WOODLAND PARK, N.J. -- Berkeley College inaugurated its third system-wide president, Michael J. Smith, on the Woodland Park campus on Friday.
Nearly 1,000 family and friends, colleagues, faculty, staff, business and elected officials gathered under a large tent for the ceremony.
After beginning his tenure last June, Smith toured all Berkeley College campuses in New Jersey and New York and the offices of Berkeley College Online -- on his very first day.
He also committed to and completed attending 52 classes in 52 weeks to get a first-hand student experience.
“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,” Smith said. “I consider myself very fortunate to have had this opportunity to learn in this manner.”
In his remarks Friday, Smith 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,” he 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.
Board President Kevin L. Luing 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 of New Jersey Department of Higher Education.
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 Smith.
Local, county and state legislators, as well as other area colleges, also sent proclamations and letters of congratulations.
“From the first time I met Michael, I could see his passion and his commitment to educating the leaders of tomorrow,” said Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark, who presented a borough proclamation.
Renowned New York-based chalk artist Hani Shihada created a portrait of Smith from the 2016 commencement ceremony in honor of the occasion.
Berkeley has campuses in Paramus, Woodland Park, White Plains, Newark, Dover, Woodbridge, Manhattan and Brooklyn.
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