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January 21, 2016

Dr. Larson’s Colloquium Speech

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail


Spring Semester, 2016
Ocean County College President, Dr. Jon H. Larson, Ph.D.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

–    Satchel Paige

As you can see, Ocean County College’s visit to the Middle East and North Africa – the MENA Region – has left a couple of us adopting the garb of Pharaoh Queen Nefertiti and a wealthy Saudi Sheik!

Thanks, Dr. Clay for being a good sport.  You now know there is no costume that we will not get into for a laugh!

Thanks also to Ralph Bertini for orchestrating the entrance.

We are privileged to have distinguished guests in attendance today:

  • Board Chair, Carl Van Thulin and his wife, Kathleen
  • Board of Trustees Vice Chair Linda Novak, and
  • Sign language interpreters Adrianne Adamo and Peggy Jackowsky.

During this presentation we will project photos for your entertainment of our visit last week to Egypt and Morocco.  They are an amalgam of pics taken by our hosts in Egypt and Morocco and our team in e-Learning and Learning Enterprises.

We had a truly wonderful time and accomplished more than we had hoped for.  Let me take this time to sing the praises of our team members: Mr. Jeff Harmon, Dr. Maysa Abou-Youssef Hayward, and Mr. Hatem Akl.

Jeff, as most of you know is the Associate VP for e-Learning and Learning Enterprises.  He proved once again on this very important trip how valuable he is to OCC.  Time and again, when opportunity arose, Jeff would step up to say, “We can do that.  Let me send you a proposal.  It will be in your inbox as soon as we return to the States.”  And, usually, that happened within hours, not days.  Jeff is so organized and productive and creative, he has the shirts in his closet arranged by color!  Seriously, Jeff is truly an exceptional talent.  Thanks, Jeff, for putting that talent on display when it counts!

Maysa, if you didn’t already know, is a native Egyptian and Arabic speaker.  We would not have been able to accomplish what we did without her extraordinary skill in discovering opportunities, recognizing them for their value to OCC, and her ability to articulate our goals and capabilities in fluent and persuasive Arabic.  She was literally a marvel of energy and insight … not to mention a gracious hostess for those of us visiting her native country for the first time.  Thank you, Maysa, for being a consummate professional!

And, what can I say about our Chief Information Officer, Hatem Akl?  He is the Henry Kissinger of CIO’s!  This man has the talent to be a Secretary of State, masquerading as a techie!  Hatem has the gift of diplomacy, innate gregariousness, and personal charm that few Foreign Service officers can claim … and he does it effortlessly, with a disarming smile.  Who knew?  (Well, we do now!)  Thank you, Hatem, for all you did to make our visit a success!

I’ll come back to the activities and results of our trip to Egypt and Morocco in a moment, but first let’s set the stage for our panel discussions and our theme for today which deals with a topic we have touched on in various ways regularly over the past decade.

I have titled this theme, I hope provocatively, “The End of Work.”

Now, before you start cheering and dancing in the aisles, this is a serious matter facing the entire world and the U.S. in particular.  To terribly oversimplify it, consider this:  what if it were to become possible for automated engineering, robotics, artificial intelligence computing, cloud delivery, the Internet of Things, and process improvement technology and techniques to become so much more productive and less expensive than hiring humans that employers began a long-cycle trend to eliminate jobs for people in favor of using robots, drones, and mechatronic processes to produce goods and services?

Here is the dilemma we will discuss in one of our four breakout sessions, the one titled “Societal Trends and Factors Impacting Higher Education.”   Because the fact is these technologies are in (limited) use across the globe today!

Take, for instance, NAOqi.  What is NAOqi?  It is an operating system based on natural interaction and emotion.  It offers a new way of interacting with machines.  NAOqi is so powerful that it enables the robot to become a true companion in daily life.  This operating system is common to all Aldebaran robots.

You do not use NAO, to talk to him, just like anyone else.  With their humanoid form, NAO, Pepper, and Romeo (early copies of this robot series, understand, move, and interpret the data you transmit with your voice, as well as data from the environment.  In this way, it offers the richest, most complete interaction possible.
Te NAOqi operating system allows the robot to interact with you based on what’s actually happening.  The objective is to make the most of the moment and allow NAO to take care of your needs effectively.  By watching your everyday behavior, Aldebaran robots can provide services without being asked.

Over time, the NAOqi operating system allows the robot to learn, converse, and identify key moments in your life based on observed habits and your emotions.  NAOqi is what makes the relationship with Aldebaran robots so magical and gives them a role in your life.  And, they’re cute!

