News Department

Raritan Valley Community College president receives national award celebrating student democratic engagement

BRANCHBURG TOWNSHIP, NJ (Somerset County) – Raritan Valley Community College President Dr. Michael J. McDonough is being recognized nationally as the “Standout President” by the 2023 ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge.

McDonough is one of two recipients in the country honored as a Standout President or Chancellor of a college or university.

The ALL IN Awards are presented in recognition of exemplary leadership in helping advance undergraduate student democratic engagement, including nonpartisan civic learning, political engagement, and voter participation, while advancing the work of ALL IN on campus.

The awards recognized the schools’ efforts for the 2022 elections. Dr. McDonough received the award at the ALL IN Awards Celebration, held virtually on November 14.

According to information from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, the 2022 elections saw the second highest youth voter turnout for a midterm election in 30 years. Colleges and universities play an integral role in helping the students register to vote and make their voices heard at the ballot box. More than 960 institutions enrolling 9.7 million students participate in the ALL IN Challenge, which supports colleges and universities in achieving excellence in nonpartisan student voter engagement.

“Despite nationwide attempts to undermine democracy through restrictive voting laws, college students made their voices heard during the 2022 midterm elections,” said Jen Domagal-Goldman, Executive Director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “Each and every one of us has a role to play in promoting nonpartisan student democratic engagement. The individuals we are celebrating…are leading the way on their campuses and in their communities to ensure that every student has the tools and information they need to participate in our democracy and cast their ballot.”

As part of RVCC’s voter engagement work, and with President McDonough’s leadership and support, the College’s first-ever poll worker project was developed during the November 2022 general election. The project was implemented in a timely response to a June 30, 2022 announcement by NJ Governor Phil Murphy, who signed a law permitting institutions of higher education to offer undergraduate credit to students who serve as poll workers during elections held in the state.

The Secretary of Higher Education, in consultation with the Director of the Division of Elections in the Department of State, made this announcement to all NJ college presidents. Giving students academic credit while also being paid as a poll worker was quickly enabled through the College’s nationally recognized Service Learning Program, which allows students to use community service as part of their academic coursework and to receive credit for their efforts.  More than 50 RVCC students served as poll workers in Somerset and Hunterdon counties as part of this initial offering.

Additionally, the poll worker project captured the attention of the Don and Penny Pray, whose gift of support through the RVCC Foundation covered the participating students’ training that is required before becoming a poll worker. It is anticipated that more RVCC students will be engaged in the poll worker project for the upcoming 2024 election, given the Prays’ generous donation.

RVCC’s voter engagement efforts are further supported by the 2021 signing of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Higher Education Presidents’ Commitment to Full Student Voter Participation.  Through this declaration, Raritan Valley Community College joined more than 300 college presidents and chancellors across the country in supporting full student voter registration and participation in all elections.

The College’s faculty, staff, and students are committed to working together to increase electoral participation. In 2020, RVCC completed a Campus Democratic Engagement Action Plan, focusing on increasing student voting rates and encouraging students to become engaged, civic-minded citizens who are essential to a healthy democracy.  RVCC received the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge 2023 award for a Highly Established Action Plan; the 2022 inaugural ALL IN Most Engaged Campus for College Student Voting; and the 2021 Best Action Plan Award for the New Jersey Campus Voting Challenge – Community College.

The full list of ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge individual champion award winners may be viewed here. Following the release of data from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) later this year, ALL IN also will recognize individual campuses that achieved outstanding student voter registration and turnout rates.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

Related Articles

Back to top button