Dr. Dawood Farahi
Dr. Farahi became President of Kean University in July 2003 following a unanimous vote of support from the Kean University Board of Trustees. In the years that followed, Dr. Farahi has initiated and implemented some of the most significant improvements in Kean University's history, all to strengthen its mission of providing students with access to a world-class education.
During his tenure, Dr. Farahi has increased academic offerings, scholarship programs and student services; overhauled the look and feel of the campus; launched the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics to help address the nation’s shortage of math and science teachers and bench scientists; and hired more than 150 new faculty members to meet the needs of Kean's burgeoning student population. He achieved all this while keeping Kean's tuition the lowest of all the public universities in New Jersey.
Once Dr. Farahi took office as President of Kean University, he sought nothing less than to establish Kean as the finest public institution for New Jersey's students. He began by improving student services. Farahi oversaw the creation of the Center for Academic Success (CAS), which is committed to helping all undergraduate students achieve, regardless of their level of academic preparation. The program received national accolades and has contributed to the University’s increasing retention and graduation rates. CAS is the centerpiece of a spectacular, student-focused academic center. The building is representative of the many campus improvements that have taken place during Farahi's service, and has also received nationwide attention as the first higher-education building in the state to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Farahi's vision for academics is similarly innovative. Seeing that the nation is experiencing a critical shortage of teachers and researchers in the areas of science, mathematics and technology, Farahi created the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics (NJCSTM), which provides full scholarships to students interested in these exciting and rewarding careers. The program moved into its state-of-the-art research facility in the fall of 2010.
Another landmark in Kean's history was made when the University's first ever doctoral program was approved by the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education. The Doctorate of Psychology in Professional Psychology: School Psychology enrolled its first cohort of doctoral students in the fall of 2008. The University added a second doctoral program in Educational Leadership that began in 2009.
Farahi has employed new initiatives for the creative arts at Kean, centralizing all related programs under the new School of Visual and Performing Arts, which offers 12 full-time tuition scholarships to talented students. In addition, Farahi has made the University's Wilkins Theatre a hub of community activity, and redeveloped a chapel in the University’s graduate college into the truly spectacular Enlow Recital Hall and recording studio. All the while, he has kept an eye on serving the community by offering programs such as Senior Night Out, which provides free tickets to performing-arts events to local senior citizens.
Under the leadership of Farahi, Kean University completed a $30 million capital campaign, Transforming Lives: The Campaign for Kean University. The campaign helped fund the next generation of educational programs, scholarship and fellowship initiatives, endowment components and other capital endeavors.
Farahi has ushered in a new era in Kean athletics with the centerpiece being the 3,500 seat Harwood Arena and the renovated D'Angola gymnasium which features the University's health and wellness center. Farahi has also expanded the seating at the Alumni Stadium, making it the premier location to host high school state championships, as well as the Pride Bowl. In 2007, the Kean Baseball team garnered the University's second ever national championship by sweeping the Division III national finals.
While always looking toward the future, Farahi has also shepherded a historic effort to preserve the past. In May 2007, John Kean H'05 entrusted Kean University with the preservation of Liberty Hall, the former Kean family estate located across Morris Avenue from the University's main campus. The 26-acre estate is home to several historic structures, including the 230-year old mansion built by William Livingston, the first elected governor of New Jersey, as well as a trove of national treasures housed there. A letter from George Washington dated 1787, as well as long forgotten letters from Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, are just a few of the many precious artifacts that have been discovered.
Under Farahi's guidance, Kean now plans to construct the John Kean Museum of American History to exhibit Liberty Hall documents and artifacts to the public and make them available for scholarly study. It will also digitize the collection so that schools across the nation may have access.
A naturalized citizen who immigrated to the United States as a college student, Farahi often shares with Kean students that he is a living example of how education can help people realize the American dream. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, where he was a Fulbright scholar.