Centenary University in Hackettstown, N.J., inaugurated the Rev. Dale G. Caldwell, Ed.D., pastor of Covenant United Methodist Church in Plainfield, N.J., as its 15th president October 21. He is the first African American president of the historic institution, which was established by Methodists in 1867 and remains associated with the Greater New Jersey Conference.
Dr. Caldwell’s accomplished leadership in higher education, K-12 education, business entrepreneurship and government led him to be hired, from more than 100 applicants, as the university’s president. He assumed the role July 1. A former Centenary board member, he has been selected as one of the Most Influential People in Higher Education in New Jersey for the last five years in a row.
In addition being a part-time licensed local pastor, he directs the Rothman Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he also chairs the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Council. And he is president of the board of the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey. His experience also includes being founder and director of the Newark Alliance, deputy commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, president of the New Brunswick Board of Education, and a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting.
Caldwell served as a trustee for GNJ’s A Future With Hope: Ida Recovery and in 2019 was elected a lay delegate to the 2020 Northeastern Jurisdiction Conference. His late father, the Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell, an Eastern PA Conference clergy member and former president of Black Methodists for Church Renewal, was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement who knew and marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Academic institutions across the country are facing enrollment challenges fueled by labor shortages and other economic and demographic changes,” said the new president in his inaugural remarks. “The shrinking pool of eligible college-age students in the United States will force institutions of higher education to provide better offers and dynamic new programs while recruiting international students and exploring alternative revenue sources. I am very excited to work with the Centenary family and friends to tackle current higher education financial challenges and achieve record levels of success by leveraging our unique offerings and partnerships.”