By GEORGIA I. SALVARYN
For the past several months, Cumberland County College has been meeting with regional four-year universities for a possible partnership. Our number one candidate up for consideration is Rowan University.
While conducting research for this article, I found that information and files about this process were provided for faculty and staff via the Portal. However, information for the students and the community is nowhere to be found on the college website or student Portal.
I had the opportunity to interview John Gibbs, Associate Professor of English, and Dr. Kim Ayres, a consultant for the college on various projects. Professor Gibbs stated his concern of the partnership with Rowan being a merger and that the possible name change of Cumberland County College to Rowan College at Cumberland County. Dr. Ayres clarified stating that this will not be a merger but a partnership between Rowan and Cumberland, but the name change is non-negotiable. Both presented opposing sides and expressed their thoughts and concerns on this soon-to-be partnership.
Q: What are the benefits of Cumberland County College partnering with Rowan University?
The only benefit of this partnership is the opportunity for transfer students and their ability to seamlessly transfer credits to Rowan University, stated Professor Gibbs. There are no other advantages. Dr. Ayres, on the other hand, stated that this partnership will allow students to have access to a higher education in a four-year university, will be affordable for students to achieve a four-year degree, and will give students a greater choice for a higher education.
Q: Do you believe the partnership will bring in more students? Why or why not?
Because these partnerships are new for higher education institutions, there is no solid evidence of an increase or decrease in incoming students. Professor Gibbs predicts that there will be no increase in enrollment whatsoever, but there could be a possible decrease. Dr. Ayres stated that there is not enough data collected to predict an increase in enrollment, but the partnership could possibly attract a new pool of students to Cumberland.
Q: What will happen to the University Center and the other partnerships with the various colleges and universities?
Professor Gibbs expressed his fear about the University Center stating, “Rowan would either eliminate [the University Center] or take it over, so that most of the students would then go to Rowan for the last two years.” Dr. Ayres commented that the University Center is a non-negotiable entity and that everything in the University Center will remain that same. She also stated that the college’s goal is to expand and grow the University Center and this partnership will allow us the opportunity to partner with other four-year colleges.
Q: What will happen to the Cumberland faculty and staff?
Dr. Ayres said that there will be no changes to the faculty and staff and all of the professors and employees with remain the same.
Q: What will happen to Cumberland County College if the partnership doesn’t go as planned?
Professor Gibbs assesses that if his information is correct, politicians in Trenton may cut off financial assistance to CCC if we don’t do what we are told. Dr. Ayres states, “Everything remains the same.”