Dr. Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. believes all students — no matter where they grew up, the color of their skin, or their family’s income — deserve an equal shot at success. And he brings that mindset to the top.
Fresh from overseeing the creation of The Road Back, a plan to guide the reopening of schools for 1.4 million K-12 students in New Jersey, the state’s former commissioner of education this summer stepped into a new role as president of Kean University, one of the state’s largest universities with 16,000 students on campuses in Union, Toms River, Jefferson, and Wenzhou, China.
The first African-American president in Kean’s 165- year history, Repollet now oversees one of the most diverse universities in the nation amid the global COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide calls for social justice. He is already setting goals based on three pillars — safety, equity and academic excellence.
“This is an extraordinary time; we face challenges that were unimaginable just a few months ago” Dr. Repollet told the campus community. “Unprecedented times call for unprecedented acts of leadership and humanity.
A personal, student-focused approach has defined Repollet’s career since his days as a high school principal in Carteret, followed by his tenure as superintendent in Asbury Park and then his two and a half years as the state commissioner under Governor Murphy. It is one of the reasons that the Kean University Board of Trustees chose him unanimously as Kean’s 18th leader, succeeding Dawood Farahi, Ph.D., who served as president for 17 years.
“Dr. Repollet steps into the presidency with confidence and experience, and with the strength needed to lead Kean forward on its path of access and excellence,” said Ada Morell, chair of the Board of Trustees. “He knows our mission. He lives our mission, and he is committed to ensuring that Kean provides the world-class education and experiences that students demand.”
A Kean alumnus, Dr. Repollet was a first-generation college student like many at Kean. He recently shared with the community his own experience as a young, “preppy,” college student stopped by police for fitting the profile of a carjacker. “You never know how you will feel until you have a gun put to the temple of your head.” he said.
He also offered his thoughts on the legacies of U.S. Representative John Lewis and civil rights leader Reverend C.T. Vivian “as exemplars of an unwavering, lifelong commitment to equity and justice.”
In one of his first decisions as Kean’s president, Dr. Repollet approved scheduling in-person commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020 to ensure all of the graduates had a chance to walk across the stage to celebrate their achievement.
“2020 will be remembered for many things in the years to come, including some difficult times and some extraordinary accomplishments,” Repollet told graduates from behind a mask amid a July heatwave. “I believe what we will remember are the victories we are celebrating right here today.”