Phil Linfante, Ph.D.

Dr. Felix “Phil” Linfante has provided a lifetime of service to New Jersey’s community college sector. He currently serves as a professor of Social Sciences at Essex County College, teaching Psychology, Sociology, and Education.  During his thirty-five-year tenure at the college, he spent many years in administration as the Dean of Educational Services and Executive Dean of Student Success. He is also an adjunct professor at the College of St. Elizabeth, teaching courses in the Doctoral Program in Higher Education Leadership.   Dr. Linfante is a licensed therapist through the New Jersey Board of Marriage and Family Therapy, certified as an Approved Clinical Supervisor (ASC) and a Certified Trauma Treatment Specialist. He also is certified in Change Intelligence (CQ).

Dr. Linfante is a steadfast leader through his community involvement. Previously he served as Chair of the Warren County Community College Board of Trustees and served for three-years as the Chair of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC).  In addition, he was previously elected to the Belleville Board of Education and he served as president of the Board for 2 years. He also served as the co-chair of the NJCCC State and Federal Legislative Committee.

An active member of ACCT, Dr. Linfante served on ACCT’s Education and Communication Committee, and on the Public Policy and Advocacy Committee. He has presented numerous times at ACCT Leadership Congresses on topics including: The Importance of Board Retreats, Board Leadership, No Confidence Votes, Textbook Cost Saving Measures, Accreditation, Implementing a Reform Agenda. He received the 2020 Northeast Region ACCT Trustee Leadership Award.

Dr. Linfante has provided workshops at the NJCCC Best Practices conference, and was a member of a NJCCC committee to develop the strategic plan for the Council.

As chair of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, Dr. Linfante created the Trustee Spotlight Award, recognizing a local trustee who has been a tremendous advocate to the local community college. He has also traveled throughout the state attending almost all-local Community College Board of Trustee meetings and speaking about the importance of community colleges locally, statewide, and nationally. Dr. Linfante has also conducted workshops at three NJ community college retreats emphasizing the need to advocate and work closely with state legislators in providing the needed support for community colleges.

During his tenure as statewide chair, Dr. Linfante led the sector in advocating for the successful passage of the Community College Opportunity Grant, and establishing free tuition to many students attending community college. In 2021, Dr. Linfante advocated and succeeded in obtaining the first increase in operating funds for county colleges in thirteen years. Dr. Linfante created the statewide sector Racial and Social Justice Committee, the Student/Alumni Committee, and helped transition the Council into a proactive, inclusive organization with a legislative agenda.

While serving as Chair of the Warren County Community College, Dr. Linfante participated in the Middle States Accreditation visit in 2017 and zero recommendations were cited for the college. During his tenure as chair, the college was recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education as New Jersey’s #1 College for Student Success, the 11th Best College for Student Success in the US, ranked #1 Community College New Jersey Nursing Program by the Nursing School Alliance, and ranked the 20th safest community college in the US by Campus Safety. Also, during his tenure on the WCCC Board of Trustees, the college reached a 46% graduation rate, as well as record retention rates, while simultaneously radically reducing remediation and credits to degree.

Dr. Linfante’s professional affiliations throughout the state and recognitions include New Jersey Council of Community Colleges, Association of Community College Trustees, and the New Jersey Education Association. He received the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s Distinguished College Administrator Award in 2014. Dr. Linfante also received the statewide EOF Circle of Influence Award in 2012. For each of the past three years, Dr. Linfante was named by NJBIZ, New Jersey’s Leading Business Journal, as a member of its Annual Education Power 50 List, the most influential individuals shaping Education in New Jersey.

Dr. Linfante holds a Ph.D. from Seton Hall University in Higher Education Administration and Supervision, an MA in Counseling from Kean University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Rutgers University where he also received his public school teaching certification.

Dr. Linfante is married to Maria DiGiovanni, former Mayor of Hackettstown, and is the proud grandfather of Nicholas, Luke, John, and Evangeline.

Spotlight Questions

1) Who was your earliest professional influence? 

I began work at Essex County College in New Jersey at the age of 24 and worked under the Dean of Community and Continuing Education. He mentored me for years as I worked my way up the administrative/faculty ladder. He was a realist and taught me that to succeed you must learn how to work with a diverse group of people and always strive to set an example. He was the most creative, innovative, hardest working individual I’ve ever worked with.

2) What are you most proud of personally and professionally? 

Personally, it would be my grandchildren. My four grandchildren (Ages 7 through 13) live close and being with them brings me more joy than can be explained. “Pop” as they call me, is their go to guy and the first thing they always ask is  “Where’s Pop?’ I never thought those words would fulfill me so much.

Professionally, my three-year term as Chair of the New Jersey Council of Community Colleges. The Council is made up of the presidents and Chairs of the eighteen community colleges in New Jersey. I was able to work with some of the greatest individuals who showed me how important community colleges are in the state and the nation.

3) What is your favorite pastime or hobby? 

Spending time with family and friends. Laughing, talking, and having fun.

4) If not Higher Ed, what? 

High School history teacher, helping teenagers through the hardest years of their lives. That was my first job out of college but only did it for one year before moving on to Higher Education.

 5) What was the best piece of advice you have received? 

 Work your hardest and good things will happen.

PS: It worked.

6) What is your favorite drink? 

Coffee/Cappuccino. Probably way too much.

7) What is your favorite cuisine? 

Italian. I grew up in a strong Italian family where food was the center of everything. I married a great Italian woman who is a great cook. As a kid, I ate macaroni (We would never call it pasta) every day of the week. We have traveled to the different regions of Italy to enjoy the food and wine.

8) What is your favorite movie? 

Believe it or not, I am a big Hallmark “Christmas Movies” fan. I watch all of them from October to December on all the Hallmark channels. My wife is always laughing at me when I cry at the end of the movies

9) Fun Fact? 

I recently directed and produced a very successful variety show with over 60 participants and 30 acts in my community.

Phil Linfante