Kean’s compliance consultant finishes review, official says

Rev. Michael Blackwell (Photo courtesy of Rev. Blackwell)

Rev. Michael Blackwell (Photo courtesy of Rev. Blackwell)

By: Rebecca Panico | Published March 14, 2016

Rev. Michael Blackwell’s review of Kean’s employment practices has finished, the university said today in a statement to The Tower.

“Rev. Blackwell completed his research on March 7, 2016 as per his agreement with the Governance Committee,” Kean University spokeswoman Margaret McCorry wrote in a statement. “He always conducted himself professionally, and his research and insights have contributed to the Board’s process.”

Rev. Blackwell was hired by Kean in December for $15,000 to review institutional racism allegations that were made against the university by a coalition of black ministers led by Rev. Ronald Slaughter of the Saint James AME Church in Newark.

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The announcement comes after the Board of Trustees’ March 7 meeting, where Board Governance Committee Chair Linda Lewis gave a brief summary of Rev. Blackwell’s findings. No mention of Blackwell’s agreement ending was mentioned at the meeting.

“Since early January, the [Board Governance] Committee and Rev. Blackwell have gathered and reviewed data on employment trends, enrollment trends, graduation rates, funding and financial aid issues,” Lewis said at the Trustee’s meeting. “More than 45 interviews of students, employees and alumni have taken place to date.”

The Governance Committee will now complete its review of Kean’s employment practices since the agreement of Rev. Blackwell, who was hired to “assist” the committee, has ended with the university, today’s statement continued.

“The Governance Committee of the Board of Trustees, under the leadership of Trustee Linda Lewis, will complete its review of the University’s employment practices, trends and affirmative action data and report its findings publicly at the May Board of Trustees meeting,” the statement read. “Ms. Lewis has a long record of experience in compliance review and spent a significant part of her career conducting investigations into workplace discrimination.”

Rev. Blackwell could not be reached for comment today about the completion of his review. 

Related: Meet Kean’s new employment review consultant, Rev. Michael Blackwell

Earlier this month, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) was critical of Kean’s decision to hire Rev. Blackwell, alleging that he was “handpicked” by the university. He recommended that former state Supreme Court Justice John Wallace be used instead.

Wallace was the only African American justice until Gov. Chris Christie (R) did not renominate him in 2010. His seat has been vacant since then. Sweeney — a likely contender for the next governor — has been pushing back on Christie’s new nomination.

Rev. Blackwell, who attended last week’s Trustees meeting, declined to speak to reporters regarding Sweeney’s recommendation since he said he was “retained” by the university. Rev. Blackwell did not make a presentation at the meeting.

The Record reported Friday that Rev. Blackwell was involved a number of crimes, including a simple assault charge from last year that was classified as domestic violence. The complaint obtained by The Record reportedly stated that he punched a woman in the eye and threw a rock at her.

He also reportedly pleaded guilty to third-degree felony count of writing a bad check, according to state reports obtained by The Record.

Questions were also raised by the newspaper regarding his educational credentials and his time served in federal prison in the 1990s.

McCorry, the school spokeswoman, told The Tower in February that, “A number of approaches to this project were considered” when choosing Rev. Blackwell as a compliance reviewer. Today’s statement said that Rev. Blackwell “discussed” his qualifications with school officials.

“The University discussed with Rev. Blackwell his qualifications as a compliance reviewer and, based on his experience with various economic development projects in New Jersey, determined that he was well prepared for this assignment.”

State Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Wayne), who is an attorney and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for the New Jersey Attorney General to investigate the circumstances surrounding Rev. Blackwell’s selection, The Record reported today.

The Board Governance Committee’s full report will be presented at the next Trustees meeting on May 9.

Rebecca Panico may be reached at panicore@kean.edu. Follow The Tower on Twitter@KeanTower. Find The Tower on Facebook.


