College Welcomes New Wrestling Coach BJ Young

CRANFORD – Union County College has hired BJ Young, of Jackson, as our new wrestling head coach. For the past five years, he has served as the assistant wrestling coach at his alma mater, Jackson Memorial High School. He has successfully helped build the program for which he set many records. When he is not training athletes in the technique and strategy of wrestling, you can find him competing as a professional MMA fighter.

BJ attended Newberry College, a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II institution from which he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physical education leisure services. In his four years at Newberry, he was a four-time national qualifier, a three-time NCAA All American, a two-time NCAA National Finalist, and holds the record for 143 all-time wins for the College.

While attending Newberry, BJ began his coaching experience during his internship in 2015. At the same time, he coached youth and high school students at an elite wrestling club in New Jersey, of which many went on to become state champions.

In addition to the accolades he received while wrestling, BJ has been inducted into the following: the 2016 New Jersey Shore Conference Wrestling Hall of Fame for his individual accomplishments, the 2018 Jackson Memorial Hall of Fame, and to the 2019 NJ Shore Conference Wrestling Hall of Fame for the success of the 2007 Jackson Memorial High School team.

“BJ is an excellent addition to our coaching staff, and he is working on building our team for winter 2022 competition,” stated Union’s Dean of College Life Tammy Smith. “BJ is dedicated to the sport and in developing student-athletes who are successful on the mat and in the classroom.”
For more information on Union’s wrestling program, contact Union County College Director of Athletics Shawn Noel at (908) 709-7495 or shawn.noel@ucc.edu.

College Welcomes Non-Traditional Students, Those with Credits and No Degree

Union students in the Academic Learning Center at the Cranford campus.

CRANFORD – In support of the State’s 65 by 25 initiative, for 65% of adults to have earned a post-secondary credential by 2025, Union County College reminds residents that registration for summer and fall classes is open now. There is an increasing demand for a skilled labor workforce who have post-secondary credentials, and currently, less than 50% of adults in Union County have a college degree. Individuals who have never attended college or those who have credits but no degree are encouraged to enroll.

Union County College offers affordable tuition, with no increase for the 2021-2022 school year. This is the second year in row with no increase. For those who have college credits, Union accepts transfer credits. On top of the affordable tuition, eligible students may attend the College tuition free. Those who enroll in at least 6 credits and have an adjusted gross income of $0-$65,000 may be eligible for New Jersey’s Community College Opportunity Grant. There is no separate application for this grant. Students who complete the FAFSA or NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application are automatically considered.

The College offers a flexible array of scheduling options. Students build a schedule that works for their needs. Classes are offered face to face on campus, in Cranford, Elizabeth, and Plainfield, with the Scotch Plains campus re-opening in the fall; remote live; and online. The College offers more than 60 programs of study including supply chain, cybersecurity, business, criminal justice, education, and more. Of that, currently 17 programs are offered completely online.

Students are encouraged to register now to create their ideal schedule. Payment for fall classes is not due until August 5. Fall classes start on Wednesday, September 1. If you need assistance, our student services centers are open in Cranford, Elizabeth, and Plainfield. For those who are unable to visit campus, we also offer remote student services. The application to Union, link for remote student services, and more information can be found at www.ucc.edu/fall.

“We know there are many adults in Union County who want or need to pursue a college degree: to change careers, to be considered for a promotion, or whatever your reason may be. Union County College is here to help you. We are an affordable, flexible option right in your own backyard. We provide excellent support to our students: our goal is to help you earn your degree. Every member of our faculty and staff is laser focused on student success,” stated Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.

For more information and to search for classes and register, please visit www.ucc.edu/fall or call 908-709-7000.

Women’s Basketball Team Named NJCAA Region Champions for Fourth Consecutive Year

Union County College women’s basketball team at the Region 19 Championship game.

CRANFORD – Union County College’s women’s basketball team won the title of National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 19 Champions for a fourth consecutive year. For the title, the Lady Owls defeated Lackawanna College, 73-42 on April 3, 2021.

For a second year, sophomore Brianna Mills was named the Tournament MVP. Head coach Marbely Montas, a Union alumna from the class of 2007, was named Region 19 Coach of the Year for a fourth time. With this win, the Lady Owls now advance to compete against Region 20 champion Potomac State College of Keyser, WV in the East A District Championship. This game will be played on April 10 at 3pm at Raritan Valley Community College. The winner of this game advances to the NJCAA National Championship held from April 20-24.

