What was once a dream is now a reality. Following years of planning, design, grant applications and construction, dozens of area dignitaries, elected officials and college representatives gathered at Brookdale’s Wall Campus on Sept. 12 to cut the ribbon on the college’s new 37,000-square-foot Wall West classroom building.
The building – boasting 14 classrooms, two science labs, a state-of-the-art nursing suite and a host of new student lounges, study rooms and computer stations – offers five complete associate degree programs and a wide range of general education courses for Brookdale students.
It also serves at the home of the Brookdale-NJCU partnership, which offers eight New Jersey City University bachelor’s degree programs in majors such as nursing, business management, criminal justice and marketing. Learn more about the new building here.
“Welcome to Brookdale Community College’s newest jewel,” said interim Brookdale President David Stout, during an official ribbon cutting ceremony held near the Wall West entryway. “This ceremony has been a long time coming, and we have a long list of distinguished guests here today who have helped make this possible. Thank you all for being here.”
The ceremony featured addresses by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders; Brookdale Board of Trustees Chair Carl Guzzo Jr.; NJCU President Sue Henderson; Wall Township Mayor Nick DiRocco; Brookdale’s Executive Dean of Regional Locations and K-12 Partnerships Anita Voogt; Wall Campus Director Allison Fitzpatrick; and Brookdale nursing student Tara Tennaro.
Voogt provided a history of Brookdale’s Wall location, which was established as part of the college’s Communiversity program back in 2000. The site, built on a “dilapidated, abandoned” military base, was designed to increase access for students in southern Monmouth County and allow Brookdale graduates to earn bachelor’s and even master’s degrees from area universities while remaining close to home, Voogt said.
Today, the Wall location sports a state-of-the-art, $19 million classroom building, an expanded partnership with NJCU, and it was recently granted official branch campus status by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. It will also serve as home for two of Brookdale’s newest early-college high school programs, run in partnership with public school districts in Wall and Asbury Park.
“We imagined a campus like this, and we stayed true to that vision. Now, 17 years later, here we are enjoying the fruits of our labor,” said Voogt.
“At this site, we can now offer the full range of the education continuum, from high school through associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. It’s all here, and it’s incredible.”
For Tennaro, a Toms River resident and mother of three, the new building will also prove to be a huge time-saver. Currently, Tennaro said she drives roughly 40 minutes each way to her classes in Lincroft. Now, she said, she will be able to complete her labs in pharmacology and nursing concepts at the Wall campus, a mere 20 minutes from her home.
“By expanding these health care courses to the Wall campus, it allows students like me to not only balance our school lives, but our lives in general – especially for us students who are mothers and want more of that one-on-one with our professors,” said Tennaro, who plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing after completing Brookdale’s nursing program. “The building looks great and I am super excited to be a part of the brand new facility. I honestly can’t wait to get started.”
Also in attendance at the ceremony were: Monmouth County Administrator Teri O’Connor; NJCU Vice President of Administration and Finance Dr. Aaron Aska and program coordinator Dr. Joyce Wright; Wall Township Deputy Mayor Timothy Farrell and Committeewoman Ann Marie Conte; representatives from Spiezel Architectural Group and T&M Associates; all members of the Brookdale Board of Trustees; and members of the Brookdale Foundation and the Brookdale Alumni Association.
Guzzo, representing the Brookdale Board of Trustees, thanked each of the various stakeholders for helping to see the Wall West building into fruition, including the State of New Jersey’s Building Our Futures Bond Act program – which provided millions of dollars in funds for the new facility – and the Monmouth County Freeholders.
Curley, a Brookdale alumnus and county liaison to the college, acknowledged the importance of expanding educational opportunities for Monmouth County residents and providing a pathway for students to enter the workforce. Referencing a comprehensive study recently conducted by county officials, Curley said one of the most current pressing needs for local residents is quality employment.
“We need jobs, both here in Monmouth County and across the state of New Jersey. But the only way to achieve that is through education,” said Curley. “On behalf of Gary Rich, Tom Arnone, Lilian Burry, Serena DiMaso, and the freeholders of 1967 [who voted to establish Brookdale], thank you for all that you do in making our society a greater place.”
Learn more about Brookdale’s Wall Campus here.
Check out more photos of the Wall West Ribbon Cutting Ceremony here.