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September 1, 2022

Dr. Larson’s Fall 2022 Colloquium Remarks

Dr. Jon Larson

Stepping into the Future – Plans and Innovations

Thursday, September 1, 2022
Grunin Theatre 9:00 A.M.
Jon H. Larson, Ph.D.

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with a greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

U.S President Woodrow Wilson, Address at Swarthmore College, October 25, 1913

Good morning and welcome to the Fall 2022 academic semester! It is delightful to once again assemble in person in the Grunin Center Theater. We will be resilient and learn to live safely with the COVID-19 virus and its variants, without doubt!

Thank you, Eileen, for opening our program and coordinating this important event in the absence of Dr. Toni Clay. We look forward to Toni’s return to campus.

Please acknowledge our interpreter, Sheila Eletto.

We have no time to spare in accomplishing our destiny as the boldest, most innovative, most entrepreneurial student-centered college in the nation!

No other college or university in America has such a unique opportunity to grow, to be an innovative leader, and to do good, as we do well, by pioneering international education abroad.

Hand-in-hand with many U.S affiliate university partners, including Kean, William Patterson, and potentially Rutgers; and, our international university partners in Egypt, we are forging a new model of international education that is uniquely appealing to foreign students, is transportable, and is replicable in many other countries outside the U.S, and is unduplicated anywhere in the world!

I have penned a subtext to the theme of today’s Colloquium: “Stepping into the Future – Plans and Innovations.”  It is a quote from an address given at Swarthmore College on October 25, 1913, by the 28th President of the United States, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, who served from 1913 to 1921. Those of you who have been around for a while will recognize it as I have cited it previously in the distant past.

The former President of Princeton University was the first of only two U.S Presidents to have been a university president before being elected our nation’s Chief Executive. The second was General Dwight David Eisenhower, who served as President of Columbia University from 1948 to 1953. Eisenhower, one of the most popular presidents in U.S history, served two terms in office from 1953 to 1961.

Wilson’s prophetic words were:

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with a greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

Why did I choose to use Wilson’s challenge to the students of Swarthmore and, more importantly, to the members of his new administration? Because this penultimate Colloquium for me is a precursor to another new administration at Ocean County College, officially on July 1, 2023, when I will step away from the role I have loved every single day for 23 years, and a new president will take office.

I will be serving two more years in a part-time capacity as off-campus Counselor to the new President, helping my successor become acclimated to Ocean County, and to New Jersey if not already a resident, and to transfer the relationships I have formed with our international partners and U.S affiliate university leaders to OCC’s new President.

This is part of my personal commitment to enable Ocean County College and “the world to live more amply, with a greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement.”  I cannot, and will not, “forget the errand.”

As you heard from Eileen Schilling, one of the breakout sessions following this gathering will address the Presidential Search, presented by Executive Vice President Sara Winchester, the Chair of the College Presidential Search Committee, Tracey Donaldson, Liaison to our Search consultant from the Association of Community College Trustees, and our Presidential Search Consultant, Dr. Bradley Ebersole. We have to date received approximately 60 applications which will be reviewed and scored individually by the 15-member Committee. To learn more about the process, I urge you to attend one of the two sessions on this topic.

Each of the other four breakout sessions will help you learn and discover a few of the myriad of marvelous developments currently underway here at OCC.

The second major event occurring in academic year 2023 will be the accreditation team visit by OCC’s Middle States Commission on Higher Education tentatively scheduled for Sunday, April 2nd, to Wednesday, April 5th.

This year, our Colloquium Day began with an event in the second-floor gallery of the Grunin Theater, a Spotlight on Strategic Success: Strategic Goals Poster Session, which ran from 8:30-9:30 A.MThe College’s Strategic Plan is a key element in our Middle States Self-Study. I hope you were able to attend the poster session this morning.

Being conversant with our College strategic plan is one of the things each and every one of you can do to make our Commission on Higher Education accreditation team visit a success … because, the team members will be free to ask you if you know the College’s major goals.

You will recall we distributed a pocket-sized overview of our mission, vision, goals, and objectives at the Spring 2021 Colloquium. The intent was for employees to be able to carry it and become more familiar with the Strategic Plan prior to our self-study visit. I encourage you to review it so, when you are speaking with a team member, you can pull out your pocket guide and say, “Sure! What do you want to know about OCC’s Strategic Plan?!”  The last thing we need to have happen is for a faculty or staff member to say, “What? Strategic Plan? I don’t know what that is! Are we supposed to have one?”

Of course, you could always fake it by saying, “Oh! I was out sick when they held the ‘poster session.’  Or, “I got the message about picking up the pocket guide to our strategic plan, but I was out that day because my nephew was graduating from kindergarten.”

But … wouldn’t that amount to, “I’m here mainly to just “make a living,” and I don’t care about all that other mumbo jumbo?”

Seriously, my friends, this is on all of us. Please give it your best. I know in my heart you all love Ocean County College and want it to succeed in these turbulent times when many colleges and some universities will be going out of business entirely or be absorbed by another institution.

Ocean County College is one of the strongest academic institutions in America, and we are not going out of business! But, we need to tell our story of exceptional success to our accrediting body, Middle States. Each of us can play a part and help.

As you have seen in the local press, some New Jersey institutions are facing financial and enrollment crises. They are forced to cut back, implement layoffs of long-time employees, and scramble for new markets as the bottom falls out. The college-bound U.S. high school applicant pool is dwindling and is projected to continue to do so for the next decade at least.

These trends were foreseeable. We saw them and did something about it. Are we home free? No. But, we have an almost unique opportunity to still grow and prosper because we did so.

Why are we able to do this? Because of you … each and every one of you. You are the most talented academic, administrative, and supportive staff team Ocean County College has ever had and possibly that no other community college has ever had!

This is a fact, embedded in our Middle States Self-Study, with data that confirms what our Self-Study claims. (I said to Alexa after the final draft report to Middle States was given to me to review, “Are you certain that we are actually doing all these things?”) Folks, the evidence is there in the Self-Study Report. We are doing all of it!

Who’s responsible? Alexa? Tracey? Me? … No! The Vice Presidents, the Deans, the Assistant Deans, the Accountants, the Advisors, the Financial Aid staff, the Security and Physical Plant staff, the Administrative Assistants, the Adjunct Faculty, The College Lecturers, and the Full-Time faculty. You are all living, or should be: “The Ocean Way.”

I have the pleasure of welcoming every new employee to OCC in an orientation session run by our outstanding Human Resources unit. At each of those hundreds of onboarding events for new employees, Debbie Humphries, who began her career at OCC in 2000, as I did, reprises the elements of the Ocean Way commitment to essential values for success.

As I conclude, I ask that each of you also review the tenets of “The Ocean Way.”

It is a ‘values’ statement of our commitment to care for one another, for our students, for our stakeholders who fund our Foundation, for our partners and supporters in Ocean County Government, for the parents of our students who fund their children’s tuition payments, for the volunteers who serve on our extraordinary Board of Trustees, and for the integrity of our curriculum.

The one thing we, and we-alone, are responsible for, is sustaining the bedrock conviction and dedication that we can and will always strive to do what is just and fair, thereby succeeding in changing the world, making it a better place, and doing whatever it takes to make the lives of those we serve worthwhile!

If you are one of those responsible for the solution, you’re not part of the problem; congratulations! Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Dwight Eisenhower would be as proud of you as I am.

Thank you! Now, each of the vice presidents will share with you some of the many activities and achievements in their areas:

Sara Winchester, Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration

As you may know, there will be no tuition increase this academic year. This is the second year in a row that we have been able to hold tuition rates flat. We received good news for community colleges in the state budget for fiscal year 2023:  an increase in state operating aid for Community Colleges of $10 million – this is the first such increase in thirteen years.

