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March 15, 2023

Dr. Larson’s March 16, 2023 Report to the Board of Trustees

OCC president Dr. Larson

Phi Theta Kappa Recognition

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

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

None of these achievements would have been possible without the steadfast commitment and dedication of Tau Iota advisors.  It is with gratitude and pride that I will acknowledge PTK advisor milestones at the March 16, 2023, meeting.  Service pins will be presented to Mrs. Lois Rickert, for fifteen years as an advisor, and Ms. Carolyn Showalter, Assistant Dean of STEM, for thirty-five years of service as an advisor.  Dr. William Rickert, Retired Professor Emeritus, will also attend the meeting.  He was named as a PTK Advisor Emeritus on the Regional Level.

Academic Affairs

School of Arts and Humanities

Dr. Elizabeth Brierley, Associate Professor of Humanities, and Mr. Gary Shaffer, Assistant Professor of Humanities, have established a Sigma Chi Eta Chapter at OCC.  Sigma Chi Eta, with more than 45 chapters across the nation, is the official community college honor society of the National Communication Association for undergraduates in two-year communications programs.  The purpose is to recognize the work of outstanding communication students and explore options for community college students to transfer to four-year colleges or universities or enter the workforce.

Dr. Sungji Kim, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Applied Music, sang as part of the Afternoon Recital Series on January 27, 2023.  The event took place on the Grunin Center’s main stage.

On February 5, 2023, OCC Music Instructor Karin Gargone performed in the 2023 Choir Festival sponsored by the Ocean County Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.  The event took place at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Beachwood, New Jersey.  It was free and open to the public.  Ms. Gargone performed “Kyrie, Gott Heiliger Geist” from Klavierubung, Part Three, by J.S. Bach on the church’s pipe organ.  She also accompanied “Prayer” by New Jersey composer Amanda Harberg, featuring OCC student Hilda Howlett as flute soloist.

Communications College Lecturer II Lee Kobus announced the winner of the WOCC Logo Contest.  The competition was open to OCC graphic arts students, and Mr. Kobus worked with Graphic Arts Instructor Renate Pustiak as advisors for the project.  Five artists submitted a variety of work samples, and Alex Gablix’s design was chosen as first place by the station’s students.  It will become the official trademark for the station in the future.  While one winner was chosen, it is noted that all five students worked hard and demonstrated the skills they are developing as artists.

Dr. Michael Edmondson, Interim College Lecturer II in Humanities and Fine Arts, presented on LinkedIn Learning at two Lunch and Learn presentations on February 3 and February 15, 2023.  Dr. Edmondson collaborated with the Faculty Development and Learning Center to showcase the interactive platform.

Dr. Madison Peschock, College Lecturer II in English and Literature, hosted the first English round table of the semester on February 16, 2023.  Dr. Ameer Sohrawardy, College Lecturer II in English, presented.

On February 17, 2023, the Grunin Center Afternoon Recital Series featured pianist Alexander Timofeev.  Mr. Timofeev won first prizes at both the Niš International Piano Competition, Serbia (2006), and the Margaret Guthman Piano Competition, Atlanta (2006), and received third prize at the 2007 MTNA Young Artist Piano Competition (Toronto).

On March 10, 2023, three students who met in OCC’s Music Club, Joey Cambria, Ida DeMarco, and Owen McCarthy, presented “The Collaborative Songwriting Process of Merging Waves,” an information session on how their different musical backgrounds merged into one band.  They also played their latest original recordings for the audience.

Interpreter Training Program alumni, including ITP adjunct professors and ITP students, performed for ASL Night at the March 12, 2023, New Jersey Devils hockey game at the Prudential Center.

Mr. David Bianculli, NPR critic and author, visited OCC on March 13, 2023, in the Grunin Center Theatre.  He generously volunteered to speak with students about the art of being a critic.

In collaboration with SKD, the Philosophy Club, the OCC Institute of Governmental Affairs, and Kean Ocean SGA, the annual OCC Great Debate: Woke Up! will take place on March 16, 2023.  The student debate will center on wokeness in politics and culture.

On March 17, 2023, OCC will present the Sonnet four-hands Piano recital, a high-spirited, crowd-pleasing program featuring the rustic, ebullient dances of Brahms (Hungarian dances) and Dvorak (Slavonic dances).

School of Business and Social Sciences

Beginning in Spring 2023, College Lecturer II Christopher D. Bottomley, Program Chair in Business, will participate in a statewide advisory committee for the New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Career Readiness, in Trenton.  He will offer his finance, business administration, and marketing program expertise.  The advisory committee will be composed of postsecondary institutions, secondary schools, industry professionals, parents, students, and various stakeholders.  This advisory committee will help inform and guide educational programming and curriculum in CTE programs throughout the state.  The primary topic will focus on industry-valued credentials.

On February 9, 2023, College Lecturer II in Social Sciences Charlotte Langeveld hosted “A Discussion about Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice with Dr. Vernon Smith.”    Dr. Smith, Assistant Professor of the School of Education and Assistant Director of the Social Justice Academy at Monmouth University, presented and led a discussion about issues focused on creating a free environment where students and professors with different viewpoints can express their ideas.

The first Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation culinary option course, HRTM 230, Principles of Food and Beverage Management, will run during the Spring 2023 semester.  The course is part of OCC’s new credit-based culinary program.  Also, three new apprentices began working at Java Junction in the Gateway Building on January 23, 2023.  Java Junction is a student-run coffee shop that teaches students how to operate a small business by having them manage the store.  Students are responsible for ordering items for sale, assessing financials, and developing marketing strategies to increase sales. Student apprentices receive three credits and are paid as student workers for the College.

The 4th Annual HRTM Connect event, sponsored by the School of Business and Career Services, took place on March 9, 2023, in the OCC Conference Center.  This year’s theme was Viva Las Spring – HRTM Connect – A Tribute to Global Casinos and Gaming Operations. The purpose of the event is to help students gain employment within the HRTM sector. This event is planned, managed, and organized by OCC’s HRTM 212 students, affording them an opportunity to showcase their customer service techniques and event planning skills.  The event concluded with a raffle drawing and provided valuable networking experiences for all participants.

HRTM College Lecturer II Sean Bips spoke on international trends in hospitality and gaming. Mr. Bips is a professional chef instructor, hospitality lecturer, and international event planner.  He has been teaching Hospitality, Culinary Arts, and Tourism Management for more than twelve years in both the U.S. and across Europe.

The 3rd Annual “Sink or Swim” Entrepreneurial Competition is scheduled to take place at OCC on April 21, 2023.  In partnership with Mr. Phil Brilliant of the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce, College Relations Executive Director Jan Kirsten, and Business Innovation Consortium students, the School of Business is inviting students from local high schools to compete for the title of “High School Entrepreneurial Team of the Year” and to earn trophies and monetary awards.  The School challenges students to gather their best, most creative entrepreneurs to pitch innovative products or services before our panel of distinguished judges at the event.

Dr. Margaret Maghan, Chair of the Social Work program, and Ms. Allison Betts, recently appointed Career Pathways Coordinator, hosted the second annual practicum Match Day on February 9, 2023, in the Conference Center.  This year, students were able to interview with more than 11 agencies throughout Ocean County, including the newest medical social work partner, Children’s Specialized Hospital in Toms River.  Appreciation is expressed to Dr.  Rosann Bar, Dean of the School of Business and Social Sciences, and Dr. Joseph Konopka, Vice President of Academic Affairs, for their support and generosity, which made the day possible.

