New Jersey City University and Hudson County Community College Sign Historic HCCC|NJCU Connect Program Transfer Agreement

December 13, 2023

Elected Leaders Applaud Transformative Higher Ed Partnership

JERSEY CITY, N.J. | New Jersey City University (NJCU) and Hudson County Community College (HCCC), led by NJCU Interim President Andrés Acebo and HCCC President Dr. Christopher Reber, gathered at a signing ceremony on December 11 to formally introduce and launch HCCC|NJCU CONNECT — a transformational program that will provide highly visible, inclusive, and barrier-free transfer pathways to guide students and their families from high school, through studies at HCCC, and on to a timely graduation from NJCU.

This historic agreement will enable a seamless transfer experience from HCCC to NJCU as HCCC students take the next step in their academic journeys and pursue their bachelor’s degrees at NJCU in one of 15 academic major disciplines after completing their associate degree at HCCC.

A critical element of the partnership will allow every credit earned at HCCC to transfer to NJCU. In April, NJCU announced the most significant overhaul of its general education curriculum in decades — reform which makes NJCU a statewide leader as the most transfer-friendly public university in the state. NJCU is the only four-year institution in New Jersey to do this.

The HCCC|NJCU CONNECT program, announced in June, will officially launch in January, 2024, with the signing of the agreement. Students will be dually-enrolled and have access to all programs and facilities at both institutions throughout their programs of study.

Reflecting on the impact of the agreement, HCCC President Dr. Christopher Reber stated “We both serve large communities of traditionally underrepresented students. Many students at both institutions are the first in their families to go to college. Many of these students are navigating monumental barriers to pursue their education. When they succeed, it is life-changing for the students, their children, their families, and their communities, and the outcomes ripple throughout generations.” 

“The work we are doing lives and breathes within our community,” President Acebo said at the ceremony. “Help doesn’t always come from the outside – the most sustained focus of our work must be rooted within the communities that we serve. You can’t be for the community if you’re not in the community.” 

Acebo added: “This historic announcement for both institutions builds upon NJCU’s nearly century-long commitment to providing a socioeconomically diverse population with access to an excellent education as a catalyst to social mobility. This is a pillar of our commitment to being one of the public anchor institutions in Hudson County and surrounding communities. NJCU recently announced the most significant overhaul of its general education program in decades. Our intentional work alongside our partners at Hudson County Community College will only further the distinction that NJCU is now the most transfer-friendly public university in the State of New Jersey. The partnership between NJCU and HCCC provides tools to change the trajectory for students who enroll in the community college, make the transition to the four-year institution, and engage fully in the opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree.” 

The partnership between the two Jersey City anchor institutions was applauded by many statewide legislative and local elected officials.

District 31 Senator-Elect and current Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight said: “I celebrate this partnership between New Jersey City University and Hudson County Community College — two institutions that continue to change the lives of our residents and families in Hudson County. Together, NJCU and HCCC are creating a pathway that strengthens the dream of higher education and the social mobility it creates for our community. I congratulate President Acebo and his senior leadership team as they continue to author an impressive mission-driven comeback story on Kennedy Blvd., and also applaud President Reber and his team at HCCC for their collaborative work on this important initiative.”

District 32 Senator-Elect and current District 33 Assemblyman Raj Mukherji said: "I am thrilled to support the launch of the HCCC|NJCU CONNECT program. This partnership between our county college and a state university will revolutionize the transfer process for students in Hudson County, providing them with a clear and efficient pathway to a four-year degree. We are committed to supporting students in our county and ensuring their success, and I applaud NJCU and HCCC on this testament to that dedication."

District 33 Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro said: “The importance and impact of the HCCC|NJCU CONNECT program to our communities are life-changing. HCCC President Dr. Chris Reber and NJCU President Andrés Acebo are true examples of community leaders with a vision to uplift residents of Hudson County and beyond.”

District 33 Assemblyman-Elect Gabriel Rodriguez ’04 said: “On behalf of the Hudson County community and our community at large, and as a proud alumnus of NJCU, I applaud the efforts of President Acebo and all those involved in bridging the gap and championing greater access to opportunities in education. We know that education opens the door in the lives of families pursuing the American dream. This initiative by NJCU and HCCC, makes a real difference in the lives of our residents, getting them one step closer to progress, success and making that dream a reality."

District 33 Assemblyman-Elect Julio Marenco attended the signing and noted: “It was very exciting to be in the room where this happened earlier this week. Both institutions are committed to supporting Hudson County students' goals and it showed. Streamlining this process will give students a better chance at attaining a bachelor’s degree; a valuable tool that still gives job seekers an edge when they enter the job market. CONNECT will act as a compass for immigrant families, especially those who have recently arrived. I look forward to seeing this program strengthen the number of students that transfer from community college to a four-year college. This is how we get closer to the American Dream.”

District 31 Assemblyman William B. Sampson IV, a former NJCU student, said “The HCCC|NJCU CONNECT partnership brings education closer to home, promising timely graduation and enriching university experiences for all. I’m grateful that residents in the 31st district can now access affordable education with comprehensive services, thanks to this collaboration. This effort will allow smooth timely transitions from HCCC to NJCU. The citizens of the 31st district are grateful to both institutions continuing their initiatives of improving higher education in our communities.”

