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January 19, 2018

Dr. Larson’s Spring 2018 Colloquium Speech

Dr. Jon Larson

Spring 2018 Colloquium
Advancing the Vision

Jon H. Larson
President, Ocean County College
January 19, 2018

“Ocean County College will be the boldest, most creative, most innovative student-centered college in America and, by pioneering community college education internationally, will be a new prototype for global education.”

– OCC Vision Statement, 2018

Good morning and welcome to our fifty-fifth Spring Semester!

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

We have many things to discuss in today’s Colloquium. Before we begin, however, let’s call the OCC Jazz Band members and Director Dave Marowitz out to take a bow!  Thank you!  Great performance!

The Jazz Band will also be performing today during your lunch.

Today I want to speak about leadership and its importance to our future success as an exceptional academic institution.  At no time in our history has this factor been of greater significance.  I am going to disclose the single most important commitment you can make to insure that each and every one of you, regardless of position, can leave a lasting legacy that will make you proud and your family proud of you.

More on that topic in a moment.

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

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

Vice Chair of the Board, Linda Novak; and

Please also acknowledge our interpreters, Peg Jackowsky and Marguerite Weiss;

We thank each of you for joining us today.

The title of my remarks today is “Advancing the Vision.”

The subscript quotes our 2018, slightly revised, Vision Statement:

“Ocean County College will be the boldest, most creative, most innovative student-centered college in America and, by pioneering community college education internationally, will be a new prototype for global education.”

Further, let me mention that our 2015 “Vision 2020” statement of future expectations calls for doubling our enrolment by 2020.  That expectation HAS NOT CHANGED, folks.  We are going to achieve it!

Oh … wait … did I hear a snicker of skepticism quietly escaping some lips?  Well, my dear friends, in fact we have a very realistic chance to achieve this remarkable aspiration.  I’ll detail some of the truly groundbreaking programs, short courses, certificates, degrees, and University partnerships we have in process in a few moments; but, for now, I ask that you suspend your disbelief and open your minds and hearts to the possibility that this wonderful little college on the Jersey Shore could actually become an international community college monopoly in global education.  Further, we can be a leader in providing advanced Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math degrees here in Ocean County on-the-ground, throughout New Jersey via e-Learning, and in the domestic United States and even globally with an innovative model that delivers superior learning experiences.

Please … please, I implore each of you to eschew negativity and cynicism, skepticism and doubt. Remember, nothing great has ever been accomplished by those who lack enthusiasm and a positive attitude.  Do not choose to be a scoffer, a congenital skeptic, a “Donnie or Debbie Downer!”

Negativity is a poison that lowers the bar for everyone.  Focus instead on what you can do for your College.  Yes… ask not what your College can do for you, but what you can do to Advance the Vision and make your College the absolute finest in the Nation and on the Globe!

Your inner voice may be saying, “When do we start?”  For some it may be saying, “How can I help?”  Some may be thinking, “I have an idea I would like to see adopted.”  And yet, some may hear a Doubting Thomas grumbling voice shouting that the Vision is silly, unrealistic, not our mission, a pipe dream, not what I want!  No, no, no!  Please Mister Custer, I don’t want to go!

But, think about it.  What is the alternative?  Just think about it.  (Pause)

Are you thinking???

How about permanent mediocrity?  Stagnation?  Cost cutting and downsizing?  Anger, bitterness, and divisiveness as the dream of leaving a legacy of greatness that we had in our grasp slowly subsides and drowns in despair?

Who needs that?

Our Vision Statement is uplifting, progressive, future-oriented, aspirational, and energizing.

Today, you are going to hear from wonderful select groups of our OCC colleagues who do believe … who endorse the Vision … who are too busy creating a new future for OCC that they have no time for criticism, whining, or obstruction.  These are our OCC colleagues who make me proud to be involved in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of an adventure that can make a difference in the lives of our students and members of our ocean County community for decades to come.  These are doers who are doing what they love because they have the magic formula for success – they contribute, they create, they innovate, and they lead.

The breakout sessions are vignettes of leadership in action.  I am immensely proud of today’s breakout session presenters.  They are talking about what they love, what they have invented, what will make students better, more successful, and what will make OCC the boldest, most … well … you know.

Which, leads me to the topic of leadership.

Some of you are graduates or participants of the early cohorts of the OCC Leadership Academy who will recognize many of the elements of successful leadership behavior I want to enumerate this morning.  Many of you will not recognize the energizing capacity of the leadership commitment and may therefore mistakenly think that leadership is the responsibility of just those at the top of the hierarchy.

