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Montclair Team Leads Advocacy for Equitable Funding for the University

President, students, faculty and staff from Montclair and Bloomfield campuses take their requests directly to state leaders in Trenton

Posted in: Homepage News, University

A state senator talks to a group of students, faculty and staff.

Faculty, staff and students joined Montclair State University President Jonathan Koppell and Bloomfield College of Montclair State University Chancellor Marcheta Evans to request more funding for the University during Montclair and Bloomfield Day at the Capitol 2024 in Trenton on Thursday.

The group visited the State House Annex to talk with state senators and assembly members and advocate for fair and equitable funding for the University before Koppell testified before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, where he outlined the success Montclair and Bloomfield have in improving social mobility and helping students achieve the American Dream.

“The good news is, the merger is going spectacularly well,” Koppell testified, explaining details of the regulatory environment and the savings achieved by refinancing Bloomfield debt using Montclair’s superior debt rating. “…We’re showing how you can create opportunities for students at lower cost and greater efficiency through this integration. However, what we’re also seeing is what I will call the complexity with which New Jersey spends money on higher education that stands in the way of realizing all of the benefits.”

As an example, Koppell noted the large variation in how much state funding per student higher education institutions receive. “The range of investment per student is from $3,200 to $9,000 per student,” he said, adding, “I’m not excited about the fact that the bottom of that range is Montclair State University.”

While Koppell acknowledged that universities should not receive the same per student funding, “there should be some transparency and some rationale to that,” he said. Noting that the investment per student at Bloomfield College dropped when it merged with Montclair because of how the state funds independent colleges and public institutions, Koppell said, “I don’t think any person would say that is a rational formula.”

Fully integrating Bloomfield into Montclair will result in “greater efficiency, getting greater outcomes for New Jersey students” but also provides the state “an opportunity, frankly, to address some of the structural issues” of state funding, Koppell said.

Before discussing the Montclair and Bloomfield merger, Koppell reminded committee members that “the most prosperous era in American history” – in the 1950s and 1960s, when the economy was booming – “occurred because of the vast expansion of access to higher education facilitated by the GI Bill and investment in public education. So, the return on investment to the people of this country in higher education has always been outstanding and continues to be so.”

While some students went to advocate on behalf of the University, others, such as Film and Television major Alex Greaney, were there as student journalists – covering the day for Montclair’s News Lab. It was the first time Greaney returned to see “government in action” since middle school. While a bit intimidating, “I found the process to be fascinating, especially since I just finished up a teacher shortage piece for News Lab a week ago,” he said. “Going to the heart of New Jersey to see how things are done is fascinating, even if some might find it boring and drawn out.”

Initially scheduled for May 2, Montclair and Bloomfield Day at the Capitol 2024 was postponed due to a cancellation of all State committee meetings for the funeral of Congressman Donald Payne Jr. For those unable to travel to Trenton, there is still an opportunity to support equitable higher education funding for Montclair and Bloomfield by visiting and customizing an email to send to your representatives.

Photo Gallery

A group of people walk together.
A group of students and administrators head to the New Jersey State House to talk to lawmakers about fair and equitable funding on Thursday, May 9, 2024.
A student and legislator talk in the hallway surrounded by people and a camera with a microphone.
Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly (D-35) talks to students and administrators from the University’s Montclair and Bloomfield campuses.
Three young men and a legislator pose for a picture.
Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly (D-35), second from left, with Bloomfield College of Montclair State University students Tyrese Fletcher-Hewlett, Tommie Lucas and Rimari Rankin.
Two men shake hands as a woman in a Red Hawk Day t-shirt looks on.
State Senator Joseph P. Cryan (D-20) welcomes Rimari Rankin, incoming SGA President of Bloomfield College of Montclair State University, to the State House.
Two men smile in a hallway.
Montclair State University President Jonathan Koppell shares a moment with State Senator Joseph P. Cryan (D-20).
A student talks to a state senator.
Bloomfield College of Montclair State University’s incoming SGA President Rimari Rankin, a Video Game Design major, talks with State Senator Joseph P. Cryan (D-20).
A woman wearing a Red Haw Pride t-shirt listens to a state senator.
Montclair State University Senior Eliza Andrus listens to State Senator Joseph P. Cryan.
A group listens to a budget hearing.
President Jonathan Koppell, front row, third from right, and others from Montclair State University listen during the budget hearing.
Students attend a budget hearing.
From left, Celeste Tam, a graduate Music Therapy student, Jeanelle Wheeler, global programs associate with the Feliciano School of Business and Tommie Lucas, a Game Design major at Bloomfield College of Montclair State University, await a Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing in Trenton.
A woman standing in the back takes notes.
Dani Mazariegos, a Journalism major, covers the budget hearing for Montclair News Lab.
Alex Greaney at the camera.
Film and Television major Alex Greaney was there to capture the day’s events for Montclair News Lab.
A woman in a Red Haw Pride t-shirt stands in the back of the hearing room.
Montclair State University senior Eliza Andrus, center, listens at the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing.
Student journalists cover what a state senator has to say.
Journalism and Digital Media major Dani Mazariegos, with microphone, and Film and Television major Eric Remo, center with camera, cover the group’s discussion with State Senator Joseph P. Cryan (D-20).
A packed hearing room.
A packed hearing room.
A man and a woman hold up their Red Hawk Day t-shirts.
Ben Kalscheur, director for Sustainability, and Ishtar Bernal, a senior Public Health major, hold up their Red Hawk Day T-shirts.

Story by Sylvia Martinez. Photos by John J. LaRosa for Montclair State University.