News & Events
News & Events
January 21, 2014
Colloquium Spring, 2014
I Have A Dream
Welcome, everyone, to Ocean County College’s 2014 Spring Colloquium! It is so wonderful to see all of you again! Thank you for coming. And, thank you, each and every one, for all you have done and will do in this momentous year for this extraordinary institution.
2014 will be a year to remember in the annals of Ocean County College. This is OCC’s 50th Anniversary year and we will celebrate that milestone in a series of events and programs throughout 2014.
We will also this year, in ways and to a degree never before experienced or envisioned, take time and care, and will extend exceptional effort, to give every person who counts himself or herself a valuable member of our community an unusual, substantial, and meaningful opportunity to impact the decisions that will guide our College in the future.
On this, the day after we celebrate the dream of Martin Luther King, and as we kick off celebrations of our 50th Anniversary, I want to share with you my own dream – a dream for Ocean County College.
I dream that each person in this room and those who will join us in the near term future as members of an exceptional community of soldiers in a mission that those so engaged will forever remember as ‘our time’ – a time of radical change in virtually every dimension of our College’s life!
I have a dream that every faculty member, every member of our support staff, every administrator and every trustee will look back on 2014 and say: “We were present at the dawn of a new era and we made it happen!” We were the ones who chose to transform our role and thus transform the College. We were the ones who had the courage to stand up, to volunteer, to act, to decide! We were the founders of ‘The New Way.’
I have a dream of a new way of working together that multiplies our ability to move mountains and part the waters of our fate … to elevate our condition and enhance our status and magnify our presence in the academic world!
I have a dream that each and every one of us can conceive of our workplace as a wonderful garden of delight … a place where great things can be done … a place where we came together and became the ones who made a new reality – an OCC that was not just a community college … not just a place to earn a living … not just a second or third tier academic member of the higher education community, but a unique, never-before-seen type of institution!
I have a dream that we can build, we can create, a new college that becomes the norm for aggressive, successful, exceptional, collegiate institutions – not a Tier 2 or even a top-level Tier 1 institution, but a new category entirely, Tier Zero if you would like.
This is a goal we can achieve through partnering and collaboration from stem to stern, from the bottom to the top, from end to end, from secondary to two year, to four year to graduate, from private sector to public sector, from local to regional to national to international!
I have a dream!
Now … I know some of you … perhaps many of you … may be skeptical.
Some of you may be thinking … how can OCC transform itself so completely as to set a new standard … establish a ‘New Way,’ when we have our history, our regulations, our culture, our problems, our disputes, our fractured relationships, our local mission, ourselves….
Hmmm. Good questions!
And, what is this grand future? What is this greatness? What does that get us? Why would we want it? What’s wrong with who we are? What the hell (oops, ‘heck’) is he thinking?
Well folks, these are good questions all. But, just settle in and listen. Have I got a story for you! It’s one I know well, because I have been dreaming it for years. It is a simple tale of a kind of academic utopia, a nirvana of workplace joy and success, a notion that few colleges, nor many universities, could hope to dream of, much less actually achieve. But, it is not a fairy tale for Ocean County College.
Before I get into the nitty gritty, let me take a moment to extend my appreciation and high regard for our stalwart supporters among our outstanding Board of Trustees who have once again, as they have so many time in the past, taken time from their own full and rich private lives to come here and share time with all of us about whom they care so deeply.
I thank you for joining us today, as you have so often, and for your commitment to this vision of our future that can, provided we all delve in and work to make it happen, create a new standard among all U.S. community colleges and that, indeed, establishes an entirely new academic entity – one that honors the past and creates a new future, by joining together and with other institutions to establish a new order among successful collegiate institutions.
Now, let me put this into context and flesh out what it means in practical terms for all of us.
Before I do, though, I have a bitter-sweet announcement to make. One of our super stars, Sandy Broughton, Executive Director of the OCC Foundation, has been stolen away from us by Investors Bancorp. She will be leaving us at the end of February. She will be the Vice President of Community Relations for Investors for Monmouth and Ocean County.
The reason they wanted her in this role is because they have observed her work first hand as they are one of the OCC Foundation’s major donors in recent years, a role in which they have benefitted many young Ocean County students seeking an affordable, high quality education who could not afford the unsustainable high tuition charges of much of traditional higher education in America.
Sandy has also been a prime conduit for two, and potentially a third, major gifts to the College that are, far and away, the largest we have ever received. Even one of these gifts would surpass any combination of major gifts received in any year of our existence.
The first of these gifts will assist us in establishing and maintaining a stellar fine and performing arts program that will be self-sustaining and will place us in a unique position among community colleges in NJ.
I know right now Sandy is squirming a little bit because we do not want to speak too soon on these matters, but we both have good reason to be convinced they will each materialize on the schedule necessary and will be the causes of major celebration by the Foundation and the College.
The second gift will be a major capital contribution toward the construction of a building that will house the Ocean County Vocational-Technical School Performing Arts Academy in a new building here on our campus, as well as provide expanded space for our own Associate Degree programs and bring Kean University Baccalaureate degrees in the fine and performing arts to the OCC campus.
We are very grateful for the support of the donors, who shall remain unidentified until the appropriate moment. And, we are grateful to Sandy Broughton for all she has done to advance Ocean County College during her 10 years at the helm of the Foundation. Sandy, please take a well-deserved bow.
Thank you. One reason why this is a new dawn for OCC is the potential for uniqueness of our position in in the arts world. The same donors who have committed support for the two projects I just mentioned also have a big dream. May I say it is a very big dream.
They believe, and we hope, that it will, like my dream for OCC, become a reality … a reality for Ocean County College, for the Toms River community, for Ocean County, and for all of South/Central New Jersey. Should it prove to be possible to achieve, it would involve the largest philanthropic gift to a two-year college and its surrounding community … ever. And it would solidify Ocean County College’s role as a major player in the arts world in New Jersey. Stay tuned.
So, the programs I have just described call for collaborations extending from the secondary school level to the community college associate degree level to the baccalaureate degree level, delivered by collaborating educational institutions, each of whom achieves synergies resulting from the intermingling of their missions and expertise and resources.
Think about it … Whose students will they be, these 250 young people attending the Performing Arts Academy? At once and serially, they will belong to the OCCVTS, to OCC, and to Kean. They will have exposure to the Garden State Philharmonic Orchestra, professional actors and musicians performing in productions sponsored by the endowment provided by our benefactors, and they will have a continuing exposure to an increasingly diverse and enriched educational program.
We will not be the same as we once were. Already, as we have begun seeing the integration of the Kean/Ocean Alliance mature, we have become different, larger, better, grander, and more able to adapt and alter course as the winds of change nudge us away from our original course.
But, hold on a minute! Let’s think about this …
How does this development mesh with the transformational dream of building a new kind of institution? How does it fit? And, is it intentional or accidental? And what does it mean for each of you?
Let me just relate to you that I have always been a bit of a skeptic. I guess it is endemic to anyone who has survived a truly rigorous Ph.D. program. So when I have heard speakers expounding about grandiose ideas and visions, I always wince a little and think, “Well, visions and hallucinations are close cousins.”
So, I forgive you if some of you are sitting there right now mumbling under your breath, “I knew it! I knew it! He’s having those hallucinations again!” And I concede that it does, certainly, take a person of unusual disposition and outlook to successfully lead an academic institution, or any enterprise for that matter, as it transforms itself from a sustaining innovation to a disruptive one.
Walt Disney (Disney), Steve Jobs (Apple), Elon Musk (Pay Pal and Tesla Motors), Steven Zuckerberg (Facebook), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), all of them and many more like them at times were viewed as being unrealistic in their dreams and aspirations.
Andy Grove, the iconic leader of Intel Corporation, is famous for saying, “Only the paranoid survive”! He wasn’t confessing, so much as declaiming, that ‘thinking otherwise’ requires a different view of things and a penchant for staying ahead of the pack.
That is what my dream for us is all about – taking a different view of things.
So, please be gentle in your judgments of me. As William Butler Yeats also begged, in the Cloths of Heaven, “But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
I bring you my dream devoid of arrogance, hoping only for the best; striving only for the best for all of us; for each of you, regardless of your position or point of view. I believe in you - each of you, especially those of you who challenge and disagree and think otherwise. As Ruth Stone so aptly put it, “You are a lovely link in the great chain of being. Think how lucky it is to be born."
Think also what a glorious opportunity you have here to do something truly grand, truly exceptional. I am going to ask you to do just that.
