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December 15, 2021

Dr. Larson’s December 2021 Report to the OCC Board of Trustees

OCC president Dr. Larson

Phi Theta Kappa

Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society, recognizes student academic success and provides opportunities to develop professional and leadership skills, earn scholarships, explore career paths, and expand goals.  It is the largest honor society in American higher education with more than 1.5 million members and 1,200 chapters.

Tau Iota, Ocean County College’s chapter, has enjoyed great success throughout the years and received the society’s highest honors, being named a REACH (Recognizing Excellence and Completion with Honors) Chapter, a Five-Star Chapter, and a Gold Chapter.  Additionally, hundreds of OCC students have been individually honored for their PTK contributions.

None of these achievements would have been possible without the steadfast commitment and dedication of Tau Iota advisors.  It is with gratitude and pride that I will acknowledge PTK advisor milestones at Thursday’s meeting.  Service pins will be presented to Mr. David Rickert, Adjunct Assistant Professor in Social Science, for five years as an advisor, and Dr. Jennifer Dellner, Professor of English and Literature, for ten years as an advisor.

One of the campaigns offered by Phi Theta Kappa Foundation involves the purchase of bricks for the Alpha Courtyard at the PTK Center for Excellence in Jackson, Mississippi, to honor those who support and serve the ideals and mission of PTK.  I believe there is no one worthier of being honored in this way than Dr. William Rickert.  For his forty-four years as OCC’s PTK advisor, a brick was dedicated by the College to honor Dr. Rickert.  The excellence and success of OCC’s Tau Iota Chapter is due, in large part, to the extraordinary time and effort he expended to lead, direct, and counsel PTK students for so many years.

Bellwether Award

As reported at last month’s meeting, Ocean County College was accepted as one of ten finalists for the prestigious Bellwether Award in the area of “Planning, Governance, and Finance” for its submission entitled:  “Meet Reggie:  the AI Chatbot Transforming Ocean County College.”  The Bellwether Award is a long-standing, respected award presented to innovative community colleges following a rigorous award competition.

Finalists in this national competition will attend the 2022 Community College Futures Assembly in San Antonio from January 30 to February 1, 2022.  Dr. Jerry Racioppi, Vice President of Student Affairs, Ms. Sheenah Hartigan, Executive Director of Enrollment Services, and Dr. Kate Mohr, Assistant Director of Enrollment Services, will attend the conference to present OCC’s submission to peers and a panel of judges.

As requested, Dr. Racioppi, Ms. Hartigan, and Ms. Mohr will share their presentation with the trustees at Thursday’s meeting.

Academic Affairs

School of Arts and Humanities

  • Mark Westmoreland, College Lecturer II in Philosophy, contributed “The Ethics of Pedagogy/Philosophy: A Critique of the Present” to the recently published George Yancy:  A Critical Reader, edited by Kimberley Ducey, Joe Feagin, and Clevis Headley (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021).
  • College Lecturer II in Music Brian Gilmore and community member Richard A. Askoff presented a week-long concert series from November 5 through 12, 2021. The concert series featured Rachmaninoff’s two piano masterworks performed on a matched pair of Bösendorfer Model 290, Imperial concert grand pianos. Over the course of 8 performances, 140 attendees were delighted by the music of Rachmaninoff and the two magnificent pianos.
  • Adjunct faculty member in Arts and Humanities Mark Farley presented “Thrilla in the Villa” on November 12, 2021. His guitar performance and multimedia presentation featured a showdown of two thrilling pieces of music for kontraguitar;  the recently discovered work of Giulio Regondi and the K. Mertz work that won the infamous 1856 Makarov Competition.
  • College Lecturer II in Communications and Theatre Paul Chalakani and the OCC Repertory Theatre Company performed the dark comedy, End Days, for Black Box Theatre audiences from November 12 through 14 and 19 through 21, 2021.
  • English College Lecturer II Ameer Sohrawardy, English Associate Professor Joaquin Rolon, and English Associate Professor Jayanti Tamm presented as part of the International Education Week events on November 15, 2021. Their presentation focused on a discussion of literature relating to this year’s theme, “Engaged, Resilient, Global.”  The session discussed, “Indigenous to …?: Linda Hogan’s Our Animal Selves” and M. Coetzee’s “The Lives of Animals,” “Fight or Die: Elements from Hjime Isayama’s Attack on Titan manga,” and “Maria Ressa: From Toms River North High School Student to 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.”
  • Mark Westmoreland, Dr. Howaida Wahby Eraky, Assistant Dean of e-Learning, International Programs, and Dr. Maysa Hayward, Associate Vice President of International Programs, presented at the Celebrating Differences: Cross Cultural Communication and Body Language session of the International Education Week events on November 16, 2021. This presentation explored the cross-cultural differences in communication among African-Americans, White Americans, Moroccans, and Egyptians.  The discussion focused on nonverbal communication with the inclusion of other forms of communication.
  • On November 17, 2021, Madison Peschock, College Lecturer II in English and Literature, held an adjunct round table for English adjunct faculty. The session featured three presentations.  Ms. Samantha Glassford, College Lecturer II in English and Literature, shared how to create a research essay unit in ENGL 152, English II;  and College Lecturer II Heather Sciarappa showcased how graphics, pictures, songs, and other multi-modal images can be used as a presentation assignment in ENGL 152.  Assistant Dean Veronica Guevara-Lovgren rounded out the session with a discussion on the difference between local non-native English speakers and international non-English speakers and how to help these students in ENGL 151, English I, and English 152 classes.
  • Art History College Lecturer II Stephanie Shestakow organized a virtual talk with a guide from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The virtual experience conducted by Pamela Lawton, a museum educator, was held on November 19, 2021, and provided viewers with a Met highlights tour of the amazing artwork housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Madison Peschock, Mr. Brian Gilmore, Music Instructor Karin Gargone, and the Music Club sponsored a virtual presentation by nationally recognized songwriter Sue Ennis on November 19, 2021. The presentation featured an engaging discussion with Ms. Ennis, who is best known for her work with the platinum-selling Seattle rock band, Heart.
  • The Social Justice Series concluded its 2021 events. On November 16, 2021, Associate Professor Jayanti Tamm hosted a presentation by Aaron Potenza.  The presentation featured a historical overview of the gay rights movement prior to focusing specifically on public policy for trans rights in New Jersey.  The event concluded with a question-and-answer session.  On December 2, 2021, College Lecturer II in English and Literature Jason Molloy hosted a screening of the 2017 documentary, “Break the Chain.”  The film looks at the issue of human trafficking in the United States.  The screening was followed by a discussion of the issue.
  • On December 1, 2021, Ms. Heather Sciarappa, College Lecturer II in English, hosted an adjunct professional development event for the School of Arts and Humanities’ adjunct faculty. The event featured presentations from two college lecturers and one adjunct faculty member.  Former adjunct faculty member, College Lecturer II Justin Pfeifer, presented on the expanded adjunct mentoring program, giving attendees his perspective as both an adjunct and a college lecturer.   Jason Molloy led a discussion-based session on how adjunct faculty can achieve their professional goals.  The event was concluded with a presentation by Adjunct Assistant Professor in Humanities and Fine Arts Kathryn Quinn-Sanchez on how to use film to stimulate in-class engagement.
  • Chapter leader Jayanti Tamm shared that the National Sigma Kappa Delta English Honors Society website placed “Once Upon a Midnight Dreary” on its front page. Six members of OCC’s chapter of Sigma Kappa Delta produced the project with the OCC TV studio.  In addition, the OCC chapter of Sigma Kappa Delta held a well-attended open mic event on December 2, 2021. The event, titled “Snow Holding Back:  An Open Mic Experience,” shared spoken word and other creative works as a celebration of the end of the semester.

