Bernard A. Polnariev

2024-25 Aspen Rising Presidents Fellow
An increasingly pressing challenge for community colleges is strengthening and corroborating the value of our credentials. With over 25 years of experience in higher education, first in the classroom, and then in administrative positions, Dr. Bernard A. Polnariev’s career has been centered on enhancing, demonstrating, and promoting the ROI of credentials by advancing students' skills, social mobility, and equity.

Dr. Polnariev serves as the Vice President for Administrative Services at UCNJ Union College of Union County, NJ. His team works tirelessly and purposefully to advance the College’s mission of transforming our community, one student at a time. Under his leadership, faculty and staff have crafted, evaluated, and revised both workforce and transfer programs. They’ve also fostered experiential learning opportunities and strategic partnerships with local employers and elected officials to improve the utility of education and community college credentials. Furthermore, he leverages data and systems to inform and scale student initiatives. With support from UCNJs president and his colleagues, they’ve initiated the necessary steps to begin actualizing Aspen’s Community College 3.0 concept – focusing on student pre-enrollment, access, graduation, and post-completion outcomes as part of a redefined student success agenda.

For his commitment to student success, Dr. Polnariev received the PTK Honors Society Distinguished College Administrator award in 2021 and the NASPA Region II Community College Professional of the Year award in 2017. He completed the League for Innovation in the Community College’s 2018 Executive Leadership Institute. He previously held several leadership roles within Academic Affairs at both UCNJ and LaGuardia Community College.

Dr. Polnariev serves as a Middle States Commission on Higher Education peer evaluator, a Board member for HERDI Innovate, and an EAB’s Research Advisory Council member. He earned a doctorate in Developmental Psychology from the City University of NY Graduate School and a master’s from Teachers College, Columbia University.