Dr. Kevin Dooley held a lecture titled, “Muddying the Waters:  How the Climate Change Debate has been Hijacked by Special Interests,” on March 8, 2023.  Dr. Dooley is Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology at Monmouth University; he received his Ph.D. from Rutgers University.  Dr. Dooley’s most recent scholarship looks at the use of metaphors as a learning tool in the understanding of political philosophy.  Dr. Dooley teaches courses in environmental policy, modern political thought, and international relations.  He is the author of four books, including Politics Still Matters:  Globalization, Governance, and the Revival of Regional Minorities (2008); Why Politics Matters:  An Introduction to Political Science (2012) co-authored with Mr. Joseph N. Patten; and Allegories and Metaphors in Early Political Thought:  From Plato to Machiavelli.  The event, sponsored by the Governmental Affairs Institute, was facilitated by Political Science College Lecturer II Jason Ghibesi.

Social Sciences Professor Lynn Kenneally coordinated a trip for OCC students and community members to the New York Historical Society’s Women’s Exhibit in conjunction with the Office of Student Life to commemorate Women’s History Month.  College Lecturer II Jason Ghibesi accompanied the group on the March 7, 2023, trip.

On January 10, 11, and 12, 2023, College Lecturer II in Addictions Patricia Gianotti participated in the intermediate school workshops hosted by Academic Affairs.  Dr. Gianotti presented experiential sessions to six groups of seventh-grade students from Toms River Intermediate School East, North, and South.  The sessions provided potential future students with information about attending a college class, as well as an opportunity to ask questions about higher education in general.

Dr. Patricia Gianotti will also coordinate this year’s Addiction Summit event on April 13, 2023.  The event will be dedicated to those who survive combat but return home with scars that may not be visible to those around them.  “PTSD: The Walking Wounded” is a documentary that features an OCC student who served in the Middle East and is now disabled due to PTSD.  His story, and those of three other individuals deeply impacted by this illness, are chronicled in the video. The event begins in the Grunin Center with introductions, followed by a viewing of the movie.  There is no charge for admission, but donations of any amount are encouraged and will be accepted to benefit OCC veterans.

Mr. David Lionheart, who created this film to shed light on the reality of PTSD, will attend the event to introduce the documentary and field questions following the viewing.  After lunch, he will be leading his team and any willing participants on OCC’s athletic field in some of the activities he uses with the veterans.  All activities feature adaptive equipment so everyone can participate and enjoy the event regardless of fitness level or ability.

School of Nursing and Health Sciences

From the 110 graduates who sat for the Nursing licensing examination (NCLEX-RN) in 2022, OCC’s passing rate was 89%.  Scores remain above the national passing rate for all associate degree nursing programs and all types of nursing programs.

There are 303 students enrolled in OCC’s Nursing program for the Spring 2023 semester.

Nursing lecturers and 70 Nursing students attended the New Jersey Nursing Students (NJNS) annual convention on February 16, 2023, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  The focus of the convention was “Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity:  The Impact on Student Nurses and the Nursing Profession.”  Attending the convention provided students with opportunities to meet with peers and potential employers.  This is the first time the NJNS convention has been held in person since the pandemic occurred.

Ms. Marybeth Millan, MSN, RNC, CCE, and Ms. Sharon Scrofine, DNP, RN, CNE, CEN, both College Lecturer IIs in Nursing, presented, “A Guided Student Mentoring Program:  The Key to NCLEX-RN® Success” at the Spring 2023 Lecturer and Adjunct Institutes on January 18, 2023.  Their presentation focused on the structured mentoring processes implemented within the School of Nursing and Health Sciences this past academic year to assist graduates in successfully passing the licensing examination (NCLEX-RN) required to practice as a Registered Nurse.

On February 28, 2023, the Student Nurse Organization held a Career Day, and 46 representatives from 27 agencies attended the event; 81 students attended this event.  Students were provided with information on applying for positions within various healthcare agencies following the completion of the Nursing Program.  Information was also available to students who are currently attending the Nursing Program regarding application for Nursing Assistant positions while they continue their studies, as well as enrollment in BSN completion programs.

Director of Program Services Mary Fennessy, BA, MAS, represented the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at a Pre-Nursing Information Session on March 1, 2023.  Information sessions are held for students who intend to enter the Nursing Program.  Another Pre-Nursing Information Session is scheduled for March 28, 2023.

School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

As part of an AACC grant awarded to OCC for the AI Incubator Network (AIIN) funded by Intel and Dell, Computer Studies College Lecturer II Kenneth Michalek attended the AACC Workforce Development Institute in Indian Wells, California.  The conference focused on bringing together industry, federal agencies, and colleges to develop the nation’s workforce pipeline.  The conference hosted a panel discussion on the AI program that is being introduced at over 70 community colleges across the nation, as well as a lunch working session for AIIN grant award winners.

The Engineering and Industrial/Technical Studies program celebrated both Black History Month and Engineering Week from February 20 to 24, 2023.  It started with the annual paper airplane competition in front of the Student Center.  On February 22, 2023, Engineering Adjunct Associate Professor Charles Cebula, PE, gave a talk titled “Dr. Walter McAfee-Hidden Figure and Pioneer in Radar.”  The week concluded with the annual speed mentoring event that pairs high school students, OCC students, and members of the public with industry volunteers to advise them on career and academic topics.

The Math Counts competition, held on February 4, 2023, on campus was a success.  The event is sponsored by the Engineering Society of New Jersey, and 42 students from five middle schools competed individually and as groups.  The winning team was William Allen Middle School from Moorestown, New Jersey.  Math Counts is a national competition in which the winning team will move to the state level.  Several individuals volunteered to assist, including STEM Assistant Dean Carolyn Showalter, Mathematics College Lecturer II Nancy Rizzuto, Mathematics Assistant Professor Shirley Grone, retired member of the Engineering Department Paul Butler, and OCC graduate Michael Birdsall.

During the winter session, 20 students and 2 instructors traveled to Italy and spent two weeks studying art and science.  The students were fascinated with the Galileo Museum, viewing the telescope and the many globes Galileo produced.  The students were introduced to healthcare education during the Renaissance and visited a hospital that was in operation from the 9th century to 1975.  They were even more intrigued by the Da Vinci Museum, where they could play with models made from Da Vinci’s sketches.  In addition, the students were able to taste Italy through the food, hear Italy through communication, and further embrace the Italian culture by learning about daily routines, politics, and their view of the world.  Thank you to the Ocean County College Foundation for its generosity in providing scholarships to the students, making the trip affordable to many who would not otherwise have been able to participate.

The School of STEM, led by Science College Lecturer II Lincoln Simmons, will host the first Environmental Sciences Technical Conference on March 30, 2023, in the Grunin Center. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about exciting technical topics reflecting today’s environmental issues presented by industry professionals, network with representatives from environmental companies and nonprofit organizations to better understand environmental sciences career paths, and explore a variety of options for related studies, including degree and certificate programs.  The event will include breakfast and lunch, four technical presentations, and a “networking hall” featuring industry and company representatives.

The New Jersey Southern Junior Science and Humanities Symposium was held at the Lakehurst division of the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst on February 24, 2023.  From almost 50 research paper submissions, 10 students were chosen to compete.  The projects ranged from biomedical research, environmental science, mathematics, computer science, and engineering.