School of Nursing

  • The School of Nursing held an Advisory Committee meeting on November 17, 2021, with 18 participants representing various clinical agencies as well as members of the community, students, faculty, and staff. During the meeting, the School of Nursing program outcomes, required by accrediting agencies, and end-of-program student learning outcomes were presented.  Clinical agencies offered support to provide students with clinical experiences in the Spring 2022 semester.  Representatives from major acute care organizations spoke highly of Ocean County College graduates and indicated they are hiring new nurses who complete the program.
  • The School of Nursing has been approved by the Maryland Board of Nursing as an out-of-state nursing education program. Approval is based on the submission of an assessment of the OCC Nursing program as well as supporting documentation to determine substantial equivalency with Maryland School of Nursing programs.  Approval assures OCC graduates will be eligible to take the RN licensure examination and practice within the state of Maryland.
  • Representatives from the School of Nursing attended the College’s Open House on November 10, 2021. Staff, faculty, and students provided prospective students and their families with information on admission to the School of Nursing.
  • Plans are being developed for students to return to campus for hands-on practice within the skills and simulation labs. Students enrolled in the program will begin returning to campus the week of January 10, 2021, to practice skills in preparation for competency validation the first week of the semester.

School of Business and Social Sciences

  • Through the efforts of Stephanie Frattini, College Lecturer II in Student Success, and in collaboration with the Grunin Center for the Arts, two exciting programs were offered in the student success courses throughout November. The first was an arts education and youth empowerment program presented by Drew Dollaz, who is a pioneer of flexing – a Brooklyn-based genre of street dance also referred to as bone breaking.  The dance is characterized by rhythmic contortionist movements.  He has performed and partnered with a broad range of artists and brands, such as Madonna, Rihanna, Skrillex, Red Bull, Sony, Aloft Hotels, and Billboard.  Dollaz currently mentors young dancers and gives master classes around the world, including at the Kennedy Center, for participants ranging from ages 5 to 70.
    • The second presentation featured Kevin Spencer, who hosted the Improving Student Engagement Professional Development Workshop.  This presentation focused on identifying the problems with lack of student engagement and student motivation.  It addressed the potential causes of this issue (shift in attitudes from teachers and students, shifting the focus for motivation, virtual struggles, and deterioration of student relationships), as well as the possible solutions (student-centered classrooms, student ownership, learning-based activities, think pair share, discussions, real-world scenarios, and critical thinking).
  • The Social Sciences Club, led by Margaret Maghan, College Lecturer II in Social Work, Ms. Patricia Gianotti, College Lecturer II in Addictions Counseling, and Ms. Nicole Kammer, College Lecturer II in Education, sponsored a Golden Ticket Scan fundraiser.  Candy bars were sold, and bar codes on the candy bars were scanned.  Through a randomization process, select scans were chosen and those lucky participants received a special giant candy.  All proceeds went to the Winter Wonderland event, a toy distribution initiative for needy Ocean County College students and their families.  Members of the Social Sciences Club also volunteered at the Winter Wonderland event sponsored by Student Support Services.  The club also raised funds for Dottie’s House, an assistance program for women and children in Ocean County.   Ms. Karen Kirton, MSW, the head social worker at Dottie’s House, spoke to club members about the issue of domestic violence and how she, as a social worker, helps to combat it.
  • In the Business School, activities related to the Federal Challenge Student team members Kyle Fisher, Davan Visser, and Mary Pranzatelli-Gray submitted a video in which they analyzed the current U.S. economic situation and recommended that the Federal Reserve begin tapering its bond purchases and create a liquidity facility that would assist businesses in advancing workforce development.  In November, the team members joined faculty advisors, College Lecturer II in Economics Katherine Toy and College Lecturer II in Business Christopher Bottomley, in a remote networking event with Federal Reserve staff and recruiters.  Fed Chair Jerome Powell also joined the event to offer remarks to all participants.  The event was the culmination of an outstanding OCC team commitment that began last year and involved enormous effort from all members.

