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Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver Calls Pillar College a “Best Kept Secret” After Visit, Informational Tour


Photo: Pillar College President Rupert A. Hayles, Jr. and NJ Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver

By Candace Waller

On March 2, 2022, Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, along with her Chief of Staff and President of the East Orange Board of Education Terry Swanson Tucker, visited the Newark, NJ campus of Pillar College, a Christ-centered accredited institution dedicated to serving under-resourced communities. 

She was invited so that the institution could acquaint her with the mission of Pillar College as it intersects with her personal mission as Lieutenant Governor. During her visit, Oliver called Pillar College a “best kept secret” as a response to hearing about the depth and breadth of the institution’s offerings.

Oliver, a Newark native who graduated from the Newark Public school system, has made it her mission to get to know the different parts of the state including institutions of higher learning such as Pillar College.

Pillar College President Dr. Rupert A. Hayles, Jr. and his cabinet provided Oliver with an overview of the institution’s history and current programming, including the newly launched MBA in Social Sector Management degree. This online, 39-credit program focuses on careers in non-profits, a field that is expected to grow faster than others through 2026. 

“From my work and my time as a professor, I recognize the importance of leadership and management within this in the non-profit and for-cause space.  Pillar College has exactly the program I would be teaching in if I had the opportunity – an MBA in social sector management,” Oliver said. “The MBA in Social Sector Management at Pillar College prepares graduates to effectively lead organizations in the social sector. Many organizations have great intention of serving the needs of society yet are not as effective as they could be because of lack of leadership training. This unique faith-based program for aspiring and seasoned leaders, addresses that need by equipping graduates for leadership, and includes the basics of management, practical applications such as governance, human resources, financial management, and the much-needed skillset of emotional intelligence and character development.”

“Lt. Governor Oliver applauded the efforts of Pillar College addressing the income equity disparity in New Jersey,” said Dr. Wayne Dyer, Vice President Strategic Alliances. “Income inequality is one of the leading issues in New Jersey. One strategy to combat this long-standing issue is to provide educational opportunities for demand occupations. Education is one of the best way to break the poverty cycle.”

Oliver’s one-on-one conversations with several of the school’s leaders provided an immersion in what differentiates Pillar College – such as being the only school in Newark to offer a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, and how Pillar is rolling out a program specifically for black men who are interested in earning an elementary education degree. They also discussed the importance of Financial Literacy, and how Pillar College prepares each student for success with a Financial Literacy Course taught by certified financial coaches.

As the first woman of color to serve in a statewide elected office in New Jersey history, Oliver is no stranger to breaking barriers. “We were honored that our groundbreaking programming resonated with her,” said Dyer. 

The Lieutenant Governor also serves as the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, where she has led efforts to strengthen and expand initiatives for fair and affordable housing, community revitalization, homelessness prevention, and local government services that support New Jersey’s 564 municipalities.

“Our visit with Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver was tremendous.  She listened intently, shared strategically, and engaged us in levels that many leaders do not,” said Dr. Hayles.  “She is a gem and I echo her sentiment that ‘Pillar College is New Jersey Best little Secret’ which we will have a secret no more.”

About Pillar College                                                                       

Pillar College is a comprehensive institution of higher learning, providing a Christ-centered education. Pillar College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and licensed by the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and a member of the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE). Pillar College offers Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree programs. Pillar College educates, inspires, and equips students for excellent scholarship, service and leadership. Rooted in and committed to Christian faith and love, Pillar College fosters intellectual, spiritual and social development among its diverse student population. Pillar College has locations in Newark, Somerset, Paterson, Plainfield, and Jersey City, New Jersey. Founded in 1908. For more information about Pillar College, visit https://pillar.edu