Rutgers offers new programs at Atlantic community college
Nearly 90 miles south of New Brunswick, students at Atlantic Cape Community College are earning four-year bachelor’s degrees from Rutgers without ever stepping foot on Rutgers’ campus.
ACCC will offer a continuing education law class beginning on Dec. 12 and a tax assessment class in 2015 through Rutgers, according to the Press of Atlantic City. Rutgers will also offer summer courses at Atlantic Cape’s campuses in Atlantic City and Cape May Court House.
Jim Morris, associate vice president of Continuing Education for the Division of Continuing Studies at Rutgers, emphasized the strong relationship between the two schools, which have been working together for at least five years.
The long-standing partnership with Rutgers allows ACCC to bring students outside programs that would not otherwise be available to them.
“Atlantic has been a phenomenally productive partnership,” Morris said, adding that Rutgers has collaborated with six different community colleges across the state. “It is one of the most successful partnerships we’ve had.”
The latest addition of programs are starting in December and running through the summer. They include a continuing education course in legal ethics, a tax administration course in the spring and a series of different topics in the summer.
Both the legal and tax administration courses hope to target specific areas of study that are currently most needed, particularly in these fields since continuing education is a necessary part of the job, Morris said.
The legal course is meant to help current lawyers meet the mandatory continuing education requirements in ethics, while the tax course is designed to help tax assessors earn their certificates.
Sean Fischer, dean of Resource Development at ACCC, said via email that the mayor’s office hopes to promote the long-term recovery of Atlantic City through greater access to higher education.
“This [degree completion] partnership is really the centerpiece of the Rutgers and Atlantic Cape partnership, and the continuing education offerings from RU at the Worthington Atlantic City Campus are an offshoot of that,” he said.
Richard Novak, vice president for Continuing Studies and Distance Education at Rutgers, met with ACCC president Peter Mora and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian in May, Morris said. Representing their respective institutions, they discussed how to achieve the goal of economic development and identified areas that most needed help.
Elizabeth Beasley, director of the New Brunswick Summer Session, said via email that Rutgers was approached by the city requesting courses that are not currently available to ACCC students.
“We are excited about making these new opportunities available to students who want to progress toward their degrees, but are not able to commute to campus in summer,” she said.
The biggest challenge will be spreading the word to prospective students so they know the program is available for them.
The Cape May and Atlantic City campuses of the school were chosen for these courses, and Rutgers took a survey of all Rutgers students who matriculated last spring to find the last location, Beasley said.
The Belmar and Point Pleasant area was the most popular choice, so Beasley is now working with the Point Pleasant Beach School District to identify a site where Rutgers can offer courses this summer.
The survey also helped the administration identify subject areas of interest. Using the results, Rutgers is planning a four-week course called “RU at the Shore.”
Summer courses cover topics like history, journalism and business, and the staff is currently planning a one-week visual arts course that it hopes to offer at a hotel near the shore.
“They asked for a greater Rutgers presence in Atlantic City, particularly that we bring noncredit professional development programs and summer credit-bearing courses,” Beasley said. “[We can] also … better serve our matriculated students who spend time at the shore.”
Morris credited Andrew Rossner, associate dean for Professional and Skills Education and director of the Institute for Professional Education at the Newark School of Law, and Alan Zalkind, director of the Center for Government Services at Rutgers, both of who are volunteering their time to help organize and teach the courses.
Rossner began coordinating with local lawyers in Atlantic City to figure out what kind of programming they needed, Morris added.
“They could have easily said no, but they both rallied immediately,” he said. “It makes you feel good about the service orientation of the University.”