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January 26, 2022

Dr. Larson’s January 2022 Report to the OCC Board of Trustees

OCC president Dr. Larson

Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame

The Toms River Regional Schools have chosen Ocean County College as one of their Distinguished Honorees to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  The event will take place on Sunday, May 22, 2022, at noon at the Clarion Hotel in Toms River.  Joining Ocean County College as a Distinguished Honoree is Ms. Edele Hovnanian.

Since its founding, OCC has been a partner and supporter of Toms River Regional Schools, committed to providing students in Toms River and the surrounding communities with the opportunity to benefit from affordable, student-centered, and quality academic programs and services designed to help Ocean County students achieve success.  Most recently, the partnership has been strengthened through the College Readiness Program, College Pathways Program, Early College opportunities, and the NJ STARS program.

Other 2022 honorees being inducted into the Hall of Fame are Mr. Kenneth Anderson, Mr. Bradley Billhimer, Ms. Maria Ressa, Ms. Beth Williams, and Mr. Roden Lightbody.  To be considered as an individual honoree, a candidate must have attended a Toms River School, graduated more than twenty years ago, and have made a significant contribution to the cause of humanity, improved the quality of life, or achieved outstanding recognition.

This recognition by the Toms River Regional Schools is deeply appreciated.

Ocean County College Recognition

The January/February 2022 edition of Trusteeship, a publication from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), was recently published.  A feature article on page 24, “What’s Job Number 1?”  Colleges Step Up Preparation for Careers, highlights OCC, workforce programming, and the partnership with Intel Corporation and its Artificial Intelligence for Workforce Program (page 26).  Board members Stephan Leone and Joseph Teichman, Vice President of Academic Affairs Joseph Konopka, and I were interviewed for the article.  It can be viewed at

Academic Affairs

School of Arts and Humanities

  • College Lecturer II in Dance Catherine Mancuso has moved to a new administrative role at the College, Dean of Faculty Development and Learning Innovation.
  • College Lecturer II in English Ameer Sohrawardy became a VoiceThread certified educator after completing two weeks of training and successfully submitting a capstone project on teaching poetry using multimedia.
  • In December, Central Regional High School sent 44 seniors to campus for a half-day program. As a part of the recruiting and community outreach event, College Lecturer Ameer Sohrawardy led an interactive Shakespeare class.  The class discussed Act 3, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar.  Students had a chance to play several of the parts during Brutus and Marc Antony’s speeches to the Roman crowd, watched film excerpts from a Royal Shakespeare Company production of the play, and had a spirited and engaging discussion.
  • Music Instructor Karin Gargone, College Lecturers Brian Gilmore and Catherine Mancuso, the Music Club, and music faculty held an all-day Music Open House on December 17, 2021. The event featured a day of beautiful music with performances by the Chamber Music Ensembles, Vocal Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, Flutist Hilda Howlett, the Music Club’s winter recital, and a musical theatre showcase.
  • The Dance Club showcase occurred on December 7, 2021, which was the first in-person dance appearance since 2019. The club members and the ballet classes performed a ninety-minute show.
  • School Dean Heidi Sheridan attended the Middle States Commission on Higher Education conference on December 14 and 15, 2021, called “New Horizons for Higher Education.” The conference included several workshops related to the self-study; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and federal education policies.
  • Assistant Dean Veronica Guevara-Lovgren attended the New Jersey City University Community College showcase on November 30, 2021. She also attended the ACT conference on December 1, 2021.
  • Marilyn Kralik, Art History Professor, worked diligently this semester to create an internship program for art history, history, and philosophy students. Seven OCC instructors will be working with student interns on several projects in Island Heights, beginning in the early Spring and continuing throughout the Summer.  Students will be guided through research, webpage, publication, and public relations processes.  One of the projects that will be undertaken on behalf of the Island Heights Cultural and Heritage Association will be a small publication on the Wanamaker Cadets, including letters and historic photographs.  For the John F. Peto Studio Museum, interns will compile a timeline providing the highlights of Peto’s life against the historic context of the times.  Yet another project will involve Island Heights artists from 1880 to the present, resulting in both a publication and a virtual museum.

