Rochelle R. Hendricks, a dedicated educator with local, state and national K-12 and higher education experience, was named the first Secretary of Higher Education for the State of New Jersey in May 2011. As Secretary, she was responsible for policy and program development to enhance the capacity and competitiveness of New Jersey’s higher education institutions. During her tenure, Secretary Hendricks engaged the agency in the national higher education reform agenda while focusing on advancing the blueprint for reforming higher education recommended by the Governor’s Higher Education Task Force chaired by Governor Kean, as well as the report issued by the UMDNJ Task Force chaired by Dr. Sol Barer. Under her leadership, the office was reorganized to enhance implementing the reform agenda which, with bipartisan support, has resulted in the largest academic merger in US history and the state’s first higher education facilities funding in two decades.
During her tenure as Secretary, she launched several groundbreaking initiatives to facilitate innovation, equity and continuous excellence in areas essential to the civic and economic well-being of the State and its citizens. Among the initiatives are the following: (New Jersey Prior Learning Assessment Network (NJPLAN), New Jersey STEM Pathways Network (NJSPN), the Higher Education Student Success Collaborative, NJ Coalition of Anchor Institutions, and the Entrepreneurship/Global Impact Program and Award. She has encouraged the use of federal grants administered by OSHE to support programs for impact and sustainability; the College Readiness Now program is a prime example of this funding approach. She is especially pleased with the successful administration by OSHE of the federal grant that has resulted in the long-awaited implementation of the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (NJEEDS). The commitment to the Educational Opportunity Fund program (EOF) and GEAR UP has been strengthened and will continue to be. Raising the visibility and influence of NJ higher education institutions, included active involvement with SHEEO, the National Governors Association and securing funding from Lumina to support the development of NJ’s higher education plan. Her promotion of NJ’s colleges and universities through multiple means was designed to demonstrate the immeasurable value of the institutions to the public good – from individual and community prosperity to advancing innovation and preserving core, universal cultural and civic values.
During her career, she served on a number of national, state and local boards. She was a founding member of the Policy Steering Council for the Center for Higher Education Strategic Information and Governance at Stockton College, a member of the Educational Leadership Foundation of the New Jersey School Boards Association, the NJ Innovation Institute Board, NJCCC’s Student Success Advisory Board and several national boards. In March 2013, Lt. Governor Guadagno announced the formation of a new Council on Innovation to enhance the collaboration among academia, business and industry and the State and named Secretary Hendricks as chair of the Council, as well as the newest member of the New Jersey Partnership for Action. The Secretary was appointed to the State Ethics Commission by Governor Christie in 2014 and elected vice chair of the Educational Facilities Authority Board in the spring of 2014. In 2015, she was appointed by the Governor to the Newark Education Success Board.
Prior to her position as Secretary of Higher Education, she was the Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education and was instrumental in helping the Governor’s education reform plans. Having joined the Department of Education in 1987, she has served in various capacities within the department, including Acting Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner overseeing the Offices of Board Development, Small Learning Communities and School Culture, District Schools, Turnaround Partnerships, Inter-District Choice and Opportunity Scholarships, Charter Schools, Career and Technical Education and Online Education. She has also served as Director of the Professional Development Office, Manager of the Office of Policy and Planning, and Special Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner.
Before joining the Department of Education, she worked for 15 years at Princeton University in numerous capacities, including Assistant Dean of Students, Director of the Educational Opportunities Program, and Interim Director of the Women’s Program. She has also served as a consultant for International School Services, an adjunct faculty member and crises counselor for several institutions, having begun her career as a teacher at the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School District.
Secretary Hendricks is the recipient of numerous academic, leadership and service recognitions, including 13 honorary doctorates. She has been privileged to be honored by the US Department of Education, to participate in several White House initiatives and US Department of State supported international education events, and included among some of her heroines in the book, Women of Courage, forward by Rosa Parks.
Now retired, she continues to contribute as a Board member or consultant to regional, state, national and international organizations with a focus on supporting and advancing current and future generations of education leaders.
Secretary Hendricks is also an ordained minister with national and international experiences in community development and education programs.