Cumberland County College opened in 1965 with an enrollment of about 300 students.
Now, with more than 4,000 students attending classes during an academic year, it is clear that the college has grown.
And the institution — which was the first community college in New Jersey to open its own campus — is growing even larger. It is undergoing a multimillion expansion at its main campus that straddles the Vineland-Millville border, and in downtown Millville.
College officials said planning boards in Vineland and Millville have approved plans that involve replacing parking spaces in front of the student center with a student drop-off zone. Another drop-off zone will be built on an undeveloped site in front of the college’s administration building.
The plan also involves adding more than 4,200 square feet to the administration building. The expansion will consolidate offices currently located in other buildings.
An exact price tag for the work was not immediately available from college officials. They said earlier that the work will be financed through an $8.5 million state grant.
Another part of the college’s expansion involves the planned construction of a $7 million Arts and Business Innovation Center at High and Vine streets in Millville. That site is in the heart of Millville’s downtown business and Glasstown arts districts.
College officials said the center will offer credit and noncredit arts classes, and both the existing Clay College enterprise on High Street and the Cumberland and Salem Workforce Education Alliance will relocate there. Officials said they hope to have the center open by the fall 2014 semester. Project officials said the center could attract about 500 students per semester.
“This will create great opportunities for our students to interact and provide services for area artists and businesses,” college President Thomas Isekenegbe said in a statement. “The building will provide an outstanding environment for our students to thrive in the midst of a real-world arts community.”
Part of the financing for the project involves the Millville Urban Redevelopment Corp., the privately run entity that handles redevelopment for Millville, providing about $2.5 million capital funding. The college will provide another $1.5 million in state funds, with the rest of the money coming from other grants, bonding and various partnerships.
Corporation Director Donald Ayres said Thursday he is confident his agency will have a funding package in place sometime next month. Corporation officials are talking with banks and various foundations and agencies in connection with that package, he said.
“We’re very hopeful,” Ayres said. “It’s a worthwhile project. I think this is such a unique project that it’s gotten the attention of the founders. They certainly are doing their due diligence.”
Involving an institution such as Cumberland County College adds credibility to the corporation’s fundraising endeavors, he said.
Meanwhile, college spokesman John Nichols said the college also will be expanding into a building on Buck Street in Millville that was donated to the institution. The building, located along the Maurice River, will be used for health-related programs and staff, he said.
The project still needs various approvals from Millville city government, he said.
The three planned projects are not the only ones either being undertaken or proposed by the college.
The college’s facilities master plan includes several major capital projects and improvements through 2018.
According to the college’s website, its baseball fields were renovated and some roads and parking lots were upgraded during 2011-12. A solar energy project is also under review, according to the website.
The college has seen some other significant expansions during the past decade.
That includes the George P. Luciano Family Center for Public Service and Leadership, and the Frank Guaracini Jr. Fine and Performing Arts Center.
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