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July 21, 2021

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

OCC president Dr. Larson

New Jersey Council of County Colleges

At the September 20, 2021, meeting of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, Ocean County College Board of Trustees Chair Carl V. Thulin, Jr., will receive the Trustee Spotlight award during its remote meeting.  The Council recognizes and honors community college trustees who have provided trustee leadership to support, advance, and strengthen New Jersey’s community colleges.

Mr. Thulin was initially appointed as a member of the Ocean County College Board of Trustees in 1984 by the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders.  For thirty-seven years, he has dedicated himself to the success of the College and its students.  He has served as Board Treasurer from 1986 to 2003, Vice Chair from 2004 to 2005, and Chair of the Board since 2006.  As Chair, he serves as an ex-officio member of all Board committees.  He was a Trustee Ambassador to the Council of County Colleges.

Congratulations to Mr. Thulin for this well-deserved recognition.

Ocean County Board of Commissioners

A letter was recently received from Director of the Ocean County Commissioners Gary Quinn and Ocean County Commissioner and Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health Gerry P. Little.  The letter, written on behalf of both the Board of Commissioners and the Board of Health to Board Chair Carl V. Thulin, Jr., expressed their sincere appreciation to the College for its unwavering support and assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The College served as a vaccination distribution point as well as a drive-thru for COVID testing.  The County’s efforts, with assistance from the College, resulted in the full vaccination of more than 110,000 Ocean County residents and more than 30,000 tests performed.

Phi Theta Kappa

Phi Theta Kappa offers several fundraising campaigns to recognize the dedication of chapter advisors while, at the same time, to support the Society’s educational and scholarship programs.  The funds are used to offer programs that foster transfer success, career preparation, and professional support to PTK students.

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

Academic Affairs

School of Nursing and Health Sciences

  • Nursing student Alexandria Ipsaro was awarded the Arthur L. Davis Publishing Agency, Inc., Scholarship by the Institute for Nursing (IFN), New Jersey State Nurses Association Foundation. Alexandria will be entering Nursing II in the Fall semester.
  • Three OCC students graduated in May from joint programs with Rutgers University. Two students completed the Occupational Therapy Assistant program and one student completed the Psychosocial Rehabilitation program.
  • The Nursing lecturers have selected the book, “We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan,” by Elizabeth M. Norman as the summer read for returning nursing students. This book focuses on nurses providing care to severely ill and injured patients in field hospitals during wartime despite dangerous situations.  The book will be incorporated throughout the nursing curriculum as students discuss nursing practice, professionalism, ethics, patient care, and teamwork.
  • An educational program, “Understanding and Applying the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) Standards and Criteria,” was attended by Nursing Lecturer Marybeth Millan, MSN, RN; Assistant Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences Elizabeth Stevenson, PhD, RN; and Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences Teresa Walsh, PhD, RN.  The thirteen-hour virtual course reviewed the ACEN standards that must be demonstrated by a nursing program to prepare for the self-study report and site visit required to maintain accreditation.  The School of Nursing is scheduled for reaccreditation in early 2024.

