Two-Part Celebration Awards $700k to Students, Welcomes President
PARAMUS, N.J. – In a two-day extravaganza hosted by the Bergen Community College Foundation at the institution’s main campus, the nonprofit awarded more than $700,000 to student scholarship recipients, recognized the donors who made the scholarships possible and officially welcomed Eric M. Friedman, Ph.D., as the College’s eighth president.
The first event, celebrated the evening of May 4, featured the dual purpose of donor recognition and welcoming President Friedman. Donors mingled with Bergen faculty and staff over hors d'oeuvres and entertainment provided by cabaret performer Kate Coffey and jazz musicians from the Joel Zelnik Trio before transitioning to a program highlighting the new president, Friedman. Well-wishers in attendance included members of Friedman’s family, New Jersey Council of County Colleges President Aaron Fichtner, Ph.D., and more than 200 guests.
Bergen County Commissioner Chair Tracy Zur and Commissioner Mary Amoroso presented Friedman with an official commendation before Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III recognized Friedman’s 2021 entry to the College in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also presented Friedman with a commendation.
“Dr. Friedman, you certainly hit the ground running and I’m excited to continue working together with you,” the county executive said. “I’m proud to say that I have the utmost faith in your leadership and your vision because I know you want the best for Bergen Community College and its future.”
Three invited guests, Friedman colleagues, provided testimonials in support of the president - peer leaders Mark McCormick, Ed.D., of Middlesex College, and Chris Reber, Ph.D., of Hudson County Community College (Friedman’s previous institution) and mentor New York University Clinical Professor Robin Nagle, Ph.D.
“Please take care of him, just as I know he is going to be taking care of you to the very best of his ability, which is extraordinary,” Nagle said.
Before the president’s remarks, Bergen Community College Board of Trustees Chair Dorothy Blakeslee presented Friedman with a newly recast presidential mace and hand-stitched stole for use at official College events.
In a final symbol of recognition for the president, three donors - Foundation Board of Directors Chair Dan Foley, David Ross and Vincent Durante - each made $25,000 gifts to the nonprofit.
Afterward, Friedman reflected on his first 17 months as president.
“This is a place that matters,” he said. “It’s a place that transforms people’s lives. It’s taken many months to get to this point, too long to think about this … but we’re coming out of the pandemic stronger than we went in.”
The morning after the reception, the foundation hosted its annual scholarship awards ceremony, which ultimately delivered an average of nearly $1,300 to each of the 540 student scholarship recipients. Students also had the opportunity to meet with their donors during the brunch.
The Bergen Community College Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization led by a Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from business, government and nonprofit organizations, remains dedicated to advancing the priorities of the institution’s strategic plan, including supporting student success through scholarships. Ronald Miller serves as the executive director of the foundation, which has raised approximately $613,000 in 2021-22 - doubling donations received in the previous year. To donate, visit foundation.bergen.edu.
Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.
Photo Caption: Bergen President Eric M. Friedman, Ph.D.