Montclair State University President Jonathan Koppell was interviewed by representatives from the university’s student media organizations for the first time on Sept. 10.
The interview featured representatives from The Montclarion, WMSC, Montclair News Lab and Red Hawk Sports Network.
Koppell defended the university’s mask mandate, even though the majority of students are vaccinated, because vaccinated individuals can still spread and contract coronavirus (COVID-19).
“We know that while the viral load of a person who’s vaccinated may be lower, in some way, it’s not zero,” Koppell said.
Koppell said he wants students to embrace the idea of wearing a mask to protect their community.
“We do these things, not because the government tells us to or not because the university issued a rule, but because we’re a community and we’re going to create this public good together,” Koppell said.
As for his personal vision for the future of Montclair State, Koppell explained that he wants to expand the university’s offerings and create new ways to earn degrees.
“There will always be a place for the four-year, on-campus degree program, but I think people are looking for a lot more variety, you know, maybe a mix where some of it’s online and some of it’s face-to-face, or some of it’s online asynchronous but some of it’s synchronous,” Koppell said.
Koppell also emphasized that he wants the school to become known for its commitment to public service and for helping local communities.
“I also want to be a school of choice for young people who want public service to be part of their life,” Koppell said.
Diversity was another topic discussed during the interview. Koppell highlighted Montclair State’s diverse student body as one of its strengths.
“One of the great aspects of this university is the diverse student body,” Koppell said. “I think it’s a strength that can be amplified and leveraged. I think students today want to be in a diverse environment and they want to, not only be surrounded by a diverse group of students, but they want to benefit from being part of a diverse campus community.”
Koppell said the university needs to make sure the faculty reflects the same diversity shown in the student body.
“It’s a disconnect if the faculty, and the leadership, frankly, doesn’t also reflect the same diversity in the student population, so we need to make sure that when we’re doing [the] hiring and recruiting, we’re drawing a diverse pool of applicants and that we’re making an environment that people want to come to,” Koppell said.