Montclair State University’s new provost and senior vice president of academic affairs shared future plans and some of his most recent accomplishments at the institution.
Provost Junius Gonzales started his role at the university with an unusual career trajectory. He has worked and is trained as a researcher, psychiatrist, physician and as a senior vice president of the University of North Carolina system.
During his years in higher education, he has served in multiple roles, including dean of a research institute at the University of South Florida and became the provost of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and New York Institute of Technology.
As the provost of Montclair State, Gonzales oversees the university’s ten colleges and schools, which consist of more than 300 academic programs serving thousands of students.
As a first-generation college graduate of immigrant parents, Gonzales felt inspired to join this institution for its diversity and population.
“I wanted to go to a university that had a large minority student population and a place where I thought there were already many strengths,” Gonzales said. “But really, I think the university could be taken sort of to the next level, what I call a next-level value.”
Gonzales’ main goal during this first year is to focus on improving students’ academic success.
“Everything from advising to new programs to new things to support students, not just tutoring but [new] models of academic coaching, we are trying out,” Gonzales said. “I believe that the graduation outcomes can be even better for students. I believe we have so many talented students [that] should be applying for and winning national awards.”
Gonzales further explained that the success of all members of this university is also crucial.
“The second [goal] is faculty and staff success and launching new programs to support faculty,” Gonzales said. “This year we have the most full-time faculty searches in five or six years.”
According to Gonzales, Montclair State is currently working on developing more health and interdisciplinary programs. As a designated Hispanic-serving institution, more resources will be provided including incorporating Latino/Hispanic-related courses.
During the first six months of exercising his role as the new provost, Gonzales has been able to achieve a variety of goals.
“I got extra funding to provide awards for undergraduate [students] to study abroad whether it is two weeks or a semester,” Gonzales said. “We hired a terrific new director of international [programs] and I got extra money to fund coordination and opportunities for undergraduate research.”
The university has also launched new academic programs that were approved by the state of New Jersey.
“I don’t take any credit for this but we have four new academic degree programs that got approved by the state, two masters, one in recording arts and production, one in animation and visual effects,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales believes that students should be the main focus and priority of the university which is why he is always open to meeting with scholars to discuss any issues or concerns.
His next plan is to take Montclair State to a higher level.
“[Montclair State] is a great place [with] lots of little things to fix and big things to fix,” Gonzales said. “But I’m convinced that in five years Montclair State will be even better known on the map beyond New Jersey.”