Gloucester County College breaks ground for expansion of Scott Hall and STEM program
DEPTFORD TWP. -Gloucester County College student Ashley Michaels said she feels her classes in GCC’s science program have prepared her well to pursue a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey next fall.
“The STEM division here has given me opportunities for hands-on experience in the labs,” said Michaels, of Deptford Township. “The
professors here love what they do and are ready to answer any questions you have. I feel I am ready for any future science classes I take because of the lab techniques I have learned.”
The science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM— curriculum Michaels spoke of so highly took another step forward Tuesday with the groundbreaking for four new labs that will be added to Scott Hall.
The 18,272-square-foot addition will support GCC’s programs in physics, chemistry and biology by providing space for at least 20 science sections each semester. The $3.5 million addition is being paid for with Chapter 12 funds for 2012, which are half state and half county funded and have already been bonded.
“Scott Hall has been a wonderful addition to this college, and there are already six labs within it,” said Freeholder Director Robert Damminger. “These four new labs will augment our facilities and serve our students, allowing the college’s programs to expand into calculus-based physics, microbiology and cell and molecular biology. There was fully-integrated input from faculty and staff in the design and, with Gloucester County Institute of Technology’s new academy of engineering and Rowan University’s engineering program right at our doorstep, the time is right.”
Damminger said, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the need for engineering professionals is expected to grow significantly over the next 10 years.
“We’ve poised ourselves to be in a great position, setting the bar higher for what this college can do for the state, if not the nation,” he said. “And we’re eager to fill this addition with bright and articulate students.”
The addition is scheduled to be completed by March 2013.
Senate President Steve Sweeney called the expansion an investment in education and the economy.
“I congratulate my friends here for having a vision, for creating opportunities for young people to stay and learn in this state and this region,” said Sweeney. “This will help our economy by making engineering firms take another look at Gloucester County. GCC is an absolute jewel, one of the finest county colleges in the state.”
Freeholder Deputy Director Joe Chila said he was excited for the county’s students, who will now have the opportunity to go from GCIT (or another high school science program) into GCC and then straight on to the college or university of their choice.
And Freeholder Lyman Barnes, education liaison for the county, also praised the “seamless” transition.
Trustee Virginia Scott, for whom the building was named, said, “We’re still doing great things, and that tells me that GCC is the right place to be.”
“Gloucester County College is the gateway to four-year education in New Jersey,” Scott continued. “It’s our building and our time. The future is here.”
GCC President Fred Keating said the addition was originally only supposed to include two new labs, but after meeting with the dean and faculty, he advised — on their behalf — that four should be included in the plan.
“They told me that now is the time to invest,” said Keating. “To the faculty, thank you for that little epiphany. Today, we are going to break ground and expand our building, but we’re also announcing that we’re beginning to recruit heavily for our STEM division. There is a critical need in that area for our society. This is a pivotal piece, an affordable quality way to move into a highly-aggressive area of study.”
And STEM Dean Barbara Turner said she’s very proud of the science, technology, engineering and math education the college offers students.
“GCC continues to be that outstanding conduit between high schools and four-year institutions,” said Turner. “With GCIT’s new engineering academy, Kingsway’s new STEM academy and the college continuing to build new transfer partnerships with four-year institutions, STEM represents student success.”