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September 1, 2016

Dr. Larson’s Fall 2016 Colloquium Remarks


Disruptive Change:  Forward Thinking for the 21st Century

Colloquium Remarks – Fall Semester, 2016

Jon H. Larson, Ph.D. President
Ocean County College

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

– Albert Einstein

Good morning and welcome to the Fall Semester of our fifty-second year!

We have a full agenda of challenging ideas to be presented by some of our best innovative thought leaders in the breakout sessions that follow immediately after we conclude here.  Thank you all for being here today.  I hope you are stimulated by our Colloquium topic and join in the interactive discussions in the sessions you will attend.

It is with great pleasure that I begin by introducing several very important people who have come from near and far to participate in this event:

Our Board Chair, Carl Van Thulin and his lovely wife, Kathleen;

Board Vice-Chair, Linda Novak;

Trustee Joanne Pehlivanian;

Our interpreters, Peg Jackowsky and Adrianne Adamo;

Thank you all for joining us today.

And, distinguished visitors who have come all the way from Cairo, Egypt:

Dean of the Faculty of Management, Dr. Amr El Atraby, and

Vice Dean for Graduate Studies, Dr. Sayed El Kouhly, our dear friend.

The newly appointed President of Ain Shams University, Dr. Abdel Wahab Ezzat, thought it best to not leave the country in his first week on the job; but, he will have many occasions in the future to see the beautiful Jersey Shore.

We have been holding meetings here on our Ocean County College campus with our Ain Shams University partners for several days.  Dr. Sayed has of course been here several times previously.  Dean El Atraby has participated in lively discussions with the Dean and faculty of our School of Business and Social Sciences and members of our President’s Leadership Team.  They have toured the campus and caught a glimpse of the Jersey Shore lifestyle. We will be hosting a reception with our Board of Trustees immediately after this event, and they will be hosted by the Kean/Ocean Provost, Steve Kubow, at our jointly-owned Gateway Building.  We will be visiting Dr. Dawood Farahi and his team at Kean University’s campus in Union and Dr. Joel Bloom’s team at NJIT in Newark tomorrow.

Gentlemen, we are honored and delighted that you could be here with us today.

As most of you know, I like to include a sub-script to the title of my Colloquium remarks that seems to fit the theme selected for each event.  As you heard in Assistant Vice President Toni Clay’s introduction, today’s theme is ‘Ocean County College’s Future:  Disruptive Change and Forward Thinking in the 21st Century.’

Today’s sub-script is a quotation from a Princeton University fellow by the name of Albert Einstein, who wrote:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Let me repeat that …

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

This emphasis on imagination fits perfectly the point we have been making over the past decade about the importance of innovation for any institution of higher education that hopes to be relevant, solvent, and a viable thought leader in the 21st Century.  Innovation requires imagination and alertness to opportunity and the leadership and excellent execution to make that innovation a success.

You will be hearing a lot about innovation in the breakout sessions.  One is on ‘The Ocean Way,’ led by several members of the first cohort of our Leadership Academy, Dr. Toni Clay, Jason Ghibesi, Jennifer Kelleman, Jan Kirsten, and Elise Barocas.  A.J. Trump is presenting his doctoral dissertation to his committee today and, thus, unable to participate.  They are joined by our Assistant Vice President of Human Resources, Tracey Donaldson.  We will all learn a lot about The Ocean Way over the next few years.

Another session addresses two extraordinary opportunities we have for providing degree programs for the largest retail restaurant chain in the world and a major insurance company.  Both of these huge private corporations are looking critically at their own future and anticipating major changes in their employee base and the delivery of their services and products.  They have each conducted a competitive selection process for a collegiate partner that can deliver what they believe is an essential and unique educational experience for these multi-national companies to remain leaders in their very different fields.  We are finalists in each of these searches and are optimistic that they will become longtime partners with Ocean County College.  This breakout session will be led by two of our creative thinkers who were designers of our proposals, Mark Labella and Sabrina Mathues.

A third session involves our leadership team in e-Learning, Jeff Harmon, Dr. Maysa Hayward, and Hatem Akl, who will review a myriad of international opportunities we have mined, focusing on the Middle East and North Africa, including a very important partnership with Ain Shams University.  I will come back to this later in my remarks.

Another session will feature our Learning Outcomes Assessment team addressing a new approach to General Education assessment, with Alexa Beshara Blauth facilitating a panel comprising Heidi Sheridan, James Marshall, and Susan O’Conner.

And, the fifth session features our recruitment and retention partner, Inside Track, the best-in-breed in the nation of retention and onboarding consultants.  Two of our rising stars, Lisa DiBisceglie, and Jack Kelnhofer, will be joined by Inside Track’s Seth Reynolds-Mayer, for this presentation and discussion.

I want to thank each of our presenters for sharing their special perspectives on our vision for the future of Ocean County College.  And, I want to ask everyone to reflect throughout our deliberations today on Albert Einstein’s observation about the value to be found in developing the capacity for creative imagining.  Write your thoughts down.  There might be a test!