So, if a smart machine, a drone, a self-driving car, or a manufacturing process could operate with only minimal human involvement – and do the same work as we humans have done for centuries … only better, faster, and cheaper, with near zero down time, what would be the impact on our world?  What if these robotics and automated processes could be productive 24 hours a day, never taking a sick day, holiday, or a vacation day, and what if they operated with flawless accuracy, insight, and acumen, and do it interactively with humans?  What if they could take over the dangerous tasks of fighting fires and the boring jobs of making cars and the customer service jobs of waiters, pilots, baby sitters and … yes, teachers, admissions officers, registrars, bursars and … well, almost everybody except entrepreneurial leaders from the faculty and staff … and presidents  … what would that mean to enrollments, to revenues, to jobs in higher education?

Hopefully, we will have a good discussion of these issues in our breakout sessions, but make no mistake about it … the world of technology, Internet connectivity of everything, artificial intelligence, and robotics is already upon us and gaining speed.

Denying that our future will ever look much different than our past is to court disaster for our institution and the people we employ and to whom we owe an obligation to protect and shelter from the storms that such a future could bring.  We cannot do that!

For those with the vision to foresee a future that no longer requires that mankind generate economic value primarily via labor, but instead to produce economic value principally through idea generation, creative invention, and innovative assimilation of technology and the basic human instinct to learn, this future is very bright indeed.

For those who insist that the past is not merely prologue for the future but an immutable mandate to honor organizational processes and structures of human invention, such as bureaucracies and 15 week semesters, and classrooms organized into regimental order so our connected students of the future can learn to read classics in the original Greek and draw blueprints on drafting tables, when what they really want is to use their mobile devices sewn into their ‘haute couture’ smock at an ‘age nouveau’ factory run by three people managing four thousand robots, new technology that enables them to leap ahead of the syllabus and graduate with a baccalaureate degree in 2.5 years or less … the future is foreboding, dark, and even unimaginable!

But … what if the productivity of these new processes generated an abundance of everything, making life pleasant, affluent, and within the affordable reach of ‘everyman?’

Some forecasters think this future is already underway.  Lauren Rublin, a columnist for Barron’s, wrote this recently in an article titled, A Shrinking Workforce: “The labor force participation rate, or the share of Americans 16 and older who are either employed or looking for work, has fallen precipitously since 2008, to a 38-year low of 62.4 percent.  To many observers this worrisome trend indicates a weak economy and diminishing employment trends.

But, David Kelly, a global strategist for J.P. Morgan demurs.  “At 65, you become eligible for Medicare.  That causes many people to drop out of the workforce, and explains about half the decline in the labor-force participation rate.  Other causes include a surge in working age people receiving disability benefits.  He concludes, “There isn’t a lot of slack left in the economy” meaning there are fewer jobs to be found that an applicant lacking special qualifications can fill.

In December of 2015, Thomas G. Donlon of Barron’s wrote an editorial piece that formed the basis of my pitch today.  It was sub-titled, “A robotic economy might do away with human work.”  In it, he cites a You Tube video titled “Humans Need Not Apply.”  Its author, C.P. Grey, cites projections that 45 percent of American jobs – from truck drivers to retails sales – could be filled by robots using technology already available.  Donlon notes the plethora of books and articles forecasting a future of robot-made abundance and human misery, or human uselessness.

Horses, once the staple of efficient farming because they had stamina and strength, thus forming the basis for our language defining automotive power (e,g., horsepower), hardly perform any essential jobs now.  Machinery replaced horses.  Grey thinks that artificial intelligent machines will do the same to humans.

Donlon cites two industries, coal mining and farming, that have seen humans replaced by automated machinery.  “In 1950,” he writes, “488,000 American worked in coal mines producing 560 million tons per miner.  In 2013, 80,000 people operated machines that dug 982 million tons of coal, a sixth of the former work force produced almost twice as much coal, 12,000 tons per miner.”

The same has happened in farming where nearly no farm laborers work anymore, un-needed because semiautomatic machines took over the tasks of producing food.  The same thing can happen in the fast food industry and in three-star restaurants, according to Donlon.  The only role for humans in the fanciest restaurants will be to provide a prestige factor, not to fill a role that can be done better by a robot.  “Waiters will be the next horses in line for replacement,” he writes.  Indeed, forecasts that robots will eliminate 500 million jobs over the next 20 years are heard more and more frequently now.

