Community Colleges Launch NJ Center for Student Success

On Thursday, Nov. 13, during a special kick-off event at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Trenton, New Jersey’s 19 community colleges and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges officially introduced the New Jersey Center for Student Success to the state.

The New Jersey Center for Student Success works with New Jersey’s 19 community colleges to more effectively assist students in achieving degree and/or certificate completion. The Center supports the community colleges through data-driven research so that campus administrators, faculty and staff are making the most informed decisions. In addition, the Center for Student Success is addressing complementary student services initiatives that will lead to a comprehensive statewide student success agenda.

New Jersey’s Center is now part of a national network of community college Student Success Centers. New Jersey’s Center has received several grants to support its operations including a $500,000 competitive grant from the Kresge Foundation in the Spring of 2014. New Jersey was one of three states to receive a Kresge grant this year, the others being California and Connecticut. These grants build on investments the Kresge Foundation has made in recent years to create Student Success Centers in Arkansas, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas.

“New Jersey’s community college trustees and presidents have been leading our statewide efforts to improve student completion since 2009 as part of our Big Ideas Project,” said NJCCC President Dr. Lawrence A. Nespoli. “We have worked collaboratively as 19 community colleges to transform our colleges from access institutions to access to student success institutions. With the Kresge Foundation’s support, our 19 community colleges can do even more to develop and implement programs that enable students to achieve their goals and realize their dreams.”

Several legislators, policymakers, community college trustees, presidents, faculty, staff, and students attended the event. One attendee, Paige Bodnar, a Mercer County Community College student, told the crowd about her success, and the importance of being part of Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for community colleges.

“When I joined Phi Theta Kappa, I became a member of a community instead of an individual in a crowd,” Paige said.

Other partners of the New Jersey Center for Student Success include The Fund for New Jersey, Jobs for the Future, the New Jersey Education Association, the Office of the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education, the PSE&G Foundation, and the State Street Foundation.

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges is the state association representing New Jersey’s 19 community colleges. As an independent, trustee-headed organization that joins the leadership of trustees and presidents, the Council is the voice of the community college sector before the state legislature and other branches of government.

Below, members of the New Jersey Assembly Higher Education Committee presented a legislative resolution to the New Jersey Center for Student Success during the Nov. 13th kick-off event. Pictured, from left: Center Assistant Director Louis Venturelli, Camden County College President Dr. Raymond Yannuzzi, Center Executive Director Dr. Yesenia Madas, NJ Council of County Colleges Chairman Bakari G. Lee, Esq., Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Celeste Riley, Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove, Assemblyman John DiMaio, and NJ Council of County Colleges President Dr. Lawrence Nespoli.

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