Now, we realize that we cannot become all that our ambitious Vision 2020 calls for us to achieve if we merely get better at what we already do.  The future will belong to those who have the courage and the chutzpah to go from zero to 1, to innovate, to transform themselves and those they lead into a new, never-before-known construct that has the power to drive monumental change.  This is our mission.  This is our destiny.

You are sitting there thinking … OK!  How?  How do we start?  What do we actually have to do?  What, pray tell, would it look like?

Yes? … Am I right?  That’s great…!

You see, you are already on the road to Innovation City!  Keep thinking this way!  And, whenever you have a brainstorm, please share it … with everyone in our family.  (Just keep it a secret until we roll it out for the world to see!)

This is our expectation for every person who works at this great College: we want and we need to expand exponentially the innovators among us.  We must, if we are going to have the kind of impact on American higher education, and perhaps that of Egypt and the Middle East and North Africa Region as well, that we envision and are striving to achieve.

Now, for a moment, I want to take a little trip through some of the notions we are attempting to deal with when we imagine Ocean County College as a disruptive innovator.  Please bear with me.  I want to clarify what we intend to be about.  Nota Bene:  I will be around later for a conversation if anything in this section piques your interest.

So, listen to this … please, listen carefully.  All of you … each and every one here today with an idea, a desire, a notion, an aspiration, or especially a wickedly-contrarian concept, are welcome in the disruptive innovation tent!  Don’t wait for an engraved invitation, just pull that tent flap back and come on in!

To begin, let’s consider a few trends in global demographics, and trends in the relatively recent development of our globalized economy.  Let’s look at technology’s influence on global economics, and on the growth in demand for a better-educated citizenry.  Let’s look at the desire for more effective leadership as one of the critical factors impacting the ability to compete successfully, whether by nations, or states, or corporations, or elementary/secondary schools, or colleges and universities.

And, while we are thinking about big subjects, let’s also consider the profound impact of rapidly rising debt of historic proportions, and of the impact of gross profit margins, and of economies of scale, and of effective planning.  Let’s consider the necessity of excellent execution, on the likelihood a segment of a national economy will grow and flourish, may it be a family, or small business, or a large corporation, or a small college or a major university.

Or … whether they will not growbut instead meander and devolve into a state of mediocrity plagued by internal strife and enervating distractions from their primary task of driving productive change that enhances the intrinsic value of the product, the service, or the education provided.

Let’s keep in mind that our theme for today, and for this year, is all about innovation; specifically, innovation that can affect our own course, and perhaps the course of other institutions of higher education, both here and abroad, as we navigate our way forward into the 21st Century.

But, let me clarify that when we use the words ‘disruptive innovation’ we are not advocating that our efforts should attract unwanted attention by public squabbling with competitors.  Frankly, we do not care about our competitors and we have no time for squabbling!  Instead, we are hoping, aspiring, planning, and striving, to create and capture a totally new market that we can dominate for many years to come.  This is the story of Microsoft, of Apple, of Amazon, of Facebook, of Pay Pal, of Tesla, of Uber and hundreds of other innovations in this brave new world in which we now live; including, my friends, both the University of Phoenix and the emergence of the now ubiquitous American Community College that today enrolls more students than all other segments of American higher education all levels, combined!

We live in an era that rewards creative innovation with monopoly power and extraordinarily positive reputational status, not to mention ridiculously outsized net revenues.  And all we have to do is embrace our creative imagination and execute.

Through the clearer lens that derives from successful creative innovation, we mean to change the way the world sees the current paradigm of higher education.  We mean to create something so totally new, and strange, and appealing, that others will emulate the new model and seek to copy it, leaving behind the intense competitions within the sameness of the old order among American academic institutions, institutions that are indistinguishable from one another in any meaningful way: universities and colleges that would never be missed if they disappeared.  For us, disruption is not an end, or a goal, but an outcome of successful innovation.

We believe we are on the cusp of such opportunity.

Please listen carefully as you participate in the breakout sessions.  Our presentation ‘thought leaders’ will entrance you with the possibilities we are entertaining.  You will emerge simply mesmerized!

Yet, we trust they will also take care to protect our strategy of ‘flying under the radar’ so as not to unduly alarm the elites of our business who only think of climbing one more step up the ladder of prestige in what Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University, refers to as a universal “rat race for status,” even as these institutions look genuine opportunity in the face and ask, ‘Why would we want to do that!?’

We’ll come back to our theme in a moment, but for now let’s explore some noteworthy data on the demography and history of the Middle East North Africa region and, specifically, Egypt and Morocco.