With the amazing help of the individuals on the base, the entire competition was held in one day.  The top five winners chosen to compete in the national competition in Virginia Beach, Virginia, are:

  • First Place: Riya Pawar, Freehold High School – Comprehensive Cyber Defense System, A Look into Adaptive Protection for the Most Common Ransomware Attacks
  • Second Place: Victoria Yakes, Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES) – Analysis of Tannin Interference on Enterolert*250 Testing of Enterococcus SPP
  • Third Place: Katherine Fang, High Technology High School – Surveying Water Surface and Wetlands at Delaware Bay Using Cloud-Removed LandSat Data
  • Fourth Place: Joseph Field, Freehold High School – Application of Lemna Minor for In-Situ Phytoremediation of Perchlorate in Martian Regilith
  • Fifth Place: Aditya Khurana, Moorestown High School – Cloud-Enabled IoT-Based Alert System for Aged, Blind, and Disabled Individuals

The following students were recognized for the poster competition:

  • First Place: Julia Takla, MATES – Phase III:  The Implementation of an LED-UVC Irradiated Shopping Cart Handle and Exploring its Microbicidal Activity
  • Second Place: Bethany Suliguin, MATES – Using Lemna app. To Quantify Nutrient Uptake and Release as a Potential Phytoremediation Strategy for the Barnegat Bay Watershed, New Jersey
  • Third Place: Brianna Suliguin, MATES – Porcelain Berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) and Autum Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) in New Jersey:  An Invasive Plant Biofuel-Based Management Strategy

The students received many monetary awards from organizations and corporations that have repeatedly supported this symposium, including the Ocean County College Foundation, which provided $100 for each top 10 student and $50 for each of the poster competitors.

Finance and Administration

The OCC FY2024 budget and related tuition policy update will be on the agenda for approval on Thursday.  The budget was reviewed in detail with the full Board at the retreat on February 9, 2023.  As always, student affordability is at the forefront of all discussions, and a very moderate three percent tuition increase is being recommended.  The budget includes an additional $1.3 million for healthcare premiums and over $400,000 for increased IT software expenses.  The College is also absorbing increased expenses for tutoring, employee pay increases, utilities, and property insurance.  The increased expenses are partially offset by freezing unfilled positions, but a substantial allocation from fund balance is needed to balance the budget.

Also on Thursday’s agenda is a resolution for FY2024 Chapter 12 funding in the amount of $4,444,166.  The funds will be used to repave and update Parking Lot 1 on the main campus and to add a parking lot for the disabled near the Gateway Building.  The projects will include lighting, landscaping, striping, and signage.

Office of Information Technology

A new 2024-2028 Information Technology Strategic Plan has been developed and is attached.  A recommendation for approval by the Board of Trustees will be made at Thursday’s meeting.  The plan will function as a guide to the allocation and use of technology resources at OCC.  The IT Strategic Plan demonstrates the College’s commitment to using technology resources to support student learning and to improve overall institutional effectiveness.  In addition, the plan stresses IT governance and cyber security.  Strengthened IT governance will ensure that the appropriate policies and procedures are in place to guide how the College evaluates, launches, and controls new initiatives and ensures that budget limitations are respected.  The plan also places a renewed emphasis on the importance of cyber security and the need for the entire institution to adopt diligent practices to protect our digital resources.

Furthermore, the plan establishes five major technology goals with measurable objectives that support the strategic plan.  A process for overseeing the implementation of the plan will be developed, and there will be many opportunities for faculty, lecturers, and staff to become involved.  Broad participation will result in better outcomes and better governance over the life of the plan. The support of the entire College community is requested as the new IT Strategic Plan is implemented.


On January 20, 2023, a New Jersey Council of County Colleges’ (NJCCC) proposal seeking state legislation to modernize and update the County College Contracts Law (CCCL) to align with recent changes to the State College Procurement Law was presented at the NJCCC Presidents’ meeting.  At the Council’s request, Ms. Christine Healey, Executive Director of Procurement and Compliance, attended the Presidents’ meeting to provide clear evidence as to why modernization and updates are needed and answer questions.  All background, rationale, and recommendations in the proposal were provided from prior documents produced by a JPC Committee led by Ms. Healey.  Final approval is expected at the Council’s March meeting, after which the proposal will enter the legislative process.

College Relations


Ocean Views Magazine – The Winter/Spring 2023 Ocean Views magazine has been mailed to over 42,000 alumni and College stakeholders.  This issue commemorates my presidency and highlights the Foundation’s Legacy Campaign and long-term impact on the local community and its students.  The alumni feature showcases the journey of a graduate from his time at OCC through his career focusing on LGBTQ advocacy, human rights, and DEI efforts.  Many other exciting features are included in this issue.  Extra copies can be requested of the College Relations office.

Web Services – Mr. Eric Gonnella, Website Coordinator, collaborated with Mr. Christopher Brittain, Operations Manager in Workforce and Professional Education, to redesign the WPE landing page.  This redesign focused on search engine optimization (SEO) and visual navigation elements to access courses, events, and programs offered by WPE.  Since the launch of the redesigned landing page on November 29, 2022, the page has been viewed 3,264 times, with 2,212 of these visitors viewing the page for the first time.

Ocean County College Foundation

Scholarships for the current Spring semester have been awarded and will officially post to all student accounts after the final census.  The Graduating Awards application period opened March 1, 2023, and will remain open through April 17, 2023.  All students who graduated this past December or who will be graduating this Spring or Summer are encouraged to apply.

Annual Appeal Update

Thank you to all who participated in this year’s annual appeal.  This giving opportunity has been the Foundation’s most successful effort to date, as gifts continued to be received through the end of January, raising over $83,000 for the students of Ocean County College.

Foundation Art Collection Update

Recently, the co-chairs of the Foundation Art Committee, along with Alumni and Advancement Director Kim Maloney and Executive Director Kenneth Malagiere, visited Hudson County Community College’s Foundation Art Collection to gain firsthand knowledge of the acquisition and management process as well as tour the collection of over 2,000 works.

To that end, the Foundation hopes to establish an initial budget in the upcoming fiscal year to begin the process of promotion, awareness, and acquisition of a collection to be displayed in public spaces throughout campus and to complement existing and future student work.

OCC would join just three other community colleges in New Jersey with such a dedicated collection.  The institutions include Bergen Community College, Camden County College, and Hudson County Community College, with a collective goal to inspire each of the 18 community colleges throughout the state to do the same.

This Spring, the Blauvelt Speaker Series welcomed Olympic Gold Medalist Mia Hamm on March 8, 2023, to a sold-out crowd at the Grunin Center; and Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss will be welcomed on April 25, 2023.  Please visit for more information and to book seats for the discussion.  All events are available free of charge virtually with registration.

The Foundation’s first post-pandemic Donor/Scholar Reception will be held on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, at 5 p.m. in the beautiful atrium of the Instructional Building.  Formal invitations will follow.

Lastly, work is well underway in planning the 2023 Annual Scholarship Celebration which will be held on Friday, June 23, 2023.  This year the students of Ocean County College will be celebrated, and the Foundation will recognize my departure from the presidency.  For more information, please visit

Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts

The Grunin Center is the regional partner for the high school Poetry Out Loud contest; it hosted the regional competition on February 8, 2023.  The event, coordinated by Mr. Erik Stratton, Education and Community Engagement Coordinator, featured champions from Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex county high schools.  Two of the fifteen competitors were selected to move on to the state championships.  The Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean region of New Jersey Poetry Out Loud serves approximately 8,000 students across 15 schools.

Poetry Out Loud, a free national program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, encourages high school students across the country to learn about great works of classic and contemporary poetry through memorization and recitation.  Not only do they share their interpretation and delivery of poetry, they also vie for awards and scholarships totaling $50,000.

The Afternoon Recital Series, coordinated by Music College Lecturer II Brian Gilmore, continued with its array of talented musicians, with Alexander Timofeev, a Philadelphia-based composer and pianist.  The event took place on February 17, 2023, on the Grunin Center main stage.

Also, the Grunin Center partnered both with the College and with the community on several events.  In the first, with the Office of Student Life, four student bands were hosted for the WOCC Radio Club.  The bands were showcased to raise awareness of the relaunch of WOCC, the local radio station.  In the second, the Center worked with Broadway on Main for its dance recital rental.

