Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Renaissance Hall Ribbon Cutting

Photo Caption: Berkeley College leadership, students, and elected officials celebrate the opening of Renaissance Hall at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

On Wednesday, September 17, Berkeley College held the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Renaissance Hall in Woodland Park. Here are my comments from that day:

Welcome to Berkeley College and to the new Renaissance Hall.

I would like to thank all our guests for being here. I would like to acknowledge our Chairman Kevin Luing and Trustees; and Trustee Emeritus Walter A. Brower, for whom our Library in Woodland Park is named is also here.

In addition to our distinguished guests, public officials and representatives from business and industry, we also have other college presidents in the audience: Chris Grieveson, President of Devry University; Thomas Eastwick, President of Eastwick College; Glen Gabert, the President of Hudson County Community College; and Steve Rose, President of Passaic County Community College.

I would also like to give a special thank you to the Spiezle Architectural Group, and Thomas Perino, a principal with Spiezle; and to our team at Berkeley College and BES: Linda Pinsky, our Campus Operating Officer in Woodland Park; Tom Alessandrello, Vice President, Operations, BES; and Mark Wagener, Vice President of Operations of Berkeley College.

The Renaissance was one of the most intellectually and artistically productive periods of European civilization. The Palazzo Vecchio in Florence was at the Center of the Italian Renaissance, just as Renaissance Hall in Woodland Park is at the center of teaching and learning on this campus.
There is a purpose to our Renaissance at Berkeley College. This rebirth is founded on the pillars of the following three disciplines: Criminal Justice, Design and Management.

The past five years have been extremely productive at Berkeley College, as we implemented our Vision and Roadmap for the Future through a Strategic Planning process that spanned from 2010 – 2015, and a new Master Planning process that set the foundation for the growth and future success of the College.

At the core of the New Master Plan is the expansion of the Woodland Park campus. This beautiful building is a center for academic student services. This 35,000-square-foot facility features:
· Classrooms
· A three-story atrium that is the bub of student activities
· an Academic Support Center
· the Walter A. Brower Library
· an Admissions Welcome Center
· Student Development and Campus Life Offices
· Dining facilities
· the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs
· and conference rooms and multipurpose rooms for lectures, business and community events

The building is a one-stop destination for admissions and enrollment, academic support, student activities and campus life.

The construction of Renaissance Hall was privately funded at a cost of $9 million. The new facility is mobile in every way – from access to wireless technology and a modern library, to open classrooms with desks on wheels that allow easy movement for group projects and team activities.

When you visit the Academic Support Center, you will see special rooms where students are coached in career preparation, job interview and presentation skills. These types of details underscore the commitment of Berkeley College to student success from classrooms and conference rooms, to careers and community service!

Our Mission at Berkeley is to empower students to succeed in dynamic careers. Just a few weeks ago, we hosted a Career Fair at Renaissance Hall, with dozens of employers meeting with hundreds of students, opening opportunities to their future careers.

Another objective for Berkeley College as an institution of higher education is to add to the capacity for educating the future workforce. This is a responsibility we share with academic institutions across the nation, as we broaden access to higher education and workforce development opportunities the advance the economy and lives of our citizens.

The U.S. was once the leading nation among industrialized countries from around the globe for educating large numbers of its citizens. Today, unfortunately, the U.S. is close to last in educational attainment for working-age individuals from the ages of 25 to 64. This age group, known as non-traditional students, is an important part of our diverse student body at Berkeley College.

Berkeley College serves more than 8,000 students at nine locations in New Jersey and New York and a global population through our Online college, with 2,400 students taking online courses from 27 states.

There are more than 900 international students from nearly 100 countries. Berkeley College is ranked as 6th for international student enrollment among 40 specialized institutions around the country.

The Mission of Berkeley College – to empower students to achieve lifelong success in dynamic careers – is rooted in our 83-year legacy as a learning institution that provides students a portal to opportunity. We are proud of this legacy which includes relationships with more than 5,500 businesses and organizations in New Jersey and New York. These companies and organizations employ our graduates and provide an entrĂ©e to career opportunities through internships and other learning activities.

We are proud of our students, who in 2013 provided 5,348 hours of volunteer service to nonprofit organizations in the communities Berkeley College serves. We are also proud of our 1,500 employees who as part of Berkeley College Community Service Day, have volunteered thousands of hours in volunteerism activities.

We are proud of our more than 562 student veterans at Berkeley College who serve our country with honor. The Berkeley College Office of Military and Veterans Affairs program is recognized as one of the best in the nation by organizations such as U.S. News and World Report, U.S. Veterans Magazine and Military Times.

We are proud of our alumni – more than 50,000 of them – who contribute to the vitality of our communities locally and globally – as professionals, entrepreneurs and community leaders.

We are proud partnerships with community colleges and the Berkeley College T.O.P. Scholars program, which provides scholarships to community college graduates and transfer students throughout New Jersey in an effort to make a college education more affordable for students and families.

I would like to recognize our partner in student success, Passaic County Community College, located in our home county, with 123 students from Passaic continuing their education at Berkeley College, and more than $3.1 million dollars in scholarships provided to these students.

Many of you may connect the Berkeley College name with business careers, but did you know that Berkeley College offers a range of Bachelor’s and Associate’s Degrees and certificates in healthcare fields, information technology, graphic design, interior design, fashion marketing and merchandising, legal studies and justice studies?

In addition, Berkeley College has earned many distinctions including recognition by U.S. News and World Report in 2014 as one of the Best Colleges in the nation for Online Bachelor’s Degrees.

