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August 31, 2017

Dr. Jon H. Larson’s Fall 2017 Colloquium Remarks: A New Era of Innovation


“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Welcome to the Fall Semester of our fifty-second year!

Thank you, Dr. Clay, for opening our program in your customary elegant style.

We have many things to discuss in today’s Colloquium.  I urge everyone to join in the opportunity to exercise your right to free speech … a right that will remain sacred on this campus as long as I have a voice to influence the direction, policies, and values of this wonderful collegiate institution.  I speak out fully confident that this sentiment is shared with passion and resolute commitment by our entire Board of Trustees.  More on that topic in a moment.

Now, let me ask that you all join in welcoming distinguished members of our Board of Trustees who have once again honored each of us by joining us today.  Please give a warm welcome to:

Our Board Chair, Carl Van Thulin, and his lovely wife, Kathleen;
Vice Chair of the Board, Linda Novak;
Trustee Judee DeStefano-Anen, Executive Superintendent of Ocean County Schools;
Melanie Fernandez, Student/Alumni Trustee

Please also acknowledge our interpreters, Peg Jackowsky and Theresa Safay.

We thank each of you for joining us today.

Before I begin my comments, I want to acknowledge the devastation being experienced by the residents of Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey.  Unfortunately, because of Sandy in late 2012, we in Ocean County are in a position to understand and personally feel the pain they are suffering.

Yesterday, the Academic Deans recommended the initiation of a campaign, working with Phi Theta Kappa and Student Life, for Ocean County College to assist the students at a Texas community college who are impacted by the storm.  I am certain there are many colleges in the area that were affected, but one college immediately came to mind.

In early 2013, I received a letter from the President of Galveston College in Texas, forwarding a check from the Galveston College Foundation on behalf of its College Faculty Senate and Employee Wellness Committee to assist OCC students who were in need.  The President explained they were passing along an act of kindness they had previously received from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College when, in 2008, Galveston College was severely impacted by Hurricane Ike.

I would not have imagined that there would be another disastrous time for us to reciprocate, but Galveston College deserves our assistance now for being there for us in 2013 with a contribution to our Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund that many students and staff were able to access during the recovery process.  So, when the fundraising campaign is underway, let us demonstrate the strength and compassion of Ocean County College by continuing this act of kindness.  Please consider supporting the students of Galveston College with a generous donation.  Thank you.

The subscript to the title of my remarks today is a quote from Abraham Lincoln, the 16thPresident of the United States, our first Republican President, in his 1837 speech at The Lyceum when he was a young, aspiring politician.  Most of us learned in a high school or college history course that the darkest of times for our great Republic was the 1861-1865 American Civil War.  You will likewise recall that President Lincoln, the issuer of the Emancipation Proclamation, came into office facing a disruption in the body politic of the nation unprecedented since the 1776 period of the Revolutionary War to the 1789 adoption of our Constitution four score and twenty years prior to Lincoln being sworn in as President of the United States.

Albeit a number of steps were taken by Lincoln to preserve the Republic during the War Between the States that were extreme restrictions on civil liberties, including a declaration of martial law, he never wavered in his dedication to the fundamental principles of the Bill of Rights – the first ten Amendments to the Constitution.  He was especially dedicated to the rights enshrined in the First Amendment, our grantor of the freedoms of religion, press, assembly, petition, and speech.

The Civil War Amendments were designed to abolish slavery and ensure equality for recently emancipated and former slaves, further enshrining Lincoln’s legacy as a protector of individual freedoms, including:

  • The 13th Amendment, which banned slavery, was adopted by Congress three months before Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865.
  • The 14th Amendment, which defined a citizen as any person born in or naturalized in the United States, overturning the Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) Supreme Court ruling that Black people were not eligible for citizenship, was adopted in 1868.
  • And, the 15th Amendment which prohibited federal and state governments from denying U.S. citizens the right to vote based on race, color, or past condition of servitude, was adopted in 1870.

America’s White Supremacy challenge was recognized very early on by one of the earliest and greatest biographers of American Democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville, who wrote that ‘Even in the states where slavery had been eradicated and where suffrage had been granted … countless obstacles had been placed in the way of the black man.’ “If he presents himself to vote, he runs a risk to his life.  Oppressed, he can complain, but he finds only whites among his judges…”  Even after slavery was eliminated, de Tocqueville predicted, Americans would “have still to destroy three prejudices much more intangible and tenacious than it:  the prejudice of the master, the prejudice of race, and finally the prejudice of the white.”

