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May 31, 2023

Dr. Larson’s June 1, 2023 Report to the Board of Trustees

OCC president Dr. Larson

Ocean County College Safety and Security

Trustee R. Joseph Latshaw III shared with me a recent article regarding concerns and uneasiness expressed by several Kean Ocean students about security in the Gateway Building on campus.  In response, I have asked Mr. Thomas DeSimone, Director of College Safety and Security, to provide a brief presentation at Thursday’s meeting to review OCC Security’s many safety practices and departmental responses to incidents on campus.

Academic Affairs

School of Arts and Humanities

The Literature Club, advised by English College Lecturer II Kristyn Stout, collaborated with the Psychology Club to host a screening of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  The screening was followed by a rousing discussion of the psychological principles underlying the film as well the actions and motivations of the characters.

Civil War reenactors from the Victorian Dance Ensemble visited the campus on May 3, 2023.  The performance included demonstrating and teaching Civil War and American Revolution dances.

Twenty Graphic Design students from Fine Arts College Lecturer Renate Pustiak’s classes participated in the New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning Poster Art Contest in March.  The Festival of Ballooning is the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America.  It holds the dual distinction of being a recipient of the New Jersey Governor’s Award for Best Special Event, as well as being designated multiple times as a Top 100 Festival in North America by the American Bus Association.  Ms. Pustiak’s student, Gabrielle Tsivis, was one of the top five finalists in the contest.

The Music Department celebrated the accomplishments of its students with four concerts and one master class in May, all held in the Grunin Center.  On May 5, 2023, four OCC piano students performed in a piano master class open to the public, led by guest concert pianist Anna Keiserman.  The class utilized OCC’s exquisite Bosendorfer Imperial grand piano.  On May 6, 2023, OCC’s 60-piece concert band performed “The All-American Music Festival” to a packed theater of enthusiastic audience members.

Six OCC music students performed in the individual-focus student recital on May 12, 2023, an event highlighting advanced student achievement in music performance.  After that, the vocal ensemble sang a recital that included madrigals, folk songs, operas, musical theater, and popular songs sung in French, Korean, Italian, and English.

Finally, the traditional student recital (sponsored by the OCC Music Club) featured vocal and instrumental performances of diverse music genres, including original compositions, performed at varied skill levels.  Student Owen McCarthy debuted OCC’s new digital organ with a suite of pieces demonstrating the organ’s wide range of tonal color.

Dr. Madison Peschock, College Lecturer II in English, won a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities entitled “Reconsidering Flannery O’Connor.”  She will be spending the entire month of June in Milledgeville, Georgia, to study and visit where Ms. O’Connor lived, raised peacocks, and went to college, as well as to stop at many physical locations Ms. O’Connor used as inspirations in her writings.  Dr. Peschock will have the opportunity to research Ms. O’Connor’s private letters and papers through Georgia College.

School of Business and Social Sciences

On April 20, 2023, Business College Lecturer Chris Bottomley, Accounting College Lecturers Jim Hadley and Stephanie Kroeger, and the Accounting Club’s officers hosted the 2nd Annual Accounting Symposium.  This year’s panel provided students with a terrific cross section of various opportunities in the accounting field, from big four firms, a super-regional firm, a local firm, government accounting, and private industry firms.  Students also had the opportunity to hear from popular transfer universities for accounting, learning about OCC’s new accounting apprenticeship program and the Peer-Assisted Learning/Supplemental Instruction (PAL/SI) programs, as well as understanding the benefits of becoming a student member of New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants.  Following the panel, students participated in a networking event to share their resumes and gain insights on internship and employment opportunities.  Positive feedback was received from the nearly 175 students and professionals who were in attendance.

On May 5, 2023, Mr. Chris Bottomley, along with students Bernice Amankwah and Dominic Grandilli, representatives of OCC’s Business Studies Honor Society, attended the 2023 New Jersey Collegiate Business Administration Association (NJCBAA) Honor Society ceremony at the Rutgers School of Business.  NJCBAA recognizes the very highest academic achievement of undergraduate students pursuing their studies in the field of business.  Only the top 1% of students at their respective collegiate institutions were extended an invitation to join this honor society.  The selected students certainly deserve our congratulations for their impressive achievement.

Mr. Chris Bottomley and Mr. Sean Bips, College Lecturer II in Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management, successfully completed the 3rd Annual “Sink or Swim” competition on April 21, 2023.  The event attracted over 80 attendees.  The winners were:

  • Third place ($1,000) – Team Huggle from Manchester High School
  • Second place ($2,000) – Team Locked & Secured from Toms River High School North
  • First place ($3,000) – Team Stylish Safety from Manchester High School

The event chairs and participants were privileged to have judges Katie Calabrese of the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurs; Jim Mahlmann, Managing Partner of NetCetra LLC.; Business Adjunct Mark Mutter; and Ms. Lori Pepenella, Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce.

On May 15, 2023, Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management students proudly completed their hospitality apprenticeship/course at Java Junction.  HRTM student Bridget Morris and Business student Benjamin Scheiderman completed this course by presenting on their learned hospitality management and customer service experiences gained throughout the Spring semester.  They also shared new ideas and proposals for the next cohort of students coming to work at the Java Junction.  The project was designed to allow Java Junction to continually improve upon quality service standards, customer care practices, and business innovation strategies.

School of Nursing and Health Sciences

The School of Nursing held an advisory committee meeting on April 19, 2023.  In attendance were 27 participants representing various clinical agencies, as well as members of the community, students, faculty, and staff.   Program outcomes were shared with members, including licensure pass rates, program completion rates, job placement rates, student learning outcome survey information, and clinical agency satisfaction survey information.  Representatives from major acute care organizations spoke highly of OCC graduates and indicated they are hiring new nurses, with many offering one-year residency programs.

Representatives from the School of Nursing attended the Open House on April 6, 2023.   Staff and faculty provided prospective students and their families with information on admission to the School of Nursing.

