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President Repollet Delivers First Opening Day Address, Pledges to Take University from 'Great to Elite’

Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., delivers his Opening Day Address.

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., says Kean will seek status as a research university.

Kean University President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., delivered his first Opening Day Address to the Kean community via livestream on August 31, pledging to make the University “New Jersey’s next world-class research institution.”

He called on Kean’s faculty, staff and students to work with him to move the University “from great to elite” by pursuing a prestigious R2 Carnegie research classification for Kean, a reflection of the University’s commitment and investment in research.

“Kean University is the next world-class research institution in New Jersey. I am stating that proudly here today,” he said. 

WATCH: President Repollet's 2020 Opening Day Address

Speaking from Enlow Recital Hall at the Kean University East Campus, Repollet said he is building his plans for the 2020-2021 academic year and beyond on three pillars: safety, academic excellence and equity.

“As the world around us continues to shift, one thing will remain steadfast — the health and safety of every member of our Kean community comes first,” he said. “This is non-negotiable.”

The Kean president announced a number of new initiatives to cement the University’s student-centered approach to higher education, including:

  • Enhancements to the One Stop Service Center to better meet student needs
  • The creation of the Division of Student Success and Retention to strengthen an outcomes approach to student success
  • The establishment of the President’s Leadership Council, a group of diverse student leaders to guide and advise him

“A student-centered approach means we embrace a steadfast commitment to equity, and consider all students in all that we do,” Repollet said. “No matter how a student enters the University, we’re going to receive them where they are and take them where they want to be.”

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests for racial justice across the country, Repollet said Kean is poised at a "unique moment" in history that presents the University with opportunities for growth.

“I cannot stand before you today and not acknowledge that, as a Black man, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the countless others who came before compound centuries of trauma in the Black and Brown community,” he said. “When we talk about equity, and a student-centered approach, it is essential that we elevate student voices and empower them to build a just and equitable world.”

Repollet announced he will establish an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to develop policies and resources to address equity across gender, racial, religious, sexual orientation and disability lines and create a campus where the faculty and staff reflect the diversity of Kean’s students. 

“Now more than ever, humanity must prevail. For leadership not driven by humanity will fail unequivocally,” he said. 

Repollet assumed the role of Kean president on July 1 after two and a half years as the New Jersey Commissioner of Education, succeeding Dawood Farahi, Ph.D. He received a master’s degree in educational administration from Kean in 2000, and he served on the Kean Board of Trustees for seven years.

Repollet, the 18th leader of Kean University, thanked the University’s faculty, staff and students for their resiliency in adapting to the changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. He invited them to join with him “to ensure that every corner of our Kean community moves forward in tandem.”

Repollet closed his address with the question, “As we write the 18th chapter of Kean’s history, what will be your verse?”