Here are five colleague leaders presenting in Session I who are recent graduates of the OCC Leadership Academy: Dr. Rosann Bar, Tracy Walsh, Dr. Kate Pandolpho, Jennifer Barnes, Alison Noone, and Eileen Schilling.  They will describe their group project, Sophomore Quest: A Retention Initiative.

Their session will examine how helping students develop a deeper association with the college through stronger connections to faculty, staff, and fellow students facilitates fuller, richer participation in campus life, leading to greater rates of retention and completion.

So, what is leadership all about anyway?  Why is it important to all of us — faculty, administrators, support staff, and trustees, in our quest to achieve our Vision for the future?

I rely on the academic work of James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner who have identified ‘Ten Truths about Leadership’ in a book bearing hast title.  The Ten Truths are:

  • You Make a Difference
  • Credibility is the Foundation of Leadership
  • Values Drive Commitment
  • Focusing on the Future Sets Leaders Apart
  • You Can’t Do It Alone
  • Trust Rules
  • Challenge Is The Crucible For Greatness
  • You Either Lead By Example or You Do Not Lead At All
  • The Best Leaders Are the Best Learners, and
  • Leadership Is An Affair of The Heart.

Whatever your role or position in the College, you can make a difference.  Whatever you need to be an effective leader, you already have.  Whether you realize it or not, each of you has within you the resources to become an effective leader.  Leadership can be exercised from any role, at any level, at any age.  Leadership is not about position in an organization and not just for those in senior positions.  It is opportunity awaiting for anyone who has passion and purpose to change the way things are.  Becoming a leader right from where you are involves deciding to take a risk, take the first step.  Leaders dare to take that first step and begin a journey.  Leadership is not about where you come from or who you are.  It’s about what you do.

Here are two colleague leaders who are making a difference:  Gina Zippo-Mazur and Jamie Arasz Prioti.  Their session is titles, ‘Understanding Accommodations and Students with Disabilities.”

Their session will describe our responsibilities under law to the 500 disabled students we enroll each semester and how you can help these courageous students achieve success at OCC.  Talk about having a passion and being willing to take that first step to realize a dream, Gina Zippo Mazur came to OCC and volunteered to works for nothing!  Her knowledge and skills and capacity to do meaningful things to help our disabled student clientele were so impressive, we gave her a job.

That, my friends, is leadership!

How can I become an exemplary leader, you may ask?  Here is the five steps identified by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner:

  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act, and
  5. Encourage the Heart.

Here’s the message: each and every one of you has the chance to make the world a better place as a result of what you do.  Each and every one of you can be a leader.  I’m inviting you, each and every one, to take that first step and start the journey.  But, don’t wait for an engraved invitation; just jump right in and do it!

Here are three more colleague leaders who jumped in and made things happen without an invitation:  Professor Gary Shaffer, Dr. Madison Peschock, and Dr. Elizabeth Brierley.  Their session is titled, “What else do we do?  Celebrating Faculty Contributions in the Wider Community.”  Their session deals with best practices that model the way for making student learning more engaging and meaningful.

Analysis of thousands of surveys taken by participants in the leadership training programs run by Kouzes and Posner of the most admired characteristics of leaders, four have  been identified that stand out far above all other characteristics.  Participants believe that leaders must be:

Honest 85%

Forward Looking 70%

Inspiring 69%

Competent 64%

16 other characteristics scored from 42% to 6%.

To be effective, all aspiring leaders must come to understand that leading is a group activity based on effective communication and trust.  If those being led do not believe the messenger, they won’t believe the message.

Here are two more colleague leaders who understand teamwork based on trust and clear, effective communication: Sheenah Hartigan and Kate Mohr.  Their session is titled, “The HUB:  How OCC is connecting with Gen Z through the One-Stop-Shop.”

Their session describes a state-of-the-art streamlined enrollment process that creates an engaging and student-centered environment and communicates with Gen Z students in modes they prefer.  Attend this session and you can meet ‘Reggie,’ our charming augmented intelligence ‘chatbot!’

Today when you attend the breakout sessions you select, you will listen to your colleague leaders who either innately, or through study and practice, understand that self-examination and self-understanding are the keys to success in a leadership role.  It ultimately comes down to your fundamental values.  If you simply listen to your inner self, you will find those values.

Now, what separates leaders from managers is this:  managing is all about making existing operations more effective, where leading is about envisioning and achieving a new future.  This art of leadership requires practice and time spent reflecting on the future, reading, and talking to others about the future.