To be clear, I am taking this opportunity to declare my own position on these issues: The concept of white supremacy and its advocacy by a benighted fringe group is repugnant and unacceptable in America and on this campus.  It is bigotry, pure and simple, and contrary for all our country and Ocean County College stand for.  We can have no moral ambiguity on this.  It violates our inclusive mission which seeks to serve everyone regardless of race, religion, national origin, gender, or gender preference.

Now, in the recent contretemps over events in Charlottesville, VA, there has been a tendency to lump together neo-Nazis and White Supremacists.  For a sense of the difference between the historical White Supremacy culture of our nation from before its formal founding in 1789, and the 1920’s-1940’s rise of Nazism, I urge you all to do a little historical research and read up on the “Black Laws” adopted and carried on the books of many states for decades, not only in the South, but also in some border and northern states like Illinois, the home state of Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama.

Many uninformed persons passionately exercising their right to free speech on the left equate Nazism with America’s racially biased past.  It is not an altogether appropriate comparison.

The late 1920’s to mid-1940’s Nazi military domination in Europe and the atrocities of the concentration camps in which some 6 million Jews were murdered is probably much clearer in the memory of many Americans.  The Nazi Thousand Year Reich of Adolf Hitler was not based on a history of racial enslavement in Germany of some 200 years as in America’s white supremacist past.  But, the justification of genocide based on religion and other characteristics was integral to the notion of a Germanic Super Race, and thus has strong parallels to the slavery blemish on American history.  Make no mistake about this:  I also abhor anti-Semitism vehemently and, as with White Supremacism, argue passionately that the best medicine for the neo-Nazi disease is free speech and more free speech!

At the same time, I find it curious and disconcerting that one of the historical bastions of defense of First Amendment freedoms, academe … our higher education institutions … has in recent times all too often agreed to abandoned its traditional passionate defense of these fundamental freedoms when faced with a difficult choice.  University after university has simply failed the test of faithfulness to the First Amendment when violent protesters disrupt the tranquility of campus life and the university decides to shut down the speech of someone deemed to advocate for causes regarded as repulsive.

I urge all of us to read, or re-read, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 2005 book, Team of Rivals.  The vitriol and media opposition to Lincoln was far worse then than what we see today, ultimately resulting in the greatest threat to the preservation of the Union our country has faced, the secession from the United States of the pro-slavery states in the South, pitting brother against brother and resulting in the bloodiest carnage and loss of life of any war in American history.

Yet, amidst this existential threat to the preservation of the nation, Lincoln never abandoned his commitment to freedom of expression, as witnessed by the comment I quote today: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

You may wonder why I begin with this topic in a Colloquium devoted to “A New Era of Innovation.”  And here’s the reason: we have a breakout session on Title IX issues relating to bullying and creation of a hostile environment for students or employees that may arise in the classroom.  Without a doubt, the standards of civil discourse and respectful treatment of others required by Title IX and Title IV of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972 will regrettably be seen by some as an opportunity to limit free speech by naming some speech as ‘hate speech’ which they find repugnant.

Yet, one of the guiding principles in defense of the First Amendment that has consistently been upheld by the Supreme Court has resulted in the rejection of such limits on free speech, as enshrined in Justice Kennedy’s commentary in the 2017 Matal v. Tamm case, in which he wrote:   “A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all… The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence.  Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.”

And, in the 2017 Packingham v. North Carolina case, Justice Kennedy opined “in broad terms about the inherent dangers of a censorious impulse, especially if it could one day be turned against even those with noble intentions to fight bigotry and crime. The nature of a revolution in thought can be that, in its early stages, even its participants may be unaware of it,” he wrote, referring to the internet’s reshaping of human society. “And when awareness comes, they still may be unable to know or foresee where its changes lead.”

While these rulings constrain government or public body speech, they carry the same moral value in similar applications such as the contemporary push by some in academe to establish speech codes that restrict the use of speech that students or employees find offensive.

In a Washington Post article titled “Supreme Court unanimously reaffirms: There is no ‘hate speech’ exception to the First Amendment,” by Eugene Volokh on June 19, 2017, the following words were quoted from the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alioto in the 2017 Matal v. Tamm case:

“[The idea that the government may restrict] speech expressing ideas that offend … strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote separately:

“A law found to discriminate based on viewpoint is an “egregious form of content discrimination,” which is “presumptively unconstitutional.”

Many of you will already know that the Court has upheld some limits to free speech where its exercise can reasonably create imminent danger, such a shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.  But, hateful as the rhetoric of some in the political arena may be, including that of White Supremacists and neo-Nazis, the most cherished, most protected of all speech is ‘political’ speech.  Thus, burning the American flag has been deemed symbolic political speech by the Court and is thereby protected by the guarantee of free speech in the First Amendment.