Egypt has a 2016 population of roughly 84,706,000 people, yet is only the third largest country in Africa after Nigeria and Ethiopia.  Center City Cairo, Egypt, has an estimated 2016 population as high as 12 million, with a metropolitan Cairo area population of 20.5 million, which makes it the largest city in Africa and in the entire Middle East, and the 17th largest metropolitan area in the world.  It is the 3rd largest urban area in the Islamic World behind Jakarta, Indonesia, and Karachi, Pakistan.  By comparison, the metropolitan New York area comprises some 20.2 million people.  But, metropolitan Cairo is projected to grow to some 40 million people over the next 20 years.

Close to 100% of Egypt‘s population lives in Cairo and Alexandria, or along the Nile river banks and the Suez Canal.  Egypt has a very young population. 75% of Egyptians are under the age of 25 and just 3% are over the age of 65, which makes it one of the youngest countries in the world.  Cairo has a literacy rate of 70.8% for individuals age 15 and older.  Hence, their intense interest in advancing the educational attainment of this young population for 21st Century jobs, in advancing the success of K-12 schools, and in developing community colleges like ours.

An estimated 89% of the population in Cairo are Sunni Muslims.  About 10% are Christian, particularly Coptic Orthodoxy, which was the dominant religion in Cairo before Islam.  The city once had a large population of Jews, most of whom have since left for Israel or the United States.

Egypt has a long history.  About 5,000 years ago, the two kingdoms of Egypt — the Red kingdom of the north and the White kingdom of the south — were united by Menes, who became the first Pharaoh of Egypt.  He chose the site of Memphis as the capital, located just south of present-day downtown Cairo.  For 800 years, the city prospered and became a very influential city across the world.  For historical perspective, the U.S. Constitution was enacted 227 years ago.  It was not until the 5th Dynasty (ca 2,500 BC) that the power of the Pharaohs declined and the city became Heliopolis, ruled by Egyptian priests.

The Romans and then the Arabs both conquered and ruled the city for some time.  It was in the 14th century under the Mamaluks that Cairo became a true metropolis unrivaled anywhere else in the world.  By the 17th century under Ottoman rule, it began a long decline that was not reversed until the mid-19th century under Mohamed Ali Pasha.  Dr. Sayed El Kouhly was kind enough to take us on a tour of Mohamed Ali’s castle in Cairo on our team’s previous visit there.  From 1882 to 1926, Cairo and the rest of Egypt was ruled by the British.

Cairo is an example of a third-world mega-city, with a population that is growing rapidly due to natural factors despite insufficient services.  Thus the prime importance of a massive new $45 billion construction project now underway building a New Capital some 40 miles east of the outskirts of present-day Cairo.  And, hence also the compelling Cairene interest to include in the New Capital a “Knowledge City” compound devoted to forward thinking and innovation.  Does that theme ring a bell?

What might make it possible and even feasible for Egypt’s countercyclical demography to flourish compared to that of China, Japan, and the European Union, all recent economic powerhouses, but, for some time now, experiencing population declines exacerbated by population ageing and a net decline in working age citizens able to support the health care and retirement costs of their people?  Historically, countries with young populations, growing populations, a progressive government, and a free market economy, have always flourished.   Egypt has many problems, but has chosen to modernize its economy, embrace growth, make effective use of globalized technologies, and improve its educational systems.  Egypt is exactly the kind of partner an academic institution like ours that is committed to growth through innovation should seek out and join.

Thus, one of our unique opportunities of a lifetime would be to bring the American community college to Egypt.

Let me now briefly reprise why Morocco is also a good prospect for an additional location.  The Kingdom of Morocco is the most western of the North African countries with an alternative Arabic name that translates to “The Western Kingdom.”  Morocco’s population of 34,883,853 is less than half (41 percent) of Egypt’s population.  The majority of Morocco’s population lives to the west of the Atlas Mountains, a large range that protects the country from the Sahara Desert. The commerce center of the country and the most populous city is Casablanca with 3,000,000 residents, although the political capital is Rabat, home to 1.4 million citizens.  Other major cities include the gateway city of Tangier, the religious center of Fez, and the tourist center of Marrakech.

Morocco is also a demographically young country with 27% of its population under the age of 15, 18% between the ages of 15 and 24, 42% between 25 and 54 years old, 7% between the ages of 55 and 64 and just 6% 65 years and older. The median age of Moroccans is just 27 years old.

The vast majority of Moroccans are Sunni Muslims, primarily of Arab-Berber or Arabized Berber ethnic background.  Most of the estimated 100,000 foreign residents in Morocco are French, while France is home to the largest concentration of Moroccan migrants outside of Morocco.  A percentage of the population is descended from colonists, working mostly for large European companies.  Before its independence, Morocco was home to more than 500,000 Europeans.

Morocco has a birth rate of 18.73 births per 1,000 people, placing it 101st in the world.  Meanwhile, its death rate stands at 4.78 deaths per 1,000 people in 2013, ranking 195th in the world.  The country has a comparatively high life expectancy of 76 years with a fertility rate of 2.17, indicating moderate population growth.

