Dimenna said the temporary appointment won’t prevent the West Long Branch university from taking steps to tackle pressing issues facing higher education, including its cost.
“Although I’m only going to be president a couple years, there’s a lot of important things to do,” Dimenna, 63, said. “There’s a lot of momentum we need to keep going.”
Dimenna was chosen in February to take the reins after Paul Brown resigned. Brown, who had been president since 2013, said the time was right to retire.
Henry Mercer, chairman of the board of trustees, declined to provide more details about Brown’s resignation in an interview Tuesday.
“People probably were surprised, but … it happened naturally and evolved over time,” Mercer said.
The board turned to Dimenna, who had retired in 2015 as vice president and general counsel after 20 years. They agreed to a contract that ended in June 2018. And they recently agreed to extend the contract by a year, giving the board more time to search for a longer-term president.
“It would really help us to do (the search) more methodically and have more time,” Mercer said. “Since Grey is doing a great job, we have the luxury of taking our time and doing it right.”
Dimenna lives in the Doherty House, the president’s residence on campus, with his wife, Nancy Kaplen.
He said he was enjoying a retirement that included family time, guitar lessons and riding more than 5,500 miles on his bicycle. But he has an affinity for the university, and he wanted to help.
On his agenda: Starting a health and wellness institute this summer; overseeing completion of the football stadium’s expansion; and launching a fundraiser that will provide scholarships and help defray the rising cost of tuition, he said.
“The biggest challenge at any independent college ... is trying to keep costs down,”
Dimenna said. “That’s a huge challenge. How do we give the kind of education Monmouth is famous for — the average class size is 21 students — but at the same time try to keep costs down?”