Former NJ Governor Serves Public Servant

Former N.J. Governor to Serve as 2011-2012 Public Servant in Residence

Brendan Byrne, who served as the 47th Governor of the State of New Jersey from 1974 to 1982, will take on a new role as the University’s Public Servant in Residence for the 20112012 academic year.

Through his two terms as governor, Byrne was involved in the building of the Meadowlands Sports Complex, transforming Atlantic City’s hotel casino industry and passing the Pinelands Protection Act.

In 2000, the University’s Departments of Political Science and Sociology, along with the Office of Global Initiatives, created the Public Servant in Residence Program. Some of the responsibilities of a public servant include guest speaking at campus events, participating in campus activities, lecturing classes, and simply having a presence on campus.

Dr. Saliba Sarsar, Associate Vice President for the Office of Global Initiatives, believes that the Public Servant in Residence Program has and will continue to enrich the University.

“Over the years, we have been fortunate to host key public servants with diverse opinions who taught, guest lectured and gave public presentations on important local, state, regional and international issues,” he said. “Our students hear firsthand from public servants, interact with them and often maintain contact with them past their sojourn at Monmouth University.”

Dr. Joseph Patten, Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology, is optimistic that Byrne will have a strong influence on the students and surrounding community.

“I think he will have a direct impact visiting classes, speaking on issues that really matter to him. He had a transforming impact on the state,” Patten said. “He was very much involved in the same activities our students are involved in. He loves students and being around young people. He is a bona fide political icon.”

Patten said he believes that guest lectures serve as an important tool to teach and pass wisdom on to students.

“Say you are sitting in class talking about governors. What better to have than a real former Governor?” Patten said. “They are no longer constrained to say the wrong things based on their political stance and are free to truly express themselves.”

President Paul G. Gaffney II said he is thrilled and confident that Governor Byrne will have a great impact on the University campus and community.

“He was one of, if not the, most popular governors in New Jersey history. He made big changes in New Jersey and watched many other changes as a political leader in our state,” Gaffney said. “I believe he will relate experiences and impart wisdom especially in the area of ‘how to get things done in public office.’”

Gaffney also said he hopes to achieve one simple but important goal this year from the Public Servant in Residence Program.

“I want students to meet and get to talk with a man of his incredible stature, to hear his stories and to realize one can be effective, tough, decisive, re-electable and still have the greatest sense of humor,” Gaffney said.

President Gaffney said he also is looking forward to Byrne’s guest speeches.

“Well the next presidential election is heating up. I hope he will give his views on that, the regional economy, taxes in New Jersey, and employment trends. I hope he will tell us who his heroes have been in politics,” Gaffney said. “Mostly, I see him as a respected leader, one who stands out and stands up. America needs leaders in the next decade who immediately enjoy the respect of an increasingly competitive world. I would be interested in hearing him speak about what it takes to be that kind of global leader.”

Patten said that the former governor will also speak about what he considers to be his proudest achievements, the passing of the Pinelands Protection Act and the role he had in relation to the Meadowlands Sports Complex and Atlantic City.

“Byrne will have the opportunity to personally interact with students and become immersed in their affairs,” Patten said.

Gaffney said that Byrne can help further propel the campus and community in a positive direction.

“I think the Governor will appreciate what we have done,” Gaffney said, speaking of the school’s accomplishments. “I hope he relates his philosophy and strategy in getting the Pinelands legislation passed.”