Hudson County Community College President Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Posted: 8/27/2012
Jennifer Christopher 201-360-4061 jchristopher@hccc.edu or Roger Jones 201-200-1080 rj@j-a-c.com

In two decades, Dr. Glen Gabert has transformed HCCC and expanded opportunities for thousands of Hudson County residents and businesses. 

 Jersey City, NJ – Hudson County Community College announced that Dr. Glen Gabert will celebrate his twentieth anniversary as the College’s President in September. Dr. Gabert is the longest-serving President in the College’s history and has been the driving force behind the College’s overall development for the past two decades.

A native of Chicago, Dr. Gabert was awarded his Ph.D. from Loyola University, where he was a Schmitt Fellow and member of the Loyola Graduate School of Education adjunct faculty. In addition, he earned a post-doctoral M.B.A. in Human Resources from the Graduate School of Management at Rockhurst University (Kansas City). Dr. Gabert also holds a master’s degree from Notre Dame University (where he was a Hearst Fellow), and a bachelor’s degree from Benedictine University.

Dr. Gabert began his community college career at Moraine Valley Community College (Palos Hills, Ill.), first as the Assistant to the Academic Vice President, and later as Assistant to the President. He was also a member of Moraine Valley’s adjunct faculty throughout his six years there. From Moraine, he went onto Johnson Community College (Overland Park, Kan.) where he served as Dean and was responsible for human resources, development, institutional research and planning, and public relations/communications. In his capacity as Dean, he developed Johnson’s first set of comprehensive personnel policies, provided leadership for a feasibility study which resulted in the development of the College’s acclaimed performing arts center.

When Dr. Gabert became President of Hudson County Community College in 1992, he was the fifth person to have held that position in three years. At that time, the College had experienced interventions by the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education and there were discussions about closing the College.

In 1992, Hudson County Community College had about 3,000 students and owned one building. The College’s curriculum at that time was largely focused on developmental education and limited career programs. Dr. Gabert resolved to ensure that the residents of Hudson County were afforded a comprehensive, student-centered program that included strong transfer and several productive signature programs as well as state-of-the-art, beautiful places to study and learn.

Under his guidance, and with the support and endeavors of Hudson County Community College’s Board of Trustees, faculty and staff, the College now offers a host of courses of study that include the nationally acclaimed Culinary Arts Institute and Developmental Education programs, a cutting-edge ESL/Bilingual program, Allied Health, Business, Criminal Justice, Hospitality Management, Homeland Security, the Sciences, and Studio Arts/Computer Art. Workforce development programs and cooperative alliances with private and governmental organizations have also been forged to prepare area residents for employment in nursing and other health fields as well as hospitality management. The College’s Center for Business & Industry is the area leader in developing and delivering educational classes and programs for businesses, organizations and individuals.

In pursuing his plans for the physical expansion of the College, Dr. Gabert also became a pioneer in the development of urban campuses. The College now has a dozen buildings on campuses in Jersey City and Union City. Two of those buildings are new, from-the-ground-up construction and recipients of New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s “New Good Neighbor Awards.” The remaining buildings are structures — some of which were on the brink of condemnation — that have been repurposed and completely renovated. Additionally, a blacktop parking lot was transformed into a pocket park for the enjoyment of students, faculty, staff and area residents. Most of the College’s buildings are LEED-certified and outfitted with the latest wireless technologies and safety features. All were completed on-time and under-budget with little disruption to neighboring residents and businesses.

Dr. Gabert has said he does not want to be remembered for the buildings he constructed, but rather for what goes on in those buildings every day, and uppermost in his priorities has been ensuring that students succeed in their studies, graduate, and go on to either four-year postsecondary institutions or into productive and well-paying careers. To that end, he instituted and maintains a student-centered culture at the College. Courses are offered at times that are convenient to students — early morning through late evening weekdays and all day on weekends — on two campuses and several satellites, as well as 24/7 via Internet. The HCCC advisement and counseling program is one of the few anywhere that does not require that students have appointments — they are able to walk in and be seen at any time that is convenient for them. Instructors are encouraged to follow and mentor students throughout their courses of study at and beyond their graduation from the College. Seeing that fewer than a quarter of HCCC students can afford to pay their tuition and fees out-of-pocket, Dr. Gabert was instrumental in the 1997 establishment of the Hudson County Community College Foundation (which has provided scholarships for more than 1,000 students) and the development and operation of one of the HCCC Student Financial Assistance Offices — one of the finest and most productive in New Jersey. In Spring 2012, Dr. Gabert and Saint Peter’s University President Dr. Eugene Cornacchia signed an agreement with that allows HCCC grads to transfer to SPU for the same tuition as they would pay at a New Jersey State four-year institution — a huge savings for HCCC graduates. He also developed strategic partnerships with several other four-year institutions, including one with Fairleigh Dickinson University that enables HCCC Culinary/Hospitality grads to complete their bachelor’s degree studies on-campus at HCCC.

Since becoming HCCC President, Dr. Gabert was also instrumental in developing and offering programs for the community, including the annual series of free lectures given by nationally renowned speakers, including Dr. Cornel West, Pete Hamill, Ralph Nader, Julian Bond, Jonathan Alter, Ruben Navarette, Judge Marilyn Milian, Juju Chang, Edward James Olmos, America Ferrera, Sandra Guzman and Paul Rusesabagina. He also played a key role in the institution and development of the HCCC Foundation Art Collection, which now includes more than 200 works by major American artists and is displayed throughout both campuses for the enjoyment of students, faculty, staff and area residents.

Since Dr. Gabert became President, enrollment has increased from 3,000 to just shy of 10,000. Student retention has increased significantly and the HCCC Class of 2012 was 1,060 strong — double what it was 10 years ago. HCCC grads are transferring to Rutgers, Saint Peter’s, New Jersey City University, New York University, Columbia University, Barnard, Fordham, Penn State, Johnson & Wales, the Culinary Institute of America and other top-ranked institutions. They are going on to employment at some of the finest names in American business … and they are teaching full-time at Hudson County Community College. Furthermore, many individuals who hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees are coming to HCCC to update their skills.

Dr. Gabert serves on the boards of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce, the Hudson County Overall Economic Development Council, and the Journal Square Restoration Corporation. The former Chair of the Presidents’ Committee of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, he continues to serve as a member of its Facilities and Government Relations Committees. He was recently elected to the Executive Committee of New Jersey’s 49-member Council of College Presidents. He is also on the international Board of Directors of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and on the Diversity Commission of the American Association of Community Colleges. He has been honored publicly by the Jersey City Rotary Club, the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Hudson County, and Phi Theta Kappa.