School of Arts and Humanities

  • The winners of the 9/11 Writing Competition were announced by English College Lecturer II Ameer Sohrawardy.
  • The winners in the interview category of the “20 Years After: Remembering September 11th” competition were:
    • First Place – Josephine O’Grady
    • Second Place – MaryKate Naples
    • Third Place – Courtney Wright
  • In the fiction category, those recognized were:
    • First Place – Alessia Odato
    • Second Place – Tia Trione
    • Third Place – Arianna Kaminski.
  • Assistant Professor of Humanities Richard Fallon announced the winners of the OCC photography contest held as part of OCC’s Arts on Campus initiative. Students Adele Stern and Jacquelyn Biedzynski will have their winning photographs displayed in the College’s new Conference Center.
  • College Lecturer II in Humanities Stephanie Shestakow recently completed professional development opportunities that will be beneficial for OCC’s art history classes. Through the Guggenheim Museum, Shestakow attended “Getting Comfortable with Contemporary Art”; through Harvard University, she attended “Pyramids of Giza: Ancient Egyptian Art and Archaeology.”
  • Assistant Dean Veronica Guevara-Lovgren and Instructor of Humanities Karin Gargone recently attended New Jersey City University’s Community College Showcase. The Community College Showcase is an annual conference through NJCU’s doctoral Community College Leadership program led by Christine Harrington, Co-Coordinator of the program.  This event showcases best practices and provides community college leaders from across the nation with the opportunity to learn from one another and network.
  • The OCC Repertory Theatre Company will be presenting the longest-running musical in the world, The Fantasticks, live in the Grunin Center from August 19 to 22, 2021. This production, directed by College Lecturer II Paul Chalakani and choreographed by Professor Elizabeth Brierley, is sure to delight the audience with its timeless romantic tale.
  • The Adjunct Mentoring program originating from the School of Business and Social Sciences was piloted this Spring semester in the School of Arts and Humanities with success by College Lecturer IIs Stephen Downey, Catherine Mancuso, Heather Sciarappa, and Mark Westmoreland. In preparation for the larger rollout of this program in the Fall, a presentation to all College lecturers in the School of Arts and Humanities was held on June 29, 2021.  This presentation discussed the guiding principles of the program, and experiences were shared to provide insight on what to expect this upcoming Fall semester. The program includes an expanded adjunct performance review process to help better support new and established adjunct faculty.
  • Dean Heidi Sheridan attended two workshops connected to Perkins through the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE) called “Micromessaging to Reach and Teach Every Student” and “Inspiring Courage to Excel through Self-Efficacy.” She also participated on a panel during Employee Career Week, sponsored by Human Resources, relaying her career path to becoming Dean of Arts and Humanities and discussing the skills and competencies she seeks in employees.

 School of Business and Social Sciences

  • Sean Bips, College Lecturer II in Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management (HRTM), was recently inducted as an official member of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the world’s oldest international gastronomic society, which is now established in over 80 countries. The induction ceremony was held at Fairleigh Dickinson University, which currently serves as the U.S./Mid-Atlantic headquarters of the Chaîne.  Mr. Bips’ membership was sponsored by Dr. Jon Niser, Director of the International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Fairleigh Dickinson. Following the induction ceremony, all inductees and their guests were invited for an exclusive three-course, gourmet French dinner at the Park Avenue Club in Madison.

The Chaîne is based on the traditions and practices of the old French royal guild of goose roasters, whose authority gradually expanded to the roasting of all poultry, meat, and game.  The Chaîne helps HRTM professionals and students by preparing them in specialized training for the hospitality industry, offering networking events, and engaging them in food and wine competitions around the world.

The Mid-Atlantic headquarters will be holding many events throughout the year that OCC HRTM students can now enjoy through Mr. Bips’ official membership.  Mr. Bips noted that not only does this organizational membership increase the value of the OCC HRTM degree, but it also opens doors to hospitality students across the world.

  • Rosann Bar, Dean of the School of Business and Social Sciences, contributed a chapter entitled, “Overcoming Intentional Invisibility in the Workplace,” for an edited volume, Thriving as a Woman in Leadership in Higher Education, edited by Ms. Elizabeth Ross Hubbell and Dr. Daniel Fusch and published by Academic Impressions. This essay emerged as a result of Dr. Bar’s participation in the Chair Leadership Academy and through the mentorship of Dr. Carol Brown, former Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs at OCC.

School of STEM

  • College Lecturer II in Mathematics Sam Pinkava attended the S. Conference on Teaching Statistics from June 28 to July 1, 2021. He also participated in the International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME) from July 11 to 18, 2021.  ICME is an international quadrennial conference for math educators to share thoughts and ideas.  During this conference, Mr. Pinkava learned about several ideas for innovative authentic assessments that he hopes to implement in the Fall semester.
  • Several members of the School of STEM attended a virtual conference through Academic Impressions from June 9 to 11, 2021. Those who  participated were Sylvia Riviello, Dean of STEM; Ms. Carolyn Showalter, Assistant Dean; Mr. Sam Pinkava; and Dr. Maria Steblyanko, College Lecturer II in Science.  This conference focused on student support systems, inclusive teaching and learning experiences, and holistic approaches to recruit and retain underrepresented students.
  • The Ocean County College – Ocean County Vocational Technical School (OCVTS) Articulation Agreement has been approved. The first students to take advantage of this program will begin classes in the Fall semester.  Students will earn prior learning credits for the Associate in Science in Engineering degree based on a portfolio evaluation of their work done at OCVTS.  The students will be eligible for up to nine OCC engineering elective credits.
  • As part of the Intellectual Property – Educator in Residence (IP-EIR) program, Pam Bogdan, Engineering College Lecturer II, is required to do a BLOG posting to the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) website for its members. The following is a sample text from that BLOG posting:

What Patents Can Do for the Individual.  Think of any high honor or award:  the Nobel Prize, an Oscar, a Pulitzer, or a Grammy.  Most engineers would add obtaining a patent to that list.  Receiving a patent has a number of benefits for the individuals and their employers.  The patents awarded to an engineer provide external affirmation of their skills and expertise.  The patent plaque is a badge of honor to hang on their office walls.  Moreover, it is a tangible demonstration that their solution to a real-world problem was unique and worthy of acknowledgement.

