Aaron R. Fichtner, Ph.D. Named President of New Jersey Council of County Colleges

TRENTON, N.J.—After conducting a national search, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) – the state association for New Jersey’s 19 community colleges – has named Aaron R. Fichnter, Ph.D., of Lawrenceville, its new President. Fichtner began his new role with the NJCCC on February 5, 2018.

Fichtner succeeds Lawrence A. Nespoli, Ed.D., who retired after 27 years of service to the NJCCC and New Jersey’s community colleges.

“The New Jersey Council of County Colleges is very fortunate to have Dr. Fichtner as our new president,” said NJCCC Chair Helen Albright. “We are confident that Aaron’s extensive experience in state government and workforce and economic development will add strength to an already strong sector of higher education, and help our community colleges expand their reach to serve more students by providing them with the postsecondary credentials they need to succeed in the workforce and in life.”

The NJCCC, based in Trenton, was created by state statute (18A:64A-26) in 1989 and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. As an independent, trustee-headed organization that joins the leadership of trustees and presidents, the NJCCC has three core areas of responsibility:

  1. Advancement/Advocacy: The NJCCC is the voice of the community college sector to the Governor’s Office and Legislature, advocating for the advancement and state funding of New Jersey’s 19 community colleges;
  2. Statutory Responsibilities: Since the enactment of the New Jersey Higher Education Restructuring Act in 1994, the NJCCC has carried out some statutory responsibilities, including developing and recommending allocations for operating and capital funding for community colleges and submitting an annual state budget request to the State Treasurer; and
  3. Statewide Coordinating Efforts: The NJCCC sponsors statewide strategic initiatives, which add value for those member community colleges that choose to participate.

“New Jersey’s 19 community colleges are excited to work with Dr. Fichtner in his new role with the NJCCC,” said Passaic County Community College President and New Jersey Community College Presidents Chairman Steven Rose, Ed.D. “Dr. Fichtner has been a community college champion for his entire career, and he recognizes the valuable role community colleges play in providing high quality, affordable and accessible higher education to the people of New Jersey.”

“It is an incredible honor to be selected as the next President of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges,” Fichtner said. “It is truly an exciting and important time for community colleges in New Jersey. Our state’s critical priorities, from expanding economic opportunity to enhancing economic competitiveness, can be achieved because of the high quality programs and services provided by our 19 community colleges.”

Prior to joining the NJCCC, Fichtner served as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, appointed to the position in September 2016. He served in leadership roles in the Department since 2010, first as Assistant Commissioner for Research and Information and then as Deputy Commissioner for four and half years. Under his leadership, the Department implemented new initiatives that expanded economic opportunity through innovative, data-driven partnerships with high schools, colleges, community-based organizations, libraries, industry associations, and employers. Fichtner served as the Chair of the National Association of State Liaisons for Workforce Development Partnerships, an affiliate of the National Governors Association, from February 2016 to January 2018.

Before joining the Department in 2010, Fichtner was the Director of Research and Evaluation at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. In that role, he conducted extensive research on the workforce and skill needs of key industries, implemented a variety of workforce and education initiatives, and conducted evaluations of education and training programs. He has also worked in the field of economic development in Jersey City and Atlanta.

Fichtner earned a Ph.D. in Planning and Public Policy from Rutgers University, a master’s degree in City Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in History from Vassar College.

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges is the state association representing New Jersey’s 19 community colleges. As an independent, trustee-headed organization that joins the leadership of trustees and presidents, the Council is the voice of the community college sector before the state legislature and other branches of government.

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