By Diana Garay—
Passaic County Community College was instituted in 1968 by Dr. Robert Zimmer to serve residents of Passaic County with educational and cultural programs. With a few hundred students registered, the College was inaugurated in 1971, offering programs in both transfer and career areas such as liberal arts, business, and health sciences, graduating its first class in 1973. Dr. Martin Bookbinder, Professor of Political Science and Economics, and member of PCCC faculty since its founding said, “There was a lot of chaos and confusion because it was beginning. There was a lot of opposition to the college position. They couldn't agree where to put the college. Should it be here or West Milford? They came here. It was very small. We had about maybe 600 students, and maybe 16 or 17 faculty members.”
On his past students’ successes, Dr. Bookbinder remarked, “I can give you anecdotal stories. There were those who went to Harvard. Two or three students went to Columbia, NYU, and of course, Rutgers.”
Prof. Parsha Hobson, PCCC Graduate Student 1972, and a Radiography Professor added that upon the founding of the college,“It would have been a true college campus. It would have been like County College of Morris or someplace like that because they had space. But others, including Zimmer wanted it here because this was where it was needed.”
Professor Hobson added, “I think the growing needs of the community allowed programs to expand—programs like applied science where students come in, get a two-year degree, and go right to work. There weren't that many of them back then. The school was really designed to transfer students to four-year schools with the exception of nursing and radiography. The design was, you'd come in, and you'd get an associate.”
According to U.S News &World Report, the adventure started 50 years ago, and the college has grown significantly, enrolling over 6,975 students in more than ninety associate degree and certificate programs. It has grown to be one of the most diverse colleges in the state, offering a rich multi-cultural atmosphere, vigorous extracurricular experience, and supportive academic networks to encourage student success. It has furnished not only an extensive program of English Language Studies but also initiatives in continuing education and workforce development and training.
Embracing the future of its students, Passaic County Community College has also established articulation-transfer agreements with numerous four-year colleges and universities, guaranteeing a smooth transfer process from the associate degree to the bachelor's degree program at a junior level. The college has developed not only academically, but also physically over the years, from the original single building in Paterson to its expansion in various parts of the county as in Wanaque and Passaic. Throughout all of its struggles, PCCC has prevailed loyally in its commitment to embrace efforts to enhance student progress and their program completion. Above all, the college provides an enlightening atmosphere characterized by honor and mutual respect, offering academic, cultural, and technological ventures, to not only the residents of Passaic County but also any light-seeking individual.
The dark, withered town
Now is our time to wish
We are the light here.