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September 3, 2015

Dr. Larson’s Fall 2015 Colloquium Speech

July 27, 2016

Ocean County College Colloquium
Jon H. Larson, Ph.D., President
September 3, 2015

Welcome to the Fall Semester, 2015, at the boldest, most innovative, most creative college in America!

Our event today is being broadcast live to the Southern Education Center, so everyone in the audience please wave and shout out a hello to the folks at the SEC!  Thanks.

Before we begin, I would like to recognize College Trustees who have joined us today:

Board Chair Van Thulin and his wife, Kathleen, and
Board Vice-Chair Linda Novak.

Thank you for joining us today.

Our interpreters this morning are Adrianne Adamo and Molly Moran.  Thank you as well.

Our theme for this Colloquium is “Transforming for Resilience and Performance Excellence,” an update on our institutional transformation program ‘Charting Our New Course.’  And, I am pleased to report that we are on course, albeit the enrollment winds have brought us a little turbulence.  But, these storms will pass!

So, with gratitude to Tony Bennett, “If I ruled the world,” not only would “every day … be the first day of spring.”  Not only would “every heart … have a new song to sing,” but “we’d (all) sing of the joy every morning would bring!”

Why?  Because Ocean County College would already have achieved our aspiration for Vision 2020 of a totally new kind of college!

The essence of our ambitious vision for transforming Ocean County College and our 5-year goals for progress in achieving resilience and performance excellence are described in that retrospective from the year 2020.  Copies have been distributed to each of you.  I want you to read it carefully and let The Guiding Coalition members, President’s Leadership Team members, Trustees, and me, hear from you during our deliberations today and as we proceed with the Charting Our New Course strategic plan.  Tell us where you think it undershoots or overshoots, or misses opportunities.

Now, please congratulate and welcome the newly elected leaders of the Guiding Coalition:  Chair Sabrina Mathues; Editor, Anna Regan, and Project Manager, Alexa Beshara!

Take note of the mission statement for the Guiding Coalition that was also handed to you this morning.  Please also recognize the other members of the Guiding Coalition:

Rebecca Feiler White
Cynthia Hammer
Jeff Harmon
Andrea Hrehovcik
Ed Kissling
Pat Leahey
Al Longo
Bill Marshall
Sean O’Leary
Susan Perchiacca
Anna Regan
Laura Rickards
Bill Rickert
Kevin Smith
Sydney Stroman
Kathy Vanone
Tracy Walsh
Evan Williamson, and
Sara Winchester

Thank you all for your service in this unprecedented sharing of the leadership responsibility for OCC’s strategic plan: Charting Our New Course!

Let me add that, “If I ruled the world, every man would be as free as a bird, every voice would be a voice to be heard!  Take my word we would treasure each day that occurred.”  This too is a feature of our goals for this exceptional college.  Valuing people and assuring the success of our students every day is a fundamental element of our vision for the future.  So, today we are extremely pleased to introduce to you a new addition to our Leadership Team, an accomplished professional in Human Resources and someone who, in only a few short weeks on the job, has already had a positive impact on our goal of supporting and uplifting our most valuable asset, all the people who serve this College as employees.  Please welcome Assistant Vice President of Human Resources, Tracey Donaldson!

I direct your attention now to the slide being projected on the screen on stage listing the eight strategies that comprise the aims of our Strategic Plan:  Charting Our New Course.  Together, these eight strategies define how we will transform Ocean County College to a state where we have achieved the resilience and performance excellence necessary to not only survive, but flourish, in an ever changing world buffeted by disruptive forces that will alter the landscape of higher education profoundly over the decades ahead.

What is resilience and performance excellence for OCC?  It is a state of readiness, vitality, and equilibrium where we would enjoy never-before-seen exceptional financial strength, doubled enrollment, national prominence, and international notoriety … and we will be there in 2020!

Our ambitious vision and these eight strategies seek to identify a pathway to achieving such exceptional financial strength that the ups-and-downs of enrollment and inflation and unexpected financial stresses will not disrupt our progress, or alter how we reward our people, or impede the accomplishment of making OCC the boldest, most creative, most innovative college in America!