“We should ask,” Donlon writes, ‘how displaced laborers will provide for themselves at the end of the age of labor.”  Indeed, that is the question being posed in literally hundreds of occupations in America today … newspaper reporters, editors, copywriters, typesetters, TV repairmen, computer repairmen, telephone linemen, the entire telecommunications industry has been decimated by technologies that have mad the plain old telephone obsolete.  And Labor Day will have to be renamed Robot Day, Donlon darkly opines – at least until, he writes, “artificial intelligence catches up, and robots become citizens.”

As if that were not enough, Nouriel Roubini, an economist who writes for MarketWatch, dismally predicts the disintegration of European society as these forces of modernity clash with the forces of reaction emerging from the Middle East.  China and Russia are flexing their military muscles, outbreaks of infectious diseases like MERS, SARS, and Ebola loom, while cyber warfare, “non-state actors and groups” create conflict and chaos, and extreme weather events become more lethal.

Meanwhile, General Motors is investing $500 million in a start-up ride-hailing company like Uber, named Lyft.  Why? “We see the future of personal mobility as connected, seamless, and autonomous (e.g., driverless),” said Dan Ammann, GM’s President.

Electric cars that go from 0 to 60 mph in under three seconds to cell phones that are electrically charged via satellite links, to cheap ultra-high-definition TV screens make the products we use today seem expensive, tired, and useless.  And the pace of these changes is accelerating.

When the cost to employ human capital is greater than the perceived value, new markets pop up and beg to be served by those with an entrepreneurial bent and an appetite for risk.

Usually, academics do not speak of their industry in these terms … but as Bob Dylan sang back in the late 1960’s, “the times they are a’ changing!”

Yes, technology and mechatronics will displace human labor … especially the kind of labor that involves repetitive tasks – in other words, jobs that lack problem-solving ability, higher order thought processes, authentic human interactions, and imagination.  But isn’t that actually what the business of higher education should be about?

Hopefully, you will have, and will share, a few thoughts on this question and the options these developments offer to an educational institution like ours seeking to transition to relevancy and resilience in this disruptive future when you join one of the breakout sessions later today.

Consider this:  Sun Tzu, Chinese general, military strategist, philosopher and author of The Art of War, wrote, “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” Stemming from our recent exploration of new opportunities in the Middle East and Northern Africa regions, and through our partners and projects already underway, we find ourselves in the auspicious position of having an over-abundance of opportunities, even as we anticipate the kinds of changes to our traditional world that notions like “The End of Work” portend.  Indeed, from the ashes of every crisis a Phoenix arises – a new path opens and a future that looked gloomy and foreboding can take on a rosy aura … if we are bold, creative, innovative, and ready to take reasonable risks to sustain our institution and continue to find engaging work for those we employ, even if it is different than the work we now do.

Now, listen to this.  I emphasize this point because we want everyone in our institution to be aware of why we are engaging the globe in vastly different ways, why we went to Egypt and Morocco, why we are seeking new approaches, technologies, and partnerships:  we want to survive, to flourish, to remain viable and relevant.  We want to generate the revenue necessary to assure that our people are the best paid, our students the best educated, our college community the most engaged in transforming who and what we have been to who and what we will be … and we want to plow back the resources gained with global partnering to make this campus a model of excellence serving our local community – the essential role of a community college!

Under the coordination and direction of Learning Enterprises and soon, the Ocean Global Institute, and in working closely with Dr. Maysa Hayward and Jeff Harmon, we ask you to consider volunteering to help explore our myriad, and exponentially increasing, international opportunities.  At present we have over two dozen potential projects to research, vet, develop, and implement internationally.  Regardless of what college function you currently perform, be it staff, administration, full-time or part-time faculty, if you have an interest in helping to bring to fruition any of these projects, I would encourage you to begin a dialogue with Maysa and Jeff.  They say that many hands make light work, and today the need is great for more support as we continue forward.

How can we help those who will be displaced by these forces of automation and modernity?  How can we preserve the concept of the community college in this brave new world?  Are there opportunities lurking in the mist that we can barely fathom, yet may open up doors to an abundance of work that is challenging, creative, and engaging?

I think the answer is yes!  Let’s look at some that we discovered in the MENA Region last week.