Hopefully, my comments will highlight this session in such a way that the topic of Title IX and Title IV issues in the classroom can be undertaken in a respectful and hate-free manner, focusing primarily on classroom management; but, clearly, the entire topic of Title IX requirements is Federal governmental policy and is thus “in the political arena”; so, if someone wishes to be hateful in making a point during that session, we’ll just have to put up with it.  We don’t have to like it; we will speak out against it; but, we won’t put unconstitutional limits on it.

Now, I reiterate that I personally find abhorrent the words and actions of the White Supremacist groups and neo-Nazis that resulted in a violent riot in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Whether from the far right wing of the political spectrum or from the radical left, like Antifa, such speech and behavior is socially repugnant and fundamentally immoral.  As G.K. Chesterton, British writer and philosopher said, “To have the right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”

However, the essential question is, do we strengthen our own moral case by limiting offensive speech, assembly, and petitioning rights guaranteed by the Constitution?  Or, do we vigorously utilize our free speech rights to persuade the majority to reject the heinous and disgusting arguments of those who would undermine the most precious of our freedoms…the freedom of speech?

Hopefully, those of you who participate in the breakout session on Title IX issues in classroom management will air your own views later on this Colloquium Day.

Now, lest everyone in the audience elect to attend the Title IX session after this screed, let me plug the other equally entrancing breakout sessions!

As many of you already know, we are breaking new ground in an associational innovation by partnering with the Ocean County Vocational Technical School to construct a new Performing Arts Academy on the OCC Campus.  Students attending the Academy will graduate with their high school diploma and OCC’s Associate in Arts degree at the same time.  While the Gates Foundation has sponsored a similar program, this is the first in the nation organically grown example of an entire early college high school.  To learn more about this exciting K-14 collaboration, join in the discussions led by Heidi Sheridan, Mark Wilson, and Karin Gargone.

Thanks to the leadership of Henry Jackson and Tom Gialanella, former Superintendent of the Jackson, Toms River, and Brick public school districts, we are intensely engaged in partnering with school districts in Ocean County and neighboring counties in two exciting and frame-breaking initiatives.  One of these is the New Jersey Network for School Success and the other is a second Academy School on the OCC Campus in which up to six school districts may participate.  Several of our faculty members are engaged in these efforts, and two key players in these initiatives will also join the presentation:  Anthony (AJ) Trump and Angel Camilo.

This year the Ocean Way program of serving all our students, all our colleagues, and all of our College’s stakeholders with respect, efficiency, and enthusiasm will focus on the role of faculty in making this genuinely innovative program a stellar success.  The presenters include: Jan Kirsten, Jason Ghibesi, and Jack Kelnhofer.

If you attend the New Degree Programs session, you will be blown away to learn how many unique and future-focused new academic short courses, certificates, and degree programs are in development.  How many of you know all that much about logistics, cybersecurity, mechatronics, supply chain management, or computer software engineering?  Want to know more?  You will be fascinated when you join this group of innovators bringing a brave new learning world to Ocean County College, to the domestic US via e-Learning, to Egypt on-the-ground, and to the world through e-Learning.  Presenters for this session include Lisa DiBisceglie, Tracy Walsh, Paul Silberquit, Paul Chalakani, and Rosann Bar.

And the aforementioned Managing Title IX in the Classroom will be led by a quintet of experts:  Tracey Donaldson, Toni Clay, Kate Pandolpho, Ilene Cohen, and Eileen Buckle.

Thank you to all our presenters who have worked very hard to prepare for today’s uplifting and creative engagements that will mark our future.  Let’s give all our presenters a round of applause!

Let me lighten the mood with a little levity by way of asking that you consider that some of our presenters are quite naturally feeling a little bit nervous about their sessions.

Most of you have never ridden a horse.  More specifically, most of you have never been on a horse jumping over a fence.  I think they call this ‘equestrian jumping’ and in its highest form, ‘dressage.’  Anyway, in the horse barns outside the equestrian jumping field, the horses who jump and have been specially trained for this unique sport reside, eat, rest, and, naturally, converse with one another.  One of the more gregarious jumpers leaned his head around the stall door and said to another horse in the next stall, “What’s the matter? You’re not eating.  No oats… no hay.  You seem nervous…out of sorts.”

His barn companion ruminated for a moment and opined in reply, “I don’t know.  I just don’t know what it is.  All day I’ve just seemed sort of, you know … jumpy!”

So, if some of our presenters today appear a little ‘jumpy,’ please let them find their stride before you ride them too hard.  Thanks!

