NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Peter J. McDonough Jr. – former director of communications under Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and founding partner of the Princeton Public Affairs Group – has been named Rutgers University’s new vice president for public affairs, effective March 1.
The Rutgers Board of Governors today approved the appointment of McDonough to the post, where he will serve as the chief adviser to university President Richard L. McCormick, Rutgers governing boards and other university leaders on matters involving state, federal and local governments; New Jersey businesses; civic and community groups; and nonprofit organizations. He also will be responsible for developing and directing strategies for outreach and advocacy.
McDonough succeeds Jeannine F. LaRue, who is retiring after nearly 40 years of public and private service to the people of New Jersey. LaRue has served as the university’s vice president for public affairs since 2007.
“In an era of unprecedented fiscal challenges, Jeannine LaRue has done an outstanding job as a tireless advocate on behalf of Rutgers to federal, state, local, community and business leaders,” President McCormick said. “I can think of no better successor than Pete McDonough. Pete will bring a unique combination of experience and insight to Rutgers as he leads the university’s advocacy and outreach efforts. Like Jeannine, Pete is respected on both sides of the political aisle for his persistence and his extensive knowledge of state and federal government.”
McDonough, 57, is one of the few individuals to have served as a staff member at the highest levels of the federal government and New Jersey state government in both the executive and legislative branches.
As director of communications, McDonough served as one of Gov. Whitman’s principal strategic advisers. He also served as chief of staff in the state Department of the Treasury.
In 1982, at the age of 29, McDonough became the youngest person ever appointed executive director in the New Jersey General Assembly.
On the federal level, McDonough served as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Dean A. Gallo of Morris County and as an associate staff member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. He also served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The son of a former New Jersey state senator, McDonough has taught at Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics since 2001. He currently teaches a masters and Ph.D. seminar in American politics. He is a 1975 graduate of Lehigh University.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to apply the public affairs lessons I’ve learned over 30 years at all levels of government to furthering the interests of Rutgers and to help a great institution become even better,” McDonough said.
LaRue, 60, brought to Rutgers her legendary list of contacts, built over four decades, with nearly 20,000 business, political and community leaders across New Jersey and the nation. During her tenure at Rutgers, she dramatically increased the university’s visibility with state and federal leaders through a series of initiatives to raise awareness and understanding of the benefits that Rutgers provides to people across New Jersey. These initiatives include organizing a series of seminars for Trenton leaders on key issues that showcased the expertise of university faculty, and establishing the Friends of Rutgers e-newsletter, which provides information and regular updates to nearly 3,000 government, business and community leaders across New Jersey.
“Jeannine has strengthened the university’s interactions and relationships with elected officials at all levels, and we are grateful for her service to Rutgers,” President McCormick said. “Utilizing her knowledge, experience and keen interpersonal skills, she has steered the university successfully through discussions in Trenton and in legislative districts on many important issues, and during some very challenging times.”
The duties of the vice president for public affairs at Rutgers include:
- Managing the university’s offices of state and federal relations
- Enhancing Rutgers’ access to state and federal research, outreach and education funding opportunities
- Informing elected officials; policymakers; and civic, community and business leaders about university programs and their benefits
- Offering advice and counsel to President McCormick, members of the governing boards and other university officials on developing legislation, policies, initiatives and relationships with policymakers and elected officials in all 21 counties and advancing Rutgers’ responsiveness to their needs and issues
- Serving as a center of communication through regular personal contact with community leaders, elected and appointed government officials and their staffs.
Established in 1766, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is America's eighth oldest institution of higher learning and one of the nation’s premier public research universities. Serving more than 56,000 students on campuses in Camden, Newark and New Brunswick, Rutgers offers more than 280 bachelors, masters, doctoral and professional degree programs. The university is home to 27 degree-granting schools and colleges, and more than 150 specialized centers and institutes.
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