School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

  • College Lecturer II in Chemistry Scott Farrell, advisor to HOSA-Future Health Professionals, hosted guest speaker Anthony DeSisto on November 12, 2021. DeSisto is an X-Ray/CT Technician who works for the Saint Barnabas healthcare system.
  • College Lecturer II in Biology Lincoln Simmons’ curriculum development work for Pathways to Credentials resulted in an invitation to speak at the National Career Pathways Network virtual conference on November 5, 2021.
  • The Engineering and Industrial Technical Studies programs are being actively advertised on social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. A ten percent goal has been set this academic year to place active students in career-aligned industrial/technical studies jobs; to date, this goal has reached its halfway mark.
  • Three students, Clay Coutinho, Mark Green, and Luzelena Ortiz, have applied to take advantage of the OCC–OCVTS articulation agreement. Once they complete the Fall semester with 12 credits, their eligibility will be determined.
  • On November 11, 2021, Engineering/Industrial Technical Studies, Executive Director of Academic Success Henry Jackson, and Perkins hosted a free workshop on spatial visualization for middle school students. The workshop showed students that STEAM is possible and how it can integrate art and science.  For the first time during this workshop, an informal “Parenting for STEM” workshop was held.
  • The Wednesdays with STEM series continues with a lecture by College Lecturer II in Engineering Pam Bogdan, as an IP Educator in Residence.  Bogdan will lead attendees through various scenarios about forms of intellectual property.  Each scenario will also introduce the participants to reference materials that are available from the Michelson Institute.  On December 20, 2021, Mr. Marc LaBella, Associate Professor of Science, will present “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics:  Use and Misuse of Data Analysis in the Sciences.”
  • The Engineering Department is working with the Military Technology Museum of New Jersey, located on the campus of historic Camp Evans in Wall Township. Students will work on volunteer project opportunities to refurbish vehicles.  The first student visited the museum on November 6, 2021, to begin his solo project.
  • On December 2, 2021, Ms. Pam Bogdan and Richard Varenick, History Adjunct, along with students Cassidy Wojcik and Jordan Minetti and alumni Max Schippe, presented “Best Practice Call” for the American Technical Education Association, a nationwide organization of educators in technology.

Library Services

  • The OCC Library has implemented a new library management system, OCLC Worldshare Management System. Through this new interface, users can perform discovery searching, bringing print, e-book, electronic journal articles, films, and music resources together in one search of the Library’s catalog.  The new catalog can be accessed through Ocean Connect-Library Services-Catalog or through the Library’s webpage:, choosing Library Catalog.  Signing in with OCC credentials provides access to the A-Z database list and the A-Z journal list to browse library holdings or to search for specific databases and journals.
  • The FIPSE Open Textbook Collaborative Grant, a statewide project managed by Middlesex County College, with assistance from Brookdale Community College, Passaic County Community College, Rowan University, and Ocean County College, is actively soliciting proposals for Open Educational Resources (OER) in the following subject areas: global manufacturing and supply chain issues, innovation and technology, health services, and energy.  Visit to explore the grant and its opportunities.
    • OCC oversees the Innovation and Technology Curriculum Committee for the grant, and the team has worked with Professor Chris Simber of Rowan College at Burlington County, to develop his “Introduction to Python” textbook and ancillary materials.  The textbook and materials are available on the Open NJ Repository:

Center for Academic Success

  • The Grants Office and Center for Academic Success are in talks with three high schools as possible partners for the Upward Bound Grant. Brick Township schools have completed the requested data form.  Kayci Clayton, Director of Grants Administration, and Ms. Sarah Schoreder, Ellucian, are reviewing the data.  Two additional schools are interested, Manchester High School and Lakewood High School.  Meetings are being planned for both.
  • For the Spring 2022 semester, the College Readiness Now VIII grant will fund students to take career cluster courses in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, engineering, environmental sustainability, hospitality and tourism, and industrial hygiene. This grant will provide students access to an introductory course from one of the above-mentioned OCC certificate/degree programs.  Students will be enrolled in ENVI 241, Environmental Sustainability, in the Spring semester.
  • Students in Cohorts 4 and 5 of the Lacey College Academy will be offered the opportunity to add a certificate program to their Liberal Arts degree. As part of a new initiative for the Lacey College Academy, students are being encouraged to enroll in career cluster certificate courses in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, engineering, environmental sustainability, hospitality and tourism, and industrial hygiene.  The goal is to make Lacey College Academy students more marketable upon completion of the Associate in Arts degree in Liberal Arts.