Morocco’s GDP per capita is $2,871.51 which is $3,184.64 lower than the world median ($6,056.15).  A lower GDP per capita suggests a lower standard of living and inefficient economic productivity.  On the national level, GDP is $100B, which is 7.2 times higher than the world median ($13.9B) but far less than the $331B GDP of Egypt.

In 2015, Morocco’s GDP grew 4.40% which is 0.73% higher for all countries in Northern Africa (3.67%) and 1.49% higher than the median for all countries (2.92%).  Morocco’s GDP per capita of $2,871 is about 5.6 percent higher than Egypt’s $2,710 per capita, although Egypt’s national GDP swamps Morocco’s three to one.  For comparison, the U.S. GDP is $16.7T and GDP per capita is $53,042.

While Morocco is smaller, it has a decent growth rate and in spite of the disparity in GDP with that of Egypt, many families spend generously annually on private school education, from $4,500 to $6,500, and even more on international higher education in European countries.

Like Egypt, we believe Morocco is a very good prospect for Ocean County College to establish an additional location and to partner with an International University.

Our goals in going to Egypt and Morocco are several-fold, but primarily they include extending the new American community college, of which Ocean County College is a prime example, to international venues where the promise of success is high and the risk of failure is low.  Again, we would do this via our prime strategy of a joint venture with a private sector partner in the host country, in Morocco’s case with Sana Education, and a university partner whose prospects for continuously improving the quality of education through innovation, technology, and excellent execution are positive; in this instance with the International University of Rabat.

As to why UIR would be a good partner, it is because it has assiduously avoided what Dr. Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University, in his book titled Designing The New American University, describes as the bane of American Universities which he says are pathologically engaged in an ill-advised pursuit of institutional prestige and reputational enhancement, even as investments to advance academic quality suffer and more productive innovations and entrepreneurial initiatives that could drive fundamental change are eschewed.  I suspect Dr. Crow would argue that calling the prevailing model of higher education in the U.S. ‘unsustainable’ is a much-too-polite term for heading pall mall toward bankruptcy, or at best slipping into an extended decline toward mediocrity.

On a related note, consider what is transpiring in the European Economic Union:  The Bond King, CEO of Double Line Capital, Jeffrey Gundlach, said about ‘Brexit,’ the vote for Great Britain to exit the European Economic Union, “What is really happening here is that there’s massive technological change, and big changes almost always lead to political instability.  People who benefit from the old construct are loathe to see it change, because they don’t want to lose their power and economic advantage.  And so, they dig their heels in even harder.”

And, he opined, the situation is getting even worse.  Our most honorable guests from Egypt know all about this as they struggle to overcome the reactionary influence of those whose interests might be threatened by new ways, better ways; by ways that leave the elites of the past unable to rest on their laurels while others adopt new methods, new technology, new global partners, and offer new, better opportunities for their students and their nation!

Gundlach cites the advent of robots, driverless cars, advanced manufacturing technologies, the Internet-of-things (IOT), artificial intelligence (AI), and sweeping economic and demographic changes that are producing a global collapse of the traditional labor force.  There is, he asserts, an intersection of massive debt, unmanageable social entitlements, and huge demographic migrations that all portend big changes in social structures and economies globally … including right here in the U.S.

Yet, American higher education, if you rely on the Chronicle of Higher Education for information, calls for sustaining the status quo ante and complaining that U.S states, many of which face unmanageable pension and operating account deficits, are remiss in failing to keep higher education prospering in the manner to which it has become accustomed, while we in higher education (not, however, us at Ocean County College!) continue to raise tuition and fees year over year, far exceeding increases in the consumer price index!

Meanwhile, the favorite solution of the political class in the U.S. is free higher education!  That is to say, 100 percent taxpayer-funded higher education, in an environment where globalization has made obsolete most of what we historically relied upon as a norm in the manufacturing and employment and debt markets.

In a time when prices and availability of goods and services has never been better or cheaper or more readily accessible because of global supply chain management, politicians pandering to the principal beneficiaries of the now-shifting traditional paradigm in American higher education propose that we invest heavily in a throwback model, one that belies the power of these technological and methodological advances to disrupt the status quo, to create phenomenally profitable ventures and enterprises; and, that raises questions of relevancy about old, retrogressive, increasingly non-viable approaches to the delivery of high quality academic programs!

Come on!   When are our prestige-seeking brethren going to wake up and realize that the historic, creaky, leaky, old, elitist, entitlement ship is barely able to stay afloat and needs to be totally refitted to right itself and set sail for a better land!!??

Well … let’s hope not until we are so far down the road to successful innovation they will never catch up!

Now, Peter Theil, whom I cited in our Spring 2016 Colloquium, a cofounder with Elon Musk of Pay Pal and a principal in the venture capital firm, Founders Fund, an early investor in Facebook and a philanthropist who pays smart kids to skip college in favor of creating their own businesses, and who has a book out, titled Zero To One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, while himself a Stanford grad, argues that MBA’s and similar certification degrees obscure, rather than illuminate, the creative impulse.  As he puts it, “All Rhoades Scholars had a great future in their past.”

