education system. This report is the first in a Common Sense Institute of New Jersey (CSI-NJ) series that will analyze how New Jersey’s higher education system compares to similar systems throughout the country and the ways in which New Jersey colleges allocate their resources. In the final report, CSI-NJ will offer its recommendations for reducing tuition and increasing access to public colleges in New Jersey


The first report focuses on New Jersey’s nine senior-public colleges. It does not analyze the state’s 19 community colleges or its three research universities.

Key Findings

The key findings of the report are,

  • New Jersey has the most costly public colleges in the United States, more than $4,000 more expensive than comparable regional systems.
  • The colleges annual operating loss of $354 million in FY 2009 was supported by $452 million in state appropriations. Years of this type of state funding have assisted the schools in accumulating excess cash reserves
  • The nine public colleges have a combined $539 million in unrestricted cash reserves, enough to replace their state budget appropriations for more than two years should the state restructure the higher education system
  • The colleges’ debt-to-student revenue ratio is more than five times higher than the national average
  • Only half of public college spending is dedicated to direct student services such as instruction, academic support and student services
  • More than 25% of employees at New Jersey colleges are categorized as being in “Executive” and “Professional” positions, compared to slightly more than 10% in Pennsylvania
  • Executive and managerial compensation at New Jersey is inconsistent with institutional size, and comparable regional state college systems.

To view the full report, download it here: 

About the Author

MARK “JAY” WILLIAMS is the Senior Research Fellow of the Common Sense Institute of New Jersey, where he utilizes his extensive background in scientific policy analysis, visual analytics, and cognitive sciences. Jay conducts research and writes about public economics issues regarding education, higher education, and local government, with a specific focus on accountability and measurement systems.

Jay’s research on public school metrics has been utilized by Executive and Legislative departments, commissions, and task forces, and he has been an advisor to recent Governor’s task force on non-public school funding. His research is at the forefront of quantitative measurement methodology, and he has introduced new dialogue on non-linear dynamics, complexity science, and robust adaptive policy, into current policy discussions.

Jay is a former Fortune 100 executive for brand and product management, a Director of Research and Instruction for a large, urban school district in New Jersey and a Senior Director of a New Jersey public state college. His doctoral work is in econometrics and operations research.

To contact Mark “Jay” Williams, e-mail [email protected]

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