School of STEM

  • College Lecturer II in Mathematics, Dr. Vandana Saini, has completed teaching Calculus I offered in a Hyflex setting. Four students from Arborbrook High School, North Carolina, took the course remotely with face-to-face students from OCC.  The class had a 100% success rate; all students received a grade of B or higher.  The students were pleased with the experience and appreciated the opportunity.  The high school principal also expressed interest in repeating this model with more students. Overall, it was an excellent experience for everyone involved, one that can be offered to many other high schools.
  • Since establishing academic partnerships with CompTIA and EC Council to deliver their standard training, students in the courses have scored “high” in all course assessments. These courses have been delivered in a Hyflex model with students who have attended in person and virtually, both synchronously via Webex and asynchronously via recorded lectures.  The delivery and instruction of these courses have received student ratings.  Seven of eight students in the Security+ course last semester scored above 90 across all course assessments, and eight of eight are strong candidates to pursue the Security+ industry certification.
  • College Lecturer II in Mathematics Julia Kim will host a Pi Day event in March. Also, a Lecture Series will be offered in April.
  • Students enrolled in MNFG 114, Principles of Quality Control in Manufacturing, prepared LEGO Mindstorm robotic kits for the new course, ENGT 127, Introduction to Robotics, which is being offered this Spring semester.  Throughout the semester, these students applied Six Sigma LEAN techniques, as well as industry quality test planning and execution, to turn what were five-gallon bins of random robotics components into fully verified and complete kits.
  • Several students in ENGR 181, Graphics for Engineers, were provided a real-world work assignment to create floor plan drawings for the OCC Test Center.  The students and their instructor did on-site measurements and will provide formal drawings to be included in the National College Testing Association Test Center application.
  • Thanks to Perkins funding, qualified students have been provided with test vouchers for the following industry-recognized certificates: AutoCAD Certified User, LEAN Bronze Certificate, and GD&T (Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing) Certificate.  This is part of the work readiness initiatives, which provide students with experiential learning and industry experience.  Engineering continues to place students with local industry partners in part-time, full-time, and summer internship jobs.
  • The partnership with Jaktool Engineered Solutions continues to bear fruit for OCC students and the Engineering and Industrial/Technical Studies department.   In December, custom-machined parts were received for the tensile tester.  These parts offered an expansion of testing capabilities, and the donation saved the department more than $1,000.  Along with being a general departmental resource, the tensile tester is typically used in the following courses:  CVET 151, Applied Mechanics; ENGR 221, Engineering Statics; ENGR 222, Engineering Dynamics; MNFG 114, Principles of Quality Control in Manufacturing; STSC 160, Student Success Seminar for Engineering Majors; and student/faculty projects and research.

School of Nursing

  • Forty-eight students completed the Nursing program in December 2021 and are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN®). Licensure passing rates for OCC students continue to remain above the national scores.
  • Current Nursing students practiced their skills virtually to prepare for the Spring semester. All returning students are required to demonstrate competency in skills previously learned at the beginning of each semester.  Students are required to complete orientation programs for each clinical agency they will be attending during the semester.
  • Ninety students are beginning the Nursing program this Spring semester. Orientation for new students was held virtually.  During the orientation program, students are introduced to faculty and lecturers, basic policies and procedures of the program, as well as strategies to enhance learning.  The Student Nurse Organization also meets with the students to welcome them to the School of Nursing.
  • Orientation for new clinical instructors is being held the first week of the semester. Three new instructors are joining OCC this semester.  The orientation program provides instructors with information on program policies and procedures, orientation to clinical agencies, teaching strategies within the clinical area, as well as student evaluation methods and documentation.
  • Lecturers and staff meet with clinical instructors the first week of the semester to provide information regarding assignments, simulation and skills lab initiatives, and updates to policies and procedures.
  • This semester, there are approximately 35 clinical rotations with 31 instructors assisting lecturers within various clinical agencies.
  • Linda Simmons, MSN, RN, CNE, Nursing Skills Coordinator, has successfully completed the Certified Nurse Educator examination. This certification offered by the National League for Nursing demonstrates expertise in nursing education.

School of Business and Social Sciences

  • Through the help and recommendation of Vincent Petrecca, College Lecturer II in Criminal Justice, seven criminal justice students obtained job placements. Three students were hired as Class I police officers in the Seaside Heights Police Department, one student was hired as a Security Officer at Kimball Medical Center, and one student will be hired as a Class II policer officer for the Lacey Police Department.  Two more students are currently interviewing for Class I police officer positions.
  • Nicole Kammer, College Lecturer II in Education, partnered with a New Jersey nonprofit organization, Acenda Integrated Health, for her EDUC 261, Development of the Learner, class. Student groups worked on a long-term project researching content, writing scripts, and creating videos focused on the theme, “How can parents enhance early childhood literacy development?”  Ms. Chrissy Reiss and her Acenda team selected the three videos they believed would best support Acenda’s initiatives. Those videos will be shared with hundreds of New Jersey residents who take part in Acenda’s programs, including Parents as Teachers, Healthy Families, and Nurse-Family Partnership.  The OCC Foundation generously provided scholarships to the three student groups whose videos were selected by Acenda:  Alexis Campoamor and Dom Dlugosz; Madison Salanitro, Katie Wioland, and Amber Huminski; and Amanda Owens, Jamie Wyckoff, and Gillian McDyer.

