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She graduated nearly 70 years ago, and never forgot Union County College.

By Cheryl Makin for my CentralJersey.com

On Dec. 8, Helen Chaney called the Union County College Foundation to pledge $500,000 to support student scholarships.

"Union was a springboard for me in higher education," Chaney said. "The college gave me my start, so I see this gift as my way of helping students financially so that they can afford not only to attend college but also succeed in getting a college degree."

A 1948 graduate, Chaney is providing support for a number of different scholarships and student-success programs. These include three endowed scholarships that will generate $5,000 per year, forever. The donation will also address the college’s Close the Gap program to help improve the graduation rates of African-American students. Another scholarship will support students studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines.

Along with support of the college’s general-scholarship fund, Chaney’s gift will set aside $25,000 for the college’s Operation Graduation. Launched in 2013, this program has nearly tripled the graduation rates of UCC’s students, and the overall total of graduates setting an all-time record of 1,505 in 2015.

Appropriate to the student-success focus of the gift, the college will name its new student center in Chaney’s honor. This center comprises the first floor of the Cranford campus' student services building, a new facility that is scheduled to open in the summer.

The Helen E. Chaney Student Center will serve as the focal point for all student services, including admissions and registration, advising, student accounts, financial aid and academic records.

"The Center will become the Cranford Campus' gateway and one-stop service center for all new and returning students," UCC President Margaret McMenamin said. "We will be honored to have Helen Chaney’s name on that gateway."

After graduating from UCC with an associate degree in English, Chaney left the comfort of Cranford by continuing her education at Indiana University. Her primary reason for leaving the state was the lack of opportunity for women in higher education.

"This was right after the end of WWII and in New Jersey — other than Union College — there really were not many universities that were coed," Chaney said.

At Indiana University, Chaney earned a bachelor’s degree and met her future husband. After raising a family of three in Ohio, she moved to North Carolina, which she now calls her permanent residence.

According to UCC Foundation Executive Director Doug Rouse, Chaney’s gift is one of the largest in Union County College’s 83-year history. Last fall, Betty and Fred Kopf of Westfield also made a $500,000 gift to thank UCC for the education their son received in the 1980s. The Kopfs created an endowed scholarship that will provide permanent funding support for up to nine full- and part-time students annually, in perpetuity.


Union County Freeholder Board supports action on affordable nursing degrees

By  Christine Unish | For NJ.com  

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders renewed its support for the efforts of Union County College to award a Bachelor of Nursing degree. As a two-year community college, Union County College requires approval from the State Department of Education to offer the four-year degree.

"This new four-year program would provide more Union County residents with the opportunity to advance professionally in a high demand field, and it would benefit to the community at large by helping to relieve the ongoing nursing shortage," said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. "Union County College has established a solid record of success with an outstanding two-year Associate's degree, and the Freeholder Board strongly supports extending this experience to four-year degrees."

The new degree program would enable Union County College to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing for students who have completed an Associate Degree or who hold a qualifying diploma in an accredited nursing program, and who have passed the examination to be a Registered Nurse.

The course work would include physical assessment, community health, global and population based health, nursing research and evidence-based practices, advanced pathophysiology, informatics and technology, ethical issues and leadership and management courses.

 Approval for the new four-year program is contingent upon the determination of the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education, which takes into account the recommendations of the New Jersey President's Council.

Earlier in January, Bergen announced support for the four-year degree as part of his 2016 Chairman's Initiatives. The Freeholder Board also adopted a formal Resolution in support of a positive outcome from the President's Council. However, last week the President's Council voted in favor of negative recommendations by a slim 19-18 margin, with several abstentions.

 "We are hoping that this narrow decision provides the Secretary of Higher Education with an indication that the issue deserves a more thorough investigation before a final decision is made," said Bergen.


Passaic County Community College faces setback in efforts to offer bachelor’s degree

By PATRICIA ALEX staff writer | The Record

Passaic County Community College was dealt a setback Monday in its attempts to be one of the first two-year colleges in the state to offer a bachelor’s degree — at a fraction of the cost of those from a traditional four-year school.

The Paterson-based school and its counterpart in Union County both have put forth proposals to offer bachelors’ degrees in nursing, citing a need for more affordable programs.

But the plans are opposed by leaders of the state’s senior colleges, who say the two-year schools underestimate the investment needed in faculty in offering the degree and worry about the community colleges infringing on their roles.