A recent educational program, ACEN Self-Study Forum, held on April 12 and 13, 2023, was attended by Nursing College Lecturer II Marybeth Millan, MSN, RN; Director of Nursing and Health Sciences Programs Mary Fennessy; and Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences Teresa Walsh, Ph.D., RN.  The ten-hour virtual course focused on preparing the Nursing Program for reaccreditation.  The School of Nursing is scheduled for reaccreditation in early 2024.

The program completion rate for the class that began Nursing courses in Spring 2021 was 51%.   The completion rate is defined as the percentage of students who complete the Nursing Program within four semesters.

The job placement rate for Fall 2021 was 100%.  This data was collected from Fall 2021 graduates in Fall 2022, one year following completion of the Nursing program, as required by accreditation standards.  The response rate to this survey was 73%.

School of Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

College Lecturer II Mary-Ellen Rada, Director of the New Jersey Southern Jersey Shore Humanities Symposium, announced OCC had two winners at the recent event:

  • Joey Field – Third-place for his poster presentation for physical sciences
  • Victoria Yakes – Second-place for her oral presentation for environmental science

Thanks to Perkins funds, OCC’s Engineering and Industrial/Technical Studies program is an authorized training partner for the Project Management Institute (PMI).  PMI is the global standard for project management and the source of the Project Management Body of Knowledge.  Students taking ENGT 196, Project Management, complete the first step to either the Certified Associate of Project Management (CAPM) or Project Management Professional (PMP) industry certifications.  Additional steps for certification include the certification test and, in the case of PMP, review of prior experience.  It is estimated that PMP certification can lead to a typical annual salary differential of $10,000.  Although most  OCC students would pursue the CAPM, one student recently achieved  PMP certification.

The Computer Science program held its advisory board meeting on April 25, 2023, which was well-attended by members from industry, county schools, and school personnel. The meeting began with an introduction by industry co-chair, Pastor Keith Davis, who shared information about the Camden Dream Center, where he serves as the president and CEO of the technology training school.  Pastor Davis discussed several programs he runs, including a six-week STEM enrichment program for youth, 12- to 18-month apprentice programs with regional employers, and Girls in Camden Code, a Saturday coding program for girls in grades 5-8.

Also in attendance were local cybersecurity experts, including Mr. Chris Filiciello and Mr. Mordy Fried from Keystone CyberProtection, Mr. Mike Hesse from L3 Harris Corporation, and Mr. Austen McGinnis from Specialty Systems.  Other industry partners included Mr. Mike Coss, Department Head for Robotics Research at Nokia Bell Labs, and Mr. Mark Russo, CTO for Acuative.  During the meeting, updates were provided on the existing CS programs and new initiatives, such as the Cybersecurity AAS program and the NJ Pathways workforce initiative of the future.  Also highlighted were the strengthening of OCC’s partnership with Rowan University and the new 3+1 and 2+2 programs.  Finally, the success of OCC’s existing AI for Workforce and Google IT certificate programs was celebrated, as well as the internship program with Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.  Overall, the meeting was a productive discussion on the current state and future of OCC’s Computer Science programs.

OCC Library and Center for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education

Several OCC Library staff members have completed master’s degrees:

  • Mr. Terence Cleary, Manager of Library Access Services, obtained a Master of Science degree in Library and Information from Drexel University.
  • Ms. Malia Padalino, Library Information Access Technician, obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Monmouth University.
  • Mr. Shawn Oates, Part-Time Library Information Access Technician, obtained a Master of Information degree in Library and Information Science from Rutgers University.
  • Ms. Donna Rosinski-Kauz, Director of Library Services, and Ms. Cheyenne Riehl, College Lecturer II, Outreach Librarian and STEM Liaison, were invited to the Ocean County Library System’s Professional Development Day as the keynote speakers.  In their presentation, they discussed what makes library staff essential to the communities they serve, how to celebrate their professional accomplishments both personally and among colleagues to boost morale, and the lessons that change brings, using the COVID-19 pandemic and anticipated OCC Library modernization project as examples.

The OCC Library partnered with the Center for Access and Equity to bring the Human Library organization to campus.  The Human Library is an international non-profit that facilitates the opportunity for open dialog where taboo and culturally-sensitive topics can be discussed openly, without prejudice or persecution.  Members from Ocean County College, the wider Ocean County community, and Kean University volunteered as both human books and readers to converse safely and openly about topics of discrimination, conflict, and personal trauma. The event was well attended and enjoyed by all who participated.

Dr. Nicole Kammer, College Lecturer II in Education, partnered with Ms. Cheyenne Riehl on bringing kindergarten through third grade students to the OCC Library for an Early Childhood STEM Day event.  Dr. Kammer’s students and other campus partners created and showcased STEM educational posters in the theme of Minecraft and other STEM-related activities for the students to enjoy during their Spring recess.

Library faculty and staff continue working on the Library modernization project.  They are working diligently to create a small collection of books to be accessible to community members during the temporary relocation.  They aim to highlight frequently-used materials and hidden gems within the current collection to encourage creativity and associative thinking when searching for materials related to their assignments and academic inquiries.  The comprehensive weeding project for the collection has been completed in anticipation of moving into the modernized space.  The librarians and staff are now working on wrapping artwork and other items that will be stored in anticipation of the big move to the W. Kable Russell Building.

Dr. Ali Botein-Furrevig, Director of the Center for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education, coordinated the 2023 Holocaust Remembrance event.  She delivered four lectures on the theme of Jewish resistance and conducted a memorial prayer service.  She also hosted keynote speaker Maud Dahme, a Holocaust survivor who was one of the “Hidden Children” in the Netherlands during WWII.  Dr. Botein-Furrevig had meaningful discussions with students and other audience members.

Dr. Botein-Furrevig continues researching the growing problem of rising antisemitism and anti-Israel activities on college campuses.

Academic and Tutoring Support Services

During the Spring 2023 semester, Academic and Tutoring Support Services conducted 5,130 sessions, serving 842 unique students.  In comparison to the previous Spring 2022 semester, which recorded 3,595 visits by 700 individual students, a 42.7% increase is reflected in sessions and 20.3% in individual students.

