skip to main content
Search Button


March 24, 2022

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

OCC president Dr. Larson

The Bellwether College Consortium has named Ocean County College a winner of the highly-coveted Bellwether Award for its submission entitled Meet Reggie: the AI Chatbot Transforming Ocean County College.  This impressive achievement was announced during the 28th Annual Community College Futures Assembly (CCFA) in San Antonio, Texas, on March 1, 2022.

The nationally-recognized Bellwether Awards, established in 1995, are presented to institutions with cutting-edge, trendsetting programs, and it is considered one of the nation’s most prestigious honors for community colleges.  Public community colleges from all over the United States are invited to apply, and ten finalists in each of three categories are invited to present their programs in a final round of competition at the annual meeting.  One winner is selected from each category by a panel comprised of national experts.

Ocean County College took first place in the category of Planning, Governance, and Finance, which recognizes programs or activities that improve efficiency and effectiveness in the community college. Presenters Dr. Jerry Racioppi, Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Sheenah Hartigan, Executive Director of Enrollment Services, and Dr. Kate Mohr, Assistant Director of Enrollment Services, introduced the judging panel to OCC’s behaviorally intelligent chatbot, “Reggie.”

Return to Campus Update

The mask mandate for students and employees was rescinded effective March 10, 2022.  COVID-19 cases on the OCC campus as well as in the surrounding Ocean County community have recently dropped dramatically.  The State of New Jersey removed the mask mandate for K-12 schools.  Also, in its latest guidance, the CDC now advises that we not just consider regional case counts, but also factor in hospitalizations and hospital capacity, which have seen significant improvements.  The CDC reports that the COVID-19 Community Level for Ocean County is now low.

Despite this change, the OCC campus will remain “mask-friendly.”  Anyone wishing to wear a mask is encouraged to do so.  Restrictions are also being removed on travel for students and employees but, as previously communicated, employee travel remains voluntary.  KN-95 masks will continue to be available on campus, and testing will also continue on campus.  In addition, the Health Reporting hotline and associated procedures will remain in place.

Middle States Self-Study Update

The College continues to make progress on the Self-Study Report.  The seven Working Groups have received feedback from the Steering Committee and are now working on their second drafts.  Dr. Alexa Beshara-Blauth, Self-Study Co-Chair and Dr. Rosann Bar, Self-Study Editor and Standard II Working Group member, are meeting regularly with appointed members of each Working Group to address questions and assist in a smooth editing process.  Second drafts are due to the Steering Committee by April 22, 2022.

Center for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education

Dr. Ali Botein-Furrevig, Director of the Center for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education, shared the following recent activities:

  • The Center hosted a well-attended event, “My Life After Hate,” with keynote speaker/author Arno Michaelis, a former skinhead who discussed his journey from co-founder of the largest white supremacist organization in the world to an activist for compassion, who founded an international educational organization fostering tolerance and diversity in schools and communities.
  • A remote program, Crisis in Ukraine: Conflicting Borders and Alliances, was coordinated with History College Lecturers Stephen Downey and Justin Pfeifer. The discussion encompassed the current situation with historical background and an overview of Jews of Ukraine. They also worked with Ms. Solomia Spyrydon in Student Support Services to identify organizations accepting items for humanitarian aid.
  • In coordination with Dr. Henry Jackson, Executive Director of Academic Success, an antisemitism awareness curriculum was developed for students in grades 6 through 8, which will be be offered in schools later this semester.
  • Botein-Furrevig wrote two articles:
    • Fellow Wanderers: Parallels in Eastern European Jewish and Roma Law and Communal Life.   Romani Studies (Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society).
    • Stories My Nana Told Me: Life in the Sejny Shtetl. Association of Polish Jewry.

