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Dr. Boakye, center, is flanked by College Board of Trustees (from left) Carman Morales, Rev. Dr. Lanel Guyton, Board Chair Marion A. Bolden and Jeweline Grimes following the ceremony
From left: County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., Gov. Phil Murphy, Dr. Augustine Boakye, Student Government Association (SGA) President Jessica Clark and SGA Vice President Nicholas Mendez after the students presented College gifts
Gov. Phil Murphy, center, leads the West Essex campus groundbreaking ceremony
Under sunny skies Friday, September 10, a groundbreaking ceremony signaled the official start of work on Essex County College’s new 51,700-square-foot West Essex campus building, on the site of the old facility in West Caldwell. Governor Phil Murphy was a special guest at the ceremony.
“This beautiful new facility will allow us to expand our academic programs for degree students and provide more Workforce Development training opportunities for other residents. Our new state-of-the art campus has been designed to meet the needs of our students,” said ECC Interim President Dr. Augustine A. Boakye.
The new four-story building will be constructed closer to Bloomfield Avenue than the current 1920s elementary school structure. It will provide space to complement the current curriculum offered by the College and is designed with flexibility to accommodate any changes that may arise in the future. It will include space for classrooms, labs, an information center, the ECC Skilled and Technical Science Academy and multi-purpose halls. Officials said the new campus is expected to be open in the Fall of 2022.
Dr. Boakye noted that the College has been in West Caldwell for over 40 years in an aging building. “We could not provide enough resources and space to meet our students’ needs.” That will change with the new spacious campus, he added.
“Our community colleges touch the entire spectrum of our state. Students from 18 years of age to our seniors attend community college, all looking for an education, additional job training, to start a new career, or for enrichment. The community college system is our secret weapon in the state’s future. I just had to be here today,” said Gov. Murphy. A project like this requires a partnership, which we have here,” he added.
“I want to thank Governor Murphy and Dr. Boakye for their partnership on this project. Building this new campus is an example of what can be accomplished when different government agencies share the same goals and work together to achieve them,” said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.
The project’s funding includes school construction grants and a grant from the state’s Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act. Funds also are being provided from the State of New Jersey and the Essex County Capital Budget.
Jim Johnson, from project designer Netta Architects of Mountainside, said the new campus will consist of “a lot of glass and openness, driven by technology and a modern Information Commons. It will be a place where students want to come and stay. It will be a pinnacle to this County for years to come.”
Essex County College Board of Trustees Chair Marion A. Bolden said “days like this are what it’s all about. Community college is a lifeline for so many and this new campus will provide outstanding educational opportunities.”
ECC Students Government Association President Jessica Clark and Vice President Nicholas Mendez thanked Gov. Murphy and County Executive DiVincenzo for their support, presenting the officials with special College gifts.
The demolition of the original campus building is being handled by Two Brothers Contracting, Inc. of Totowa. The contract to construct the new campus building will be put out to public bidding in a few weeks.