Rutgers’ New Facility at Atlantic Cape to Welcome Students

Courtesy of Atlantic Cape Community College

As Susan and Ashley Rivenbark begin classes as new Rutgers students this month, they are among the first to walk through the doors of the university’s new Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Atlantic Cape Community College in Mays Landing.

The Rivenbarks – mother and daughter – are starting the next phase of their college careers as students in Rutgers’ off-campus degree-completion program. Both received their associate’s degrees from Atlantic Cape last spring and were admitted to Rutgers’ program there. Susan plans to complete her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and Ashley in psychology. They will be among 300 students projected to enroll at that site this fall.

As residents of nearby Hammonton, they see the new facility as a draw for other like-minded individuals wishing to complete their degrees.

“I think it will attract many new people like me from the area who are looking for a great opportunity closer to home,” said Ashley.

For Susan, the new facility will offer greater flexibility and more class choices.  “It is a great opportunity for anyone, young or old, who wants to pursue or finish a degree,” said Susan.

The 22,000-square-foot, two-story building is a historic first for Rutgers. It is the first free-standing classroom building constructed by the university at an off-campus site.

Rutgers and Atlantic Cape will mark this milestone in their six-year-old partnership with a formal ribbon cutting at 2 p.m. Friday, September 28.  New Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi and Atlantic Cape President Peter Mora will speak, along with David Finegold, senior vice president for Lifelong Learning and Strategic Growth at Rutgers.

“The new facility represents Rutgers’ deep commitment to increasing accessibility to higher education for the residents of South Jersey,” Finegold said. “The university rose to the state’s challenge to provide more options in underserved areas, and clearly, students have responded enthusiastically to the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s degrees close to home.”

Finegold praised former Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick and Ray Caprio, who recently retired as vice president for Continuous Education and Outreach, for their vision in launching the construction project.

“They recognized the need as well as the advantages it would offer to make a Rutgers degree more accessible to working adults and students from the region who aren’t able to come to one of our three main campuses,” Finegold said.

Rutgers’ Off Campus Programs were established in response to a 1997 N.J. Commission of Education Capacity Study that found several regions in the state lacking in access to post-secondary degree programs.

Rutgers launched its first off-campus program in 1998 at Brookdale Community College’s Western Monmouth Higher Education Center in Freehold. The Atlantic Cape program opened in 2006 and a third opened at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg in 2009.

Off-campus degree-completion programs have grown from 167 course enrollments in Freehold in 1998 to more than 2,900 course enrollments at the three sites during the 2011-12 academic year. The program at Atlantic Cape expects 300 students to enroll in Rutgers courses there this fall.

The site offers degree-completion programs in criminal justice, business administration, hospitality management, liberal studies, labor studies and employment relations, political science, psychology, public health, RN-BSN, and a new program in social work starting this fall.  All are affiliated with programs at Rutgers-Camden and taught by Rutgers faculty.

The new $7.5 million building, known as the Rutgers Lifelong Learning Center, has 12 classrooms, including nine state-of-the-art “smart” classrooms, two distance-learning classrooms and a 175-seat multi-purpose room that can be divided into two classrooms. It also houses a 24-seat student computer lab, a student lounge, and administrative offices.

Frankie Williams of Mays Landing earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Rutgers at Atlantic Cape this past spring, attending all of his classes in rented trailers. Nonetheless, he describes his Rutgers experience as “perfection.”

“I say this because being able to stay close to home and receive an education from such a reputable university was immensely important and gratifying,” Williams said. “The students who matriculate at Rutgers are very focused and personable. I was able to make long-lasting friendships with both students and professors.”

Williams, who also will speak at the September 28 ribbon cutting, says he benefited from having smaller classes at the off-campus site, and more dialogue with classmates and professors. He plans to pursue a master’s in criminal justice and a career with a federal agency.

Meanwhile, Susan and Ashley Rivenbark are excited to be starting their Rutgers experience. They said they plan to have another dual graduation in two years.

“I am looking forward to starting at Rutgers at Atlantic Cape,” said Susan, “and to achieving this next set of goals I have set for myself.”

Ashley declared: “Rutgers at Atlantic Cape has great potential. It is one of the few options us South Jersey folks have of local, four-year schools to choose from.”

For more information about Rutgers’ Off Campus Programs, please visit offcampus.rutgers.edu, or call 732-932-8169.

Image courtesy of Atlantic Cape Community College.

Rate this article: 
Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
Article category: 
Topics: