Montclair State University and Bloomfield College announce merger plans

BLOOMFIELD / MONTCLAIR, NJ — Bloomfield College and Montclair State University announced on Oct. 26 that the presidents of each institution have been authorized by their boards of trustees to sign an agreement and plan of merger. This document sets forth the terms and conditions under which the two institutions will merge, and advances plans to create “Bloomfield College of Montclair State University.”

Bloomfield College will continue to operate independently, but in close collaboration with Montclair State University, through the 2022-2023 academic year and until it is officially part of the university. The goal is for the merger to be completed on or before June 30, 2023.

Bloomfield students enrolled at the time of the merger will be able to continue their education without interruption and without additional costs. In addition, Montclair State University will make every effort to provide employment opportunities for Bloomfield College’s current employees.

Bloomfield College President Marcheta P. Evans shared her enthusiasm and her confidence in MSU’s commitment to Bloomfield College and maintaining its mission, legacy and name. “Bloomfield College of Montclair State University will support and serve our current and future students by providing a transformative educational experience with access to the university’s abundant resources,” Evans said.

According to MSU President Jonathan Koppell, the university intends for the college to continue to offer a transformative education with an emphasis on first-generation students from diverse backgrounds, empowering them to attain academic, personal and professional excellence in a multicultural and global society.

“Students enrolled at Bloomfield College will benefit from a distinctive educational environment offering a supportive, small college experience enhanced by the resources of a comprehensive public research university,” Koppell said. “This partnership could serve as a new national model for how institutions with similar missions can innovate through integration and become partners in ensuring student success instead of competitors.”

The merger agreement, approved by both boards, sets the stage for a series of reviews and approvals by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, and other accreditors and regulators, as well as action by the state Legislature. Over the next several months, the two institutions will continue to address the many outstanding details and develop comprehensive plans to ensure a smooth transition.

Back in October 2021, Bloomfield College publicly announced it was 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 81 percent of Bloomfield College students are people of color, nearly 70 percent are Pell Grant eligible and the median family income is below $33,000. 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 received numerous inquiries from interested institutions but the most promising came from nearby Montclair State University. 

“The missions of both institutions are closely aligned,” Bloomfield board Chairperson Vernon M. Endo said. “It was clear that Montclair is as committed as we are to providing traditionally underserved students access to high-quality educational experiences and a pathway to social and economic advancement.”

“I applaud President Evans and President Koppell for their innovative vision in this endeavor,” MSU board Chairperson Francis M. Cuss said. “Together, we will ensure generations of students will change the trajectory of their lives in supportive academic communities filled with experiential learning opportunities. This partnership will bring the best of both institutions to more students, which can only be seen as a win for the state of New Jersey.”

News of the merger was praised by several New Jersey legislators.

“I am a firm believer that access to high-quality education can change the trajectory and outcomes of everyone’s life. It is wonderful to see two institutions that are national leaders in driving social mobility for the students they serve come together to further ensure student success,” Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz said. “Students who attend both Bloomfield and Montclair are making an investment in themselves that they hope will change the course of their lives and, by joining in this new partnership, the schools are making that investment that much more impactful.”

“This partnership is a critical enhancement to the higher education ecosystem in New Jersey,” Senate President Pro Tempore and Senate Higher Education Committee Chairperson Sandra B. Cunningham said. “I am proud to support the vision of two presidents who are coming together to ensure students from underserved populations will have the opportunity to truly change the trajectory of their lives for generations to come.”

“I could not be more pleased that two minority-serving institutions are working together in this manner. Montclair State University is New Jersey’s largest Hispanic-serving institution and Bloomfield College is the state’s lone four-year predominantly black institution,” Assemblywoman and Assembly Higher Education Committee Chairperson Mila Jasey said. “The outstanding leadership of Presidents Marcheta Evans and Jonathan Koppell has crafted creative ideas and put generous state funding approved by the Legislature to good use, and the result is an innovative partnership. Their tireless efforts to make this a reality are an inspiration to the higher education landscape in New Jersey, and my heartfelt and sincere congratulations go to each of these venerable institutions and their tremendous leaders.”

“I am thrilled to see two pillars of Essex County come together to ensure the success of students,” Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said. “This county is a wonderful place to live, work and go to school, and this new partnership between Bloomfield College and Montclair State University will only make our community stronger.”

“This partnership is about investing in our young people, and continuing to provide life-changing educational opportunities for students who want to make a difference in the world,” Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake said. “I am proud to see two institutions stay true to the missions that have educated generations of students, and I applaud Presidents Evans and Koppell for their forward-looking leadership in making this new educational model a reality.”