On July 1, Rowan College at Gloucester County and Cumberland County College merged to become one regional, dual-campus college. In front of a standing-room only audience, the newly-formed board of trustees officially established Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ), an important milestone in the history of community colleges.
State and local government officials, administrators, educators, civic and business leaders, and members of the Gloucester and Cumberland communities gathered on the Deptford Township campus to witness the jointure of these two community colleges—the first of its kind in the state. The merger, in conjunction with an expanded 10-year premier partnership agreement with Rowan University, leads the way to a future filled with diverse, one-of-a-kind educational opportunities. Together these two campuses offer more than 120 unique degree and certificate programs—nine of which are fully online— combining 100 years of experience to provide a variety of degree selections, cost-saving initiatives and scholarship and internship options, at one of the lowest tuition rates in the state. Academically designed to transform higher education in New Jersey, RCSJ benefits students, residents and employers by offering more choices and enhanced learning experiences.
New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney said, “The joining of these two schools to create one Rowan College of South Jersey is exactly the right thing to do. The students and residents will benefit from increased academic offerings and the opportunity for a seamless transition into Rowan University. I applaud the leadership of Gloucester County and Cumberland County for taking the initiative to make higher education more affordable and accessible for their residents.”
Congressman Donald Norcross added, “With this merger, community college has been redefined in the state of New Jersey—redefined in the country. It’s our aim to make higher education more affordable and accessible. We are doing it smarter; we are doing it more cost efficiently— that is why we are here today. It’s a great day for education.”
The merger of these two community colleges will provide students with a wider range of academic and work choices, and is projected to stimulate future economic growth for both counties with the creation of South Jersey’s first EDs, MEDs and commerce corridor along Route 55. The college, working with its community partners, will offer education, medical and workforce training programs, giving students access to unique partnership programs.
“Although Rowan College of South Jersey and Rowan University remain independent from each other, the region will benefit greatly from our commitment to the partnership,” said Ali A. Houshmand, president of Rowan University. “Our goal is to provide a variety of pathways to quality degree programs that are affordable, relevant and accessible to all. In turn, and over time, lives will change, businesses will prosper and our local economy will grow.”
“The partnership Gloucester County created with Rowan University five years ago accomplished many things, and always at the top of that priority list was providing an affordable and accessible, higher education University experience for our residents,” said Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger. “This new jointure will create even more opportunities for both Gloucester and Cumberland County residents with zero out-of-county fees, regardless of the campus choice.”
Rowan College of South Jersey students will have access to the “Rowan Work & Learn” program which features internship opportunities and stackable credentials that prepare graduates to enter high-demand career fields. An innovative “3+1” partnership with Rowan University will make earning a bachelor’s degree more affordable by allowing students in select majors to complete their first three years at the community college cost and their final year at the university rate. The program follows Rowan University course curriculum with 300-level classes taught by Rowan College of South Jersey advanced-degree faculty.
“This jointure is all about the opportunity for the students and the residents of Cumberland County to have affordable educational opportunities from vocational trades to a four-year degree,” said Cumberland County Freeholder Director Joseph Derella. “This is an amazing benefit to the citizens of both Cumberland and Gloucester counties.”
“The focus is on the best interest of the students. We welcome this opportunity to extend the very best that we have to offer to our students and the community,” said Rowan College of South Jersey Board of Trustees Chair Gene J. Concordia.
“I am so proud to see Cumberland County move forward. It is a learning institution of great quality and has been responsible for educating and helping thousands of Cumberland County residents obtain a better future. Now, as Cumberland County College joins with Rowan College It will obtain even greater heights and provide more educational opportunities for the citizens of Cumberland County, and all of South Jersey,” said Congressman Jeff Van Drew. “It will truly be a cutting edge learning institution. This is a day to celebrate”
“I am extremely honored to have the privilege to serve as Rowan College of South Jersey’s first president,” said Dr. Frederick Keating. “This pioneering, hybrid institution provides students with more choices, including the option to pursue advanced degrees at Rowan University and other four-year universities, without ever leaving the Rowan College of South Jersey campuses. Thanks to close-working relationships and affiliations with local chambers of commerce, businesses and workforce development, students and employees have the chance to further enrich their educational goals. Rowan College of South Jersey is prepared to meet the needs of South Jersey students.”