The full text of Ms. Bogdan’s BLOG is attached for your review.

  • It is the School’s goal that the first OCC joint project done through the Educational Partnership Agreement with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) will be a virtual reality simulation for one of the surveying labs. This will be the upcoming Fall semester project for the OCC Engineering Club.  Jobs requiring this type of real-time 3D development (RT3D) skills are increasing 600% faster than the overall job market.
  • On June 29, 2021, members of the Engineering Department attended a free, four-part virtual event series: Engineering Education 2.0: Models, Methods, and Techniques for Innovation; Transformation in Practice: Approaches to Innovative Instructional Design; Interview in the Field; Digital Transformation of Teaching in a Post-Pandemic World.  The series was sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
  • Mary-Ellen Rada, Science College Lecturer II, attended the Labster summer conference, Online Uplifting, on June 24, 2021. Labster is a company dedicated to developing fully interactive advanced lab simulations based on mathematical algorithms that support open-ended investigations.  They combine these simulations with gamification elements, such as an immersive 3D universe, storytelling, and a scoring system, which stimulates students’ natural curiosity and highlights the connection between science and the real world.  The labs are being used by California State University, Harvard University, Gwinnett Technical College, MIT, Exeter University, University of New Haven, Stanford University, University of New England, Trinity College, University of Hong Kong, and Berkeley College.
  • The Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) future health professionals’ International Leadership Conference was held virtually last week. Sarah Sywanycz competed in the pathophysiology event.  Her hard work and effort throughout the year helped her make it to this international conference.  Sarah graduated in May with anS. degree in General Studies, Science, and is continuing on to Rutgers University, where she will be majoring in biochemistry on a pre-med track.
  • Mathematics College Lecturer II Julia Kim is beginning the second year of an OCC Summer Math Boot Camp from June 28 to July 28, 2021. Level I enrolled four students and Level II enrolled of six students.  This program is designed to ensure student success in the Fall semester math courses.
  • College Lecturer II in Mathematics Paul Kuehne attended the Cengage conference, Boundless Teaching: Blending the Best of Virtual and Traditional, on June 24, 2021.

OCC Library

  • Through Library College Lecturer Janet Marler’s leadership, the Open Textbook Collaborative Grant: Innovation and Technology Curriculum Committee and the Advisory Committee have accepted the first textbook and ancillary materials for the grant, Professor Christopher Simber’s Computer Programming: Python.   Simba is an Assistant Professor in STEM and the Computer Science and Computer Information Systems Program Coordinator at Rowan College at Burlington County.  He is developing an introduction to a programming course using Python and will be piloting the textbook and ancillary materials at his home institution.

Ms. Marler will be leaving OCC to become a faculty member at Atlantic Cape Community College, and she will be taking the role of Chair in the English program.   She will be missed by the College, especially those in the Library.

  • Implementation of the new library management system, OCLC Worldshare Management, is on schedule, and the library will debut a new catalog with a true discovery layer in August. The discovery layer search will bring together access to print resources, electronic journal articles, films, music, and other database resources that are part of the OCC Library’s resource collections.  The search process will be simplified and produce far more comprehensive results for students, faculty, and staff.  Training will be provided for anyone who is interested when the new catalog is available.

Allied Health Programs and Partnerships

  • On May 21, 2021, Workforce and Professional Education (WPE) successfully hosted its first virtual Job Fair for current Medical Assistant students to highlight four local, large-scale community partners that are currently hiring: AtlantiCare, CHEMED (Center for Health Education Medicine and Dentistry), Deborah Heart and Lung Center, and RWJBarnabas Health.  The current evolving nature of the healthcare industry has required the development of new and modified clinical externship and partnership agreements.  Fortunately, local employer partners are beginning to take allied health students on as externs once again, allowing them to gain critical hands-on skills on the job.
  • Community Health Worker (CHW) is a new program that was offered for the first time in the Spring.  The program is designed to prepare students to serve as liaisons between their communities and health care systems.  On May 6, 2021, CHW students participated in an information session hosted by the Dean of Business and Social Sciences, along with Social Work faculty, providing an overview of the credit degree program and the option for non-credit CHW students to take a comprehensive competency exam that could lead to nine credits toward an S. degree in Social Work at OCC.