Academic Affairs

  • Recognition/Commendation
    The Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore recognizes outstanding women and men for their leadership and contributions to the community.  Nominees are individuals whose lives are rooted in the Girl Scouts’ ideals of courage, confidence, and character.  On April 27, 2022,  Dr. Antoinette Clay, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, will be among the 2022 awardees at the Women of Distinction and Community Partners Gala.  Awardees have a proven record of leadership in serving the community.
    • School of Arts and Humanities
      • Ameer Sohrawardy, English College Lecturer II, along with two seniors from Central Regional High School, Marina Condos and Riley Billhimer, will report at the March Board of Trustees meeting. The presentation will focus on two Shakespeare-related campus/community outreach events.  On October 19, 2021, Dr. Sohrawardy organized an event called “Shakespeare’s Whistleblowers: Ladies First!” as part of the Social Justice Series.  On December 9, 2021, 44 of the students who were in virtual attendance from Central Regional came to campus to learn more.  They participated in an interactive Shakespeare class about Julius Caesar, charismatic leaders, mob mentality, and civic responsibility.
      • Kathleen Basilotto, Assistant Professor of Humanities, shared several highlights from the American Sign Language Interpreter Training Program:
      • The Sign Language Society hosted a tarot card night on February 28, 2022.  Training program students and members of the Deaf Community were in attendance. During this event, students interpreted for the Deaf Community for their tarot card readings.
      • Ryan Luurtsema, Assistant Director of the Veterans and Military Resources Center, and Mr. Douglas Pentifallo, student veteran, spoke with students in Deaf Culture and History classes as part of the VETS (Veterans Engaging Teachers and Students) program. Students had the opportunity to hear about their cultural and interpreting experiences abroad.
      • Training program interactive interpreting students have been interpreting for various events on campus as part of their practicum hours. Students have interpreted for the following events on campus:
        • Ali Botein-Furrevig’s Holocaust presentations
        • Adjunct Assistant Professor Carmen Anderson’s psychology class
        • Writing Professional Tutor Daniel Al-Daqa’s lecture, “Better Design = Better Communication,” along with several professional development workshops hosted through the Academic and Tutoring Support Services Department
        • Two performances of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”
    • The Digital Mass Media Program held a Careers and Coffee panel discussion on successful interning and working in the television industry. Assistant Professor of Humanities Gary Shaffer led a panel discussion with Ms. Jessica Ross, production manager of the popular MTV show, “Teen Moms.”   Shaffer initiated the Careers and Coffee series to give students the opportunity to meet informally with professionals working in media and communications.  The online event drew over 38 OCC participants.  In addition, entire classrooms of high school students who study television tuned in from Jackson, Brick Memorial and the Ocean County Vocational Technical School.  Careers and Coffee continues the last Thursday of every month through the end of the semester.
    • College Lecturer II in Fine Arts Stephanie Shestakow attended the virtual College Art Association annual conference held February 16 through 19 and March 3 through 5, 2022. She attended sessions related to globalizing the art history curriculum, 18th century art, art history and social justice, and reflections on the pandemic in art history teaching.  In addition, on March 2, 2022, Ms. Shestakow presented a Slow-Looking Workshop for the School of Arts and Humanities adjunct series organized by College Lecturer II in English Heather Sciarappa.  This artful-thinking technique helps educators use works of visual art and music in ways that strengthen student thinking and learning in the arts and beyond.
    • On March 8, 2022, Dr. Justin Pfeifer and the OCC History Club hosted guest speaker Mark Mutter, former Toms River Township historian and OCC adjunct instructor, as he spoke about the historical origin of Toms River from colonial foundations to present in his presentation, “Where Did Toms River Come From?”
    • On March 11, 2022, the Music Club, with Instructor of Humanities Karin Gargone and College Lecturer II in Humanities Brian Gilmore, presented, “Deconstructing the Beatles – Revolver,” a film that explores the creative process in the making of the Beatles album, “Revolver” (1966).
    • The Social Justice Series continued on March 17, 2022, with “To Cancel, or Not to Cancel, that is the Question: A Student Debate on Speech Protection vs. Societal Corrections.” English Associate Professor Jayanti Tamm, Kean’s Student Government Association, the Philosophy Club, and History Club, among others, partnered to present this event.
    • On March 18, 2022, the Friday Afternoon Recital Series showcased a classical recital featuring pianist Alexander Lo. Listeners were delighted with selections from Chopin, Scriabin, and Tchaikovsky, including a piano arrangement of excerpts from “The Nutcracker.”
    • The OCC Repertory Theatre Company presented “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” from March 11 through 13 and 18 through 20, 2022, in the Black Box Theatre. The charming and heart-warming musical comedy, based on the Peanuts comics by Charles M. Shultz, was directed by College Lecturer II in Communications/Theatre Paul Chalakani and choreographed by Dr. Beth Brierley, Associate Professor of Humanities.
      • The Ocean County Teen Arts Festival took place on March 22 and 23, 2022.  Adjunct Assistant Professor in Humanities Dr. Sungji Kim served as an adjudicator at the festival and presented a voice master class.  Also, at the festival, College Lecturer II Brian Gilmore (piano), along with Adjunct Assistant Professors in Humanities Beomjae Kim (flute) and Do Yeon Kim (cello) performed and presented an information session promoting the music program at OCC.