Before I continue my comments regarding our theme today, I would like to highlight some of the many wonderful things happening at Ocean County College.

Dr. Lisa DiBisceglie reports the following from Academic Affairs:

The School of Arts and Humanities is developing new programs: an A.S. degree in Graphic Design and an A.A. degree in English.  The School is also collaborating with the Ocean County Vocational Technical School in the development of an Early College High School Academy for Performing Arts that will begin in fall 2019 on our OCC campus.

The School of Business and Social Sciences is developing many new programs:

  • A.A. degree in Education
  • A.A. degree in Psychology
  • A.A.S. degree in Webmarketing
  • A.S. degree in Social Work
  • A.S. degree in Business Administration: Sports Management Option
  • A.S. degree in Business Administration: Health Administration Option
  • A.S. degree in Exercise Science
  • A.S. degree in Logistics and Global Supply Chain Management
  • Certificate in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination

The School is also launching a Bloomburg Trading Floor in the spring semester that will be used by business students who can earn Bloomburg certification.  It will also host groups of high school students in a stock trading competition.

The School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is currently working on the following new programs:

  • Certificate in Cloud Computing
  • Certificate in Data Management
  • Certificate in Cybersecurity
  • A.A.S. degree in Mechatronics
  • A.S. degree in Biology
  • A.S. degree in Chemistry

The School of Nursing and Health Sciences is collaborating with William Paterson University to offer a B.S. degree in Exercise Science and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in the new Health Sciences Building.  It is also partnering with Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health to provide direct care services in the Wellness Center that will be located in the new Health Sciences Building.  Services will be available to faculty, staff, students, and members of the community.

The Center for Student Success will continue coordinating the OCC Guided Pathways project along with the First-Year Experience program.  Additional staffing has been added to support our students with disabilities, testing, and tutoring services.

The OCC College Readiness Program will launch the first on-campus Shared-Time Early College High School Academy with Lacey Township High School this Fall Semester.  Over 30 students have enrolled in this inaugural cohort.

An update from e-Learning and Learning Enterprises includes the following:

  • The catalog of courses offered online continues to grow and has recently surpassed 200 courses.  Some recent additions include more fire science courses, many second-year language offerings, such as German and Hebrew, and a large number of 200-level courses.
  • This August marks the College’s first full year using the Canvas Learning Management System.  A custom Online Instructor Training was created in January and is now completing its sixth cohort of graduates with more than 60 online instructors having earned certificates.  Many others completed the face-to-face intensive training for the Canvas LMS last fall.
  • Learning management system training has also been completed for both domestic students and students who are part of our international cohort of students at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt.
  • In August, Dean of e-Learning Jack Kelnhofer conducted an intensive Hybrid Teacher Training course for a large number of full-time nursing faculty.  This training spanned the unique skill set that is required to be mastered by hybrid teaching instructors.

Highlights in our U.S. partnerships include:

  • The Hudson County Community College partnership is progressing nicely, and numerous courses are currently being exported to Hudson.  Online Instructor Training was completed this week and Melissa Bova and Rachel Doss also conducted an on-site training session at Hudson.
  • The Kaiser Permanente Ben Hudnall Memorial Trust Leadership Team has expressed interest in expanding from individual courses to offering full degree completion programs.  The Ben Hudnall Memorial Trust provides educational benefit funding for Kaiser Permanente employees.  Kathleen Mohr and Fahad Khan are anticipating degrees being offered in spring 2018.
  • With regard to international partnerships, three representatives from Egypt’s Ain Shams University visited the college from August 9 to 17:
    •  Dr. Abdel Wahab Ezzat, President of Ain Shams University
    • Dr. Hussein Eissa, Former President ASU and Egyptian Parliament Member
    • Dr. Rasha Ihab, Egyptian Coordinator of Kean/Ocean Ain Shams Program

New and revised collaborative programs were discussed, including:

  • A plan for an extension of OCC in Cairo, the Community University.
  •  A partnership with Festo Didactic to offer technical education and training for the field of mechatronics.
  •  A College Academy program where a student earns an associate degree along with the high school diploma.
  •  And, an extension of the Network for School Success program to Egypt.

Joe Konopka, Maysa Hayward, Salim Hussien, and I took our guests to Washington, D.C., to meet with Oliver Jones from the Egyptian Desk of the U.S. Department of State; Dr. Tarek Shawqi, the Egyptian Minister of Education; and Dr. Mohamed Hamda, the Egyptian Cultural Attaché.  We also visited with Rochelle Hendricks, New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education, to inform her of our current plans.

The team traveled to Eatontown for a meeting with Festo Didactic and a display of the mechatronics lab, and the visit concluded with meetings with Kean President Dawood Farahi to sign an articulation for three business programs and visits to NJIT and William Paterson University to discuss new programs and partnerships with Egypt.

  • Conversations continue with a representative from the Instituto Tecnico Superior Comunitario (ITSC) in the Dominican Republic. The team discussed an articulation agreement for dual degree programs in Hospitality Management, with students beginning the program by studying English as Second Language.  The projected start time is September 2018.
  • There was also discussion regarding follow up with the Universidad Católica Santo Domingo to determine interest in establishing a dual degree program in Marketing.

In Student Affairs, there are many initiatives underway:

  • Effective July 1, the former Advising Office merged with Career Services, to be renamed to the Advising, Transfer, and Career Services Office.  The Advising Staff is integrating academic and career planning, which will provide students with a comprehensive, holistic experience and will support them at all stages of their academic journey.
  • Two successful pre-nursing information sessions were coordinated in Spring.  Over 100 people attended to gain information on nursing pre-requisites and admission to the nursing program, as well as learn what to expect from the nursing curriculum and how to pursue the BSN through Kean Ocean.
  • The Advising Office, in collaboration with Student Life and the NJ STARS Club, hosted the first annual Spring Transfer Fair in the Larson Student Center.  Representatives from 21 New Jersey colleges and universities attended.
  • Five Parent Orientations were hosted this spring and summer.  The orientations were well attended, with a total of 280 parents participating.  Response from the parents was excellent.  For many, it was their first visit to the campus.
  • The Advising, Transfer, and Career Services Office will be speaking with students in all First-Year Experience courses early in the fall semester to re-introduce advising services as a follow-up to New Student Orientation.  Additionally, later in the semester, students will be introduced to career exploration and will begin the life-long planning process of making sure their short-term plans align with their long-term goals.
  •  The first-ever “New Student Launch” event was held last Friday in and around the Student Center, and 240 students were in attendance. This event was a team effort between Student Life and Admissions to ensure our new students are ready for success this semester, both in and out of the classroom.
  • In Student Life, clubs and organizations are already making plans for the fall semester.  Notably, the week of October 16th will be Phi Theta Kappa’s 4th annual Completion Week campus-wide challenge, where students from the Tau Iota Chapter will encourage their peers to sign the pledge to “commit to complete” their associate degrees.
  • FACOA (Future Addiction Counselors of America) is making plans to provide workshops, educational programming, and Narcan training sessions to the campus community, as the students continue their efforts to combat the opioid crisis in Ocean County and beyond.  The students are continuing their effort to form a sister organization “SPARC” (Student Peer Addiction Recovery Club), which will focus on providing programming and resources to students in recovery.
  • The Opening Pathways to Education Now (OPEN) is in its eighth year, with Financial Aid holding sessions to assist with the completion of FAFSA paperwork and discuss the basic concepts of financial aid.  OCC completed its 2016-17 OPEN series in July and served over 300 students, parents, and guardians.    In light of the new FAFSA filing cycle, which begins October 1 for the 2018-19 academic year, the Financial Aid department is preparing to commence FAFSA workshops on campus and at local public libraries.
  • OCC’s 2016-17 athletics season proved to be successful both academically and athletically:
    • 93 OCC student-athletes across 13 teams received academic honors this year, with 30 recognized nationally, and 6 named to the NJCAA’s All-Academic 1stTeam, with perfect 4.0 GPAs.
    • The National Alliance of Two-Year College Athletic Administrators (NATYCAA) recently released its final rankings for the 2016-17 NATYCAA Cup, and Ocean County College finished 18th in the category of Non-Scholarship Colleges.  The NATYCAA Cup program recognizes excellence in two-year college athletics based on success in championship competition. Ocean County College finished the season with 47.5 points (31.5 male, 16 female) due to the nationally-ranked Vikings Men’s Lacrosse, Men’s Cross-Country, and Women’s Tennis teams.  Additionally, this point total lands Ocean fifth among all (non-scholarship) member colleges of the Collegiate Athletic Administrators of New Jersey (CAANJ).
  • The fall season was highlighted by the Vikings Women’s Volleyball team. Led by Head Coach (and OCC’s Associate Director of Campus Services) Jennifer Grimm, Ocean continued the stellar play for which it has become known, winning its third consecutive Garden State Athletic Conference title, while going undefeated.
  • The story of the Vikings’ winter season was that of Women’s Basketball sophomore Courtney Hagaman, an outstanding student both on the court and in the classroom.  Courtney shattered Ocean’s long-standing single-game scoring record with a 48-point performance in January against Nassau Community College, en route to being recognized as a 2nd Team All-American at the conclusion of the season.  Along with being lauded athletically, Courtney also completed her career at Ocean with a 3.8 GPA, earning her NJCAA All-Academic honors.
  • In just its third season, the Vikings Men’s Lacrosse team captured its first NJCAA Region XIX Championship in thrilling, quadruple overtime fashion against top-seeded conference rival Union County College.  The Baseball and Softball teams enjoyed their second year of the spring trip to Myrtle Beach thanks to the support of the OCC Foundation and the teams’ fundraising efforts throughout the year.
  • Registration and Records has implemented a new process for document intake and handling through Perceptive Content.  All documents, emails, and faxes are imaged and processed within the Perceptive Content system, rather than being passed from desk to desk.  After State approved holding requirements are met, all documents are sent for destruction.
  • The HUB, Ocean County College’s one-stop shop, is in the process of implementation; the virtual site is almost completed and the physical transformation is expected to begin mid-Fall.
    Student services will be streamlined using innovative technology and excellent customer service.  Mobile intelligence will be implemented through an engagement tool called a chatbot – students will be able to send text messages and receive automatic and human-like responses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  OCC will be the first community college to offer this type of technology to its students, continuing on the path of innovation in student services.
  • The Admissions Office has teamed up with key departments on campus to provide Ocean Inlets Information Series.  The information series will include four distinct sessions:  General Information, Funding Your Education, Transferability and Beyond, and Get a Student Life.  Information sessions will continue for NJ STARS and non-traditional adult students.  These sessions will be webstreamed and archived on the web for people who are unable to attend.
  • The Admissions Office will again be hosting the Ocean County High School Guidance Counselor Luncheon on Thursday, September 28.  Key areas of the College will be asked to present and provide updates about the great initiatives and opportunities that are available.
  • Several position changes were made at the Southern Regional Center:
    • Jeffrey Kurz is the Student Services Specialist
    • Michele Marcum is Student Services Technician
    • Katie Grofik is Supervisor of the SEC
  • The SEC staff will be hosting “Welcome Week” for students beginning September 11.   Please contact A.J. Trump if you have information to share with the SEC students during Welcome Week.
  • The Ocean County College SAFE sailing program is in its first full season.  The program is based at the J. Phillip Citta docks in Mill Creek Park and is dedicated to the proposition that sailing is for everyone.  The sailing experience is primarily directed towards non-sailors using specially accessible boats for people unfamiliar with sailing and boating, people with disabilities, impaired veterans, the elderly, recovering addicts, and beginner sailors.
  • OCC is currently raising funds for the J. Phillip Citta Sailing Center, a building at Mill Creek Park, to house the SAFE Sailing Program and the College fleet.  A donor has pledged to match up to $250,000 of fundraised dollars.
  • EOF graduated two students with perfect 4.0 grade point averages – Distinguished Scholars – 10 other students were recognized by EOF for academic achievement with grade point averages from 3.2-3.99 and/or exemplifying the spirit of EOF.  Thirty students were qualified for graduation; 24 students made the President’s List, doubling the number from last year.
  • The Third Annual EOF Leadership Conference and Retreat was held during spring break with 20 participants.  The theme was “You are Awesome – Developing Tools for Awareness, Love, and Action.”
  • A team of tutors is now available for mandatory tutoring of EOF students, which will assist students toward their success in a positive way.
  • The Center for Access and Equality has participated in the planning and design of the Library area dedicated to the LGBTQ community; a ribbon cutting will take place later this semester.
  • The Santander Universities program, SOL, is in its third year; the traditional College Experience Day was held with positive feedback.  Many SOLmates have chosen to continue their education at OCC and are members of EOF or C4AE.
  • EOF celebrates its 50th year of making access available to students, and the EOF grant is increasing from $525 to $575, the first such increase in more than a dozen years.
  • In Counseling and Student Development Services, the theme of the upcoming year is “Stamp Out Stigma,” with awareness and prevention concentrated on topics including suicide, alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence, academic success, and psychological well-being.  A new series, #I Got That, features weekly drop-in sessions on academic and psychological issues.  The academic intervention program, Step by Step to Academic Success, will continue throughout the semester.
  • Two grant-funded programs have received budget increases.  The Displaced Homemakers Program has been awarded a significant increase due to the continuing success of program activities and clients; the Student Support Services Program received a moderate funding increase which will be used for direct student services, such as coaching and tutoring.
  • On September 22, Counseling and Student Development Services is cosponsoring a conference on grief with the Ocean County Department of Human Services and the Traumatic Loss Coalition.