1.    Ain Shams University  

a.    Dual–Degree program w/ Kean University
b.    Dual-Degree program w/ NJIT
c.    Executive Professional Certificates w/ Experiential Component (e.g., Risk     Management & Insurance Certificate for Insurance Professionals in Egypt requested by the Director of the Ministry of Investment’s Leader Development Center, Dr. Asraf Ibriham)

2.    Arab Academy for Maritime Science & Transport

a.    Dual Degree Program w/ Kean University
b.    ESL Placement Testing & Remediation in Math/English

3.    IMI International / Sana & Saham

a.    Expansion of the IMI Language Institute into other   languages (French, German, Italian) in Egypt
b.    Expansion of the IMI Language Institute into Morocco
c.    Rosetta Stone Language Training for K-12 Market in Egypt & other MENA regions
d.    Hybrid Degree program offerings in Egypt & Morocco
e.    ESL / ESP (English for Specific Purposes) in Business Studies, trip for 50 students to come to the US in July 2016
f.    Non Credit Certificate (Hybrid) in Nutrition and in Teacher Education.
g.    USAID Grant Opportunities as co-submissions with the IMI and ITIDA (governmental agency supporting professional training of Egyptians)
h.    Pilot establishment of private community colleges in the MENA Region

4.    Al Ahram Canadian University

a.    Dual-Degree program w/ Kean University
b.    ESL et al. language training
c.    Internships

5.    OCC International General Projects

a.    Ocean Global Institute

1.    Center for International Internship Placement
2.    Foreign Student University Admissions Service

We departed on Friday, January 8, for Cairo, via Egypt Air and arrived on Saturday morning, January 9, and were escorted by Dr. Sayed el Kouhly to

  • Mohamed Ali Castle
  • Dinner Cruise on the Nile River

On Sunday, January 10, I gave a speech to about 150 business leaders and media at the Ministry of Investment Leader Development Center comparing U.S. and Egyptian education systems.  We did the tourist thing at the Pyramids and Sphinx, did a TV interview with an Arabic language station, held a press interview with the largest newspaper in Cairo, and went to dinner with Alaa el Khishen, President and owner of IMI, Inc., a training company in Cairo.

On Monday, January 11, the IMI partnership signing ceremony and was held in which we presented our team, including Dr. Sophia Howlett, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs at Kean University.  We then toured the Maadi Call Centre Technology Park, visited the IMI corporate premises, visited the ECCO Company call center, visited the ECCO Masr El Gadida branch site, and had dinner at Fairmont Heliopolis Hotel with about twenty professional staff of the Arab Academy of Science, Technology and Maritime Studies.

On Tuesday morning, January 12, we traveled to the Cairo campus of the Arab Academy for a signing ceremony and presentations, held meeting with the Academy leadership team, and toured the College of Language and Communication.

In the afternoon, we held a signing ceremony for our three-way partnership with NJIT, Kean University and Ain Shams University.  Ain Shams is a large public university enrolling over 250,000 students.  We met with the Interim President and leadership team, but postponed the signing ceremony until a new President is appointed, and went to dinner with Interim President and his staff.

On Wednesday, January 13, we held partnership discussions with Al Ahram Canadian University, met with the President, enjoyed an ACU presentation about their institution, a private university based on the Canadian higher education model, and explored numerous partnership opportunities.  We held a signing ceremony then departed for lunch at a unique restaurant in a skeet shooting club, then had a late dinner at the Sequoia restaurant which serves authentic Egyptian cuisine.

On Thursday, January 14, Jeff and I flew to Morocco for partnership meetings with Sana Education and IMI Groups that produced another batch of program opportunities teaching language proficiency with private elementary/secondary schools in Egypt and Morocco operated by SANA.

And, on Friday, January 15, we returned to US on Royal Air Moroc.  Someday, when we can laugh about it, we will regale you with stories of our two and a half hour experience in passport control and our eight and a half hour delay before taking off for JFK in New York … but, we’re not there yet!

Let me conclude this portion of our presentation on a pleasant note.  When we landed at JFK, at 4:00 a.m., and went through U.S. Customs passport control.  The Customs and Border Patrol Officer who processed my re-entry saw my OCC pin on my blazer and said, “Are you with OCC?  I went there!”  With a smile he told me he had graduated from Kean /Ocean before joining the Customs and Border Patrol.  I gave him my card and the whole process took less than five minutes!

It was a good feeling to be back in the USA and seeing a friendly face with a connection to OCC.  Our reach is getting wider, folks!