    • School of Business and Social Sciences
    • College Lecturers in Business Studies Sean Bips and Chris Bottomley hosted HRTM (Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management) Connect on March 10, 2022, on the fifth floor of the Gateway Building. HRTM Connect brought together hospitality businesses and HRTM students to discuss industry trends, showcase customer service skills, and offer students potential career opportunities in local hospitality companies.
    • Nicole Kammer, College Lecturer II in Education, partnered with a New Jersey nonprofit organization, Inland Family Success Center. Students in her EDUC 277 class, Teaching Profession in America, will make virtual puzzle rooms for the program’s children to engage in educational activities.
    • Vincent Petrecca, College Lecturer II in Criminal Justice, hosted two guest lecturers, both OCC alumni, for criminal justice students. Detective Brant Uricks from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office spoke to students on March 2, 2022, about his career in law enforcement, including conducting homicide and cold case investigations.  Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer spoke to students on March 16, 2022, about the criminal justice system and his career as a defense attorney.  A Q&A session followed his presentation.
    • Through collaboration with the Grunin Center, College Lecturer II in Student Success Stephanie Frattini booked Mr. Max Darwin as a guest speaker for the Student Success Seminar classes in March. Darwin is a New York City-based actor and magician whose TV credits include “Sneaky Pete,” “FBI,” “Blindspot,” “Brain Games,” and host of “Game Farm” on Nickelodeon.  His theater show, “The Amazing Max,” has received rave reviews from the New York Times and played off-Broadway and on tour around the country.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Darwin pivoted his business and created a Virtual Magic Academy.
  • School of Nursing and Health Sciences
    • Nursing lecturers attended a virtual educational program, “Flipping-Scrambling the Classroom: A Magical Approach to Learning, Part 1” on February 23, 2022. Objectives of this program were to assist nursing faculty to develop the foundation for active learning throughout the Nursing program.  The second part of this educational program will be offered on March 30, 2022.
    • On March 2, 2022, Ms. Amy Keefe of the New Jersey Sharing Network, presented information to graduating nursing students related to organ and tissue donation. Students are required to attend a presentation discussing organ and tissue donation processes in New Jersey by the Board of Nursing as part of the Nursing program curriculum.
    • Donna Bonacorso RN, MSN, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President for Patient Care Services, Community Medical Center, presented information to graduating students regarding the nurse residency program at CMC on March 2, 2022. Ms. Bonacorso discussed the application process as well as the schedule of events included in this year-long program.
    • Timothy Sperling, MSN, MBA, RN, CEN, Director of Corporate Case Management at RWJ Barnabas Health Network, met with students preparing to graduate the Nursing program on March 2, 2022. Mr. Sperling discussed his journey in nursing, including positions he held as staff nurse, clinical information system analyst, educator, manager, and nurse leader.  He also discussed his experiences related to practicing as a male nurse in a predominantly female profession.
    • Mary Fennessy, BA, MAS, Director of Program Services, represented the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at a Pre-Nursing Information Session on March 4, 2022. Information sessions are held for students who intend to enter the Nursing program.  This information session was also held virtually.
  • School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
    • With the use of OCC’s immersive technology, College Lecturer II in Mathematics Dan Keiser is teaching a course that meets on Mondays at the Southern Education Center and Wednesdays on the Toms River main campus. There are 10 students in Toms River and 6 students at the SEC.  On Mondays, the Toms River students can watch and listen remotely; on Wednesdays. the SEC students can watch and listen remotely.   Keiser reports that class participation is great and the students seem to be happy with the opportunity.  One positive aspect of this technology is that it offers students in the southern end of the county a chance to take a class that might not have run because of low enrollment on the campus or at the SEC.
    • OCC continues to develop and promote the new Associate in Applied Science and Certificate of Completion programs in Artificial Intelligence that were launched in partnership with Intel in the Fall, based on their AI for Workforce Program.  Faculty and lecturers are engaged in the development of the Introduction to Machine Learning (CSIT 192) course, based on materials provided by Intel and Sustainable Living Lab. This course will be available for students starting in the Fall 2022 semester.  The College is also working with Intel as a course-material reviewer for Computer Vision (CSIT 291), which will be available in the Spring 2023 semester. Materials reviewed include presentation slides, quizzes, and projects for the course.
    • In addition to course development and program promotion, OCC submitted a grant request for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Artificial Intelligence Incubator Network Initiative, which is an eighteen-month initiative that aims to design and build AI incubators across the country utilizing the expertise and industry connections of America’s community college system, with funding from Dell Technologies and Intel. AACC believes that AI has become an increasingly important and relevant field of study across multiple occupational areas and industry sectors.  The program will support colleges seeking to design and build an AI incubator as a physical laboratory on campus, on a virtual platform or as both in a hybrid model.
