The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) – of which Essex is a member – track & field and cross country coaches are joining the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Previously independent organizations, the NJCAA Track & Field Coaches Association and NJCAA Cross Country Coaches Association are moving their structures under the USTFCCCA umbrella.


Those junior college coaches and schools – including Essex – will get all of the benefits of full members, starting January 1, 2015. Those benefits include but are not limited to certifications, courses, awards, rankings, polls, and full legislative and administrative support from the USTFCCCA national office.


The move was finalized at the 2014 USTFCCCA Convention in Phoenix. Another benefit of the transition will be that NJCAA coaches can conduct their full business meetings at the convention beginning in 2015.


It did not exactly happen overnight. “This is something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time. The NJCAA sends major athletes to the NCAA and professional ranks, and doing this will help us promote and get recognition for our coaches and athletes.  95% of our membership voted in support of joining the USTFCCCA, so everyone’s pumped,” said Michael Smart, men’s and women’s cross country/track & field coach at Essex County College and the president of the NJCAA Track & Field Coaches Association.


Smart’s counterpart–the president of the NJCAA Cross Country Coaches Association–Dr. Don Cox of Cuyahoga Community College was also pleased.


He said, “The NJCAA track and cross country coaches associations joining the USTFCCCA structure enhances everyone involved.  The athletes win, because they’ll receive wider recognition for their accomplishments. The coaches win, because with convention, they’ll have greater access to coaches of the four-year schools that many of our athletes transition to.  And the coaches already in the USTFCCCA win, because they’ll be exposed to the unique perspectives of junior college coaches.”


Cox’s and Smart’s new CEO, Sam Seemes, added that “Junior college coaches joining the membership will greatly enhance the association. The only way we are going to grow and thrive as a sport is to move together, and with the NJCAA coaches on board, this is another step forward.”


Posted in Athletics, Essex County College News

Over the weekend, Congress passed a $1.1 trillion FY15 federal budget, funding the federal government through September 30, 2015. A highlight of the spending plan is the Pell Grant maximum award will increase by $100 to $5,830 in the FY15 budget (academic year 2015-16). The increase is based on automatic mandatory funding provided in previously enacted legislation.


House and Senate appropriators unveiled the details of an omnibus spending package on December 9, but the lame-duck Congress nearly forced a government shutdown as partisan bickering as well as intra-party squabbles over the spending package delayed passage. Lawmakers ultimately approved the measure and President Obama has indicated he will sign the bill before the current stopgap spending bill expires.


However, many education advocates are critical of a FY15 budget maneuver that reduced overall funding for the Pell Grant program by $303 million. NACUBO and other higher education associations criticized the plan when the idea was floated to move as much as $2 billion from the Pell Grant program to other domestic spending priorities. Because the Pell Grant program is currently running a surplus, this transfer of funds has no immediate impact on the maximum award. The funding shift could impact the health and stability of the Pell Grant program in the foreseeable future.


The FY15 budget also restores eligibility for some ability-to-benefit students. Congress eliminated such eligibility in FY12. Students had been able to qualify for Pell Grants and other federal student aid programs if they passed a federally-approved test, met state requirements or completed six credit hours successfully. The FY15 legislation would enable ability-to-benefit students who are first enrolled in career pathway programs on or after July 1, 2014, to be eligible for aid, including Pell Grants.


FY15 funding for a number of other Department of Education programs remained level or was increased. Funds for Federal Work Study will grow by $15 million and TRIO programs will see a $1.5 million increase. Funds for historically black colleges and minority-serving institutions will also see a slight increase. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights budget will receive an additional $1.6 million.


The legislative language also overrules a recent ED policy change that disallowed the use of income from endowments funded with Title III or Title V monies for student scholarships. The language specifies that such uses are authorized at least until the Higher Education Act is reauthorized, and that past uses of such funds fall within the letter of the law.


Research agencies fared relatively well, given current limitations on domestic discretionary spending. The National Institutes of Health will receive an additional $150 million; the National Science Foundation will see an increase of $172 million. The Department of Energy Office of Science is level-funded as is the National Endowment for the Humanities.


The Internal Revenue Service faces a $350 million budget cut. Republican lawmakers frustrated by recent scandals and regulatory actions are pushing back by drastically limiting the IRS’ budget. The agency has already faced a number of budget cuts in recent years—and a resulting reduction in force. With further limitations, many are concerned about the implications for taxpayer and tax practitioner services.


Posted in Essex County College News
PTA students deliver food to Emergency Food Pantry

PTA students deliver food to Emergency Food Pantry

The Emergency Food Pantry on Bruce Street in Newark recently received a fresh injection of non-perishable food items, thanks to the efforts of the College’s 26-member Physical Therapist Assistant Club.


Club members collected more than 100 canned and packaged goods in 18 bags and dropped them off this month at the food pantry, which is run by the New Community Corporation. “Our Health and Social Services staff, which oversees the Emergency Food Pantry, was blown away by your delivery,” said Eunice Lee, Manager of Communications for New Community Corporation.


Following the successful food drive and delivery, the students began preparing for final exams as they work toward their Associate in Applied Science degrees. The club is led by President Alison Alcordo.

Posted in Community, Essex County College News