Work Readiness and Adult Basic Education

On May 13, 2021, an independent grant monitoring committee reviewed the ongoing work of the Work Readiness Assistance Program, which services out-of-school young adults between ages 16 to 24, on campus.  The committee was pleased with the successful transition from an in-person program delivery model to completely virtual, including revised curriculum, master course development, and the addition of individualized weekly participant communication plans.

The committee since announced it will recommend to the Ocean County Workforce Development Board (WDB) that the grant be extended, running from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022.  The contract will be approved in August and will outline the total funding amount and level of service.  The program is gradually resuming in-person instruction, which began June 2, 2021.  The participants will come to campus once a week, allowing them time to explore various career options using recently acquired career industry tool kits.

Academic and Tutoring Support Services

Academic and Tutoring Support Services transitioned to its new scheduling platform, TutorTrac, on June 1, 2021.  This new system’s functionalities are accessible, as it offers several different viewing features.  Additional features offered by TutorTrac include customized emails confirming appointments, once booked, and the option for students to receive text messaging reminders for upcoming appointments.

Finance and Administration

  • The Return to Campus Committee is continuing to prepare for the full reopening of the campus this Fall for all members of our community to work and learn full-time and in-person once again. The following procedures and protocols are being documented and will be posted prior to the start of the Fall semester:
    • The College will need a policy that states the recommendations for mask wearing and social distancing for unvaccinated people.
    • The College will need to inform the campus community, especially faculty and lecturers, of protocols, such as where information needs to be reported when students indicates they have tested positive for COVID-19, in order to comply with local health organizations’ contact-tracing protocols.
    • As a public institution, the College will continue to communicate that individuals presenting with symptoms or a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 must not attend in-person instruction; they should be provided an alternative option for their work, such as remote instruction.
    • The College will communicate with all members of the campus community about mental health resources available due to the stressors of COVID-19.
  • Most employees have returned to work on campus at least part-time, and all furloughed employees have been recalled.  Updates regarding campus services include:
    • Daily mail delivery resumed on Thursday, July 8, 2021.
    • The College is working to bring dining services back to campus for the Fall, and vending is expected to be on campus by August.  In the meantime, the Larson Center will be open for employees to bring their own lunches.
    • The new Student Enrollment Building is open; staff have been on campus since Wednesday, July 7, 2021, to provide all enrollment services to students in person.  The hours of operation are:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday from  8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • As always, the Facilities staff is available on campus to address maintenance issues. Facilities has adopted a new software platform, Maintenance Connection, to receive and create work requests.  The new system allows requestors to view work orders and check their status, whether issued, on hold, or completed.  The previous SchoolDude software will no longer be active.


Mr. Matthew Kennedy, Associate Vice President of Facilities, Management, and Construction, who retired on June 30, 2021, prepared the following Operational Plans before he departed: Campus Services; Buildings and Grounds; and Planning, Design and Construction.  These plans will be very beneficial to the department and for the transition of management moving forward.

Ocean County College Foundation

The annual Scholarship Celebration sponsored by the Ocean County College Foundation was held in person on OCC’s Campus Mall on June 18, 2021.  More than 220 supporters joined to honor Dr. Henry A. Jackson, Dr. Teresa (Tracy) Walsh, and the 200 Club of Ocean County, and raised more than $175,000 to benefit the mission of the OCC Foundation for scholarships and program support.  After last year’s virtual celebration, the 2021 outdoor (tented) evening affair was welcomed as it celebrated a return to in-person events at the College.

The evening’s festivities were further elevated by the first public announcement of the most recent major gift to the Foundation from the Wintrode Family Foundation.  The generous gift will establish the Roberta W. Wintrode Memorial Fund, which is intended to be put to immediate use supporting merit-based scholarships and special programs throughout the College.