Yes, if I ruled the world, “My world would be a beautiful place,” and “my world would wear a smile on its face!”  Who wouldn’t smile when enrollment doubles in five years?  By 2020, we will have raised the bar in international education for all colleges and universities in the U.S. through our Ocean Global Institute as we become a major player offering education globally from practical, work-readiness certificates to graduate degrees in partnership with our innovative friends at NJIT, Kean, University of the Sciences, Ain Shams University, Robert Wood Johnson/Barnabas Health Care System, and several premier multinational technology companies!

We know this is real … our Guiding Coalition knows this is a challenge, but a vision we can realize … our President’s Leadership Team and the Board of Trustees know this is a major stretch from our present circumstances, but we also know OCC must shift the paradigm and when we do, this vision can become our new reality.  We know that achieving these strategies is realistic because so many of our initiatives that will make these outcomes possible have already begun falling into place.

Today, our Colloquium will focus on three primary efforts, among a large number of Charting Our New Course initiatives, that we believe, indeed that we know, are necessary to achieve this splendid ambition, a hope and an aspiration for all the families of Ocean County students and many other students outside our local boundaries, and even beyond our national boundaries, for students and their families across the Globe who aspire to a degree that leads to a job in a business, technology, industry, service, or to a personal life goal, that leads to student success … to lifelong success!  These topics are:

  • Holistic Health and Wellness, Partnerships and Collaborations in Health Sciences
  •  OCC’s New Partnerships in the Middle East
  • OCC’s New Leadership Academy
  • A forum focusing on Student Retention

The Holistic Health and Wellness discussion will be led by Cathy Caro of our CPE program, Dr. Mary Rada, Lecturer II in Science, and Dean Tracey Walsh, who will explore the changing face of our nation’s healthcare and the leading edge role OCC will play here in Ocean County.

The Partnerships in the Middle East and North Africa discussion will be led by Hatem Akl, our Chief Information Officer, Dr. Maysa Hayward, Dean of Instructional Outreach, and Jack Kelnhofer, Dean of e-Learning Faculty.

The Leadership Academy discussion will be led by John DiNapoli, of Spencer-Ryan leadership consultants, along with Sara Winchester, Executive Vice President; Dr. Lisa DiBisceglie, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs; Tracey Donaldson, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources, and me, during which we will direct all who are interested to the Leadership Academy web site for a description of activities, an invitation to apply, and an application form developed by our new Assistant Vice President for Human Resources, Tracey Donaldson.

The Student Retention presentation will be led by Chris Tilghman, Vice President at Inside Track, developers of the nation’s leading recruitment and retention system; Dr. Toni Clay, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs; Lisa Kasper, Director of Admissions; and Anna Regan, Director of Advising.

This student retention presentation has been scheduled to provide an early glimpse of our progress on Strategy 7 and the establishment of our new Student Success Experience program, led by Dr. Norma Betz, Vice President for Student Affairs.

Along with her staff of talented administrators and their counterparts in Academic Affairs, Norma has formed a task force, written a clear, comprehensive set of high expectations, drafted a mission and vision statement for the Student Success Experience, and begun integrating all those faculty members, advisors, deans, and program heads who touch the student experience at OCC, regardless of the organizational hierarchy to which they are assigned.

This is a new matrix organization that crosses all organizational boundaries and will be a cornerstone of our efforts at turning around our enrollment picture and making the student experience at OCC the best at any college or university in the nation!

The Student Success Experience Task force members include:

Dr. Norma Betz, Chair
Hatem Akl
Rosann Bar
Eileen Buckle
Eric Daniels
Dr. Lisa DiBisceglie
Pat Fenn
Jeff Harmon
Lisa Kasper
Dr. Kate Pandolpho
Anna Regan
Dr. Maureen Reustle

The project managers are Keith Bunn and Sheenah Hartigan.

Norma and task force members, please stand up so we can acknowledge all of you for your efforts in designing this new approach to serving students!  Thank you.

We are also blessed and honored to have been joined, if only for a little while, by an exceptional leader with vast and varied experience as a Vice President for Academic Affairs and as President of several community colleges.  Dr. Carol Brown is unable to be with us today because she is taking a long-planned vacation trip with her husband and checking on things at their home in Austin Texas.

As our Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, Carol will be focusing on a variety of integrative and evaluative initiatives.  We have made a significant organizational adjustment, combining the Track ‘A’ traditional academic programs and the Track ‘B’ e-Learning and enterprise initiatives in one organizational unit.  Carol will be guiding that integration over the next several months as we search for a new, permanent Vice President for Academic Affairs.  I have also asked Carol to develop a rubric for assessing the prospects for the many new academic programs Dr. Wang had planned so we have a much clearer sense of their relative priority, cost, and potential for enrollment growth.