Finance and Administration

Return to Campus

Progress has been made in the development of systems and processes to implement weekly COVID-19 testing for all unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff for the Spring semester.  These systems and processes will make OCC compliant with Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) rules expected to become effective early in the new year.  OCC has implemented a secure system called Medicat to house vaccination and testing documentation.  The system will also generate reports that will allow the College to monitor compliance.  The portal to upload vaccination cards is now open for submissions at  Individuals who provided proof of vaccination to the College or to Brio during the Fall semester must also provide that information to the Medicat system.

Students, staff, and faculty who are not vaccinated and have not already done so will be required to register for testing at  Brio will continue to operate the testing site on campus during the Spring semester, but the location will be moved to the Grunin Building (suite formerly occupied by Human Resources).  The hours of operation will be Monday and Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:00 to 6:00 p.m., and Wednesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.  Testing at the Southern Education Center (SEC), Room 114, will be on Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Individuals who wish to be tested elsewhere at their own expense will be able to upload their test results to Medicat.  Any student, faculty, or staff member who has not submitted proof of vaccination prior to the start of the Spring semester will be treated as unvaccinated.  Individuals who become fully vaccinated after the semester starts may upload their vaccination information at that time and, after verification, will no longer be subject to the weekly testing requirement.

The restriction on travel will be modified beginning with the Spring semester.  Overnight travel for conferences, training, and other college business will be permitted; however, employees are urged to use caution and keep their health and safety in mind when deciding to travel.  Virtual attendance at events remains recommended, and any employee who does not wish to travel overnight while the pandemic continues is not obligated to do so.  Study abroad remains suspended, and the Student Leadership Conference will not take place in January.  Other Student Life trips will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Change to Campus Closure Practices

Given the College experienced successful remote operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, going forward the College will revert to remote operations when it is necessary to close the campus for inclement weather or other emergencies.  If the campus is closed, all faculty, lecturers, and instructors (credit and non-credit) are requested to hold classes via WebEx at the normal class meeting times.  Alternatively, instruction can continue through Canvas.  To the extent possible, the College will conduct business remotely.  Employees will revert to the remote work practices put in place during the pandemic, including serving students by phone or online.  This new practice will eliminate productivity lapses for both students and employees due to inclement weather.

Information Technology

The project to equip classrooms with video conferencing technology is continuing, but supply chain disruptions will delay its completion until the Summer of 2022.  A handful of classrooms in the Instructional Building are anticipated to be fully equipped for the upcoming Spring semester.  This will allow some classes to be offered in both face-to-face and remote modalities to get a sense of student demand for the remote option.

Ocean County College Foundation

  • David G. Paulus has been named Foundation Board Chair, effective January 1, 2022. Sincere appreciation is expressed to outgoing Chair Michael B. York for his leadership over the past two years.  Under his leadership, the Foundation has expanded its scholarship support for traditional and non-traditional students alike, introduced Jump Start and Academy Awards, and expanded on the WPE grant program, distributing grants for non-credit certificates for the first time.  Additionally, roll-over scholarship applications were implemented from Fall to Spring terms, further assisting the College in retention efforts.  For these advancements and more, Mr. York is thanked for his service.  The Foundation now looks forward to the leadership of its incoming Board Chair, Mr. David Paulus.
  • This year’s annual appeal is currently in regular and email mailboxes, and social media marketing materials have been created to support scholarship fundraising efforts. Please consider a generous donation in response to this annual appeal.  Many thanks to  Kimberly Maloney, Alumni and Advancement Director, and the entire Foundation Team as well as to College Relations members for assistance in this year’s Annual Appeal Campaign.
  • The Spring 2022 scholarship application period will remain open through January 4, 2022. Once again, all qualified Fall term recipients need not reapply for Spring term scholarships; applications for those students simply roll over to the coming semester and continued eligibility is determined by the Foundation Office.

Upcoming Campaigns

The Foundation Team and Foundation Board of Trustees will be spearheading and assisting the College with several very exciting campaigns in the coming twenty-four months:

  • Grunin Center – Lobby expansion and formal gallery space to provide for a multi-use community gathering space and fine arts gallery.
  • Novins Planetarium – Science Center Interactive Experience and long-term goal of full LED dome.
  • Legacy Campaign – 2022-2024 and beyond, a $25 million campaign culminating in a celebration of sixty years of service to the Ocean County community.
  • The Foundation’s Annual Concert event is scheduled for Friday, April 1, 2022, at which time The Ten Tenors, an Australian all-male ensemble that travels the world inspiring millions through their harmony and talent, will be welcomed. This fundraising event promises to be a huge success; more than half the house has sold already.  Sponsorship and other information is available by contacting Sherri Bray, Assistant Director of Events and Advancement, in the Foundation Office at 732-255-0492 or

Grunin Center

  • The Center is pleased to welcome Mr. Erik Stratton as Education and Community Engagement Coordinator.
  • Grunin Center Spring Season tickets are available to the public now.
  • The Grunin Center presented its first show in the new Gia Prima Studio Theatre.  Patrons enjoyed the gorgeous vocal harmonies of the Americana duo, The Honey Dewdrops.  This new amazing space will host more performances, including jazz musician Charlie Apicella, and the Americana band, Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters, both in May 2022.
    • The Gia Prima Studio Theatre Opening Celebration will take place on March 19, 2022.  There will be a reception in the lobby and performances from Carolyn Dorfman Dance, students from GPAA and OCC, and an evening performance of Louis Prima Jr.
  • In November, the Planetarium celebrated the ever-nearing launch of the James Webb Space Telescope with a NASA-affiliated event, which featured telescope specific shows, NASA giveaways, crafts, and displays.  Novins staff members were joined by members of the Astronomical Society of Toms River to educate over 100 visitors through the afternoon.