“We are very proud of the Lady Owls for once again winning the title of NJCAA Region 19 Champions,” stated Union President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin. “This past year has been particularly difficult for our student-athletes due to delays and restrictions from COVID-19. These young women have worked hard to remain focused on their athletic and academic goals and their efforts have paid off. We wish them luck in their next game.”

For more information on the athletics programs at Union, visit www.unionowls.com

Union County College Graduates Now Attending Elite Four-Year Colleges

Union graduates Beianka Tomlinson, Kamilla Kocsis, and Vasiliki “Vas” Vlastaras.

CRANFORD – Union County College is proud to announce that three of the College’s spring 2020 graduates are continuing their educations at prestigious colleges and universities. Kamilla Kocsis is attending Dartmouth College, Beianka Tomlinson is attending Princeton University, and Vasiliki “Vas” Vlastaras is attending Georgetown University.

While each of these three graduates had their own journey, there is a common thread: they all wanted to start their college experience at an affordable school that provided a high-quality education and was close to home. Once at Union, to further grow, they sought out engagement and leadership opportunities through their involvement with student clubs, American Honors, and the honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK).

Kamilla Kocsis, of Rahway, has continued her studies at Dartmouth College with a major in international relations. At Union, Kamilla was an American Honors student with a 4.0 GPA. She served as president of the College’s Model United Nations Club, was a Cranford Senator for the Student Government Association (SGA), and served as Co-VP of Scholarship for Phi Kappa Theta, the international honor society for two-year colleges. In 2020, Kamilla was named a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholar. This prestigious award includes up to $40,000 per year in financial support to attend a four-year college or university. Kamilla was selected as one of only 50 recipients out of almost 1,500 applicants.

Beianka Tomlinson was accepted as one of only 13 transfer students admitted to Princeton University for the fall 2020 semester. Beianka graduated from Union with a 4.0 GPA and her Associate in Science degree in chemistry. While attending Union, she was an American Honors student, served as SGA President, and was a member of PTK. Beianka also served as a tutor in the College’s Academic Learning Center (ALC) which provides free peer-to-peer tutoring to students. At Princeton, Beianka is majoring in chemistry. She hopes to pursue a career in medicine as a cardiovascular surgeon.

Vas Vlastaras, of Union, is now attending Georgetown University. She is majoring in government with a minor in modern Greek. While at Union, Vas was also an American Honors student. She served as SGA Secretary, Vice President for the American Honors Council, Fellowship Committee Leader for PTK, and worked as an ALC tutor. Vas graduated from Union with her Associate in Arts degree in public administration. Vas headed to the right city for her future goals: she hopes to become a lobbyist or campaign staffer.

“Each of these three outstanding students made their mark at Union before moving on to their dream four-year schools. Their hard work and dedication has paid off. As Kamilla, Beianka, and Vas did, we welcome all students to start their higher education journey at Union: earn an affordable and excellent education and then go on to attend the four-year school of your choice. We look forward to seeing what they do next,” stated Union President Margaret M. McMenamin.

Registration for the fall 2021 semester is open. To apply to the College with our free application, search for classes, and to learn about financial aid and more, visit www.ucc.edu/fall or call 908-709-7000.

Union County College Board Member Receives Trustee Spotlight Award

CRANFORD – On March 22, 2021, Union County College Board of Governors member Jeffrey H. Katz, Esq., of Springfield, received the Trustee Spotlight Award from the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC).

Mr. Katz has served Union County College’s Boards for more than 25 years. In the 1990s, he served on the College’s Board of Trustees. Since 2010, he has been a member of the College’s Board of Governors. He has also been a member of the College’s Foundation Board for 19 years. In addition to his longstanding membership, he has served in leadership roles within the Boards. He is a past Chair of the Foundation Board and currently serves as Chair of the College’s Buildings & Grounds Committee.

The NJCCC provides statewide leadership related to the advancement of New Jersey’s 18 county colleges. The NJCCC Trustee Spotlight Award was created by Dr. Felix “Phil” Linfante to recognize a trustee who’s been a strong proponent for their local community college. Dr. Linfante currently serves as Chair of the NJCCC.

