Bloomfield College seeks major institutional and financial support, or it may close

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Bloomfield College recently announced it is seeking strategic partnerships and philanthropic support from the higher education and corporate communities to enable the four-year institution to continue its mission of creating educational pathways that are often not otherwise available for minority and low-income students. More than 85 percent of Bloomfield College students are people of color, nearly 71 percent are Pell Grant eligible and the median family income is below $32,000. Bloomfield College is the only four-year college in New Jersey recognized as a predominantly black institution, Hispanic-serving institution and minority-serving institution.

Bloomfield College, which was founded in 1868, is in a difficult financial situation after declines in enrollment, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Because tuition is the college’s primary source of revenue, the reduction in enrollment has resulted in severe financial challenges that are expected to last for years to come.

“The board of trustees and Bloomfield College’s administration are exploring all options to support our students and remain open in order to continue the college’s core mission. We seek institutions or philanthropists that share the values around our mission and will see us as a valuable partner,” board Chairperson Vernon M. Endo said.

According to the college, it is actively exploring solutions and welcomes inquiries from potential strategic partners, including higher education institutions and corporations. Bloomfield College also is urgently seeking expanded philanthropic support from foundations and philanthropists who want to make an impact on underserved student populations and diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education. 

“At Bloomfield College, we change the future for our students, many of whom did not traditionally see college as their future,” college President Marcheta P. Evans said. “More than half of our students are the first in their families to attend college. Most of our students work multiple jobs while studying and face much adversity. Segments of our student population suffer from food insecurity or homelessness, living in our residence halls year-round. Our college strongly supports its students as individuals and gives them pathways not otherwise available to them.”

Bloomfield College is nationally ranked for the impressive social mobility achieved by its graduates. The U.S. News & World Report 2022 Best Colleges listings of “top national liberal arts colleges” ranked Bloomfield College the highest in New Jersey for social mobility and at No. 27 nationally; the highest in the state for campus ethnic diversity and at No. 25 nationally; and the highest in the state in economic diversity, No. 1 in the Northeast and No. 13 nationally, among 223 national liberal arts institutions in the country. The school boasts vibrant fields of study, including nationally recognized undergraduate programs in nursing and creative arts and technology.

Bloomfield College advances not just the lives of its students, but also their families. After graduation, many of its students and their families move from the bottom economic quintile to the second economic quintile. 

“We are unique in how we reach and support our students by offering a personalized approach to a quality education,” Evans said. “And, everyone benefits from the contributions our graduates make within their communities and to our larger society.”

Members of the college community are not the only ones alarmed by the current state of the college’s finances and the possibility that the college could close.

“Bloomfield College makes up a critical part of our township DNA and we are all deeply saddened and concerned to see the recent headlines citing their financial troubles,” Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia said. “Their 153 year-long history of academic excellence is an asset to all of us. Bloomfield College is one of the most diverse colleges in the region and has helped so many students achieve their dreams. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made it increasingly difficult financially for small private colleges across the nation. I have personally reached out to President Evans to offer our support. We will do whatever we can to ensure that the college will continue to serve our community.”

Darryl Jeffries, president of the Oranges & Maplewood chapter of the NAACP, which also covers Bloomfield, said saving Bloomfield College is a moral imperative.

“We cannot allow this institution of higher learning serving majority low- to moderate-income black and Hispanic students to suffer the fate of nearby Upsala College in East Orange, which closed its doors in 1996,” Jeffries said. “It would be tantamount to systemic injustice emblematic of longstanding disparities in higher education. Dr. Evans is on a mission to create pathways of opportunity for students from underserved communities. Dr. Evans in her short tenure is on a trajectory to achieve an enviable and rising graduation rate for her students.

“When Upsala College closed its doors the student population had become predominantly black and Hispanic. It’s impact was devastating to the East Orange community,” Jeffries continued, adding that Bloomfield College is one of only two institutions of higher learning located in the 11 catchment communities represented by his NAACP branch; the other is Seton Hall University. “At this moment of critical inertia, we will work to help marshal the resources to avert what potentially could be a disastrous fate for this important hub of higher learning. We will do what we must to help keep the good ship Bloomfield College afloat. The rising tide lifts all boats! Let us, collectively, as community partners — corporate, foundational, nonprofit and elected leadership — be the rising tide to lift Bloomfield College back to the calm waters of economic solvency in order that it may continue on its important mission to be a beacon of opportunity and advancement for students of color.”

In addition to announcing Bloomfield College’s financial woes to the larger community, Evans also addressed students, faculty and staff at a town hall meeting held on the Bloomfield campus. 

“By publicly announcing our situation, we hope to attract the attention of potential partners and major philanthropic donors who are passionate about making an impact on advancing opportunities for underserved student populations,” Evans told the college community. “We are committed to doing all we can, as quickly as possible, to find a solution.”

Bloomfield College’s leadership team encourages prospective partner institutions to visit to learn more about the college and the value in partnering with the institution.