Getting to know higher education secretary nominee Brian Bridges

Upon being introduced Oct. 30 as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s selection for secretary of higher education, Dr. Brian Bridges spoke about his experience, family, building relationships and more.

Here is some of what Dr. Bridges had to say:

  • “I want to give special recognition to Zakiya Smith Ellis, the previous secretary who continues to serve Gov. Murphy and the state of New Jersey as chief policy adviser, for the wisdom and knowledge she has imparted to me during this process. And I will try, try not to distract her too much from her new job as I seek out her mentorship in the initial months.”
  • “I am a child of Brooklyn, New York, and Beaufort, South Carolina — a child of a praying and loving grandmother who was born in 1911 and only achieved a sixth-grade education but who always had a love of reading and learning. This was a love that she instilled in her children and subsequently passed it on to her grandchildren. And this level of learning lives on today long after her earthly journey ended, but it comes to life every time I pick up a book. She instilled in me the importance of education as a pathway to a better life — not only for me, but for my entire family.”
  • “I’ve held a wide range of diverse roles in my higher education career over the past 25 years or so, which have afforded me opportunities to serve as a faculty member, both an academic administrator and a student affairs administrator, a researcher and a mentor and advocate for student success. Those experiences have allowed me to … appreciate the value of cooperation among all parties, including and especially understanding the role of labor in developing solutions.”
  • “My experiences at both public and private universities and leading national nonprofit associations that advocate on behalf of a stronger, more equitable higher education enterprise have prepared me well to effectively serve New Jersey as the state navigates COVID and continues to refine its first-in-class postsecondary system.”