“I am pleased that the NJCCC chose to recognize one of Union’s Board members with this award. Jeff Katz is an exemplary Board member and civic leader. He generously gives of his time and expertise for the benefit of the College and its students. We are fortunate to have him as a valued member of our Boards,” stated Union County College Board of Trustees Chair Victor M. Richel.

Tuition-Free Community College Available at Union County College

In Sept. 2018, Governor Phil Murphy visited with Union students when he announced the initial pilot of the New Jersey Community College Opportunity Grant at the Cranford campus.

CRANFORD – On February 26, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed tuition-free community college into law. New Jersey’s Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) provides last dollar support for eligible residents to attend community college tuition-free. New Jersey is now one of only 16 states with programs making college free to its residents. Union County residents who are eligible for CCOG may attend Union County College tuition-free.

New and continuing students who enroll in at least 6 credits at Union for fall 2021 and have an adjusted gross income of up to $65,000 will automatically be considered for CCOG if they have filled out their FAFSA or NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application. There is no separate application for this grant.
CCOG is available to both recent high school graduates and working adults. This includes those who have earned college credits but no college degree. At Union, transfer credits from other two-year and four-year institutions are accepted.

Registration for fall 2021 is open. Students are encouraged to register now to create their ideal schedule. The application to Union is free and can be found at www.ucc.edu. Fall classes start on Wednesday, September 1.

The College offers more than 60 programs of study including supply chain, cybersecurity, business, criminal justice, education, and more. Courses this fall are available face to face, online, and remote live. Graduates of Union County College enjoy easy transfer to four-year colleges or universities.

“Free Community College is a game changer in New Jersey. A college degree helps create economic mobility. We are grateful to Governor Murphy for his commitment to community colleges and this investment in our students. With college loan debt being such a burden, Union County College is the most affordable option for residents of Union County to pursue a college degree. And now, thanks to Governor Murphy, that cost may be as low as zero,” stated Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.

For more information about CCOG at Union, visit www.ucc.edu/tuitionfree. To and to search for classes and register for fall, please visit www.ucc.edu/fall or call 908-709-7000.

Union County College Freezes Tuition for a Second Year

Union County College student in a face to face class during the fall 2020 semester.

CRANFORD – On February 23, 2021, the Union County College Board of Trustees approved the College’s 2021-2022 budget which included no increase to student tuition. This is the second year without a tuition increase. Students who attend Union County College this fall will pay the same rate as last year.

Beyond the overall affordable tuition, there are additional ways to save cost. The College offers flat rate tuition. Full-time students, those who register for 12 or more credits, who live in county pay the same rate, $2,640.50, for 12 to 18 credits. Take additional credits for the same price to be more cost effective.

Eligible students may attend the College tuition free. Those who enroll in at least 6 credits and have an adjusted gross income of $0-$65,000 may be eligible for New Jersey’s Community College Opportunity Grant. There is no separate application for this grant. Students who complete the FAFSA or NJ Alternative Financial Aid Application are automatically considered.

Registration for fall is open. Students are encouraged to register now to create their ideal schedule. Payment for fall classes is not due until August 5. The application to Union is free and can be found at www.ucc.edu. Fall classes start on Wednesday, September 1.

The College offers more than 60 programs of study including supply chain, cybersecurity, criminal justice, education, and more. For high achieving students, the American Honors program provides one-on-one academic and transfer advisement. For students interested in athletics, NJCAA sports teams include soccer, baseball, wrestling, lacrosse, and more. The College boasts an active Student Government Association, student clubs and organizations, and a chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges. Graduates of Union County College enjoy easy transfer to four-year colleges or universities.

“With the financial hardships caused by COVID-19, it was essential that we not raise tuition for our students. We are proud to have kept the tuition rate flat over the past two years. Even in the midst of a global health crisis, we will continue to provide a critical service to the residents of Union County, and we do this through the generous support of the Union County Board of County Commissioners led by Chairman Al Mirabella. We know cost is important, and our priority was making adjustments elsewhere, so we did not have to increase tuition,” stated Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.

For more information and to search for classes and register, please visit www.ucc.edu/fall or call 908-709-7000.

Union County College Offers Full Schedule of Summer Courses

Union County College faculty instructing during the fall 2020 semester.

