Community colleges merge into Rowan College of South Jersey

A pair of South Jersey community colleges have merged, creating Rowan College of South Jersey, a regional, dual-campus college, RCSJ announced this week.

The merger of Rowan College at Gloucester County and Cumberland County College became effective Monday, marked by a ceremony on the Deptford Township campus.

The merger, which also includes an expanded 10-year partnership agreement with Rowan University, is the first of its kind of New Jersey, RCSJ said in a news release.

“The joining of these two schools to create one Rowan College of South Jersey is exactly the right thing to do,” state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) said in a prepared statement. “The students and residents will benefit from increased academic offerings and the opportunity for a seamless transition into Rowan University. I applaud the leadership of Gloucester County and Cumberland County for taking the initiative to make higher education more affordable and accessible for their residents.”

Frederick Keating, president of Rowan College at Gloucester County, will be RCSJ’s first president. Gene Concordia, chair of RCGC’s board, will become the chair of the RCSJ board.

“I am extremely honored to have the privilege to serve as Rowan College of South Jersey’s first president,” Keating said in a statement. “This pioneering, hybrid institution provides students with more choices, including the option to pursue advanced degrees at Rowan University and other four-year universities, without ever leaving the Rowan College of South Jersey campuses.

“Thanks to close working relationships and affiliations with local chambers of commerce, business and workforce development, students and employees have the chance to further enrich their educational goals. Rowan College of South Jersey is prepared to meet the needs of South Jersey students.”

RCSJ said it hopes to be a catalyst for economic growth as part of an “Eds, Meds and Commerce” corridor along Route 55.

“With this merger, community college has been redefined in the state of New Jersey — redefined in the country,” U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.) said in a statement. “It’s our aim to make higher education more affordable and accessible. We are doing it smarter; we are doing it more cost-efficiently. That is why we are here today. It’s a great day for education.”

The new school will offer more than 120 degree and certificate programs, including nine online-only educational paths. It will also offer education, medical and workforce training programs. In addition, all students will have access to the “Rowan Work & Learn” program and “3+1” partnership with Rowan University, among other opportunities.

“Although Rowan College of South Jersey and Rowan University remain independent from each other, the region will benefit greatly from our commitment to the partnership,” Rowan University President Ali Houshmand said in a statement. “Our goal is to provide a variety of pathways to quality degree programs that are affordable, relevant and accessible to all. In turn, and over time, lives will change, businesses will prosper and our local economy will grow.”