May, 2006

Moving Forward at MCCC
Thomas N. Wilfrid, Ph.D.

As Mercer County Community College approaches the end of an eventful academic year, I want to share my enthusiasm for the college's strength and forward direction. Here are some of the reasons I am celebrating, as the college commemorates its 40th year and looks forward to the 2006 Commencement on May 25.

  • Service to the community. The college continues to serve the people of Mercer County and the surrounding region in great numbers and in many ways. Among New Jersey's 19 community colleges, Mercer ranks second in students served in relation to county population. According to Fall 2004 statistics, which are the latest available, Mercer enrolled 25.8 credit students per 1,000 county residents. In addition, we serve thousands more through noncredit educational programs, recreational and cultural services, and the Conference Center at Mercer.
  • Student satisfaction. Student success is at the center of MCCC's mission, and all available indicators continue to show that students are overwhelmingly satisfied with their learning experiences. In a 2005 survey of graduates, 93% said they would recommend MCCC to a friend or family member.
  • Efficiency. Mercer continues to operate efficiently, ranking tenth among the state's community colleges in overall cost per full-time student, at $6,458.
  • James Kerney Campus growth. For the first time this spring, the number of students enrolled in James Kerney Campus credit courses topped 1,000! In response to new course offerings, such as Anatomy and Physiology, the number of credits taken by James Kerney Campus students increased 14% over last year.
  • New staff. In the past few years the college has been happy to welcome many new and gifted faculty and staff members. With each new search, MCCC attracts a strong pool of applicants. Also, since last August we have added five very competent new members to the college's administrative team:
    • Jacob Eapen, Vice President for Administration and Chief Business Officer
    • Jose Fernandez, Director of Policy Development and Compliance
    • Edwin Martinez, Dean for Science and Health Professions
    • Kelvin Smith, Controller
    • Monica Weaver, Assistant Provost, James Kerney Campus
  • County support. In the face of a proposed 10% cut in State operating support for community colleges, the County of Mercer has again demonstrated its depth of commitment to MCCC. Special thanks go to County Executive Brian Hughes for his leadership in providing the largest single-year increase (9.5%) in county support for the coming year's budget. This support has enabled the college to maintain affordable tuition rates. Next year the increase in tuition and fees will be limited to $7 per credit for Mercer residents, or 8%.
  • Board of Trustees. The college is fortunate to have a highly qualified and dedicated Board of Trustees composed of eleven distinguished citizen-volunteers. They share dedication to the integrity and success of the college and a commitment to maintaining and building upon its record of excellence. The current Board had barely begun to work together last spring when it was faced with some major organizational challenges. With the Board's leadership and support, MCCC is in a strong position as we head into 2006-07.
  • MCCC Foundation. We are also fortunate to have a loyal and energetic Foundation Board that continues to raise funds for scholarships through individual and corporate donations. As our State support diminishes, these privately raised funds become ever more needed by deserving students. Excellent leadership is being provided by MCCC Foundation Board President Tim Losch of Yardville National Bank and our own Vice President for College Advancement and Provost of the James Kerney Campus, Dr. Beverly Richardson.
  • New opportunities. Mercer's faculty and staff are always listening to students, potential students and employers about their educational interests and needs. Each month brings opportunities to fulfill the college's mission in new and exciting ways. Our new degree program in Exercise Science already has 60 students enrolled. We're planning six construction and/or renovation projects for the coming year with $5.35 million in approved State and County funds. A strategic planning process is underway, and soon we'll be announcing several important new organizational partnerships.

In the coming months I'll be addressing a number of educational issues and MCCC initiatives. I welcome your suggestions and comments.

Thomas N. Wilfrid, Ph.D., is the Acting President of Mercer County Community College.