In late March, Mr. Connor Sampson, Assistant Director of Operations, Academic and Tutoring Support Services, attended a conference hosted by Redrock Software.  From this event, the Tutoring Center gained access to a wealth of new information regarding the TracCloud tutor tracking software.  The implementation of this software is expected to improve the overall user experience for both students and staff.  The TracCloud affinity group, initially established and currently headed by OCC, has grown to include 27 schools across the country.  The group convenes on a monthly basis to share experiences and ideas related to the TracCloud system.  In doing so, members are able to remain connected between meetings, exchanging advice and posing questions.  Through this collaboration, the Tutoring Center has been exposed to a diverse range of perspectives from a variety of tutoring and learning centers at other institutions.

As previously noted, on April 20, 2023, OCC held its 2nd annual Accounting Symposium.  Highlighting the event’s success was Mr. Matthew Gellici, President of the Accounting Club and a Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) leader from the Tutoring Center, who served as the event’s master of ceremonies.  Mr. Gellici’s extensive knowledge and experience in both the Accounting Club and PAL program ensured an engaging and informative experience for all attendees.  In addition, Mr. Damon Mosquera, Vice President of the Accounting Club and a PAL leader, represented the PAL program, while Mr. Michael Ciocco, a Supplemental Instruction (SI) Leader, represented the SI program.  Their participation in this event demonstrated the impact and effectiveness these programs have in providing targeted academic support to students in accounting courses.

Dr. Mary-Beth Brophy, Professional Tutor I, has been selected to participate in a panel titled “Rethinking Indifference” at the annual Modern Language Association Convention in January 2024.  The following provides an overview of Dr. Brophy’s upcoming panel discussion:

“We will expand our vision of indifference by considering how to use literature to engage neurodiverse students in the classroom.  Many neurodiverse college students – particularly those who are also members of other marginalized or under-represented groups – have developed strategies to camouflage their neurodiversity with indifference, and their presence in classrooms may not be obvious. Dr. Brophy’s presentation will use the television character Will Trent and Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice to illuminate two methods engaging camouflaged neurodiverse students in literature and creative writing courses, as well as recommend strategies to help these students ease into class discussions in a way that reduces their perceived risk of exposure.”

Finance and Administration

As previously shared, the FY2024 College budget was balanced using a pre-planned allocation from fund balance.  Due to enrollment declines that the College has experienced over the past few years, it is prudent to reduce expenses in a pro-active manner to lessen reliance on fund balance in the future.  To that end, a review is underway to identify areas on campus that can be vacated for the summer months to reduce utility and cleaning expenses.  In addition, the Finance and Administration team is working to identify other operating expenses that have the potential for savings.

Another area that may have potential for cost savings is software contracts.  An Inventory of Purchased Technology was compiled by the Purchasing staff and is now accessible from the Faculty/Staff Portal – Purchasing and Payables page.

The spreadsheet is available for viewing only.  Edits and updates will be performed periodically by Purchasing staff as technology purchases are made. The information on the spreadsheet should be reviewed when considering software purchases, as it may save time and effort as well as assist with controlling costs when utilizing the College’s existing technology.

Office of Information Technology

As you may know, Chief Information Officer JR Ross is on a leave of absence.  Mr. Thomas Danford has been appointed interim Chief Information Officer through Ellucian Managed Services.   Mr. Danford began working full-time on campus on May 1, 2023.  He can be reached at or extension 2317.

Human Resources

The Human Resources team continues to build on available features and tools within NeoEd, a software platform that helps to support OCC’s complex workforce.  In May, Section 125 Enrollment (Flexible and Health Care Spending Accounts) was managed through the HR Portal within NeoEd.  Section 125 enrollments in previous years was cumbersome for the employees and for the Benefits unit, often resulting in missed deadlines or last-minute submissions.  Deploying this benefits enrollment process through the new portal saw 56% of eligible employees submitting their forms within the first week of open enrollment.  In a department that is traditionally burdened with forms and processes, improvements like this one enable the HR team to continue to focus on value-added service and information sharing, instead of paper shuffling.

College Relations


Website Coordinator Eric Gonnella, with Associate Director of Educational Technology in e-Learning Neil Mastroianni, collaborated to give the e-Learning pages a new look and to better help those interested navigate program offerings.  Since its update on May 2, 2023, the Student Resources, Online Programs, Staff, and Technical Support pages have amassed over 350 views, with a majority of viewers being first-time visitors.  The pages have all seen an increase in the average page time per visitor.


Save the date of Thursday, August 17, 2023, at 7 p.m. for the Annual OCC Community Picnic at the Jersey Shore BlueClaws game.  Join alumni, students, staff, and faculty on a private party deck to enjoy a buffet and baseball game.  Tickets are $10.  Announcements will be made soon about the opening of ticket sales; buy tickets quickly as this event will sell out.

Alumni are once again hosting the Annual SUP the River Race at the Toms River Yacht Club on the morning of Saturday, September 16, 2023. All members of the OCC community are welcome to participate as paddlers in the race or as spectators at the Networking Breakfast.  All funds raised will support the OCC Foundation and the Kiwanis Club of Toms River.  Please visit for sponsorship opportunities or to register.


Ms. Jan Kirsten, Executive Director of College Relations, is proud to report that OCC has won a 2022 Paragon Award from the National Council for Marketing and Publications (NCMPR) at the organization’s annual conference in Orlando, Florida.  OCC’s Planetarium reopening signage displays, designed by Ms. Nicole Howard, Graphic Specialist, received the silver award in the category of “Best Interior Signage/Displays – Single or Series.”

The prestigious Paragon Awards competition recognizes outstanding achievement in design and communication at community and technical colleges.  It is the only national competition of its kind that honors excellence exclusively among marketing and public relations professionals at two-year colleges.  This year’s winners were selected from 1,726 entries from 323 colleges across the United States and Canada.