He says, “It is easier to copy a model than to make something new.  Doing something that we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar.  But, every time we create something new, we go from zero to 1.  The act of creation is singular, as in the moment of creation, and the result is something fresh and strange.”

That is what we are about … making something fresh and strange, and wonderfully profitable and valuable to a new market of underserved citizens who do not need a mountain of debt obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Art Appreciation, but do need a degree or certificate that leads to a job that permits them to support their family in a world of work that is changing rapidly and fundamentally and, in most ways, for the better.  Internationally, today’s students also need a degree that lands them an opportunity to thrive in the global economy.  And our goal is to offer that opportunity; and, not sometime in the distant future, but right now! … Right now!!  This is real global education!

What does ‘right now’ mean?  Let me give estimates of when we will start various new international programs in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.

First, our partnership with Ain Shams and Kean will begin with Ocean County College offering courses in an innovative joint online hybrid mode for the first two years of a dual degree in Global Business on October 27, 2016, to what we hope will be a cohort of 100 students.  Ain Shams University will deliver the third year of instruction in a face-to-face mode in Cairo, and Kean University will offer the fourth year of instruction either online to this cohort of students in Cairo or face-to-face here in New Jersey at the Kean University campus for those students who wish to and who can afford to come to the U.S. for their final year.

Ocean County College will award the Associate’s degree in sixteen months on a year-round rolling seven-and-a-half week term basis.  Ain Shams University and Kean University will award a joint Baccalaureate degree.  Both Kean and Ocean have offered this pilot effort at a tuition discount as a loss leader to capture interest and introduce a mode of delivery that will be entirely new for Egyptian students.  Naturally, we are expecting this effort to draw considerable interest from Ain Shams University faculty, students and family members, from the leaders of the Public University sector, from the Supreme Council of Presidents, and from Egyptian Government officials.

I want to express our sincere appreciation to our visitors from Ain Shams University for their leadership in making this innovative partnership a reality.  Thank you Dr. El Kouhly and Dr. El Atraby.  Please convey our gratitude to President Ezzat!

Second, our partnership with the Arab Academy for Science, Technology, and Maritime Studies will kick off a similar dual degree program in English in the second accelerated term on March 27, 2017.  The President of the Arab Academy, Dr. Ismail Abdel Ghafar Ismail Farag, will come to the U.S. to join us at our Spring Colloquium and to visit both Kean University and NJIT.  We expect a smaller cohort of students from the Academy, but the structure of the degree program essentially replicates the Ain Shams model.

Third, our partnership with Ahram Canadian University will see its kickoff in late spring or the first accelerated term in the summer of 2017, again with a similar three-party structure that offers Egyptian students a bridge program that strengthens their facility with the English language and offers a degree in Communications from Ocean County College and one of several American universities.

Fourth, we are presently reviewing another short-startup deadline opportunity to partner with the Arab Academy for Banking and Finance.  This may also become a three-way arrangement since we might also engage a large Egyptian training company named ITI ( Egyptian IT Industry Development Agency), which is headquartered in the Smart Village in Cairo.  ITI also has an extensive array of online training curriculum in technical subjects, including finance.  We believe it is useful to have on-the-ground partners who can intervene when issues require immediate attention.  More on that when things move along.

Fifth, we have a very significant opportunity to become the first American community college to establish an international presence.  There are no community colleges outside the United States.  We have been asked to submit a proposal by the Minister of Telecommunications in Egypt to offer many of our Ocean County College degrees in a hybrid format on the ground in Cairo beginning in the spring of 2017.  Our timeline, assuming all the pieces fall into place, will be to submit that proposal in early September in anticipation of a December, 2016, approval.  We will likewise be submitting to our accrediting agency, the Middle States Association, a Substantive Change proposal for an Additional Location in Cairo, Egypt, also anticipating a December, 2016, approval.  We are planning to begin instruction in one of the Ministry of Telecommunications’ buildings on March 27, 2017.  That date is the second seven-and-one-half accelerated term start date in the spring of 2017.  Middle States will conduct an on-site evaluation in Cairo on or about September 30, 2017.

Our goal will be to enroll 1,000 students at this initial site and to follow that, assuming all goes well, a similar number of students at additional sites in the 12 technology parks located in and around Cairo.  Ultimately we hope to have a place in the Knowledge City in the New Capital when it is ready.  We are presently engaging in discussions with NJIT about the possibility of its having a presence in the Knowledge City as well.

