Welcome Bloomfield College alumni! On July 1, Bloomfield College officially became a part of Montclair State University and was renamed Bloomfield College of Montclair State University.
This historic merger followed a series of reviews by several authorities, including the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, as well as the passage of enabling legislation that sanctioned the merger of the two New Jersey institutions. It opens a new chapter for students – as well as for alumni. Importantly for the minority-majority student population at Bloomfield, the merger allows for Bloomfield students to complete their education without interruption while benefiting from Montclair’s lower tuition and fees and the resources of Montclair State University, the second largest public research university in the state.
For Bloomfield alumni, it means they are now part of the Montclair network and have access to the many benefits and resources available to a dynamic community of more than 145,000 alumni.
As traditions and histories of both institutions are joined, leadership sees opportunities for collaboration that will benefit students and alumni at both campuses. The Montclair Office of Alumni Engagement and the Bloomfield College Alumni Association (BCAA) have held a first meeting and are eager to collaborate and do great things together.
“We are thrilled to welcome Bloomfield alumni into our community,” says Jeanne Marano, assistant vice president for annual giving and alumni engagement. “We are working closely with the Bloomfield College Alumni Association, and anticipate a broadening of alumni events and activities, to which Bloomfield alumni will be invited – as well as providing Bloomfield alumni with access to Montclair’s robust alumni resources.”
MONTCLAIRconnect, the online portal for alumni, is one such example of resources open to both Montclair and Bloomfield alumni. Through its alumni directory, alumni from both campus locations can search for connections to expand their network. Searching by major, graduation year, campus involvements, workplaces and so much more is easily accessible within the community. Alumni can customize their profile and share their expertise, start a discussion about issues of interest, engage as a volunteer, build professional skills through workshops and webinars and join networking groups based on education, interest and affinity.
BCAA President Maurice Lyle ’09 is eager to share information about MONTCLAIRconnect and other newly available resources and benefits for Bloomfield alumni and students.
“The merger has opened many new opportunities to our Bloomfield community,” says Lyle. “When seeking talented professionals to participate on our alumni panels, the BCAA can now additionally identify and invite Montclair alumni to serve as panelists, culminating in access to an expanded network with exposure to a greater number of employers for our students.”
When Lyle became president of the BCAA in December 2021, the newly appointed Board shared its intention to engage alumni in discussions about creating new student-centric connections between alumni and the student body. The new Board swiftly moved forward with new initiatives and has been highly successful in accomplishing its student-centric goals. Future plans on the horizon appear to be just as engaging and hold the promise of enhancing alumni networks at both campuses.
We had a chance to connect with the BCAA president to learn more about his academic journey at Bloomfield, his strong interest in offering students support while they are still in college, and what he and the BCAA Board envision for the future of the BCAA as a component organization of Montclair State University. Below are his responses.
Q.What made you choose Bloomfield College for your college journey?
A. My mom guided me to Bloomfield, and she and my grandmother have been a guiding force throughout my life and career. As a first-generation college student, I did not know enough to properly plan for college. I applied to and was accepted to several out-of-state schools, but my mother was reluctant to send me off without adequate preparation. She was more comfortable with my being close by as a means to help me navigate this new world I was about to enter. She suggested I attend Bloomfield’s Instant Decision Day that she saw advertised in the local newspaper, and, with the clipping in hand, drove me from our home in Newark to the Bloomfield campus where I was accepted that day. It would soon become my second home.
Q. What memories of your time at Bloomfield stand out most?
A. The friendships that I made stand out the most. Especially my lifelong friendship with Elijah Bell, a 2007 grad who passed away last year of complications from a 2016 car accident. He was one of my best friends in a group of five that I met at Bloomfield. We all lived within a three-, four-minute walk from each other and had never met. When I think about Elijah, our friendship and his loss, it brings memories of my father who passed while I was in college. When alive, my father told me that the friendships I would make at Bloomfield would become lifetime friendships. Though he never went to college, he expressed this with tremendous confidence, and he turned out to be right. That close circle of friends has continued over my lifetime. I cherish all the great experiences I had with friends at Bloomfield and plan to share those special memories with my daughter and other children yet to come. And, I’ll tell them the same as my father told me – the relationships you foster in college will be with you for life.