Novins Planetarium

On January 28, 2023, the Novins Planetarium once again performed the “The Astronomy of Harry Potter” event to two sold-out audiences. This event was 25% of the planetarium’s January public show revenue, making January the highest revenue month so far in FY 2023.

In addition, the Valentine’s star talk, “Love Stories in the Stars,” was nearly sold out on February 14, 2023.

Workforce and Professional Education

Work Readiness Assistance Program (WRAP) for At-Risk Youth and Young Adults

Community outreach work for this important program continues, including a recent event with the Toms River South Guidance and Child Study Team reviewing current and expanded services offered through the Ocean County Achievement Center and funded through the WRAP Grant.  Since November 2022, 25 new participants have been served, including 19 who have completed the orientation process.  Additionally, 11 current students in the ‘Exploration of Career Pathways and Entrepreneurship’ course obtained new, industry-valued credentials (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation/Basic Life Support certifications).

Updates for Adult Education, Civics, and Workforce Preparation (Title II)

The January 12, 2023, orientation at the SEC was well attended, with 43 new students registered for ESL at this event.  This positive turnout is due, in part, to the successful canvasing by staff in the southern part of the county (Little Egg Harbor, Manahawkin, Barnegat, and Long Beach Island).  Staff went door-to-door with flyers and posted the flyers in multiple languages at several businesses to promote the program.

In addition, orientations held at the Toms River campus on January 9 (High School Equivalency) and January 10 and 11, 2023 (English as a Second Language) had an additional 447 potential students register and complete placement testing.

Adult Education and ESL classes kicked off the week of February 6, 2023.  Classes meet Monday/Wednesday, Tuesday/Thursday, and Saturday at multiple locations throughout the county. To date, this program has supported 83 new, non-traditional student graduates as they studied for and obtained their high school diplomas.  In addition, eight students have earned industry-valued credentials in Customer Service through this program.

New and Expanded Partnerships in Customized Training

In January, 64 students completed custom training courses, resulting in 1,314 hours of training, and 2 Civil Service tests were administered, resulting in over $17,000 in revenue. Additionally, new partnerships are being created with Habitat for Humanity and the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide.

Earning Marketable Credentials, Fast

In February, a new cohort of students started the Google IT program, which raises the total of Google IT students to 25 for the fiscal year.  Google IT students earn credit upon completion and are able to move to a computer science degree or directly to employment.

Human Resources

NeoEd is a platform that was purchased in July 2022.  The product transforms the way the College recruits, onboards, exits, evaluates, develops, and trains faculty, lecturers, and staff.  Implementation of the fifth, and final module, LEARN, is well underway.  Training has been held for managers and employees, and a LEARN Users Group has been identified and trained.

Comprised of stakeholders across the College, the Users Group will utilize LEARN to attain or develop new training and corral existing training into the LEARN system.  Faculty, lecturers, and staff will be able to self-select training, be assigned training by managers, or request assistance from the Users Group in developing or adding new training.  Employees or their managers can easily review employee training records.  Compliance training for all employees will be delivered from the LEARN module, and reports will be readily available.  Beyond the introductory rollout, the Office of Human Resources will work with the Users Group to develop and implement employee certificate programs that will continue to support a highly trained workforce.


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 January 21 through February 17, 2023.

Student Affairs


Transfer Events

Transfer Coordinator Laura Wills has organized a full schedule of on-campus transfer events this Spring.  Representatives from institutions such as Kean Ocean, Stockton University, and Thomas Edison State University will be on campus to speak with students about degrees, programs, and campus life.

OCC students will also have the opportunity to attend Instant Decision Days.  These events give students the opportunity to meet with an admissions representative and waive the application fee.  Students almost always receive an offer of admission at the events.  Participating institutions include Stockton University, Rowan University, Drew University, Farleigh Dickinson University, Monmouth University, Montclair University, Kean Ocean, NJIT, and Seton Hall University.

Ms. Wills has worked with Kean Ocean to organize Kean Ocean Dual Advising Days.  Students can meet with OCC Advising and Kean Ocean Admissions for a dual appointment to talk with them about how their credits will transfer seamlessly.

Finally, Ms. Wills will be hosting three Transfer Roundtables this Spring.  All campus advisors and staff are invited to come together to discuss any transfer issues or questions they encounter in their work with students or curriculum.  Through these events, Advising and Transfer Services hope to provide a forum that will help to facilitate communication and collaboration among all campus stakeholders in the area of transfer.


NJ STARS Coordinator Jennifer Kipp reports that 26 NJ STARS students graduated in December 2022.  Spring 2023 NJ STARS enrollment currently stands at 269 students (with 36 potential STARS students awaiting confirmation).

In Fall 2022, over 300 alerts were raised for 163 unique NJ STARS students via Advise CRM.  Of these alerts, many were for students whose grades fell below 80% in one or more of their courses.  Students received an email communication informing them of the status of their courses.  Through this communication, students were encouraged to contact Advisor Diane DeFilippo to discuss academic resources and strategies.  Students who continued to have course averages below 80% for an extended period of time received phone calls as well.  The remaining alerts were issued by instructors for missed assignments and attendance.

NJ STARS students who fell below 3.0 in the Fall 2022 semester received letters informing them of their academic status and advising them to contact Advisor Diane DeFilippo. These students also received follow-up phone calls regarding their status.  Discussions with students included academic plans, study strategies, time management, critical thinking, tutoring services, degree programs, and transfer plans. Students were encouraged to reach out if they had any questions or needed additional assistance or information.


Advising, the HUB, Academic Affairs, e-Learning, and IT are continuing to collaborate on the administration of Faculty CXInstructors are able to raise alerts for students of academic concern throughout the semester.  Seventy instructors have access to the system; as of February 12, 2023, there were 207 alerts raised for 183 unique students in Spring terms.  The most utilized alert, at this point in the semester, has been attendance issues, followed by missed assignmentsSuccess Coaches are responding to the alerts by contacting students to discuss topics such as the importance of attendance, technical issues, study strategies, and resources on campus.

Advisor Training

The Advising Office will be offering a robust training schedule for all campus advisors this Spring.  Advisors will be able to attend workshops on Student Planning, including using Curriculum Tracks to assist students in planning to complete their degree programs.  Advisors for Pre-Nursing students will have an opportunity to meet with Associate Director Michele Connolly to review Nursing requirements and best practices for students intending to pursue Nursing at OCC.  Transfer Coordinator Laura Wills is offering training to help advisors assist students at all stages of the transfer process.   Advisors can attend a Transfer Advising Overview, which will cover topics such as how credits transfer and the NJ Statewide Transfer Agreement.  Sessions will also be offered for Kean Ocean Transfer Advising and Using NJ Transfer.

Career Services


On January 17 and 18, 2023, Dr. Deborah Kepics, Director of Career Services, presented to Medical Billing and Coding students on interview skills, resume reviews, and how to be a valuable employee.

Dr. Kepics was invited to introduce herself and discuss potential job and internship opportunities at the New Jersey Municipal Management Association Ocean County Administrators’ Meeting on January 18, 2023.

Career Services is partnering with Enrollment Services to present a Career Workshop at Jackson Liberty High School on March 14, 2023.

Planning, Visits, and Events

Dr. Kepics attended the Southern Ocean Chamber of Commerce Women in Business Roundtable meeting on January 24, 2023.

On February 28, 2023, a meeting is scheduled with Keystone Cyber Protection and Dean of STEM Sylvia Riviello to discuss the possibility of a public event introducing this new local company in partnership with OCC’s Cyber Security Program.

