Before his junior year of high school, Terry K. McEwen M.B.A. ’98 was unsure about his future career goals. That all changed when he sat down with his history teacher, George Warren, at The Hun School of Princeton.

“One of our assignments was to discuss our career goals and objectives. At the time, I was not sure what I wanted to do,” McEwen remembered. “I met with him after class to discuss my uncertainties, and he gave me insight about the banking industry because math was one of my strongest fields.”

Fortunately, McEwen followed his instructor’s advice, and he is now the highest-ranking African-American in the state’s banking industry. After a 26-year career in the financial services industry, former bank executive McEwen was appointed director of the Division of Banking of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance in 2006.

The Division of Banking of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance examines and regulates 22 different industries, including banks, sales finance, home repair contractors, foreign banks, mortgage bankers, money transmitters, check cashers, debt adjuster, motor vehicle installment sales, credit unions, and others representing about $170 billion of the various industries in New Jersey.

McEwen, who oversees the regulatory process, investigations, legislative issues and enforcement actions, said this is one of the most challenging economic downturns since the 1820s when the housing and financial sectors were destroyed.

“There are different challenges every day, and my job is to oversee how the department responds, acts and wades through the challenges in a proactive manner, so the industries that we regulate continue to maintain their integrity at the end of the process.

“It’s rewarding to work for industries that present so many challenges. The most rewarding part about the job is being able to address people’s concerns and protect them from some of the negative impacts of what the financial industries have gone through,” he said.

Prior to his current post, McEwen served as senior vice president of retail banking for First Washington State Bank where he was responsible for more than 100 employees and managed $600 million in assets. McEwen also has extensive experience in business growth and development, having managed programs aimed at attracting new businesses to New Jersey for the state Economic Development Authority.

McEwen earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with minors in economics and psychology from the University of Pittsburgh where he was a member of Delta Sigma Pi and was a member of the 1976 University of Pittsburgh national championship football team.

McEwen attended M.B.A. classes part time at Rider, while he worked full time at PNC bank where he was a commercial lender and in charge of government relations and community development.

“Rider has a tremendous reputation in the business arena. It has very high qualified faculty and staff,” he said. “It is renowned for its business program, especially how accessible the night program is for individuals who worked during the day. At the time, individuals like Dean Sandberg were very easy to call to discuss the academic process and to explain what Rider had to offer.”

McEwen, who lives in Lawrenceville with his wife and three children, has served on the Rider Board of Trustees since 2005.

“I graciously accepted the position on the board because I wanted to give back to an institution that gave me so much,” he said. “I think that a degree from Rider has a tremendous amount of benefits associated with it – educationally, socially and professionally. It covers a whole spectrum of life experiences that are rewarding for any individual who goes through the M.B.A. program.”