Introduction of New Academic Affairs Appointments for Fall 2021

September 8, 2021
Interior of a Lecture Hall As Seen from the Rear - stock photo GettyImage
Dear NJCU Colleagues, 

It is with great pleasure that we welcome a new Associate Provost, two associate deans and six new faculty members to New Jersey City University for the Fall 2021 semester!   
The Office of the Provost welcomed Dr. Gail Fernandez to campus in mid-August in her new leadership role. I am delighted that she will be working alongside us in Academic Affairs to support the faculty and students of NJCU and to further our mission to foster rigorous academic programs and student success across our Schools. Her email is
I want to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Maria Lynn for stepping into the interim role of associate provost in the summer of 2020. Maria has been a steadfast partner this past year, a tireless advocate, and an enthusiastic champion of the myriad of tasks that needed to be accomplished in a year of unprecedented challenges. I am indeed thankful for her contributions and for her unwavering dedication to the mission of the university. 
In addition, I am pleased to announce that Dámaris Castillo has joined the Office of the Provost as Budget Manager, and Dr. Dan Ward is now Interim Director, Department of Online Learning.
Please welcome our two new associate deans, Dr. Huijian Dong at the School of Business and Dr. Marvin Walker in the College of Professional Studies.
Finally, we are pleased with the addition of six talented faculty members: Muhammad Jawad, Assistant Professor of FinanceDr. Lauren Michele Johnson, Assistant Professor of Management/Sports Management; Nathalie Pfeifer, Assistant Professor of Fitness, Exercise and Sports; Dr. Jonathan D. Rosen, Assistant Professor in the Professional Security Studies DepartmentDr. Natoschia Scruggs, Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies and Director of the Lee Hagan Africana Studies Center; and Dr. Michael Sparrow, Assistant Professor of Community College Leadership
Additional biographical information is included in this announcement for each of our nine new additions to the Division of Academic Affairs.


Tamara Jhashi, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President

Dr. Gail Fernandez, Associate Provost

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Dr. Gail H. Fernandez comes from Westchester Community College where she served as Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs. As Assistant Dean, she worked with faculty through all phases of curriculum development, oversaw outcomes assessment of student learning and assessment of General Education, reimagined the program review process, managed the catalog, and coordinated articulation and transfer agreements. In addition, she collaborated with colleagues across the college on strategic planning and policy making.  

Prior to her role at Westchester Community College, Dr. Fernandez was a tenured Associate Professor in the English as a Second Language Program at Bergen Community College. She also served as an Assessment Fellow in the Center for Institutional Effectiveness and later became the first Dean of Assessment. In that role, she assisted faculty and staff with the design and implementation of assessment projects, chaired the Faculty Senate Learning Assessment Committee, co-led the development of the strategic plan, coordinated non-academic unit program reviews, and served on the College’s self-study steering committee. She worked closely with faculty through her work as chair of the Policy Advisory Council, chair of the General Education Committee, as a Grants Office Fellow, a faculty mentor and co-leader of the college’s Partners in Learning program.  

She has been a presenter at regional and national conferences including the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) annual conference, Drexel University Annual Conference on Teaching and Learning, and the Assessment Institute in Indianapolis.  

Dr. Fernandez received a bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages/History from Union College in Schenectady, New York.  She holds a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and a doctorate in Community College Leadership from National American University/Roueche Graduate Center. 

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Dr. Huijian Dong, Associate Dean, NJCU School of Business

Dr. Huijian Dong joined NJCU this summer as the Associate Dean of the School of Business. Before joining NJCU, his prior roles include serving as the Academic Coordinator of the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance at the University of South Florida, and as the University Curriculum Chair at Pacific University in Oregon. In addition, he was the Director of the Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Center, managing donor funds for the USF Foundation. He was also elected to the CFA Society Tampa Bay Board of Directors to lead the university relations initiatives. Associate Dean Dong earned his PhD in economics with a concentration in finance from the University of Delaware. His research interest lies in financial market analysis and higher education administration. His work has been published and well-cited in the Journal of Asset Management, the Journal of Investing, and the Journal of Wealth Management, among others. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designations holder

Dr. Marvin Walker, Associate Dean, NJCU College of Professional Studies

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Dr. Marvin Walker joined NJCU this summer as the Associate Dean in the College of Professional Studies. He is a recognized social policy expert and behavioral health researcher with over 22 years of leadership experience across various industries. 

Prior to coming to NJCU, he served as Assistant Director for Webster University, where he was responsible for leading the extended campus in Southern Maryland, including campus operations, academic and administrative services, faculty and student support, enrollment management, and leading accreditation, and state licensure requirements. He has served in numerous teaching, research, curriculum development, and doctoral research committee chair roles at various institutions including Northcentral University, Trident University International, and Westminster College.

Before embarking on an academic career, Dr. Walker served 10 years as a federal employee — first serving as a Business Consultant with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services within the National Institutes of Health. He served in numerous senior leader roles in the intelligence community, promoting cyber security best practices, information sharing, and critical infrastructure protection.  Dr. Walker served as Executive Officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis, leading national security strategies and public policy initiatives, and led various national security programs in efforts to prevent domestic terrorism activities within the United States. He served as a Program Analyst with the U.S. Department of Defense, responsible for financial and contract audit readiness oversight across the U.S. Army. He served eight years in the United States Marine Corps in various leadership roles in the Infantry from 1998 – 2006. including a deployment to Iraq in 2003. 

Dr. Walker received a B.A. in Business Administration with a Finance minor from Columbia College, a Bachelor of Theology from the International Theological Seminary of California, an M.B.A. with Procurement and Acquisitions emphasis from Webster University, and his doctorate in Policy and Law from Northeastern University. 

Muhammad Jawad, Assistant Professor, Finance

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Muhammad Jawad is an assistant professor of Finance in the School of Business. He is a doctoral candidate (ABD) in the Paul H. Chook Department of Information Systems and Statistics Management at the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, CUNY. Before joining Baruch, he was an assistant professor at FAST School of Management, National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences (Lahore, Pakistan). He received a master's of international business studies from the University of Miami (Fla.), master's of business administration from the International University of Japan (Niigata, Japan), and bachelor’s in computer science from FAST National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences (Lahore, Pakistan). He has several years of work experience in software development and business development.

His research interests include online reviews, innovation bandwagons, IT Security and digital platforms. His Ph.D dissertation is about how technology is shaping online user decision making. His teaching interests include information systems, business analytics, software programming, research methods, computer-based modelling, consumer decision making, and cybersecurity. He is also a recipient of H. Fenwick Huss Teaching Award from Baruch College.

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Dr. Lauren Michele Johnson, Assistant Professor, Management/Sports Management

Dr. Lauren Michele Johnson joins NJCU as an assistant professor in the Management department (Sport Management) at NJCU. She recently earned her Ph.D in Sport Management and Policy from the University of Georgia, and a master’s degree in Sport Administration from Hampton University. Her bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing was also earned at Hampton. Dr. Johnson’s research interests include strategic leadership, consumer behavior in sport, and the globalization of the business of sport. She has disseminated her research in academic and sports business conferences around the world. Prior to academia, she has enjoyed a career as a generational fan building director for professional sports organizations. She is a former professional basketball athlete and native of Metro Atlanta.

Nathalie Pfeifer, Assistant Professor, Fitness, Exercise and Sports

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Nathalie Pfeifer joins NJCU as an assistant professor of Fitness, Exercise and Sports in the College of Professional Studies. Her academic journey began in 2007 when she moved to the United States to pursue a new college degree and career. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University, and holds a master’s degree in Exercise Science from Montclair State University. She earned a B.S. in Exercise Science from St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Okla., and a B.S. in Advertising and Marketing from the Pontifical Catholic University, Porto Alegre, Brazil. 