Summer session affords students the ability to catch up or get ahead. This includes both enrolled students and visiting students, those who attend college elsewhere but are interested in taking an affordable summer class and transferring the credits back to their home institution. Available courses include lab sciences, math, English, psychology, history, government, Spanish, economics, and more.

“Summer session is an excellent opportunity for students to take an extra class or two to stay on track toward graduation. We also welcome students who may attend a four-year school but want to take advantage of a more affordable option where they can take classes on campus, if that is how they prefer to learn,” stated Union’s President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.

The payment deadline for Summer I is May 13 and for Summer II is June 24. Students are encouraged to register now to secure a seat.

The College’s student services centers are open Monday through Friday on our Cranford, Elizabeth, and Plainfield campuses. No appointment necessary. Remote student services assistance is also available. For hours, locations, and a link to remote student services, visit www.ucc.edu/studentservices.

For more information on summer sessions at Union and to search for classes and register for a summer course online at Union, please visit www.ucc.edu/summer or call 908-709-7000.

Caption: Union County College faculty instructing during the fall 2020 semester.

Union County College alumnus donates nearly $2.7 million to the College’s Foundation

Union County College alumnus donates nearly $2.7 million to the College’s Foundation

CRANFORD – Union County College President Margaret M. McMenamin is proud to announce that Union County College alumnus, Bruce Weidenburner, left the bulk of his estate, valued at nearly $2.7 million, to the Union County College Foundation. This generous donation from Mr. Weidenburner is the single largest individual gift made to the Union County College Foundation in its history. Mr. Weidenburner, son of former United States Attorney and New Jersey Superior Court Judge Chester Weidenburner and his wife Emily, established this planned gift. Both of Mr. Weidenburner’s parents were members of the inaugural graduating class of Union County College, formally known as Union County Junior College.

Prior to his death, Mr. Weidenburner established this endowed scholarship with the Union County College Foundation in his parents’ name. As a lifelong resident of Linden, Mr. Weidenburner developed his family’s scholarship to help Linden High School graduates receive a college degree. Thanks to his commitment and support of the College’s mission, Mr. Weidenburner’s generosity will have a transformative impact on students’ lives for generations to come.

“We are so appreciative that Mr. Weidenburner thought of our students in his estate. When we look back at his gift, I hope we will see how an individual’s generosity impacts thousands of lives. This generational donation will leave a positive mark on our community for years to come,” stated Union County College President Margaret M. McMenamin. “The Weidenburner legacy in New Jersey will continue through those who benefit from his scholarship.”

For more information about how you can donate to the Union County College Foundation and give the gift of an education, contact Union County College Foundation Executive Director Doug Rouse at (908) 709-7113 or douglas.rouse@ucc.edu.

Board of Trustees Chair Vic Richel Serves as Co-Facilitator for International Middle States Webinar


CRANFORD – Union County College Board of Trustees Chair Victor M. Richel served as a panelist for the International Middle States Commission on Higher Education webinar, “Applying, Assessing, and Documenting Effective Board Governance,” on December 8. The webinar was sponsored by AGB Consulting and addressed the topic of board governance.

Mr. Richel served as a co-facilitator for this event with the Chief of Staff at SUNY at Albany Dr. Bruce Szelest; Special Assistant to the President for Institutional Planning, Chief of Staff, and Secretary to the Board at Saint Peter’s University Dr. Virginia Bender; and Emeritus Vice Provost for Academic Affairs & Penn College Board of Directors Dr. Blannie Bowen. Presenters were from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Vice Presidents Dr. Robert A. Bonfiglio and Dr. Sean McKitrick.

Mr. Richel has been a member of the Union County College Boards of Trustees and Governors since 1982 and currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees. In addition to the College’s boards, he has served on a number of boards within the community, including currently serving as the Chair of the Board of Trinitas Health and Regional Medical Center.

“As the Chair of our Board of Trustees, Mr. Richel has played a critical role in successfully navigating the changes and challenges we’ve faced over the years,” stated Union County College President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin. “He is an excellent leader and we are grateful for his steadfast dedication and service to the College.”

Union County College is a public comprehensive community college providing quality, affordable, accessible educational programs to the greater Union County region. It is the first of New Jersey’s 18 Associate Degree colleges, serving both career-minded and transfer-oriented students since 1933. The College enrolls almost 20,000 credit, non-credit, and continuing education students and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Many programs lead to an Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, or an Associate in Applied Science degree.