Center for Academic Success

  • The Grants Office and Center for Academic Success are partnering with Lakewood High School for the Upward Bound grant. Lakewood High School has completed the requested data form.  Kayci Clayton, Director of Grants Administration, and Ms. Sarah Schroeder, Principal Grants Specialist, Ellucian, are working on the first draft of the grant proposal.
  • Barnegat Bay Partnership has requested a grant proposal from the Center for Academic Success that focuses on environmental justice. The Center is working with Biology College Lecturers Lincoln Simmons and Angel Camilo to create this proposal.
  • The Center is partnering with the Toms River Regional School District in the development and implementation of its Middle Grades Career Awareness grant program. OCC will be hosting 400 middle school students from Toms River Intermediate Schools East, North, and South on April 4, 5, and 7, 2022.  In collaboration with OCC’s Perkins-funded programs, students will engage in hands-on activities that focus on career awareness in artificial intelligence, business, criminal justice, cybersecurity, engineering, environmental sustainability, industrial hygiene, and the promotion of community watershed stewardship.
  • This year’s College Readiness Now grant will provide students with access to an introductory course from one of the OCC certificate/degree programs for the Spring semester. The grant will fund students to take career cluster courses in robotics and environmental sustainability.  For the summer, students, hopefully, will be provided opportunities to take courses in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, hospitality and tourism, and industrial hygiene.
  • Students in Cohorts 4 and 5 of the Lacey College Academy have been offered the opportunity to add a certificate program to their Liberal Arts degrees.  As part of this new initiative, Lacey College Academy students are being encouraged to take career cluster certificate courses in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, leadership technology, 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.
  • The 2021 Fall enrollment numbers were very promising. The Early College 2021 unduplicated enrollment totaled 1,914 students taking 3,664 credits.

Finance and Administration

Return to Campus

The Return to Campus Committee continued its work over the Fall semester, and new COVID-19 protocols will be put into place for the Spring 2022 semester.  Ms. Sara Winchester, Executive Vice President, presented an update to the campus at Colloquium.  The presentation reviewed the responsibilities of students, staff, and faculty, and details regarding the new systems and how to use them were provided.  The following protocols were highlighted:


Masking remains required, with the following exception:

  • Plexiglass has been installed in labs/classrooms where sections longer than 90 minutes are taught. Instructor stations are more than six feet away from students.
  • Instructors have the option of removing masks while behind Plexiglass only.

Medicat System

  • Medicat is a secure system to house vaccination and testing documentation. The portal to upload vaccination cards is now open for submissions at
  • Medicat verifies vaccinations.
  • Once verified, fully vaccinated people are not subject to weekly testing. OCC’s definition of fully vaccinated will include boosters.  The Medicat system is currently being revised, and it will soon be ready to receive booster information.

Weekly Testing

  • Unvaccinated individuals are required to test weekly.
  • The BRIO testing site is available to active faculty and staff and currently enrolled students The BRIO testing site will be open on campus on Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  The testing location  is the Grunin Building #11, Door I, Room C101 (old HR suite), adjacent to parking lot #2.  Testing will also be available at the Southern Education Center on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Testing can be scheduled at
  • Test results will be uploaded into Medicat. Reports will be generated each week, flagging non-compliant individuals.

Non-Compliant Students

Beginning January 31, 2022, and on every Monday following, the Student Conduct Office will receive a report of students who were not compliant during the previous week.

1st Instance of Non-Compliance
Warning issued

2nd Instance of Non-Compliance
Student is charged with “failure to comply” under the OCC Student Code of Conduct.

3rd Instance of Non-Compliance

  • Student is charged with an additional count of “failure to comply” and is restricted from coming to campus in person, with the exception of going to the BRIO testing site to complete a COVID test.
  • Faculty and lecturers will be notified via their OCC email when restrictions are imposed and when they are cleared.
  • Students will be allowed to work with faculty to complete their coursework remotely for one week.

4th Instance of Non-Compliance

  • Student is placed on temporary suspension pending the outcome of the conduct investigation.
  • Student is charged with an additional count of “failure to comply.”
  • Conduct investigation will continue; should the student be found responsible, permanent sanctions will apply.

Non-Compliant Employees

  • Representatives in the Office of Human Resources are available to assist faculty/staff in ensuring compliance.
  • Beginning the week of January 24, 2022, if an employee is unvaccinated or has not received confirmation from Medicat that vaccine records have been verified, the employee is required to have weekly COVID tests.
  • On January 31, 2022, and every Monday thereafter, the Office of Human Resources will receive a report of employees who did not comply with the weekly testing requirement the previous week.
  • Progressive disciplinary action will commence, according to the appropriate handbook or contract, beginning with a verbal warning.

Unvaccinated Protocol

Those who have tested positive, have symptoms. or been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19:

  • Must quarantine for five days and are not permitted on campus for any reason during this five-day period. Faculty and lecturers are notified.
  • In order to return to in-person OCC activity, must provide a negative COVID test, dated after the fifth day of quarantine, or a doctor’s note. This may result in long quarantine periods.

Fully Vaccinated Protocol

Those who have tested positive or have symptoms:

  • Must quarantine for five days and are not permitted on campus for any reason during this five-day period. Faculty and lecturers are notified.
  • A negative test or doctor’s note is required to return. After quarantine, the individual can return to campus if not experiencing symptoms.
  • Vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine after exposure. They should monitor their health and quarantine if they experience symptoms.


The fiscal year 2021 audit has been completed.  Outside auditors from Bowman & Company have finished their work on site and Mr. Robert Nehila, Partner, will present the report to the Board’s Audit Committee prior to the meeting on Thursday.  However, the financial statements cannot be finalized until pension numbers are issued by the State, which we expect to occur soon; the finalized report will be presented to the public at an upcoming Board meeting.

