By Patricia Alex, Staff Writer, The Record

The recent approval of taxpayer-supported Kean University’s architecture program —designed mostly for foreign students — may provide a window into what critics says is a lack of state oversight and coordination for public higher education in New Jersey.

Kean sought the necessary state approvals for the Michael Graves School of Architecture only after it had a public launch of the program and spent a considerable amount of money on consultants, staff and outfitting of a new building at its Union campus.

Initially, the New Jersey Institute of Technology raised a forceful objection to the program — even issuing a public statement — saying it was a costly duplication of expensive programs they offered nearby in Newark.

By the time Kean finally sought state approval, however, those objections had vanished. Joel Bloom, president of NJIT, said the school dropped its objections after he and Kean President Dawood Farahi met privately and Farahi assured him that most of the seats would go to foreign students. “It was no threat to us,” Bloom said. Bloom said the fact that his wife works for Farahi, as a $96,000 instructor at Kean’s Ocean campus, posed no conflict for him when he made the decision not to pursue NJIT’s objections.


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