The Finance and Administration area shares the following:

  • CPE is branching out to serve the local autism community, one of the largest in the nation.  A specialized program for the autism community, called “Sensitivity Super Powers,” is underway.   Parents of participants have expressed gratitude for the program, which allows many children to experience a “first,” such as making a friend, playing music, or speaking their first full sentence.
  • The College has undertaken a comprehensive review of technology policy and governance at OCC.  Process updates include working with key stakeholders to establish an IT governance structure as well as refreshing the IT Strategic Plan.  This work will help establish IT priorities, eliminate redundancy, and help OCC move forward faster.  Several committees have been established and broader participation is welcome.  Please contact Hatem Akl, Chief Information Officer, if you are interested in volunteering.
  • IT is now using Amazon Web Services to host a redundant instance of Ocean Connect to ensure that all users continue to successfully access the various cloud-based services, such as CANVAS and Office 365, even if OCC’s data center goes off-line.
  • OIT is working with various departments to upgrade the College’s room and resource scheduling solution, R25, to the latest version, R25Live, a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution.  Building and room inventories are being updated.  Once implemented, R25Live will facilitate a smoother and more efficient academic and non-academic room scheduling process.
  • Two new budget tools were implemented on July 1.  Budget Checking in Colleague will automatically compare expenses to the approved budget, and Budget Self-Service via Ocean Connect is replacing WebAdvisor as the method to view fiscal activity.  These tools will help budget managers track expenditure activity and ensure that they are staying within the approved annual budget limits.
  • Over 18,000 patrons attended events at the Grunin Center this past year:
    • Matinee School Programming was piloted with 300 students coming to Doktor Kaboom in January 2017.
    • Over 3,000 area students came to cultural diversity programs in partnership with Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission.
    • Over 2,600 children and adults attended free summer programs with a $10,000 sponsorship from the Wintrode Family Foundation.
    • Eighteen high schools attended the 2017 Ocean County Teen Arts Festival on the OCC campus.
    • The Inaugural Humanities Lecture Series, Beyond the Classroom: Global Education for Girls, was held in conjunction with the Toms River Library and Georgian Court University.
  • The Ocean Way customer service program, the new program developed by the first cohort of the Leadership Academy, was recently delivered to approximately 40 employees.  This was the third group of employees to be trained on the “Ocean Way,” and it is proving to be a popular and useful employee tool.  Cohort #2 of the Leadership Academy will soon present its project to the President’s Leadership Team, and we expect great things from them as well.

It should be abundantly clear that we have many irons in the fire here at Ocean County College, which brings me to our theme today, “A New Era of Innovation.”  By now, I’m sure you all have committed to heart our new Vision Statement: “OCC will be the boldest, most creative, most innovative student-centered college in America.”

So, what is innovation in the context we are using it?  What do we mean by aspiring to be the ‘most innovative’ college in America? To start, let’s differentiate continuing, successful innovations, like the Microsoft digital operating system and its suite of Windows progeny that most of us use today, and “disruptive” innovations, like the Apple iPhone, Amazon’s ‘fulfillment centers,’ and Pay Pal.

The American community college is a great example of a successful, continuing innovation.  Online learning management systems like Canvas that make feasible drastic changes in the delivery modality of knowledge is a great example of a disruptive innovation.  The Festo Didactic center in Eatontown is another example of an emerging disruptive innovation that portends to supplant humans with robots in manufacturing work.

Clearly, we are seeking ways to transform our institution, a highly successful continuing innovation, to one with a monopoly, like Apple’s and Amazon’s, because our growth prospects are severely limited by always doing what we always did.

Let’s look at six defining characteristics of ‘disruptive’ innovations:

1. They target non-consumers or people who are over-served by existing products.

2. The innovation is not as good or as prestigious as many existing products as judged by historical measures.

3. They are simpler to use, more convenient, or affordable.

4.  A technology enabler carries the new value proposition upmarket.

5. Technology is paired with a business model innovation that allows it to be sustainable.

6. And, existing providers (competitors) are motivated to ignore the new innovation and are not threatened at the outset.

It is easy to see the relevance of these characteristics if we look back on how community colleges in the space of some 50 years went from zero to more than 50 percent of all enrollments at all levels of U.S. higher education.

How do these characteristics come into play as we seek to transform Ocean County College into a successful continuing disruptive innovator, like Apple and Amazon?  We need:

  • a new model
  • new educational and technology partners
  • new markets
  • a new mix of programs and services not present in our ‘industry’ that is simpler, more convenient, more affordable.

