CCC Celebrates 35th Anniversary


Daily Journal Column By Kenneth Ender, Ph.D. President

Cumberland County College is celebrating its 35th anniversary. On Oct. 17, 1966, Cumberland was the first community college in New Jersey to open its own campus.

The college’s initial students and employees dealt with a host of inconveniences. Temporarily incomplete science labs, large gaps in industrial technology equipment, a library located four miles away on Landis Avenue and straight chairs with no desks in the classrooms. But there was an air of excitement on Cumberland’s incomplete campus. A neighborhood college offered quality education at a reasonable cost.

When Cumberland County College began operations 35 years ago, a college education became accessible to any county resident who wished to pursue it. Those who couldn’t afford to attend a four-year college. Those who spent more time in high school thinking about football than Shakespeare. Those with family responsibilities…

All gained an opportunity to see what more they could make of themselves. And over the years, county residents have responded.

About 350 students enrolled in the class of 1966. During the intervening years, more than 8,800 students have graduated from the college, with countless others making use of the college’s resources as a stepping stone to brighter futures. This year, 2775 students, the second largest class in CCC’s history, enrolled for fall semester courses.

Soon after the college opened, the inconveniences were eliminated. A walk on campus is like a stroll through a park, with the dogwoods blooming every spring. CCC now offers 90 career and transfer programs. Technology is everywhere, and it’s continually updated. Culture and diversity are celebrated throughout the campus.

Services and programs have been expanded greatly, but the quality education at Cumberland is still reasonably priced. In 1966, tuition was $200 per semester for full-time students. That was when you could buy a new Volkswagon for $1,500. Today, new cars cost at least $20,000, and CCC’s tuition is only $840 per semester.

The community college movement that, for the most part, began in the 1960s, is no longer an experiment. It’s now the largest higher education sector in America. Every year, more than 10 million people participate in programs offered by the nation’s 1,132 community colleges.

The community college premise is the same as the premise that supports all great democratic institutions – that all people should have the opportunity to go as far as their talent and ambition will take them.

During my 30-year career in higher education, I have worked for three community colleges – Cumberland, Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland and Richland Community College in Illinois - and I’ve visited many others. I’m happy to report that Cumberland is an outstanding community college. The employees are talented and dedicated, and the students are known, locally and nationally, for their outstanding scholastic and professional achievements. .

Cumberland is truly a community college because just about every resident has –directly or indirectly – benefited from its services and/or contributed to its successes. So on Oct. 17, Cumberland County College’s 35th anniversary, let’s all take a moment to proudly reflect on our neighborhood college, a unique American innovation.