It’s been a summer of change for Burlington County’s community college.
In June, Burlington County College transformed into Rowan College at Burlington County after signing a partnership with Rowan University. With the partnership, all Rowan College at Burlington County students will be accepted to Rowan University once they complete their associate’s degree and certain program-specific requirements. In addition, the university is offering select courses at RCBC and is providing five, $2,000 scholarships annually.
With the change in name will come a newly designated main campus, and school officials announced Mt. Laurel has been chosen to be the school’s new epicenter.
Rowan College at Burlington County announced on July 27 it will soon close its 40-year-old Pemberton campus and make Mt. Laurel the school’s main campus. The move was announced about six weeks after the partnership between RCBC and Rowan University was announced. Paul Drayton, president of Rowan College at Burlington County, said the campus change is the next major step in the school’s transformation.
A number of factors played in the decision to make Mt. Laurel the main campus. The biggest factor was the number of students and staff who reside in and around the township. With shifts in population and demand over recent years, Drayton said more students are now attending classes on the Mt. Laurel campus than all of the college’s other campuses combined.
“The majority of our students attend class in Mt. Laurel,” Drayton said. “Over the last decade or so, the numbers have shifted dramatically.”
“The decision was made that the students are here and the faculty wants to be here,” Drayton continued. “Many of our students and faculty live close to the Mt. Laurel area.”
Another big factor was the cost of maintaining the aging Pemberton campus. The college performed a study revealing Pemberton was in need of infrastructure improvements costing approximately $50 million.
When the partnership with Rowan was discussed, Drayton said the university was very interested in making Mt. Laurel the main campus for students.
“This is where Rowan wanted to teach their courses and classes,” he said. “This is where our other on-site partners are located as well.”
Making Mt. Laurel RCBC’s main campus will involve making a number of improvements to the existing buildings. When the change was discussed, it was discovered the college would not have to make major additions to combine the two campuses.
“The consultants came back and said we have the capacity to consolidate in Mt. Laurel,” Drayton said.
Most of the changes in the existing buildings will involve re-purposing space to use it more efficiently. One example Drayton gave was re-purposing some of the school’s computer labs to use for office or classroom space. Much of the re-purposing work is expected to begin late this year.
Drayton said the school is working on other improvements to enhance the atmosphere of the campus.
“We also have a plan to better connect the existing buildings to give it more of a college-like feel,” he said.
One building the college will construct is a new student center. Drayton said planning for the new building will begin in the near future and will include a library, dining facility, student success center and more.
The shift from Pemberton to Mt. Laurel will be a gradual process. Drayton expects the transition to take about 12 to 18 months. However, be hopes the change will bring a fresh look to the Mt. Laurel campus and allow it to serve as a model for other community colleges around the region.
“The entire package is really designed to really look like what a modern community college should look like,” he said.
The school is having a celebration of the new changes on Tuesday, Aug. 18 at the Mt. Laurel campus in the Enterprise Center. The school is celebrating its recent changes and will unveil its new logo. Doors open for the celebration at 3 p.m. and guests can RSVP atwww.bcc.edu/logo-event-rsvp.