Since the 1970s, Princeton has nurtured connections with New Jersey’s community colleges, offering community college instructors opportunities for continuing education at Princeton, while sending graduate students — the next generation of Princeton-educated academics — to teach the wide range of students seeking two-year degrees at county colleges.
The programs have had many reciprocal benefits for community college instructors seeking professional growth, for Princeton graduate students looking to hone their teaching skills, and for enrollees at the state’s community colleges who have the opportunity to connect with some of the top emerging scholars in a given field.
In recent years, these programs have been reinvigorated, especially with the launch of the GradFUTURES initiative at the Graduate School which seeks to expand professional development opportunities for graduate students. This academic year, Princeton will send 20 graduate students — its largest cohort — to teach courses at Mercer County Community College, Camden County College and Rowan College of South Jersey through the Community College Teaching Partnership, which offers teaching fellowships to current doctoral students.
The University also is improving benefits for the community college instructors who mentor Princeton graduate students. Through the Community College Faculty Program, instructors at any of New Jersey’s 18 community colleges can apply for reduced tuition to take classes at Princeton, and as a new incentive, Community College Teaching Partnership mentors will be eligible for a free course each semester at Princeton.
“It’s a win-win when universities and community colleges collaborate — and these programs are outstanding examples,” said Eva Kubu, associate dean for professional development and director of GradFUTURES at the Graduate School. “Princeton’s goal of building closer ties to public higher education institutions and community colleges in New Jersey is part of our shared commitment to increased access, social mobility and continued innovation within our state and throughout the world.”
Kubu said through the teaching fellowship program, Princeton’s graduate students are not only mentored by seasoned community college faculty members but also gain exposure to cutting-edge pedagogical approaches designed to meet the unique and evolving needs of a highly diverse student body. “This type of substantive teaching experience is invaluable for all future faculty and introduces Princeton graduate students to best practices for engaging low-income, first-generation and nontraditional learners,” she said.