With commencement in the books – and what a commencement it was (!) – and summer sessions underway, I wanted to provide an update on our continuing remote operations. Let me start by saying that I’ve appreciated your commitment to Bergen Community College, our College, as we navigate this extraordinary set of circumstances.
As we slowly begin to rebuild our lives after two months of sheltering in place it’s vitally important that we do so with an eye of preserving the health and safety of our loved ones as well as the Bergen community. With that in mind, here’s the latest update.
- The College’s on-campus operations at all three locations remain closed until further notice and all employees will continue to work remotely. There are times when certain employees have to be on campus to complete assignments associated with their responsibilities to keep the operations of the College moving forward. Arrangements have been made with their supervisors and Public Safety as to when, where and how to enter the College.
- The drive-through testing site at the main campus will continue through at least June 30.
- A “Reopening Bergen Task Force” consisting of management, faculty, staff and bargaining unit leaders has formed to discuss, outline and plan for the College’s reopening. The task force has focused its efforts on the fall semester and the potential options for in-person, hybrid and online classes and work schedules. Once the task force has reached agreement on the approach to be taken in reopening the College, the plan will be presented to the board of trustees. After board review, the plan will be shared with the College community in the coming weeks.
- I appreciate your assistance in communicating with students – both past and present – about the availability of classes. With job losses mounting and economic conditions spiraling downward, Bergen must continue to position itself as an accessible, affordable and high-quality choice in higher education. To that extent, we have launched our latest promotion campaign to highlight the outstanding educational opportunities that exist at Bergen. I thank you for your efforts in spreading this message.
- Additional summer sessions begin June 29 and Aug. 10. All will take place online.
- I am incredibly proud of the College’s first-ever virtual commencement, which lived up to the idea of becoming the “most global … most social … and most unique” of all-time. Within 24 hours, more than 11,000 people watched the event – making it one of the most-watched community college commencements on YouTube in the entire country! Thank you to all who played a role in celebrating our graduates.
- As we continue the work of planning for the reopening of the College, I will soon host a virtual town hall to discuss the state of our institution and answer your questions related to our operations. Please continue to watch your email for notice of the town hall.
Lastly, as you know, the pandemic has taken a considerable social, emotional, psychological toll on the country. Coupled with the financial instability of the federal, state and county’s economic picture, the road ahead will be a bumpy one. As these entities represent major funding sources for the College, we too have absorbed considerable losses. In fact, and despite summer 1 enrollment coming in ahead of projections – a positive development – many students have struggled to pay their tuition, thereby complicating our own revenue challenges.
As we continue to review the impact of these developments, the College will undoubtedly need to make difficult decisions about how to ensure its fiscal health and future. I am aware that in previous years the executive leadership took considerable efforts to make adjustments to stabilize the College’s budget. However, we now face challenges of declining enrollment, coupled with lost revenues (state, county and local) due to the pandemic that we must address. Once our various funding sources have a greater understanding of their own obligations, shortfalls and revenue, the College’s financial picture will become clearer. We will make every effort to balance our budget.
While we have had to shelter in place and work remotely, it’s important that you continue to take care of yourself and your loved ones. Remember to take any vacation time you have to refresh and reinvigorate yourselves.
Thank you for all you do and I hope to see you again soon.
Dr. Tony Ross
Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.
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