With Dr. Wang and Allison King moving on to other roles, each of the two formerly separate units, Track ‘A’ and Track ‘B’, will now be led by two administrators who report directly to the Vice President for Academic Administration, the role now filled by Carol Brown.  Those two talented academic leaders are Dr. Lisa DiBisceglie and (soon to be Dr.) Jeff Harmon.  Lisa and Jeff, please stand and let us congratulate you and acknowledge the vital roles you will play in achieving our Vision for the year 2020! Thank you.

For those of you who have not yet met Dr. Carol Brown, please take a moment to stop in to her office and say “welcome to OCC.”

Now for those of you who are skeptics, who look to the traditions of the past for security, for stability, for assurance, for legitimacy, for prestige, I say do a 180 degree turn and focus on the future!  Look to the new world!  As John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

Our aim is to be nothing less than inventors of a new world, a new design for the college of tomorrow!  We are the innovators who will make it possible!  We are the entrepreneurs who will deliver it to a world that craves an answer, a solution, a strategic path to tomorrow that reveals something entirely new, that offers a realistic promise of extending the miracle through which education makes lives meaningful, offering new answers to preserving and enhancing the quality of life for all our Ocean County citizens, extending knowledge to people worldwide that will stimulate growth of a global civil society, assuring our College’s financial and physical security, elevating the aspirations of all we serve, and ultimately, guiding the pathway to success throughout life for all our students.

Who can do this?  WE can do this!  Who but us, right here at Ocean County College, is better suited to light the way for all the community colleges of America?  Who is more connected, more aware of the needs of our citizens?  Who is more committed to serve?  Who is more competent to provide a realistic, achievable pathway to life success grounded in the transmission of knowledge?

Here’s the answer folks:  It isn’t Rutgers!  It isn’t Stockton!  It isn’t even Berkeley or Harvard or MIT!  It isn’t even my graduate Alma Mater, the University of Maryland at College Park!  It is us!  It is you and me, right here at Ocean County College!  Let’s hear it for us!  All right!

Now, before I go on, we have a very special guest here today, making his first ever appearance of what will be, without doubt, several thousand appearances this coming year.  He is a character you have known of, but not really known.  He replaces the bear with braids who preceded him, and to whom we now bid fond farewell.  Let’s welcome him now, our new mascot: The OCC Viking!

Come on out Mr. Viking and lead us in a cheer for OCC!

Thank you!  That’s an impressive Viking!  Our students will now have an opportunity to name him.  Suggestions will be received until September 25, and students will vote from among the top four names.  The student who suggests the winning name will receive a Microsoft Surface Tablet. The Viking’s new name will be announced in early October.  I am sure it will not be either “Vinnie” or “Lars!”

Now back to business briefly.

Among the many new initiatives we have underway that give us confidence we will turn the enrollment picture around include several e-Learning initiatives being led by Jeff Harmon, Maysa Hayward, and Jack Kelnhofer.  They include one new potentially very large training contract with an international call center company operating in the Middle East and North Africa, IMI, Inc.   IMI signed an agreement with OCC for a series of employee skill training classes to be delivered online to students in Egypt.  This is a company that employs some 10,000 people, so the growth potential is substantial.  The first classes begin in November.

Other initiatives include a partnership with RosettaStone wherein e-Learning will be providing instruction in 24 languages, from Farsi to Japanese to Portuguese to even Tagalog.

In addition, we are negotiating with Wells Fargo Bank to replace their proprietary school provider of employee-benefit-funded college degree instruction.  And, we have similar employee educational benefit contracts in negotiation with Chipotle restaurants and Vail Resorts.

Another new initiative, being led by Jeff Harmon and Hatem Akl, involves an assessment of potential new Learning Management Systems that may replace our Pearson technology.  As part of this process, we will be inviting companies to make presentations about their system and assessing the congruence of their features with our list of requirements.  We will be inviting representatives of all stakeholders who use the Learning Management System, including faculty, for their views and feedback.

Jeff and I will also be meeting with at least one company to explore its interest in forming an implementation partnership with OCC for a Learning Outcomes Management feature, one of the best features of our current Pearson technology not now available on other products.

