College Motivating Students to Succeed

11/20/01


by Kenneth Ender, Ph.D President

It is easy to feel thankful that I live in Cumberland County and America as I walk around Cumberland County College’s campus. Students and staff are enthusiastic, and during the recent pleasant weather it’s like strolling through a park.

In the academic building, Dean Dr. Jack Lobb is meeting with the division chairs about numerous projects. After 34 years with CCC, Dr. Lobb is retiring in January, but but he certainly doesn’t act like it. He arrives every day and works as if it is his first day, not his last. Dr. Lobb doesn’t seem to work as the academic dean - he is the dean. He has set a tone for academic excellence and student success that will long be in place after he leaves.

There’s a student art display, titled “Ripple Effect,” in the gallery of the Frank Guaracini Jr. Fine and Performing Arts Center. More than 70 student works that deal with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are on display through Dec. 14. There’s also a large wall poster with poetry and writings from the college community.

A marvelous aspect of the display is that you can clearly see how much the students have learned. Their sensitivity ripples through their work. A quote on the poster was signed “GE”: “Strength comes through challenge. Adversity increases knowledge. Don’t dwell, rise above.”

I walk in sunshine to the Wheaton Building where students of all ages are taking credit and non-credit courses to get ahead in their professions. Many of the programs conducted here bolster the county’s business climate and economy.

The Wheaton building also houses the Leadership Cumberland County program that offers training for new and emerging leaders. And the Neighborhood Leadership Institute is offering an organizational building series that begins Jan. 8. Jill Lombardo and Dr. Kim Warker lead these projects.

In the adjacent Alampi Agriculture building, about 800 fish swim in large tanks. Most of the fish are tilapia that sell for about $5 a pound. Dr. Tim Jacobsen, director of the college’s aquaculture program, plays a key role in the state’s effort to encourage fish farming.

In one of the labs, Professor Dr. Robert Clark brings science to life for students through a visual demonstration of a molecular theory . He was recently selected as the 2001 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT) New Jersey Professor of the Year.

Outside, the yellow and red fall leaves brilliantly line the walkways. People walk with a purpose, but they pause to greet each other as they head to the various buildings on campus. Back in my office, there’s a copy of an employee newsletter on my desk. A letter to colleagues by Spanish Professor Linda Lleras is included.

“We have become very close over the years,” Mrs. Lleras notes in the letter. “We have cried together over the loss of some of our cherished colleagues. We have laughed together, and we have learned together. We have partied together, and God knows we have complained together. But, most important, we have worked together with a common goal: to provide the best educational environment possible for our students.”

Walking around the campus gives me much to be thankful for – earnest students, talented professionals, involved community members and positive energy. A microcosm of America, a college and community intertwined.