Another fond memory is the deep support I received from the former Dean of Students, Dr. Patrick Lamy. When my father passed away, he picked me up at the Student Center and took me to lunch. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, he was looking out for me and reaching out to show his concern. In that conversation, he opened up my thinking about my future possibilities. And I was not alone in receiving this support. Many graduates have similar stories in regards to Dr. Lamy and other College members who helped us on our life’s journey. Even a decade later, Dr. Lamy visited me in my office, but now I was a finance manager and he was still showing his support and checking in on me long after I had graduated the halls of Bloomfield College. For that, I am forever grateful.
Q. Tell us about your career path. What impact do you believe Bloomfield has had on your life and career?
A. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Bloomfield College, and today, I serve as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management on Park Avenue in New York City, where I build customized values-based financial plans for a select group of highly successful entertainers, families, professionals and business owners. Previously, I served as a financial service representative at MassMutual, and also served 10 years as a finance manager at Hudson Auto Group. Specific credentials I’ve earned include the Series 7 and Series 66 FINRA Registrations, the Life licenses and the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠ (CRPC®) designation.
Distinctly rewarding is my volunteer work with Community Options, an organization that supports individuals with intellectual disabilities, and the nonprofit Powerful Progress whose mission is to build intergenerational wealth by reducing systemic inequities. My overall life and career experiences have made philanthropy and community important parts of my life.
I absolutely credit my Bloomfield College experience with bestowing on me the foundational leadership skills that prepared me for a successful career. While a student, I played a leadership role in Versatile Entertainment, a performing arts-driven student organization that established me as a student leader on campus and led the way to my being elected and serving as Student Government President from 2005-2006. I also became a member of the Bloomfield College Lambda Chi chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. (ΦΒΣ), a prestigious historically African American fraternity founded more than 100 years ago in Washington, D.C. Through all these campus involvement experiences, I had to speak with different people in student government, sit in on trustee meetings, and meet with the president and department heads. These leadership experiences taught me how to make myself visible, how to network and how to market myself. Today, I apply all these relationship-building skills in my professional life. As my clients’ financial advisor, I build financial plans for their lives, and I get to know their families. I build a strong relationship with them, and many of these relationships lead to friendships. It’s a lifetime commitment, and it was at Bloomfield that I learned the importance of building relationships.
Q. What motivates you to stay involved with your alma mater?
A. I am grateful for the leadership experiences and skills I gained as a student at my alma mater. Giving back to current Bloomfield students is very fulfilling for me. As a young professional, it took me a long while to learn my way, and if I can help students early on, so they don’t need to navigate a path on their own, my own life has come full circle.
When I was first asked to consider throwing my hat in the ring to serve as the Alumni Association president, I thought back to my early life as a young person facing various life struggles and how going to college was an unknown experience. I considered the number of Bloomfield students who come to the College from that same circumstance and that, by virtue of sharing this similar life experience, I might connect with them and be in a position to extend my network to them to help build bridges for their careers, especially for those interested in Wall Street and the financial industry.
For me, it’s about mentoring students to learn how to reach their goals quicker. Sharing my knowledge, and seeing the impact it can have, motivates me to have a hands-on approach with students and to meet them where they are, to support them toward their careers. I always emphasize that their focus needs to extend beyond just landing the first job, but that it’s vital to develop a full life plan. I have seen what broadening their awareness of all the opportunities and potential paths available to them for a successful life can do. This is how I am able to give back to the institution that supported me, and provided me with so much.
Q. As BCAA president, what can you tell us about the BCAA Board’s vision under the newly created Bloomfield College of Montclair State University?
A. Since electing our new Alumni Board in December 2021, the BCAA has been highly successful in partnering with the College community to create new opportunities to help current students take the necessary steps in planning for rewarding careers after college. Among our activities have been alumni panel discussions focused on individual majors where students learn how to network, what alumni did to land internships while still in school, the progression of what they should be doing during summers to further advance their qualifications, the overall value of their degree — and so much more. We especially encourage students to take full advantage of the resources that are already available to them on campus at no additional cost.