Office of Information Technology

  • The classroom technology upgrade project is continuing, making most classrooms capable of remote interaction for the Spring semester. High-flex technology has been installed and is ready for use throughout the Instructional Building.  In the Bartlett Building, the first and second floors are complete as well as room 302.  In the Gateway Building, four rooms are complete.  Due to supply chain delays, the rest of the building is expected to be completed in late March.
  • Under the leadership of JR Ross, CIO, the OIT programming team implemented the Medicat system. Medicat is an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system specifically designed for colleges.  The system delivers leading edge technology, tools, and support for COVID vaccine verification, testing, and lab results, as well as COVID Status mobile dashboard, monitoring, notifications, and business intelligence reports.  This system will be key for OCC to successfully operate as the pandemic continues.

Ocean County College Foundation

The Foundation welcomes the newest member of the Executive Committee, Mr. Ricky Moore, and to the newest members of the full Board, Dr. Marilyn Kralik, Ms. Jessica Eggers, Ms. Stacey Kavanaugh, and Ms. Deborah Morgan, whose first official meeting will be February 16, 2022.

  • Appreciation is expressed to all who contributed to the Foundation’s annual appeal. While gifts continue to be received daily, over $32,500 has been raised.  Additional ways to give can be found at
  • Spring term scholarships are currently being awarded. The application period for Spring term scholarships was open through early this month, and all scholarships were awarded by the start of the semester.  This academic year alone, the Foundation will distribute over $1 million in scholarship support to the students of Ocean County College.

The Graduating Award application period will open on January 31, 2022, and remain open through April 18, 2022.  All students who have graduated this past December or who will be graduating this spring are encouraged to apply.

  • Work continues on the newly established Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  Eileen Garcia, Vice President of e-Learning and Learning Enterprises, and Mr. Kenneth Malagiere, Executive Director of the Foundation, co-chair this committee.  This work complements participation and efforts on the Jersey Shore Social Justice Academy, spearheaded by Monmouth University and generously supported by the Grunin Foundation.
  • The Blauvelt Speaker Series will kick off this Spring semester with Emmy Award-Winning Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, on February 2, 2022; and continue with Chief Technology Reporter, Davey Alba, on March 2, 2022; Inspirational Educator JoAnn Nocera on April 17, 2022; and grandson of Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Explorer Philippe Cousteau, on May 19, 2022. Tickets and information are available at

Workforce and Professional Education and Grants Administration

Earn While You Learn Apprenticeships

Workforce and Professional Education (WPE) has established active apprenticeship partnerships with large, local employers, including CVS and RWJ Barnabas Health (RWJBH).  In December 2021, 10 incumbent workers from RWJBH started a hybrid Certified Medical Assistant Apprenticeship Program at OCC.  These students are the first cohort to ‘earn while they learn’ onsite.  The trainees have their tuition, books, and fees grant-funded through the NJ HealthWorks Grant, and they are being paid while they are gaining skills in the classroom and lab.  Upon course completion and credential attainment, they will then move to a new title and wage at RWJBH, and complete their 2,000 hours of on-the-job-training.  Three non-credit programs (Medical Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, and Community Health Worker) had active apprenticing students in 2021.  In total, 85 students began their apprenticeship journey with WPE in 2021.

Adult Basic Education at OCC

The Title II Program began successfully this Fall, with funding providing basic literacy skills training, high school equivalency support, workforce readiness training, and other non-traditional educational services.  Like the youth programs offered through OCC’s WIOA grant, which also earned an extension during FY 2021, these programs bring hundreds of new students to the College for non-credit education support, a critical activity required for OCC to reach its goal of being a community resource for all.  In addition, these students will be exposed to a myriad of programs and services at OCC that extend beyond their training program, representing inroads to additional OCC programs.  During Fall 2021, 230 students were served, and 357 students are scheduled to begin, or continue, the Adult Basic Education, ESL, and Civics programs in January 2022.  Courses are held at OCC, the SEC, Lakewood Library, Brick High School, Point Pleasant Beach High School, and delivered virtually.  Courses are also planned for the Ocean County Jail and Joint Base MDL (to serve refugees).

New WPE Course Development: Master Courses and Bridges to Credit

An investment in master course development and hybrid course delivery, to better meet the needs of non-traditional students, remains a WPE focus.  In addition, course development priority is given to courses with a pathway to a credit program.  In 2021, master courses have been developed for non-credit programs, including Community Health Worker (Social Work pathway), Google IT Support Professional (Computer Science pathway), and Alternate Route to Teaching.  Additional master courses in development include Culinary (Hospitality pathway) and Project Management Professional (PMP) (STEM or business pathway).


The 2021 fiscal year brought in millions of new grant dollars, saw successful grant renewals for all grants up for review, and included more grant proposal submissions than prior years. Over the course of the OCC Ellucian Grants Services (EGS) partnership, $29,427,392 in grant funds have been received, with $35,023,099 in other revenue received with EGS support.  Of this combined $64,450,491, $40,565,960 was received during 2021.