Here are our final five colleague leaders who understand the importance of having a vision for the future and a plan to make it happen:  Dr. Henry Jackson, Maureen Conlon, Dr. Joe Konopka, Dr. Jerry Racioppi, and Hatem Akl.

Their session is titled, “Strategic Vision.” The session focuses on how OCC’s bold vision for the future drives strategic successes and builds resilience through innovation, reinvention, and new programs.  This is a must see panel of leaders who know the value of inventing a better future and achieve it by doing.  They, by the way are all irrepressible optimists!

Leading, ladies and gentlemen, is just not successfully done by pessimists.  You must believe that the future can be brighter and that we can get there together to be an effective leader.  A positive difference can only be made by a positive leader.

The breakout session presenters today have achieved what every successful leader must … they have made a human connection with people that gives a sense of meaning and purpose to their actions.

All humans yearn deeply to make a difference.  They want to know that their lives mean something.  The best leaders take actions that make people strong and capable … making people feel they can do more than they imagined, and thereby providing a goal to collectively pursue that gives meaning and value to the lives of those you lead.

Kouzes and Posner believe strongly that to be successful leaders must achieve trust.  Easy to say, but not so easily done.  So, how do leaders develop and sustain trust?  They offer four pathways:

  • By behaving predictably and consistently
  • By communicating clearly
  • By keeping promises
  • By being forthright and candid.

As Mark Twain opined, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

While we all have within us what it takes to be effective leaders, doing it is not always easy.  Leading always comes with challenges.  But, good leaders find ways to develop the capacity to see opportunity amidst chaos and disarray.  John Gardner, founder of Common Cause, often observed, “What we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.”

Now, let’s talk about ‘doing.’  To be a leader, you have to make things happen.  That takes a good bit of courage.  Leading takes a high level of risk tolerance and a good bit of resilience.  Risk, uncertainty, and hardships challenge us.  But the leadership imperative is to dive in and make lemonade out of lemons.

The breakout session presenters have all learned one fundamental principle of effective leadership:  do what you say you will do.  We know that seeing is believing.  If you are going to lead effectively, your constituents have to see you walking the walk.

Effective leaders also know the necessity of and are driven to continuous learning and love.  It may seem strange to consider love as a key ingredient in the recipe for leadership, but like a commitment to learn lifelong, love is the soul of leadership.  Love allows a leader to get outside of self and focus on others, to help them grow and become their best.  When you are passionate about your role, you just can’t wait to do it.  You are positive, supportive, appreciative, helpful, approving and complimentary.  You give hope.  You say ‘Yes!’

None of these concepts are mine, by the way.  They belong to Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner; but, after studying and observing and practicing leadership for over 45 years, these concepts resonate powerfully with me.  I believe that every individual working at this college can be a leader … can make a contribution that makes a difference and leaves a legacy.  Each and every one of you can do that.

I invite you … all of you … to come talk to me about this.  I’ll be in the Student Center at noon eating a gluten-free lunch most days.  I would love to discuss leadership with you.  If you let me know in advance, I’ll make a withdrawal from the ATM machine and buy your lunch!

Thank you, everyone, for listening to my musings about my favorite subject.  Thank you very much!

Now, I would like to highlight some of the many wonderful things happening at Ocean County College.

Dr. Joe Konopka reports the following from Academic Affairs:

  • Ninety students will begin the nursing program this spring semester.  An orientation program was held on January 17 for the students to meet faculty and become familiar with basic program policies and procedures, as well as strategies to enhance learning.
  • The School of Nursing is collaborating with the OCC Foundation to host an Anniversary/Building Campaign this spring that will mark the 50th anniversary of the first graduating class.  A program is being planned to celebrate this milestone in the new Health Sciences Building, which is scheduled for fall 2018 occupancy.
  • In Business and Social Sciences, the College Governmental Affairs Institute recently hosted the Second Annual Ocean County Mayors’ Panel.  Political Science Lecturer Jennifer Barnes invited 13 mayors from both Ocean and southern Monmouth counties to campus to discuss current issues impacting their towns.  OCC students had the opportunity to meet with their local elected officials and to learn firsthand about their hometown political affairs.  The Governmental Affairs Institute also sponsored a lecture by representatives from the Ocean County Department of Health, who spoke with students about ongoing health issues in Ocean County.  This included a discussion of the opioid crisis and what agencies at every level of government are doing to stop this epidemic.
  • The Kean Ocean Entrepreneurship Club, led by Business Lecturers Christopher Bottomley and Dr. Kathy Toy and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Patricia Kunzman, hosted a free event on December 13.  The event featured American Mixed Martial Artist, Frankie Edgar, who spoke about building and maintaining his brand in both competitive fighting and entrepreneurial pursuits in business.
  • Arts and Humanities faculty are working on implementing the A.A. degree in Graphic Arts, Design, and Media by next fall.  They are also continuing to work on the Guided Pathways initiatives with the A.A. degree in English and the A.A. degree in History.
  • Over the past month, The History Club, co-led by College Lecturers Stephen Downey and Robert Marchie, has been very busy taking donations for the Belmar Historical Society and the Florida and Puerto Rico (Jorge Posada Foundation) hurricane victims.  The History Club also sponsored a trip to Pennsylvania, which included a tour of Independence Hall.  Additionally, in November, the club organized a small group, half-day tour of the N.J. Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial and Museum and, later in November, they headed to Gettysburg for their annual battlefield trip.  Richard Trimble, adjunct professor of History led a full-day tour of the battlefield.
  • In the STEM area, Professor of Science Eric Antonelli, Lecturer of Engineering Gerald Aska, Lecturer of Biology Dr. Angel Camilo, Lecturer of Chemistry Vijay Ramdeen, and Lecturer in Computer Studies Edmond Hung participated in the College Readiness on-campus event in November to promote STEM.  One hundred and twenty students from three area high schools participated in activities that included using Arduino microcontrollers in Science and in everyday life, how to follow a wiring diagram and write a simple program.  With their new skills, each student assembled a miniature four key electronic piano.

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

  • The catalog of courses offered online continues to grow.  E-Learning course offerings have reached over 220 individual courses.   In the first weeks of January 2018, the e-Learning Team has worked on creating six English as a Second Language (ESL) courses to present to business and governmental partners in Egypt.  In order to ensure that these courses are the very best product on the market, the e-Learning team reached out to the School of Social Sciences and the School of Arts and Languages, the Center for Student Success, and College Relations.  Each of these groups collaborated with the Instructional Design team to add content and value to the courses.  Some highlights from each teams’ contributions are:
  • Experts in the area of ESL from the School of Arts and Languages drafted content to enlarge and improve already existing courses;
  • Lecturer Jason Ghibesi from the School of Social Sciences provided area-specific content to focus the courses on the specialized audiences expected to take the classes;
  • Sarah Revello, Part-Time Writing Skills Tutor, an expert in both language acquisition and broadcasting, wrote and starred in a series of video lectures that were added to the courses;
  • College Relations created 36 professional quality videos to enhance the courses’ multimedia content.  The amazing work of Ralph Bertini and his team in this effort has added the “wow” factor to the courses that e-Learning hopes will help draw students in to the learning experience.
  • As part of a comprehensive course quality assurance program, the e-Learning department is working with its partners to create exciting course options.  In the next months, e-Learning is creating three new physics course offerings. Partnerships with NJIT, Siena College, Emmersive Learning, and Cengage have yielded five Ph.D. physicist subject matter experts to collaborate on the course construction.  The finished course, which will include physical labs and virtual training environments, will be ready for OCC students in the fall.
  • Online faculty development
  • We have now completed eight cohorts of the Online Instructor Training, in which 75 graduates have earned a certificate of competition. The training is now undergoing revisions and will run again in March 2018.
  • New training is available for Master Course Developers, and will run in February or March. This course will demonstrate to instructors how to build an Online Master Course, as well as working with an Instructional Designer to design the course from start to finish.
  • OCC is providing Hudson County Community College Instructional Designer and Course development support.  Hudson now has 16 online master courses to run in its online terms.  An additional four courses were built for spring 2018.  In addition, three courses were redelivered due to master course updates.
  • International Outreach:
  • Egypt continues to be an important destination for our international outreach efforts. The Egyptian government’s strategic plans for education and professional capacity building present many real opportunities for us to expand our online and hybrid offerings.
  • We have a total of 82 students in the OCEAN-KEAN-AIN SHAMS business program.  The 45 students in cohort 1 will be starting their fourth semester of the program next week.
  • There are 37 students in cohort 2, who will be starting their second semester of the program next week.
  • Dr. Maysa Hayward and Dr. Lillian Mina, e-Learning Adjunct Assistant Professor of English and Literature, have been in Egypt since January 8 conducting student training and instructor development workshops in support of this program.
  • In collaboration with KEAN and AIN SHAMS, we are introducing two additional business concentrations, Marketing and Finance, to the existing Accounting and Management programs.
  • In partnership with William Paterson State University and Ain Shams University, we are finalizing articulation agreements to offer two computer science degrees in Artificial Intelligence and Digital Multimedia, with a planned start date of fall 2018.
  • During October 2017, Dr. Konopka, Dr. Hayward, Mr. Gialanella, and Mr. Akl completed a very successful visit to Egypt.
  • The OCC delegation met with five cabinet ministers, seven university presidents, and three investor groups to discuss Ocean County College offerings and potential opportunities in Egypt.  Some of the ideas discussed were:
  • Building non-credit ESL programs for the employees of a major government entity as well as a major presidential initiative focusing on training the next technology pioneers among the Egyptian youth.
  • A plan for extension(s) of OCC in Egypt, the Community University.
  • 2+2 degrees in a myriad of disciplines in collaboration with governmental universities in Egypt.
  • And, an extension of the Network for School Success program to Egypt.