The proposal was aired on Monday at a meeting of the New Jersey Presidents Council, a group made up of school leaders who make recommendations to the state’s secretary of Higher Education, Rochelle Hendricks, regarding new programming.

The council’s meetings generally feature broad agreement among members, but the proposal on Monday elicited prolonged, and sometimes passionate, discussion that went far beyond the proposals at hand in discussing the role of the schools, the need for more affordability in higher education and what some perceive as a lack of statewide coordination in New Jersey.

“We need a real master plan for higher education in New Jersey that talks about the costs,” said Harvey Kesselman, president of Stockton University.

The group voted against endorsing the baccalaureate bids by the community colleges in Passaic and Union by a vote of 19-18, which broke down largely as a division between community colleges and four-year schools. It will now head to Hendricks for a decision.

“What was clear today is that this was not about these two programs,” said PCCC President Steve Rose, who heads the presidents’ council. He noted the farther-reaching questions discussed during the debate on the issue and expressed hope they will be delved into by the state’s education chiefs.

Both PCCC and Union County College now offer two-year programs leading to RN degrees for registered nurses. The BSN is increasingly becoming the standard for employment, but just 29 percent of the students with RN degrees from PCCC go on to bachelor’s programs, Rose said.

William Paterson University in Wayne, which is just three miles from PCCC, offers a growing nursing program. But Rose said the issue is cost. Annual tuition and fees at William Paterson are about $12,240 compared with $4,400 at PCCC. The costs are significantly higher at private colleges and universities in the state.

Former community colleges in 22 states now offer bachelors’ degrees, and supporters of the plan in New Jersey said the issue was one of affordability and access.

“How dare we sit here and act as if it’s okay that a pathway is cut off because of affordability,” said Paul Drayton, president of Rowan College at Burlington, the community college in Burlington County.

But leaders of the four-year schools said nursing programs are expensive to run, and they worried, too, that approval of those programs might lead to others and further blur the distinctions between community colleges and four-year schools.

“I think there is a significant statewide policy issue here,” said Susan Cole, president of Montclair State University. “There are significant costs associated with baccalaureate education, and in a state that ill-supports its four-year institutions already, the notion of creating more is a very serious issue.”

College presidents oppose community college nursing degree

By Jonathan Lai, Staff Writer | Philly.com

A group of New Jersey college presidents voted Monday to tell the state they oppose proposals by two North Jersey community colleges to confer bachelor's degrees in nursing.

The New Jersey Presidents' Council narrowly decided to send the proposals with negative recommendations to the state secretary of higher education, who will make the final call on whether to approve them.

Union County College and Passaic County Community College, which currently offer associate's degrees in nursing, hope to create bachelor's degree completion programs for existing registered nurses. Those R.N.-to-B.S.N. programs, if approved, would be the first time community colleges in the state granted bachelor's degrees.

The schools argue that rising credential standards in nursing have made the bachelor's degrees necessary at the entry level and that their schools can offer those programs at the lowest cost to students.

Other community college presidents have voiced their support for the idea and voted for the programs, but presidents of four-year schools pushed back and ultimately won the advisory vote.

"The one thing that none of us should sit around the table and ever do is cut off a pathway for a student and their family to a better life," said Paul Drayton, president of Rowan College at Burlington County, a community college.

Drayton cited numbers given by other presidents about the affordability of community colleges and the low numbers of nursing students who ultimately pursue bachelor's degrees.

"If we're keeping what's most important in mind, forget about everything else that you heard here today: What's in the best interest for that student?" Drayton said at the meeting.

Presidents of four-year colleges and universities raised concerns about mission creep from the two-year schools and difficulty finding qualified faculty.

"We all know, in this room, that there are significant costs associated with baccalaureate-level education. Significant costs. It is not something that could be done at the same cost that lower-division education can be done," said Susan A. Cole, president of Montclair State University, who opposed the proposals.

"I don't believe there has been the effort between the community colleges and the four-year institutions to see how we might approach this problem, and I think the approach that is proposed is a dangerous one," she said.

Nineteen presidents voted against the proposals, including the heads of Rutgers University and Stockton University. One president abstained, and several were absent, including the leaders of Rowan University and the Gloucester County community college, Rowan College at Gloucester County.

Eighteen presidents, including the Union and Passaic leaders, voted for the proposals. Of the state's 19 community colleges, 16 presidents attended the meeting and voted in favor of the nursing programs.

