For Brookdale students returning to school this week, things may look a little different. There is a new Gateway Path running across the Lincroft campus from the Collins Arena to the Performing Arts Center, featuring new benches, landscaping, sculptures and even a success-themed bike rack near the Student Life Center.
There are new Brookdale-themed NJ TRANSIT busses – featuring a new cohort of students and recent graduates – and those busses are running on new and improved lines that offer more frequent connections to Lincroft, Freehold and, for the first time, to the Hazlet Higher Education Center.
The new Monstessori Children’s Learning Center is now open on the Lincroft campus, offering discounts and flexible schedules to student-parents studying at Brookdale.
There is a new One Stop Center for admissions, registration and other student services in the CAR building. There are newly announced university partnerships that offer unique transfer opportunities to Brookdale graduates, and a wide range of new programs and leadership opportunities for new and returning students alike. A completely redesigned Wall campus – featuring a new main academic building, new classrooms, labs and lounge areas – is expected to open in January.
And this is just the beginning.
This year Brookdale celebrates its 50th anniversary, commemorating the college’s founding in Monmouth County in 1967. Throughout the coming semesters the college will host a variety of special events and 50th-themed programs for students and employees, including a campus “Zombie Walk” in October, a Homecoming Celebration and food truck event, and a college-wide talent show this spring.
It’s a celebration five decades in the making, and all Brookdalians are invited to join. To keep up with all the action check out the Brookdale events calendar for coming programs and event details.
While most students returned to campus on Sept. 6, Brookdale employees got the 50th anniversary started a week early with the college’s annual Fall Convocation ceremony, held Sept. 1 in the Collins Arena.
The ceremony began with a video address by Brookdale’s founding president Dr. Ervin Harlacher, who spoke to the hundreds of gathered employees about the college’s humble beginnings and its remarkable growth over the past 50 years.
“The college has become a life-changing force for thousands of Monmouth County residents,” said Harlacher, who served as Brookdale president until 1974. “I remember fondly the first day of classes, and the college’s first ever commencement at the Monmouth Arts Center. From that point the ‘Impossible Dream,’ my early theme song, evolved into 50 years of making dreams possible for Monmouth County residents. Congratulations to each and every one of you for your part in continuing the Brookdale dream, and making it possible for so many Monmouth County residents to further their education.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy, who showed a few historical photos of the college’s inaugural year in 1969, when Brookdale boasted a total enrollment of 306 students. In the years since, she said, Brookdale has awarded tens of thousands of college degrees to generations of students, while rolling out new career training programs, high school partnerships, free college readiness programs and countless other services specifically designed for Monmouth County residents.
“We stay true to the mission that Dr. Harlacher spoke of,” Murphy said. “We are still focusing on providing those opportunities for people who don’t have them.”
The ceremony also featured a keynote address by Scott Jaschik, long-standing editor of the college and university journal Inside Higher Ed, who outlined 16 key developments that will impact community colleges and their stakeholders in the near and distant future.
From the “free community college” programs that have taken root in the U.S. to shrinking government funding and the growing cost of higher education in America, Jaschik said community colleges like Brookdale may take on an even more vital role for students in the years ahead.
“We are seeing, in parts of the country, what I think will be an era of community colleges,” he said, explaining that more than half of all students attending a public university Florida have now started their education at a community college. “I think the whole concept of the community college could become more important and could evolve. People could really be thinking of community college as the place you start to earn your bachelor’s degree, not just an alternative choice.
“I see the great strength of community colleges as teaching, and teaching diverse students,” he added. “Community colleges do that better than anyone else, at a time that American society needs that more than ever.”
The convocation ceremony concluded with a 50th anniversary kickoff barbecue in the Student Life Center, offering food, music and the unveiling of a lifesize photo wall featuring cutouts of Brookdale’s first ever graduating class. Look for it at 50th Anniversary events throughout the school year.
Check out more photos of the Fall Convocation Ceremony and Employee Barbecue here.