New Jersey Campus Compact (NJCC) hosted the first Meeting of Changebuilder campuses at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association office in Trenton, New Jersey. Attendees’ committed to becoming Changebuilder campuses included faculty and administrators from Rutgers University Newark, New Jersey City University, William Paterson University, Stockton University, Drew University, Centenary University, Bergen Community College, business leaders and members of the community. The speakers included Michele Siekerka, President of NJBIA, Kathleen Waldron, President of William Paterson University, and Dr. Saul Petersen, Executive Director of NJCC.
Changebuilders, the new statewide initiative by NJCC, strives to increase by 3,000 – 5,000 the number of student volunteer experiences among higher education institutions in New Jersey. New Jersey currently ranks 49th in the country in regards to college student volunteerism. However, many colleges and universities have amazing civic engagement programs and a great number of students volunteering in the community. We aim to highlight the student volunteers and provide resources to enrich the capacity of our higher education partners to increase and sustain their student volunteers. The purpose of the first Meeting of Changebuilders was to lay the blueprint for what we hope will be the initiative that makes New Jersey THE Engaged State.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Petersen said “It is essential that we work to make New Jersey THE engaged state
and, indeed, I believe we ALL play a crucial role. The more diversity in every facet of our civically engaged college graduates, the better for us all. Successful graduates in the 21st must be adaptable to different experiences, must be understanding of different perspectives, must be innovative, and must have grit. These are some of the qualities that strengthen communities and nurture a thriving workplace. ‘EngagedNJ’ is, therefore, the singular focus of all programming and partnerships here at New Jersey Campus Compact and represents the DNA of our new flagship initiative – Changebuilders”.
Michele Siekerka The New Jersey Business & Industry Association - President & CEO
Michele Siekerka said, “NJBIA has been a powerful and persistent advocate over the years, one that will prove to be an invaluable resource in helping shape New Jersey’s 21st century economy—an economy that needs to balance the need to be competitive, flexible, innovative, job-producing and respectful of the environment while being profitable at the bottom line.
Ms. Siekerka highlighted the imminent need for skilled workers prepared for the growing needs of the state’s information technology industry. “When we look forward to just the next three years, we know that there’s a demand for over 250,000 jobs in these fields,” she said. “We have a great infrastructure in these ecosystems, but if we don’t have the skilled workforce to support it, we can’t be successful.” Furthermore, today New Jersey has 44,000 non-tech/highly skilled vacant jobs but no one to fill them, she argued that we stopped training students for jobs that are available. She closed her remarks by stating that “the Changebuilders initiative could play a vital role in providing college-going millennials’ skills that they cannot learn in the classroom.”
President Kathleen Waldron - William Paterson University
In her address, President Kathleen Waldron said, “at William Paterson University, civic engagement is one of the core values that are inherent in our mission and our Strategic Plan. We are one of the founding members of Campus Compact New Jersey, the statewide affiliate of the national Campus Compact that promotes public and community service to develop students' citizenship skills. In addition, William Paterson is the first public college or university in New Jersey with a civic engagement requirement as part of our University Core Curriculum.
William Paterson is the first and only New Jersey College or University to require a course in civic engagement as part of the core curriculum. All students who enter the University as freshmen or transfer students who have not yet earned an associate’s degree are required to take one course (2nd year or beyond) that focuses on the ideas and possibilities of community and how to participate effectively as responsible citizens.
President Waldron finished her address by stating that, “at William Paterson University, civic engagement is one of the core values that are inherent in our mission and our strategic plan. We are one of the founding members of Campus Compact New Jersey, the statewide affiliate of the national Campus Compact that promotes public and community service to develop students' citizenship skills. Through our shared work, we need to ensure that we can have work-related degrees that students earn but also civic engagement experiences that can translate not only to the workplace but to society at large.”