Eric M. Friedman, Ph.D.
President of Bergen Community College
Dr. Eric M. Friedman is the eighth president of Bergen Community College, New Jersey’s largest. A dynamic and engaging leader, he is well-known across the community college landscape as an innovator and passionate promoter of equitable higher education programs and services. His consistent focus is on how the community college can have a transformative impact on individuals and communities.
With over 30 years of private and public sector experience, he leads an enterprising, diverse, nationally-recognized community college. He has a deep commitment to leading with an ethic of care, approaching education through the lens of equity, fostering initiatives that support student success, and living out the mission of a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI).
Through forging strong relationships with governmental, educational, corporate and private sector leaders, he is focused on implementing initiatives and programs that translate into students’ upward mobility. A tireless leader, he champions ambitious plans, builds strong teams and partnerships, and is committed to continuous improvement.
At Bergen, Dr. Friedman has prioritized developing initiatives that support expanding the College’s enrollment, serving as a hub site for workforce development initiatives and embracing Bergen’s expansive diversity. Friedman has driven key projects in these areas while navigating external challenges related to funding, student preparedness and the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. His record of accomplishments at Bergen includes:
- Launching projects that provide new resources, options and pathways for students as a way to encourage enrollment, success and completion. Among them, Friedman worked with Bergen County government officials to launch the College’s first all-online degree programs through the Center for Online Learning and has spearheaded the recasting of Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands as an Innovation Center that will include a Cybersecurity Hub, Bloomberg lab and a gaming center.
- Creating holistic programs that eased pressures on students such as a multi-million dollar tuition-debt relief initiative, complimentary childcare in the on-campus Child Development Center and the Bergen Cares Center. In recognition of these efforts, and the College’s approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic, First Lady Jill Biden, Ed.D., and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Ed.D., declared Bergen as an institution for others to model during a January 2022 campus visit.
- A renewed commitment to shared governance and collaborating with stakeholders. This work has helped drive projects such as revising the College’s mission, vision, values and goals and preparing for Bergen’s upcoming Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditation evaluation.
- Enhancing and transforming the College’s physical campus to provide students with a more supportive, comfortable and sustainable environment by adding curated artwork to facilities, improving technology resources and offering new hospitality options.
- Prioritizing inclusivity and creating the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity Equity and Inclusion, which resulted in the College’s first DEI action plan.
- Engaging the region’s business community through projects such as the student small business support specialist program and LatinxCEO. Both seek to provide students with exposure to real-world business experiences and assistance for local entrepreneurs.
- An emphasis on forging relationships with federal, state and county partners – including to secure grants and student scholarships. This June, the College received a $4.5 million grant from the federal government to support agriculture education.
Dr. Friedman frequently lends his voice to national discussions and serves as an advocate for community colleges, speaking at events, conferences and forums. Dr. Friedman further contributes to the advancement of community colleges by serving as a Middle States Commission on Higher Education Peer Evaluator and Team Chair.
Prior to being named president of Bergen Community College in 2021, Dr. Friedman served for 13 years at Hudson County Community College in Jersey City, New Jersey, holding a series of progressively responsible positions, including executive vice president and provost/chief operating officer. His expansive portfolio of responsibilities included leading the college’s reaffirmation of its accreditation, launching an array of new programs in high-demand fields, and overseeing the expansion of a center for online learning as a key area for fiscal sustainability. Dr. Friedman also created additional enrollment opportunities by leading the development of off-site locations, expanding early college dual enrollment programs, and managing the development of Hudson’s first fully-accredited school of nursing.
Dr. Friedman has taught at community colleges and baccalaureate institutions including Drew University, Passaic County Community College, Hudson County Community College, The New School, and The Art Institute of New York City. Dr. Friedman has presented at numerous national conferences including ACCT, AACC, STEMtech, NISOD, and HACU.
Memberships, Boards, and Service
Dr. Friedman is active in numerous professional, business, and civic organizations currently sitting on the advisory boards of the Bergen County Economic Recovery Committee, the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce, the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey, and New Jersey Council of County College’s Workforce Committee.
A passionate champion of student success in community colleges, Dr. Friedman has been recognized with numerous awards including the 2022 Phi Theta Kappa Paragon President Award, the 2015 Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished College Administrator Award and, a 2014 Rotary Club of New Jersey City Community Service Award. For his work on the transformation of ESL education, he was honored by the New Jersey Council of Community Colleges with their 2013 Spirit Award.
Under Dr. Friedman’s leadership, Bergen Community College has received an extensive collection of awards that include the:
- 2023 Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey – Companies that Care Award;
- 2023 Diverse: Issues in Higher Education – Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges Award;
- 2023 Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey – Stewardship Award;
- 2022 INSIGHT Into Diversity – Inspiring Programs in STEM Award; and
- 2022 National Council on Marketing and Public Relations Medallion Award.
Dr. Friedman earned his Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Denver and his Master’s degree in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University. He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from the New School for Social Research, and a certificate from the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education at Harvard University. A published author and sought after speaker, Dr. Friedman currently serves as a volunteer editor for Narrative.