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Remembering Ray Bateman

Statement from RVCC Board of Trustees Chair Robert P. Wise on the Passing of Raymond H. Bateman, a Longtime Trustee and Former Chairman of the Board of Trustees

It is with a profound sense of loss that we announce the death of Ray Bateman -- an inspirational leader and beloved friend. Ray Bateman was the heart and soul of Raritan Valley Community College, guiding the College from its infancy to become a nationally recognized institution of higher learning. In his four decades on the Board of Trustees, including 26 years as chairman, he left his mark on all aspects of the College, tirelessly advocating for academic excellence, affordable tuition, state-of-art facilities and diversity on campus.

Ray’s influence extended far beyond RVCC. His vision and drive led to the creation of the community college system in New Jersey, opening up access to higher education to hundreds of thousands of individuals. Today, in all corners of New Jersey, there are successful men and women who got their start at a community college.

Ray’s contributions to the success of RVCC are too long to list but include forging the agreement between Somerset and Hunterdon counties that led to the establishment of New Jersey’s first bi-county community college; constructing the Theatre, Planetarium, Conference Center, Child Care Center, Science Center and West Building; fostering partnerships with the business community and local high schools; advocating for full voting privileges for the alumni representative to the Board of Trustees; promoting diversity on campus; and championing the necessity of keeping higher education affordable for our students.

Ray Bateman loved RVCC. He could be seen on campus early in the morning walking on the track with his dog and late into the evening attending theatre performances, community events or student activities. It’s hard to imagine RVCC without Ray Bateman, but we are fortunate to have the Ray Bateman Center for Student Life and Leadership to remind us of his extraordinary service to the College and the state of New Jersey. The building stands as a tribute to a remarkable leader who spent a lifetime creating opportunities for students to grow, dream and succeed in life.

I want to share with you a quote from Senator Raymond Bateman’s life-long friend and member of the RVCC Board of Trustees, Dr. Paul J. Hirsch. “Ray Bateman was a friend, a mentor and a visionary leader. He devoted more than 40 years of his life to the success of Raritan Valley Community College and its students. As the driving force behind the law creating the community college system in New Jersey, he was committed to opening up access to higher education to all New Jersey residents regardless of their backgrounds or financial circumstances. He never wavered in his commitment to keeping community college tuition affordable while setting high academic standards. I was proud and honored to serve beside Ray for three decades on the Board of Trustees and to be inspired by his passion and commitment to providing our students with every available opportunity to succeed in school and in life. The Ray Bateman Center for Student Life and Leadership stands as a wonderful legacy to Ray’s lifetime of commitment to enriching lives through the power of education.”

We send our heartfelt condolences to the Bateman family.

Ray Bateman: A Lifetime of Service

Through his dedication and leadership, Ray Bateman opened access to higher education to hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents.

As a member of the New Jersey State Senate, he co-authored the legislation that created New Jersey’s community colleges more than 50 years ago. Today, the state’s 19 community colleges provide high quality, affordable education to close to 370,000 students a year.

Bateman was a member of the Raritan Valley Community College Board of Trustees since 1978 and served as Chairman of the Board for 26 years. He received an honorary degree from the College in May 2006.

During his tenure as RVCC Chairman, Bateman spearheaded the growth, expansion and success of Raritan Valley Community College. Some of the milestones of his tenure included the agreement with Hunterdon County that established RVCC as the first community college in New Jersey to serve two counties; the construction of the Theatre at RVCC with $2 million in private donations raised to match public funding; the expansion of the College library; the establishment of the first childcare center at a NJ community college; and the opening of the Planetarium.

The RVCC Board of Trustees named the College’s student center after Bateman in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the College, the community and the State of New Jersey. The Ray Bateman Center for Student Life and Leadership opened in 2014.

Bateman was a founding co-chair of The Committee to Reinvest in New Jersey’s Community Colleges, which in 1998 persuaded then Governor Christine Todd Whitman to increase state funding to community colleges by $48 million over a four-year period. He also was a co-chair of New Jersey’s Community Colleges’ Team for Tomorrow, a blue-ribbon committee that advocated for the development of part-time tuition aid grants for community college students and a $200 million increase in the Chapter 12 community college construction and building renovation fund.

In August 2006 Bateman was presented with the New Jersey Council of County Colleges’ Community College Spirit Award in recognition of his exemplary service to New Jersey’s community colleges. He was acknowledged for his leadership and service as a co-chairman of “Business & Labor for Stronger Community Colleges,” a blue ribbon committee that consisted of 40 business and organized labor leaders. The group was charged with promoting the community college role in job growth and economic development, and with advocating for affordable higher education opportunities for all New Jersey residents.

He also was honored with the Association of Community College Trustees’ (ACCT) 2003 M. Dale Ensign Trustee Award for advancing RVCC and community colleges throughout New Jersey. The national organization annually honors an individual who has made a significant contribution as a lay trustee toward promoting the community college concept.

Bateman was nominated for the award by the RVCC Board of Trustees and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges because of his outstanding contributions toward strengthening community colleges in the state. Since the Council’s creation in 1989, Bateman was the first NJ community college trustee to win the national award. He also received ACCT’s Northeast Region “Trustee Leadership Award” in June 2003.

Bateman, president of Public Affairs Consultants, Inc. in Somerville and a Branchburg resident, served for 19 years in the New Jersey Legislature. He was Majority Leader and Minority Leader of the New Jersey Assembly and New Jersey State Senate and served three terms as President of the Senate. He also served over 100 days as Acting Governor, and was the Republican nominee for Governor in 1977.

As a state senator, Bateman was active in national efforts to improve the legislative process. He initiated the 1964 study of the New Jersey Legislature conducted by the Eagleton Institute of Politics. He was a member of the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors and an original member of the National Citizens Conference for State Legislatures.

Bateman was appointed in February 1994, by NJ Governor Christine Todd Whitman, to be Chairman of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. He resigned as Chairman in July 2001 but continued to serve as a commissioner until January 2009.

Bateman gave generously of his time to support nonprofit organizations, including serving on the New Jersey Network Foundation, as Chairman of the Somerset Alliance for the Future, and as a member of the Rutgers University Foundation Board of Overseers.

A lifelong resident of Somerset County, he was a graduate of Somerville High School and Wesleyan University. He also attended the graduate program at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.


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