According to Professor Pfeifer, working with a diverse community has been both a blessing and a challenge, which is why she decided to pursue a doctoral degree in Education. Her passion for teaching stems from the impact that education has on transforming lives. Her philosophy of teaching is based on the belief that learning needs to be student-centered and that students need to be equal partners in the learning process. Her research has included an investigation of the effects of mental imagery on self-efficacy and performance. Her current dissertation research explores the experiences of a deaf community from a critical perspective through narrative inquiry and visual methodology.

Dr. Jonathan D. Rosen, Assistant Professor, Professional Security Studies

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Dr. Jonathan D. Rosen has joined NJCU as Assistant Professor in the Professional Security Studies Department. Dr. Rosen earned his master’s in political science from Columbia University and received his Ph.D. in international studies from the University of Miami in 2012. Dr. Rosen’s research focuses on drug trafficking, organized crime, and security. He has published 20 books with Routledge, Lexington Books, Palgrave Macmillan, the University of Florida, and the State University Press of New York. He has published journal articles in Trends in Organized Crime, the Journal of Criminal JusticeDeviant BehaviorInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, and Contexto Internacional, and Revista CS, among other journals. He has participated in grant-funded research studies in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Mexico. Of note, in 2017, Dr. Rosen and his colleagues at Florida International University interviewed and surveyed nearly 1,200 active and former gang members in El Salvador.

Dr. Natoschia Scruggs, Assistant Professor, African and African American Studies and Director, Lee Hagan Africana Studies Center

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Dr. Natoschia Scruggs joins NJCU as Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies as well as Director of the Lee Hagan Africana Studies Center. Her research interests revolve around contemporary and historical public policy formation and analysis, particularly as they pertain to global migration. She specializes in using mixed methods to examine the personal narratives and life histories of individuals, alongside government documents and state-provided information, to discover how immigration and refugee policies are implemented, and how those policies shape people’s lived experiences across societies and time, with emphasis on urban spaces.
Before joining NJCU, Dr. Scruggs held positions at other academic institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and in government, including having served as principal advisor on research to Ambassador Susan Rice, Ambassador Samantha Power, and Ambassador Nikki Haley at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. In addition to hands-on, extensive experience working with conflict-affected populations, refugees, asylees, and survivors of gender-based violence, Dr. Scruggs has published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters addressing family violence, elder abuse, sexual exploitation, displacement, and state violence. She earned an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in African Diaspora Studies with a focus on global migration and emphasis on women, gender and sexuality from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and was a Ford Foundation Fellow, Rotary Ambassadorial Fellow, Fulbright Scholar, and American Field Service high school foreign exchange student.

Dr. Michael Sparrow, Assistant Professor, Community College Leadership

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Dr. Michael Sparrow joins NJCU as Assistant Professor of Community College Leadership. He has served in faculty and higher education administration for more than 15 years. His start in higher education came in classrooms around the greater Philadelphia area, teaching history courses at the University of Delaware, Rowan University, and Montgomery County Community College. Professor Sparrow later transitioned into administration, starting as the Student-Veteran Services Coordinator at Ocean County College. Following OCC, he served as the Director of the Academic Success Center at Immaculata University. Eager to return to his Lehigh Valley and community college roots, Dr. Sparrow accepted a position at Northampton Community College — first as the Director of the Learning Center and then as the Associate Dean of Academic Success. Dr. Sparrow concluded his career at NCC as the Dean of Enrollment Management and Retention.

Dr. Sparrow’s research interests include academic success initiatives, student learning, student onboarding/orientation, student-veterans, and enrollment/retention strategies, and he has published and presented at numerous regional and national conferences on many of these topics. Before his career in higher education, Dr. Sparrow served eight years in the United States Navy and completed two combat deployments. Dr. Sparrow is a product of a community college himself, starting at Northampton Community College before completing an A.B. in history and government and law from Lafayette College. Dr. Sparrow also holds a M.A. in American History from the University of Delaware, a M.S.L. in Legal Studies from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and an Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership.