LINCROFT – Brookdale Community College celebrated its 50th anniversary on Tuesday with a birthday cake at the College of Visual Arts among well-wishers, County officials, and members of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), whose members were among the strongest advocates for a community college in Monmouth County half a century ago.
Dr. David Stout, interim president of Brookdale, led the brief program that included Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and freeholders John Curley and Serena DiMasa as well as Middletown Mayor Gerald Scharfenberger presenting resolutions proclaiming July 18, 2017 as Brookdale Community College Day throughout Monmouth County and in Middletown. Stout presented framed copies of the original Monmouth County resolution establishing the community collegeto the freeholders and representatives of AAUW.
“The college today is an outgrowth of what came before us,” said Stout, who served as emcee for the birthday party program. “The history of Brookdale reveals that the college has its roots in the community. It is a true community college, in every sense of the word.”
Burry congratulated college officials for their work in making Brookdale “an incredible institute of learning.” She assured Stout of continued support by the board and invited him “to come see us whenever you need anything…you always do!”
“You work together to make sure that our kids, and our adults, get educated and get the tools they need to succeed in life,” said Freeholder Serena DiMaso. “You have not only made their dreams possible, you have made their parents’ dreams possible, and you have made their futures and their children’s futures possible. Each and every one of you should be truly proud of your position here at Brookdale Community College. We are the best in the state because of you. You truly are unsung heroes, so thank you very much.”
Freeholder John Curley acknowledge the difference Brookdale has made in his own life.
“We all know that the fabric of any society is the education of the citizenry, and Brookdale has offered that education,” said Curley, who serves as county liaison to the college. “I was enrolled at Christian Brothers Academy, and I lost my parents right after high school. This was my only option, and it was a great option. I thank each and every one of you for all of the effort that this educational community puts in. It is the greatest annuity we have ever had.”
Mayor Scharfenberger, who is also a professor at Monmouth University, noted the impossible dream of 1967 is now 50 years of making dreams possible as Brookdale promotes in its observations of the anniversary. He noted that students who complete their first two years of study at Brookdale and go on to Monmouth University for their advanced degree “are always among the top students,” because of the education they receive at Brookdale.
Stout pointed out the school had 650 students in its first year with all facilities on the Lincroft campus; today, he said, there are more than 13,000 students on six campus locations and on line.
Celebrations and special programs for the 50th anniversary have been ongoing at Brookdale since the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, ranging from the opening of the new Montessori Children’s Learning Center on the Lincroft campus and the One Stop Center for admissions, registration and other student services, to a wide range of unique transfer and leadership opportunities. Special 50th-themed programs have been held throughout the school year, and Dr. Ervan Harlacher, the college’s founding president, spoke to hundreds of employees via a video address tracing the beginning and growth of the learning center over half a century.
Muriel J. Smith contributed to this article