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Middlesex County College is transforming to Middlesex College. The College’s Board of Trustees approved the name change in October, which took effect January 1, 2021. A public unveiling of the new logo and visual identity is planned for some time in May.

“We know two things,” said College President Mark McCormick. “First, that students receive an excellent education here, and when they transfer to a four-year college or university, they do as well or better than students who start at a four-year institution. They are very well prepared. But we are also well aware that there is a stigma attached to community colleges. While we know the high quality of the educational experiences we provide, that message has not fully penetrated in our community. We hope this name change will go a long way in doing that.”

Two-year colleges in other states have already begun to drop “Community” or “County” from their names as part of a rebrand, including Gloucester County College, which changed its name first to Rowan College at Gloucester County and then last year to Rowan College of South Jersey when it merged with the former Cumberland County College.

Dr. McCormick noted that the name change would not affect the objective of the College.

“Our mission remains the same,” he said. “It is to offer a quality, affordable education for the people of Middlesex County, and to help our students thrive in education, growth and personal success. That will not change.”

“We are fortunate to have the support of the Middlesex County Commissioners in this effort,” Dr. McCormick said. “We thank the Commissioners and the County Administration for their incredible support of Middlesex College and our mission.”

The College is planning an Open House on Sunday, April 18 and expects to have new Admissions materials created by that date.

The diplomas for May 2021 graduates will say Middlesex College, and the College anticipates having a fully revamped website by the fall of 2021. College athletic teams, which have been known as the Blue Colts, will now be the Middlesex Colts, and a mascot will be unveiled in the months ahead.

Photographed: Amanda Lyons

The Middlesex County College Food Pantry is now offering frozen meals for students in need. The meals are prepared by Professor Andrew Rubin’s culinary students and are kept in a freezer at the food pantry.

“This has been a great success, not only in actually nourishing our students and their families but also in building and nourishing our community,” said Amanda Lyons, basic needs coordinator at MCC. “This project is a beautiful collaboration with the Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Dietetics Department and a great example of service-learning.”

This semester, Professor Rubin’s students are also providing meals to the Ozanam Family Shelter and Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen as part of the service-learning component of the course.

“Just wanted to say thank you to you Amanda, and other staff at the MCC Food Pantry,” one student said. “I am grateful that it exists and is available to me especially at this time in my life (Corona time) until I can get back on my feet again.  I am truly, truly grateful.”

Another recipient said: “Having ready-made meals helps in my home. My kids and I thank you. You should feel proud and blessed to be helping those that are less fortunate than yourselves.”

Anand (Andy) Paluri, licensed professional engineer

Anand (Andy) Paluri, a licensed professional engineer with over 33 years of experience in planning, design and construction supervision of infrastructure projects throughout the world, has joined the Middlesex County College Board of Trustees.

Paluri is Vice President and Area Manager of WSP USA Inc., one of the world’s leading design engineering professional services firms. He oversees operations of the firm’s three offices in New Jersey. He provides overall leadership and is responsible for business development, client management, mentoring, and project management.

Paluri has led several projects including the U.S. 22 and Chimney Rock Road Interchange, Airport System Capacity Planning Study, the Widening of the NJ Turnpike between Interchanges 6 to 9, Garden State Parkway Interchanges 9, 10 and 11 Improvements, the Pulaski Skyway Rehabilitation, the U.S. 1&9 and I-278 Interchange Ramps Project, and the Extension of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail to Route 440, among others.

Paluri is a leader in his field. He was Past President and member of the Executive Board of the Institute of Transportation Engineering, Chair of the Legislative and Policy Committee of the American Council of Engineering Companies, and he is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Intelligent Transportation Systems America, American Consulting Engineers Council (ACEC), the North American Traffic Monitoring Council, Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, the New Jersey Alliance for Action, and the Middlesex County Transportation Coordination Council.

He is also very active in the community, serving as a member of the Monroe Township Board of Education, the Monroe Township Planning Board, and as a founding member of the India-USA Forum of Monroe Township.

He is the recipient of the ACEC-NJ Membership Recognition Award in 2018, the Excellence in Management Award in 2016, and the Community Leader Award from Jewish Family Services of Middlesex County.