You know, there is an old saw that goes. “If you always do what you always did you’ll always get what you always got.” Getting what we always got, in today’s environment, puts us on the road to mediocrity at best, to the perdition of bankruptcy at worst, and 3rd-Tier irrelevance in either case. That’s not acceptable. Not acceptable.
The basis for concluding that we must change, deeply, transformationally, or merely sit and watch in quiet desperation as others thrive and we fail, lies in an abundance of evidence all around us. We live in a world that is engaged in rapid change, deep change; change that profoundly alters the relationships that have been the hallmarks of our history and traditions.
Academe is one of the very last of our societal institutions to awaken to the reality that these powerful forces will overwhelm us, as they have every industry and every nation on Earth. I have spoken in the past about these forces of disruption that threaten our stability and sustainability, so we need not revisit those facts again here today, but yet to again emphasize that this scope and pace of change is not a passing phenomenon.
Enrollments are down in the high schools nationwide. Universities are seeing that their overhead is too much to sustain and need new markets and cost containment to stay in business and retain their status. These forces are real, powerful, and potentially disastrous for major segments of existing higher education.
However, we here at Ocean County College, unlike many, if not most, other institutions in higher education in America, have an almost unique combination of blessings that makes it possible for us to escape the vortex, to avoid, as Yeats so auspiciously perceived in The Second Coming, ‘turning and turning in the widening gyre’ … ‘Things fall apart, the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, … The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
Let us not fall into the trap of becoming victims of our own past success. It does no good anyway, to fight a scorched earth, rear-guard action, fulminating against the unfairness of it all in ‘passionate intensity’ or throwing firebombs at other victims also unable to find a way out of the conundrum.
What can work is to accept the reality that we will never be the same again and resolve to work together to build a new way to survive, to flourish, to become meaningful, happy, productive; to win.
Yes, life is absurd. I have had occasion recently to look at life differently. We all have occasion to do so from time to time, not of our choosing, but of necessity. As Robert Louis Stevenson observed, “Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences.”
And yet … and yet , it is in our power to strive against the absurdity of life, to not sit there and accept what fate hath wrought, to not just complain that the real world does not fit our preferences; but, instead, to face our ‘sea of troubles’ and have a go at surmounting them.
What we will be doing as an institution over the next two years will give everyone who is a member of our family an opportunity to participate in deciding what we will do, not to make every person or group satisfied, but to make the College into nothing less than the role model for The New Way – an institutional example for others who have the courage to address these forces of disruption and experiment with new ways of achieving distinction and serving our intended purposes, our mission. In that process we will be, to a degree, redefining our mission as we create an official new set of goals and means to those goals.
Throughout this process every one of you will have numerous opportunities to join in what we are calling our Guiding Coalition, a team of our colleagues who will engage with the administrative and governance leaders of the College – the officers and trustees of OCC – to develop a new vision for our future and to implement it.
Now, I ask each of you to ask yourself, as I have asked myself, what Laurence J. Peter has suggested as a litmus test of intellectual honesty about our own effort and commitment: "Would the boy you were be proud of the man you are?" (This works for women too!)
When you can, with integrity, say this is the path you are following, the aim for which you strive, you will be ready to join this Guiding Coalition. We want everyone to participate and some to become the resonators of sound judgment on a myriad of issues we will face as we pursue this dream.
As those of you know who have regularly attended the twice each semester meetings the members of the President’s Leadership Team and I hold with every employee group, we have many irons in the fire that we hope will allow OCC to flourish going forward in this ‘brave new world’.
Recently, we have concluded an agreement with Dr. Don Norris and Dr. Tim Gilmour of Strategic Initiatives, Inc. to work with us to help design and monitor success with this transformational effort. We will be kicking off this effort at engaging everyone at OCC in this endeavor with a series of meetings beginning after the start of the Spring Semester.
I want to give you a short outline of the program we will be following, but let me say initially that the die is cast on some of the initiatives we will be undertaking to achieve The New Way.
Here are a few of them: we will formalize the two college structure, separating traditional teaching and learning from our online learning operations, referred to in the Norris/Gilmour outline as ‘Track A’ (traditional or legacy processes and methods) and ‘Track B’ (the disruptive agenda of online delivery outreach to the domestic US and international locations, adaptive completion and short semester scheduling, partnered delivery, market driven response, and alternative or non-traditional enterprise services similar to the ones we have underway with Sussex County College, Kean University, Pearson Learning Solutions, Ellucian, ESM Corporation, and some new ventures we are exploring with Fairleigh Dickenson University).