In Student Affairs, Dr. Jerry Racioppi reports that there are many initiatives underway:

  • A committee to examine Advising at OCC was formed in June 2017 to develop a student-centered advising model with a focus on accessibility, accuracy, and accountability.  An Advising Pilot will be executed during this semester with 35 administrators and faculty to allow the committee to evaluate efficacy and feasibility of Canvas as a tool to organize and administer advising, proactive advising, and campus administrators as assigned advisors.  The student population will be a random selection of students, who will be evaluated based on certain characteristics and compared to a sample of students with similar characteristics who were not involved in the pilot.
  • During the fall semester, 190 students were inducted into the Tau Iota Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the International Honor Society for two-year colleges. Tau Iota is hard at work on their College Project for this academic year. With the support of the Student Life Office and their club advisors, the student-run food pantry, Helping Hands, will be opening in February on the second floor of the Student Center. The objective is to eliminate food insecurity as a barrier to our students’ success.  Hopefully, by bringing this service to our students, we will be able to help them battle this issue and make a difference in our campus community.
  • This year’s Student Leadership Development Conference, Trailblazers, was held from January 3 to 5 at the Villa Roma Resort in Callicoon, New York, under the direction of Alison Noone and Jen Fazio in Student Life. A total of 42 students and staff members participated along with four facilitators.  The students were responsive and engaged throughout all of the activities and exercises held during this unique student development opportunity.
  • Financial Aid reports that OCC completed its fall 2017 Opening Pathways to Education Now (OPEN) series. This program has been running successfully for over eight years since its inception in 2009.  It consists of workshops to assist with the completion of FAFSA paperwork and discussions on the basic concepts of financial aid.  To date, OCC has served over 1,900 participants, including OCC students, high school students, parents and guardians from Ocean County, as well as students from Monmouth and Middlesex counties.
  • On January 10, the Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) program started providing services on our campus through the Veterans Office.  The program is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and works to help veterans in successfully completing their college courses by informing them of programs and resources that are available.
  • Thirty-seven OCC student athletes were awarded academic honors while in season during the fall 2017 semester, with eight achieving a 4.0 GPA.  All Garden state Athletic Conference honors are awarded to students with a 3.0 or higher GPA, while All-Region XIX honors are awarded to those earning a 3.25 or higher GPA while participating in a sport.
  • OCC’s 2017 Region XIX Champion Men’s Soccer team finished the season ranked 5th in the NJCAA and 14th in the nation in the United Soccer Coaches Association’s final postseason poll of the year. In addition, the OCC Vikings Men’s Soccer coaching staff, Sal Colino, Kevin Istvanditsch, and Gerry Montague, was named Coaching Staff of the Year in the Northeast.
  • The HUB, Ocean County College’s One-Stop Shop, launched its virtual site in mid-November, allowing students to complete a plethora of on-boarding processes from the comfort of their own homes or from their mobile devices. Students are quickly and easily able to access self-service portals, including Financial Aid and Finance, as well as the online application, Student Planning, and even register and pay for classes in a streamlined format. Additionally, The HUB’s newest employee, Reginald (known to his friends as Reggie), OCC’s virtual assistant, launched in November utilizing augmented technology to engage in human-like conversations. Students speak with Reggie via text message on important topics ranging from Admissions and Financial Aid to Registration and Advising. OCC is the first community college to utilize such technology, and we have sent over 10,000 messages to students, so far.
  • Despite a decline in the number of 2017 Ocean County high school graduates, the Admissions Office was able to capture 26.79% of in-county 2017 graduates in the Fall 2017 semester, an increase of 0.5% compared to Fall 2016.  This is the third year in a row the in-county yield has risen.  The Admissions Department has set strategic goals and implemented a number of new initiatives to continue the upward trend highlighted by three new initiatives.
  • The Ocean Inlets Information Series included six specific and strategized Information Sessions on Saturdays throughout the fall semester relating to NJ Stars, Transferability, Funding an Education, General Enrollment Information, Non-Traditional Information, and Getting Involved on Campus.  Multiple departments have contributed their time to these sessions.  The series will be repeated in the spring semester.
  • Admissions, in partnership with Enrollment Services and Academic Success, launched the first Gateway to College function with 87 Lakewood High School seniors on OCC’s campus on January 17.  Throughout the spring semester, all Lakewood High School seniors will be presented with College 101, Why attend OCC?
  • The Counseling and Student Development Services has been busy focusing on programs relating to “Stamp out Stigma.” Counselors report increasing numbers of students coming in for counseling services, and an increase in the number of faculty referrals. Presenting concerns include anxiety, depression, stress management, relationships, and academic difficulties.
  • The Counseling staff presented to all of the First-Year Experience classes, providing an overview and interpretation of the College Success Factors Index, an assessment that the students completed.  A new series, #I Got That, provided a chance for students to learn and talk about a variety of topics. The intervention program for academically at-risk students, Step by Step to Academic Success, presented 23 sessions in fall 2017 with 66 students attending.
  • On October 11, the Center for Access and Equality announced the opening of (Center Uniting Everyone) CUE, the LGBTQ+ Library collection and gathering place. This open lounge area and reading collection are designed to foster inclusion and support for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • In collaboration with the Center and Ocean Pride, awareness training for the LGBTQ+ communities is being offered to the OCC community. Upon completion of the training, participants will be able to utilize inclusive language, examine and understand privilege, create a more inclusive campus and become an ALLY to the LGBTQ+ community.
  • The College is currently in the process of implementing Maxient Case Management software to streamline and organize recordkeeping for both Student Conduct and Title IX records and ensure consistency in the handling of cases.  Additional College stakeholders will also review the software to determine the feasibility of its usage for their case management needs. Implementation began on January 16.