College Relations


The 100 Women Campaign is hosting an event on Friday, February 4, 2022, on campus in Gateway, 5th floor, at 8:00 a.m.  Speakers include OCC alumna, Ms. Tara Chalakani, Nursing ’04, who is the Chief of Quality and Health Integration at Preferred Behavioral Health Group as well as Ms. Victoria Magliacane, Senior Vice President, Market Executive at Investors Bank and an Integrative Health and Nutrition Coach and Owner of Lavender Lifestyles.  Both guests will talk about social/emotional health, work/life balance, and the impact the global pandemic has had on women.

TV Studio 

Mr. Ralph Bertini, TV Studio Director, the Video Club, and the Student Life Department have produced an original program, “A Slice of Student Life.”  The student-oriented program highlights the latest topics on campus.


  • The web team collaborated with the HUB to develop landing pages for each high school participating in the College’s Early College for High School Students program. These landing pages provide high school-specific information for parents, students, and guidance counselors, including courses offered at each high school, textbook details, and a schedule of important dates. Each landing page is easily accessed through a school-specific URL, such as
  • Maureen Conlon, Associate Director of Web Services, collaborated with Ms. Susan O’Connor, Executive Director of Curriculum and Program Development, and the School of STEM on the College’s first Guided Pathways landing pages. These new program pages provide prospective students with detailed information on paths from certificate or degree to employment outcomes, including salary, occupations, projected growth for aligned careers, and employers in the area.  The first Guided Pathways pages developed include the Artificial Intelligence degree and certificate programs and Industrial Hygiene/Hazardous Materials Management Certificate of Completion created with the support of Mr. Ken Michalek, Lecturer II in Computer Studies, and Mr. Lincoln A. Simmons, College Lecturer II in the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.


  • Michael Leon, Graphic Design Manager, produced the Arts on Campus campaign in collaboration with Ms. Heidi Sheridan, Dean of Arts and Humanities; Mr. Ryan Luurtsema, Assistant Director of the Veterans and Military Resources Center; Ms. Kaitlin Everett, Director of Workforce Professional Education; and Mr. John Lopez, Director of Security and Safety. The goal is to promote OCC student creativity and inspire students, staff, faculty, and visitors.  Mr. Leon’s designs, with featured OCC student artwork, will be displayed as wall murals with quotes for the Student Center, Veterans and Military Resources Center, Workforce and Professional Education, and Security buildings. This rich creative content will be viewed on 17 walls, the Veteran Military Resources Center windows, and other building halls that span over nine areas of the campus.

Grunin Center

The Grunin Center held its first school performance, American Patchwork Quartet, on January  9, 2022, with approximately 240 students in attendance, including students from the Grunin Performing Arts Academy.  Upcoming shows in February include:

  • February 9, 2022, Rhapsody in Black, in concert with Black History Month, with school and evening performances
  • February 20, 2022, Garden State Philharmonic


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  December 11, 2021, through January 22, 2022.

Student Affairs


Advising Services

Advising and Transfer Services provided services to students in-person and remotely in Summer and Fall 2021.  The demand for remote services stayed consistent despite the return to campus.  Students were also able, for the first time, to schedule in-person advising appointments.  Utilization of remote advising and in-person appointments reduced demand for walk-in services, which resulted in shorter wait times, less congestion, and better service to students.

As a point of comparison, from July 2018 to December 2018, the Advising Office conducted 232 virtual advising appointments.   During that same timeframe, the Advising Office saw 7,883 students for walk-in advising.  From July 2021 to December 2021, the Advising Office conducted 3,233 virtual advising appointments and saw 2,295 students for walk-in advising.  From July to December 2021, the Advising Office also conducted 685 in-person appointments.

Remote advising accounted for more than half of advising student interactions from July to December 2021.  These statistics clearly indicate a sustained demand for virtual services, as well the ability to make advising appointments.

The overall decrease in students served is due partially to a decrease in enrollment since 2018, but is also a result of other improved services for students.  New students are now able to request a schedule online, and an advisor works with the student to register for the first semester.  Students are also now able to request a schedule review via Student Planning; the student’s advisor receives a notification of the request and is able to assist the student online.  More students than ever are also seeking remote help via the Advising Office email.  The Advising inbox is monitored daily, and dozens of student questions are answered each day; in the past, these questions more than likely would have resulted in walk-in visits to the office.

CRM Advise

The HUB, IT, Academic Affairs, and the Advising Office collaborated to successfully implement and execute Advise initiatives in Fall 2021.

A communication plan and early warning alert plan were put in place for NJ STARS students.  This plan delivered important information to students regarding this scholarship program, including eligibility requirements and reminders, registration information, and graduation outreach.  Starting in week four of the semester, NJ STARS students with at least one course with an average below 80% received communication regarding their scholarship eligibility and campus resources.  Students with more than one course below 80% received additional outreach and academic coaching from Advisor Diane DeFilippo.  Data is currently being gathered to evaluate the effectiveness of this effort and continue to improve processes in Spring 2022.

Athletics was also able to utilize Advise this Fall using the model set up for NJ STARS students.  Student athletes were coded in Advise, and the Athletics staff was able to respond to alerts generated for student athletes with low course averages.

