As Berkeley College continues celebrating 85 years, its third system-wide president, Michael J. Smith, was recently inaugurated to the office at the campus in Woodland Park. Nearly 1,000 family and friends, colleagues, faculty, staff, business and elected officials gathered under a large tent set upon the grounds for the occasion.
President Smith acknowledged Bruce Springsteen in his remarks, stating that while he, too, learned from the music and records he listened to, his learning came from the schools he attended and the teachers he had.
Mr. Smith began his tenure as President in June 2015 and set out to tour all Berkeley College campuses in New Jersey and New York and the offices of Berkeley College Online® on his first day. He also committed to and completed attending 52 classes in 52 weeks to experience the Berkeley College student perspective firsthand.
“I learned so much from my 52 classes that even after being with Berkeley College for 20 years, I learned more about us and our students and our teachers than any other humanly imaginable way,” President Smith said. “I consider myself very fortunate to have had this opportunity to learn in this manner.”
In his remarks, he emphasized the “power of one,” noting that each Berkeley College associate can make a difference in many ways – working, winning, believing, operating and succeeding “as one” in the Mission to change the lives of students. “Imagine how we could impact graduation rates if each member in the audience did whatever it would take to see just one more student graduate,” President Smith said.
The ceremony featured a procession of trustees, faculty, administrators and students, as well as delegates representing institutions and agencies. Music was provided by a faculty ensemble, The Liberal Artists. Kevin L. Luing, Board Chairman, presented the mace, medallion and seal, insignia of the Office of the President.
“Berkeley College is fortunate to have a leader who is so intimately familiar with the organization and dedicated to its students,” said Gregg Edwards, Deputy Secretary, New Jersey Department of Higher Education, acknowledging President Smith’s nearly 20 years with the College.
Special greetings and remarks were also presented by Monica Smith, sister of Michael Smith and CEO/President of Marketsmith Inc.; Thomas Alessandrello, Senior Vice President, Operations, BES, Inc.; Timothy Luing, Berkeley College Executive Vice President; Byron Hargrove, PhD, Humanities and Social Sciences, Berkeley College School of Liberal Arts, and Director of Honors Program; and Andrea Nemeth, Vice President, Berkeley College Alumni Leadership Council, Class of 1989.
On behalf of the student body, Rebecca Aguilera presented a video titled “Berkeley Strong” about the impact of a college degree, with words of advice for the President.
Local, county and state legislators, as well as other area colleges, also sent proclamations and letters of congratulations to the new President.
“From the first time I met Michael, I could see his passion and his commitment to educating the leaders of tomorrow,” said Keith Kazmark, Mayor of Woodland Park.