President’s Message to the Community

Wednesday, September 9, 2020
four photos of students, one group in lab coats

I hope everyone continues to remain safe and well during these unprecedented times. The 2019-2020 academic year will long be remembered as the beginning of a time unlike any other. As the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the world, countless members of the RVCC community, including students, alumni, and faculty, have been Heroes on the front lines, saving lives, keeping us fed, and taking care of everyone during a very difficult time.

I often say that the people of an institution define the institution. And that couldn’t have been clearer at the College this past year. Throughout the pandemic, RVCC’s dedicated faculty and staff have worked tirelessly helping our students, transforming their educational experience to fully online instruction and offering critical services virtually.

Because of everyone’s efforts supporting teaching and learning, our students have been able to continue their inspiring journeys, stay on track with their educational goals—and ultimately, transform their lives.

Celebrating Good News

And while the pandemic was, and continues to be, on everyone’s mind for much of the year, 2019-2020 also was a time of great successes to recognize. In June we held the College’s first Virtual Commencement Ceremony, celebrating the accomplishments of 1,100 outstanding graduates. Some of those students represented the first class of RVCC’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program. Launched in 2018, the program received exciting news this past spring of its accreditation through 2027 from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. As countless graduates of RVCC’s Nursing program continued serving on the front lines of the pandemic, the Nursing program learned it was in compliance for re-accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) Evaluation Review Panel.

Workforce Successes

RVCC’s Workforce programs continued to make great strides this year, with a highly successful Medical Cannabis Dispensary program and two major grants: the Pre-Apprenticeship in Career Education (PACE) state grant and the Expanding Community College Apprenticeships (ECCA) federal grant.

The $167,000 PACE grant, which ended in May, provided training for 15 adults and 15 high school students in essential soft skills including financial literacy, job readiness, and interviewing skills. The participants earned Certified Production Technician (CPT) Certification and an OSHE 10 card. After completing the training, all of the students continued into the College’s Advanced Manufacturing program. Support services including transportation and childcare were also available to students.

The $140,000 ECCA grant, which runs until May 2022, expands apprenticeships throughout the United States. RVCC is a U.S Registered Apprenticeship site for Manufacturing, and the College has placed five students into an apprenticeship program at Triad Tool in Branchburg. The grant also enabled RVCC to hire Apprenticeship Coordinator Ed Turenne to assist in these efforts.

These initiatives are part of the Workforce Training Center’s ongoing efforts to support the economic and employment needs of Somerset and Hunterdon County by partnering with local business and industry and providing essential, in-demand skills to area workers.

Center for Environmental Studies

This year, the important work conducted by the College’s Center for Environmental Studies was bolstered by a $300,000 donation to the RVCC Foundation. The five-year gift from an anonymous donor is funding the Center’s first Staff Scientist for Ecological Research and Restoration position. In that role, Jessica Ray, an RVCC alumna and Rutgers graduate, is assisting with ecological research and restoration projects in the community.

Through other grants and donations, the Center also was able to hire approximately 25 paid student interns for its ongoing coastal conservation, water quality testing, forest and wildlife ecology, and campus sustainability efforts. Some of the Center’s impressive accomplishment include:
• documenting the highest levels of endangered beach species ever recorded in New Jersey, thanks to community partnerships for beach habitat protections
• conducting infrared drone surveys of deer in eight towns and park systems totaling nearly 70,000 acres, fostering local deer management and community health
• supporting ongoing partnerships with local environmental organizations to document water quality in Central NJ’s streams and rivers

In these uncertain and troubling times, the faculty, staff, and students of RVCC have risen to the challenge, demonstrating their compassion, creativity, resilience, and commitment to serving the community.