After serving Atlantic Cape Community College for 18 years, local economic guru Richard Perniciaro is moving on.
Perniciaro’s retirement from the college, effective June 30, was approved at January’s board of trustees meeting. He plans on sticking around the area, teaching, researching and keeping an eye on Atlantic County’s economics.
“I think hopefully something I can do after here will help the region,” Perniciaro said.
Atlantic Cape President Barbara Gaba noted Perniciaro’s contributions during his time at the college.
“Over the years, Dr. Pernciaro has played a key role in many areas of the college, including institutional research, strategic planning, implementing green initiatives and overseeing construction and renovation projects at our campuses. He will be missed, and we wish him well upon his retirement,” she said.
Former Atlantic Cape President Peter Mora said Perniciaro has become an economic expert for the region.
“His reputation as a professional economist is well established in the college’s service area among both the business and public-sector communities. He also consistently functions at a very high level of effectiveness in his numerous public presentations and panel discussions in the area of economics and economic development,” Mora said, according to the resolution accepting Perniciaro’s retirement.
Perniciaro, 65, of Pleasantville, began working at Atlantic Cape on Oct. 13, 1999. Prior to that, he worked at Atlantic City Electric and Conectiv. He spent some time early in his career at Stockton University — then Stockton State College — as an economics instructor.
“When I was in college, I was an economics major, but I took an education minor,” said Perniciaro, who earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from Temple University. “I’ve always taught and been involved with education. And even when I was involved with the electric company, I taught an MBA program.”
Most recently, Perniciaro served as executive vice president of planning, research, information technology and facilities at Atlantic Cape.
“It’s all worked out very well actually,” he said.
Much has changed since Perniciaro came to Atlantic County in 1978 — at the same time Resorts opened as Atlantic City’s first casino, he pointed out.
A few years after he started at the college, Mora became president and moved Perniciaro from research to administration.
“We changed the whole building program around when I got here,” he said. “The place had gotten pretty rundown and needed to be upgraded.”
He was part of a team that developed a multi-million-dollar plan to renovate the college’s campuses called Blueprint 2020. Perniciaro said much of the plan has been carried through, including the new science building and student center in Mays Landing, expansion at Atlantic City, a solar project and a lot of underground infrastructure work.
“I think we are where we said we’d be at this point in time. It feels like you’re achieving something,” Perniciaro said.
Perniciaro said that now, due to declining enrollments nationwide, community colleges, including Atlantic Cape, are going through a shift and trying to find their role. Some are pushing them as an affordable starting point for people to begin a four-year postsecondary education, others as a place for continuing education. Recently, President Donald Trump suggested community colleges could play a role in technical education.
“I think there’s a time period now where community colleges are really trying to figure out where they stand in the educational framework,” Perniciaro said.
He said Atlantic Cape is in good shape “to do what it will need to do.”
“Atlantic Cape is a reflection of the area, and as much as the area is restructuring itself, Atlantic Cape is going to have to do the same thing,” he said.