The budget for FY2023 is in place. The budget includes an allocation of $417,595 for new initiatives proposed by the Planning and Budgeting Council (PBC). The new funding will support a new Speech Lab for Communications courses, a Compliance Officer for the Student Affairs Division, a College Lecturer for Health Care Administration, a College Lecturer for Supply Chain Management, and an Operations Specialist for Workforce and Professional Development.

Under the leadership of Kaitlin Everett, Executive Director of Workforce and Professional Education, non-credit Health Profession Programs continue to grow. The Workforce and Professional Education department received approval for the Certified Home Health Aide program by the Division of Consumer Affairs, Board of Nursing. The course consists of a 76-hour certification program and is a very cost-effective way for students to quickly train and enter the healthcare field.

Under the leadership of Kayci Clayton, Director of Grants Administration, grant awards continue to grow. A grant award in the amount of $40,000 was received from the AACC, Dell, and Intel via an AACC competition. OCC also received a GenCyber Safe award in the amount of $61,970 from the National Centers for Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C). GenCyber Safe is a five-day camp led by cybersecurity and telecom professionals leveraging OCC Cybersecurity curriculum and facilities. The camp serves as an inroad to higher education and a career pathway for under-served high school students.

A new cohort of Community Health Worker apprentices have completed their remote training program, bringing the total CHW apprentice number to 55! They will now complete 2,000 hours of on-the-job training with their employers across the state.

 A new, regional pilot program in Pharmacy Technician with Walgreens (Ocean and Monmouth counties), together with an established statewide partnership with CVS, is underway.

The first cohort of ten Medical Assistant apprentices completed their training program in March and are in the process of completing their 2,000 hours of on-the-job training at multiple RWJ locations. These incumbent workers were the first ‘earn as you learn’ cohort, a training model which will be replicated with other apprenticeship employer partners over the next year.

Under the leadership of Gina Opauski, the Adult Basic Skills and Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education Discretionary Grant Program (Title II) has expanded from $693,669 last year to $900,000 this year. The additional funds will be used to provide other career preparation and training to a greater number of students and improve participants’ digital literacy.

OCC will provide in-person instruction at the Ocean County Corrections facility this fall. As part of the Adult Education, Civics, and Workforce Preparation program, high school equivalency preparation will be provided to students housed within the jail as well as in the minimum-security facilities.

Jim Calamia and Ryan Ward are working on a number of capital projects. The Library renovation project is moving forward. The architect has been selected, and construction is expected to begin in the late spring of 2023.

We are participating in New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) Engineering Solutions Program that provides partial funding for energy conservation projects. Under this program, the Grunin Center boiler will be replaced and upgraded LED lighting will be installed campus-wide.

The new Administration Building is currently in the Design Phase. After the design is approved by the State Comptroller, the project will be advertised for bid. Once awarded, an 18-month construction period is expected followed by the demolition of the existing Administration Building.

We will install a stand-alone HVAC system for the Planetarium. This will allow the Planetarium to operate independently of the Administration Building, which currently supplies its heating and cooling.

The exterior walls of the Health and Human Performance Center and certain areas of the Technology Building are currently being repaired.

The renovation of the old Human Resources area in the Grunin Center will be converted into music practice rooms. A preliminary programming meeting was held with the end users, and an architect will soon be appointed to complete the design work.

Planning for the Technology Building’s roof replacement is underway. The roof replacement will take place in the Spring of 2023.

The Alumni Campus banners which are displayed on OCC buildings and monoliths throughout campus have been refreshed. The banners serve as inspiration for current students and showcase nine diverse alumni who have gone on to successful careers.

Exciting things are happening through the OCC Foundation under the leadership of Ken Malagiere. This past spring alone, the Foundation provided over $600,000 in scholarship support, and fall awards are underway for new and returning students, jumpstart and academy students, as well as in several Workforce and Professional Education certificates.

