By Naomi Nix, NJ Advance Media for

NEWARK — With conviction in her voice that carried throughout the auditorium, Essex County College president Gale Gibson today declared a new era of excellence for the school.

After being sworn in as the college’s 7th president Gibson gave an inaugural address that celebrated the colleges’s achievements and laid out a hopeful vision for the future.

“As my grandmother would say, you are placed in a position for a reason,” she said. “And I believe I am placed in Newark as the President of Essex County College to continue the greatness of this college.”

Gibson spoke before a crowd of about 300 in the school’s gymnasium, saying the school was pursuing the “path to exceed expectations.”

She bragged about various student achievements, including those who went on to attend Ivy League colleges or competed in the olympics.

“The great work we do at Essex County College is a well-kept secret, but it shouldn’t be,” she said.

Gibson also highlighted several of her plans and current initiatives for the college including increasing study abroad options, shifting more courses online and starting to award credits for life or work experiences.

“You can clap for that one.” she told the audience.

Still the school faces challenges. Even after the college’s accreditation was renewed in 2013, the graduation rate hovers below 10 percent, according to Gibson.

To that end, Gibson said, she plans to bring more college readiness coursework to Newark high school students to curb the share of students who need to take remedial classes in college.

Recently, 14 students from East Side High School graduated with the high school diplomas and associate degrees from Essex County College, she said.


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