Now, here at OCC, progress is being made in all areas of the College.  I want to share with you today some of the many activities underway and achievements that have been realized:

In the Finance area under the leadership of Ms. Sara Winchester, Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration:

  • Ellucian Cloud – Ocean County College is leading an effort within the NJ community college sector to form a consortium to design and implement a sector-wide Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system with Ellucian.   Both EVP Winchester and I are playing key roles in this effort.  The consortium will allow the county colleges to combine purchasing power and realize significant savings as compared to the cost incurred by each college currently procuring separate systems from Ellucian.  Further savings will be realized in the future as upgrades and system maintenance are performed in the cloud.  A Cloud ERP Consortium Governance Board consisting of NJ Community College Presidents will be formed to oversee the project, and a Cloud ERP Consortium Data Governance Committee consisting of NJ Community College Staff will be formed to design, implement, and oversee the operation of the system under the direction of the Governance Board.  The project will be split up into cohorts consisting of three colleges, and OCC is slated to participate in the first cohort.
  • Following an intensive, comprehensive, multi-phase review, which included input from faculty, administrators, and technical staff, a three-year contract was awarded to Canvas to serve as the College’s new Learning Management System provider.
  • The Ocean County College Leadership Academy has been developed, and the first group began its journey with a two-day retreat in December.  Members of the inaugural cohort are participating in one of the workshops being offered today, “The OCC Leadership Academy – Where are They Now?” which is being facilitated by Ms. Tracey Donaldson, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources.  This year-long program will provide the opportunity for participants to develop and hone the skills, knowledge, and behaviors to manage and lead with confidence.
  • The Grunin Center had an extremely successful season.  Several performances were sold out, including Art Garfunkel, The Vienna Boys Choir, and Canadian Brass.  I encourage you to check out upcoming performances and enjoy the wonderful talent coming to OCC.
  • The new Student Center is complete and opened last week for business.  It is a magnificent facility; make sure you stop by to see for yourself.  Canteen, a national company, was selected as our food service provider, and I have heard many good comments its service, selection, and quality.
  • The first phase of the Philip J. Citta Center for Sailing and Maritime Arts and Sciences was completed in September.  The first phase included a dock and floating boat launch, along with landscaping and lighting.   Fund raising is underway for Phase II of the project, which includes a 1,400 square foot sailing boat house.  Roy Wilkins is at this moment in Vail Colorado with a major benefactor planning the fundraising campaign.  In the meantime, the OCC Sailing Club has begun using the facility.
  • On September 16, the West College Drive, the College’s third entrance, opened.  The new road provides the campus with direct access to the upper campus as well as improved traffic flow for entry and departure.  With the influx of Kean University students on the OCC campus, this long awaited third access point is a much needed improvement.  In partnership with the County and the Department of Environmental Protection agency, 1,000 new trees will be planted on campus to augment the inviting and environmentally friendly atmosphere.
  • The funding plan for a new Health Sciences Building has been established, and the initial design is complete.  The specifications will be released for bid soon, and construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.
  • The Athletic Field House, located near the OCEAN, Inc., Child Care Center, has been restored, and the restrooms have been reopened.    A new scoreboard has also been installed.
  • Ocean Cruiser is now retired and Ocean Connect, OCC’s new portal, is fully live.  Feedback from students has been very positive.  A new Emergency Alert system, VIKING ALERT, has also been implemented.  VIKING ALERT will be used to notify all users of emergency situations as well as to send alerts to students regarding key registration timelines.  And,
  • Outdoor wireless access continues to expand across the campus.  External Wireless is now available on the Toms River lower mall and the area surrounding the Gateway building.
  • In keeping in with our Strategic Initiatives and in particular Strategy #7, “Continuously Improve Learning Support Processes and Practices,” a new process began in October called the Student Success Experience, the central idea of which is to integrate virtually and physically and strengthen the services that provide students the help, support, and structure they need to be successful in college.  Using a collaborative, orbital communication approach within and across the campus community, the Student Success Experience will offer and ensure access to comprehensive programs and holistic services designed to empower all students and to connect them reliably and easily with the resources they need to achieve their academic and personal goals.During a workshop session today, “From Theory to Implementation: The Student Success Experience,” the project coordinators, Keith Bunn, Veronica Guevara-Lovgren, and Sheenah Hartigan, will report progress to date and explain in more detail the plans and implementation process.

During a workshop session today, “From Theory to Implementation:  The Student Success Experience,” the project coordinators, Keith Bunn, Veronica Guevara-Lovgren, and Sheenah Hartigan, will report progress to date and explain in more detail the plans and implementation process.