A pilot communication plan was also executed in collaboration with the STEM Center, utilizing Advise early warning capability to encourage students to seek tutoring services.  Advise sent communications regarding tutoring services to students in designated sections of MATH 156, Introduction to Statistics, with a course average below 70%.  IT was also able to import data from Tutor Trac into Advise, which allowed for a determination of how many students sought tutoring of those who received this communication.  Using this information, an additional text message was sent to low-performing students regarding tutoring services.  Advising will work with Institutional Research in Spring 2022 to identify baselines and assess the effectiveness of these efforts.

A communication plan for all students was also launched in the Fall.  Communications regarding tips to be successful in classes were delivered throughout the Fall semester to students with low homework assessments and low course averages.  This plan laid the foundation for a more robust retention effort in Spring 2022 and forward.

Looking ahead to Spring 2022, in addition to continuing the current initiatives, Faculty CX has also been implemented, which allows instructors to raise alerts for students throughout the semester.  A pilot group of instructors has been identified and will be utilizing these alerts throughout the semester.  These alerts include identifying students with attendance issues, lack of participation, missed assignments, and low assessments.  Automated communications will be in place in addition to outreach from the Retention team.  The intent is for all instructors to utilize these alerts in Fall 2022.

The use of Advise is being expanded to additional student populations in Spring 2022.  An early alert plan will be in place to connect students enrolled in ENGL 151/098 with Tutoring Services.  Early alerts will also be used to identify student veterans, students on academic probation, and students registered with Disability Support Services who need academic interventions.

Transfer Events

  • Transfer Coordinator Laura Wills scheduled transfer events throughout the Fall semester to meet the needs of OCC students both in person and virtually.
  • Stockton University worked with OCC students bi-weekly through the Fall semester to provide admissions, scholarship, and academic advising for the Transfer Pathways partnership. The Stockton representative, working closely with Laura Wills, advises students to plan for graduation and transfer.
  • Kean Ocean met with OCC students in the Student Enrollment Building to help provide seamless transitions to its programs. The Academic Advising and Transfer team was able to refer students directly to Kean Ocean admissions and evaluation specialists to review all of the important information related to transfer.

Career Services


Seven workshops are scheduled for the Spring 2022 semester.  Each workshop will be offered in a high-flex classroom, giving students the option to attend in-person or virtually via Webex. Topics include resume writing, career and major exploration, job and internship searching, and career fair preparation.  Four workshops are co-sponsored by the Veterans and Military Resources Center, which will include specific information for veteran- and military-affiliated students and their families.

Career Fairs

Two career fairs are planned for the Spring 2022 semester. The Career and Internship Fair will be held virtually on Handshake on March 2, 2022.  The Part-Time Job Fair will be held outside on the campus mall on April 5, 2022.  Employers and students can register for both fairs on Handshake.  The fairs will be promoted in the coming weeks.


Students are now booking appointments with Career Services through Handshake. This encourages students to activate their Handshake account and become familiar with the system. Students interested in a career in healthcare can also book an appointment with Ms. Taylor Dulemba, Health Science Career Specialist.

Counseling Center

  • The Counseling Center said goodbye to long-term staff members Eileen Burdge, Marcia Slekitis and Julianna Dressner, and new staff members were welcomed: Darra Stack, Student Intervention Specialist, and Ms. Jessica Richardson, Displaced Homemakers Program Coach.
  • There are many exciting educational activities and programs planned for the Spring 2020 semester:
    • The evidence-based suicide prevention program, Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) was conducted on January 18, 2022, and it will offer it again this semester.
    • The Wellness and Recovery Center’s grand opening will be on Thursday, February 24, 2022, following the Board of Trustees meeting.
    • Rachel Piazza returns to present her well-received seminar, Feminist Self-Defense, on April 14, 2022.
    • Recognizing the increasing need for stress reduction and management, Relax and Recharge sessions are continuing.
    • The very popular Meditation Under the Stars will be repeated in collaboration with the Planetarium.
    • Mental Health First Aid training, an eight-hour evidence-based program, will be offered in collaboration with the New Jersey Council of County Colleges.
    • Restore Your Score, developed, coordinated, and directed by Kelly Petrolis, Student Development Specialist, provides targeted intervention, support, and programming for students who are academically at risk.
    • CARE reports continue to inform about students who are experiencing challenges impacting their academic success; these reports also notify the CARE Team about students in distressing or concerning situations.
  • The Counseling Center is participating in the Administrative and Educational Unit Review process; the report was developed using the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS) for Counseling Services. The Counseling staff contributed to the development of the report. The report will be reviewed by the Committee in the Spring semester.
  • Through the Supporting Students in Recovery program, issues of recovery, addiction, and prevention are addressed. Activities include weekly recovery meetings, peer recovery coaching, community activities through partnership with Hope Sheds Light, and a series of seminars on academic issues to support student academic success.  Three students completed the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy, by Katie Hueth, Prevention Education Coordinator.  Eight students were awarded scholarship funds for their participation in the Recovery Program; these students are recognized for their persistence, determination, and personal growth toward their recovery and academic goals.
  • Activities for the academic intervention programs, Restore Your Score and Starfish, have commenced, including outreach to students, updates of the non-credit Canvas courses, expansion to students with probation sanctions, and introductory workshops scheduled throughout the first two weeks of the semester. In Fall 2021, services were provided to 236 students with academic sanctions.  Outcomes for the Fall semester reflect that students who were actively engaged in RYS show nearly double the retention rate to Spring semester compared to students who were not engaged.  These students had a higher rate of returning to satisfactory status or continuing on the same academic status, and a lower rate of progressing to the more restrictive academic sanction, than students who were not actively engaged in RYS. Finally, the actively engaged students achieved a higher cumulative GPA and semester GPA than the other students.  The second program, Starfish, provides services to students who are in the first level of academic sanction.
  • The Displaced Homemakers Program is in its 15th year and has worked with thousands of clients in their journey to self-sufficiency. The program, staffed by Carmen Mora, Program Coordinator, and Ms. Jessica Richardson, Part-Time Community Services Coach, is currently working with 102 clients.  Clients are enrolled in OCC degree programs and in WPE job skills programs, as well as computer skills and career/employment workshops.