Berkeley College is proud to invest in New Jersey’s future as we grow in the Garden State. Since 2010, Berkeley College has expanded its operations in New Jersey at the Woodland Park campus and we have opened new locations in Clifton and Dover.

We make these investments because at the core of our mission at Berkeley College is the success of our students and the communities we serve.

Renaissance Hall is more than an impressive building. The underpinnings of this beautiful facility are reinforced by the pillars of excellence and achievement in teaching and learning, career development and community service that will continue to drive the legacy of Berkeley College into the future.

I would like to paraphrase Leonardo DaVinci, a great artist and creator of the Italian Renaissance, who once said, “I have been impressed with the urgency of making a difference. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough, we must continue to make our ideas a reality.”

Thank you for sharing this important milestone with us.

Honors Scholars Graduate Reception

Photo Caption: Here I am with Berkeley College Honors Scholars at the Chart House in Weehawken, NJ.

On Tuesday, September 16, I was honored to speak at the Berkeley College Honors Scholars Graduate Reception, held at the Chart House in Weehawken, NJ. My comments were as follows:

Good evening. I would like to welcome you to the 2014 Berkeley College Honors Scholars Graduate Reception. Welcome students, student volunteers, faculty members, family and friends to this glorious occasion.

I would like to congratulate each of our 38 Honors Scholars here this evening and give special acknowledgement to Dr. Byron Hargrove, Director of the Honors program, and to all the faculty mentors, faculty members and staff who made this evening possible. Tonight you join the ranks of the 76 Scholars who have graduated from the Berkeley College Honors Program since its inception in 2011.

I am delighted to report that 76 percent of the scholars being honored this evening will graduate at the end of this Summer. Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Honors Scholars Research Symposium hosted at our Midtown Manhattan location. The event was attended by 145 people including faculty, administrators, guests and incoming Honors Scholars.

The symposium marked the last step toward graduation for many of you. I am proud to say that our Honors Scholars presented and defended their thesis papers with poise and confidence. The presentations covered a wide variety of topics including: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Social Media’s Impact on Thinking, Families and Society”; “Women in the Workplace, Looking Beyond Gender Bias”; and “Environmental Innovations: How Green Construction is Taking Over NYC.”

A year ago, our Berkeley College Scholars received invitations to join Honors Program Cohorts in New York, New Jersey and Online, and you rose to that challenge. Through the Honors Program, you participated in interdisciplinary classroom discussions, seminars and research studies centered on the theme, “Rediscovering New York.” As a New Yorker myself, what an exciting theme, it is like rediscovering the center of the universe, because New York City is the center of the universe!

Community service also is a requirement for graduation from the Berkeley College Honors Program and this year’s graduates completed a total of 419 hours of service. These Scholars served meals at the Food Bank for New York City; volunteered their time at the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson, NJ, and participated in numerous fundraising walks for nonprofit organizations throughout New York and New Jersey.

Your undergraduate experience as Honors Scholars allows you to be better prepared for careers and graduate education. I strongly encourage you to consider pursuing a graduate education.

Participation in the Berkeley College Honors Program motivates our top-ranking students to step outside their comfort zones and teaches them how to work creatively and effectively within a team. Upon graduation from this program they are well prepared to take up leadership roles in the workplace and to go out and make a difference in their local communities.

Having Honors Scholar status distinguishes students and gives them an advantage when applying for a job or admission to graduate school. Employers seek top graduates who have the collaborative, critical thinking, research, cross cultural and communications skills to succeed. In the business world these are soft skills, and from the U.S. to Asia to Europe and Latin America, employers are expressing their concern about the soft skills gap in the emerging workforce.

According to a Harris Poll of more than 2,100 hiring managers conducted for Career Builder earlier this year – 77 percent of employers believe that soft skills are just as important as hard skills. Sixteen percent of employers said soft skills are MORE important than hard skills when evaluating candidates for a job. The top five skills they cited include:

1) A strong work ethic – 73 percent

2) Dependability – 73 percent

3) A positive attitude – 72 percent

4) Self-motivation – 66 percent and

5) Being Team-oriented – 60 percent

Berkeley College Honors Scholars possess all of these skills along with the intellect and desire to succeed, which is reflected through your academic achievements.

Another competitive advantage is the diverse learning community you are a part of as Honors Scholars at Berkeley College. We have students from around the world who are part of the Honors Program. I would like to recognize the parents and family members from Switzerland and Peru who came here to support their children. Thank you for being here. We share your pride. Congratulations again!

At Berkeley, diversity is not just cultural, it is multigenerational and covers many social spectrums – a single mother, a military veteran, international students, recent high school graduates and working professionals returning to school. This diversity is another competitive advantage!

I always like to close my remarks with a famous quote. This evening I would like to share the words of one of our Honors students at Berkeley College. Her name is Marielena Moreno. Marielena wrote a lovely note to Dr. Hargrove about her experiences with the Berkeley College Honors Program and the bond she developed with her fellow students in the program. Here are Marielena’s words:

“It goes without saying that the Honors Program has challenged me in ways I never knew were possible, and it has created opportunities I never knew could be mine. I’ve learned that without initiative, incredible work ethic, perseverance, determination, passion and purpose, nothing this wonderful would have ever come true ... It has truly been a blessing in many ways, and although this is the end of our journey as a cohort, it is not THE END.”

Marielena is correct … tonight’s ceremony marks the continuation of your journey to success. Congratulations to each of you! Enjoy the evening.