Human Resources

  • During the pandemic, hiring continued to fill needed positions, and the Benefits team processed new hire paperwork remotely.  Per Federal law, employers must verify original identification for new hires within a short timeframe after hire; the Federal Government relaxed that law for employers until the pandemic ended or the employer could reopen.  Within the first three days of campus reopening, the Benefits team was able to service 67% of those new hires, almost 100 staff members.  Appreciation is expressed to Desiree McSulla, HR Specialist, Benefits and Talent Acquisition; and Ms. Debora Humphreys, Senior Employee Benefits Specialist.
  • During the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters, 76 employees took advantage of the tuition waiver benefit (12 employees and 64 dependents). During the same time period, 37 employees requested educational reimbursement (3 undergraduate; 20 graduate; and 14 doctorate degrees).

College Relations

  • Michael Leon, Manager of Graphic Design, and Ms. Sheenah Hartigan, Executive Director of Enrollment Services, collaborated on early enrollment college materials.  The items included information related to enrolling, applying, registering, and paying for classes.  Brochures, PowerPoint presentation templates, a website landing page, social media posts, and program degree flyers were specially designed for the program.
  • The OCC Local Alumni Network hosted a social networking event on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, at Bahama Breeze in Toms River. The event was well attended and helped connect local alumni for professional networking and to learn about services, benefits, and events available to them at Ocean County College.  Additional Local Alumni Network events will continue in the Fall semester.
  • The Annual Alumni, Faculty, and Staff Picnic at the Jersey Shore BlueClaws is scheduled for Thursday, August 5, 2021, at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are $15 for admission and include vouchers for a hot dog, soda, ice cream, and boardwalk game ticket.  Tickets will be available for purchase at  Join us for this family-friendly event.
  • The Ocean County College Foundation and the Kiwanis Club of Toms River are co-hosting the annual SUP the River paddleboard race on Saturday, September 18, 2021, from the Toms River Yacht Club. All members of the OCC community are invited to participate.  To register for the event, visit Opportunities for sponsorship are available through the OCC Foundation.
  • Nicolaus Burr, Social Media/Web Developer, and Ms. Maureen Conlon, Associate Director of Web Services, collaborated with the Mathematics Department on a social media campaign to honor three math professors, William Rickert, Kaaren Finberg, and Michael Pezzimenti, who recently retired after long and distinguished careers at the College. The campaign, viewed by 17,606 individuals and engaged with 1,337 across multiple social media platforms, included a post regarding each professor and promoted the Mathematics Department’s new A Slice of Pi Newsletter.
  • Jaimee Nadzan, Website Coordinator of Content and Visual Layout, collaborated with Ms. Nicole Scerbo, Office Coordinator in Facilities, on the Safety Data Sheets collection, initially developed in 2020 to house a comprehensive index of solutions, chemicals, and other products used across campus. This continually updated resource, located in the Faculty and Staff Portal, allows any staff member to locate important safety information.  An additional 34 safety data sheets were added to the resource in July.

Grunin Center for the Arts

  • A press release was distributed to local media to introduce Shannon Mayers to the community:

The Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts and the Robert J. Novins Planetarium at Ocean County College are pleased to announce that a new Executive and Artistic Director has been hired after a national search.  Shannon Mayers began her new position at OCC on July 12 and will be responsible for all activities of the two centers.  She has more than 25 years’ experience in the arts, with extensive management and curatorial experience in professional and academic settings, including at the Arts Brookfield in New York City, the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College, and, most recently, the Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College in New Hampshire. Throughout her career, Shannon Mayers has produced and presented more than 1,000 performances, working with artists from 100 nations, ranging from celebrities like Bruce Springsteen to South African artists Ladysmith Black Mambazo.  Shannon earned her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin and her BS in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and has been a guest lecturer at Theatre for a New Audience, Actors Theater of Louisville, Connecticut College, Queens College, College of Staten Island and Georgia Southern University.


  • The Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act Career and Technical Education Program Expansion Grant has been approved. The Office of the Secretary of Higher Education announced that, on July 2, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed A5888 into law, which provides for the approval of eligible Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act County College Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program Expansion grants. The grants for projects listed in the legislation are now considered substantially approved.  Ocean County College has been awarded $2,104,752 to upgrade the technology in the Technology Building to support Cybersecurity and other high-tech programs.
  • The Office of the Secretary of Higher Education recently announced that Ocean County College will receive funding through the Hunger-Free Campus Grant pursuant to the Hunger-Free Campus Act (P.L. 2019, C. 89). New Jersey recognizes that a college education not only includes tuition and fees but also the costs of basic needs, including food, housing, and transportation.  Food insecurities among college students have been exacerbated by COVID-19.  OCC will receive Hunger-Free Campus Grant funding in the amount of $79,317.56.  The funding’s purpose is to address student hunger, leverage sustainable solutions to address basic food needs on campus, and continue building strategic partnerships at the local, State, and national levels to address food insecurity among students.  These funds will help implement the strategies included in OCC’s application to combat food insecurity on campus.


