County College Thanks 35-Year Employees


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 original employees and students were pioneers. Locally and throughout America, community colleges were a new concept in higher education. There was enthusiasm, and there was uncertainty. Not everyone was sure if the notion of a neighborhood college with open admissions would work.

Two of these pioneers, Joyce Garton and William Olivero, are still with the college, and they were recently honored for their 35 years of service to the college. Though each has chosen a different career path, they both have excelled and maintained their high level of enthusiasm.

Mrs. Garton of Millville literally grew up at Cumberland County College. As a teenager, she was a secretary for the college’s business office in 1965, before the college was opened to the public. She now serves as the senior administrative assistant for the dean of business and administrative services, Paul Abrams, who is also a CCC pioneer. Since degrees were issued alphabetically, Mr. Abrams was the college’s “first graduate” at CCC’s inaugural commencement in 1968.

Professor Olivero of Bridgeton, who teaches biology and physical science, is still the adviser of the CCC fencing club, which has been active since the college opened.

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.

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.

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 as a part of Cumberland County College’s 35th anniversary, let’s all take a moment to proudly reflect on our neighborhood college, a unique American innovation.