President’s Administrative Team
William J. Behre
William J. Behre, Ph.D., is the chief academic officer for Georgian Court University where he brings nearly 25 years of experience as a public school educator, university researcher, professor, faculty leader and higher education administrator to the role.
Dr. Behre, who earned a Ph.D. in education with a focus on special education policy from the University of Michigan, has an M.S. in education from Hunter College and an A.B. in economics from Vassar College. He worked briefly with a New York public relations firm before committing more than two decades of his career to using higher education as a platform for improving the lives of others, including special needs students.
Most recently, he was on the leadership team at The College of New Jersey. In recent years, he served as vice provost, interim vice provost and as assistant vice president for grants, enterprise initiatives, and summer and off-campus programs.
In addition, he was responsible for the oversight of TCNJ's Center for Teaching and Learning, its acclaimed Bonner Center for Civic and Community Engagement, the Municipal Land Use Center, and the school's Women in Learning and Leadership program.
Dr. Behre, a former Dean of TCNJ's School of Education, is experienced in other critical areas of higher education, including sponsored research, fundraising and development, and student and faculty recruitment.
He became Provost at GCU in February 2014, and is responsible for partnering closely with deans, department chairs, and members of the President's cabinet. As Provost, he is also charged with academic program development and review, research and sponsored projects, and faculty development. He aims to strengthen Georgian Court's academic enterprise; to recruit and retain faculty; and to improve student life, student retention, and completion.
Evelyn Saul Quinn, ’74
Vice President, Mission Integration
Evelyn Quinn has lived, led, and succeeded in the Mercy tradition for 32 years at Georgian Court University. She has taught hundreds of students in the Bachelor of Social Work program---a program she conceived, implemented, and chaired throughout its initial accreditation and eventual reaffirmation by the Council on Social Work Education. The council gives advanced standing to graduates when they progress to the master’s level. She rose from assistant, to associate professor, served on almost every institutional and faculty committee, and eventually chaired the Faculty Assembly. She also chaired the Middle States Self-Study/Culture and Environment Committee.
She holds the terminal degree in her field, having received a Master’s of Social Work with a concentration in policy from Rutgers University, and a Master’s of Education, Counseling, and Special Services from Seton Hall University. She has presented numerous papers and workshops at professional conferences, and published articles.
In 2002, she was appointed Associate Provost for Student Life and Academic Support and immediately began to revitalize and organize opportunities and student experiences. She soon accomplished her goal of developing a seamless learning environment bridging academic and student life. She distinguished the university by creating WILD (Women in Leadership Development), our signature, four-year developmental program designed to educate and empower ethical women leaders. Both WILD and GCU’s integrated academic and student life program are national models of excellence. Provost Quinn also created the GCU First-Year Experience in partnership with school deans, faculty, and students to help freshmen succeed in transitioning to college. Each program has become a distinctive part of the Georgian Court undergraduate experience.
She was named Interim Provost in January of 2010 and quickly began the process of re-engineering academic offerings, and exploring new majors, certificates, and programs. She was officially named Provost on May 19 of that year, following an intensive process that included input from a broad spectrum of the university community, an 11-member leadership panel, and numerous interviews with faculty, administrators, and students.
After several years of leading the GCU faculty and growing the university's partnerships and academic programs---including the school's first totally online degrees---Ms. Quinn was named Vice President for Mission Integration, effective July 2014.
Vice President for Institutional Advancement
Mellissia Zanjani, Ph.D., began her tenure at Georgian Court University in March 2013. Prior to joining Georgian Court, she served as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement/Foundation Executive Director at Mercer County Community College and Tacoma Community College. She has also served in leadership positions focused on program development, student recruitment and retention, marketing, communications, government and community relations, grants, and corporate and foundation relations. Dr. Zanjani provides vision, leadership, and strategic planning to engage philanthropic support from both traditional and non-traditional sources, and provides overall direction for GCU's continuing education unit, the McAuley Institute for Lifelong Learning, and all related philanthropic functions for Georgian Court University. Dr. Zanjani is responsible for strategic and operational functions related to implementation of sustainable philanthropic programs that are donor-centered. Strategic fund development initiatives include membership drives, special events, annual giving, major giving, and planned giving.
Dr. Zanjani’s highest priority is securing major and principal gifts and the implementation of an integrated advancement program that generates philanthropic support for the tactical elements of the University’s strategic plan, especially as they relate to providing the opportunity for donors to engage in the love of humankind. Dr. Zanjani also oversees the planning and evaluation of donor- and alumni-related events and programs; ensures compliance with state and federal regulations; assists in the preparation and development of budgets, revenues, and controlled expenses; and works closely with Finance and other departments to present financial reports, manuals, files, and other documentation as it relates to the overall Institutional Advancement program.