This summer, the OCC Foundation, in collaboration with the Organization for Black Unity, held its 1st Annual Juneteenth event as a lunch-and-learn on the history of Juneteenth. We are looking forward to continuing this tradition of celebration each year as a campus community.  Additionally, the Foundation raised over $200,000 for the students of OCC at the Annual Scholarship Celebration and announced the official launch of our multi-year, $25 Million Legacy Campaign, taking us into our 60th Anniversary year as an institution.

The 2022-2023 Blauvelt Speaker Series is in place. Actor and musician Ice-T will join us on September 20, followed by best-selling author Juno Diaz on October 24, Olympic Gold Medalist and professional athlete Mia Hamm will join us on March 8, and Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss will be on campus on April 25. As always, FREE student tickets are available for all Blauvelt Series events.

The Robert J. Novins Planetarium. The new state-of-the-art planetarium projector system, Digistar 7, was installed at the end of March.  The Digistar 7 features 3D models and instant real-time access to an extensive cloud of astronomy and science databases from NASA and NOAA to universities and planetariums worldwide.

Under the leadership of Associate Director Cara Muscio, the Planetarium presented summer afternoon public shows, and local camps returned to the Planetarium this year, with 42 shows.  Also, in July, the Planetarium celebrated the release of the Webb Telescope’s first images and the return of the Astronomical World of Harry Potter with two sold-out shows.

Summer camps were back on campus this summer. Thirty camps were run over 8 weeks, with a total of 244 campers participating.

On July 1, the Office of Human Resources rolled out a new applicant tracking system called NEO ED. The implementation team (Cara Dubitsky, Jackie D’Amore, Christina Matuszewski, and Alyssa Tipton) has conducted over twenty-five virtual trainings with over a hundred participants.  The full suite, which also includes an enhanced performance management tool, a learning management system with a full training catalog, and fillable electronic forms, will continue to be introduced over the next several months.

Under the direction of James Ross, CIO, and Sean O’Leary, Technical Director, OIT has a number of important projects underway, including the deployment of CrowdStrike to improve cyber security. CrowdStrike is a single-agent solution to stop breaches, ransomware, and cyber-attacks—powered by world-class security expertise and deep industry experience. The cost of this platform will be significantly more than previously expended for cyber protection, but we believe this investment is necessary due to the increase in threats worldwide.

This summer term was the pilot of the first HyFlex classes on campus whereby students may attend the course either in person or remotely. In order to better support the expansion of HyFlex courses this fall, we have maximized our bandwidth out to the full 2GB available to us through NJ Edge, our network service provider. The additional bandwidth will avoid internet service slowing down on campus during peak usage hours.

Purchasing and Payables commitment to streamline and improve paperless processes continues to include implementing new Colleague Self-Service functionality, as it is made available by Ellucian.  Process and procedure improvements have resulted in monetary and efficiency savings. In the coming year, the department plans to roll out automated Approval Routing for Requisitions and Vouchers, which means no one will need to enter next approvers’ names any longer.

Ocean County College continues to be the Lead Agent with the award of 19 NJ Council of County Colleges Joint Purchasing Consortium contracts. OCC initiated a Consortium Contract usage survey for all participating County Colleges to supply their prior years’ contract spend data where analysis of responses will provide information to assist with future decisions for Consortium contract awards.

Dr. Joseph Konopka, Vice President of Academic Affairs

The Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore recognize outstanding women and men for their leadership and contributions to the community. On April 27, at the Women of Distinction and Community Partners Gala, Dr. Antoinette Clay, associate vice president of academic affairs, was among the 2022 awardees. Awardees have a proven record of leadership in serving the community.

On April 30, Dr. Sylvia Riviello and Associate VP of Academic Affairs Dr. Amir Sadrian presented, “Lead…Learn…Innovate: Flex to the Future,” at the American Association of Community Colleges’ annual conference. This presentation about the HyFlex modality was well received by conference attendees.

