New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) has selected John Pelesko to serve as its next provost and senior vice president for academic affairs after a nationwide search. Pelesko, currently the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Delaware (UD), will start on Aug. 1.
Pelesko is an NJIT alumnus who earned a Ph.D. in mathematical sciences from the university. He will seek to enhance NJIT’s educational programs and grow its research portfolio through federal, state and industry partnerships. More broadly, he’ll work closely with NJIT President Teik C. Lim and the Board of Trustees to identify, communicate and achieve NJIT’s academic priorities. In addition to his work as dean at UD, Pelesko serves as a professor of mathematical sciences.
“John’s extensive experience as an educator and administrator as well as his familiarity with and passion for NJIT’s mission will enable him to provide the academic leadership that we need to fulfill our commitment to excellence and global impact through education, research, economic development and engagement,” Lim said. “He knows, first-hand, what makes NJIT tick and offers compelling ideas for how we can evolve to become a preeminent polytechnic university.”
Board of Trustees and Provost Search Committee member Elisa Charters said, “This was an impressively collaborative process, and it was clear that Dr. Pelesko differentiated himself with specific strengths that directly align with NJIT’s mission, vision and goals of shared governance, faculty and student engagement, financial management, advancing research as an R1 institution across all disciplines and driving student success and career placement. He also demonstrated a determination to ensure the highest levels of inclusion and belonging, which is of critical importance to all of our stakeholders.”
Pelesko brings rich experience to the role, having served as a professor, department chair, associate dean, interim dean and dean at UD, where he has worked since 2002. In four years as dean, he led UD’s largest and most diverse college, with 8,000 students, 600 faculty members, 24 academic departments and an annual budget of about $150 million. During that period, the college developed an Early College Credit Program; established new alumni and peer-to-peer mentoring programs; launched a Student Success Center that provides professional advising and cocurricular coaching for all undergraduate students; recruited more than 150 full-time faculty members; and developed new and innovative academic programs that led to new revenue and resource opportunities and enabled Delaware to invest in faculty and build an environment that encourages increased research grant activity. Sponsored expenditures in the College of Arts and Sciences have grown by more than 31% during his tenure.
Before UD, Pelesko taught mathematics at Georgia Institute of Technology and computing and mathematical sciences at California Institute of Technology. His studies at NJIT opened the door to such opportunities. During the search process, Pelesko noted that NJIT’s offer of scholarship support and a teaching assistant job represented an “extraordinary, life-changing” moment for the New Jersey native who came from a family with limited financial means.
“NJIT embodies the attributes that I value in an institution: a deep commitment to access and student success, a world-class research enterprise, an innovative, entrepreneurial and inclusive culture and an ambition to extend its impact in the world,” Pelesko said. “I’m grateful for this opportunity as I have personally experienced the transformative power of an NJIT education.”
Chair of the NJIT Board of Trustees Robert Cohen said of the selection, “With John, we have a proven leader who appreciates NJIT’s amazing academic and research capabilities. NJIT’s continued high quality of our education and the tremendous positive impact of our research are part of who we are, and we can’t simply stand still. We always need to be looking at future potential. John understands this well.”
As provost, Pelesko will succeed Interim Provost Atam P. Dhawan, who assumed the role after Senior Executive Vice President and Provost Fadi P. Deek returned to the faculty as distinguished professor of informatics and mathematical sciences in July 2022 after nine years as provost.
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