Brown University Center will provide incredible opportunities


by Kenneth Ender, Ph.D.

"We must provide ways for area residents to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Cumberland County. Many people who leave the county to pursue college degrees do not return."

That’s what Bernard Brown, a business leader and long-time Cumberland County College supporter, said to me eight years ago at a “get acquainted” session. I was new to the area and beginning my duties as CCC president.

It got me thinking… We need a university center on campus where professors from colleges and universities could teach junior- and senior-level college courses as well as graduate courses. Residents would be able to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees without leaving Cumberland County.

Well, Mr. Brown’s vision is becoming a reality. We are building a university center. And last week, as reported in The Daily Journal, Shirlee and Bernard Brown stepped forward and pledged $1 million to support this facility, which will be named the Shirlee and Bernard Brown University Center.

The Brown’s gift announcement ceremony was truly inspirational, and it was timely because it occurred a few days after the college’s 39th commencement where 412 students received associate’s degrees. Many of CCC’s graduates are transferring to four-year colleges, but many other graduates cannot move out of the county to continue their education due to family or job responsibilities.

That’s why we’re looking forward so much to building the Shirlee and Bernard Brown University Center, where students will be able to take senior-level college courses at CCC.

The Shirlee and Bernard Brown University Center will open on campus in 2008, but there are several thriving university center partnerships between CCC and senior colleges and universities. During the past two years, more than 80 university center partnership students received advanced degrees from Fairleigh Dickinson University and Montclair State University. Every year, there are more than 100 Fairleigh students enrolled at Cumberland through university center partnerships. Residents have embraced the notion of being able to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree without leaving Cumberland County.

CCC is pursuing university center partnerships with many other senior colleges and universities in the state and region. These partnerships will be announced at the fall 2006 groundbreaking ceremony for the Shirlee and Bernard Brown University Center.

The Browns have been involved with the college since 1965, when Bernard was a member of the original CCC Board of Trustees. Last week, the Browns made another huge investment in their college and community. The Shirlee and Bernard Brown University Center is going to provide incredible opportunities for area residents to better their lives through higher education.