The invitation that we received to bring a community college to Egypt reflects the desire of Egypt’s national leadership to encourage change in the educational system and to have a model for Egyptian educators to observe and, perhaps, replicate.  They are particularly interested in seeing students move quickly to obtain practical knowledge and skills that will permit them to contribute to Egypt’s emergence as a successful 21stCentury economy.  Needless to say, we are ecstatic at the prospect of having a physical presence in Egypt that carries very little financial risk, but offers a very high likelihood that we will succeed in meeting our Vision 2020 goal of doubling our enrollment.

Inevitably, there will be a multitude of actions, approvals, and decisions that must happen in a very short time.  But, we believe we can do this.

This initial Additional Location will offer to our faculty and staff the opportunity to participate, either virtually or on the ground, in Egypt.  We are assessing those opportunities, as well as all of the logistics that such a venture portends.  We are, however, fortunate to have a private sector partner on location for whom we have been doing language training in Egypt for two years.  Alaa El Kishen is a principal owner of IMI Group (International Company for Human Resources and Management Development).  He is also a principal owner of a major Middle East outsourcing firm, ECCO, which has some 10,000 employees.  So, this venture will include a private sector partner, a department of the national government of Egypt, and we hope that our proposal for funding through the USAID program will be successful and also make the U.S Government a partner.

We have had a pledge of at least moral support from the Secretary of Higher Education, Rochelle Hendricks, and the strong encouragement and support of our accreditation liaison at the Middle States Association, Dr. Ellie Fogarty.  Naturally, the very first approval we need is from our own Board of Trustees who have so far been strongly supportive.  But, like all responsible trustees should, they will need to see the details before offering a formal green light.

I want to now shift back briefly to our other potential international venue: Morocco.  There, we are negotiating with Sana Education for an opportunity similar to that in Egypt, but in Casablanca and/or Rabat initially.  Hassan Fillili is the President of Sana and a very successful businessman and educator.  He has begun the development of a string of ‘magnet’ international K-12 schools and is very interested in having Ocean County College provide an additional location in Morocco.  We believe a partnership in Morocco would also be a very good prospect for us.  Needless to say, we see this as taking a year or more to mature to the point of making a decision.

While we were in Morocco on our most recent trip, we also met with the International University of Rabat.  Rabat is the Capital of Morocco and the home of Morocco’s King.  Among the visuals being projected on the screen here beside me are some photographs of the Universitie Internationale de Rabat, which you can recognize from the large array of new, white buildings.  The King has authorized UIR to become the nation’s first provider of online education.  They have asked us to provide a proposal to consult and assist in the development of an approach like ours, as well as to develop a 2 plus 2 partnership similar to ours with Kean University here on our campus.  We may begin working with UIR on the development of an e-Learning program in 2017 depending on UIR’s degree of urgency to begin.

Let’s now spend just a moment or two on other trends affecting the global economy that we need to be mindful of as we venture outward.  We have touched on global demographics, but the crucial issues of migratory demographics affecting the stability of all of Europe, and of stagnant population growth in China and Japan and, to a lesser degree, in India, portend dramatic shifts in the ability of these countries and regions to influence the global economy as they have done recently.

Similarly, the evolution of the capacity of emergent technologies, particularly robotics and artificial intelligence, to upset traditional occupations will likely have a huge effect on global economics.  Witness the effect of Uber which uses mobile telecommunications technology to match people who need a ride with people who want to make a living giving rides.  Almost overnight this rather simple technology has destroyed old jobs and created new jobs.  Will driverless cars eliminate the Uber drivers also?  Will the automated McDonald’s displace the hamburger flipper brigade?  Trends such as these will continue to decimate large segments of the global workforce and, at the same time, will foster a greater demand for a better-educated citizenry prepared for the new jobs of the 21stCentury and for more effective leadership.

Consider also the potential impact of U.S. student loan debt of historic proportions, currently $1.36 trillion, and its ‘Hotel California’ character for the cosigners of federal student loans, usually family members, who can never escape the repayment obligation of a student who may not have graduated and doesn’t have a job.  This phenomenon could have a significant depressive effect on college and university enrollments in the U.S. and could be a principal cause for hundreds of institutions to fail and disappear.

And, consider what happens when very similar institutions, or enterprises of any kind, compete aggressively with one another in a zero sum market.  They reduce prices and realize smaller profit margins, which makes it more difficult to operate effectively.  Colleges and universities in that kind of a death struggle of competition have no time for innovation, never think of how they might dominate a market and scale up instead of scaling down.  It is impossible to cut your way to effective planning or excellent execution.  Those are the luxuries of success, of higher margins, of more opportunity, of the tremendous growth that can only come from innovation, from creative imagination, from the joy of inventing something new that creates demand.

So, when critics ask you why … why are you going to Egypt?  Why don’t you just tend to your knitting right here in Ocean County?  You can tell them we are doing these things because we have the will, the drive, the creative spirit to tackle challenges that no one else has faced; and we do it in order to bring the fruits of those labors home to Ocean County and to Ocean County College in the form of better pay, better benefits, better technology, a better campus, a happier workforce, less need for taxpayer support, and greater pride and satisfaction that we were able to take the time to innovate … to be a meaningful player in global education while generating substantial net revenues … and, to do what no other community college in the United States imagines doing!

