The Hudson County Chamber of Commerce honored Hudson County Community College (HCCC) President Dr. Chris Reber with the inaugural “Spirit Award” at the Legends 2021 Gala, held at the Harborside Atrium on December 9. Twenty HCCC trustees, cabinet officers, faculty, staff, and Foundation directors joined in celebrating him that evening.
Dr. Reber was nominated by former New Jersey Assemblywoman Joan Quigley, the President and Chief Executive Officer of North Hudson Community Action Corporation. Assemblywoman Quigley said she nominated Dr. Reber because of his generosity to North Hudson Community Action Corporation during its vaccination campaign, his thoughtfulness in waiving $4.8 million in outstanding financial balances for nearly 5,000 HCCC students, and the culture of care he has woven into every aspect of the HCCC experience.
The Assemblywoman related that although Dr. Reber had not been in Hudson County long enough to be considered a “Hudson County Legend,” the Chamber Nominating Committee created the Spirit Award because its members were so impressed with all he has accomplished. The Spirit Award will continue to be presented annually to a person in Hudson County who inspires forward thinking and quick action to meet special needs.
“I offer my heartfelt thanks to the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce. I am humbled and honored to receive this award,” Dr. Reber stated. “I share this honor with my colleagues at Hudson County Community College, including our trustees, faculty, staff, students, and community members. They are the inspiration for all we do.”
Since taking the helm as Hudson County Community College’s sixth president in 2018, Dr. Reber has made Student Success, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), overarching priorities and the foundation for the College’s updated Mission, Vision and Values statements; Student Success Action Plan; and 2021-24 College Strategic Plan. Under his leadership, HCCC created the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (PACDEI); established the Latino Advisory Council and African American Outreach Committee with clergy, business professionals, and community leaders who work with the College to address community needs; joined Achieving the Dream, the national reform network of high-performing community colleges dedicated to using data and best practices to ensure student success and degree completion; instituted the Hudson Helps Resource Center, a compendium of wraparound services, programs, and resources that focus on basic needs beyond the classroom to promote student retention and success; and formed relationships with community and corporate partners to promote upward social and economic mobility for students and community members. He also established the Christopher M. Reber Endowed Scholarship Fund to provide tuition assistance for students in perpetuity.
For the past 21 months, Dr. Reber helped the College – and the Hudson County community – adapt to the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. His leadership resulted in the formation of the HCCC Return to Campus Task Force comprised of students, faculty, and staff; the College’s investment in technology to offer courses, programs, and services remotely and online; free Chromebooks to all students in need; the HCCC Culinary Arts Institute preparation and distribution of more than 7,000 ready-to-heat meals; and the HCCC vaccine initiative program that has provided $100 incentives for students to become fully vaccinated – strengthening and prioritizing the health and safety of all.
In addition to receiving the Spirit Award, Dr. Reber is the recipient of the 2019 Phi Theta Kappa Paragon Award, 2020 Phi Theta Kappa Middle States Regional Award of Excellence, and was named by NJBiz as one of New Jersey’s 2021 “Education Power 50.” Hudson County Community College was recently recognized with the 2021 Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Northeast Region Equity Award, and the INSIGHT Into Diversity 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, honoring HCCC as one of ten community colleges nationally to be named “Top Colleges for Diversity.”