Governor Chris Christie visited Ramapo on Tuesday in an appearance marking the College’s progress with recent capital improvement projects. Gov. Christie primarily spoke about the bond funding the College would be receiving in the future.
“We’re going to invest in over $1.4 billion dollars over the next three years in modernizing and expanding the campuses of our colleges and universities all across New Jersey, including this one right here, Ramapo College,” Christie said in his address. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”
President Peter Mercer said the Governor’s visit was a highlight in the College’s history.
“It is always a good day when the Governor of New Jersey comes to Ramapo College. We were gratified by Governor Christie’s visit and look forward to his return,” Mercer said in an email. “Yesterday’s visit was invaluable to our students, who heard firsthand from a sitting Governor, but it also marked a milestone for the College as we continue to make our needs known among state leaders in Trenton.”
A message from the Office of the President was sent out to the entire campus constituency on Monday morning to announce Gov. Christie’s visit this week. The Governor arrived on campus at 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Students, faculty, and professional staff greeted him upon his entrance.
President Peter Mercer, Chairman of the Board of Trustees George C. Ruotolo and Student Government Association President Vincent Guinta greeted and introduced Christie at the podium before his speech.
“This investment in higher education in capital projects, the first in 25 years, will strengthen Ramapo College,” Guinta explained in his introduction. “To put that into perspective, the last time Ramapo received funding for capital improvements, such as the renovation to the G-Wing, most of today’s Ramapo students weren’t even born.”
The Building Our Future Bond Act, a state ballot initiative pushed by campaigns on campus during last year’s election, allows the state of New Jersey to issue bonds to accredited public higher education institutions to better equip schools to increase academic capacity. According to NJ.com, the state government will be using this funding for 176 different projects at 46 institutions within New Jersey.
As he mentioned in the annual State of the College address two weeks ago, Mercer said Ramapo College will receive $20 million dollars from the state government for campus projects.
Last August, the New Jersey Higher Education Funding Formula Commission was established through the passing of the senate bill, S-2695, to examine performance-based funding formulas of other states, review data from New Jersey’s public institutions and develop a report to release a funding formula. The commission, composed of 10 members, helped formulate how much of an investment to allocate to public colleges and universities through the creation of a universal formula used by the current administration.
Sophomore Hannah Ovadia heard the Governor’s speech first hand and believes state funding will only serve to improve the College.
“I think it will benefit academic success, especially what Christie said about the science labs. I hear about other technologies at other universities and as a psychology major, I would like to be exposed to these technologies,” Ovadia said. “I liked the presentation and how he stressed higher education has an impact on the future of New Jersey.”
Edward Saiff, dean of the school of theoretical and applied sciences, said Gov. Christie’s recognition of the College’s science facilities is encouraging.
“I hope his visit is an indicator of more support for all of us at Ramapo from Trenton. Right now, the focus is on science, but we are a community, and we need to serve students in all of our majors and in the extracurriculum as well,” Saiff said. “The $20 million from the bond issue is a good start, but I hope it is only the beginning of more money from Trenton.”
Despite the celebration of the news on the recently passed legislation and budget on higher education, Gov. Christie clearly addressed the government shutdown on Monday night as a “failure of people in public life for everybody in this country, who’s depending upon a government that will get it’s ‘stuff’ together.”
Gov. Christie also subtly acknowledged the upcoming gubernatorial race by adding, “Since I’m only 35 days away from an election, I said, ‘stuff,’ and not something else, which I know you all figure I would be more apt to say, but we’re 35 days away from an election, so I’m trying to clean up my act a little bit.”
Additionally, the Governor mentioned he would be visiting campus again in the future to see how the bond money would be put to use in a positive light.
“I thought that the Governor’s speech was exceptional, pushing aside any partisanship in favor of focusing on the benefit of Ramapo College,” said senior Chris Gabbett, president of the College Republicans. “I felt that he was impressive, as always, and was more than happy to take time to meet the students that the investments will be benefiting.”
Additional reporting by Nicole Alliegro