HCCC’s Reber wins prestigious college CEO award

Whether it’s the increasing success of students and formation of new academic and career pathways, professional development opportunities employees and staff are pursuing or simply the inclusive and welcoming environment everywhere on campus, Hudson County Community College President Christopher Reber’s has had a tremendous impact on the college.

Now, Reber’s efforts are being recognized nationally by the American Association of Community Colleges, which named him CEO of the Year at the organization’s annual convention in Louisville, Kentucky, earlier this month.

AACC is one of two major national community college associations and counts over 1,000 community colleges as members. This year’s event drew several thousand attendees from community colleges across the country.

On being named CEO of the Year, Reber said: “I’m humbled to win this award, which is owned by our entire HCCC community. I thank every member of our beautiful HCCC family, as it truly ‘Takes a Village.’ This is the outcome of everyone’s efforts and contributions to our students and community.

“Hudson County Community College is increasingly seen as a high-performing national leader in service to our students and community, but, most importantly – as our students say – Hudson is Home. It is an honor to lead this remarkable institution.”

The award recognizes a leader with a strong track record in effectively participating in shared governance, supporting professional development, implementing results-driven student success initiatives, advocating for the institution and its students, participating in statewide initiatives and national dialogues, serving on local, state, and/or national boards and demonstrating courage under challenging circumstances.

Under Reber’s leadership, HCCC has signed multiple transfer agreements with four-year colleges over the past five years. These partnerships facilitate the seamless transfer of HCCC graduates to four-year institutions, making it easier for students to navigate the transition. The strides made in student success are further demonstrated by the more than 1,500 students who graduated at HCCC’s commencement in May 2023, a record.

HCCC’s progress in student success culminated in the college’s designation as an Achieving the Dream Leader College in 2023 and an Achieving the Dream Leader College of Distinction in 2024. These honors are bestowed upon innovative higher education institutions that demonstrate sustained and significant outcomes in the advancement of student success. HCCC is one of only six colleges nationwide to have been honored as a Leader College of Distinction in 2024.

While student success is one of Reber’s key priorities, HCCC students also value the inclusive and equitable environment that Reber has fostered at HCCC during his tenure as president. This atmosphere inspired HCCC students to coin the college’s motto, “Hudson is Home!”

HCCC is home to a diverse student body, with 55% of students identifying as Hispanic, 88% identifying as non-white and 40% having been born outside of the United States.

To better serve this community, Reber formed the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (PACDEI) shortly after taking over as resident. The core values of DEI are interwoven into all aspects of the college

Beyond the accolades, Reber is no stranger to showing courage in challenging times and using his platform to stand up for those who need it most. He is a vocal supporter of affirmative action and an outspoken critic of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike it down, and he is a highly visible and staunch defender of DACA and undocumented students at a time when these communities are facing an increasingly challenging climate.

HCCC is also garnering significant recognition as a workplace where employees are encouraged to pursue their goals and reach their full potential. HCCC offers paid professional development programs for all employees.

Over the past few years, more than 150 employees and trustees have participated in certificate programs from Cornell University’s eCornell online learning program.

For the third consecutive year, HCCC earned a “Most Promising Place to Work in Community Colleges Award” from Diverse: Issues in Higher Education and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development.

CEO of the Year was one of seven AACC National Awards of Excellence categories in which HCCC was a finalist in this year, the most of any college in the nation. In addition to Reber’s award, HCCC won the National Award of Excellence for Student Success and HCCC’s Professor of STEM Dr. Clive Li won the Faculty Member of the Year Award.

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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.