Sweeney Addresses Tri-County Chamber of Commerce
Cherry Hill – Senate President Steve Sweeney today discussed the strides New Jersey has made in expanding and improving the state’s higher education system at the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce Business Expo Breakfast in Cherry Hill. The Expo is a collaboration of the Camden County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce.
“Improving New Jersey’s higher education system has had and will continue to have a transformative effect on our entire state, but particularly in South Jersey,” said Sweeney. “By revolutionizing our research capacities through our higher education merger, and through expanding opportunities with pending legislation to improve college affordability, we are actively working to allow greater numbers of students to reach even higher levels of academic achievement.”
Completed in 2013, the largest higher education merger in history, involving Rutgers University, Rowan University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry, allowed New Jersey’s higher education system to pursue hundreds of millions of dollars in research grants and facilitated new levels of collaborative research.
Additionally, legislation pursued through 2016’s College Affordability Study Commission and Senate Democrats’ New Jersey: Investing In You initiative, would work to reduce the financial burden for New Jersey’s college students. Innovative ideas like allowing county college students to earn credits towards 4-year university degrees and giving high school students a chance to earn college credits, along with providing tuition assistance and greater financial literacy education would help alleviate the crushing burden of student debt.
“Today’s students enter college with a world of opportunity at their fingertips,” said Rowan University President Dr. Ali Houshmand, in attendance at today’s event. “I congratulate the Senate President for understanding the essential role that higher education plays in driving innovation and opportunity for New Jersey’s young people. Through his reforms, and through crucial physical improvements made possible through the Higher Education Bond Act, New Jersey’s universities are prepared to lead for decades to come.”
“Our aggressive pursuit of reigning in the costs of a college degree will allow more of our young people to enter the workforce better trained to do the jobs of tomorrow,” added Sweeney. “New Jersey’s businesses depend on that access to personnel and if we want to grow our economy, not just in Gloucester, Burlington and Camden Counties, but statewide, improving access to higher education must be a top priority.
Senator Sweeney’s remarks were preceded by a panel discussion on higher education including Dr. Houshmand, Stockton University President Dr. Harvey Kesselman and Rutgers University-Camden Chancellor Phoebe Haddon.