Workforce and Professional Education and Grants Administration

RWJBarnabus Health Partners for New Apprenticeship Program

Workforce and Professional Education began its first apprentice cohort studying to become Certified Medical Assistants on December 13, 2021, in partnership with RWJBH.  All students are incumbent workers in the RWJBH system and are upskilling at OCC for career advancement.  The NJ HealthWorks Grant supports the training tuition for these new apprentices; and, as full-time employees of RWJBH, they are paid while they train.

The demand for this healthcare occupation is strong, and RWJBH is anxious to screen and hire new employees interested in becoming Medical Assistants for the next apprenticeship cohort to start in April 2022.  Interested individuals should be referred to Workforce and Professional Education.

Adult Basic Education – Title II Grant

During the first semester of programming this Fall, the Adult Education, Civics, and Workforce Preparation (Title II) Grant Program has served 230 students in ESL and HSE (high school equivalency) preparation.

Orientations for Spring cohorts are being held in December at various locations.  These cohorts will begin in January 2022 and run for twelve weeks.  Another round of Spring student cohorts will begin in April 2022.  Spring education sites include:  OCC’s main Toms River campus, the Southern Education Center in Manahawkin, Lakewood Library, Point Pleasant Beach High School, Brick High School, Ocean County Jail, and Joint Base MDL

Potential students may be referred to the program by emailing or calling extension 2346 or1125 (Spanish speakers).


In accordance with New Jersey Public Law 2015, Chapter 220, and College Policy #2332, Reporting of On-Campus Criminal and Fire Events, attached is the monthly statistics report of crimes, fires, and other emergencies on campus for the reporting period October 29, 2021, through December 10, 2021.

Student Affairs


Transfer Events

Transfer Coordinator Laura Wills has organized 29 college visits since November 1, 2021, with three more visits scheduled in December.  Representatives from the four-year institutions, including Stockton University, The College of New Jersey, Kean Ocean, New Jersey City University, Columbia University – School of General Studies, Rowan University, Thomas Edison State University, Montclair State University, and Georgian Court University are available to speak with OCC students about transfer admissions.

Advising and Transfer Services have also executed Instant Decision Days with Kean Ocean,  Montclair State University, Monmouth University, Stockton University, and New Jersey Institute of Technology.  These events give OCC students the opportunity to meet with an admissions representative and waive the application fee.  Students almost always receive an offer of admission at the events.


This Fall 2021, 341 STARS students are enrolled.  To date, there are 238 STARS students enrolled for Spring 2022.  This semester, NJ STARS Coordinator Jennifer Kipp and Advisor Diane DeFilippo ran three NJ STARS How to Register for Spring Information Sessions, as well as the NJ STARS Information Session for High School Students, which was in collaboration with the HUB.

New Student Information Sessions

The Advising Office is hosting New Student Information Sessions this winter.  Incoming students are able to meet with an advisor and receive information on various topics, such as Student Planning, course schedules, course materials, financial aid, payment, and staying connected.  Sessions are planned for December and January.


Advising, the HUB, and IT have collaborated to create early warning alerts to assist athletics.  The Athletics Department receives alerts when student athletes have one or more course averages below 70%, and students are contacted proactively to discuss their progress.   Plans to expand the use of Advise CRM to Veterans, Counseling, Disability Support Services, e-Learning, and the Writing Center are currently being developed for Spring 2022.


After blazing a path of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate destruction in the form of 13 consecutive match victories, the season-long undefeated streak of OCC Esports’ Jackson French came to an end on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, when he was defeated 3-2 by Bryant Stratton College in the semifinal round of the NJCAA eChampionship tournament.  His Fall 2021 win-loss record of 13-1 is nearly identical to his Spring 2021 season, when he advanced one match further, to the championship round, and lost in a heartbreaker.  Jackson will be returning to the team in the Spring semester and is hoping to finish what he started.

Career Services


Ms. Kirsten Bollinger, Career Services Coordinator, scheduled 85 appointments with students from September 1 to December 3, 2021, representing approximately 7 students per week.  Some appointments were repeat students, as Ms. Bollinger typically meets with students more than once.  Most of these appointments were conducted on campus.  These appointments focused on Career Advising (55), Job and Internship Search  (16), and Resume Review (14).


Ms. Bollinger has given 20 virtual or in-person presentations on Career Services to students, faculty, and staff.  These presentations were available to students in classes or at campus-wide events, workshops, and faculty and staff meetings.


Career Services booked 28 employers to be available in the Larson Student Center throughout the 2021 Fall semester.  The industries represented are education, business, hospitality, psychology, social work, environmental, and healthcare.  Over 100 hiring flyers have been posted to the Career Services page on the Ocean County College app.  These flyers were all received from local employers in Ocean County and surrounding counties.


Approximately 16% of degree-seeking students have activated their Handshake account.  In total, there are over 1,700 employers approved to recruit at OCC.  There are about 4,500 job opportunities posted, with 1,100 of them being internship opportunities.  Many opportunities are offered remotely, some are located out-of-state, and about 700 are located in New Jersey.

Counseling Center

  • The Counseling Center welcomed a new staff member in October, Heather Mayer, Mental Health/Case Manager Technician. Ms. Mayer is responsible for handling the operations of the Center and is the first point of contact for students, faculty, and staff.  She has been working on the retention academic CARE reports and has attended several training sessions on college student mental health and other topics related to this position.
  • Counselors have been extremely busy working on a number of activities, including individual counseling sessions, making presentations, hosting events, presenting to classes and student groups, working on committees, and continuing to expand expertise through professional development training. Since the beginning of the semester, counselors have conducted 639 appointments with 319 students; triage sessions were conducted for 19 students.
    • On November 23, 2021, 25 individuals attended “Mental Health Services for Veteran Students,” conducted by Ms. Kelly Petrolis, Student Intervention Specialist, in collaboration with Ms. Jamie Prioli, Assistant Director of Disability Services, and Ms. Jennifer Garcia, VA Vital Program.  On December 1, 2021, Director of Counseling and Student Development Kate Pandolpho presented on CARE reporting.  International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day was recognized on November 20, 2021, in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and as part of the Center’s comprehensive, year-round effort to prevent suicide in our community.
    • Ms. Katie Hueth, Prevention Education Coordinator, and Ms. Kelly Petrolis were interviewed about the Counseling Center by OCC Channel 20.  Dr. Kate Pandolpho has been involved in the New Jersey Council of County Colleges’ Counselors Group, which is working in collaboration with the Mental Health Association and New Jersey Department of Health.  There will be opportunities for training the campus on mental health and suicide prevention.
  • The Recovery Program, under the leadership of Katie Hueth, continues to grow with increased student engagement and numerous opportunities for student participation, training, and campus involvement. SMART Recovery Training is being offered for students to earn certification to become peer facilitators, as well as an intensive 30-hour Recovery Coach Academy training during January for students to meet some of the requirements of becoming peer recovery specialists.  On December 8, 2021, Dr. Brooke Scheller, a nutrition expert, presented an insightful discussion on the impact of alcohol use on digestion and the role of nutrition in recovery.  Scholarship opportunities are available for students in recovery in recognition of those students who demonstrate the values of perseverance, personal growth, and determination.  This scholarship is available for both the Fall and Spring semesters.  The Wellness and Recovery Center will have its official grand opening on Thursday, January 27, 2021, at 2:00 p.m., following the Board of Trustees meeting.
  • The Restore Your Score retention program for students in academic jeopardy is directed by Kelly Petrolis. With the generosity of the OCC Foundation, the program now offers a financial incentive for students who complete the specific activities required for eligibility.  To date, 11 students have completed the requirements to qualify for the incentive.
  • All of the counseling staff members have attended a number of relevant professional development training sessions. Topics include training by the Displaced Homemaker program funder; military and veterans mental health; emerging issues in military psychology; active shooter preparedness; addressing the significant rise in mental health needs and violence for student and staff safety; Race, Trauma, and Suicide in Adolescents of Color; Physical Health is Mental Health; Supporting Higher Education Students Mental Health in the COVID-19 Era; Suicide Among College Student Clients: Who is at Risk?; and the Therapy Wants and Needs of Millennials and Z’ers.  Several members of the CARE Team attended the annual Nabita Conference.
  • The CARE Team has handled 430 reports since the beginning of the semester. Susan Ebeling-Witte, Student Intervention Specialist, is the lead on the CARE reports requiring counseling interventions.  Trends have been identified in students’ behaviors, including mental health concerns, increasing anxiety and depression, housing insecurity and homelessness, relationships, academic stressors, grief and loss, and COVID-related stressors.
  • The Displaced Homemakers Program, under the direction of Carmen Mora, Program Coordinator, is working with 19 new clients and 79 continuing clients. Six clients are enrolled at OCC for the Fall semester for a total of 48 credits; one client is enrolled in Kean Ocean and another is enrolled in Rutgers.  Three of the new clients plan to enroll in credit classes in Spring 2022.  Four of the new clients have enrolled in WPE courses (Billing and Coding, EKG, Bookkeeping, and QuickBooks).  Virtual computer skills training has continued, with one session held in person for the first time since the pandemic.

Office of Disability Services

  • The Office of Disability Services has been busy interacting with many students visiting in-person and remotely for information, appointments, and accommodation services. The office continues to share several virtual events through the OCC app, including free access to worldwide events celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2021.
  • Assistant Director Jamie Arasz Prioli presented a session addressing emergency preparedness considerations for individuals with disabilities and their family members. The webinar was hosted by the National ALS Association, and over 250 participants attended virtually from throughout the country.
  • Outreach with an overview of Disability Services for faculty, lecturers, and staff continues, and a presentation was conducted with the e-Learning department. The overview included best practices for supporting students with disabilities, such as effective communication skills, organization tools, and other valuable resources.
  • To promote community engagement and support, Disability Services continues to collaborate and serve as chair of the Ocean County Core Advisory Group – Emergency Preparedness for Individuals with Staff members also attended the quarterly meeting hosted by the Ocean County Commission for Individuals with Disabilities.  Both meetings focus on addressing trends within the community and identifying barriers and resources for individuals with access and functional needs.
  • Staff participated in a four-day professional development opportunity at the Accessing Higher Ground virtual conference. The conference focused on the implementation and benefits of accessible media, universal design, and assistive technology in the post-secondary setting, as well as discussion on legal and policy issues regarding ADA and Section 508 compliance.

Educational Opportunity Fund


In 2015, Ocean County College was awarded a Santander Universities grant, one of the first successful county college applicants.  A three-year $150,000 grant created SOL, the Santander, Ocean County College, Lakewood High School partnership.

In three years, approximately 120 students participated in an experiential, early awareness program that included an orientation, college experience day, and free course registration for Student Success. The success of the program prompted Santander to invite the College to apply for additional monies.

Through strong fiscal management, the program had funds remaining that Santander Universities allowed the College to keep.  SOLstice was created to provide tuition aid to Lakewood High School students enrolled in OCC courses.  This honored the students who believed, the high school administration that supported the idea, and the spirit of SOL.  Special thanks are expressed to the former Lakewood High School leadership; Ms. Marcy Marshall, Principal; Mr. Douglas Riley, Assistant Principal; Ms. Andrea DeJohn, guidance counselor; and Ms. Hilda Reyes, guidance clerical support.

This Fall, the program began with a balance of $35,317.87 and awarded $21,860 to 43 students in the 9th to 12th grades.  The rapid response of Mr. Oscar Orellana, Director of School Counseling Services, made the September announcement of SOLstice monies and applications possible. Additionally, the support of College Relations in branding the SOLstice application and Ms. Mary Lancaster, Controller, and her team in posting the awards made success all around.

SOLstice will continue until the balance of funds has been exhausted.

Financial Aid

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Grants for Students

Ocean County College received funding for a third allocation under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to award emergency grants to students, HEERF III.  ARP emergency grants processing and application was made available to students starting July 13, 2021.  Since then, awards have been made to 4,642 students; the total amount awarded and disbursed is $7,967,000.

FAFSA Workshops

The Opening Pathways to Education Now (OPEN) program is in its twelfth year holding sessions on the main campus to assist with the completion of FAFSA paperwork and discuss the basic concepts of financial aid.  In addition to the workshops, the Financial Aid 101 presentation is posted on the College website for students, parents, and community members to access.  As of December 6, 2021, the Financial Aid Office has received 6,912 2021-2022 FAFSA applications and 1, 041 2022-2023 FAFSA applications.

Student Enrollment Services

  • Enrollment Services hosted an on-campus Open House on November 10, 2021, for potential students. The open house featured faculty and staff demonstrations, engaging activities, campus tours, refreshments, and even an appearance by Buster from the Jersey Shore Blueclaws.  The event was well-attended with 312 guests in total.  Potential students also received bags with OCC swag and were able to discuss future enrollment plans with various professionals.
  • Enrollment Services concluded the first step in the Pathways program the week of December 2, 2021, with visits to Jackson Memorial and Jackson Liberty High Schools. All in all, Enrollment Services was able to physically visit 14 high schools and meet with over 3,500 students.  The team has also been facilitating Financial Aid information sessions and workshops within the past several months.  The next steps of Pathways will include bringing students to campus for Express Enrollment Days in the Spring for students to complete registration, meet with advising, get a campus tour, and receive their student ID cards.

Southern Education Center

  • The Southern Education Center re-opened on November 8, 2021, for student services and in preparation of the Spring 2022 semester.  Students seeking support for registration, enrollment, academic advising, financial aid, or other areas can now receive assistance at the SEC.  The staff is also preparing the facility for the Spring 2022 semester with 57 Spring classes slated to be offered. Facilities personnel have been preparing the building by installing new LED lights in all areas – classes, common areas, and offices.  An additional classroom, Room 125, has been outfitted with new furniture, matching the table/chair arrangements of other SEC classrooms.  IT has begun upgrading technology to support student needs in the Technology Lab and other student areas.
  • In preparation for the Spring 2022 semester, James Hauenstein, Director of the SEC, continues the collaborative effort with Ms. Gina Opauski, Director of Community and Workforce Development (WPE), to implement Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses through the OCC Title II grant at the SEC.  Four sections of ABE classes are slated to commence in January 2022.  An English as Second Language class has been added to the SEC.  WPE staff will conduct an open registration period at the SEC on December 20 and 21, 2021.
  • The video connected/hyflex class which links main campus classrooms and services to the SEC through technological screens and cameras is being tested.  On December 2, 2021, James Hauenstein collaborated with Ms. Brianna DeCicco, Assistant Director of Academics and Tutoring Services, and Ms. Krystle Wilmot, Coordinator of Tutoring Services, to successfully conduct a trial tutoring session.  Additional efforts are ongoing to make the reality of tutoring for SEC-based students through virtual connections seamless in advance of the Spring semester.  On Friday, December 10, 2021, the SEC linked with the main campus testing instructional capabilities between SEC Rooms 122 and 125 with Instructional Building, Room 115.  Dr. Amir Sadrian, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, as well as members of IT and Tutoring Services, assisted in the trial run.
  • James Hauenstein presented the Promoting Learners to Achieve Now (P.L.A.N.) program to the Ocean County Association of School Administrators (OCASA) on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, at the invitation of Mr. Thomas Gialanella, Director of School Relations.  Mr. James Campbell, Coordinator, Enrollment and Outreach, joined the presentation.  Details of the P.L.A.N. program were shared with the county Superintendents as well as other guests.  The next step will be an additional outreach to OCASA members as a follow-up to the presentation.
  • The SEC Canvas Announcement page continues online communications with students enrolled in SEC or MATES remote Fall classes. During November, the messages focused on the services available with the SEC’s re-opening and the Spring 2022 course schedule.  Over 1,600 views of these Announcements were recorded during November, bringing the Fall 2021 semester SEC Canvas Announcement view total to over 6,100.
  • Jeffrey Kurz, Student Services and Recruitment Specialist, in addition to handling academic advising needs at the SEC, continues to assist the Academic Advising office by managing the Academic Advising email inbox.
  • In early December, an email was sent to the guidance counselors of Pinelands Regional High School, Southern Regional High School, OCVTS MATES Academy, Barnegat High School, and Lacey Township High School outlining the re-opening of the SEC, the hours, and the services currently available; the Spring 2022 semester SEC course offerings; and the Early College 1:00 p.m. class offerings.

Student Life

  • Student Life is pleased to share that OCC’s Tau Iota Chapter hosted Induction into Phi Theta Kappa on Friday, December 10, 2021, in a hybrid format for new members to log on and pledge together. Based on their academic achievements, 125 students were inducted into PTK this semester.
  • OCC’s chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success just completed the invitation period for the Fall semester, and 216 students have joined OCC’s Sigma Alpha Pi Chapter of NSLS. These students will be assisted in their step-by-step journey to induction as they explore their own leadership potential.
  • With a record year recruiting new students, the Viking Cheer Club is back in operation. Thirty students are currently on the roster, which is the club’s largest response in recent history.  The students already participated and represented the College in the Ocean County Halloween parade, and, starting in the next week, small groups of cheerleaders will attend home basketball games to cheer on the men’s and women’s teams.

Veterans and Military Resources Center

  • The Veterans and Military Resources Center (VMRC) successfully hosted the third-annual Veterans Town Hall, in collaboration with Congressman Andy Kim on November 11, 2021, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. in the Grunin Center for the Arts. A panel of veterans with diverse backgrounds showcased their experiences and times-of-reflection to Ocean County community members.
  • The VMRC hosted a campus-wide movie night (Elf) at the Grunin Center on December 1, 2021.
  • A dozen VMRC student engagement activities have taken place this semester and more are planned during December. These events provide veteran and military-affiliated students with the opportunity to learn about resources available to them, to network, as well as to socialize and support one another.
  • The VMRC staff are in the beginning phase of planning events for the Spring 2022 semester as well as a series of career readiness workshops in collaboration with Career Services and Academic Advising.
  • The VA-VITAL Representative Jennifer Garcia continues to make visits to the VMRC, assisting students with valuable resources. With great success, Garcia has been able to assist with medical appointments, veteran benefits literacy, counseling services, and morale among student veterans.  She also led OCC Crisis Management Training on November 23, 2021.
  • Veterans Program Coordinator Kencis Kleinschmidt has successfully led two Green Zone Trainings for OCC faculty and staff, the first time the training has been offered at OCC. Green Zone refers to a safe and protected place for veterans and military-affiliated students. The objective is to help faculty and staff support military-affiliated students on campus within their roles.  Human Resources has added two more Green Zone training dates for the Spring 2022 semester calendar.
  • A suicide prevention event, in partnership with NJ KOVA (Keep Our Veterans Alive), is being planned to take place in January.
  • The VMRC is finalizing the Military Friendly School Rescore Survey. This survey is needed to earn the Military Friendly School designation for 2022-2023.
  • The VMRC has finalized and distributed a Veteran Engagement, Satisfaction, and Support survey to veteran and military-affiliated students. The survey will assist in determining the needs and wants of these  It will also help define the strengths of the services provided by the VMRC and identify how they might be improved to best serve the needs of OCC’s veterans.

e-Learning and Learning Enterprises

Professional Development

The Center for Instructional Empowerment (CIE) has completed its 2021 Professional Development Series with two sessions hosted during November and December.  On November 3, 2021, Ms. Jamie Prioli, Office of Disability Services, provided training on Accommodating Students with Disabilities at OCC.  On December 9, 2021, Mr. George Haines, VoiceThread instructional designer, presented Humanizing Your Online Courses with VoiceThread.  e-Learning training opportunities, training material, and prerecorded webinars are available for employees on the OCC website.

Instructional Design and Technology

The Instructional Design Team continues to design and develop distance learning courses with innovative technology to create interactive and engaging content for OCC’s diverse student population.


e-Learning and Student Services will pilot Advise, software for student retention, in the Spring 2022 term.

e-Learning Personnel

The Academic Team is currently searching to fill the positions of Office Coordinator, Academic Educational Technologist, and College Lecturer II in Business.

International Programs

December has been a very exciting month for International Programs.  Dr. Maysa Hayward, Associate Vice President of International Programs, and I were in Egypt from December 4 through December 11, 2021, continuing various international program initiatives launched during previous visits this year.  We were accompanied by Dr. David Birdsell, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs of Kean University, Dr. Jimmy Jung, Senior Vice Chancellor at Rutgers University-Camden, and Dr. Sue Henderson, President of New Jersey City University (NJCU).

On Monday, December 6, 2021, Dr. Birdsell and I signed the triple-degree program agreement with Badr University.  The agreement is a duplicate of the Business triple-degree program that OCC and Kean University have with Ain Shams University.  Badr University’s first cohort will start in Spring 2022.

Dr. Hayward, Dr. Birdsell, Dr. Jung, Dr. Henderson, and I attended the Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research in Egypt from December 8 to 10, 2021.  This forum gathered global leaders, influencers, and practitioners in the fields of scientific research and innovation in higher education to envision the global future of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

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