40 years of pride, service and excellencce

9/26/06


We are rapidly approaching Cumberland County College’s 40th anniversary. In October, 1966, Cumberland was the first community college in New Jersey to open its own campus. An official 40th anniversary ceremony will be held Oct. 5 at 3 p.m. in the Guaracini Arts Center.

I have been CCC’s president for eight years, which is a little less then one-fourth of the time that CCC has existed. But I am quite aware and proud of the rich history of this vital community resource.

After all, some of the employees hired in the ‘60s still work at CCC, and they share their experiences from the “good old days” when they were pioneers in what has become a truly American success story in higher education – the community college.

I admire the employees who started in the ‘60s because they are still passionate about their careers. They’ve been “lighting up the lives” of countless students for nearly four decades, and our long-time employees are still driven to challenge students to turn their dreams into obtainable goals through education.

Some of these heroes who come to mind include John Adair, Nick Bokma, Katherine Daniels, John Gibbs, Walter Johnson, Sharon Kewish and Clair Miller. And Joyce Garton and William Olivero were hired when the college opened in 1966.

Joyce told me that 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 according to Joyce, there was an air of excitement on Cumberland’s incomplete campus. A neighborhood college offered quality education at a reasonable cost.

About 350 students enrolled in the class of 1966. During the intervening years, more than 11,000 students have graduated from the college. More than 70 percent of CCC’s graduates were the first in their families to earn a college degree.

And our trailblazing first-in-the-family graduates forever changed their families’ cultures. They served as role models for their brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers who were inspired by these graduates to earn their own degrees from CCC.

Their courage and success makes life better in Cumberland County.

Cumberland is truly a community college. Just about every resident has –directly or indirectly – benefited from its services or contributed to its successes. So during Cumberland County College’s 40th anniversary, let’s all take a moment to proudly reflect on our neighborhood college, a uniquely American innovation.