For many months, whenever she’s talked about higher education in New Jersey, AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera has emphasized what’s lacking on the fiscal side: transparency, accountability and oversight (TAO).

On May 1, Chiera spent several minutes on TAO and other topics during the N.J. State Legislature’s Special Meeting on Higher Education at the State House Annex in Trenton.

Chiera was joined by United Adjunct Faculty of New Jersey President Bill Lipkin and others for the meeting’s fourth and final panel of speakers. In her closing testimony, she pushed for stabilizing “our struggling institutions, especially those who are minority-serving.”

“However, I’m not asking you to just hand a check over to those institutions because [in my opinion] that’s how we got here,” Chiera said. Funding a struggling university’s financial plan and having someone from the state monitor that plan, she explained, “is how to stabilize and turn the university around.”

Chiera advocated for legislation to create a commission with equal administration/faculty/student representation that would spend six to eight months “to truly look at the issues of higher education and to come back with recommendations. And I know one of the recommendations will have to be having either a chancellor or a commissioner of higher education who has the authority to go into an institution and ask those questions we heard people ask today.”

She added, “We are in a transitional point in higher education … if we do not do anything to stabilize and grow our institutions, we are going to have less institutions for our students to go to.”

ABOVE: United Adjunct Faculty of New Jersey President Bill Lipkin listens as AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera testifies May 1 in Trenton. (Photo by Chris M. Junior)

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