  • In the athletics arena:
    • OCC’s athletics program finished in second place in CAANJ Standings
    • OCC hosted the National Soccer Championship for the second year
    • OCC’s Women’s Soccer Team was named 2014 Region XIX Champions of Character, and three Women’s Soccer players were named All-Americans
    • Women’s Volleyball were again GSAC Champions
    • Women’s Cross Country was third in the Nation  as well as Region and GSAC Champions
    • One Men’s Cross Country and three Women’s Cross Country players were honored as All-Americans
    • Craig Smith, Men’s Soccer player, was honored as NATYCAA Male Scholar Athlete of the Year and Region XIX Robert Zifchak Male Scholar Athlete of the Year
    • Ms. Ilene Cohen, Executive Director of Judicial Affairs and Athletics, was honored as the Garden State Award recipient at the 2015 Collegiate Athletic Administrators of New Jersey luncheon in October.  She joins a group of prestigious honorees as the 32nd recipient of this award, the organization’s highest honor presented annually to an individual who has made substantial and enduring contributions to the development of intercollegiate athletics in New Jersey.
    • The Athletics Department launched its new website at  All community members can now view team schedules, rosters, bios, statistics, box scores, live and archived video streams, and much more.  A mobile app is also available for up-to the minute scores and news updates.
    • After a “Name the Viking” campaign, with 125 OCC students voting in November, Vidar was made an official member of the Ocean County College campus community.  Vidar has been very busy this semester assisting our Admission Ambassadors on tours; checking out the Toms River Halloween Parade; popping in during Career Week, Welcome Week, and Fall Fest; and greeting and posing for pictures with Ocean County Guidance counselors during our NJSTARS Workshop. Vidar’s plans for the spring semester include visiting Ocean County high schools to hand deliver acceptance letters to some amazing new students.  He is also planning to conquer southern Ocean County by spending time meeting students at the Southern Education Center and checking out some local entertainment and attractions.  I’m sure you will see Vidar across the campus.
    • This year’s Student Leadership Development Conference was held on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, January 6 to 8, at the Honors Haven Resort in Ellenville, New York under the direction of Alison Noone and Jen Fazio in Student Life.  Attending were 32 impressive and enthusiastic students with 9 faculty and staff participants and 4 facilitators.  The faculty and staff commented how responsive the students were to all activities and exercises held during the unique student development opportunity.
    • The Student Planning program went ‘live’ to faculty and staff in September and all students now have access to the program.  Advising will continuously monitor the system with IT, Academic Affairs, and Registration and Records.  Student Planning allows students to plan their degree program from the beginning of their college experience to graduation.  This software is available to students online and can be accessed from their home.  Academic Advising Services, under the direction of Ms. Anna Regan, has provided training for staff, faculty, and students.
    • The Advising Office, in partnership with the NJSTARS Club, hosted the 2015 Transfer Fair in October. The event was well attended despite rainy weather. Ninety-five institutions participated and close to 200 signed in with at least one institution.
    • Also in October, NJSTARS Coordinator Elaine Schardien organized and hosted a Partners Workshop for high school counselors.  Representing OCC were Ms. Lisa Kasper, Director of Admissions, Ilene Cohen, Executive Director of Judicial Affairs and Athletics, Ms. Annamaria Harrison, Financial Aid Specialist for NJSTARS.  Ms. Sharon Austin participated as the HESAA representative, and student Kascha Wac participated as the student speaker. The event was a success with 48 individuals attending.
    • In conjunction with Registration and Records, the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Kean University, Assistant Director of Academic Advising, Pam Donohue, organized two-pre-nursing information sessions.  Prospective nursing students had the opportunity to hear from Ms. Bridget Root in Nursing Admissions, Ms. Mary Fennessy in Nursing, and Ms. Tara Higgins from Kean University.  Over 70 students attended these sessions.
    • The Advising Office has made several resources available to staff and faculty advisors across the campus.  Campus advisors have access to a comprehensive Advising Manual, online presentations on four common advising topics, a video tutorial on NJ Transfer, and the Advising Hotline for questions.
    • Career Employment and Counseling Services, under the direction of Dr. Kate Pandolpho, introduced a very important intervention service for students who are academically at risk due to poor grades. This intervention service, Step-by-Step to Academic Success, was designed and implement by counseling staff, and the program was quite successful.
    • Ocean County College has been awarded a $1.1 million dollar Trio Support Services (SSS) grant from the United States Department of Education. The grant was renewed for five years.  The grant provides academic support to 140 OCC students who are first generation, low income, and/or disabled who have academic need.
    • The College has also been awarded a renewal of the Displaced Homemakers Program grant from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families.  This program provides comprehensive services to women who must become economically self-sufficient due to separation, divorce, death or disability of the primary wage earner. This program also received an extension of the SSBG Sandy funds which is targeted for training.  And,
    • Ocean County College has been named (for a third year in a row) to the 2016 Military Friendly schools list.  This designation showcases the top 20% of colleges, universities, and trade schools in the country that embraces America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses as students, ensuring their success on campus.  Military service members, veterans, and spouse as students can go to the website and not only pick Military Friendly schools but can search employers, franchises and cities that offer the most opportunities for the military.
  • Several other new academic programs are in the pipeline:
    • We are moving forward on gaining NASAC accreditation for our Addictions Program as well as FESHE accreditation for our Fire Science Program.  When obtained, OCC will offer the only FESHE approved community college program in the nation.
    • The Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management Program will soon be sent to the Presidents’ Council for program approval.
    • Web Marketing and Cyber Security Programs are currently under discussion.
    • e-Learning and Enterprise Initiatives continues its work on both domestic and international partnerships.  Domestically, e-Learning is working with Sussex County Community College in a partnership whereby OCC is providing LMS technology, course content, training and support to faculty and students to allow Sussex entry into their local online market.  Additionally, through our existing partnership with Kean University, we are pairing OCC Online and Kean Online.  OCC will provide additional coursework to Kean applicants in order to gain entry to Kean’s program.
    • The UISFL grant is in its second year of operation.  It has afforded OCC the ability to hire a full-time College Lecturer II in Middle Eastern Studies and a full-time Instructional Designer.  The Middle East Studies Center is now operational; it is located in the Library.