Career Services held a STEM Virtual Mingle with Ms. Cheyenne Riehl, OCC STEM Librarian, to be held on March 6, 2023, to highlight STEM faculty and lecturers and their career/industry backgrounds.

Southern Education Center Director Brian Schillaci and Dr. Kepics are scheduled to be on the Southern Ocean County Chamber Radio show on March 17, 2023, to highlight the part-time/summer career fairs planned at the SEC for April 5 and 6, 2023.

Dr. Kepics and Ms. Allison Betts, new Career Pathways Coordinator of Social Work, were invited to Bright Harbor Healthcare on March 1, 2023, for a tour and to meet the Human Resources representative and Student Intern Supervisor.

Ms. Taylor Dulemba, Career Services Coordinator, began weekly office hours in Advising, and both Ms. Dulemba and Dr. Kepics are holding bi-monthly office hours at the SEC to be more accessible and visible to students.

Ms. Dulemba completed the Certified Veteran Career Strategist Certification from the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.

Career Services assisted in the Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management (HRTM) Connect event held on March 9, 2023, in the Conference Center.  Ocean County College is preparing students for rewarding careers in culinary arts, hospitality, recreation, tourism, and event marketing through targeted degree and certificate programs.

The HRTM Career Fair was created, planned, and managed by OCC’s HRTM students.  It showcased their customer service, event planning, and marketing skills.  HRTM College Lecturer Sean Bips spoke on international trends in hospitality and gaming.  The Hard Rock, Borgata, Hotel LBI, and Merri-Makers Catering are a few of the employers who were in attendance.

Counseling Center

The Counseling Center is experiencing a busy semester.  Dr. Kate Pandolpho, Director of Counseling and Student Development, presented on Resilience at the Spring Colloquium, along with Ms. Tracey Donaldson, Associate Vice President of Human Resources, and Ms. Jackie D’Amore, Director of Talent and Organizational Development.  They plan to present another workshop on Resilience during the Spring semester.  Dr. Pandolpho is also presenting several CARE Reporting sessions over the next few months.  Four Counseling Center staff members  are now certified instructors in Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) and Mental Health First Aid:  Ms. Heather Mayer, Case Manager and Mental Health Technician; Ms. Darra Stack, Student Intervention Specialist; Ms. Katie Hueth, Prevention Education Specialist; and Ms. Kelly Petrolis, Student Intervention Specialist.  Ms. Heather Mayer also completed the Peer Recovery Coach training.

In collaboration with the Grants Office, an application was completed for the New Jersey Department of Education, Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, Community Provider Partnerships and Professional Development Grant, which provides funding to support and increase mental health services for college students. This non-competitive grant program provides a designated amount of funding to each college over a three-and-one-half-year period. Grant participants are excited about the activities and programs they plan to offer to the campus community.  Another State initiative for college student mental health is to provide tele-mental health services to students from New Jersey’s community colleges, colleges, and universities.

The essential mission of the Center and the focus of all activities and programs is to help students and the campus community embrace wellness, self-care, and overall well-being; deal with issues that interfere with that wellness; increase help-seeking behaviors; and eliminate stigma of all kinds.  The Center’s reinforcing message about the importance of self-care is to foster resilience and provide strength to face the challenges life brings.  Everything the Center does is geared to help students to be academically successful, to achieve their goals and dreams, and to persist to graduation.

In the spirit of self-care, well-being, and collaboration, the Counseling Center, with Student Life and Disability Services, hosted two Days of Wellness for the campus community.  Activities such as drumming circles, creative mindfulness, meditation, a walking labyrinth, chair massages, meditation with singing crystal bowls, positive affirmations, and goal setting all encouraged a comprehensive plan for self-care.

March 1, 2023 – A presentation by Minding Your Mind, an organization, featuring speakers telling their stories of hope and recovery from mental health challenges while in college was held on March 1, 2023.

Upcoming activities include:

  • March 15 and 21, 2023 – Two all-day sessions will be held on Mental Health First Aid, an evidence-based, skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance use issues. The course instructs on how to identify, understand, and respond.  It is designed for people who are not mental health practitioners.  Registration in advance is required.
  • April 19, 2023 – Ms. Rachel Piazza returns to present Empowerment Self-Defense.

Sessions continue to be offered on QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer), an evidence-based suicide prevention program.  In the Fall semester, 68 Student Affairs staff members were trained; the goal is for every Student Affairs employee to be trained in QPR.  Efforts are being made to work with Academic Affairs to train faculty, lecturers, and staff.  Additional sessions will be hosted throughout the Spring semester, including on March 6 and April 6, 2023.  Registration in advance is requested.

The Supporting Students in Recovery Program trained ten members of the Recovery Support Program to pursue professional roles as Peer Recovery Specialists.  These individuals now have the opportunity to provide support to their peers in the program, advancing a sustainable, connected, and supportive community of students that have been affected by a Substance Use Disorder. The Recovery Program, which began in 2020, provides counseling, activities, information, a weekly support group, and supportive services to individuals in recovery or who are interested in recovery.  There are 189 individuals enrolled in the non-credit Canvas course.

The Recovery Support Program resumed its weekly All Recovery Meeting on campus, co-led by Ms. Katie Hueth, Prevention Education Coordinator and a Peer Recovery Specialist.  A number of activities are being planned during Collegiate Recovery Week, April 10 to 14, 2023, including Recovery Speaks on April 13, 2023, in collaboration with community partner Hope Sheds Light.


Restore Your Score, the academic support intervention program for students who are in academic probation status, has a new cohort of 66 students.  All are enrolled in the non-credit Canvas course; they receive regular communication about important dates, academic success, and encouraging messages.  The Spring semester programming includes workshops and seminars.

The CARE Team has handled 442 reports since July 1, 2022, with 63 of these reports since January 1, 2023.   Increases continue to be seen in student mental health concerns, family issues, relationship breakups, and housing insecurity.  One CARE Reporting training was conducted in February and another in March.  This training is available to departments and schools.

The Displaced Homemakers Program is providing services to 20 new and 99 continuing clients, for a total of 119 clients.  Efforts are focused on recruitment, retention, and post-pandemic rebuilding.  There is an increase in client engagement in services and activities.  This semester, six clients are enrolled full-time at OCC, two are students pursuing B.A. or B.S. degrees, and six are completing certifications through WPE.  The program offers skill-building workshops and computer skills classes.  On February 24, 2023, a community connections event is being hosted to promote the program to government, community, and social services organizations.

Enrollment Services – The HUB

On January 17, 2023, the Enrollment team gave a presentation and tour of Ocean County College to the students in the Exploration of Career Pathways and Entrepreneurship course under the Workforce and Professional Education Department.

On January 18, 2023, Enrollment Services presented at DCF Regional School, Monmouth Campus, for Ocean County residents graduating from high school in May 2023.

On January 25, 2023, Dr. Sheenah Hartigan, Executive Director of Enrollment Services, and Dr. Amir Sadrian, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, presented to employees at Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus, at their weekly meeting regarding college programs and pathways their staff may find interesting.  Over 70 individuals attended the presentations and had great feedback and questions.

Ms. Melissa Sporer, Enrollment Services Advisor for College Pathways, presented virtually on January 31, 2023, along with Ms. Jennifer Kipp, NJ STARS Coordinator, representatives from Kean Ocean, and student speakers for the NJ STARS Information Session.  In attendance were 49 potential students and their families.

In January, the Success Coaches completed 884 outgoing calls, most of which were related to Alerts issued through the CRM Advise system.  The alerts were due to not logging in to an online class for the Accelerated Term 1 and Spring semester or for students who had not completed their Honorlock-required Orientation Quiz.  The retention team also called students who were enrolled in the Fall semester and needed to still enroll for the Spring.

