In arguably one of the the most significant Convocations in recent memory, hundreds of faculty, staff members and administrators came together at the Collins Arena on Jan. 20 to discuss a new year, a new semester and a new future for Brookdale Community College.
The Spring Term Convocation featured a broad range of speakers discussing the college’s ongoing reorganization plan, which will begin to take shape throughout this semester. Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy also announced the appointment of eight current deans who will lead the college’s new academic institutes and student service divisions.
At a time when higher education has become a high stakes prospect for millions of American students, Brookdale’s transformation is a step into the future, Murphy said.
“Community colleges are democracy’s colleges. We are the American Dream for our students,” Murphy said. “We need to keep that dream alive for the students we have coming to our doors in the years ahead.
“We need to look at what our students and our emerging populations need – our immigrant populations, our adult learners, people who are coming back to learn new skills in new ways – and we need to create the structures to support them. That it our strategy.”
The event began with an address by each of the college’s three employee union leaders: biology Professor James Crowder (faculty association); assistant financial aid director Karyn Arnold (administrative association); and accounts payable specialist Helen Vota (professional staff association).
Following a difficult few months surrounding the college’s announcement of a reduction in force at Brookdale, the employee representatives expressed hope that the college community can work together throughout the reorganization to ensure the best possible outcome for students.
“I think that our presence on this stage speaks volumes in terms of inclusiveness and communication. I have been here 18 years, and this is the first time something like this has happened. ” Crowder said.
“I am here to say that I am cautiously optimistic moving forward … I’m entering today with the hope and the expectation that we are going to continue to feel included and that we are all going to work together and keep this place the wonderful institution that it always has been.”
Dr. Richard Fulton, interim vice president of educational services at Brookdale, later discussed a wide range of higher education trends in America and outlined the reasons behind Brookdale’s reorganization. Community college enrollment has declined at colleges across the country, he said, while state spending on those schools has decreased by an average of 23 percent.
“These facts remind us that we must look closely at what we are doing, not just here but everywhere,” Fulton said.
Other speakers included Freehold campus Dean David Stout, who has been selected to lead the college’s new Student Success division as part of the reorganization. The division, which will house services such as admissions, advising, athletics, veterans services and career and transfer services, will be rolled out in the coming months alongside Brookdale’s new academic “institutes” and students service divisions.
“Encouragement is enabling people to move courageously toward their goals,” Stout said. “I believe that will be true in our division.”
Dr. Richard Pfeffer, current dean of enrollment development and student affairs, has been selected to lead Brookdale’s ever-growing Freehold campus, which is expected to become a central hub for students as western Monmouth County’s population expands in the years ahead.
Pfeffer said he hopes to build on Stout’s work and grow Freehold as a full-service campus, establishing firm ties to the community and creating new opportunities for student life and engagement.
“This is an amazing time,” Pfeffer said, “and I am very, very excited about this change. I think it will be a wonderful benefit the entire college and, certainly, to our students.”
Anita Voogt, dean of the Communiversity and Brookdale’s four higher education centers (HECs), echoed the comments of her colleagues, expressing excitement for the months and years ahead.
“What you are going to see [at the HECs] are specific programs that reflect the needs of those areas, and the students in those communities,” Voogt said. “We are at the formative stage, but there is so much potential for this reorganiztion.”
Other appointments announced during Convocation include:
- Carl Calendar, dean of the English and Reading Division, will serve as dean of the new Humanities Institute.
- Jayne Edman, dean of the Sciences and Health Science Division, will lead the new Health Sciences Institute.
- Patricia Gallo, dean of the Business and Technology Division, will lead the new Business and Social Science Institute.
- William Burns, dean of the Arts and Communication Division, will lead a division overseeing the college’s new “Innovations Hub” and Brookdale’s First Semester Experience Program.
- Franklyn Rother, dean of the Social Science and Education Division, will lead the new Weekend and Evening Education division.
- Teresa Healy, dean of the Mathematics Division, will serve as interim dean of the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Institute. An internal search is being conducted for a permanent dean.
In the coming months, deans will work collaboratively with department chairs, faculty and staff to create long-term priorities for each division. Each institute will create a two-year assessment plan that will be shared with the campus community beginning this April.
The reorganization, which is expected to create clearer pathways for student success and eliminate redundancy among many college programs, will be implemented by July 1.
Click here for more photos of the Spring Convocation.