NJCU Shows How Diversity and Educational Access Is Done During Gala Event

By Michael Nam

New Jersey City University held its Building the Dream gala on April 16, a benefit to raise scholarship funds while honoring luminaries who have supported its aims of providing cost-effective higher education for New Jersey’s residents.

The honorees included DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti who received the Corporate Citizenship Award; CEO of Deloitte & Touche LLP’s risk advisory practice (Deloitte is No. 11 on the2014 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity), Owen M. Ryan who received the Alumnus of Distinction Award and Mayor Steven Fulop who received the Visionary Leadership Award.

The evening, dedicated to the growth and inclusiveness at NJCU, set the bar high for other institutions to provide the necessary services they often promise but do not deliver. This included highlighting the construction of the new business school facility in the heart of Jersey City’s business district, as well as maintaining cost-effective and practical skill instructions for students.

“By 2043, the entire nation will be less than 50 percent white. You probably already know this, but New Jersey City University is already a minority-serving institution and a Hispanic serving institution,” said Luke Visconti in his acceptance speech. “This is where the hard lessons are going to be learned and I think this can provide us a leadership position for the entire nation to do the very hard work it’s going to take to get our immigrants and our poorest citizens up to speed so their capabilities match their education. And that connects them with opportunity.”

Luke Visconti has been on the NJCU Foundation Board of Directors since 2006 and was elected chair in June 2013 to the diverse body representative of the type of innovative and forward-thinking strategy for board leadership that DiversityInc espouses.

Honorees, alumni and current students all praised NJCU for its quality and affordability. They occasionally remarked on the state of higher education today, where students, particularly those of underrepresented and impoverished populations, often graduate with a less than practical degree and under a tremendous load of debt.

In fact, student loan debt in the United States accounted for 45 percent of federal financial assets in 2014, according to Bloomberg. The debt also disproportionately affects students of color, with over 40 percent of Black families bearing the financial burden in 2013.

Building the Dream served not only as a celebration but a call to action, stressing the importance of educational institutions connected to their local communities.

“We are building upon a long and glorious tradition of preparing students from a myriad of backgrounds who realized their dreams and have made their mark on their careers, their families and their communities,” said Dr. Sue Henderson, NJCU president.

DiversityInc Foundation was the host sponsor of the event along with additional sponsors from the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity List:Novartis PharmaceuticalsCorporation,ADP,Deloitte,Monsanto,PricewaterhouseCoopers,TD Bank,TIAA-CREF,Wyndham Worldwide,Aetna,EY,Time Warner,AT&TandComcast.

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