History

The emergence of Bergen Community College as the county’s first public two-year institution of higher learning was due to the dedicated efforts of many people to expand the range of state and county educational facilities and services.

On April 3, 1963, the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders passed a resolution appointing a committee of distinguished citizens charged with the responsibility of inquiring into the needs for a two-year county college in Bergen County.

In October 1963, the “County College Study Committee” submitted its final report which stated: “The subcommittee of the county college study committee concludes that there is an immediate need for a two-year public county college in Bergen County.” On April 7, 1965, the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders submitted a petition to the State Board of Education requesting permission to establish a county college in Bergen County and requesting that the Commissioner of Education conduct an independent study to determine the higher education needs of Bergen County and the ability of the county to support the proposed college.

The conclusion of this independent study by the New Jersey State Commissioner of Education, described in the September 1965 report to the State Board of Education (pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18:22-101), was essentially that there was sufficient and reliable evidence of the need for a county college in Bergen County and that the county was financially able to construct and operate the proposed college.

On October 20, 1965, the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders passed the necessary resolutions to establish, operate, and provide financial support for a county college in Bergen County.

On November 3, 1965, a public meeting was held, and the Freeholders passed the following resolution: “I move that the Resolution establishing the County College, which was approved on first reading at a meeting of the Board of Chosen Freeholders held on October 20, 1965, be finally adopted, and that the clerk of the Board publish the same in The Record together with statement of its final passage as required by law.”

The College was projected to fulfill immediate and long-range educational needs of the citizens of the community. The 167-acre site of the Orchard Hills Country Club in Paramus was selected for the home of Bergen Community College.

The College registered its first class of day and evening students in September 1968, in interim buildings designed to accommodate more than 1,300 full-time students. The Master Plan, approved by the Board of Trustees on July 19, 1967, called for two phases of construction. Phase I, completed in 1973, cost about 21 million dollars and totaled 430,000 square feet. In 1987, the Board of Trustees approved a Facilities Master Plan, which called for the construction of the Student Center, the Theatre, and the C-wing of the Pitkin Education Center, which provides classrooms for technology enhanced instruction. The plan included the renovation of the Sidney Silverman Library and barrier-free access for disabled students. With the completion of the Technology Education Center, which opened September 2003, the 1987 Facilities Master Plan was completed.

The Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center was founded by the College in 1970 primarily to provide educational and counseling services for adults who had not completed a formal high school education, as well as for adults who were interested in studying English as a Second Language. The newly renovated facility at the corner of Main and Passaic Streets, in Hackensack, was opened on October 14, 1999. The Center houses spacious seminar rooms, classrooms, computer laboratories, and student lounge areas.

Bergen Community College dedicated its newest building at 1280 Wall Street West in Lyndhurst on October 15, 2010. Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands serves as the College’s hub for economic and workforce development initiatives. The College is currently renovating the five-story, 125,000-square-foot facility, which will support the goal of making Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands a branch campus for students to complete designated degree programs.

Dr. Sidney Silverman was named as the first president of the College and consultant to the Board of Trustees in August 1966. He served as president from February 1, 1967, until his retirement on June 30, 1977. Dr. Alban E. Reid was appointed as the second president of Bergen Community College on July 1, 1977-1980. Dr. Jose Lopez-Isa was interim/acting president from 1980-1981, and then the third president in 1981-1995. Dr. Judith K. Winn became the fourth president on July 1, 1995. Dr. G. Jeremiah Ryan became the fifth president on July 1, 2007. Dr. José Adames served as the College’s interim president from July 2011 to August 2012. Dr. B. Kaye Walter became the seventh president on August 7, 2012.