Bergen Community College Unveils Innovative Initiatives Amid Surging Enrollment

In a recent Bergen Community College Board of Trustees meeting, a variety of dynamic topics were discussed, including innovative collaborative initiatives, grant acquisitions, and enrollment updates.

Leading the discussion, President Dr. Eric M. Friedman reflected on his tenure at the college. “When I started as president, I promised to lead through an ethic of care,” he stated.

He celebrated a significant achievement for the college. A project by the college’s Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) students, which involved creating sensory mini-golf courses for adults with intellectual disabilities, was recognized by the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey. This project was part of the Bergen County Special Services School District Stepping Stones program, funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation. “Bergen represented the only Community College among more than 50 honorees to receive rewards at the June 7th breakfast,” Friedman proudly noted.

Amid the celebration, President Friedman revealed that enrollment at Bergen Community College was showing an upward trend, a vital factor given two-thirds of the college’s operating budget is derived from tuition revenue. According to Vice President AJ Trump, there were 601 more registered students at that point compared to the previous year.

A significant announcement was the procurement of a five-year, $4.5 million grant, intended to support future professionals in food, agriculture, and sustainable pathways. This grant, overseen by Professors PJ Ricardo, Dr. John Jackowski, and Rhonda Drakeford, and an unnamed grant director, will aid in developing initiatives for about 600 students.

The Board also acknowledged the remarkable dedication of Robert Kitchell, a facilities staff member who responded swiftly to a building leak during the July 4th holiday.

In terms of external collaborations, the board discussed an exchange program with Party City. This program included a panel discussion, interview workshops, and an educational experience for Party City staff. The initiative aligns with the college’s strategic priorities such as diversity, equity, inclusion, external partnerships, and workforce development.

The President concluded by highlighting the upcoming “Goodbye to Summer Soiree” fundraising event, the proceeds of which will benefit student scholarships and programs.

Despite the promising developments, the ambiguity around enrollment numbers sparked a potential point of disagreement, suggesting a future discussion topic.

Aside from the President’s updates, various board members reported on their committee meetings. Notably, Trustee Mark Longo and Ritzy Moralez-Diaz presented sets of resolutions from their respective committees, Audit and Finance and Personnel, which were ready to move forward.

During the Strategic Planning and Issues Committee meeting, Dr. Gary Porter and Dr. Tanya McCoy offered strategic planning presentations for 2024-2029 and reviewed presidential goals for 2023 and 2024, as submitted by President Friedman.

The meeting saw an inspiring moment when student-athlete Kaden Stevens was honored as the national champion for the triple jump. Jorge Hernandez, the Managing Director of Athletics, and Coach Anthony Vaughn praised Kaden’s achievements and thanked the board for supporting the acquisition of a ‘curve treadmill,’ instrumental in Kaden’s off-season training.

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