Each year, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) recognizes just five lay trustees who have made significant contributions in promoting the community college concept. With great pride, Hudson County Community College (HCCC) announces that Bakari G. Lee, Esq., HCCC Board of Trustees Vice Chair, has been selected as the recipient of the ACCT 2023 Northeast Regional Trustee Leadership Award. The award will be presented at the ACCT Leadership Congress on October 11, 2023 in Las Vegas. As a regional award recipient, Vice Chair Lee is a finalist for ACCT’s national honor, the M. Dale Ensign Trustee Leadership Award. M. Dale Ensign lived a lifetime of service to others, was a trustee at a Wyoming community college for many years, and served as ACCT’s founding Chair and third President.
William J. Netchert, Esq., HCCC Board of Trustees Chair, said that Vice Chair Lee has been a working member of the HCCC Board since 2006. “As Vice Chair, Bakari has been my partner in growing the College and providing our diverse and ever-growing community with excellent instruction in top-of-the-line facilities,” Chairman Netchert stated. “He is held in high esteem by the Board, the HCCC family, and our community, and is truly deserving of this honor.”
Dr. Christopher Reber, HCCC President, related that Vice Chair Lee has diligently advocated accessible, high-quality higher education and experiential learning programs for area residents, especially people of color. “Vice Chair Lee’s experience in community service predates his work as an HCCC Trustee. He has publicly stated that he believes involvement with the community is critically important. He believes in giving back without expecting anything in return,” Dr. Reber said.
Vice Chair Lee credits his late father, a civil rights and community leader who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as the catalyst for his own dedication to community service. As an HCCC Trustee, he is a member of several committees, a frequent presenter at the HCCC Teaching and Learning Symposia on Social Justice in Higher Education, and a founding member of the HCCC President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (PACDEI), among other initiatives.
Vice Chair Lee also served as Chair of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) from 2011 to 2014. During his tenure as NJCCC Chair, the New Jersey Center for Student Success and the Big Idea Project were established, and legislation was passed for the Building Our Future Bond Act, enhanced New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Rewards Scholarship (NJ STARS), and in-county tuition for undocumented students.
Additionally, Vice Chair Lee was the National Chair of the ACCT Board of Directors, playing an influential role in the establishment of student success programs, advocating increased funding and tuition stabilization, and working to ensure equal educational opportunities for all. In that capacity, he created the Student Trustee Advisory Committee; established Trustee Advisory and Constituency Groups (trustees from African American, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native American communities) reporting at board meetings; and led the completion of ACCT’s first strategic plan.
“The entire Hudson County Community College family, and our colleagues and neighbors throughout Hudson County, New Jersey, and the nation, join us in congratulating Bakari Lee on this well-deserved national honor,” Dr. Reber stated.
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About Hudson County Community College
Hudson County Community College serves more than 20,000 credit and non-credit students annually. The College offers nearly 90 degree and certificate programs, including award-winning English as a Second Language; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); Culinary Arts/Hospitality Management; Nursing and Health Professions; and Humanities and Social Sciences. The HCCC Culinary/Hospitality Management program was ranked number six in the U.S. by Best Choice Schools. The College’s School of Continuing Education and Workforce Development offers cutting-edge, industry recognized, stackable credentials in alignment with high-priority workforce needs.
HCCC has partnerships with major four-year colleges and universities in the greater New Jersey-New York area and beyond, accommodating seamless transfer of credits for further undergraduate and graduate education.
The College’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has been recognized with the 2021 Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Northeast Region Equity Award; the “INSIGHT Into Diversity” 2021, 2022, and 2023 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, this year honoring HCCC as one of six community colleges nationally to be named “Top Colleges for Diversity;” and the “INSIGHT Into Diversity” 2022 and 2023 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award. HCCC was a finalist recently for the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) “Advancing Diversity Award of Excellence.” For the second consecutive year, HCCC was selected as one of 20 community colleges in the United States to be named among the “2023 Most Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges” by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) in collaboration with “Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.” The College was one of 22 community colleges in the nation, and the only college in New Jersey, to be recognized by ModernThink LLC and the “Chronicle of Higher Education” as a 2022 and 2023 “Great College to Work For®.” HCCC is one of two colleges in the United States to be named a Top Ten Finalist in all three program categories for the nationally recognized 2023 Bellwether Awards, and received the 2023 Bellwether Award for the College’s cutting-edge “Hudson Scholars” program. The College’s exemplary work in advancing student success has been recognized with 2023 “Leader College” designation by Achieving the Dream, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing community colleges as catalysts for equity and mobility in their communities. HCCC was also presented with the Campus Prevention Network Seal of Prevention by Vector Solutions for demonstrating leadership in digital prevention programming focused on student safety, well-being, and inclusion.