Retired Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. Inducted to Rutgers’ Board of Governors

Retired Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. Inducted to Rutgers’ Board of Governors

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Joseph J. Roberts Jr., retired speaker of the state General Assembly, was inducted as a public member of the Board of Governors of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, at today’s board meeting.

Roberts, from Camden, was nominated by former Gov. Jon S. Corzine in January and confirmed by the state Senate. His term will expire in 2012. The Board of Governors, Rutgers’ highest governing body, has 11 members.

Joe Roberts
Credit: New Jersey General Assembly Majority Office
Joseph J. Roberts Jr.

A Democrat, Roberts won a special election to the Assembly in 1987 to complete the unexpired term of the late Francis J. Gorman. He was re-elected 11 times and was majority leader from 2002 to 2006, when he became speaker until his retirement in January after a 22-year legislative career.

As the Assembly’s presiding officer, Roberts led efforts for an unprecedented special legislative session to confront the issues of rising property taxes. He authored the CORE Reform law that promotes the sharing and consolidation of services among municipalities and school districts. He also wrote a law overhauling New Jersey’s affordable housing landscape to help low- and middle-income working families to purchase homes. The law eliminated a practice that allowed suburban towns to forgo their affordable housing obligations.

Roberts guided the creation and expansion of the state’s Clean Elections program during the 2005 and 2007 legislative races and championed efforts to repeal New Jersey’s death penalty in favor of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. He was instrumental in the passage of laws to improve the detection, treatment and awareness of autism, as well as the legalization of needle exchange programs to help combat increasing rates of HIV and AIDS in urban centers.

 “We are pleased Speaker Roberts’ distinguished record of public service will now include membership on his alma mater’s Board of Governors,” said Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick. “His years in Trenton have given him significant expertise on the challenges faced by our elected officials, business and education leaders, and all residents of New Jersey. Rutgers will benefit from his acumen as we serve our state and nation.”

Roberts has been a Bellmawr councilman and a member of the board of education. He served on the Camden County Board of Freeholders from 1980 to 1987 and was freeholder director for four years. He also was executive assistant to then-U.S. Rep. Jim Florio from 1979 to 1984.

Roberts has been board president of Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Camden County, a director of the county’s United Way and a member of the Bellmawr Fire and Rescue Squad.

After graduating from Rutgers with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Roberts earned a master’s degree in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels School of Government. He attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Roberts replaces Gene O’Hara on the Board of Governors.


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