Brookdale's New President Talks About Her Goals for the College
Here are some excerpts from our recent interview with Dr. Maureen Murphy, who, this summer, will become the president of Brookdale Community College.
When you are assuming the presidency of a college, there are a lot of things to consider: garnering new sources of funding, increasing enrollment, reexaming the college's policy on ice cubes.
"I got rid of all my wool," said newly appointed Dr. Maureen Murphy, who originally hails from the mid-west.
Dr. Murphy might have made it through this winter without her woolies, but for next year, we can assume she'll be welcomed with traditional New Jersey slush and freezing rain.
We were curious too, what would she you bring from her years in the South?
Here are some excerpts from our interview with Murphy. You can also click here to see how she answered reader questions about health science programs and BCC's reputation.
Murphy: There is a large hispanic population in Texas, so I think I bring the concept of mañana, not everything has to be done today. Not everything has to be a rush. It's very refreshing.
Patch: Here in New Jersey we like to tell you exactly how we feel.
Murphy: I spent a lot of time in the midwest, where it's not a whole lot different. We're simple plain talking people. And I dont have time or the energy or the inclination for hidden agendas so we're similar in that way.
Murphy also shared with us some her priorities for her new post which begins in July. One of those is to, "Be poised to meet the needs of returning veterans," by helping them to readjust to regular life, and process the mountain of paperwork required to do that.
Murphy: We need more people to certify VA (US Department of Veterans Affairs) paper work. The VA is a nightmare to work with. When an individual comes back from war and wants to go to school, that individual needs a lot of help.
Another of Murphy's focuses will be college cohesiveness, something she says that a community college doesn't happen naturally. "You have to plan for it."
At San Jacinto College South, Murphy begins the semester with a campus wide assembly. This year classes and offices shut down for three hours so students and faculty could gather together for a presentation about how to help returning veterans fit in the school community.
Murphy: It's a nice way for people to come together. At a community college you can be disjointed. We're running classes all the time, we serve diverse populations. We're running hard and running in all different directions and that is just the nature of the work we are doing.
Patch: What is BCC doing right already?
Murphy: I took a student guided tour. Things look a whole lot different from their perspective. I was really impressed with, and Brookdale has a reputation for this, it's focus on learning. But when you hear it from a studen't perspective, it's amazing."
The administrator said she was struck by how students and faculty learn and work together, particularly with drop in help centers all over campus.
Murphy: They are these little fish bowls, glassed in rooms where students can just drop in and get the help they need. They were tutoring and working in small groups. And they were all packed. That tells you that they're working.
Learning assistance is build into the department. If a student wasn't successful at Brookdale, I just don't know how that happens. That student just wasn't captured.
Patch: And do you not see this at other colleges?
Murphy: Hearty laughter... No. It's caused me to rethink things. Most schools have central locations for tutuoring. This decentralized model seems to work very well. It's part of the culture (of BCC).
Patch: What about Brookdale's reputation. Some people think it's where kids who fooled around in high school go because they don't know what to do with themselves.
Murphy: The perception of the community college has always been a second class citizen. But the reality is that that is not true. Just because it's an open door does not mean the education is any less rigourous. Our focus is on students.
There is a different kind of attention on community colleges these days. The rhetoric is beginning to change as people start to see the worth of community college ... At community colleges our focus has always been on the front door - getting the students in, but our focus needs to on the back door to help them achieve those awards.
Brookdale's graduation rates are extrodinarily high. I don't think we get that out there. We need to change message from one of access to one of success.
We talk about how it's affordable, how it's open to everybody. The message we have not gotten out there is really how successful graduates out there are.
I bet you there is not a person in Monmouth County who cannot tell a success story of someone who has gone to Brookdale. Brookdale needs to tell its own story.