Before I conclude, please consider the importance of leadership in any organization.  Our initial Leadership Academy cohort has just wrapped up its year-long engagement with this topic and has learned a great deal about what it takes to be an effective leader and about the practices of exemplary leaders.  Thanks to General John DiNapoli of Spencer Ryan, LLC, his partner Bob Virtullo, and our 360 degree leadership consultant, Janice Coleman, our inaugural cohort has stepped up in numerous ways as you will see in the ensuing years.

I hope many of you will submit an application next year to participate in this transformational experience.  I am proud to announce that this coming year’s cohort is a reflection of the emerging demographics of American higher education’s trend in institutional leadership:  it is all female.  The 2016-2017 cohort includes:

  • Dr. Rosann Bar, Dean of the School of Business and Social Sciences
  • Megan Miskin, Assistant Director of EOF and Center for Access and Equality
  • Maureen Conlon, Assistant Director of Web Services
  • Jennifer Barnes, College Lecturer, Political Science
  • Dr. Maysa Hayward, Dean of Academic Outreach
  • Alison Noone, Assistant Director of Student Life
  • Tracy Walsh, Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Dr. Kate Pandolpho, Director of Career, Employment, and Personal Counseling, and
  • Janine Dillard, Employee Training Specialist

Congratulations to the graduates of our 2015-2016 initial Leadership Academy cohort and to the successful applicants of the 2016-2017 second cohort!

And, thank all of you, ladies and gentlemen, for your patience as I ramble on about what the future might look like for Ocean County College.  I appreciate your courteous attention.

As you know, we always use this occasion to celebrate some of the many accomplishments of each of our organizational units and to be sure we conclude on time so you can get to your first breakout session, we will jump to that now.  And we will forego the unabridged version and only cite a few highlights in each area:

From the Finance and Administration area, Executive Vice President Sara Winchester reports the following:

  • The new OCC Bookstore in the Student Center, which is now managed by Barnes & Noble College, officially opened for business on July 11.  The store is now fully merchandised and ready for the fall semester.  The Barnes & Nobel Bookstore Manager, Mr. Justin Holder, is on campus and looking forward to meeting OCC faculty and students.  The new bookstore website has been launched, and the faculty book adoption process is in place.
  • The Human Resources Office launched a new Employee Training Program during the summer months.  The training offerings cover a range of categories, including compliance, soft skills, technical/software, safety, and managerial skills.  The fall training offerings will be announced in the near future, and all employees are encouraged to participate.
  • The construction of the new Health Sciences Building is underway; the building will be open for the start of the academic year in September 2018.  And the renovation and modernization of the Instructional Building is proceeding.  It will reopen to students in September 2018.

Dr. Norma Betz, Vice President of Student Affairs, has the following to share with  you:

  • The Ocean County College softball team made its first-ever trip to the national championship tournament in Rochester, Minnesota, in May.   The Vikings finished 6th in the nation and won the Region XIX Championship.
  • The transition to online processing of transcripts through the National Student Clearinghouse has been very successful.  A students can easily and conveniently place an order online and receive updates of its status via email and text.
  • In May, the Veterans Office relocated to its new office located on the ground floor of the Administration Building and our very own Veteran work-study student, Alex Rodriquez, is on board to assist.  He proudly welcomes our students along with his service dog, Kona.
  • The second annual EOF Student Leadership Retreat was a success, with 21 students attending. The theme this year was “Inside Out: A Look at the Leader that Lives within ME!” 
  • In June, Ocean County College’s chapter of HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) sent several students and Advisor Professor Scott Farrell to Nashville, Tennessee, for HOSA’s International Leadership Conference.  This is the first year HOSA has been chartered at OCC. To place so well their first year is quite impressive.

From the area of e-Learning and Learning Enterprises, Jeff Harmon, Associate Vice President, shares the following

  • Our domestic e-Learning operation has completed the migration from Pearson Learning Studio to Canvas.  Starting this fall semester, all online course delivery, hybrid offerings, and the digital shells for campus-based courses will utilize the Canvas LMS and thereby move to the leading edge of technology.
  • In addition, marketing and recruitment for both in and out of Ocean County is running hot with the help of InsideTrack, the premier student recruitment agency, also used by institutions such as Penn State and Arizona State, focusing their efforts on students outside our geographic reach, while joint marketing efforts with Colorado State University and Thomas Edison State University are being developed to create awareness of the value of merging a community college education with a senior institution.
  • There are many new, exciting, and concrete International Education efforts underway.  Let us begin with what’s happening now.  In Egypt, the Public University Sector Council voted unanimously to approve our partnership with Ain Shams University and Kean University.  This happened just last week.
  • During our most recent trip abroad, Dr. Maysa Hayward, Hatem Akl, Jeff Harmon, and I visited with the International University of Rabat, in Morocco, a new, beautiful, modern campus.  UIR recently received the King’s blessing to begin offering distance education.  As I mentioned earlier, we will be preparing a proposal to see if we can help speed them to market in online education which would make them the first, and only, higher education institution offering online education in an entire country.
  • And, 48 hours after our visit to Morocco, we arrived in Cairo, Egypt.  Amidst several other meetings, we were received by His Excellency, Minister of Telecommunications, Yasser El Kady. The outcome was an invitation to establish a physical location inside Cairo’s newest and aesthetically brilliant Knowledge City.  The Minister discussed his commitment to providing OCC with a physical location to operate within and to have OCC bring the community college model to Egypt for the first time, affording OCC the opportunity to establish our brand, our quality, and the collective good of all of our efforts on the international stage.