For twenty years of service:

  • Dr. David Bordelon, Associate Professor of English and Literature
  • Dr. Elizabeth Brierley, Associate Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Lisa Cecere, Assistant Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Dr. Toni Clay, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs
  • At the SEC, Patricia DeFelica, Adjunct Associate Professor of Mathematics
  • Karin Gargone, Instructor of Humanities
  • Joyce Ann Lamparello, Senior Buyer I
  • Dottie LaPosa, President’s Liaison
  • Lenabell Manning, Human Resources Information Systems Supervisor
  • Jeffrey McWeeney, e-Learning Adjunct Associate Professor of Business Studies
  • Patricia Phillips, Adjunct Associate Professor of Science
  • Karin Smith, Administrative Assistant

For thirty years of service:

  • Wanda Jones, Confidential Human Resources Assistant
  • Geraldine McGinty, Part-Time Paraprofessional Counselor
  • Lillian Morrocco, Human Resources Department Supervisor

And, I have one more, very special, service award.  I would like to call Morris Spector to the stage so I can present him with a Certificate of Appreciation for the completion of 25 years of teaching as an Adjunct Professor of History.  Morris will be celebrating his 90th birthday in June, which makes him OCC’s oldest employee.  We are indeed fortunate to recognize him for his service.  Congratulations, Morris!

And, congratulations to all.  Your contributions to the College are very much appreciated.


This year, we initiated the President’s Awards for Excellence to recognize individuals for their contributions to Ocean County College at the College, division, and department levels.  I would like to ask Tracey Donaldson to join me as we present each of the awards:

Ocean County College has replaced the Employee of the Year award with this new annual employee awards program – the President’s Awards for Excellence.  The purpose of the program is to acknowledge and express appreciation for outstanding accomplishments at the department, division and College-wide level that do not fall entirely within the scope of normal duties, but rather, clearly indicate above-and-beyond effort.  Employees are nominated based on their achievements in one or more of the following criteria, all of which support the College’s strategic plan – “Charting our New Course”.  The categories are:

Outstanding Service to Students
Efficiency and Innovation
New Markets
Work Environment

The award recipients were nominated by their fellow employees and all nominations were reviewed and considered by the President’s Leadership Team.

Each award recipient receives a monetary award, an engraved cup and lunch with the President’s Leadership Team.  Additionally, engraved cups for each award level will reside in the Admin Building in a showcase, where annually, awardee names will be added and displayed.

Without further ado, we are proud to recognize the outstanding performance of the recipients of the President’s Award for Excellence for the year 2015.

The recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence at the Department Level is Patricia (Pat) Chirco, Assistant Buyer in the Purchasing Department.  She was nominated in the category of “Work Environment.”

