Bcc President Sets Sights On 21st Century

Posted: July 01, 1990

Burlington County College president Robert Messina, in the midst of developing a 15-year master plan, is touting a proposal to build a high- technology campus in Mount Laurel as the keystone to secure a role for the

college in the next century.

Although 4,000 students enroll each year at the 225-acre main campus in Pemberton Township, Messina said, the site is almost fully developed and will never be able to accommodate students seeking technical training.

He said $11 million in state money had already been reserved for the project, which is scheduled for construction on 74 acres of farmland and orchards between Route 38 and the Marne Highway near Interstate 295. The land was purchased for $4.5 million in December 1988 by the Burlington County freeholders.

Of the $11 million, officials said $8 million was reserved from the 1988 Jobs, Education and Competitiveness bond referendum, and $3 million was set aside from the 1984 Jobs, Science and Technology bond referendum.

In a unique move to fortify its high-tech agenda, the college will coordinate its curriculum with the New Jersey Institute of Technology, based in Newark. BCC will offer associate degrees in engineering, electronics, computer repair and quality assurance. NJIT will provide bachelor's and graduate degrees focusing on industrial management and computer repair.

Henry Malmeyer, NJIT's administrative vice president, said the campus' proposed technical education center would foster coordination between two- and four-year programs and enable students in southern New Jersey to receive unprecedented training in science, engineering and technology.

"The concept is really different, because you're putting two institutions together on the same campus. This would allow students to take high-technology programs and graduate (level) engineering courses without having to drive north in the state," Messina said.

According to preliminary plans unveiled at a freeholders' meeting last month, the project's first phase entails construction of a large academic building and roadways by 1993. The campus will have 11 buildings, including a gym, performing arts center, library and student center, and 18 acres of athletic fields.

Messina said architectural specifications for the first phase would be prepared by September, although state Department of Higher Education approval may take six to eight months.

Officials estimate that 2,000 students will enroll either full time or part time at the Mount Laurel campus.

George Fekete, the county's assistant director of economic development, said the Mount Laurel project had received strong county support because local businesses had expressed a need for technicians trained in light assembly and junior engineering, not manufacturing.

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