In April, as part of the Title III grant led by Dr. Mary Gibson from Academic Affairs and Workforce Education, OCC collaborated with RWJ Barnabas Community Medical Center on hosting Healthcare Career Discovery Day. OCC students had the opportunity to participate in a “speed-networking” event with healthcare professionals from Community Medical Center. Dr. Gibson is also partnering with Dean Catherine Mancuso in leading an effort for the implementation of helpjuice. This searchable platform will provide information and content that is relevant to many topic areas for professional development.

Academic Affairs embarked on piloting a program with RWJ Barnabas Health in the spring of 2022 under the leadership of Dr. Amir Sadrian. Through this collaboration, employees of RWJ Barnabas Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus learned about career and educational options open to them. Other healthcare organizations have also expressed interest in pursuing the program for its employees. Dr. Sadrian is also excited to announce that one of our colleagues has completed her doctorate program, Dr. Mary Gibson.

Dr. Tom Gialanella continues to expand faculty development opportunities for K-12 teachers. During the Spring 2022 semester, OCC hosted a “technology” day for technology teachers in Ocean County. It was a well-attended event that included a main session hosted by experts in the field of cyber security. Dr. Gialanella also continues to develop new opportunities for expanding our relationships within the K-12 schools in Ocean County and beyond.

Center for Academic Success – Dr. Henry Jackson is happy to report that the Toms River Regional Schools, Ocean County College, and Georgian Court University are exploring a Teacher Education Pathway program. If students obtain a Teacher Education degree, they are guaranteed a teaching job within the Toms River School District. Teacher Education Degree options will also include Kean University and Stockton University.

College readiness testing continues to make strides. This year’s grant has provided students access to introductory courses from one of the OCC certificate/degree programs. For the Spring 2022 semester, the College Readiness Now grant will cover tuition for 32 Ocean County high school students.

Library – The library, which is led by Donna Rosinski-Kauz is leading the participation for OCC with the FIPSE Open Textbook Collaborative Grant. The grant focuses on creating Open Educational Resources (OER) for different technical areas. OCC leads the Innovation and Technology area of the grant. Many OCC faculty have been involved over the past few years. Proposals are being accepted now for October 2022 and January 2023.

The library renovation project is in progress, and library faculty and staff are preparing the collection and space. The first floor will become a multipurpose learning commons area with opportunities for group study and experiential learning for individuals and groups. The second floor will continue to be a quiet floor and will be redesigned to promote multipurpose use of study rooms and study pods. The project aims to provide seamless access within the library to resources in any format and to expand multipurpose use of group spaces, such as the tower rooms and the library classroom.

School of Arts and Humanities – The School of Arts and Humanities, led by Interim Dean Heather Sciarappa, reports that professor Lisa Cecere was interviewed to be a part of a documentary film on Peter Callas, a renowned woodfire ceramicist. The film, which also features the artist’s assistant and former OCC student, Jon Hem, debuted in March at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, California. Following that debut, it was aired on the NJ ARTS program on PBS.

Professor of English Dr. Jennifer Dellner presented a paper at the Electronic Literature Organization’s annual international conference. Dr. Dellner discussed her teaching of ENGL 268, a new course at OCC on digital and electronic literature. College Lecturer II Paul Chalakani and the OCC Repertory Theater Company presented Arthur Miller’s classic, “The Crucible,” at the Black Box Theater from April 22-May 1.   At the end of July, Professor Chalakani, also directed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAM COAT,” with Associate Professor Dr. Elizabeth Brierly, choreography, and the OCC Repertory Theater Company. The company performed to approximately 1,500 audience members at the Grunin Center.

School of Business and Social Science – The School of Business and Social Science, led by Dr. Rosann Bar, has been active with the Bloomberg lab on campus. Bloomberg Certification was achieved by 18 students during the fall semester, bringing the total certifications since the lab began to 148 students. The Spring 2022 semester was also a success as 16 students completed Bloomberg certification.