And, finally, Dr. Lisa DiBisceglie, reports the following progress in Academic Affairs:

  • In the area of accreditation, the following was achieved:
  • Thanks to the efforts of Chad Sexton, Ocean County College has officially received National Fire Academy Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education accreditation recognition for our newly revised Fire Science program.
  • The Ocean County College Addictions Counseling Program has also received national accreditation by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission, thanks to the leadership of Jeff Lang.
  • And the School of Nursing and Health Sciences has received an eight-year accreditation renewal from ACEN.  Congratulations to Tracy Walsh and the entire Nursing Faculty!
  • Dr. Henry Jackson conducted three-day professional development training for nine teachers from the Toms River school district who will be delivering the College Readiness Now program.  He is also pursuing the inclusion of the program at Lacey Township High School during 2016-17.
  • Ocean County College also recently received the NJCCC College Credit Now Grant, providing eligible 11th and 12th grade students at Central Regional, Toms River, and Lacey Township High Schools with an opportunity to earn college credits while they are still in high school.
  • The School of Business and Social Sciences collaborated with the School of STEM, in hosting a STEM Day for 35 middle school students from the local community as part of a grant from Investors Bank.  Students viewed a mock crime scene, lifted evidence from the site, brought the evidence to the science lab for analysis, and solved a kidnapping mystery.
  • The Spring Tech Prep high school competition was held on May 11.  Replacing our traditional Cardboard Canoe competition was a Unique Robotics Challenge that allowed high school teams to be creative with performing any task of their choice.  Seventy-nine students attended the event, with 63 students participating in the competition from 6 area schools
  • Academic Affairs continues to work with a team from Kean University in developing a joint BSN degree.  This would be the first joint BSN degree offered in New Jersey between a community college and a four-year university.  The plan is to launch the program in fall 2017, and
  • OCC and NJIT have entered into a Joint Admissions Agreement as well as a Memorandum of Understanding that will include NJIT offering classes on the OCC campus starting this fall Semester.

And now, I am delighted to introduce to you an impressive group of new College employees:

Finance and Administration


  • Christine Healy, Director of Purchasing & Payables
  • Barbara Myers, Purchasing Coordinator


  • Bennett Broder, Lead Network & Information Security Administrator
  • Thomas Van Duyne, Part Time PC Technician

Physical Plant

  • Kevin Farina, General Maintenance Mechanic
  • James Newcomb, Part Time Central Plant Operator

College Relations

  • Valarie Morris, Office Manager and Special Events Coordinator


  • Frank Iannone, Director of College Safety and Security
  • Keith Arroyo, Part Time Security Officer II
  • Joseph Catapano, Part Time Security Officer II
  • William Dasti, Part Time Safety and Compliance Trainee
  • Twylen Hicks, Part Time Security Officer II
  • Alexandra Liquori, Part Time Security Officer II
  • Daniel Malay, Part Time Security Officer II
  • David Schenck, Security Officer II
  • Douglas Weedon, Part Time Security Officer II

Academic Affairs

  • Janelle Varin, College Lecturer II, Library
  • John McElroy, College Lecturer II, Biology
  • Steve Gerding, Instructor, Criminal Justice
  • Heidi Sheridan, Interim Dean, Arts and Humanities
  • Sabrina Mathues, Acting Dean, Academic Services
  • Henry Jackson, Executive Director, Student Success

E-Learning and Learning Enterprises

  • Tara Huff, Instructional Designer in e-Learning
  • Britni Mastria, e-Learning Academic Administrator

Student Affairs

Financial Aid

  • Xiomara Corrales – P/T Financial Aid Technician
  • Carol McAleavey – P/T Financial Aid Technician


  • Amanda Kuster – Admissions Representative
  • John Sellino – Admissions Representative


  • Michele Gioxaris – Office Coordinator

Career, Employment, and Personal Counseling

  • Briana Ferlisi – Student Support Services Technician
  • Katherine Moreno – P/T Student Support Services Academic Coach and,
  • Tara Van Hest – P/T Community Services Technician

Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes are opening session.  Please enjoy the rest of the Day.

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