Bloomfield College, in danger of closing, goes public in plea for help

President says school, which predominantly serves 1st-generation Black and Latino students, needs corporate or philanthropic support to survive

Bloomfield College, which primarily serves Pell Grant-eligible, first-generation students from underserved communities, is in danger of closing due to dwindling enrollment, exacerbated by the pandemic, President Marcheta Evans and school officials said Tuesday.

Evans, who addressed students, faculty and staff at a town hall meeting held on the Bloomfield campus, said the school was intentionally going public with its problem in an effort to spur interest of a potential donor or partner.

“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,” she told the college community. “We are committed to doing all we can, as quickly as possible, to find a solution.”

The school, which relies heavily on enrollment for revenue, has been hurt by the pandemic. The school did not release enrollment statistics for this school year, but it enrolled only 1,598 students during the 2019-20 school year — 21% fewer than the 2,018 students it had in 2010-11.

Because tuition is the primary source of revenue for Bloomfield College, the reduction in enrollment has resulted in severe financial challenges that are expected to last for years to come.

More than 85% of Bloomfield College students are people of color, nearly 71% are Pell Grant-eligible and the median family income is below $32,000.

Bloomfield College is the only four-year college in New Jersey recognized as a Predominantly Black Institution, Hispanic Serving Institution and Minority Serving Institution.

Evans said the school values and embraces its mission.

“At Bloomfield College, we change the future for our students, many of whom did not traditionally see college as their future,” she 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.”

Evans and board of trustees Chair Vernon Endo said the school is actively exploring potential strategic partners, including higher education institutions and corporations 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,” Endo said. “We seek institutions or philanthropists that share the values around our mission and will see us as a valuable partner.”

Bloomfield College, which was founded in 1868, is nationally ranked for the impressive social mobility achieved by its graduates.

The U.S. News & World Report 2022 Best Colleges listings of Top National Liberal Arts Colleges ranked Bloomfield 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 vibrant fields of study, including nationally recognized undergraduate programs in nursing and creative arts and technology.

Evans said the school’s one-on-one philosophy is key to its mission.

“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.”