Student Enrollment Services

Enrollment Services, in collaboration with Academic Advising, hosted a NJ Stars information session on January 19, 2022, with 49 attendees.  The team is looking forward to on-boarding many of these potential Stars students in the coming months for the Fall 2022 academic term.

Southern Education Center

The Southern Education Center opened for instruction on January 24, 2022, for the Spring 2022 semester.  The Workforce and Professional Education programs in adult education started at the SEC on January 18, 2022.

The SEC will be offering OCC students who reside in Southern Ocean County over 30 courses.  WPE will be offering multiple adult education classes for High School Equivalency preparation and English as Second Language.  The newly installed video-connected classrooms at the SEC will expand instruction through remote operations in the WPE program as well as connect to classes on the main campus.  In addition to classes starting at the SEC, the Student Services offices will continue to provide a wide variety of support to the students.

To best serve students, the SEC welcomed two new Academic Advisors, Ms. Kashonna Garcon and Ms. Toni Ann DiPasquale.  Ms. Garcon worked as an Advisor on the main campus, while Ms. DiPasquale joins us from a Connecticut university.   Mr. Jeff Kurz, Student Services and Recruitment Specialist, Ms. Garcon, and Ms. DiPasquale have been handling advising at the SEC, combining their efforts to assist students who walk in seeking guidance and by handling incoming phone calls and emails.  The team has also assisted the main campus by scheduling virtual appointments and responding to inquiries.

After an almost two-year closure, appreciation is expressed to Facilities, Information Technology, Security, Academic Affairs, College Relations, and related Student Service departments for preparing the SEC for its re-opening.  Thanks are also due to e-Learning staff.

Student Life

Clubs and organizations continued to offer opportunities for involvement for OCC students throughout the Fall semester.  While everyone was excited to be back in person for events, such as Welcome Week, Club Fairs, and Fall Fest, most clubs continue to meet in a variety of modalities, based on what works best for the students.  The Student Government Association met in a hybrid format throughout the semester and welcomed new student senators.  Other clubs met regularly online:  the NJ STARS Club, Sigma Kappa Delta, Seascape, and Philosophy Club, to name a few. The support club, CRU, and the Music Club are two student organizations that met weekly in person throughout the semester.  Student Life continues to provide the administrative support to all student organizations and the advisors who make these opportunities possible.

Highlights include:

  • The Tau Iota Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa held its annual fall induction on Friday, December 10, 2021, in a hybrid format for new members to take the pledge together. There were 125 students inducted into PTK in the Fall.
  • The National Society for Leadership and Success had 216 students join OCC’s Sigma Alpha Pi Chapter and receive this honorable distinction. Student Life looks forward to assisting these students in their step-by-step journey to induction as they explore their own leadership potential.
  • Viking Cheerleading is back, with a Fall semester record for recruiting new students to join the Viking Cheer Club. Currently 30 students are on the roster, which is the biggest response ever to that club.  The students participated in the Ocean County Halloween parade, and small groups of cheerleaders have been cheering at the home basketball games when they are able.
  • Through the Hunger-Free Campus grant, Helping Hands hired a Coordinator of Student Basic Needs to focus on ensuring students have the necessary non-academic supports to succeed in college. Helping Hands is also onboarding inventory software that will allow students to shop the pantry online and schedule pickup times, making utilizing the pantry even more discreet. Since opening its new, larger location in the Library Building, Room 017, Helping Hands has served over 300 students.  Compared to Fall 2019, the last semester it was physically open, Helping Hands has increased visitors by 97%.

Helping Hands and Social Work Practicum students will be featured in a short film produced by Rutgers New Brunswick to highlight their innovative approach to addressing food insecurity on college campuses.

  • The campus engagement app continues to grow as a vital form of communication among OCC students and staff. There are currently 10,272 users of the app, which is a 37% increase in downloads from Fall 2020.