Ms. Nicole Howard will attend Thursday’s meeting so we may recognize and congratulate her for winning both a district and national award.

Ocean County College Foundation

The Fund Distribution Committee met on May 15, 2023, to review all fund requests and made funding recommendations for the coming fiscal year to the Foundation Executive Board.

All requests to the Foundation must first be reviewed by area Vice Presidents and the College President for approval to ensure the fund requests are aligned with the College’s institutional goals, mission, and objectives.  The full Board will meet on June 14, 2023, after which all fund requestors will be notified of the Foundation’s funding intentions for FY 2024.

For more information, please contact Ms. Lisa Hussain, Advancement and Database Specialist, at

Scholarship Update

Graduating and Nurses Pinning Awards were fully funded.  Recipients were notified at the Awards Ceremonies on May 23 and 24, 2023, respectively.  The Fall term scholarship application period will open on May 30, 2023, and remain open through August 17, 2023.

For more information or to complete an application, visit

Summer Scholarship Celebration

Please join the Foundation on Friday, June 23, 2023, to celebrate the students of Ocean County College.  For more information, sponsorship opportunities, and tickets, please visit

The New Jersey Symphony

The New Jersey Symphony (formally NJSO) will be back on campus on Tuesday, June 27, 2023, at 8 p.m.,  to once again perform the Symphony Under the Stars.

Blauvelt Speaker Series

The 2023-24 speakers include:

  • Author of How the Other Half Learns, Robert Pandiscio
  • Pulitzer Prize Winning Biographer, Stacey Schiff
  • Restaurateur and Celebrity Chef, Lidia Bastianich
  • Acclaimed Professor and Lecturer on International Law, Dr. Jeffery Morton
  • Tony Award Winning Actor and Comedian, John Leguizamo

More information and tickets will be available as of July 15, 2023, at

Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts

Coordinator of Education and Community Engagement Erik Stratton reports registration for Camps on Campus is underway, and the camps are filling quickly.

Additional information is available by emailing or by registering at

Executive and Artistic Director Heidi Sheridan presented at the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and New Jersey Council of County Colleges conference at Bergen Community College.  She joined colleagues from Sussex County Community College, Bergen Community College, and Rowan College at Burlington County for a presentation called “Humanities Innovations.”  The day-long program focused on reimagining humanities disciplines for students, faculty, and communities using community-centered partnerships, pedagogy, student research, and research centers to innovate in the community college environment.

Grunin Presents and the RWJ Barnabas Family Series presented Piano Battle, The Hillbenders, and Mutts Gone Nuts on the Main Stage during the last week of April.

In collaboration with the OCC Foundation, the Grunin Center held the last Blauvelt Lecture for the year, featuring Mr. Michael Beschloss, presidential historian, to rave reviews.

Coordinator Victoria Buczynski reported that the Repertory Theater’s Spring show, The Taming of the Shrew, completed its run of six shows to a mostly sold-out audience, and responses to the play were incredible.

The OCC Concert Band performed its Spring show, “The All-American Music Festival,” to a sold-out audience on May 6, 2023, in the main stage theater.

Two Afternoon Recital Series artists performed on May 19 and 26, 2023, respectively.  Ms. Anna Keiserman (pianist) and Ms. Sungji Kim (soprano) treated audiences to a variety of classical pieces.

Novins Planetarium

April was a very busy month for the Planetarium, as its staff hosted over 20 elementary schools from Ocean and Monmouth counties.

At the beginning of May, the Planetarium invited the President’s Leadership Team to a short show to experience the new Digistar equipment.

Special events in May included a Sunset Meditation during the last week of classes in partnership with the Counseling Center.

Associate Director Cara Muscio and Planetarium Technician Kevin Molnar attended the “Stars for All 2023 US Planetarium Conference” in East Tennessee during the third week in May.  The conference, which is typically regional, was national this year.

Workforce and Professional Education

OCC at the Ocean County Jail

After years of discussions about developing a partnership, the pioneer OCC HSE (High School Equivalency) course began at the Ocean County Jail.  The current cohort of six inmates started the educational journey on March 28, 2023, meeting on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. In late May, another section was added, which is meeting on Monday and Wednesday afternoons for two hours each session.  The addition of this open enrollment section will allow the program to expand to meet the diverse learner needs at the Ocean County Jail.

This important partnership will help OCC serve a new population of students more intentionally, creating a familiarity with the College while individuals are incarcerated, with continued engagement throughout their re-entry process in the community.  During their participation in this course, students will be surveyed to assess their interest in future occupational training, as well as certificates and degree programs.

Earn While You Learn with RWJ Barnabas Health at OCC

In mid-April, a second cohort of ten RWJ Barnabas Health incumbent workers began three months of skills-intensive training as Clinical Certified Medical Assistants at OCC.  These students are earning stackable credentials, moving from existing roles, such as patient navigator, to roles in higher demand.  During their full-time training, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, these student employees are paid at their full-time rate in this ‘earn while you learn’ apprenticeship model.  Their wages will incrementally increase as they earn new, marketable credentials.

Community Health Training Expands to High School Students

Another cohort of 17 adult students from across New Jersey began Community Health Worker training through Workforce and Professional Education on April 21, 2023.  The existing partnership with the New Jersey Department of Health is evolving and expanding, with the first high school student training cohort in the works for this summer.

Dual Enrollment for English Language Learners

The College’s Title II Grant requires integrated education and training be offered to interested English Language Learners and Civics students.  On Saturday, April 24, 2023, 11 current ESL students started the Culinary Foundations course, which is valued at six college credits upon successful completion.  As part of this program, students also completed their ServSafe certification, preparing them for local work in food service and hospitality.

Summer Orientation for Adult Students

The next Adult Basic Education, ESL, and Civics program orientation will be held the week of June 5, 2023.  A total of 65 High School Equivalency students have registered, and 500 ESL students have registered for Summer orientation.  Day and evening classes will be held at the main campus from July 10 to September 14, 2023.

