Brookdale Plans New Reforms To Strengthen Student Success

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By Sunayana Prabhu

LINCROFT – Brookdale Community College is in the process of a whole-college transformation with an all-campus infrastructure development underway and a new collaboration with “Achieve The Dream” (ATD) – an external guidance network serving more than 300 community colleges nationwide – to advance student equity, achievement and outcomes.

A growing number of educational institutions are turning to community college reform networks like ATD that support both students and systems to increase student retention, persistence and graduation. For example, ADT provides Open Educational Resources for students who cannot afford or access the high-cost textbooks required for coursework; this ensures student engagement and increases the chances of course completion and eventual certification.

Brookdale will benefit from ADT’s 75 experienced coaches and advisors trained to troubleshoot socioeconomic, academic, personal and career concerns of students. Reaching out to nearly 4 million students nationwide, particularly low-income, underserved students of color, ATD’s partnership will help Brookdale close equity gaps, build a culture of data-informed decision-making and maximize the student experience through high-quality teaching and learning.

“We are partnering with ATD to strengthen student outcomes, particularly for historically underserved students who have been impacted by the pandemic, and to be part of a national network that is leading transformational change in higher education,” said David M. Stout, Ph.D., president of Brookdale Community College.

Brookdale is part of a cohort of seven colleges from across the country joining the ATD Network during a time of continued enrollment challenges for two-year institutions, when equitable access and community engagement are more important than ever for the students that colleges serve.

“Community colleges, and particularly colleges in the ATD network, recognize that they serve as engines of opportunity not just for their students, but for the entire communities that they serve,” said Karen A. Stout, Ed.D., president and CEO of Achieving the Dream.

“ATD’s work is centered on equity, and I am excited to see how the new network colleges in the 2022 cohort start generating transformational change that lifts up their communities and advances the field.”

Brookdale will be joining the ATD Network alongside six other institutions:

• Central Carolina Technical College (South Carolina)

• Community College of Aurora (Colorado)
• HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College • Meridian Community College (Mississippi)

• Northwood Technical College (Wisconsin)
• J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College (Virginia)

Teams from each of the seven colleges will convene in Charlotte, North Carolina, from June 14 to 16 for a Kickoff Institute that will set the stage for their partnership with ATD. Representatives from Brookdale will meet virtually with ATD coaches and begin to develop customized action plans based on Brookdale’s strategic goals.

In addition to providing equitable support services like ATD, Brookdale Community College has also committed to making infrastructure expansion and renovations with nearly $6 million received in a bond ordinance from Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners June 24, 2021, for site improvements and general infrastructure.

According to Commissioner Nick DiRocco, liaison to Monmouth County Department of Finance at Monmouth County Hall of Records, the ordinance will help infrastructure repairs at all six campus locations of the college. “The list of improvements, which were approved by Brookdale Community College’s Board of Trustees,” said DiRocco, “includes: site and infrastructure renovations, improvements to utilities, restrooms, roofing, drainage, flooring and rehabilitation projects to classrooms, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical efficiency and restorations, and life safety projects. These projects will take place at the Lincroft, Freehold, Wall, Hazlet, Neptune and Long Branch campuses.”

Infrastructure development at educational institutions has benefits that go beyond the upgrades and aesthetics. “It also brings down certain risk liabilities,” said David Stout. “If we’re going to replace sidewalks because they’re cracked, that obviously makes it a safer environment. Life safety issues are always No. 1 for us.” Stout said in the past the college used money from similar ordinances to install blue light safety phones in the college’s parking lots and upgraded all the exterior lighting.

Stout also said the college looks to increase efficiency wherever possible.

“We’re looking to upgrade all of our HVAC systems, all of our interior LED lighting,” he said.

“Just upgrading all of our lighting to LED should help to bring the cost of operating the college down, which then brings the cost of educating the student down.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2 – 8, 2022 print edition of The Two River Times.