Sara Winchester shares the following from Finance and Administration:

  • Changes have been made to the College payment plan in an effort to make it more attractive to students and support those who have difficulty paying for college.  Students who register early are asked to pay only 10% down, and payments will be spread out over a longer period of time.  Payment plans will also be offered for the shorter Quick Terms and Accelerated Terms.  Additionally, the payment plan fee has been reduced to a flat $30, down from $50 for full-time students.   Students are now able to set up their payment plans and make payments completely on-line.
  • You will note more changes on campus as three smaller projects are launched at the same time.  The College Center building, which was erected in 1967, has lost both function and value.  As such, it will be demolished and the site will be returned to green space to enhance the appearance of the campus.   The demolition will also improve ingress/egress traffic patterns and pedestrian safety.

Second, the former College Bookstore will be repurposed as a Conference Center.  The Conference Center will seat approximately 70 and provide activity and meeting rooms for external and internal users.

Third, built in 1974, the natatorium has been closed since 2015.  The repurposing project will convert the pool deck to another gym station.   The current OCC gymnasium is highly utilized, and the scheduling of activities is a constant challenge.  A second gymnasium will meet ADA requirements, allow more athletic events to take place on campus, and provide activity space for the PAA students.

The demolition and conference center will be complete in 2018, and the new gym space is expected to be done in summer 2019.

  • The Grunin Center expanded its reach within the community during the holiday season in December with over 4,700 patrons attending performances, representing a capacity of over 80%.

The Repertory Theatre had a successful run of “A Christmas Pageant,” with 93% capacity for the entire run.

The Grunin Center has had over 19,000 patrons attend events during the six months from July 1 to December 31, 2017.

What do you think of that list of forward-looking programs and activities?  Impressive, yes?

This is the first Colloquium for a number of new OCC employees.  We would like to recognize you, so when I call your name, please join me on stage … so everyone will know you as you move about the campus.  Please remain on stage for a group photo to memorialize your presence at Ocean County College!