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 June 15, 2021, through July 14, 2021.

Student Affairs



As of July 12, 2021, 148 returning NJ STARS students are enrolled for the Fall 2021 semester.  In the Spring 2021 semester, 337 NJ STARS students were enrolled, 112 of whom graduated in May 2021 and another 10 who anticipate graduation in August 2021, leaving the possibility that the remaining 215 STARS students will return in the Fall.  This translates to 69% of our returning NJ STARS students registered for Fall 2021. Additionally, there are 103 potential incoming STARS students currently enrolled for Fall 2021 as well as 3 who have been confirmed eligible for the Fall 2021 cohort.

On June 7, 2021, a memorandum was received from the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) stating that NJ STARS students no longer have to provide test scores to prove college readiness to be considered eligible for the NJ STARS program.  Students ranking in the top 15% of their high school classes are now considered college ready by that criteria alone, as decided by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges.  OCC’s NJ STARS preparation checklist and NJ STARS webpage have been updated to reflect this change as has HESAA’s fact sheet.

NJ STARS Coordinator Jennifer Kipp and Advisor Diane DeFilippo have hosted three virtual NJ STARS New Student Advising Sessions; two more sessions are scheduled for July 22, 2021, and August 25, 2021.  These sessions provide incoming NJ STARS students with details about scheduling, instruction on how to use Student Planning, and information about how eligibility is confirmed and what needs to be done to maintain it.

Advise CRM

In Spring 2021, Advise CRM was utilized to facilitate early warning outreach to NJ STARS students.  Students who fell below 80% in one or more courses were identified, since a 3.0 GPA must be maintained to retain their scholarship. This data was used to proactively assist students in accessing the appropriate resources.  Enrollment Communications Administrator Leslie Price and Advisor Diane DeFilippo were integral to the planning and successful execution of this effort.

When a NJ STARS student fell below 80% in one or more courses, an Alert was generated within the Advise CRM system, and the student received an email informing them of the status of their courses. Through this communication, students were encouraged to contact Ms. Diane DeFilippo to discuss academic resources and strategies.

Students who continued to have course averages below 80% for an extended period of time received a phone call.  A total of 91 students had one or more courses below 80% during the Spring semester, and 59 of those students received phone calls.  The goal of this project was to assist students prior to the end of the semester and attempt to prevent them from falling below a 3.0 GPA.