Grants Administration

In early April, the College received notification that the U.S. Department of Education FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education) Student Basic Needs Grant has been awarded to OCC, totaling $912,373 over three years.  The project will start on September 1, 2023, and serve all eligible OCC students in credit and non-credit training programs.

The Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) recently awarded the New Jersey OSHE Mental Health in Higher Education: Community Provider Partnerships Grant to OCC in the amount of $325,079.  OCC will utilize funds to create partnerships within the community, serve underrepresented students, and increase the scope of mental health services.  In addition, professional development will be available to student services and counseling staff, as well as all faculty, lecturers, and staff, to identify and refer students for services.  Six New Jersey community colleges have agreed to partner and leverage professional development opportunities.

The Office of the Secretary of Higher Education recently funded the second round of the Hunger-Free Campus grant in the amount of $25,000.  The project will utilize funding to sustain a Part-Time Coordinator of Student Basic Needs.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently awarded the Grants for Art Project Support (APS) in the amount of $15,000 for expanding arts programming.  Funding will support the Grunin Center’s HeART Strings program in 2023.


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 of March 18 through May 26, 2023.

Student Affairs


New Student Registration

The Advising Office is participating this Spring in high school-specific enrollment events.  When a student signs up for an event, an advisor plans and/or registers the student in advance and enters advising notes pertaining to the student.  When the student attends the event, an advisor reviews the schedule and shares important information.  Finally, after the event, an advisor reviews each student schedule and follows up as needed to ensure that every student has an accurate schedule for the Fall semester.

To date, 15 high school events have been completed between May 17 and June 2, 2023.  There are also five general enrollment events scheduled in June, July, and August.

The Advising Office is also managing, in collaboration with the HUB, new student registrations via the New Student Registration form.  Via this process, new students are able to request a Fall schedule, and an advisor registers the student based on the student’s major and preferences.  Advising also has processes to effectively manage new students who are veterans and new students in the Education degree.   Advisor Deeanne Gatta-Salter is completing registrations for new veterans and then ensuring the students are connected with the Veterans and Military Resources Center.  Transfer Coordinator Laura Wills is managing registration for Education majors, as this major and courses vary widely depending on the student’s planned teaching area and transfer institution.  Ms. Wills is also working closely with Education Lecturer Nicole Kammer on these registrations.


NJ STARS Coordinator Jennifer Kipp reports that as of May 16, 2023, 116 returning STARS students and 83 potential STARS students are now enrolled for Fall 2023.


The OCC men’s tennis team finished 3rd overall at the 2023 NJCAA Division III National Championship tournament hosted by Oxford College of Emory University in Oxford, Georgia, from May 12 to 14, 2023.

The Vikings had a stellar regular season, their first under the leadership of new head coach (and current women’s tennis head coach) Megan Steinberg.  OCC finished with a 5-2 overall record, second in Region 19.  OCC first singles John Willis and fourth singles Luke Martin both shined in the national tournament, finishing second nationally in their brackets following losses to seven-time defending champion Oxford of Emory, while second singles Josh Kline’s win in backdraw earned OCC the crucial point needed to claim the third-place finish.  All four members of the team (John Willis, Josh Kline, Adam Grelak, and Luke Martin) were named to the NJCAA’s All-Region 19 Team, and three (Willis, Kline, and Martin) also earned All-Garden State Athletic Conference Team honors.

Career Services

Professional Development

Ms. Taylor Dulemba, Career Services Coordinator, currently serves as President for New Jersey Career Center Consortium (NJC3), whose membership is comprised of Higher Education Career Services and Employer Professionals.  Ms. Dulemba assisted in the planning and development of the Annual Spring Conference, “Developing Our Students and Ourselves,” that took place on Friday, April 21, 2023.

Ms. Taylor Dulemba attended the Handshake Access 2023 Virtual Conference on May 17 and 18, 2023; and Mrs. Maria Galindo, Administrative Assistant, attended the Handshake Job Forms training on May 10, 2023.


Career Services participated in the Career and Technical Education May Day event on May 1, 2023.  Questions were answered and career services supports were promoted to students.


Dr. Deborah Kepics and Ms. Taylor Dulemba met with the Ocean County Library on May 2, 2023, to discuss partnering with its teen exploration program.  The goal is to encourage teens to explore different career paths in a group setting by reflecting on their interests and being confident in choosing colleges, majors, or trade schools that suit their future goals.

Counseling Center

The Counseling Center is winding down the academic year with some very exciting activities. The Center was awarded funding from the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education to provide a wide range of services and training for the campus community.  The funding is focused on:

  • Increasing mental health services to students
  • Strengthening and developing new partnerships with community providers
  • Increasing help-seeking behaviors, decreasing stigma, and offering peer support services
  • Educating the campus community, especially faculty and staff, on racial trauma, adversity, and resilience, as well as topics related specifically for students of color, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, and veteran populations.  There are funds to set up quiet, Zen spaces throughout the campus.

The Center will be working with both external and internal partners, including the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.  One of the most exciting partnerships is among community colleges.  The New Jersey Community College Mental Health Consortium was formed to share training, expertise, and best practices; leverage resources and improve negotiations with vendors; and to serve as a think tank.  A part-time Mental Health Project Specialist will be recruited to work with this grant.  The project director is Dr. Kate Pandolpho, Director of Counseling and Student Development.  The College is also finalizing its participation in state-funded tele-mental health services, which will provide counseling to all students, no matter where they live.

The Counseling Center staff has been presenting to and training the OCC community:

“Changing Minds:  Stories over Stigma” was presented with Minding Your Mind, a national mental health organization promoting stigma reduction, mental health awareness and education, and encouraging help-seeking and recovery.

Ms. Darra Stack, Student Intervention Specialist, presented QPR to faculty and lecturers in the School of Business and Social Sciences.

Ms. Carmen Mora, Coordinator of the Community and Displaced Homemakers Program, was the keynote speaker for the Social Work Honor Society induction ceremony.

