The year 2011 will be a significant one for Berkeley College, not only because of all we plan to accomplish through our strategic planning initiatives, but also because the year 2011 marks the 80th anniversary of our ever-expanding teaching and learning community.
The world has evolved dramatically since our founding in 1931. Changes in society and advancements in technology have altered every aspect of our lives. Nevertheless, I am proud to say that our mission has remained constant. Berkeley has built a legacy of educational leadership, preparing our students well for the ever-evolving demands of the workplace.
Throughout the coming year, we will be introducing the Berkeley community to that legacy of leadership through a series of special events, interactive exhibits and videos that highlight how our institution became the thriving, 21st century educational community that it is.
It was 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression, when Alyea M. Brick established Berkeley as a private institute dedicated to training women for executive secretarial careers. Just four years later, Berkeley established a two-year course, “Academic–Secretarial for College Credit.” Word of the value of a Berkeley education spread quickly, and in 1936, our institution opened a second location in New York City, right next to Grand Central Station. During the 1940s, as men went off to war, when women were needed in the workplace in unprecedented numbers, Berkeley was there to help them succeed.
The post-war years were ones of rapid transformation for our nation and the world. As computers and other technological advances entered the workplace, the pace of doing business increased dramatically. Society was responding just as rapidly, opening doors and increasing opportunities for women and minorities.
As it has done throughout its history, Berkeley took action, too. In 1966, the Berkeley Schools of Westchester, East Orange and New York City were among the first to be accredited as two-year business schools by the Accrediting Commission for Business Schools. Throughout the tumultuous years of the 1960s and 1970s, Berkeley resolutely pursued its educational mission, expanding its campuses and enriching its curriculum to reflect the needs of each new era. In 1968, the Berkeley School of East Orange became the first in the state of New Jersey to become a Junior College of Business. Berkeley took another historic step in 1977 by opening enrollment to men. In 1980, the Berkeley School in Garret Mountain became the first proprietary school in New Jersey to be licensed as a college and authorized to award the Associate in Applied Science Degree. On December 12, 1983, Middles States granted full accreditation to the Garret Mountain Campus.
The 1990s brought further advancements in technology that forever altered the academic landscape. With the rapid proliferation of the Internet, the world was literally at our fingertips. How we learn and what we teach had modified forever – and the skills and subjects needed to master this new environment had changed as well. Once again, Berkeley was there, poised to reinvent the academic environment in ways that steered our students toward success.
Today, Berkeley College offers two and four year degrees and certificate programs in areas of study that, in many cases, did not exist in 1931. Berkeley College is widely known for innovations in education that include internship and mentoring programs, distance learning and community service partnerships.
In 2010, it is important to mention that we have made a significant strategic difference in our journey into the future with the establishment of the Office of Student Success, the formation of the financial literacy team, the expansion of the readmissions department, the opening of the Brooklyn Campus, the development of our MBA program and the fully developed Student Orientation online that was released two weeks before the term started.
As we launch our 80th anniversary celebration, I invite you to explore the history of our institution and consider the progress that our nation and our college have made. Our theme for the year is Berkeley College – Changing Lives for 80 Years - 1931-2011, reflecting the past and the present.
This is your opportunity to share your story - “How Berkeley College Has Changed My Life” - as a student, alumnus, faculty member, associate, business or community member. By clicking on the link to the left of this letter, you will add your story to the history of Berkeley College. I look forward to hearing from you.
Dario A. Cortes, PhD