Photo: Dr. Rupert A. Hayles, Jr. speaks at his inauguration ceremony (photo: Eric Hartmann at SeaLight Creative).
By Tom Campisi
Pillar College inaugurated Dr. Rupert A. Hayles, Jr. as its new president with a ceremony at the Newark Museum of Art on April 28. The event was marked by the testimony of a distinguished cloud of witnesses, who celebrated how Dr. Hayles will lead Pillar College forward, and by a reverenced sense of gratitude for the tenure of former president Dr. David Schroeder.
“Inauguration provides a unique opportunity to embrace our shared history, reflect on some of the foundations that have brought us to this moment, and gaze with optimism and prayerful hope together into the future,” said Dr. Wayne Dyer, Pillar’s Vice President of Strategic Alliances.
Dr. Hayles served as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Pillar College since 2019. His career includes more than 25 years in strategic management for organizations including Cytec Industries, Prudential Financial, Christ Church, and Merck & Company. He received his Ph.D. from Regent University with a specialization in leadership, change management, and emotional intelligence and has an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
In his first address as president, Dr. Hayles thanked Dr. Schroeder for “taking me under your wings and showing me the education industry.” He also thanked the Pillar College Board of Trustees, “for trusting me and giving me this wonderful assignment.”
Dr. Schroeder, who will now serve as chancellor of Pillar College, said, “We are grateful to God for putting his hand upon this time. Dr. Hayles, [in the last three years] we have been blessed by your presence, your leadership, and outstanding skill, and strategic planning during your time of serving with us.”
Earlier this year, Dr. Schroeder said, “Dr. Hayles brings an amazing array of gifts and boundless energy. His specialization is in the area of emotional intelligence and his financial acumen have blessed the college greatly, and I believe the best days of Pillar College are ahead.”
At the inauguration, guests on the dais included Rev. Adam Durso, president of LEAD.NYC and vice present of Movement.org; Tahesha Way, Esq., New Jersey Secretary of State; Dr. Amy Newcombe, Associate Provost, Seton Hall University; George Reilly, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Fitz A. Hayles, brother of Dr. Rupert Hayles, Jr. and Director of Ministry Resources, Christ Church; Rev. Alfred Watts, pastor of Cornerstone Christian Center (New Haven, CT); Dr. Ralph T. Grant, Vice President of Academic Advancement; and Christopher Wade, MBA student at Pillar College. Several other noted guests joined Marianne Hayles, wife of Dr. Hayles, and their two children in the audience.
“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” the opening hymn and processional, was led by Dr. Jinee Han and the Pillar College International Choir. Spirited prayers of invocation and benediction from Rev. Durso and Dr. Grant bookended comments from dais members and via video.
Secretary of State Tahesha Way, noting how her office works closely with educational institutions and students, said she was “grateful to have partners like Pillar College and Dr. Rupert Hayles as we pursue this important work.”
“I care deeply about investing in the young people who are our next generation of transformational leaders,” she said. “Thank you Dr. Hayles for taking on this mantle of leadership. You were made for these times.”
Dr. Newcombe, of Seton Hall, commented on Dr. Hayles’ time as an undergraduate and as an adjunct professor at the university.
“As a student in Stillman Business School, President Hayles demonstrated exceptional ability and a commitment to his studies that is still remembered by his professors…”
“The University was privileged to host him as an adjunct professor in our Department of Computing and Decision Sciences. Administration and students praised him for his passion, his depth of knowledge, and his effort to create an interactive learning community.”
Dr. Mac Pier, founder of Movement.org and LEAD.NYC, called Dr. Hayles a colleague, friend, brother, and a Level Five Leader.
“Rupert has helped shaped our organization as a board member and as a faculty member with our Advance Leadership Intensive Course. He has really influenced the way that we think about leadership,” Dr. Pier said.
“When I think about Rupert, I think about the words of (Good to Great author) Jim Collins, who describes a Level Five Leader as a leader who brings their brilliance, their humility, and their tenacity to the work at hand…”
“This will be a great new chapter at Pillar College.”
Rev. Watts, who shared the pastoral word at the inauguration, first met Dr. Hayles as a student with LEAD.NYC’s Advance Leadership Intensive course. He thanked him for being such an influential mentor.
“Not only are you one of the most brilliant individuals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, but you’ve always exemplified character, whether you are on a platform operating and functioning as Dr. Hayles or simply being Rupert,” Rev. Watts said. “These traits will not only allow you to serve this college well in fulfilling its mission to educate and inspire and equip students for excellent scholarship, service and leadership, but will also serve you well in your home with Marianne and Stephen and Savannah.”
“In Psalm 112, the psalmist said, ‘Blessed is the man who fears the Lord and delights in his Commandments, for his descendants will be mighty in the land.’”
In his inaugural address, Dr. Hayles stressed the importance of integrity, consistency and staying true to Pillar College’s values. Developing students, built on a solid spiritual foundation, “will be at the core of our work.”
Dr. Hayles stated that Pillar College will remain steadfast “in our belief that educating students will impact the world. Nelson Mandela said that the greatest way to deal with poverty is through an education. And I one-hundred percent believe that…”
“We will serve the community in each city that we are in—whether it is Newark, Somerset, Paterson, Plainfield, Jersey City, or Ocean County. We are going to engage the community.”
For more information on Pillar College, visit www.pillar.edu.