The Enrollment Team, in January, completed 3,502 outgoing phone calls to support students’ efforts to enroll and matriculate in the Spring semester.  The team saw an average service time of 3.63 minutes and an average wait time of 3.62 minutes in the month of January.  The Enrollment Team completed 1,779 transactions in January, as well.

Enrollment Services facilitated multiple days at both the Performing Arts Academy and Brick Memorial High School to provide training to guidance staff and students to self-register for online early college dual-enrollment classes using Student Planning.  The team helped almost 200 students register themselves in a single day on February 7, 2023.

On February 9, 2023, the Enrollment Services team assisted 17 Toms River students who came to campus to get a tour of the TV Studio and learn more about broadcasting and journalism majors.  They also received a campus tour, information about the programs, a game of Kahoot, and lunch at Bubbakoos on campus.

On February 11, 2023, Enrollment Services Advisors Melissa Sporer and Haley Abruzzese attended the Ocean County Mall Expo where they met with community members and distributed information about OCC to potential students and their families.

Enrollment Services was invited to present at the Brick and Beyond event on February 15, 2023, speaking with parents and teachers at Brick Memorial High School about opportunities at OCC and with the early college program.

Ocean County College’s partnership with Ben Hudnall Memorial Trust (BHMT) is continuing to yield success.  As of February 14, 2023, there are 68 unique students taking 235 credits in the Spring term, an all-time high for the partnership.  BHMT 2022-2023 student credits are up almost 9% when compared with 2021-22.  This increase does not include Summer credits, so it is expected that there will be a double-digit increase this year for the partnership.

Executive Director Sheenah Hartigan presented at the annual conference for the National Organization for Student Success (NOSS) in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 2, 2023.  The title of her presentation was, “Getting Interactive:  How surveys lead to increased student engagement and actionable results.”

Student Success coaches visited 20 sections of the Student Success Seminar in the Spring to let students know about the services provided by the Retention Team.  They also presented to students in three sections of NURS 175, Nursing I.

Office of Disability Services

The Office of Disability Services continues to increase outreach efforts and provide accommodation services to eligible enrolled students.  During this reporting period, the office conducted the following student and faculty/lecturer activities:

  • Student Support Group Meetings: 3
  • Virtual Drop-In Sessions: 7
  • Student Contacts/Communications: 215
  • Faculty/Lecturer/Staff Consultations: 19

On February 1, 2023, staff met with a group of parents and prospective students from Lacey and Little Egg Harbor School Districts.  They were provided with an overview of services and OCC’s accommodation request process.  On February 9, 2023, staff met with parents and prospective students from Jackson Liberty High School for an overview of transition from high school to college, including the College’s accommodation request process.

Staff continue to meet bi-weekly with a representative from Symplicity to customize the new accommodation software management system, “Accommodate.”  A soft launch is planned for June 2023, and full implementation is expected for the Fall 2023 semester.

Services to students continue to increase.  Student enrollment for the Spring 2023 semester is recorded as 489 students, which represents a 4.7%  increase from Spring 2022 semester (467 students).  To improve outreach to students and provide supportive resources, the Office of Disability Services continues to promote popup Wellness Events on campus.  One such event was held on March 2, 2023, as students engaged in mindfulness activities.  Service brochures were available for distribution.

Disability Services recognizes the importance in strengthening community relationships with agencies in the community.  As such, staff facilitated the monthly meeting on March 8, 2023, for the Ocean County Core Advisory Group – Emergency Preparedness for Individuals with Disabilities.  Staff will also attend the bi-monthly meeting on March 17, 2023, as an appointed member of the Ocean County Commission for Individuals with Disabilities.

Registration and Records

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has approved OCC’s Form I-17 recertification petition.  Any school in the United States whose officials want to enroll F and/or M Visa students must file a Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by a Nonimmigrant Student,” and receive approval from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).   By accepting SEVP certification, OCC makes a legally binding commitment to comply with certain federal laws and regulations and DHS requirements.

Southern Education Center

The SEC Canvas Announcements continue to be an effective message board for students and staff.  Recent announcements have included the opportunity to register for Summer courses, dates when various services will be visiting the SEC, and various college-wide opportunities.  Many of OCC’s service areas have joined the SEC in person during the first month of this semester.  This continues to afford SEC students the chance to gain a strong understanding of opportunities available to them closer to home.  The SEC students and staff extend their appreciation to their colleagues in Disability Services, Career Services, the Library, Transfer, the Counseling Center, Student Support, and Student Life for continuing to connect with the SEC.

SEC Happenings

SEC Director Brian Schillaci and the Advising Team of Mr. Jeff Kurz, Ms. Toni Ann DiPasquale, and Ms. Jenna McAteer recently met with high school guidance teams from Lacey and Barnegat.  This was a follow-up to their first introduction to the SEC back in December.  This particular meeting focused on planning potential student visits from these high schools in the Spring.  This was a great opportunity to continue the connection and provide additional awareness about the SEC to the local area high schools.

Director Schillaci shared Summer course offerings with high school guidance teams from Southern Regional, Lacey, Barnegat, and Pinelands.  Those teams are sharing the information with their students to provide awareness of opportunities to enroll at the SEC.  In addition, SEC Student Advisor Toni Ann DiPasquale has been giving class presentations to current students about Summer courses.  This has been a great, personal way to provide awareness about these additional course opportunities.

The SEC and Career Services Teams are coordinating with the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce to bring a Part-Time Job Fair to the SEC in April.  This event will afford local businesses and SEC students the chance to connect about job opportunities for the Summer months.  A successful event is anticipated with continued partnership with the Chamber in subsequent semesters.

Students at the SEC were treated to a bagel breakfast for several days to celebrate their efforts and successes at the midway point of the Spring semester.  It provided a great opportunity for students and staff to connect and relax in the student lounge area.

The SEC is hosting its first Financial Aid/FAFSA Night on Thursday, March 30, 2023, for students and their families from the area to learn about opportunities available to them at the SEC/OCC.   Mr. Brian Schillaci, SEC Director, appreciated the assistance he received from Dr. Gerald Racioppi, Dr. Sheenah Hartigan, and Ms. Robbin Haynes, Financial Aid, in planning this event.

Veterans and Military Resources Center

The Veterans and Military Resources Center (VMRC) is currently working toward increasing knowledge of services and programs offered to military affiliated students.

During this reporting period, the following contacts were made:

  • Student Interactions by email or phone: 20
  • Student Interactions in the Center: 55
  • Internal and external stakeholder contacts: 46

The VMRC established first contact and monthly meetings with other 2019 Centers of Excellence for Veteran Student Success (CVESS) grant recipients to discuss best practices.  These meetings provide connections with other veterans programs to discuss successes and challenges as well as what each school has found to be successful in serving students.

The Chief of the Education Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst was contacted to begin discussion of embedding OCC at the base to help increase enrollment of active duty members and their dependents as well as any members leaving service.

The Center developed a relationship with the Ocean County Veteran Service Bureau to offer the services of an embedded Veterans Service Officer in the VMRC on a weekly basis.  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 Center’s move toward a one-stop-shop model.

The Wounded Warrior Project is being hosted on February 16, 2023, to connect veterans with available services.  This meet-and-greet event will be an excellent opportunity to learn how to receive services from the program, support a veteran, or support the initiatives of the Wounded Warrior Project.  Attendees will have the chance to enjoy snacks and refreshments.  The Wounded Warrior Project directs programs in mental health, career counseling, and long-term rehabilitative care, along with advocacy efforts.