Paluri holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Andhra University and a Master of Science Degree in Transportation Systems Engineering from Clarkson University.

“Middlesex County College is the shining star of community colleges in New Jersey,” he said. “The opportunity to contribute to the College so it can maintain that level of excellence and become even better is very appealing to me.”

Pictured (from left to right): Ronald G. Rios, Mark McCormick, Dorothy K. Power, Mark J. Finkelstein

Dorothy K. Power, Chairman of the Middlesex County College Board of Trustees, received the Paige D. L’Hommedieu Award from Middlesex County College at its Fall Convocation Aug. 31. She was presented the 2020 L’Hommedieu Award for her leadership of Middlesex County College and her lifelong commitment to the people of Middlesex County.

“Dot’s deep understanding of local government and her connections throughout the County and beyond have informed her advocacy on behalf of Middlesex County College which has resulted in tremendous and long-lasting impact,” said College President Mark McCormick as he presented the award. “Those of us who work together with Dot to make Middlesex County College a place where everyone is welcome and lives are truly transformed know what an amazing and humble leader she is.”

The Paige D. L’Hommedieu Award is the highest honor given by the College. It is awarded at the Fall Convocation to a person who embodies the citizenship, leadership and humanity of Paige D. L’Hommedieu, the founding Board Chair of the College.

Mrs. Power has served as Chairman of the College Board of Trustees since 2007 and as a Trustee since 1998. She was a member of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders from 1976-1990 and served as Deputy Director and as Chairman of its Committee on Education and Welfare. She also served as Freeholder Clerk from 1994-1997.

“During her time as a Freeholder, she championed initiatives focused on improving education, especially for youth with special needs, and she advocated for the support of the Vocational-Technical Schools as well as the College,” Dr. McCormick said.

Dorothy Power

Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios also lauded the awardee.

“Mrs. Power’s long history with Middlesex County College makes her one of the most qualified people ever to receive this award,” he said. “I am especially honored to be part of Mrs. Powers receiving this award because of her history with the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. In these challenging times, we can all learn from your many years of public service.”

Before joining the Freeholders, Mrs. Power was Manager of Community Relations for Bellcore and also worked as a Manager for AT&T.

She served on the boards of the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Middletown and Piscataway Chambers of Commerce. She also served on the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Association for Elected Women Officials, and she pioneered the establishment of the Middlesex County Commission on the Status of Women.

In 2018, she was the recipient of the very first Trustee Spotlight Award from the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, which was established to recognize trustee excellence and dedication at the 18 community colleges in the state.

In accepting the award, Mrs. Power said she was inspired by women leaders of years past, such as Patricia Q. Sheehan, Mayor of the City of New Brunswick in the 1960’s; Helen Hurd, Dean at Rutgers University, who led the effort to create the Commission on the Status of Women; Anita Voorhees, Dean of Continuing Education at MCC, who was instrumental in helping women enter meaningful jobs in the workplace; and Edith McAndrew, the first woman ever elected to the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

“I love this job,” Mrs. Power said of her role as Trustee Chairman. “And when I see students who were chosen by their graduating class to join our Board of Trustees, and actively participate in our discussions, I can see first-hand that their training here has prepared them well for whatever they choose to pursue. A recent graduate, Pierfrancesco Giannini, regularly attended student events and came up with the idea of having a panel of recent alumni speak to current students about their life after MCC. Another, Sitwat Syed, was also an actively engaged student Trustee. She attended the Association of Community College Trustees National Legislative Summit in Washington and represented the viewpoint of community college students in meetings with Senator Bob Menendez and other members of the New Jersey congressional delegation. And there are so many more who are giving back.

“Receiving this Award means a great deal to me. And if I can, if only in a small way, fulfill the meaning of what Paige L’Hommedieu has left in his path, then I am grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of his legacy.”

Gabrielle McLean, Alumni Representative

Gabrielle McLean, a 2020 graduate of Middlesex County College, was named Alumni representative to the College’s Board of Trustees. She will serve a one-year term that ends June 30, 2021.