Monday's vote sends the proposal to Higher Education Secretary Rochelle Hendricks. There is no timeline for her decision.

A spokesman for her office declined to comment Monday beyond saying that "we will consider" the proposals.

Whatever Hendricks decides, the conversation surrounding community college bachelor's degrees is unlikely to go away, with New Jersey lawmakers floating similar proposals and 22 other states allowing some community colleges to run baccalaureate programs.

"The secretary still needs to make the final decision. But I think the secretary . . . got a sense of the fracture among the sectors," said Michael W. Klein, head of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, representing four-year public colleges outside of Rutgers and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Steven M. Rose, president of Passaic County Community College, said the close vote demonstrated an interest in the programs.

"I'm counting on the fact that when it goes to the secretary's office, that it will be looked at in terms of the merits of these two programs," he said.

Margaret M. McMenamin, president of Union County College, said she was particularly glad to see two four-year colleges vote with the community colleges, and is "anxiously awaiting" Hendricks' decision.

"This is going to happen eventually," she said. "Twenty-two states in the country, and growing, are allowing community colleges to issue a baccalaureate degree. We're not innovative with this; we're middle adopters."

Ali A. Houshmand, president of Rowan University, was not in attendance due to a medical issue but, in a statement read to the council, called for compromise, "Else there will be tension for years to come."

"Creative tension is good," McMenamin said after the meeting. "And maybe it makes us all better."


Union County College to host winter commencement ceremonies on Jan. 14

Union County College will celebrate two Commencement Ceremonies on Thursday, Jan. 14. Each ceremony will be led by the College's President, Margaret M. McMenamin. The ceremonies will begin at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and will be held at the Union County Performing Arts Center at 1601 Irving St. in Rahway. The students graduating during these ceremonies completed their degrees in August or December.

During the 2 p.m. ceremony, degrees will be conferred in Associate in Arts and Associate in Applied Science degrees. During the 6 p.m. ceremony, degrees will be conferred in Associate in Science and Certificates. Union County College offers more than 70 programs.

During the 2 p.m. ceremony, the chair of the faculty will be recognizing a graduate with an award. The Ibtissam Ahmed Abdallah and Marquest S. Thomas Memorial Commencement Award was created in 2015 by the College's Faculty Executive Committee in honor of two students who graduated from the College in May 2011 and died together in a tragic car accident on Nov. 23, 2011, shortly after they were married. All full- and part-time students who completed their degree in August and December are eligible for the award.

To be considered for the award, a graduating student must have a minimum grade point average of 3.25; they must have been actively engaged in College life through service in college activities and/or sports and they should have community service outside of the College as well. Students who may have overcome serious personal disabilities such physical disabilities or serious illness will also be considered, as well as veterans and public servants with heroic service to our country.

Union County College is a public comprehensive community college providing quality, affordable, accessible educational programs that serve the greater Union County region. It is the oldest of New Jersey's 19 Associate Degree colleges, serving both career-minded and transfer-oriented students since 1933. The college enrolls almost 30,000 credit, non-credit and continuing education students and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Union County College Continuing Education Hosting Open House on Saturday, January 16th

The Office of Continuing Education at Union County College will be hosting an Open House in the MacKay Library on the College’s Cranford campus on Saturday, January 16th from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm.  Students can learn more about spring non-credit classes for professional development or personal enrichment. Instructors and staff will be on hand to answer questions and assist with registration.

If you are looking for a new job, consider one of the 40+ certificate programs offered in fields such as allied health, business, child care, computers, education, interior design, real estate and more.  Many of these certificate programs can be completed in less than a year and can help improve your job prospects or be used as a stepping stone to a new career.

Are you looking to learn something new or just have fun?  Attend the Open House and learn more about the wide range of personal enrichment courses offered. From art to fitness, the College offers something for everyone and several new classes include How to Build a Website, Introduction to Drones, Yoga, the History of U.S. Presidential Elections, the History of American Popular Music and Writing for Television.  Our Youth Programs will be introducing some new courses as well including Juggling Workshop, PARCC Boot Camp, Writing for Self-Discovery, Creative Writing and Drawing for Beginners and Digital Skills and Ethics.

For complete course descriptions on all Continuing Education programs, please view the online brochure at www.ucc.edu/noncredit. To enroll online through Instant Enrollment, go to http://www.ucc.edu/noncredit/instantenrollment.aspx.
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