The VMRC was invited to hold a spot on the local Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) advisory board.  The board consists of parents, students, Assistant Superintendent Adrienne Gold, Principal Ed Keller, Supervisor Mat Maligiere, JROTC Instructors SGM Cosmanioc and SFC Long from OCC’s district as well as JROTC instructors from other districts.  This will assist in developing more connections with local area schools and potentially children of veterans as well as any students that may be interested in pursuing the military as they reach age 18.

The VMRC is preparing for a virtual site visit with Ellucian for grant compliance.

e-Learning and Learning Enterprises

e-Learning Academics

Orientation Quiz Mandate

Starting this Spring 2023, all students enrolled in online courses are now required to complete the Honorlock-proctored “Get Started Orientation Quiz (or Orientation Quiz).  During the proctoring process, each student must take a photo of themselves and present their government-issued identification to verify and authenticate their identity.  After successful ID verification, students will take the Orientation Quiz and must receive a score of 100% to complete the quiz successfully.  In addition, the students need to complete the quiz to access the course content.  Students can attempt to complete the quiz as many times as needed.

Students who opt not to take the quiz may not qualify for financial aid assistance.  To date, 94% of the Spring 2023 online students and 89% of the Spring 2023 Accelerated Term 1 online students have successfully completed the Orientation Quiz.

The e-Learning Department is also collaborating with Student Affairs to notify the students of this new mandate using various mediums to convey the message.  The e-Learning Department faculty were instructed to view the Honorlock-proctored video after the student took the quiz and report any suspicious student behavior.  Five students have been reported for exhibiting suspicious behavior, and an active investigation is being completed by the e-Learning Department, Student Affairs, the Registrar’s Office, and IT.

Also, if students do not adhere to the student identification and authentication procedure, it can result in them being deactivated from the online course.  The e-Learning Department will continue monitoring the student IDs used to enroll in the courses and the data relative to the completion of the Orientation Quiz.  The department will report instances of fraudulent students every term.


On Monday, January 23, 2023, the e-Learning Department attended customized training with Mr. Tomm Bjornsen from Watermark Insights.  Watermark is the evaluation survey software implemented in Spring 2022 for anonymous Student Course Evaluations.  During the training, e-Learning administrators learned how to create tailored customized reports by extracting raw data to assess the student’s opinion of instruction, course design, and technology.  Currently, the student response rate is approximately 50%.

The customized report data from Spring 2022, Summer 2022, and Fall 2022 will be assessed to enhance course design and content as necessary.  The report data will be analyzed to evaluate the student’s online experience and will help administrators implement strategies to increase the student response rate. In addition, the student feedback will allow the department to explore professional development opportunities for e-Learning faculty and lecturers.  Finally, it will supply the information to assist the e-Learning Department in the strategic plan for student retention.

The e-Learning Department collects the student course evaluation seven times each academic year; data collection launched on March 1, 2023, for the Spring Accelerated Term 1.

Simple Syllabus

In Fall 2022, Simple Syllabus was launched in all online courses. Simple Syllabus is a syllabus management platform that assists students with understanding the course expectations and requirements to be successful.  Since the launch of Simple Syllabus, the syllabi for online courses have been viewed more than 55,000 times.

During the 2023 Spring semester, Simple Syllabus software was implemented in 102 sections.  By course census, 2,391 enrolled students have viewed their syllabi more than 11,000 times, an average of 4.5 times each.  To date, 85% of enrolled Spring semester students have viewed their syllabi.

During the 2023 Spring Accelerated 1 Term, Simple Syllabus software was utilized in 53 sections.  In those courses, 923 students interacted with their syllabi by the census, which is an 83% view rate.  The syllabi were viewed 4,846 times, averaging 5 views per student.

In mid-February 2023, the e-Learning Department will make the Syllabus Library available to the public to view and research syllabi for the 176 unique online courses offered.  This course preview will give visiting students a streamlined process to obtain course information before registering for a course.  The advanced availability of the syllabi will better assist students in evaluating course requirements.

Tutoring Services

The e-Learning Department is seeking a new service to provide online tutorial services for students.  As of the 2023 Fall term, the current vendor, Pearson Education, will no longer offer the Smarthinking online tutoring service.

The Request for Proposal process has begun, and the Tutoring Services Committee members have been selected.  The committee will review and evaluate proposals for a new online tutoring service for e-Learning.  The committee is projected to complete the Request for Proposal process on or before June 2023.

Professional Development

General Faculty Meeting and Post-Professional Development Survey

Over 75 faculty members and lecturers attended the Spring Faculty General Meeting on January 17, 2023, for a presentation entitled “Is it Fake or Real?  How to Identify Fraudulent Students and Coursework in a Virtual Classroom.”  The meeting focused on the financial aid fraud committed by some  students trying to obtain financial aid refunds by posing as legitimate students in an online class.

Dean of e-Learning Vivian Lynn emphasized the need for instructors to be diligent and communicate any suspicion of a fake student in their courses, recognizing that they play a key role in the communications that will assist the Student Services, Academic Advising, and IT departments in their efforts to ensure the integrity of online courses.  In addition, they were advised on how to report suspicious students enrolled in their courses.

A Post-Professional Development survey was offered to all who attended the meeting.  There was a 38% response rate to the survey; of the 30 participants who took the survey, 86.5% were highly satisfied with the General Meeting.  In addition, nearly 90% believed that the presenters were knowledgeable and effective or thought the strategies used by the presenters were appropriate in helping faculty and lecturers attain the goals and outcomes of this professional development event.

The following comments from the survey revealed that the participants were highly satisfied with the variety of topics covered at the General Meeting.  A few of the comments are as follows:

  • “A very well-presented meeting with useful information. Thank you!”
  • “The speakers were excellent. The breakrooms offered an excellent choice for me to gain the perspective of students.  It was well worth the time spent.  By far the best Professional Development I have received at OCC! “
  • “Thank you for the opportunity to meet new people and improve my online teaching. This was the best General Meeting yet. It was informative and interesting.”
  • “There was a great suggestion to use Voice Thread to engage students. I love the fact that all e-Learning meetings are one hour.  I am more likely to attend because the presenters always adhere to the schedule.”

The survey also revealed that 21% of participants would like to see more online courses or workshops offered for professional development, and 100% of those surveyed are interested in learning more about the new e-BreakRoom.

Professional Development Series on Artificial Intelligence

This semester, the e-Learning Department has structured its professional development series in response to the challenges presented by artificial intelligence (AI), ChatGPT, and other related influences that risk maintaining the integrity of student-produced coursework.

On February 16, 2023, 49 faculty attended the February Adjunct Roundtable, “Open Forum, A New Villain Enters – Artificial Intelligence, How Can I Make Sure My Students Are Real?”  The demonstrations of the effectiveness of the ChatGPT chatbot during this session opened the floor to many thought-provoking discussions related to student learning and the future direction of higher education with the advancement of technology.  A post-evaluation survey revealed that 95% of the faculty were “very satisfied” with the roundtable.

The February Adjunct Roundtable professional development session also introduced the broader discussions the department will present in a four-part series on artificial intelligence to be held in March and April.

The e-Learning Department is currently presenting a four-part professional development series to the OCC community.  The series focuses on generative artificial intelligence and the challenges and opportunities it presents to online and traditional educators.  The sessions are taking place throughout March and April 2023.  Faculty can enroll for a session through the NeoEd platform.

On March 2, 2023, Session I, Artificial Intelligence, and ChatGPT, was hosted, and 23 OCC faculty and administration members attended the session.  The team of presenters explored the innovative technology of the ChatGPT chatbot and how it impacts teaching and student learning in online and traditional education.  The history, opportunities, and challenges of AI  in education were explored, laying the groundwork for more in-depth discussions of this vast topic for the other sessions in the series.  Attendees learned tips on how it can be managed in their courses.