The BCAA has established itself as a highly accessible resource on the Bloomfield campus, and as we integrate with Montclair State University as one of its alumni committee groups, we want to see our Alumni Board and members continue to grow and strengthen partnerships with the College and University communities that serve to help students have a better life. This includes bringing students and departments with important resources together so that students see the value in attending activities such as career fairs where they can explore job opportunities.
It is very exciting to know we have so many new resources to tap into, including 145,000 new alumni, and enhanced communication and relationship-building methods such as MONTCLAIRconnect, the University’s online portal for alumni.
While Bloomfield will be maintaining its long cherished close-knit campus experience, we fully welcome and plan to take advantage of the big campus resources Montclair offers. Our teams have met, and through our integration, we plan to develop and maintain an aligned vision that serves both campus communities equitably.
Q.Are there specific new opportunities for Bloomfield alumni on the horizon?
A.Homecoming 2023 is scheduled on the Montclair campus on Saturday, September 30, and all Bloomfield College alumni are invited to join in this event to be officially welcomed. It will be a great opportunity to learn about new alumni networks open to the Bloomfield community and to meet with alumni affinity group organizations they may wish to become involved in. I encourage all our Bloomfield alumni across all class years, and especially our most recent alumni, to attend this fall event and become participants as well as leaders in the BCAA as we begin fresh, anew, and integrate with Montclair alumni and the multitude of newly accessible resources. [Please register at the Homecoming Registration link to attend.]
Q. When and where is the next alumni event/activity?
A. The BCAA Board is already solidifying its calendar of events for the upcoming year. Among the activities will be new alumni and expert panels, holistic mental health awareness programming for both students and alumni, and financial literacy presentations and discussions stemming from the basics, such as how to effectively manage credit cards, to home-buying seminars.
The BCAA event calendar and its many opportunities are posted and continually updated on its social media channels. We’ll be creating a group in MONTCLAIRconnect and you will receive event invitations via email. Come and get to know us – and we want to get to know you!
Q. What do you want to say to Bloomfield alumni who want to get involved in supporting student needs?+
A. Thank you! Today’s BCAA is in the early stages of building a synergy and bond with Montclair that is poised to be powerfully instrumental in engaging and advancing support for both alumni and students, so this is the perfect time to get involved.
The first step is to join the BCAA. Meetings are held the first Monday of every month on the Bloomfield campus in the Shelby Art Room, located in the College Library. There is also an option to meet virtually via Zoom. To receive the meeting link, virtual attendees complete an online registration that is posted and available by joining any of the social media groups [Facebook Group, LinkedIn Group]. The Zoom link is emailed just prior to the meeting date.
Come out and be a part of our active and welcoming community. You will touch students’ lives, engage in new networks, and the rewards you will encounter are far-reaching – and may surprise you!
Lastly, if your life does not permit you to contribute your time and talent, please consider giving financially during BCAA Giving Days that provide for life-changing student scholarships. Check your inbox for Giving Day announcements.
Newly-named Chancellor of Bloomfield College of Montclair State University, Marcheta P. Evans, PhD, who served as president of Bloomfield from June 1, 2019, through June 30, 2023, shares: “We are very excited following our first meeting with the Montclair alumni engagement team. There are so many opportunities that will be opening for Bloomfield alumni and our current students. This has to be one of the best moments in the history of Bloomfield College for alumni to become involved with their alma mater.”
“Join in,” adds Evans, addressing Bloomfield alumni. “I look forward to seeing many of you at Homecoming on the Montclair campus on September 30th! And I am looking forward to soon sharing our plans for an alumni event on the Bloomfield campus in the spring. Stay tuned, and I hope to see you soon!”
To learn more about the Bloomfield College Alumni Association contact Briana Curtis, Associate Director of Alumni Engagement, firstname.lastname@example.org. To make a gift to support its mission, visit bloomfield.edu/alumni/make-gift.