Ms. Carmen Mora and Ms. Darra Stack also presented to Dr. Margaret Maghan’s Introduction  to Social Work class.

Student Intervention Specialists Kelly Petrolis and Darra Stack presented to Workforce and Professional Education students on wellness and anxiety management.

Sessions of Mental Health First Aid are being offered to the School of Business and Social Sciences faculty, lecturers, and staff. The Workforce and Professional Education staff will participate in this training over the next few months.

Empowerment Self-Defense was hosted as part of the Center’s violence prevention program and in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  This program teaches participants about boundaries, self-expression, and getting to know their own strengths.

Partnering with the Novins Planetarium, two installments of “Sunset Meditation” were  offered for free to the campus community as another opportunity to practice self-care and personal wellness during the stress of finals.

The Center joined with the Veterans and Military Resources Center and Disability Services during finals for stress reduction with student engagement activities in the Student Center.  Activities included mindfulness tools, self-care packages, and games and therapy dogs to de-stress.

The Supporting Students in Recovery Program hosted Recovery Speaks, in partnership with Hope Sheds Light.  The program shared an afternoon of community, connection, hope, and resources.  Recovery Speaks takes place every semester; planning for September’s event is already underway.

The Displaced Homemakers Program (DHP) celebrated May as Displaced Homemakers Awareness Month.  The Program is providing services to 36 new and 99 continuing clients, for a total of 135 clients. The Displaced Homemakers Program hosted an in-person celebration on May 4, 2023, honoring clients of the Program.  Dr. Gerald Racioppi and I welcomed the attendees and spoke about the Program.  Dr. Kate Pandolpho reviewed the history of the displaced homemakers’ movement, which began in the 1970s.  It is always a joy to celebrate the success of the Program’s clients.

The CARE Team has handled 637 CARE reports since July 1, 2022, with 258 of these reports since January 1, 2023.  Ms. Darra Stack has joined the CARE Team and handles many of the CARE reports.

Enrollment Services (HUB)

After a popular presentation at ELive, Dr. Sheenah Hartigan, Executive Director of Enrollment Services, was asked to present at the Regional Nelnet Conference at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 24, 2023.  Dr. Hartigan presented on communicating with today’s students.

In the month of April, the Success team completed 3,458 outgoing calls to students.  In addition, the HUB team completed 4,625 outgoing calls to potential and current students. The team spent almost 279 hours on the phone between incoming and outgoing calls during the month.

The HUB team completed 956 transactions in April, with an average service wait of 2.18 minutes and an average service duration of 2.93 minutes.

The Enrollment Services team has been working hard on Express Enrollment Days throughout the past several weeks.  Students from area high schools are bused to the College to take a campus tour, meet with Academic Advising, receive their Fall semester schedules, retrieve their student IDs, and enjoy on-campus lunch.  Recent events included Brick Township and Memorial High Schools, Manchester High School, Jackson Liberty and Memorial High Schools, and Lakewood High School.

On May 12, 2023, Enrollment Services collaboratively hosted the Early College Counselor Breakfast for area high school representatives.  Twenty-one counselors learned, both in-person and virtually, about the new online registration process for Early College students, as well as heard updates from area leaders including Dr. Henry Jackson, Center for Student Success; Ms. Jamie Prioli, Disability Services; and Ms. Calleigh Kearns and Ms. Melissa Gutzmore, members of the Student Success Team.  Breakfast and lunch were served, and counselors enjoyed learning more about the College in preparation for a successful 2023-24 academic year.

Office of Disability Services

The Office of Disability Services ended the Spring semester by noting an overall 6.7% increase in service provision to students (506) self-identifying as having disabilities.  Continuing to foster student outreach and provision of resources, the Office of Disability Services hosted two additional pop-up Wellness Events on campus.

Ms. Rachelle Frable, Disability Services Technician, conducted two site visits to the Southern Education Center during May, bringing the total number of visits to nine during the Spring semester.  The site visits provided students with an opportunity to inquire about services, eligibility, and general accommodation questions.

Ms. Jamie Arasz Prioli, Assistant Director, spoke at the annual Ocean County Vocational Technical School (OCVTS) Transition and Graduation Celebration on May 4, 2023.  The evening celebrated the vocational accomplishments of new graduates and provided an opportunity to share valuable resources as students transition into the workforce or postsecondary environment.

Ms. Jamie Prioli was selected to serve as Chairperson of the Ocean County Commission for Individuals with Disabilities (CID).  The Commission is an advisory board established in 1983 to address issues of inclusion and awareness in the community.  Commission members are appointed by the Ocean County Board of Commissioners.  The CID addresses the needs and concerns of people with disabilities by providing educational, informative programs whose goal is to educate the community on topics relevant to people with disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Together with the Ocean County Office for Individuals with Disabilities, they share the goal of improving the quality of life for the residents of Ocean County, ensuring full and equal participation in all areas of life.

On May 2, 2023, staff presented an overview of Disability Services to the School of Business and Social Sciences.  The discussion included the referral process to Disability Services, as well as review of the “interactive process” in determining eligibility for services and issuing of reasonable accommodations.

On May 12, 2023, staff presented an overview of Disability Services to guidance counselors from Ocean County schools.  The event, hosted by Enrollment Services, addressed important issues and services related to Early College students.

On May 18, 2023, staff presented an overview of Disability Services to over 50 students from Toms River High School South.  Students were introduced to steps necessary for self-identifying as a student with a disability and applying for services.  This presentation was performed in collaboration with the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS), Ocean County office.

On May 23, 2023, staff presented an overview of Disability Services to parents, guardians, and graduating students from the Toms River High School District.  Students were introduced to steps necessary for self-identifying as a student with a disability and applying for services.  This presentation is in collaboration with the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS), Ocean County office.

In an effort to foster collaborative efforts, leadership from OCC’s Office of Disability Services and Kean’s Office of Accessibility Services started to meet monthly to discuss relevant and timely issues related to students.  Discussions included future plans for students to participate in open-invitation events, such as peer support groups, TED Talks, and movie showings.  These open events will extend an invitation to all OCC and Kean Ocean students, regardless of ability or connection to Disability Services.