Counseling Center

  • The Counseling Center staff is happy to be back on campus. On August 19, 2021, a training seminar will be presented for faculty and staff in collaboration with Jennifer Garcia of Veterans Affairs and the OCC VMRC.  The seminar will focus on recognizing and dealing with veteran students’ mental health distress and challenges, and information about the VA’s VITAL Program on campus.  Ms. Kelly Petrolis, Student Intervention Specialist, will discuss the Counseling Center’s services and processes to assist students, faculty, and staff.  The training will be held via Webex.  Another session will be conducted later in the semester.
  • Programs and activities are being planned for the Fall 2021 semester, including the powerful “In Their Shoes” display on the campus mall on September 15, 2021; an event to reduce stigma and celebrate recovery in collaboration with Hope Sheds Light, the date to be determined; and self-defense on September 30, 2021. Additionally, an opening celebration for the Wellness and Recovery Center will take place in early Fall.
  • There is much news about the Counseling Center staff:
    • Kelly Petrolis, Student Intervention Specialist, completed all requirements for the New Jersey Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
    • Kate Pandolpho, Director, was re-elected to the New Jersey College Counseling Association Executive Board as a member-at-large and as Secretary of the Executive Board of the Ocean County Mental Health Board. Dr. Pandolpho also completed an intensive five-day training in Dialectical Behavior Training (DBT).
    • Eileen Burdge, Coordinator of the Displaced Homemakers Program, will retire on August 1, 2021, after serving ten years as the Coordinator and more than thirty years at OCC, having held a number of positions before joining the Displaced Homemakers Program.
    • Marcia Slekitis, Displaced Homemakers Technician, and Ms. Kerry Holzschuh, Mental Health Technician, have resigned to pursue other employment options.
    • Juliana Dressner, Administrative Assistant, has transferred to the Veterans and Military Resources Center after working in Counseling since its inception in 2002.
  • The Supporting Students in Recovery Program, in its second year, provided comprehensive activities and services throughout the remote operations. A Social Norms Survey was conducted and 58 responses were received.  The results indicate that:
  • 66% of the student respondents indicated their lives have been affected in some way by alcohol and/or drugs.
  • 16% of students have been concerned about their own drug and/or alcohol use, and 7% identify as being in recovery.
  • 39% of students reported to know someone in recovery, and 74% of students know someone who chooses not to drink alcohol.
  • 90% of students reported they have not engaged in binge drinking during the last month; more than half (54%) did not drink alcohol at all in the last thirty days.
  • The two retention initiatives that focus on providing comprehensive services to students in academic jeopardy are Restore Your Score and Starfish. The Restore Your Score (RYS) program focuses on students who have probation academic status. All 66 students were participants in the RYS Canvas course, which provided information, announcements, and updates focused on academic success and topics such as time management and procrastination.  Results for the 66 students for the Spring 2021 semester indicate that 36 students (55%) improved their cumulative GPA, 12 students (18%) returned to satisfactory academic standing, and 2 students (3%) completed their  Fifteen students (23%) connected with RYS counselor Kelly Petrolis.  Of these, 8 (53%) improved their cumulative GPA, and 1 student (7%) returned to satisfactory academic standing.  A new RYS program initiative is being announced, which focuses on preventing stop outs, increasing retention, and improving academic outcomes.  This initiative is in collaboration with the OCC Foundation and will provide incentives for actively participating in RYS, improving GPA, restoring academic standing, and graduating.
  • The Displaced Homemakers Program is in the process of renewing its contract with the State for the 15th year at OCC. In the past program year, 80 clients (29 new and 51 continuing) were served.  Four clients completed the Medical Assistant training program. One client passed the Certified Medical Assistant exam and was offered a job at a local health facility.  Clients are participating in computer skills and career/job search trainings.

Financial Aid

Beginning July 13, 2021, and for the remainder of the 2021-22 FAFSA processing and verification cycle (including summer periods attached to the 2021-22 award year), the U.S. Department of Education is waiving verification of all FAFSA information, except for Identity/Statement of Educational Purpose and High School Completion Status in Verification Tracking Groups V4 and V5.  This waiver applies no matter where institutions or students are in the verification process, such as if documents have been collected or requested, but verification has not been completed, or if an institution has not yet started the verification process. The link to the announcement from the Department is:

Southern Education Center

  • The second immersive synchronous classroom is being installed in Room 125 at the SEC, and completion is anticipated in the coming weeks. This will complement a first classroom and a small group instruction/conference room in connecting the SEC instructionally with the main campus through technology.
  • The Spring 2022 SEC proposed course schedule has been designed. In addition to the usual face-to-face courses, plans are being made to utilize the immersive synchronous classrooms to allow for greater opportunity for the students of Southern Ocean County.  The goal will be to extend main campus courses in STEM and other specific degree fields to students who remain at the SEC.  The Spring 2022 semester will be the first time the technological connection will be utilized and will require a continued collaboration to ensure maximum utilization and student opportunity.
  • James Hauenstein, Director of the Southern Education Center, will be present at upcoming Express Enrollment events being held through the summer to represent the SEC. As students and parents work their way through the various information tables, those residing in the southern portion of the county will be able to learn of the opportunities afforded to them at the Manahawkin location.
  • Michele Marcum, Senior Student Services Technician, continues to assist the HUB via remote channels in responding to student inquiries.
  • Continuing to use the Canvas Announcement platform of the Southern Education Center shell, almost 1,000 views have been logged since the beginning of July. The goal of this outreach is to alert students who have enrolled in SEC/MATES classes in past semesters of the remote courses being offered during the Fall 2021 semester to assist students who may not be able to travel from Southern Ocean County.

Student Life

Student Life is pleased to share that Helping Hands, the food pantry for the campus community, has now been relocated to the Library, Room 017.  This larger space provides a convenient, discreet location for students to access their services while maintaining confidentiality.  Through Helping Hands, Student Life is committed to combating food insecurity and supporting students’ basic needs as we make our way back to in-person programming and services this Fall.  Helping Hands is also now partnered with Plentiful Plates to provide chef-prepared, well-balanced, grab-and-go meals at no cost to students.