Ms. McLean was a Liberal Arts/General major at MCC and is transferring to The College of New Jersey this fall, where she will major in Psychology, with a minor in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies; she is also considering a minor in Sociology. She is planning to go to graduate school after graduating from TCNJ.

“Right now, I’m unsure of my career plans, but I think this academic program provides a wide range of options,” she said.

While at MCC, the Dean’s List student was President of the MCC Feminist Collective. She was also a member of the MCC chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges; the Humanities Honor Society; and Psi Beta, the psychology honor society. She was also a staff writer and photographer for Quo Vadis, the school newspaper, and a tutor at the Learning Center.

“My experience at MCC was great,” she said. “The professors were very helpful and supportive. I feel very well prepared for TCNJ.”

While a member of Phi Theta Kappa, she got to know Sitwat Syed, who was the alumni representative to the board last year.

“She helped me see what the role entailed, that I was there to provide the students’ perspective to the board,” Ms. McLean said. “Being able to contribute to MCC after I have left is a wonderful opportunity.”

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Middlesex County College recently signed an articulation agreement with New Jersey City University that will allow MCC’s business students to transfer seamlessly to NJCU. Students who complete an associate degree at MCC and meet the admission requirements will be admitted with full junior status into a corresponding Bachelor of Science degree program in the School of Business at NJCU.

“The significance of this agreement is that our graduates who hold an AAS degree will transfer all 60 credits as specialization courses, unlike most schools that accept upper-level AAS courses as electives,” said Aslihan Cakmak, chair of Business and Computer Science at Middlesex. “Based on their course mapping, our students will not have to repeat the courses that they have taken here.”

MCC’s academic vice president, Linda Scherr, lauded the agreement. “We are very pleased to be able to provide seamless transfer pathways for even more MCC students thanks to our strong partnership with NJCU,” she said. “The NJCU School of Business is one of the best in the state and our graduates will be very well prepared for success at NJCU and the world of work.”

At the signing, seated, from left: Linda Scherr; Middlesex President Mark McCormick; Sue Henderson, President, NJCU; and Tamara Jhashi, Provost and Senior Vice President, NJCU. From Middlesex, standing: Nick Picioccio and Sheri-Rose Rubin, MCC faculty; Betsy Pajauis, MCC transfer counselor, Joseph Nesi, faculty, Aslihan Cakmak, Michelle Campbell, Vice President for Institutional Advancement; from NJCU, Bernard McSherry, Founding Dean, School of Business, and Guillermo De Veyga, Chief of Staff.

The Northfield Bank Foundation recently presented a check to the Middlesex County College Foundation for $5,000 to support five $1,000 scholarships for deserving MCC students.

“Thank you to the Northfield Bank Foundation for helping to make success happen,” said MCC Foundation Executive Director Lisa L. Kelly. “The Northfield Bank Foundation has been a generous benefactor of our students for years. Their gifts to MCC have enabled many students to pursue their dreams.”

From left: Michelle Campbell, MCC’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement; Zeida Weekley, Northfield Bank Linden Branch Manager; Diane Senerchia, Executive Director, Northfield Bank Foundation; MCC President Mark McCormick; and Ms. Kelly.

A local nonprofit organization, HinduSwayamsevak Sangh USA, participated in “Sewa Diwali,” a food drive program and initiative to promote service and giving back to the local community, especially in the younger generation. #sewadiwali started as a collective effort of the Hindu community in New Jersey last year and this year expanded to nine other states, with an active participation of over 1000 volunteers and 65 organizations. In 2018, about 17,000 pounds of food was collected and donated to various charities in New Jersey. This year around 50,000 pounds was collected as part of the initiative and is being distributed, with 30,000 of it in New Jersey alone.

Members of the club are shown with MCC President Mark McCormick (center, with tie), Upendra Chivukula, former New Jersey Assemblyman and current Commissioner on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, and Kathy Shay, retired faculty member and the founder of the Middlesex pantry.

Members of the club are shown with MCC President Mark McCormick (center, with tie), Upendra Chivukula, former New Jersey Assemblyman and current Commissioner on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, and Kathy Shay, retired faculty member and the founder of the Middlesex pantry.

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