Southern Education Center

The SEC Canvas Announcements continue to provide important messages to students and staff.  Recent announcements included the opportunity to register for Summer and Fall semester courses, dates when various services/colleges will be visiting the SEC, and various college-wide opportunities.

Representatives from all OCC main campus services continued to visit the SEC to close out the Spring semester.  With their visits, SEC students gained a strong understanding of opportunities available to them closer to home.  Appreciation is expressed to staff from Disability Services, Career Services, the Library, Transfer Services, the Counseling Center, Student Support Services, and Student Life Services, as well as to representatives from both Kean Ocean and Stockton University for continuing to connect with SEC students.

The names of SEC graduates were displayed on the main lobby TV monitor to round out the semester.  Additionally, pizza was served the week of May 1, 2023, and bagels were available the week of May 8, 2023, to celebrate all SEC students for a successful end to the Spring semester.

SEC Director Brian Schillaci and an SEC Advisor, attended Express Enrollment Days on the main campus for Barnegat, Lacey, and Pinelands High School students.  The SEC team took the opportunity to share information about the facility and welcomed students to visit the building to learn about options available to them when finalizing schedules for the Fall semester.

Summer First Five-Week classes are underway at the SEC.  The SEC increased offerings this summer for students who live in the southern part of Ocean County.

Student Life

Student Life is pleased to share Spring semester updates for OCC’s honor societies:

  • OCC’s new honor society for students with disabilities, Delta Alpha Pi, inducted 16 members into the Theta Omicron Chapter on April 26, 2023, at its chartering induction ceremony.
  • The Social Work Honor Society inducted 11 students at its ceremony held on April 28, 2023.
  • Sigma Kappa Delta, the National English Honor Society for two-year colleges welcomed 56 inductees on May 9, 2023.
  • Alpha Beta Gamma, the Business Honor Society, welcomed 42 initiates this Spring semester on May 12, 2023.

NSLS, National Society for Leadership and Success, has 148 students who joined this Spring semester.  The new initiates are in various steps toward induction, with 12 students being inducted this semester.

Veterans and Military Resources Center

The Veterans and Military Resources Center (VMRC) continues to increase knowledge of the services and programs offered to military-affiliated students.  In the last month, the Center has had:

  • 55 student interactions by email, phone, and in person
  • 35 contacts with internal and external stakeholders
  • 275 student interactions through finals week due to therapy dogs

The Center supported Student Life on Spring Day as the Veterans Club talked to nonmilitary-affiliated students and engaged them in learning more about military culture.

Staff attended the VFW Military Resource Fair, leading to a connection for plans for a veteran-specific job fair to be held at OCC.

The VMRC completed its virtual site visit with Ellucian for grant compliance.

Veteran alumnus Richard Cope presented a $5,000 donation to the Center for its program.

The Center will be receiving a donation of a full-size refrigerator to assist OCC military-affiliated students with food availability.  Also, the Lakewood BlueClaws will be donating a portion of ticket sales for two games to the program.

During the week of finals, members of the Veterans Yoga project donated time to teach yoga to students at the VMRC; teams from Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs were also on hand from Monday through Thursday during lunch hours as part of a stress less initiative.  This event was very well received and allowed staff the opportunity to speak with nonmilitary students about the program.

The VMRC established first contact and continues monthly meetings with other 2019 CVESS (Centers of Excellence for Veteran Student Success) grant recipients to discuss best practices; attendees share ideas, strategies, resources, and challenges.

The Center continued contact with the Chief of the Education Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to begin discussion of OCC’s embedment at the base to help increase enrollment of active duty members and their dependents as well as to share information with individuals who are leaving military service.

The VMRC worked with the Ocean County Veteran Service Bureau to embed a Veterans Service Officer once a week on Mondays for students.  The Veterans Service Officer provides Ocean County veterans and their dependents with information and guidance in filing and reopening claims.  This collaboration is expected to help drive current students to the Center and supports the move toward a one-stop-shop model.

e-Learning and Learning Enterprises

The e-Learning Department received top ranking in the 2023 Best Online Community Colleges in New Jersey by leading higher education researcher OnlineU.  Currently, OCC’s e-Learning Department offers more than 150 online courses and over 20 associate degrees.

This top ranking by OnlineU recognizes the flexible, high-quality educational experiences delivered by OCC’s outstanding e-Learning Department.  In its assessment, researchers recognized OCC’s ease of enrollment, affordability, and the ability of students to study at their own pace.  OnlineU compares colleges across the country in various categories, using impactful data, public information, and reviews from over 13,000 online students.

The mission of the e-Learning Department is to provide students with rewarding educational experiences that are enriched by technology, innovation, and effective design.  High-quality asynchronous courses are offered to engage and meet the needs of students from all walks of life.  The goal is to empower all students with the tools and guidance they need to succeed and achieve their academic and professional aspirations.

Congratulations are extended to the e-Learning team for this tremendous accomplishment.

Professional Development

April Adjunct Roundtable

The e-Learning Department’s monthly professional development sessions continue, and adjuncts were invited to attend the April Adjunct Roundtable held on April 20, 2023.  Facilitated by Dr. Meredith Riddle, Assistant Dean of e-Learning, adjuncts participated in the event, “Spring Forward with Apps that Will Help You Teach Your Online Courses.”

The adjuncts collaborated on three apps for online learning success, while focusing on course objectives, student success indicators, student communications, and creating a welcoming student-centered learning environment.  There were 15 adjunct faculty in attendance, and 3 members showcased their favorite apps that make online learning more engaging for students.  Ms. Aqsa Sheikh, College Lecturer II in Biology, presented FLIP; Mr. Neil Mastroianni, Associate Director of Educational Technology, presented the Canvas app; and Ms. Teresa Giordano, Adjunct Associate Professor of Humanities, demonstrated Padlet. Attendees had the opportunity to learn about the features and benefits of each app and how they can be used to enhance online teaching.