Veterans and Military Resources Center

  • The Veterans and Military Resources Center (VMRC) is collaborating with the 63rd Army National Guard Band to participate in the September 11th twenty-year memorial event on campus. OCC will celebrate the event on September 9, 2021; the details regarding time and location will be available at a later date.
  • Operation Gratitude was an overwhelming success in June, with over 500 bags assembled and distributed to the Sea Girt Training Center, local military and veteran families, and campus community student veterans. It was such a success that Operation Gratitude CEO, Kevin Schmigley, personally reached out to Student Veterans Organization President Jessica Kaufield and Alumni Chair Maryellen DeLeon to further the partnership for another Assemble and Distribute Day.  Partnering with the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, the next event is Police Officer and First Responder Appreciation Week to be hosted from October 13 to 15, 2021.  The targeted number of assembled bags is 2,000.
  • VMRC representatives will be attending the first annual Joint-Base Enrollment and Education fair at Fort Dix-McGuire-Lakehurst on August 18, 2021, between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • The VMRC is extending its military and veterans advocacy program to the New Jersey Challenge Academy, which relocated from Fort Dix-McGuire-Lakehurst to the Sea Girt Training Grounds. Programs include guest speaking, educational pathway program seminars, and on-site registration and enrollment initiatives.  VRMC Assistant Director Ryan Luurtsema is a 2006 graduate of the program.
  • The VMRC has begun the early phases of discussion to secure the third annual Veterans Town Hall in collaboration with Congressman Andy Kim. The Veterans Town Hall program began in 2019, and panelists consist of three to five veterans with diverse backgrounds, who discuss experiences and times-of-reflection with Ocean County community members.  The event will take place in November.
  • The VMRC offered Ocean County College as the host campus for the annual New Jersey Association of Veteran Administrators Conference in December 2021 and received great enthusiasm from the organization. More information will follow.
  • With the success of program initiatives, collaborations, and Quarter-Reporting, the VMRC has gained approval to expand its team and will begin searching for a part-time Program Analyst to assist with the operation of the VMRC and the Center of Veteran Student Success grant objectives with Kencis Kleinschmidt, Veterans Program Coordinator.

e-Learning and Learning Enterprises

  • Planning has begun for the 2021-22 e-Learning Professional Development Series. This series provides ongoing professional development for e-Learning teachers and features sessions from OCC educators, administrative staff, and third-party vendors.

Targeted training is also being provided in a variety of areas to prepare educators for Fall 2021. Ms. Mary Landolfi, e-Learning Humanities Adjunct Assistant Professor, and Ms. Laura Wingler, e-Learning Lead Instructional Designer, will be presenting an introduction to using Duolingo in the fully redesigned Elementary Spanish I and II courses.  English I and II courses have also been redesigned, and e-Learning College Lecturer Jack Kelnhofer will be showcasing this content.  Lastly, Honorlock training will be provided to educators who will now be responsible for setting up Honorlock in their courses each term.  Specific information on enabling assessments, setting up rules, and communicating effectively with students will be provided.

e-Learning Personnel

  • New positions were accepted by personnel within the e-Learning Instructional Design and Technology team:
    • Aleah Dacey – Instructional Design Specialist
    • Juliann Young – Lead Instructional Designer
    • Lauren Burbank – Lead Instructional Designer
  • Additionally, the Instructional Design and Technology team has two open searches:
    • Part-Time Instructional Designer
    • Part-Time Graduate Intern
  • Candidates are being interviewed for the e-Learning Academic Administrator and Academic Technician positions to hire for a September start date. Additionally, searches are currently concluding for two e-Learning College Lecturer II positions in Biology and Physics.

International Programs

  • Vice President of e-Learning and Learning Enterprises Eileen Garcia, Associate Vice President of International Programs Maysa Hayward, Assistant Dean of International Programs Howaida Wahby Eraky, and I were in Egypt from July 4 through 16, 2021. Joining us were Sue Henderson, President of New Jersey City University, and her team. The trip included several meetings with the Ministry of Higher Education team as well as the presidents of Ain Shams, Badr, Helwan, Alexandria, El Galala, and El Alamein universities as well as the Arab Academy.  Dr. Garcia and the team will give a detailed report at the August Board meeting.


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