PHOTO: Hazlet Township School District Superintendent Bernard Bragen, Jr. and Brookdale President Maureen Murphy sign off on the new Explorer Program – Early College Academy in Hazlet on May 17. Photo by Brookdale Community College.

HAZLET, NJ – The Brookdale Community College Board of Trustees approved two new higher education partnerships on May 17 designed to expand opportunities for local high school and college students.

Officials from Brookdale and Georgian Court University (GCU) signed off on the new Brookdale - Georgian Court University Partnership, which will allow students to earn bachelor's and master's degrees from the university while studying under GCU faculty at Brookdale's Hazlet campus. 

The partnership builds on an existing articulation agreement between both schools, offering dual admissions and GCU tuition discounts of up to 45 percent to eligible Brookdale graduates. Programming will begin in September 2016.

"We are very excited to extend what has been a long and lasting partnership," said GCU President Joseph Marbach, who joined Brookdale President Maureen Murphy to sign off on the initiative during the board of trustees' monthly public meeting, held at Brookdale's Hazlet campus.

"Partnerships are becoming the norm in higher education, and it's great to be piloting a program that allows a student to complete an associate degree, a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in one location. Affordability and accessibility are critical to local students, and that mission is something we both share at Georgian Court and Brookdale."

According to Marbach, nearly 9 percent of all GCU alumni were previously enrolled at Brookdale.

The Brookdale board also unanimously approved the new Explorer Program - Early College Academy, offered by Brookdale and the Hazlet Township School District.

Beginning this September, eligible Raritan High School students will be able to earn a Brookdale associate degree in social science by the time they graduate from high school. Enrollees will complete their first two years at Raritan, their junior year at Brookdale's Hazlet campus and their senior year on Brookdale’s Lincroft campus.

"The students coming through Raritan High School are going to get an opportunity that very few students in New Jersey ever get," said Brookdale Vice President for Learning Matthew Reed, adding that Explorer Program graduates will be highly sought after by four-year institutions. "It's a way to cut in on student debt, it's a way to serve the community and it's a way to make the pathway forward clearer."

Hazlet Township school district Superintendent Bernard Bragen, Jr. joined Murphy at the meeting for an official signing of the partnership.

"Years ago we had a dream for our Raritan High School graduates to leave with maybe 30 college credits," said Bragen. "To expand that, and to have the capacity to offer graduates an associate degree, is astounding. It's a dream-come-true for us as well as our community. We are all very excited."

The Explorer Program is the latest in a series of early college partnerships approved by Brookdale in recent years, including the Poseidon Early College High School program in Neptune and the Early College Academy at Saint John Vianney High School in Holmdel, which welcomed their first classes in 2014.

The Brookdale - Georgian Court University Partnership marks the first time bachelor's and master's degrees will be offered through Brookdale’s Hazlet campus. Similar partnerships are offered with Rutgers University at Brookdale's Freehold campus and with New Jersey City University at Brookdale's Wall campus.

"A colleague of mine likes to say that Brookdale is where we are, college is what we do and community is why we do it," said Reed. "I see these initiatives as sort of stitching together a community of educators to serve Monmouth County in a really clear, distinct way. We could not be happier to announce these new partnerships tonight."

To learn more about Brookdale's academic and transfer programs, visit www.brookdalecc.edu/recruitment-services.