Additionally, the adjunct faculty created a repository document on the best practices for increasing student engagement and methods of teaching efficiency. This resource is available to adjunct faculty in the e-Learning BreakRoom, the department’s online resource portal.

May Adjunct Roundtable

The May Adjunct Roundtable was held on May 18, 2023.  The department took this opportunity to recognize the exceptional contributions of the adjunct faculty for their teaching excellence and their demonstration of best practices for online learning.

In the spirit of Hollywood’s film and actor awards ceremonies, the virtual event was titled “Adjunct Academy Awards,” and the department recognized the hard work and dedication of over 20 adjuncts who excelled in their commitment throughout the academic year.

Thirty-three attendees had the opportunity to network with colleagues in a fun and memorable way, and they are looking forward to more events in the future.

July Adjunct Roundtable

The 2023 Adjunct Summer Retreat will be held on July 20, 2023, from 6 to 7 p.m. via Webex.  The department is currently planning for this summer’s professional development event and will be announcing more details to adjunct faculty in the upcoming weeks.  Participants will receive a certificate of appreciation at the event.

Fall 2023 General Meeting

The Fall e-Learning General Meeting will be held on August 29, 2023, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. via Webex.  This teaching-centered event will highlight the new initiatives for the 2023-24 academic year.  The department will be announcing more details to e-Learning faculty and lecturers in the upcoming weeks.


This past Spring, the e-Learning Department launched a four-part developmental series on artificial intelligence (AI) to discuss how it impacts teaching, learning, and course design processes.  During one of these sessions titled, “Artificial Intelligence and Academic Writing,” facilitated by Dr. Jack Kelnhofer, College Lecturer II in English, the team discussed how faculty and lecturers can use tools to detect AI-generated assignments submitted by their students.

To promote authentic writing, OCC has an institutional license for, and instructors have access to Turnitin Feedback Studio, which is a platform AI-detection tool that identifies similarities in written work.  At the end of the Spring semester, the department will review and assess the Turnitin data to see how many faculty and lecturers are using the tool.

Currently, e-Learning Associate Director of Educational Technology Neil Mastroianni is developing a training program to support the faculty and lecturers with Turnitin Feedback Studio.  The training is scheduled for August 2023.  In addition, the e-Learning Department is planning two AI training sessions over the Summer and Fall.  Research and training are essential because the landscape of higher education is evolving rapidly with intelligent machines and algorithmic improvements.  e-Learning’s goal is to stay abreast of the advances in artificial intelligence and to incorporate it in online classes to provide students with interactive and engaging learning experiences.

If anyone is interested in watching the department’s four-part series on artificial intelligence, the webinars are available on the NeoEd system as self-paced standalone courses.

The online Syllabus Library offers a user-intuitive and searchable repository of the online course syllabi for student transfer credit evaluation for all 153 online courses available at OCC.  Since the library opened in the Spring 2023 semester, more than 300 syllabi have been viewed by students.  Prior to the launch, the e-Learning Department manually processed student requests for syllabi, requiring email communications to be made to each student.  Since syllabi can be viewed 24/7/365, it has resulted in an increased level of efficiency for the e-Learning Department and an increased level of service to current and potential students.

The e-Learning Department continues to act as a resource for the pilot and implementation of Simple Syllabus for Academic Affairs and Workforce and Professional Education.  Both areas are in discovery phase for the deployment, which consists of creating the template and programming rules for the faculty and lecturers.

On April 27, 2023, the department showcased the Simple Syllabus library to the Student Services area.

Student Course Evaluations

The 2023 Spring Student Course Evaluations, conducted through Watermark, concluded on May 15, 2023.  The survey was deployed to students enrolled in 196 e-Learning sections in the Spring semester, Spring Quick Term, and Accelerated 2 session.  The final response rate was 43.24%.  Comparatively, during the initial launch of Watermark in Spring 2022, the response rate was 50% for the same sessions.

Overall, for the 2023 Spring reporting term, 5,168 duplicated students received a course evaluation survey, and 2,302 students returned the survey.  The e-Learning 2023 Spring reporting term concluded with an overall 44.54% response rate for all sessions.  The results of the anonymous survey were made available to faculty and lecturers on May 22, 2023.

Instructional Design

As the e-Learning Department welcomes the new Director of e-Learning and Learning Enterprises, Ms. Biz Metzger, she and the Instructional Design team have been busy meeting and evaluating the online instructional design processes.  The team continues to research new technology and pedagogical strategies to implement into online courses for quality, engaging learning experiences.  Part of the research has included conferences where best practices of online learning are being showcased.  In April, the team attended three virtual conferences:

In the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Virtual Innovate Conference, sessions included quality approaches to online learning; culturally responsive teaching strategies; mobile technologies; frameworks for increasing critical thinking, student engagement, and knowledge construction in online discussions; and AI in online learning.

The New Jersey Distance Education Affinity Group Distance Education Conference showcased technological innovation, research, and practical and effective pedagogical practices for distance education.

During Coursera’s The Future of Learning and Work, instructional designers discussed and collaborated with higher education leaders on issues facing the future of learning and work.

The team is implementing some of the knowledge learned by working on a new virtual in-class experience for students, including an updated homepage and student success resources.  The implementation will be rolled out in phases over the next year.

International Programs

The International Programs team continued to finalize the new Alamein International University Consortium by completing specific curriculum maps for nine degree programs.  The Egyptian Consortium will be run by Alamein International University and will include New Mansoura University, Badr University, and El Nahda University in the pilot stage.  The OCC affiliate programs will be offered by William Paterson University, Rutgers University Camden, Kean University, and the University of Maryland Global Campus.

The team hosted OCC’s Egyptian partners from Alamein International University and New Mansoura University on campus the week of May 21 to 28, 2023, at which time Memoranda of Cooperation were signed.  It is anticipated that the signing of these documents will result in the remaining approvals and agreements needed to begin recruitment for these programs.

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