Presidents’ Biographies

UCNJ President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin

Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin

President of the College since 2010

Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin is the current President of UCNJ Union College of Union County, NJ, the first of New Jersey’s 18 community colleges, founded in 1933. She is the College’s first female president.

Since her appointment as President in July 2010, Dr. McMenamin set forth an aggressive agenda centering on improving student success outcomes. She revitalized student services, strengthened academic advising, partnered with faculty to improve teaching and learning, and engaged the entire campus community in renewing their collective commitment to student success. During her tenure at UCNJ, the College has more than quintupled its graduation rate.

In October 2020, Dr. McMenamin was named the National Marie Y. Martin CEO of the Year by the Association of Community College Trustees. In 2022, the Aspen Institute for College Excellence named UCNJ as one of the Top 25 community colleges in America and a Semifinalist for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

In 2019, Dr. McMenamin served as Chair of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. She also previously served as Chair of the American Association of Community Colleges’ Presidents’ Academy Executive Committee. Currently, she serves as Chair of the Advisory Board of the Higher Education Research and Development Institute, a member of the executive committee of the New Jersey Presidents’ Council, the National Junior College Athletic Association Presidents’ Advisory Council, and the board of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

Dr. McMenamin is involved with numerous community organizations, including the Boards of Trinitas Hospital, Union County Performing Arts Center, Union County Crime Stoppers, Elizabeth Development Company, Union County Workforce Development, Montgomery Academy, the New Jersey Israel Commission, and the NJ-PBS Community Advisory Board. In 2015, she was honored to serve as the Grand Marshal of the Union County Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.

Prior to arriving at UCNJ, Dr. McMenamin was employed as a professor and VP of Academic and Student Affairs at Lehigh Carbon Community College and Executive Vice President and Acting President at Brookdale Community College. Dr. McMenamin attended Temple University and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy. She earned a Master of Science from the University of Scranton and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University.

Dr. Thomas H. Brown

President of the College 1990‑2010

UCNJ President Dr. Thomas H. Brown

Dr. Thomas H. Brown began his tenure as UCNJ’s seventh president on July 1, 1990. He led the College through immense expansions throughout the County, extensive programmatic diversity, and expanded facilities. He also increased enrollment for credit degree programs and in the areas of Continuing Education and Workforce Development.

Under his tenure, Dr. Brown presided over the dedication of two, full-service, urban campuses: in Elizabeth and Plainfield. The College purchased the former Elizabethtown Gas Building and opened the Sidney F. Lessner Building in Elizabeth. Years later, the Elizabeth I. Kellogg Building opened, and the Trinitas School of Nursing moved to its permanent location on the third floor. In Plainfield, the College purchased the old Courier News Building, today known as the Logos Building.

President Brown grew the footprint in Cranford with upgrades to the Victor M. Richel Student Commons and expanded the Campus Center to include the Fitness Center and Executive Education Center.

Finally, Dr. Brown supported a well-rounded student experience both inside the classroom, with 75 degree programs, and outside of the classroom with student clubs, organizations, and athletics with the National Junior College Athletic Association.

Dr. Brown earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and holds a master’s and doctoral degree from New York University.

Dr. Derek N. Nunney

President of the College 1984‑1990

UCNJ President Dr. Derek N. Nunney

Dr. Derrick N. Nunney was the first president of Union County College who was not a member of the faculty when he was inaugurated on October 16, 1984 – the College’s Founders Day. His term as the College’s sixth president began on July 1, 1984.

Under his leadership, many aspects of the College known today were established. For example, with a Title III grant, he established the Academic Learning Center, which provides free peer-to-peer tutoring for all majors at all campuses.

Dr. Nunney brought the College into the world of the Information Age when he had computers added at all campuses and used in instruction.

With his Urban Initiatives campaign, the College expanded into the downtown business districts of Elizabeth and Plainfield. This led to the establishment of the Industry-Business Institute which provided customized educational and training services for Union County’s businesses and industries. In Cranford, he pushed for a major construction project, a new student life building named The Commons, which is now known as the Victor M. Richel Student Commons, named after the current Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees.

