Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis (State of New Jersey photo)

Urban News Staff Reports

Current New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education, Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis, was recently appointed  as Chief Policy Advisor to Gov. Phil Murphy. The Chief Policy Advisor oversees wide-ranging policies of the Governor’s Office and Executive Branch.

“It has been an honor to have Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis serve as our Secretary of Higher Education for the past two and a half years, and I’m thrilled to announce that she’ll soon join the Governor’s Office as Chief Policy Advisor,” said Gov. Murphy. “In her time as Secretary, Dr. Smith Ellis has spearheaded our Administration’s efforts to make a college education more affordable and accessible, including our Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) program to provide tuition-free community college. She has been an invaluable member of our team and I know her wealth of policy experience will serve us well in this senior role.”

Smith Ellis currently serves as New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education, where she is responsible for the policy development and coordination of higher education activities for the state. As Secretary of Higher Education, Dr. Smith Ellis has lead efforts to assist institutions of higher education in navigating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including reviewing institutions’ Emergency Operations Plans to ensure readiness, issuing OSHE guidance, reviewing waiver requests to allow in-person instruction to continue as appropriate, and advocating for federal funding for higher education.
“For more than two years, it has been my honor to lead the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) and implement Governor Murphy’s vision for expanded educational opportunity,” said Smith Ellis. “I am confident that the team at OSHE will continue to build on the work we have accomplished together, and I will continue to be a fierce advocate for our state’s students. My new position in the Governor’s Office will allow me to continue doing critical work to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey and I thank Governor Murphy for the vote of confidence and for the opportunity to fulfill such an important role during this time in our state’s history.” 
Smith Ellis will assume responsibilities as Chief Policy Advisor on July 6.

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