May 7, 2013
President Emeritus, Kean University, 90
A native of Newark, NJ, Nathan Weiss, age 90, President Emeritus of Kean University and former teacher at Fallsburgh High School, passed this life on April 9, 2013 at his home in Egg Harbor Township, NJ with his beloved wife at his side. Dr. Weiss served as President of Kean College of New Jersey, now Kean University, for 20 years, retiring in 1989 as senior president of the New Jersey state colleges. In 1961, he joined the Newark State College Department of History and Social Sciences and six years later became a full professor and department chair. In 1969, he became President and also continued to teach every year until 1999, ten years after his retirement.
During his tenure, the college was transformed from a teachers college to a multi-purpose institution, becoming the second largest state college at the time of his retirement. He committed himself to the college’s growth and development for the students of New Jersey through the creation of numerous academic programs including those in the health and technology fields and graduate studies. He presided over the name change from Newark State College to Kean College of New Jersey and the purchase of the Pingry School property which has become an integral academic and performance center for the campus. Under his leadership, Kean was awarded a State of New Jersey challenge grant of $3.9 million for its “excellence and equity” plan which brought a nationally recognized assessment program and the most advanced technology infrastructure to the campus. On the state level, he was a moving force in the pursuit and development of the autonomy legislation and governance structure that enabled the state colleges to become more independent and responsible for their own visions and destinies.
He has been described as a “man for all seasons” as he clearly understood the words of Kipling who wrote, we must “walk with crowds nor lose virtue, and talk with Kings, nor lose the common touch.” In this light, he became known as something of a “maverick” as he vigorously pursued a vision of higher education that is open to all students, regardless of age, gender, disadvantage, or minority status. He considered Kean College as “the college in the service of the people of New Jersey.”
It was a point of pride with “Nat,” as he was fondly known, that Kean College was a door to the American dream: thousands of its graduates were the first in their families to receive a college education. He insisted that Kean could raise academic standards while remaining accessible to students who otherwise would never have set foot on an American campus. He inspired those who worked with him at Kean to foster that dream and carry it into the future. It is alive at Kean University today as a living tribute to his vision, character, and generosity of spirit.
Dr. Weiss began his career as an educator (in his perspective, the highest of callings) at Fallsburgh High School (NY State) after serving three years with the U.S. Army Air Force in the Pacific Theater. He received a BA from Montclair State College (now University) and an MA from Rutgers University. In 1961, he earned a PhD in government from New York University. He was the recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from Kean, Montclair State, and Jersey City State, honoring his contributions to higher education and his beloved state of New Jersey. The University also recognized his contributions in 1998 by naming its graduate division the “Nathan Weiss Graduate College.”
As an undergraduate student, Dr. Weiss was a scholar-athlete playing football and track and was later inducted in the Montclair State College Athletic Hall of Fame. Football was one of his lifelong passions and, as President of Kean, he inspired the creation of its football program and was inducted into its Athletic Hall of Fame.
Throughout his professional life, Dr. Weiss authored books and articles on the occupation of Japan, governance, collective bargaining, and politics; and was a frequent speaker throughout New Jersey in addition to serving as a member of numerous organizations, including a term as President of the New Jersey Public Administrators Association. His presidency included some of the most tumultuous years in higher education and is documented in his book, “At the Center of the Storm: Reflections of a State College President.” In 2010, he published a personal life memoir entitled “The Streets of Newark to the Halls of Academia, An American Story.”
In addition to his wife, Dr. Bernice vanSteyn-Weiss (Rydell), of 31 years, he is survived by a son, Dr. Michael L. Weiss (Dr. Michelle Weiss); brother, Dr. Seymour Weiss (Dr. Judi Weiss); daughter, Paula W. Attryde (Joseph); granddaughter, Lena Weiss; brother-in-law, Peter Van Steyn (Cass); sisters-in-law, Gloria Mohr (Dr. Kent Mohr) and Dorothy Harth (Richard); and 21 nephews, nieces, and great nephews and nieces. He was pre-deceased by his parents, Paul and Lena (Berman) Weiss, a son, Steven, and a niece, Beth Weiss.
A commemoration program celebrating Nathan’s life was held April 27, 2013 at Kean University and a military burial and private interment was held at the State of New Jersey’s Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown, NJ. Those who wish to honor him through contributions may do so through the Kean University Foundation for the Steven J. Weiss Scholarship or the Howard Skarbnik Endowment; through the Montclair State University Foundation for the Dr. Nathan Weiss ’48 Scholarship; or a charity of their own choosing.
Eugene B. Burns
Retired Superintendent, 94
Eugene B. Burns of Deltona, FL, formerly of Liberty, NY, a retired superintendent for the Broward County Transit Authority, died October 24, 2012 in Orange City, FL. He was 94.
The son of the late Joseph C. and Mary MacGibney Burns, he was born January 16, 1918 in Brooklyn, NY.
Eugene had been a resident of Florida for about fifty years.
Survivors include his wife, Mabel A. Ward Burns, at home; one son, Gene W. Burns and his wife Julie of Liberty, NY; three grandchildren, Gene, Jr., Kathleen, and Megan.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, May 10, 2013 at 2 p.m. in St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church, Church Street, Livingston Manor, NY. Father Edward Bader will officiate.
Burial will be in the Liberty Cemetery, Cold Spring Road, Liberty, NY.
Memorial contributions in Eugene’s name may be made to St. Aloysius Church, Church Street, Livingston Manor, NY 12758.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the Harris Funeral Home West Street at Buckley, Liberty, NY. 845-292-0001 or 845-439-5200.