College Lecturer II of business studies, James Hadley, welcomed the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants as a guest panelist for OCC’s first Accounting Symposium held on April 21. NJCPA will support OCC’s new Accounting Club through this partnership by providing guest speakers and other resources. OCC is the only community college in New Jersey to have established this type of relationship with NJCPA.

Sean Bips and Chris Bottomley, both college lecturer IIs in business studies, hosted a successful HRTM Connect event on March 10. The theme was “Spring into Hospitality” and welcomed many corporate guests. The event created an opportunity for HRTM 212, Conferences, Conventions, and Special Events, course students to give their resumes to prospective employers.

Dr. Margaret Maghan, College Lecturer II in social work, was reelected for a second term as the national vice president of Psi Beta International’s east coast region. Psi Beta International is the community college honor society. As a representative of the organization, she attended the American Psychological Society’s national convention in Minneapolis from August 4-6.

The creation of the social work option in the Medical and Behavioral Health Associate in Science degree in conjunction with RWJBarnabas Behavioral Health was completed. This program was a first of its kind in the state of New Jersey.

School of Nursing – The School of Nursing, led by Dr. Tracy Walsh, reports that there was a major upgrade to the simulation center within the H. Hovnanian Health Sciences building. The upgrade was to enhance students’ participation in real-life situations to prepare them for actual patient care. It also provides faculty the ability to consistently update simulation scenarios, assess hands-on skills with multi-camera angles, and facilitate debriefing of simulation from mobile devices.

The Registered Nurse licensure pass rates have continued to remain above the national rates despite the numerous challenges educating students over the past three years related to the pandemic. The total number of nursing graduates for the 2021-22 academic year was 109. There was approximately $30,000 in scholarships and awards presented to current students and graduates during the Pinning Ceremony on May 24. Dr. Walsh is also happy to announce that two additional faculty in the School of Nursing completed their doctorate degrees:  Dr. Tamila Purpuro and Dr. Sharon Scrofine.

School of STEM – The School of STEM, led by Dr. Sylvia Riviello, reports that she and Director of Customized Training and Business Engagement for Workforce and Professional Education Elizabeth Metzger, co-led a team on the Center of Workforce Initiatives for New Jersey Pathways. The focus of the team is the development of new programs in cybersecurity and software development. A plan has been developed with the expected completion scheduled for December 2022.

Combining the development of credit-based programs with the options of scaffolding has provided opportunities for STEM students to bridge from non-credit to credit programs. One example of this is the Google IT certification where students can earn up to 12 credits toward a degree in computer science. In the areas of artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, OCC has been awarded over $300,000 in funding exclusive of the Bond Grant. OCC is one of 18 institutions in the country to be part of the AI Incubator Network and the only community college in the state of New Jersey to be awarded $40,000 to develop an incubator lab. In addition, we were awarded a $65,000 grant to run a GenCyber Safe Camp in the summer of 2023 for rising high school and middle school students in this area.

College Lecturer II Helga Paggi reports significant progress has been made with the partnership between OCC and the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to provide CSIT internship opportunities for our students and for the implementation of HyFlex at the base. Leadership from the base has identified several potential internship projects for our students to work on in the areas of website design, virtual reality testing, and technology integration. This partnership is a great opportunity for a long-term relationship with the base in offering more programs within other discipline areas.

Dr. Jerry Racioppi, Vice President of Student Affairs

This past year was exciting and productive in Student Affairs. The staff of our Advising office, led by Anna Regan, made significant progress. Just this past month, 819 students were advised. Work began this year on an innovation that will benefit students and the college when fully implemented. In partnership with staff from IT, Anna and others in the advising office are working to implement curriculum tracks in the student planning system. Curriculum tracks enable advisors to enter a complete course plan for students with the click of one button. Benefits to students include providing a comprehensive program plan from the beginning to end, helping to avoid situations where students take the wrong course, and an easily accessible and clear timeline for graduation. It is always better to know where the finish line is; it can be such a great motivator! Once the use of curriculum tracks is widespread, reports will be created to see when in the future students are planning to take courses. This data will aid Academic Affairs in determining how many sections of classes to build when they build schedules for future terms. Curriculum tracks are built for 12 programs, and many more are planned to be created this year.