The following sessions will take place via Webex:

Session II: Designing, Teaching, and Learning with AI

Date: Thursday, March 23, 2023

Time: 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Presenter:  Ms. Laura Wingler, e-Learning Lead Instructional Designer

This session will focus on using AI to assist faculty and help students learn.  From designing engaging assessments to illustrating information in diverse ways, participants will learn how to use AI to construct concrete learning objectives, generate effective student feedback, and brainstorm ideas that inspire creative work.

Session III:  Artificial Intelligence and Academic Writing

Date:  Thursday, March 30, 2023

Time:  7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Presenter:  Dr. Jack Kelnhofer, e-Learning College Lecturer II in English

As applications like Chat GPT and others grab headlines across the globe, writing and literature instructors face increased challenges in teaching fundamental writing and communication skills.  A “perfect storm” is brewing as employers increasingly seek college graduates with strong writing and communication skills.  Yet, new technologies make it easier for students to appear to have mastered them.  Artificial intelligence is altering how faculty teach writing and communications courses.  In this session, faculty will learn the best practices to manage the changing times in higher education.

Session IV:  Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science Courses

Date:  Thursday, April 6, 2023

Time:  7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Presenter:  Dr. Binh Dang, e-Learning College Lecturer II Computer Science

The use of ChatGPT is challenging to detect.  Artificial intelligence applications like ChatGPT have gained popularity and raised serious concerns about students using ChatGPT to complete assignments.  Participants will examine the benefits, challenges, and potential solutions to ChatGPT to incorporate ChatGPT appropriately and effectively learn and teach various methodologies in a computer science course.

Master Course Development Kick-Off Meeting

The Content Developer Training is a three-week online training course for Subject Matter Experts to become proficient in the course design process.  It provides an overview of the course development procedures and the attributes of a quality online course.  The entire course development process is a collaborative partnership between the Developer, Reviewer, and Instructional Designer, who create an engaging, interactive master course that reinforces the course learning outcomes.  After completing the training, the Subject Matter Experts will begin with their respective course developments.

To complete the onboarding of newly hired online Master Course Developers and Reviewers, the e-Learning Deans hosted the department’s second Master Course Development Kick-Off training for the academic year on February 2, 2023.  The new cohort in the department’s online course development training was comprised of five faculty hired as Subject Matter Experts in Computer Science, Finance, Social Work, and Supply Chain.

Topics included multiple learning styles, Bloom’s Taxonomy, a discussion on rubric criteria, and Open Educational Resources (OER).  A recorded OER training was provided by Ms. Donna Rosinski-Kauz, Director of Library Services.

February Adjunct Roundtable

On February 16, 2023, adjunct faculty participated in the February Adjunct Roundtable, “Open Forum, A New Villain Enters – Artificial Intelligence, How Can I Make Sure My Students Are Real?”

During a breakout session, attendees debated the capabilities and limitations of artificial intelligence in higher education.  They examined best practices to ensure that their students were legitimately enrolled. Mr. Neil Mastroianni, Associate Director of Educational Technology, and Ms. Janice Salerno, College Lecturer II in Business, illustrated the effectiveness of the ChatGPT chatbot by demonstrating its ability to answer questions and summarize information.

The adjunct faculty explored ways to ensure their students are authentic and shared the best practices for course management and engaging students in their courses.  Best practices were shared to connect students to others within their course community by promoting peer consultation in projects and group work.  Lastly, the participants discussed how implementing open-ended questions in course discussions can enhance student communication, critical thinking, and collaboration skills.

March Adjunct Roundtable

The March Adjunct Roundtable will occur on March 16, 2023, at 6:00 p.m.  The meeting will focus on supporting students in online courses and providing adjunct faculty with various options to engage with struggling students.

Check-in Chats

Individualized virtual office hours have been increasingly popular in the new year.  An average of 16 faculty and lecturers attended each week, and 128 attended over eight weeks.  These informal Check-in Chats occur weekly every Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. and are hosted by the Assistant Dean of e-Learning.  The chats evolved due to problems with a “one size fits all” approach when helping instructors, the need to address teaching pedagogy, and to assist faculty and lecturers in constructing learning experiences in their online classes.  Using a collaborative model, instructors can present their issues and ideas to colleagues and share ways to resolve their concerns or bring innovative ideas that benefit students in achieving the learning objectives.

2023 Distance Education Conference – e-Learning to Present

The e-Learning academic leadership, administration, faculty members, and lecturers will present at the 2023 Distance Education Conference on March 31, 2023, at Mercer Institute in West Windsor Township, New Jersey.

At the conference, Ms. Vivian Lynn, e-Learning Dean, Dr. Meredith Riddle, e-Learning Assistant Dean, and Mr. Neil Mastroianni, Associate Director of Educational Technology, will present strategies for developing professional development for online faculty.  Their presentation will highlight the benefits of peer-to-peer instructional methods as they benefit students and the importance of maintaining a sense of community in online courses for both students and instructors.  They will also explain the several types of professional development events hosted by the department and share the respective goals for these events.

College Lecturer II in Biology Aqsa Sheikh and College Lecturer II in Psychology Kristen D’Amico will present engaging technologies that maximize asynchronous discussions and peer collaboration in online courses.  During their “Best Apps for Student Engagement” presentation, they will demonstrate the applications of Padlet and Flipgrid.  Conference attendees will learn how to use the applications and incorporate the technology into their courses.

e-Learning Personnel

The Academic Team has hired eight e-Learning adjuncts in the disciplines of Computer Science, English, Psychology, Social Work, and Supply Chain.  The new adjuncts will be paired with mentors, invited to attend monthly professional development sessions, and will enroll in the Online Instructor Training course.  Before accepting a teaching assignment, the adjunct must successfully complete the training course.  The Online Instructor Training provides the adjunct with the knowledge of best practices of the online teaching modality, how to prepare instructional content, and how to deliver a high-quality online learning experience to Ocean County College students.

International Programs

Dr. Essam El Kordi, President of Alamein International University (AIU), Dr. Rouchdy Zahran, AIU Board of Trustees Chair, and their spouses were hosted by OCC from January 28 through February 5, 2023.  During the week, the AIU team and OCC team of Vice President of e-Learning and Learning Enterprises Eileen Garcia, Associate Vice President of International Programs Maysa Hayward, Senior Liaison to the President for Institutional Initiatives Eileen Schilling, and I had meetings with representatives of University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), William Paterson University (WPU), Rutgers-Camden University (RU), and Kean University (KU).  The purpose of the visit was to discuss how the Egyptian consortium managed by AIU will work to offer Special Programs where students complete the first two years at OCC, the third year at an Egyptian university, and the fourth year at an American university.  In addition to the productive meetings, the AIU group had an opportunity to meet several members of the OCC Board of Trustees.

Dr. Maysa Hayward, Board of Trustees Chair Jerry Dasti, and I followed up on this visit when we traveled to Egypt during the last week of February and the first week of March to visit Ain Shams University and Badr University, as well as the Office of the Egyptian Minister of Higher Education, Dr. Mohamed Ayman Ashour.  All involved parties signed agreements for the collaboration between OCC, AIU, and William Paterson University, which the Egyptian Supreme Council recently approved.  This will allow International Programs to welcome the first cohort of students to the new program this Fall.  Dr. Ashour also asked OCC to finalize a pending STEM prep year bridge program proposal.

Finally, Badr University will start a recruiting campaign next week for the OCC-Kean-Badr triple degree business program.  International Programs is optimistic that the first cohort of students for this new program will begin in Fall 2023.

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