Dr. Zanjani has a doctorate in educational leadership from Oregon State University, an M.S. in human resources development from Towson University, and a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Political Science from Chatham University. She also holds the esteemed designation as a certified fundraising executive (CFRE), which she earned in 2000.
Vice President for Finance & Administration, Chief Financial Officer
John Sommer is a veteran public accountant with two decades of public and private sector experience. He joined GCU in August 2014 after serving as CFO of Hudson County Community College where he was responsible for several areas of the school’s operations, including capital and operating budgets, financial planning and reporting, risk management, pension and benefits, purchasing, and student accounts. During his tenure at HCCC, he managed grant accounting and helped the university write approximately $14 million in grant applications to underwrite a new science center.
Previously, Mr. Sommer also served at Centenary College in Hackettstown, first as an assistant professor of accounting where he developed content for an online master’s degree in accounting, and later as CFO. During his time in the private sector, he worked with New York-based firms Goldstein Golub Kessler & Company, Price Waterhouse Coopers, and Gerson Lehrman Group.
At Georgian Court, Mr. Sommer manages the university’s financial accounting, budget and planning processes, information technology, contractual services, GCU’s extensive facilities on the 150-acre campus, and financial aid operations. A graduate of Baruch College (City University of New York) and Long Island University, Mr. Sommer is completing a doctorate in higher education leadership and administration at Rowan University.
Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Planning
Lisa R. Biagas, Ed.D, is the Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Planning for the newly formed GCU Office of Institutional Effectiveness. In this role, Dr. Biagas leads and directs the university’s strategic planning, research, policy formation, and organizational development activities, working to create and maintain effective, efficient and accountable university’s organizational practices and outcomes. She leads the effort to develop and implement core leadership and organizational activities consistent with university planning and data-driven decision making. Dr. Biagas serves as a member of the President’s senior leadership team, providing feedback and consultation on university decisions, strategic planning, and policy formation. The units reporting to Dr. Biagas include human resources, assessment and institutional research.
The Office of Institutional Effectiveness’ core functions are people, planning, policy, assessment, data, and research. It has a strong ability to provide transactional service through institutional data, employee relations, recruitment, and planning.
Prior to her appointment as Vice President, Dr. Biagas served in two other positions at Georgian Court---Special Assistant to the President for Strategic Initiatives and Director of Human Resources.
She came to GCU from New York University where she served in various roles including the Executive Director for Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness. Prior to that, Dr. Biagas was the AVP for Human Resources at New Jersey Institute for Technology. In addition, she held several positions at Princeton University, including Director of Organizational Effectiveness and Compliance, and Director of Management Development.
Dr. Biagas holds a doctoral degree in higher education management, an MBA and an M.S. in organizational dynamics, from the University of Pennsylvania; a B.A. in Psychology from Temple University, and specialty certifications in human resources, leadership, executive coaching, diversity, and project management. Dr. Biagas’ doctoral research applied positive psychology principles to presidential leadership. In her university appointments she has explored the influence of culture on transformational change. She has led a variety of workshops and retreats and consults with higher education institutions on topics ranging from executive coaching and strategic planning to organization redesign. Her specialties are organizational culture, change and leadership.
Interim Vice President for Enrollment Management
Arlene Wesley Cash is an innovative enrollment leader in higher education, with 35 years of experience at public flagship and regional universities, private research institutions, a liberal arts college and within professional organizations. Her areas of expertise include strategic enrollment management, financial aid leveraging, marketing, retention strategies, diversity issues and college admissions nationally in both the higher education and non-profit sectors.
Throughout her career, Ms. Cash has served students, faculty and staff through her work in admissions, financial aid, integrated student information services, career planning and development, new student orientation, adult education, continuing education and summer programs. She has also served on strategic planning teams and accreditation committees, and assisted colleges and universities with diversity environmental scans and support assessments, and institutional branding initiatives.
Ms. Cash is an active member of several national higher education organizations, including the College Board, and has provided professional perspective for print and news media (e.g. NPR's Talk of the Nation and The Today Show) and has served on the faculty of the Harvard University/College Board Summer Admissions Institute. In addition, she is a faculty member for the University of Southern California Educational Leadership Certificate Program and has presented to Chinese private school counselors on behalf of the College Board. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy and English from Keuka College, and an master's degree from Kent State University. A doctoral student at the University of Georgia, Ms. Cash's current research focuses on higher education leadership.