GCC breaks ground on law and justice center expansion

Breaking ground (from left): State Sen. Fred Madden; Freeholder Lyman Barnes; Freeholder Director Robert Damminger; State Sen. Donald Norcross; Freeholder Heather Simmons; college president Frederick Keating.
Breaking ground (from left): State Sen. Fred Madden; Freeholder Lyman Barnes; Freeholder Director Robert Damminger; State Sen. Donald Norcross; Freeholder Heather Simmons; college president Frederick Keating.
Posted: June 26, 2014

Gloucester County College began another construction project Tuesday, holding a ceremonial groundbreaking for an expansion to its Law and Justice Education Center.

The center houses the school's criminal justice, law enforcement, paralegal, and pre-law degree programs, along with the Gloucester County Police Academy. A 6,500-square-foot expansion will include two new forensic labs and a new classroom, along with renovation of existing space.

Currently, 500 students and 3,000 Police Academy cadets use the building each year, the school said. Construction is expected to be complete by the spring of 2015.

"We've got an expansion of a building that's creating jobs - terrific," said Lyman Barnes, the county freeholder who serves as education liaison. "We've got the support of educating the residents of this county in a cost-effective way in a phenomenal institution, and in doing so, we've got the support and the legacy of educating and training the people that are going to protect the residents of this county for decades to come."

The groundbreaking was the fourth in recent weeks for the college, which is slated to receive $19 million from the state for construction and renovation.

A $750 million bond referendum for education projects will fund 75 percent of the law and justice expansion, paying $1,499,508. The county makes up the difference, or $499,836.

The bond referendum proposal, approved by voters in fall 2012, was combined with other state sources to create a $1.3 billion pot in the spring of 2013. Other GCC projects include the Nursing and Allied Health Center ($8,573,526 from the state), Business and Corporate Center ($532,575), Adult Center for Transition ($4,015,800), and Student Services and College Readiness Now Center ($4,386,906).

"This is the higher education bond at work. But that bond doesn't work if it doesn't come into the county and the county accepts their role and relationship and their matching percentage, and this county has done so," said Frederick Keating, the president of the college.

Next week, GCC will transition to a new name, Rowan College at Gloucester County, to reflect a new partnership with Rowan University to offer increased transfer opportunities for students.

Speakers at Tuesday's groundbreaking discussed that partnership and the other GCC construction projects, praising the school in general for progress and expansion.

Also in attendance were two state senators, Donald Norcross (D., Camden) and Fred Madden (D., Gloucester).

Norcross, described by Freeholder Director Robert Damminger as "one of the pushers of the higher education bond act," represents the college as part of his district.

It is also in the First Congressional District he would represent if he wins his race this fall for the House seat left vacant by Democrat Robert E. Andrews, who has stepped down.

"Back in the late '70s, in a community college just a little north of here, Camden County, I actually was a law enforcement public administration major. And we didn't have a special building, we didn't have any of that, and now we look at, today, Gloucester County College is now the premier school for law enforcement education," Norcross said.

Madden is also director of the Police Academy and dean of law and justice at the college.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Madden said, two changes were clear in the police community: More dogs and better use of technology were needed.

"And the world of technology has changed so much since the 9/11 terrorist attacks that the opportunities that need to be provided for our students on a baseline are more critical now than they were then. And the college will provide that," Madden said.


jlai@phillynews.com

856-779-3220 @elaijuh

www.inquirer.com/campusinq

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