Spotlight On: Michael Gorman, President, Salem Community College

Spotlight On: Michael Gorman, President, Salem Community College

2022-07-15T05:53:07-04:00June 16th, 2022|Education, South Jersey, Spotlight On|

Writer: Sara Suarez

3 min read June 2022 In an interview with Invest:, President of Salem Community College Michael Gorman discussed how the college is embracing innovative academic programs like gaming and scientific glass technology to meet the growing workforce demand in emerging and growing industries. Gorman also shared insights into the long-lasting challenges of the pandemic. 

What are some long-lasting consequences of the pandemic for community college students?

Community college students tend to gravitate more toward online classes, but it is not as comfortable as in person. Although our online classes are portable, high-quality, empowering and personalized, it’s tough to get that touch or motivation online. Students lose a great deal of interaction, immediate feedback and body language. However, we’ve seen a new phenomenon that students are taking fewer credits than they did in the past. Two years ago, our average class load was up to 12 credits; it is just over nine credits now. This means students have more work demands, not as much free cash, not as much financial aid, and most importantly, they’re putting off life experiences. Students will spend one year more studying and one less year in the workforce, meaning one more year of saving up money to buy a house. 

Another issue with the incoming class is social preparedness. We have a lot more students who are feeling the stress of trying to work while going to school, trying to take care of family members and a whole host of things that did not exist to the magnitude of today. A lot of social activities you go through in college are maturing activities. They are opportunities for personal growth.  

What industries are projected to demand more professionals in South Jersey?

Our glass program is very niche and high quality. We have more demand for scientific glassblowers than we can fill. There has been a rise in the artistic glass blowing community because of the legalization of the cannabis industry, which will increase the demand for professional glassblowers. 

Another program taking off at the moment is nursing. Demand for nurses in the last three years has doubled. The healthcare field has significant growth patterns, and many nurses are reaching retirement age. We’ve recently struck up agreements with four-year colleges, so nursing graduates can smoothly transfer into a BSN program.

The Wind Port will also increase the demand for engineering students and riggers, welders and other more technical professionals.

We work with the Salem County Vo-Tech in promoting these programs and coordinate them with the demand they will have. Finally, our last specialized program relates to nuclear technology. We’ve supplied nuclear companies and plants with many technicians required to run their operations. The nuclear industry looked like it was about to fade but suddenly is making a revival because we realize that the nuclear industry can provide clean and sustainable energy for the nation. We work closely with PSEG Nuclear in Lower Alloways Creek, N.J.

What programs have seen a demand increase at the college?

In the past, people dismissed a liberal arts degree because it sounded a little bit too nebulous, but not everybody knows what they want to be or what they want to do when they are in college. The biggest aspect of a liberal arts degree is that it leaves options open. Some students need to have an open background because it gives them the most options. 

Cybersecurity is another area in which we see significant development. Our game design program gives people an associate’s degree that allows them to go into gaming and take another path later. For example, students can learn more about cyber protection and may find a career in that industry. Right now, it’s better to have options because career fields are evolving very quickly. A big advantage is to have as many options available as possible. That leaves us responsible for allowing students to explore different fields and interests in college to experience what their future may hold. I think it’s probably our most significant priority to be broadening their options in this next decade.


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