New Jersey’s colleges and universities are finding ways to help their students cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Rutgers is letting students apply to convert their classes to pass/fail this semester. Monmouth University is offering counseling and helping to replace lost books and computers. Montclair State University gave free dorm rooms to 360 commuter students who lost power in their homes. NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider spoke with NJIT President Dr. Joel Bloom to discuss how is school is grappling with the challenges posed by the storm.
Sandy caused NJIT to shut down for a week. But schedule-wise, Bloom says the school calendar has remained relatively intact even though they have to add classes to make-up for cancellations. Courses at NJIT and Rutgers-Newark are open to students of both schools. Rutgers announced that it would allow students to convert this semester’s classes to a pass/fail option as a result of the storm. Bloom says NJIT would adopt that policy as well.
“We paralleled that pass/fail policy Rutgers initiated so students will have the opportunity to elect as to whether or not they will take a pass fail in courses they’re currently registered for in this semester and we’ve obviously set up counseling opportunities for the students on the academic issues as well as the personal issues.”
NJIT’s infrastructure was left relatively unscathed, says Bloom. “We had some small amount of flooding just from the driving rain but for the most part I walked the campus the first Monday we were back and we were in very good shape.”
New Jersey voters recently approved a $750 billion bond issue to improve the state’s colleges and universities. According to Bloom, NJIT’s share of the bond issue will go directly to renovating and developing a 220,00 square foot building that NJIT acquired a decade ago — the old Central High School.
“We began to renovate it three years ago now and we’re using it for about 13 classrooms. The enrollment continues to grow — we’re near about 10,000 students. So first and foremost is to renovate and develop the remaining four floors in Central High School.”
Proponents of the bond issue argue that New Jersey was undergoing a brain drain and losing to other states in attracting top students. Blooms says that NJIT was working to attract the best and the brightest even before the bond issue by building a residential honors college.
“In that building are 360 residential beds, laboratories, studios, study spaces as well as amenities for food and for exercise. So facilities are a key component of attracting and maintaining among the best and brightest students in New Jersey and beyond.”