Montclair State, Bloomfield take another step toward permanent relationship

MSU agrees to provide funding to ensure Bloomfield will remain open through 2022-23 while parties work through details of partnership

In a move that will protect and ensure higher education opportunities in Essex County and beyond — particularly for those from underserved communities — Montclair State University’s board of trustees announced that it has authorized the university to provide immediate financial support to Bloomfield College while the schools work toward establishing a permanent relationship.

Last fall, Bloomfield College President Marcheta Evans announced the school needed a partner institution — and that it was in danger of closing without assistance. The agreement ensures that Bloomfield College will remain open through the 2022-23 academic year.

Montclair State University President Jonathan Koppell said he was thrilled that Montclair is able to help.

“The missions of both institutions are closely aligned,” he said. “We are both committed to providing access to high-quality educational experiences to students who are often marginalized.

“So, this response to financial adversity is borne of the conviction that, together, we can make an even greater impact on the communities we serve. This is what it means to be New Jersey’s premier public service university: turning challenge into opportunity through collaboration and innovation.

“I look forward to working closely with President Evans to craft a strategic relationship that could serve as a national model of innovation.”

Recognized as one of the most diverse national liberal arts colleges in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report, Bloomfield College offers the lowest tuition among the private four-year institutions in New Jersey.

Bloomfield College also is New Jersey’s only four-year Predominantly Black Institution, as well as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and Minority Serving Institution. As such, it provides students from these underrepresented communities with the education they need for social and economic mobility.

Bloomfield College and Montclair State University are located less than a 10-minute drive from each other.

After carefully evaluating the many institutions that responded to this call, Bloomfield determined that Montclair State University is the ideal partner. Recognizing an opportunity to achieve a unique, collaborative relationship, in December, the presidents of both institutions signed a nonbinding letter of intent to pursue a permanent relationship, such as a merger or an affiliation, upon mutually agreeable terms.

In order to allow the parties to formalize a permanent relationship that supports Bloomfield’s mission and ensures that the Bloomfield legacy and name will continue, the Montclair board has authorized Montclair’s president and interim vice president for finance and treasurer to finalize and execute an interim financial support agreement that will enable Bloomfield to fully support its students through the 2022-2023 academic year.

Specifically, the agreement will allow the university to furnish Bloomfield with a source of additional funds, if needed, to ensure that the college can complete the 2022-23 academic year. Any loans made under this agreement will be secured by a lien on real estate owned by the college.

The level of support needed from Montclair may be reduced, thanks to a $5 million allocation in Gov. Phil Murphy’s detailed state budget proposal. That funding will help ensure Bloomfield will remain open and allow time to develop the details of a permanent relationship.

Evans is thrilled the schools are closer to an agreement.

“We are grateful to the Montclair State University board of trustees for taking this important step,” she said. “Montclair officials, including President Koppell, toured the Bloomfield campus several times and were impressed by our students, faculty and staff, as well as by our programs and facilities. Most importantly, Montclair shares our commitment to students from historically underserved populations that is our core mission.”

The board of trustees of Bloomfield College has also authorized its president and interim vice president of finance and administration to finalize and execute the interim financial support agreement.

Bloomfield board Chair Vernon M. Endo is hopeful.

“A future relationship would build upon the strengths of both institutions and enhance academic and other opportunities for current and future students at both campuses,” he said.

Montclair board Chair Francis Cuss agreed.

“We are committed to working together to build a relationship that would advance the missions of both institutions and create opportunities for the students and communities that we serve,” he said. “The funding agreement the trustees approved today will be a line of credit that the college can draw upon, should it be necessary, while the details of a permanent relationship are explored.”