  • Isaac Anderson, General Maintenance Mechanic
  • Chelsea Barreto, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Science
  • Adam Bisaccia, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Business Studies
  • Sean Bips, College Lecturer of Business Studies
  • Jacqueline Evans, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Stephen Gillen, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Business Studies
  • Joseph Greca, Manager of Buildings Maintenance and Systems
  • Meredith Hudson, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Brian Hull, Coach of Recreation Activities/Sailing Program
  • Virginia Jean-Pierre, College Lecturer of Nursing
  • Jill Jones, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Ken Malagiere, Executive Director of the OCC Foundation
  • Harita Menon, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Science
  • Elizabeth Muller, Part-Time Marketing Assistant
  • Marlene Navarro, Nursing Clinical Instructor
  • Jeffrey Olson, Security Officer II
  • Renee Pistone, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Katie Pyott, Academic Administrator for the School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
  • Wayne Ruhl, Head Coach, Tennis
  • Christina Schopf, Admissions Representative
  • Kristen Smith, Part-Time Television Production Equipment Technician
  • Syceria Stephens, Nursing Clinical Instructor
  • Melissa Touevski, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Mathematics
  • Edward Waldhelm, Adjunct of Social Science Embedded Classes
  • Lauren White, Adjunct of Math Embedded Classes
  • Michelle Youngs, Manager of Operations and Production, Grunin Center

Welcome to Ocean County College!  We hope you will be with us for many years.

Speaking of being with us for many years, I would now like to present service awards to our very valuable employees.  As I call your name, please join me on stage to receive your certificate.

For twenty years of service:

  • Jack Azarch, Adjunct Associate Professor of English
  • Kathleen Basilotto, Assistant Professor of American Sign Language
  • Terence Cleary, Library Circulation Manager

For thirty years of service:

  • Leonard Mannino, Associate Director of Building Maintenance
  • Henry Schwartz, Associate Professor of Business
  • Jill Zacharczyk, Assistant Professor of Mathematics

And, if you can believe it, we are recognizing fifty years of service at Ocean County College for the first time:

  •  Dr. William Rickert, Professor of Mathematics!

Congratulations to all.  Your contributions to the College for these many years are very much appreciated.


And, now, we have the President’s Awards for Excellence to recognize individuals for their work at Ocean County College.  I invite Tracey Donaldson to join me as we present each of the awards.

The purpose of this 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 (which you will receive after engraved with your name), and lunch with the President’s Leadership Team.  Additionally, engraved cups for each award level will reside in the Administration 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 2017.

The recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence at the Department Level is Yessika Garcia-Guzman, Interim Director of Financial Aid.  She was nominated in the category of “Efficiency and Innovation.”

Throughout the past year, since assuming the position of Interim Director of Financial Aid, Yessika has made major advances in increasing the efficiency of the Financial Aid Office as well as enhancing the work environment for her team members.  Some of her initiatives include:

  • The work-study application and orientation are now online, which expedites the process for both students and staff and encourages more students to work on campus.  The supervisor orientation is online, and they now have the ability to hire students on their own.  Student reviews by supervisors have been instituted, which help with student engagement and enhance the students’ life skills.
  • Within just a few months of becoming the Interim Director of Financial Aid, Yessika eliminated extra verification processing that was being done in the office which has increased the speed at which FAFSA processing is done.
  • Yessika has been focused on ensuring that the College is following all federal and state procedures.  She ensured that the College is compliant with the Title IV Credit/Eligibility rule.  Students now know if the courses they take will be funded, and it allows the College to only fund courses in a student’s degree program.  She has suggested many similar revisions to office policies and procedures to guarantee effectiveness.
  • Yessika encourages cross-training and professional development for her staff.  She offers monthly trainings to her team, provides breakfast and lunches in appreciation for their work, and encourages their professional development through attendance at conferences and workshops.

Yessika was deeply involved with training new HUB employees in Financial Aid.  She allowed the student service technicians to shadow her employees, answering questions and getting feedback. She encouraged the technicians to offer advice on changes to the Financial Aid website and processing, all of which will benefit students.  She made a conscientious effort to include the HUB in all Financial Aid communications.

Yessika continuously offers her services for translation at the National Association for the Advancement of Latino People fair each year, assisting our Spanish speaking population with the enrollment process.  Additionally, she provided feedback and valuable assistance when visiting the Dominican Republic on behalf of OCC to help foster future partnerships and relationships.  Yessika’s knowledge of the country (she lived there until she was 11) helped to initiate an additional international partnership.  Her passion for education, belief in open access, and own background as a first-generation ESL student have paved the way for Yessika to assist countless students realize their dreams at OCC.