Keep in mind that being first, as Tesla is leading the market in electric cars, is alone no guarantee of success.  Remember, Atari, Blackberry, AOL, Napster, Netscape, and Palm?  One of the things that successful innovators keep in mind is not to spread themselves too thin.  Most successful disruptive innovations call for continuing intense focus on a few key things.

You are going to hear a lot in the breakout sessions about the disruptive innovations we are pursuing.  So, a crucial matter for discussion going forward is how are we going to focus and grow our innovations and not get spread too thin.

There is another dimension to successful innovation that involves leadership values and characteristics.  All change agents have a naturally high tolerance for risk.  A risk orientation is essential in the makeup of innovators.  So also is confidence.  Leading fundamental change, disruptive change, going from zero to one, as Peter Theil has defined genuinely successful continuing innovations, requires both self -awareness and empathy for the innovative team.  Leading change is complicated and difficult, so ensuring success means rewarding the entire innovation team with both material and interpersonal benefits that reflect appreciation for the team’s commitment of energy, creativity, persistence, and faith in the mission.

Legendary investor and one of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffet, nicknamed the Oracle of Omaha for his penchant for sharing his wisdom from his Omaha, Nebraska headquarters of his company, Berkshire Hathaway, offers these metaphorical pearls on what innovators should look for as they qualify opportunities for investment or development:  “I want a very valuable castle, with a duke in charge of it who is very honest and hardworking and able.  Then I want a moat around that castle.”

When you wonder why we are so excited about opportunities for OCC in Egypt, it is because we see a good chance that we can achieve Peter Theil’s goal for innovators by not only being first but also being so successful that potential competitors are reluctant to enter the fray.  This factor, the chance to monopolize a market and deter competitors, is what Buffet calls having “a moat around that castle.”  In the breakout session detailing our several opportunities in Egypt and elsewhere, you will gain a better understanding of how and why we can have a monopoly in Egypt, if not the entire Middle East.

As to the characteristics of successful innovators, Buffet says, “We want three things: intelligence, energy, and integrity.  If they don’t have the latter (integrity), then you should hope they don’t have the first two either (intelligence and energy).  If someone lacks integrity, then you want him to be dumb and lazy.”  Naturally, our goals cannot be achieved as we seek to be the boldest, most creative, most innovative student-centered college in America if we do not have leaders who have intelligence, energy, and integrity.

How do we get such leadership in sufficient abundance to sustain our continuing innovation as a traditional community college and yet achieve the frame-breaking results of disruptive innovation?  While it is no automatic assurance of success, our answer is to cultivate such leaders.  You will hear much more about our commitment to ‘grow our own’ in the breakout session on the Leadership Academy’s first cohort project: The Ocean Way.

One of the keys to detecting such talent is to understand the goals aspirants define for themselves.  Warren Buffet thinks the greatest legacy any leader can leave is “an example.  Obviously,” he says, “you want to leave the right example.”

So our challenge to the members of each Leadership Academy cohort and any new leaders we employ to head our ventures here and abroad is, as Dr. Robert Schuller posed, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?”  If you dream big and live without fear of failure, you might just have the right stuff to be a disruptive innovator who can create something entirely new and sustain it.

The third cohort of the Leadership Academy has been selected; it will begin with a kick-off event on October 26.  It is my honor now to announce the members of The 2018 Leadership Academy Class:

  • Donna Carbone, Manager of Work Control, Facilities
  • Jennifer Fazio, Director of Student Life
  • Sheenah Hartigan, Director of Student Services Operations (The Hub)
  • Mary Lancaster, Director of Financial Reporting
  • Robert Marchie, College Lecturer II in History
  • Megan Miskin, Assistant Director of EOF and CFAE
  • Donna Rosinski-Kauz, Director of Library Services
  • Gina Zippo Mazur, Coordinator of Disability Services

Please congratulate the Leadership Class of 2018!

At this time, I would like to introduce three new employees and then ask the vice presidents to introduce new employees hired since June 1 as well as recognize current employees with new titles and responsibilities.

I am pleased to introduce you to three outstanding individuals who, I believe, will make a difference at OCC:

  • Gerry Racioppi, Vice President of Student Affairs
  • Joe Konopka, Senior Aide to the President, Projects and New Initiatives
  • Tom Gialanella, Director of School Relations

I will conclude now by introducing a new impact video sponsored jointly by the College and the OCC Foundation, filmed and edited by media company Story Farm, and coordinated by Executive Director of College Relations Jan Kirsten and Executive Director of the OCC Foundation, Heather Barberi.  This video targets affordability, quality, campus life, and community involvement.

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