Veterans and Military Resources Center

The Veterans and Military Resources Center has been hard at work with College Relations and Facilities to revamp and showcase the Center with an updated vision and technology for the military-affiliated students.  Artwork, custom-made memorabilia, and new technology, such as a computer lab and the Chromebook Lending Library, are ready to use for the 2022 Spring term.  The Center will be more welcoming, comfortable, and private for military-affiliated students.

  • Five high-performance laptops have been installed in the VMRC Computer Lab providing student opportunities for project collaboration management opportunities.
  • Veteran Program Coordinator Kencis Kleinschmidt and Veteran Program Assistant Rachelle Bertholf have a new office suite; they will focus on student engagement, interaction, and ways to become a one-stop­ shop for all military and veteran student needs
  • VMRC staff participated in a “Veterans Engaging Teachers and Students,” or E.T.S., an experience in College Lecturer II Margaret Maghan’s practicum class regarding Combat Trauma and Veteran Transitioning. Student feedback requested additional opportunities for veterans to speak about military experiences in a classroom setting.
  • After the success of the Fall term Green Zone Training, OCC Human Resources has added two more Green Zone training dates for the Spring 2022 semester: February 16, 2022, and April 6, 2022.  Green Zone Training is a workshop offered to students, faculty, and staff to educate  on military and veteran cultural awareness, which may include stigmas, cultural facts and myths, and ideologies.  For more information on the workshops, contact Ryan Luurtsema, Assistant Director, at or
  • The VMRC is beginning the process of supporting academic intervention and coaching for at-risk and struggling students. The Center is partnering with Enrollment Services and Advising to monitor and proactively serve veteran- and military-affiliated students through the retention software, Advise.


  • The Fall season concluded with both the men’s and women’s soccer teams advancing to the postseason. Men’s soccer freshman Shane Cramer received national recognition in October, when he was named NJCAA Goalkeeper of the Week, and seven players were named to the NJCAA All-Region 19 and All-Garden State Athletic Conference teams at season’s end.  Men’s soccer sophomore Aniello Lubrano was a fixture on the national top ten scoring list all season, scoring 18 goals, 8 of which were game winners.  Aniello was named an NJCAA All-American, as well as Region 19 and Garden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
  • OCC’s basketball teams are past the halfway point of their seasons, and Spring sports are on the horizon, with baseball, golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, softball, and men’s tennis all competing.

e-Learning and Learning Enterprises

e-Learning Design

A presentation proposal by Lead Instructional Designers Laura Winger, Lauren Burbank, Dr. Juliann Young, with collaboration from Dr. Jack Kelnhofer, e-Learning College Lecturer II, has been accepted for the 2022 OLC Innovate Conference, which is being held from March 28 to April 1, 2022.  The title of the presentation is “Rethinking Course Design for All Term: Mastering the Calendar” and will discuss the revision of e-Learning’s Master Course Design Process by using instructional design models in traditional term and short-term course offerings.

e-Learning General Meeting

The e-Learning Spring General Faculty/Lecturer Meeting was held on Tuesday, January 19, 2022, with over 60 faculty and lecturers in attendance.   The e-Learning staff facilitated three workshops: Academic Integrity Policy, Procedures, and Best Practices; Fostering Student Engagement in an Asynchronous Course; and Grading and Feedback Efficiency, The Completion of Grades.

e-Learning Personnel

The department welcomes to the e-Learning team Ms. Daphnee St. Val, Part-Time Instructional Designer; Ms. Lauren Evans, Graduate Intern; Dr. Meredith Riddle, Assistant Dean; and Ms. Kristen D’Amico, College Lecturer II in Psychology.

e-Learning Professional Development Series

The 2022 Spring Professional Development Series will kick off on February 2, 2022.  The trainings and workshops will facilitate online instruction using interactive technology and maintain academic integrity in the curriculum.  If interested in facilitating a presentation, please send an email to

Assistant Dean Meredith Riddle will initiate the e-Learning Roundtable for Adjuncts on February 17, 2022.  These meetings will provide online instructors with networking opportunities and the chance to discuss “best online teaching practices.”

Innovative Technology

The e-Learning department continues to promote academic integrity in online courses.  During the 2021 Fall term, 10,732 assessments were proctored for 1,856 unique students.  Honorlock, e-Learning’s partner, has updated the application; and, starting in the 2022 Spring term, courses with third-party publisher content will be proctored.

The e-Learning department is working to phase out Aspire Dropout Detective software for online courses.   Student Services and e-Learning have created a strategic plan to launch Ellucian Advise Early Alert retention software for a few selected online courses during the Spring 2020 term.  Ms. Anna Regan, Executive Director of Academic Advising, will spearhead the College Lecturer training and collaborate with Ms. Vivian Lynn, Dean of e-Learning.

International Programs

  • International Programs is bidding farewell to Cohort 4, as the students have completed Kean University applications with the help of Rehab Abdelkhalek, the College’s international office coordinator in Egypt. Additionally, pre-semester virtual training was provided to students on Wednesday, January 18, 2022.
  • International Programs welcomed Marwa Khalifa, the new Academic Administrator for International Programs, on January 10, 2022. Already she has been instrumental in preparing students and instructors for the Spring 2022 term.
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