The efficiency of the Financial Aid Office, as well as the quality of service that students are receiving, have increased dramatically.  Yessika consistently goes above and beyond for the College and for her team.  We are proud to present this award to Yessika Garcia-Guzman for her outstanding service to the College.

The Recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence at the Division Level is Kathleen Mohr, Student Services Administrator.  Her award is in the category of “New Markets.”

Although Kate now works for The HUB, her work as Supervisor of e-Learning advising did not go unnoticed.  Kate worked tirelessly to bring concierge service to her students and to lead her team of advisers to success.  She played an integral role in developing a new partnership that increased enrollment and broadened OCC’s markets for recruiting.

In 2016, Kate received an email from Kaiser Permanente asking if OCC could assist their employees.  She immediately reached out to the organization and realized the wonderful and exciting opportunity that was available to the College.  By working closely with the Ben Hudnall Memorial Trust, Kate developed a partnership with the organization that allowed their employees to attend OCC at no cost to the students.  Ben Hudnall pays the costs for the students to take one of several science classes, including books.

In addition to securing this agreement, Kate developed and implemented all of the policies and procedures to recruit, enroll, and retain these students.  She wrote and successfully executed communications to the students, as well as single-handedly coordinated all of the enrollment steps for the partnership.  To date, OCC has enrolled almost 100 students from this partnership, leading to increased revenue and enhanced national awareness of our distance learning courses.  This partnership is limitless; Kaiser Permanente has over 200,000 employees, which provides great potential for future continued enrollment at OCC.

This partnership has laid the foundation for future relationships.  With very little guidance, Kate developed, implemented, and maintained a plan of action.  Using this model, OCC will have the ability to market to other companies to gain additional students.  The service that Kate has provided for the Ben Hudnall students is a model that should be replicated within all of our specialized populations.  Given today’s students and their service expectations, Kate’s achievements with Kaiser Permanente should be used as a foundation for additional recruitment.

Kate has also made a major contribution to OCC by establishing communications that are consistent and streamlined for all distance learning students. She developed a concierge communication plan to ensure students were receiving consistent and effective contacts throughout their time at OCC.  She helped to implement Drop Out Detective, a retention tool for online students.  She individually called each student who had a class being cancelled to assist them in registering for a different course.  With her knowledge of service for distance learning students, she has been working to create a streamlined process for all students, incorporating her plans with the traditional on-campus student.

Kate has proven herself to be positive, hardworking, proactive, collaborative, and supportive.  She is a dynamic and integral member of the OCC team, one who embraces OCC’s Guiding Principles and makes the college proud. Thank you, Kate, for your outstanding efforts on behalf of OCC.

The Recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence at the College-Wide Level is Dr. Henry Jackson, Executive Director of Academic Success.  Henry was nominated in two categories, “Outstanding Service to Students” and “New Markets.”

Dr. Henry Jackson has been a champion of change in the High School market for Ocean County College.  Henry is intimately involved with two programs, College Readiness and College Academy.

The College Readiness program is a partnership among the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, which includes all 19 of New Jersey’s county and community colleges, and more than 60 New Jersey high schools. The primary purpose of the College Readiness program is to support projects designed to get more students college-ready by the time they graduate from high school.  Students who are identified as needing remediation before they start college are invited to participate in a transition program designed to improve their academic, study, and test-taking skills.  At the end of this program, the students’ skill levels are reassessed to determine the success of each program.  In 2014, the College Readiness program started with three schools and over 100 students. With Henry’s leadership, the program has grown to over 18 schools and greater than 500 students.

In addition to the College Readiness program, Henry has also led the development of the College Academy.  The College Academy program provides high school students with an opportunity to enroll in college-level courses as they are pursuing their high school diplomas.  The primary purpose of this program is twofold.  First, it will help ease the transition for students who want to pursue a degree at Ocean County College.  Next, it helps build the confidence for students who may not have the necessary support structure to guide them into college after high school. Henry has led the population growth of these programs to over 1,000 students for Ocean County College.

In addition to assisting the College with these two great programs, Henry is actively involved on campus with numerous student groups as well as the identification of various grant opportunities that will allow us to continue to explore new programs.  You will often pass Henry on campus as he is advising students on the wonderful programs that are offered at Ocean County College.  Henry is a great leader who is relentless in serving the mission of our College to ensure student success.

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

Congratulations to our President’s Award recipients!

Thank you all, ladies and gentlemen.  We appreciate your courteous attention.  I will now turn the podium over to Dr. Clay to offer comments on the wonderful program planned for you.  Have a great Colloquium day!

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