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Secretary of Higher Education nominee Brian Bridges.

United Negro College Fund official is Murphy’s pick for secretary of higher education

By Nikita Biryukov, October 30 2020 11:28 am

United Negro College Fund Vice President of Research and Member Engagement Brian Bridges is Gov. Phil Murphy’s pick for the next secretary of higher education, the governor announced Friday.

“Dr. Brian Bridges has the vision and experience needed to put a college education within reach for more students, including continuing our highly successful Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) program,” Murphy said. “I know he’ll be a fierce advocate for our students and will work closely with both public and private college and university leaders to expand opportunity while promoting equity and access for all.”

Politico New Jersey first reported Bridges’ selection on Thursday.

Assuming he’s confirmed, Bridges will fill the role left vacant when former Higher Education Secretary Zakiya Smith Ellis left to become Murphy’s chief policy advisor.

“I look forward to working with leaders across the Garden State to develop and refine policies and practices that further improve student success, create efficiencies of scale, and strengthen the higher education enterprise,” Bridges said.

He’ll replace Interim Secretary of Higher Education Diana Gonzalez, who helmed the agency after Smith-Ellis took up her new position.

Strongly considered for the post was the Monmouth University Provost, Dr. Rekha Datta.  The Marlboro resident was runner-up behind Bridges.

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