Could local university shut its doors for good?

The state’s only Predominantly Black Institution (college) is in danger of closing its doors for good — and the school’s president is taking the unusual step of letting the world know, hoping there could be a savior or more out there who might be able to help keep the place open.

Bloomfield College says it is seeking strategic partnerships and philanthropic support from the higher education and corporate communities to enable the four-year institution to continue its mission of creating educational pathways that are often not otherwise available for learners from traditionally underserved communities and low-income students.

More than 85% of the college’s students are people of color, nearly 71% are Pell Grant eligible and the median family income is below $32,000. It is the only four-year college in New Jersey recognized as a Predominantly Black Institution (PBI), Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and Minority Serving Institution (MSI).

Bloomfield College, founded in 1868, says it is in a difficult financial situation following a decade of decline in enrollment, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Because tuition is the college’s primary source of revenue, the reduction in enrollment has resulted in severe financial challenges that are expected to last for years to come.

Other small-sized colleges and universities find themselves in a similar spot, the college says.

The college, therefore, says it’s actively exploring solutions and welcomes inquiries from potential strategic partners, including higher education institutions and corporations. The college also is seeking expanded philanthropic support from foundations and philanthropists who want to make a powerful impact on underserved student populations and diversity, equity and inclusion.

“The board of trustees and Bloomfield College’s administration are exploring all options to support our students and remain open in order to continue the college’s core mission. We seek institutions or philanthropists that share the values around our mission and will see us as a valuable partner,” Vernon M. Endo, chairman of the Bloomfield College Board of Trustees, said.

“At Bloomfield College, we change the future for our students, many of whom did not traditionally see college as their future,” Bloomfield College President Marcheta P. Evans said. “More than half of our students are the first in their families to attend college. Most of our students work multiple jobs while studying and face much adversity.

“Segments of our student population suffer from food insecurity or homelessness, living in our residence halls year-round. Our college strongly supports its students as individuals and gives them pathways not otherwise available to them.”

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Bloomfield College is nationally ranked for the social mobility achieved by its graduates.

The U.S. News & World Report 2022 Best Colleges listings of Top National Liberal Arts Colleges ranked the college the highest in New Jersey for Social Mobility (No. 27 nationally), Campus Ethnic Diversity (No. 25 nationally) and Economic Diversity (No. 1 in the Northeast and No. 13 nationally) among 223 national liberal arts institutions in the country.

The school boasts diverse fields of study, including undergraduate programs in nursing and creative arts and technology.

“We are unique in how we reach and support our students by offering a personalized approach to a quality education,” Evans said. “And, everyone benefits from the contributions our graduates make within their communities and to our larger society.”

Evans recently hosted students, faculty and staff at a town hall meeting on campus, where she was quite transparent about the dire financial situation the school faces.

“By publicly announcing our situation, we hope to attract the attention of potential partners and major philanthropic donors who are passionate about making an impact on advancing opportunities for underserved student populations.” Evans said at the town hall. “We are committed to doing all we can, as quickly as possible, to find a solution.”

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Bloomfield College’s leadership team encourages prospective partner institutions to visit www.bloomfield.edu/partnership to learn more about the value in partnering with the institution.

 

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.