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5 comments

  • Thought I would send you some information that really explains the Man you are so easily disrespecting all over NJ.Com. Rev. Blackwell is the most Qualified Compliance Consult in the State of New Jersey. Since you are in to fact finding, here are some facts, the total amount of dollars over seen by Reverend Blackwell for the purpose of fair and equitable treatment of Minority Businesses and Women Businesses, Compliance reviews, defense of Executive Order 11242, Rehab Act of 1973, Civil Rights Bill Title IX, AA, ADA, EEO and all other Federal and State Statues, is in the Billions of dollars. Find anyone that can boast this with the outcome always being in favor of the disadvantage entities. Let me give you a sample to run fact finder on: The 198 Townhouse HopeVI Project in North Newark (30 Million), The Essex County Correctional Facility(100 Million plus), The Jersey City Medical Center( 120 Million), The Social Security Building Newark, The Social Security Building Neptune, The FBI Building Newark (120 Million plus), The Painting of the Wm. A Stickel Memorial Bridge, Heavy Equipment Jobs throughout New Jersey with IEW/Hamilton County (72 Million), The Eastern Region School Construction (900 Million)(3 new State of the Art Schools in Long Branch, Asbury Park, Design Build Schools in Neptune to name a few, Jersey City for School Construction (1.2 Billion), numerous jobs under 1 million not mentioned. Compliance reviews through New Jersey Transit for Contracts on JFK Airport, LaGuardia Airport and Penn Station Newark. Reverend Blackwell’s Company assignments have elevated the profile of MBE/WBE/DBE’s throughout the State of New Jersey and its all documented.

    Through reaching out to Jarrett Renshaw of the Star Ledger Reverend Blackwell was a motivated fighter of the no bid contracts given to many out of State companies during hurricane Sandy, meeting with the League of Municipalities Exec. Board, the Black Caucus and ultimately the Senate Presidents Office who because of the same appointed Monitors. Not to mention his own Company did the major portion of the Repair and clean up in the Irvington NJ area.

    Please look at the accomplishments of this great African American “Change Agent” who is a true Soldier and has forced change, not someone who runs around with a Sign claiming to want fairness at a University which is atleast 3rd out of 8 State Universities in every category of Compliance and Diversity. Reverend Blackwell also boast 2 honorable discharges, proof of his time at Temple, his Ordination in to the Baptist Ministry. And now added to the litany of above listed accomplishments is the successful finish of a Compliance audit at Kean University. He is a former BCUA Commissioner and the funny thing about all of this, none of it was employment, there were no misrepresentations and all work was finished in the time allotted and all criteria accomplished.

    So perhaps you should enlighten the readers of these facts with some attached Media.

  • Thank You to John D but let me take the time to address this continued one sided attack on my character, my qualifications and for real, all the above!!! The Staff of the “The Record” wants to take the time to disrespect Kean University because they were approached by arguably the best compliance reviewer in the State of New Jersey though he is not the most perfect and is not without flaws in his life though paid for in full!!! After doing their due diligence and checking my work history, reviewing letters of references and past successes and my capabilities profile, they offered me a small contract. I accepted it though it wasn’t a long timeframe nor the type of compensation that comes with most reviews of this type. I didn’t agree to work for them, I didn’t sign a disclaimer on perfection, I signed a contract based on my Professional record. Now because apparently its obvious the naysayers and all of those who are making ridiculous claims especially the Essex County Preacher realize that numbers don lie and soon and very soon the Trustee Board will reveal the truth in numbers so this group of misfits and wannab’s can go back to Essex County and help the Mayor with the water issue, or go out in to the neighborhoods and slow down the rising murder rate!!! Perhaps since none of these issues are relevant to Union County, the Church Leaders from Union can return the favor and come to Essex and protest!!!
    Anyway in closing, I am available and will stand by the report I turned in but for those of you that are still looking to in some kind of way blame Kean University for not doing a criminal background check before hiring me, I got some bad news for you, you gonna have to also blame: the NJSEA, ECIA, SCC, BCUA, IEW, URS, Gilbane, Tishman, the Claremont Group, Torcon, Skanska, Guardian (JFK, LaGuardia, Penn Station), Port Authority, Cities of E.O., Irvington, Newark, Orange, Asbury Park, to name a few, this is just a sample list of prominent clients all hiring and receiving positive results from Reverend Michael Blackwell. Kean University be vindicated by the above listed facts and to the reporters, fact check that!!!!

  • It appears these were written by the same person- anybody agree? What moron takes a selfie and uses it as a professional pic? Kean will hire anybody and pay them $$$$ to say what they wanna here.

  • I left the one above because I know this Man and he is about Minorities getting a fair chance. As I am Contractor I benefitted from his work in Jersey City and Newark.

  • Minister Mike Cunningham

    The lead in the water going to the Newark schools is toxic, the President of EssexCounty College is suspended indefinetly and the murder rate is one of the highest in the Nation but Reverend Slaughter is in Union County trying to fix accusations and allegations of people from his Church and from Essex County!!! Dyne Terrell I think you got the Moron mixed up, it’s got to be this pretend Preacher from Essex cause any real Man of God would handle his own house before handling anything else,