Hudson County Executive-elect Craig Guy added: “I am so proud that Hudson County’s students have another opportunity for success with the HCCC|NJCU Connect program. The opportunity to obtain a good education and also come out of the process with the necessary life skills to attain gainful employment is invaluable.”

County Commission Chairman Anthony Romano noted: “A good education serves more than just the student; it raises the standards of an entire community. When access to education is blocked by barriers and bureaucracy it also hurts more than just students — entire communities miss out. The HCCC|NJCU CONNECT program removes these barriers so that every student in Hudson County has an option that presents a blueprint for success. Thank you to NJCU President Andrés Acebo and HCCC President Dr. Chris Reber for spearheading this in our community.”

Presidents Reber and Acebo with HCCC students who will complete their degrees at NJCU as part of the HCCC|NJCU CONNECT program.

HCCC|NJCU CONNECT was developed during participation in the Aspen Institute–American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Transfer Student Success and Equity Intensive. The intentional work, spearheaded by NJCU with HCCC as a partner, creates a first-of-its-kind pathway for students in the Hudson County community to have a clear blueprint from community college to NJCU to obtain a timely four-year degree. The program will allow students to complete their first two years at HCCC and automatically enroll and culminate their 4-year degree at NJCU, all seamlessly.

When students from a community college are accepted to a four-year college, they can face significant challenges and sometimes find that a portion of their credits will not be accepted, causing them to spend both time and money to retake similar courses at their new school. The HCCC|NJCU CONNECT program proactively eliminates this hurdle and provides transfer students with additional resources, including a transfer counselor who will work with them to ensure they have the support they need to be successful while transitioning from HCCC to NJCU.

President Acebo signs the agreement which will launch the program in January, 2024.

What makes the HCCC|NJCU CONNECT program truly unique are the additional wrap-around services that students can receive from NJCU and HCCC while attending both institutions. Notably, students can live in NJCU’s residence halls, attend programs on the NJCU campus, and utilize the university’s vital services, including the Gothic Rack — which provides all students access to new and gently used professional attire for interviews, career fairs, networking events and the workplace — the Gothic Knight Food Pantry, and the Children's Learning Center (CLC), which offers drop-in childcare services for students with children—all at an extremely competitive cost. Meanwhile, students will retain access to HCCC’s holistic support services and programs. The schools will also establish data and information-sharing procedures among their staff in order to share best practices and promote student success. 

Each year, about one-quarter of HCCC graduates – more than any other community college – transfer to NJCU. HCCC|NJCU CONNECT will provide support for students who may be the first in their families to attend college, work at least one job, and commute to and from classes by cultivating an essential sense of belonging at both institutions. HCCC and NJCU have committed the time, personnel, and financial resources to construct the program’s infrastructure, enhance and leverage student services, build awareness of the CONNECT program, and engage with prospective students and their families.

There are now 15 academic pathways encompassing a variety of fields and disciplines available to HCCC students who want to begin a course of study here and continue on to NJCU after completing their associate degree. HCCC students in the following programs will be the first to benefit from these pathways – Accounting A.S. (to B.S. in Accounting at NJCU), Biology A.S. (to B.A. or B.S. in Biology), Business Administration A.S. (to B.S. in Management or B.S. in Marketing), Chemistry A.S. (to B.A. or B.S. in Chemistry), Computer Science (Cybersecurity) A.S. (to B.S. in Cybersecurity), Criminal Justice A.S. (to B.S. in Criminal Justice), English A.A. (to B.A. in Creative Writing or B.A. in Literature), Human Services, Pre-Social Work A.S. (to B.S. in Social Work), Mathematics A.S. (to B.S. in Mathematics), Nursing A.S. (to B.S. in Nursing), and Psychology A.A (to B.A. in Psychology).

Jodi Bailey Accavallo, Ph.D.Vice President for Student Development and Community Engagement at NJCU, and Dr. Lisa Dougherty, HCCC Senior Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment, served as the institutional chairs of the program through several years of intensive work leading up to its launch. HCCC|NJCU CONNECT is modeled after the highly successful Northern Virginia Community College–George Mason University ADVANCE program. HCCC|NJCU CONNECT will create a singular student experience focused on addressing students’ holistic needs, diminishing equity gaps, and promoting students’ goal and credential attainment.

About NJCU
New Jersey City University is an institution of higher learning dedicated to the development of our students, our city, our communities, and our state. We are a game-changing force for our students and have been recognized as one of the top colleges in the nation improving their upward economic mobility. Whether enrolled in one of our undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral programs at our three locations, NJCU students have access to an affordable, diverse environment, and an exceptionally supportive faculty. This prepares them to go on to become the next generation of workers and leaders who improve their communities and the State of New Jersey.

About HCCC
Hudson County Community College serves more than 18,000 credit and non-credit students annually. The College offers nearly 90 degree and certificate programs, including award-winning English as a Second Language; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); Culinary Arts/Hospitality Management; Nursing and Health Professions; and Humanities and Social Sciences. The HCCC Culinary/Hospitality Management program was ranked number six in the U.S. by Best Choice Schools. HCCC has partnerships with major four-year colleges and universities in the greater New Jersey-New York area and beyond, accommodating seamless transfer of credits for further undergraduate and graduate education.

Ira Thor, Associate Vice President for University Communications | | 201-200-3301