Yet another new development is the Ellucian Cloud initiative. I have been asked by our student data system technology partner, Ellucian, to lead an effort by NJ county colleges to join Ellucian in moving the Colleague product, which most county colleges use, to the “cloud.” A pilot group of New Jersey County Colleges will collaborate with Ellucian, assuming all goes well, beginning in February, 2016, and the company’s new software-as-a-service delivery system will be fully implemented and in use in February 2017.

The Chief Executive Officer of Ellucian, Jeff Ray, and I are arranging a meeting with Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks this fall to discuss the possibility of State incentive funding.  There are many virtues and challenges presented by pursuing this initiative, but the payoff in added security of our data, fewer headaches in managing the software updates, and significant cost savings, make the effort worth exploring.  Stay tuned!

Finally, we continue to expand our beautiful campus.  The new West College Drive third entrance road will be dedicated with a ribbon-cutting on September 16th at 1:00.  You are all invited to attend and be among the first to traverse this really lovely tree-lined drive from the Gateway Building to North Bay Avenue.  Ultimately, we will add a monumental entrance feature and tall sign, visible from the Parkway, at the North Bay Avenue entrance.

Matt Kennedy and his team are very busy readying the new Student Center for occupancy in the Spring Semester.  We will hold a dedication ceremony in January when the building is fully occupied with students.

Renovations to the Instruction Building will begin as soon as bids are received and awarded.  We are presently looking at options for a new façade that provides an attractive collaboration space that is open and visible from the campus mall.

The Health Sciences Building design process is in full swing and expected to also go out for bids next summer.  We are negotiating with the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia to be our partner in delivering baccalaureate and graduate instruction in health and wellness degrees, as well as looking to partner with Robert Wood Johnson Shore hospital (formerly Community Medical Center) to provide a clinic and wellness center.

In the next few years, we plan to see NJIT join us in a new STEM Building to be located on the upper campus.  Freeholder Bartlett and I visited NJIT and President Joel Bloom on Tuesday of this week to discuss funding arrangements.

Matt Kennedy has a few dozen other projects he’s working on also, but our time is limited, so suffice it to say he and his team are all busy beavers!  Thanks, Matt for all you have done for OCC.

And now, it is with great pleasure that we introduce an impressive group of new employees.

Finance and Administration:

Margaret Mifflin, P/T Accounting Technician
Stacy Yurcho, P/T Accounts Receivable Technician

James Calamia, Director of Facilities
Rory Regan, P/T Facilities Planning & Construction Specialist

Human Resources:
Tracey Donaldson, Assistant Vice President

Janine Dillard, I.T. Technical Trainer
Marie Li, Instructional Designer/Portal Administrator
Wesley Smoyak, P/T Lab Support IT Technician

Philip Gonzales
Robert Moser

Academic Affairs:

Carol Brown, Interim Vice President
Rosann Bar, Dean of School of Social Science & Human Services
Jennifer Carlisle, Physical Therapy Program Assistant Coordinator

College Lecturers:
Jennifer Barnes, Political Science/Governmental Affairs Institute
Gerald Cohen, Computer Studies
Edmond Hong, Computer Studies
Jeffrey Lang, Alcohol/Drug Counseling
Stephanie Lareau, Accounting
Jane MacDonald, Education
Maria Potter, Middle Eastern Studies, e-Learning
Chad Sexton, Sociology
Stephanie Shestakow, Art History
Katherine Toy, Economics
Bridget Wertz, Nursing
Denise VanSant-Smith, Nursing
Erin Vitale, Nursing

Student Affairs:

Enrollment management:
Leigh Fisher, P/T Enrollment Management Technician
Ansa Thomas, P/T Enrollment Technician
Sherry Shearer, P/T Program Assistant, TAACCCT Grant Program

Financial Aid:
Elizabeth Richardson, P/T Financial Aid Specialist

Student Life:
Kevin Byrne, P/T Student Life/Athletic Coordinator

Registration and Records:
Caitlin Morris, Technical Specialist

Thank you all for joining Ocean County College!

In concluding my remarks I extend my fond wish for Ocean County College in 2020 that “Every head would be held up high, and there’d be sunshine in everyone’s sky!”

Let’s not wait until 2020 to see that wish come true.  Let’s start making it happen today!

Thank you everybody.  Have a great Fall Semester!

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