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A Message From Dr. Barbara Gaba - JUNE 15, 2020

06/15/2020 | Media Contact: Erin Mercer | (609) 343-4923
A Message From Dr. Gaba - June 15

June 15, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff:

As you are probably aware, Governor Murphy lifted NJ's "Stay-at-Home" Order increasing capacity limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings. However, we still must await his announcement regarding when and how universities and colleges can resume on-campus face-to-face instruction. We will eventually return to campus at some point. In the meantime, the Coronavirus Task Force has focused its efforts on planning our return, so we will provide more information in the upcoming week on the plan. The safety and well-being of our faculty, staff, and students are at the forefront of our return to campus planning efforts.

Virtual Commencement

Our Virtual Commencement was just last week on Thursday, June 11. The Commencement was broadcast on YouTube, Facebook, and on the College’s website and had more than 4,300 views and 600 click-through rate across these platforms. It is still available for viewing on

As I watched the Commencement unfold, I was reminded why we are Atlantic Cape Strong! Students, faculty, and staff come together to help shape the future, the next workforce, the next volunteers, the next leaders. I could not be more proud. Our students make us stronger. As I watched the names scroll across the screen, I had a sense of pride as I shared in the celebration and the successes of our nearly 700 graduates.

Many thanks to Marketing and the Student Affairs Department for their efforts in creating this unique celebration. Not an easy task. Overall, from the comments I received, it was a successful event.

As a reminder, the graduation celebration will continue when we have the live traditional Commencement on December 5 at Harrah’s Conference Center. More information is forthcoming.

Congratulations to Professor Richard Russell

The President’s Distinguished Alumni Award is presented annually to an Atlantic Cape alumnus who has made a significant contribution to our College and/or our community. This year, Professor Richard Russell was one of two alumni who received the Young Alumni Achievement Award. This honor is bestowed upon an alumnus who is 40 years of age or younger and has excelled in his/her profession, made positive contributions to his/her community, and remained connected to Atlantic Cape while supporting its mission and values. Congratulations to Professor Russell for your dedication and positive contributions in and out of the classroom.

Budget and Implications

I reported a few weeks ago that we are expecting a budget shortfall due to reduced State appropriations and anticipated enrollment decline. I continue to work with State Legislators and the New Jersey Council of Community Colleges (NJCCC) to tell our story about how budget decisions affect our ability to serve our students and our community. Their support is needed as we advocate for adequate funding. We continue to address the uncertainty of the budget and must make some tough decisions responding to the impending budget shortfall.

We await the Governor’s budget message on August 25 as he addresses the State’s projected $10 billion shortfall. This shortfall not only affects community colleges but also financially impacts health care, social services, K-12 education, and other services in our counties that rely on the State’s support. While we are taking advantage of applying for grants such as the CARES Act, the federal funds are still not enough to address our operating budget. I will continue to keep you updated on the information as it becomes available. 

Pandemic Impact on the Local Economy

The New Jersey of Labor and Workforce Development (NJLWD) reported that in April, Cape May County had 26.6% in unemployment. This is unprecedented, as the County prepares for the tourism season. During the same month, Atlantic County experienced 33.3% unemployment. These figures are higher than the national unemployment peak of 1933, during the Great Depression.

The unemployment rate is not just a statistic; it represents the citizens in our community who are not working, not able to support their families, not able to think about the future. The same families who are standing in food lines to make ends meet. These same families are making decisions about possible future employment and/or attending college. 

Our community needs us now more than ever before. We must continue to work with our community to get past this crisis. Community Colleges are uniquely able to play a critical role in the State’s recovery from the crisis. This will require us to think differently, to think outside of the box, and to put our students first at each touchpoint.

Thank you to everyone who submitted inspirational words and phrases of encouragement.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress and working together is success."

(Edward Everitt Hale) -submitted by Joe Valenzano


Dr. Barbara Gaba