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August 23, 2023
August 23, 2023, Jersey City, NJ – For more than 120 years, America’s community colleges have played a vital role in transforming lives by creating pathways to economic opportunity and financial security. Today, community colleges face myriad challenges such as funding issues, keeping apace of rapidly changing technologies, and, most importantly, developing the means to assist students in continuing and completing their studies. Community college trustees work with college administrators and staff, local and national government entities, and area industries to meet these challenges, and to ensure opportunities abound for those who wish to successfully pursue a community college education.
Each year, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) recognizes just five lay trustees who have made significant contributions in promoting the community college concept. With great pride, Hudson County Community College (HCCC) announces that Bakari G. Lee, Esq., HCCC Board of Trustees Vice Chair, has been selected as the recipient of the ACCT 2023 Northeast Regional Trustee Leadership Award. The award will be presented at the ACCT Leadership Congress on October 11, 2023 in Las Vegas. As a regional award recipient, Vice Chair Lee is a finalist for ACCT’s national honor, the M. Dale Ensign Trustee Leadership Award. M. Dale Ensign lived a lifetime of service to others, was a trustee at a Wyoming community college for many years, and served as ACCT’s founding Chair and third President.
William J. Netchert, Esq., HCCC Board of Trustees Chair, said that Vice Chair Lee has been a working member of the HCCC Board since 2006. “As Vice Chair, Bakari has been my partner in growing the College and providing our diverse and ever-growing community with excellent instruction in top-of-the-line facilities,” Chairman Netchert stated. “He is held in high esteem by the Board, the HCCC family, and our community, and is truly deserving of this honor.”
Dr. Christopher Reber, HCCC President, related that Vice Chair Lee has diligently advocated accessible, high-quality higher education and experiential learning programs for area residents, especially people of color. “Vice Chair Lee’s experience in community service predates his work as an HCCC Trustee. He has publicly stated that he believes involvement with the community is critically important. He believes in giving back without expecting anything in return,” Dr. Reber said.
Vice Chair Lee credits his late father, a civil rights and community leader who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as the catalyst for his own dedication to community service. As an HCCC Trustee, he is a member of several committees, a frequent presenter at the HCCC Teaching and Learning Symposia on Social Justice in Higher Education, and a founding member of the HCCC President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (PACDEI), among other initiatives.
Vice Chair Lee also served as Chair of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) from 2011 to 2014. During his tenure as NJCCC Chair, the New Jersey Center for Student Success and the Big Idea Project were established, and legislation was passed for the Building Our Future Bond Act, enhanced New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Rewards Scholarship (NJ STARS), and in-county tuition for undocumented students.
Additionally, Vice Chair Lee was the National Chair of the ACCT Board of Directors, playing an influential role in the establishment of student success programs, advocating increased funding and tuition stabilization, and working to ensure equal educational opportunities for all. In that capacity, he created the Student Trustee Advisory Committee; established Trustee Advisory and Constituency Groups (trustees from African American, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native American communities) reporting at board meetings; and led the completion of ACCT’s first strategic plan.
“The entire Hudson County Community College family, and our colleagues and neighbors throughout Hudson County, New Jersey, and the nation, join us in congratulating Bakari Lee on this well-deserved national honor,” Dr. Reber stated.