From staff reports
Georgian Court University, Lakewood, has entered into a partnership to open a satellite campus in Flemington, which would make it the only higher-education institution in Hunterdon County.
“My hope is that this raises GCU’s profile and makes us more recognizable as a viable Catholic higher-education provider in the state,” GCU President Joseph R. Marbach said. “This is a great opportunity for us to fill a need. Many of our students want something more faith- and value-based in their lives.”
GCU officials joined Flemington Center Urban Renewal LLC developers and Hunterdon Chamber of Commerce leaders in announcing the partnership Dec. 5 in Flemington. Georgian Court will be the sole provider of college-level educational programs aimed at transfer and non-traditional adult students at the forthcoming Courthouse Square, a 300,000-square-foot mixed-use property. The project is expected to break ground next year, and GCU would likely begin classes in fall 2019, if not before. Courses are set to include traditional classes as well as hybrid online/on-site classes.
“If you look at the makeup of current Georgian Court University population, 60 percent are transfer students,” Marbach said. “It’s a market that we understand and have been able to service well for 20 years. We recognize the need for degree completion.”
Noting GCU’s broadening reach in Monmouth, Middlesex, Mercer, Atlantic and Cumberland Counties via partnerships with local colleges, Marbach said the university’s expansion beyond Lakewood “reflects on our ongoing strategy of meeting students where they are. As part of our Mercy heritage, our mission is to serve the underserved –including those who are geographically underserved by higher education.”
Under the partnership, Courthouse Square – a comprehensive redevelopment project on the historic Union Hotel site, famous for the Lindbergh Trial – will be anchored by Georgian Court University on one end of the property and will feature 230 luxury residential units, a 100-room hotel, restaurants, retail and a medical component with Hunterdon Healthcare.
The mixed-use redevelopment is being led by Jack Cust Jr., managing partner for Flemington Center Urban Renewal.
“The expansion opportunity of Georgian Court University into Hunterdon County addresses several important goals, including New Jersey’s need to build more alliances between business and higher education,” he said. “Plus, GCU’s presence in Flemington will serve students and employers through undergraduate and graduate degree programs in their own backyard.”
Marbach said the university is also in discussions with Hunterdon Medical Center, Flemington, and Raritan Valley Community College, Branchburg, to expand home health care, population health and patient navigation education opportunities.
This endeavor, he said, “reflects the growing need to partner with industry and other higher education providers to provide an accessible and affordable experience. This is the new reality for higher education.”
The growth in nursing and other health care majors mirrors national labor trends: new 10-year employment projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that registered nurse jobs will grow by 437,000 positions through 2026. Overall, the health care sector is expected to add more jobs than any other industry.
“Increasingly, students want high-quality, affordable college experiences that are close to home and work and convenient for their busy lives,” Marbach said.