Dr. Nunney holds a Master of Science degree from the University of British Columbia, Canada, and his Ed.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Saul Orkin

President of the College 1974‑1983

UCNJ President Dr. Saul Orkin

Dr. Saul Orkin, a 1941 alumnus, served as the College’s fifth president. Under his leadership, the then private Union College merged with the Union County Technical Institute and in 1982, the public community college known as Union County College was established.

Dr. Orkin joined Union College’s faculty in 1955, and taught courses in government, history, and economics. Prior to becoming President, he served as the College’s director of admissions and as the social sciences department chair. Dr. Orkin was credited with establishing the College’s Institute for Intensive English. He was also a strong advocate for non-credit continuing education and community activities.

In addition to his associate degree from Union College, Dr. Orkin earned an A.B. degree from Rutgers University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a master’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan, and a doctorate in public law and government from Columbia University.

His term as President at Union County College ended suddenly when he suffered a heart attack and died in 1983.

Dr. Kenneth William Iversen

President of the College 1970‑1974

UCNJ President Dr. Kenneth William Iversen

Dr. Kenneth W. Iversen was chosen by a search committee to be the College’s fourth President. Under his administration, enrollment at the College grew annually and the student body was more diverse than in previous decades. He also worked with the Board of Trustees to establish new bylaws and voting rights for the faculty.

A significant change to the administrative structure of Union College was established under Dr. Iversen’s leadership. Four major administrative posts were created that reported to the President: academic affairs, finance, student affairs, and administrative services.

Under his tenure, Dr. Iversen established the cooperative nursing programs with Elizabeth General Medical Center, now the Trinitas School of Nursing, and Muhlenberg Hospital, now the JFK Muhlenberg Harold B. and Dorothy A. Snyder Schools.

He established the new library at the Cranford Campus, which included an art gallery, seminar room, audio center, and room for more than 100,000 volumes.

When Dr. Iversen resigned as President, he returned to the faculty to teach psychology and finished out his career teaching.

Dr. Iversen holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State University and completed his master’s degree and doctorate at New York University.

Dr. Kenneth Campbell MacKay

President of the College 1947‑1968

Dr. Kenneth C. MacKay served as the College’s third president. He was also a member of the faculty and taught American history and government courses.

Dr. MacKay established the Veteran’s Study Center, which provided accelerated high school classes to returning GIs. In 1957, the College was recognized by the Commission on Higher Education of Middle States Association and the College established its chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges.

Dr. MacKay focused on expanding the College’s footprint on its Cranford Campus with a library in the Nomahegan Building; the new Campus Center with a theater, snack bar, and recreational facilities; the building and opening of the William Sperry Observatory; and the addition of the Science Building.

In 1967, the College changed its name once again, dropping the word “junior” and became Union College.

Dr. MacKay earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University and had honorary degrees from Rutgers University and Newark College of Engineering. In 1963, he received the New Jersey Professional Engineers award as citizen of the year.

Dr. Charles Granville Cole

Dean and President of the College 1936‑1943

UCNJ President Dr. Charles Granville Cole

Dr. Charles G. Cole served as the College’s second president. During his tenure, the federal aid under the Works Progress Administration was terminated and the College became, and has remained, an independent, non-profit, non-denominational institution governed by a Board of Trustees. Starting in 1936, the College held its evening only courses in Abraham Clark High School in Roselle. In 1938, the College’s name became Union Junior College.

Under Dr. Cole’s leadership, beginning in 1939, the College was approved by the New Jersey State Board of Education. In 1942, day courses were added to course offerings and were held at the Grant School in Cranford.

Hubert Banks Huntley

First Administrator and Dean 1933‑1935

Hubert Banks Huntley was named the first administrator and Dean of Union County Junior College. The College was the first community college established in New Jersey through President Roosevelt’s Federal Emergency Relief Administration (later replaced with the Works Progress Administration). Huntley was chosen by Union County Superintendent of Schools Arthur L. Johnson to establish and lead the College.

Union County Junior College opened on October 16, 1933, with 243 students in attendance. The mission of the College was to provide jobs for out-of-work teachers and to provide training to unemployed high school graduates. Of the original six community colleges established at that time, UCNJ is the only institution in existence today.