The staff of our counseling office, under the leadership of Dr. Kate Pandolpho, had an excellent year. The counselors delivered 1,933 individual counseling sessions this year, a 5% increase over the previous year. The CARE Team continues to handle a volume of reports that is five times what it was prior to COVID. Last year there were 921 reports. Many thanks to the counseling team, the CARE Team members who are representative of all areas of the college, and to all of you for continuing to submit reports.

Students in our EOF program come from a history of poverty. The program provides financial and academic support that helps students succeed. The staff of the program, led by Laura Rickards, serves a small number of students compared to the entire population of OCC, but the effects are significant. 37.5% of EOF made the President’s list in the Fall 2021 semester and 34% for the Spring semester. These percentages are slightly more than two times the percentage of students who make the President’s list among the general student body.

I can also report on some exciting developments from our TRiO program led by Alison Noone. The graduation rate of TRiO students last year was 56%, significantly higher than the graduation rate of the general student population. Starting this year, for the first time, the federal government authorized OCC to offer tuition assistance to TRiO students out of grant funds!

Speaking of funds to help students pay for school, have you ever wondered how much money the financial aid office processes for our students? Last year, the financial aid office, under the leadership of Yessika Garcia-Guzman, awarded a total of $15,888,242 in grant and loan funds from federal and state sources. In addition, they continue their excellent service standard, awarding students within 24 hours of when documentation is submitted to them.

Helping Hands food pantry continues to serve students in need; last year 693 students received assistance from the pantry. Other news from the Student Life Area includes continued widespread use of the app by our students. Last year over 88,000 messages were sent between app users! We are approaching another milestone of 8,000 users. This level of student use indicates the value of this system, and we are thrilled at its continued success.

Athletics, under the leadership of Ilene Cohen, returned to competition this year and had a great year. The NJCAA recognized many athletes for academic honors. Three of our teams made it to national tournaments, and one of our golfers made a hole-in-one in the national tournament!

This year was very eventful in the HUB. The success team, led by Dr. Kate Mohr, launched in the spring semester, and they burned up the phone lines, making 9,498 outgoing phone calls to students who needed academic or non-academic support. Alerts were created using data from Canvas and from 12 professors who, using the Advise CRM Retention system, raised academic alerts for the coaches to follow up on. We are very excited that the number of participating professors will increase from 12 to 72 this semester!

Dr. Hartigan, Dr. Mohr, and I represented OCC in this year’s Bellwether award competition. The nationally recognized Bellwether Award, awarded by the Community Colleges Futures Assembly, focuses on cutting-edge, trendsetting programs worthy of replication in the community college world. Hundreds apply and a total of 30 submissions are selected to compete each year for a total of three awards in different categories. Our submission was entitled Meet Reggie: the AI chatbot transforming Ocean County College.   And, we won!

The HUB was created in response to challenges presented in a 2016 survey of student satisfaction with services. This past year, the HUB, led by Dr. Sheenah Hartigan, completed over 10,000 in-person transactions. The average duration time for service was less than 3 minutes and students waited, on average, only about 6 minutes before being served. In the spring, the HUB launched a survey following in-person service via text message. The HUB has received an average of 4.7 stars out of 5, and over 80% of responders found Enrollment Services staff to be extremely helpful. We have turned a corner on student perception of services; we believe that our continued success in enrolling students is due, in part, to this. We have increased the number of new students enrolled at OCC each year since 2017, and we suspect that the work of our new success team is contributing to positive movement in the re-enrollment of continuing students. As of today, we are ahead of last year by XX% due to gains in new and continuing students.

There is much I could say about excellent work to serve and support student success that is ongoing in many student affairs areas that I did not have time to mention this morning. Because of the successes I mentioned and others, OCC is recognized as a leader among our peers. Several of us have received requests to present or to speak with leaders from other community colleges about how we do things. I continue to be impressed by the professionalism and the drive to improve at every level among the staff, faculty, and administrators here at OCC; these hallmarks of success will serve us well in the coming year.

Dr. Eileen Garcia, Vice President of e-Learning and Learning Enterprises

Thank you and Good morning everybody. Welcome to a new academic year. In e-Learning, we have been working and will continue to work on improving the learning experience for both students and faculty. This work, recently, has been in the areas of software integration and faculty development. During the past couple of terms, we have done back end work and pilot programs for three major software tools: Simple Syllabus, Watermark, and Honorlock.

Simple Syllabus is a centralized template-driven platform that provides the ability to create and publish interactive class syllabi for our online courses. The software assists with efficiency by automating online student syllabi requests, student access to review courses before registration, student identification of required course materials and expectations, and allowing faculty to personalize specific course information. During this past L4 Summer term Pilot, 58 course sections used Simple Syllabus, and 992 students actively accessed and reviewed the course syllabus. This fall, Simple Syllabus has been enabled in 100% of online courses and will be readily available to more than 3,000 OCC students.

Watermark is a tool that assists the institution in the delivery of the Student Course Evaluation. We have administered the Student course evaluation instrument for the past two terms with over 50% of students completing the instrument. We will be using the data obtained to improve the student experience in our online courses. We are ready to start the new academic year with the tool being administered to all online courses in all the various sessions we offer in the Fall.

We are increasing the use of Honorlock (our online proctoring software) to include courses with third party content (such as Knewton Alta, McMillan Launchpad, Pearson, and so on) thus more students being proctored in online classes.

We can work on all the tools and gadgets available in online learning to improve student experience and persistent in online classes but the most important variable on the student performance in an online course is the faculty facilitating the course. E-learning is committed to the professional development of our e-learning faculty by running PD Series each term. Over the summer, 53 faculty members participated in two major PD opportunities:  the “Adjunct Summer Retreat” and “Building a Community in e-Learning.” where they shared their best practices to reinvigorate their student’s online classroom experience. A post-evaluation survey revealed that 75% of e-Learning adjuncts have actively participated in the professional development series in the past and 91% of the faculty was “very satisfied” with the Series.

For the beginning of this term, the e-Learning faculty attended our e-Learning General faculty meeting but two days ago, where we focused on the Future of Online Learning and Creating Communities and featured Dr. Derek Tranchina, Innovation and Educational Technology Supervisor at Ocean Township Public Schools with over 60 faculty in attendance. They discussed the transformation of online learning and its invaluable role as a catalyst for permanent change in education. The faculty attendance to our PD Series continues to demonstrate the e-Learning faculty’s dedication to delivering excellence to the e-Learning student in their virtual classroom.

Lastly, allow me to pivot to our international programs in Egypt. Since 2016, OCC has partnered with Ain Shams University and Kean University to offer a triple-degree program for the students attending Ain Shams. The seventh cohort of students will begin their studies at Ocean this fall. Last month, in my most recent visit to Egypt with Drs. Larson and Hayward, along with team members from Kean, we worked to expand our educational offerings at Ain Shams, recruit a greater number of new students, and promote our current partnership at EduGate, Egypt’s higher education fair for recent High School graduates.

In addition to Ain Shams, OCC is working to solidify a similar partnership with Kean University and Egypt’s Badr University in Cairo to offer students a triple degree program. The agreement is a duplicate of OCC and Kean’s Business triple degree program with Ain Shams University. We hope that Badr University’s first cohort will start late this fall after Egypt’s Security Council officially approves the program.

Thank you to the Vice Presidents for sharing achievements and activities with us. And that’s only a brief summary of their projects.

So much is underway to promote Ocean County College, expand its reach, and, most importantly, serve the students. I thank each of you for all you do for the College and its students.

Thank you all, ladies and gentlemen. We appreciate your kind and courteous attention. Have a great Colloquium day!

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