The look and feel of our curriculum in both tracks will be altered to reflect the enrollment management research conclusions about what students are seeking, so we will be creating new courses and degrees in each Track A and B, initiated by their respective leadership teams and guided by our Guiding Coalition decision making collaborative.
Our operating processes and standards, from physical plant management and operations to human resources, to recruitment, to technologies will be more rigorous and demanding to achieve a New Way performance standard expectation. We will get better and faster and more responsive in everything we do.
Our commitment to the success of our students will be monitored by an extended and enhanced commitment to analytics. We are fortunate to have the talent and the technology to accomplish this goal so it will be a key method by which the Guiding Coalition can assess and determine the value of new ideas and proposed initiatives.
Underpinning all of this will be a renewed commitment to our human capital … to you. One of the several building block concepts of The New Way is valuing people. We will focus our efforts there in growing talent from within and giving those who shine an opportunity to lead.
We will begin by initiating a program of paid internships for graduate students from Kean and perhaps other universities, with the goal of hiring into permanent jobs those ‘best and brightest’ high potential future leaders in every area of our college.
We will soon be receiving the report of the Hay Group which has been evaluating our hiring and compensation systems which will allow us to become more market competitive as we seek new talent to navigate the future as those of us who have done our stint move on.
We will above all be looking for opportunities for each employee group to radically restructure their relationship to the College and to their job, their discipline, their life at OCC. We will be meeting throughout the Spring Semester with all employee groups to discuss this concept further and explore how it can benefit the College and our employees.
As we pursue this ambitious agenda, we will try to keep it all together by assigning a project manager to monitor the tasks, assisted by a couple of bright staff who can keep the project on track with the help of software.
Similarly, we expect there will emerge other new leadership opportunities for which we will be seeking up and comers who want to play a role in making Ocean into the best example of a transformational New Way academic institution of the future. We invite your interest.
We will begin by developing our project management plan, proceed to group strategic thinking sessions with as many of you as wish to participate, and identify and develop our Guiding Coalition.
We will engage in team building exercises, review our existing Strategic and Campus Master Plans and identify approaches to revise, renew, and reconstitute each of them in the context of the New Way.
We will strengthen our leadership structure and begin an organizational and leadership development program including transition planning and identifying career path growth opportunities, expectations, and strategies.
We will establish a communications plan and begin our metrics and measurement analytics initiative. And, by summer, we will assess all of this effort and prepare for the FY 2015 activities.
Throughout this time, we will not let grass grow under our feet on the achievement of progress in generating new enrollment, new markets, expanded curricula, new partnerships, nor overlook taking some time out to celebrate and acknowledge those who have played a critical role in transforming our College into a model of relevance and success in these disruptive times.
Please … come and check it all out. Please … join in and help.
As I noted earlier, 2014 is the 50th anniversary of Ocean County College, New Jersey's first and New Jersey's best community college. We are planning many activities to celebrate this milestone, some of which include:
In the early 1960’s, our former Board Chair, Senator William T. Hiering, introduced legislation to establish community colleges in New Jersey because he envisioned the many ways in which they could serve the public. Now, fifty years later, it could not be a more opportune time for us to begin anew, with a New Way to identify and meet the needs of today’s new world. You have made Ocean County College the excellent institution it is today; with your help, we will move Ocean County College to a new level that will be the new benchmark for excellence in higher education.
Now, listen to just a few of the wonderful and exciting achievements of our various divisions of the College during the past year:
In Academic Affairs:
For the past three semesters, Academic Affairs has:
In Administration and Finance:
In the Instruction Division:
Under the direction of Pat Fenn, e-Learning and Continuing and Professional Education has:
Under the direction and leadership of Jeff Harmon, E-Learning has:
Under the direction of Eileen Schilling, Academic Outreach and Schools Relations has:
In the Operations Division:
In Student Affairs:
That concludes our State of the College update. As you can tell, we have an abundance of efforts and achievements underway of which we can all be very proud. Congratulations to all who contributed to a successful academic year!
And now, to conclude our program for this segment, I am pleased to announce the Years of Service Recognitions for 2014. Will the following long-serving members of the OCC family please now come to the stage:
Years of Service Recognitions:
Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes this portion of our Colloquium presentations. Thank you for your courteous attention.