Pat’s responsibilities involve working with the Buyers in Purchasing on bid proposals for vendor contract awards.  She realized the need to improve collaboration and cooperation between Purchasing and Facilities so that vendor bid proposals would reach the Purchasing Department in a timely manner.  To facilitate the process, Pat developed a spreadsheet to be shared by the Purchasing Department and the Main Room Receiving Office.  With increased awareness of the importance of timely receipt of bid proposals, late deliveries have been eliminated and the College’s reputation as a professional institution has been enhanced.  Successful bidding processes increase vendor competition, potentially reducing costs and enabling the College to be more fiscally responsible.

Pat’s decision to initiate a collaborative process positively impacts the College’s stated values of a “collaborative, creative, and team-spirited approach to leadership.”  And her professionalism in daily interactions with co-workers, students and those outside the College community, has greatly enhanced the College’s vision of promoting “the highest institutional integrity.”  We are proud to present this award to Pat Chirco for her outstanding service to the College.

The Recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence at the Division Level is Mary Lancaster, Director of Financial Reporting in the Accounting Department.  Her award is in the category of “New Markets.”

Mary’s mastery of the complexity of the College’s financial systems is exemplified in all her efforts.  An example of this competency was shown in her responsibility in putting together the College’s financial statements and coordinating the annual audit.  When new reporting requirements were initiated for pension liabilities in 2015, Mary worked with the auditors to ensure that the new requirements were met and presented to the Board of Trustees in a timely manner, ensuring that the College adhered to the state-wide audit deadline.

Another significant responsibility of Mary’s position involves grant reporting and in recent years the amount of grant revenue received by the College has increased dramatically, far beyond what was imagined.  Mary’s untiring efforts in meeting every deadline and complying with the increased complexity of requirements for maintaining these grants, attests to her diligence and expertise – a critical aspect in the ongoing financial health of the College.  Since enrollment has declined, grant revenue has helped sustain programs and fund new programs unable to be funded through the operating budget.  Her work supports our strategy of “Building Resilience through Innovation, Reinvention and New Programs.”  Mary’s diligence in accurate and timely grant reporting, despite the dramatic increase in volume, has fostered trust and appreciation with our funding partners.  This trust and appreciation has been a significant component in building a foundation for continued funding and directly relates to our strategy of “Leveraging Collaboration, Partnership and Sharing.”  Thank you, Mary, for your outstanding efforts on behalf of OCC.

The Recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence at the College-Wide Level is Ralph Bertini, Television Production Director in the Academic Affairs/College Relations Department of OCC.  Ralph was nominated in two categories – “Outstanding Service to Students” and “Work Environment”.

Ralph consistently performs at an extremely high level of competence and dedication.  He exemplifies the College’s pursuit of excellence in providing its students with the best possible educational experience in Television Production.  Ralph has successfully brought the TV facility from its construction phase to full operation and kept the facility on the cutting edge of technology.  Ralph’s competence and dedication was tested in August 2012 when the television facility was severely damaged by flooding.  At that time he constructed a television production facility in the Black Box Theatre, which resulted in a complete, uninterrupted educational experience for students in the DMM program.  With two additional flood occurrences, the last occurring four weeks before the start of classes in 2014, Ralph worked countless hours above and beyond his normal work schedule and duties, to ensure a smooth transition for the students to begin their studies.
In his efforts to encourage students to attend Ocean County College, Ralph has formed partnerships with area high schools to show what OCC has to offer to students seeking a career in TV.  He created informational videos to be circulated in local high schools and conducted the first workshop for high school students, having them work alongside our students in major productions as a TV test drive.  Ralph maintains a strong focus on student success and mentors students long after graduation, reaching out to prospective employers to recommend our exceptional students and alumni.  Many of his students have gone on to four-year institutions and rewarding careers in Broadcasting.

Ralph’s enthusiasm and positive energy inspire his co-workers, as well as those in our local community.  He has reached out to local Law Enforcement, EMT’s and Fire Companies and formed partnerships with Local Government to assist in keeping our community informed of the many programs and services available to them.  His ongoing efforts enabled us to form partnerships with NJTV and Comcast and the coverage of the Women’s National Soccer Tournament set the standard for sports coverage.  In fact, it was voted the best and most watched broadcast of 2014 by NJCAA.

Ralph is to be congratulated for his dedication and resourcefulness in bringing prestige to the institution and encouraging prospective students to attend Ocean County College.  Thank you, Ralph, for your consistent efforts to achieve excellence and pave the way.


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