The College of New Jersey: A case study in institutional transformation

Mary-Elaine Wszalek Perry, University of Pennsylvania


This work investigates institutional change at The College of New Jersey from 1975 to 1996. The purpose of this study is to understand how internal and external influences stimulated and guided organizational change at the College, and to explore how strategy was shaped and reshaped as the external context shifted. The study considered the context of the time in American higher education, the internal issues of leadership and collegial governance, and the vision for the institution since the mid-1970s and it assesses whether the college is today the institution it was envisioned to be. Institutional change was examined utilizing various resources. Institutional information provided indicators of the nature of change and the progress the college made toward its goals. Institutional publications and reports show the public face of change. Presidential addresses, trustee minutes, correspondences, and reports of the Department of Higher Education provide insights into the process and politics of institutional change. The Middle States Accreditation reports from 1965 through 2002 gave an institutional voice to change and offered the insights of external reviewers. The real story, however, comes from interviews with former presidents, administrators, faculty leaders, board of trustees members, and student leaders. These interviews provide varying perspectives on what went on at the college, the roles these individuals and groups saw themselves playing in the transformation, and whether the institution is today what they believed it would or could be. Although many institutions long to move from “Good Buy” to “Name Brand,” the literature offers few examples of institutions that have accomplished this. This study examines an institution that has been successful in envisioning a mission of excellence in public higher education, and depicts how the institution went about accomplishing the necessary changes by utilizing existing strengths, strategic planning, political positioning, opportunities and the determination to succeed. It examines how change occurs and informs others as they contemplate or attempt to transform an institution. It assesses the individual and institutional costs of such a transformation and provides recommendations from the lessons learned in closely examining this institution.

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

Perry, Mary-Elaine Wszalek, "The College of New Jersey: A case study in institutional transformation" (2003). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3092045.