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New Jersey Secretary of High Education Zakiya Smith Ellis

Search is on to replace Repollet, Smith Ellis, Murphy says

State’s two top education officials leaving their posts

By Nikita Biryukov, June 03 2020 1:54 pm

The search has to replace the two top education officials in Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is underway, the governor said Wednesday.

“We will endeavor as soon as we can, but we want to do it right as opposed to just quickly. We will begin, and we really have begun, the quiet process of thinking through potential names,” he said. “Nothing to report. Clearly, it will take a while.”

Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet is departing the administration to become president of Kean University.

Higher Education Secretary Zakiya Smith-Ellis is staying in Murphy world, but she’ll soon replace Kathleen Frangione as the governor’s chief policy advisor. Frangione left the administration to take a new job.

Though both officials are leaving their posts, neither will do so in the immediate future.

“I don’t have a specific date on either, but there’s at least some number of weeks minimal to go in both of their cases in their current position,” Murphy said.

The departures were first reported by the New Jersey Globe.

While it’s unclear who will replace either cabinet member, the departures could cause Demographic shifts in the 25-member body.

Currently, women hold a narrow majority of the governor’s cabinet positions, outnumbering men 13-12, a fact that Murphy touted frequently early into his term.

Their departures could also cut the number of Murphy’s black cabinet members to five.

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