By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
VINELAND – Dr. Terrence Hardee switched jobs Monday (July 1) when Cumberland County College, where he has worked in a leadership position since 2016, merged with Rowan College Gloucester County to form Rowan College South Jersey.
Hardee serves as executive director of workforce and community education at the Cumberland County campus, actually the same position he had with Cumberland CC. It was the first merger of two existing community colleges ever. As one of the highest-ranking African-Americans administrators as part of that change, Hardee said he is looking forward to the experience – for the students and himself.
“The merger will give our county residents greater resources to support their employment needs,” Hardee told Front Runner New Jersey last month. “With the merger both for Cumberland County and Gloucester County residents will have more opportunity to participate in workforce training programs.
“The expanded opportunities will allow our resident to utilized programs on both campuses. How will the merger affect me? I believe the merger will be very positive because it will bring my office more resources and programs to offer to the community,” he added.
Hardee’s role is to provide leadership for developing new relationships with the local and regional business communities, and for maintaining and deepening existing relationships with businesses and organizations serving the unemployed and under-employed.
“I am dedicated to providing the highest quality transfer and workforce education courses, along with adult education, basic skills, and community services,” Hardee said. “As the executive director, I provide leadership in the planning, evaluation, and supervision relating to adult education, non-credit and workforce development, career technical education, community services, and career services.”
Hardee said he sees being a role model an important unwritten part of his role. Diversity is a subject that is close to him. He wrote his doctorate dissertation on the future of civil rights organizations in the 21st century in 2007.
“Being an African-American who served in a leadership position is very important to me,” Hardee said. “It is also very important that I be a positive role model for my students, my family, and my community. Cumberland is a very diverse community, so I do not just represent my family I represent the community.
“As a member of this great community, I wanted to ensure I am always doing my best. Since I relocated to New Jersey in 1996, I have had many positive role models which have helped guide my career. Being a positive role means honesty and integrity must be more than just a cliché, it must be a way of life,” he added.
Hardee focused on various subjects in his interview with Front Runner New Jersey.com. Here are some of the highlights.
FRNJ: How has it been working with the students in Cumberland County? What are their biggest challenges?
Terrence Hardee: Working with the Cumberland County students is great. Each student has their own story, so it is my job to assist them with their dreams. The students are an inspiration to me and my staff. Students come into our offices to learn, but they also teach us about the community and how we can serve them better. I want to see the best for all of our students and they let me know every day that our community future is bright.
Their biggest challenges I see is not the lack of opportunities but the ability of my students to afford their dreams. I believe the biggest challenges is their work/life balance. We are in a time where we have lots of opportunities to get a job but the pay is not always meeting our needs. The worker is spending most of their time working sometimes two and third jobs and less time living. I still believe that their dreams can still be realized once wages can catch up with the economy. My hope is after that complete their job training, their new job will create better wages so families can spend more time together, and enjoy their wonders of life.
FRNJ: This is actually your second stint in Vineland. You worked at Cumberland County College from 2011-2013. What made you return?
Terrence Hardee: One of the major reasons I returned to Cumberland County College was to help led the Workforce Department and grow the training opportunities for the county residents. Workforce Development has always been a passion for me. Every part of higher education and personal development is incorporate within workforce development. Whether a student is taking a traditional path or a non-traditional route everything you do in life leads to the workforce. To know I have an opportunity to share in my student’s career success made my decision very easy to return. I believe we have the greatest students in the state and I wanted to part of some bigger than I am.
FRNJ: You have also worked at Stockton University (2007-2011), Burlington County College (2013-2015) and Union County College (2015-2016). How did those experience shape you for your current job?
Terrence Hardee: Working at some of the other institutions have provided me the opportunity to learn from some of the best people in the state. Each institution I have had the pleasure of working for has taught me different skill which has helped my career. As I reflect on my past, each college has provided me with a new tool for my toolbox. The larger school taught me about supervising large staff, whereas the small school has shown me the importance of being more personable. Now that I am closer to the end than the beginning I truly understand it is all about the relationship we want to have.
FRNJ: Did you always know you wanted to be in education? What led you to this career?
Terrence Hardee: Since I was a sophomore in college I knew I wanted to pursue a career in higher education. My sophomore year I became a resident assistant, and I had 40 residents I work with and they had a great effect on me. Taken that leadership position at an early age, prepared me for my career in higher education. As a resident assistant, I was their peep, mentor, and friend. As a student, the resident assistant position is one of the greatest jobs on a college campus because the life lesson you experience cannot be matched.
FRNJ: Any personal influences? (parents, teachers, etc.)
Terrence Hardee: Throughout my career, there has been numerous personal influence which is hard to just name one. But looking back from my undergraduate years one of the biggest influences on me personally was the president of the college, Dr. Jerry L. Beasley who was the president of Concord University when I was a student. Dr. Beasley served as the president for 22 years. During his tenure, Dr. Beasley as a leader had a great effect on me because he cared so much about the students. He wanted everyone to be successful and he was the first professional I met in college that showed me it was about serving others before yourself. Dr. Beasley was truly a person with honesty and integrity beyond approach.
FRNJ: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Terrence Hardee: The next five years my hope is to continue serving this great community and spending more time with my family. My family has always being a major part of who I am, so the next five years will be no different.
Photo courtesy Rowan College South Jersey