    • Roger Marino, adjunct faculty member in Engineering, has been awarded $6,000 for his Construction Methods and Materials proposal.  His project, submitted in the fifth round of Open Textbook Collaborative (OTC) proposal offerings, is to create a complete digital toolkit for a course in Construction Methods and Materials, so as to reduce costs for students by replacing traditional vendor-produced course materials. This project is awarded by the Advisory Council of the OTC, a New Jersey higher education project funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
    • Wednesdays with STEM continues through the Spring semester: Jeremy Bar presented “Careers in Data Science” on March 9, 2022; Mr. Rick Bushnell, Chairman of the Board of ReClam the Bay, presented “Revolution in Cancer Immunotherapy” on March 16, 2020; and Mr. Frankie Mennicucci, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Mathematics, will present “Coloring Numbers” on April 6, 2022.
    • Science College Lecturers Angel Camilo and Caterina Gibson will provide bi-weekly, hourly training sessions to prepare faculty for the HyFlex teaching format for Summer sessions. In addition, Dr. Camilo and Dr. Gibson will assist faculty with Canvas course shell development using the newly designed course skeleton.
    • Through OCC’s Educational Partnership Agreement (EPA) with NAVAIR, the School of STEM will be awarded 350 Samsung TAB S2 tablets. These will be used in classrooms, for extracurricular activities, and as an outreach tool with K-12 Ocean County students.
    • STEM is supporting OCC’s industry partners at NAVAIR with the New Jersey Regional Seaperch event (underwater robotics competition).  The OCC Engineering Club has volunteered to build the obstacle course. In addition to that activity, more volunteers are needed for the event on April 9, 2022.  This may also be a good opportunity for students and others to attend the event.
    • Pam Bogdan, College Lecturer II in Engineering, kicked off Engineering Week, February 21 through 25, 2022, with a paper airplane competition held on the campus mall, followed by an evening of speed mentoring and a resume workshop. She also hosted a remote speaker panel on “Engineering Career Readiness.”Ms. Bogdan will present “Experiential Learning – Accelerating Students Toward their Careers” on April 27, 2022, at the 2022 National Summit for Educational Equity.  This presentation will be presented jointly with our industry partners at UNEX Manufacturing, LLC, in Lakewood.  A similar talk was given as a best-practices talk to the American Technical Education Association.Ms. Bogdan’s presentation proposal, “Enabling Jobs and Other Experiential Learning Through Industry Partnerships,” for the 2022 Community College Showcase has been accepted.  The goal was to choose proposals that align with the conference theme, provide attendees with a variety of topics, and promote diversity and social justice.  The presentation will take place on June 22, 2022.
    • Starting in the Fall 2022 semester, the School is anticipating offering two newly developed courses as part of OCC’s cybersecurity curriculum: CSIT 241, Cybersecurity Legal and Regulatory Overview, and CSIT 277, Introduction to Cloud Computing.  Cybersecurity Legal and Regulatory Overview will prepare students to develop security policy, processes, and procedures to prevent, protect, and respond to cybersecurity risks and attacks.The course will be offered in two parts over fifteen weeks.  The first part of the course will review the laws, regulations, and ethics associated with cybercrime, data privacy, and cryptography.  The second part of the course, based on EC-Council’s Forensics Essentials, will offer instruction and hands-on virtual labs in methodological procedures and techniques that help identify, gather, preserve, extract, interpret, document, and present evidence from computing equipment.Introduction to Cloud Computing is a fifteen-week course based on Amazon Web Services Academy’s Introduction to Cloud:  Semester 1 Curriculum.  In this course, students explore cloud computing services, applications, and use cases via classroom instruction and virtual labs.  Students dive deeply into cloud computing best practices and learn how cloud computing helps users develop a global infrastructure to support use cases at scale while also developing and inventing innovative technologies.In addition, OCC has continued its cybersecurity seminar series into the Spring semester with a well-attended talk presented by Mr. Dan Walsh, Chief Information Security Officer of VillageMD, the leading national provider of value-based primary care services.  Mr. Walsh spoke on the use of a Software Bill of Materials to handle complex supply chain dependencies by managing cybersecurity vulnerabilities in product and service offerings.
    • College Lecturer II in Biology Lincoln Simmons added two new members to the Environmental Management Perkins Advisory Committee: James Dallas, President of Centric Environmental Solutions, and Mr. Frank McFadden from NJDEP.   Committee member Devon McCurry from Orsted indicated work is being done with Atlantic Cape Community College for offshore safety training; Mr. Devon suggested there may be other safety training opportunities OCC can explore with Orsted.  Additionally the Advisory Committee co-chair, Mr. Jim Nuccio, just joined Westinghouse, a global energy company, which will be a great fit for OCC’s program.Mr. Simmons met with the Superintendent of OCVTS, Ms. Karen Homiek, at the Monmouth Ocean Development Council luncheon.  Discussion is underway regarding offering OCC certificates to OCVTS students.  Outreach is also occurring with Kean University to schedule an articulation meeting for OCC’s Sustainability and Industrial Hygiene/Hazardous Materials Management certificates and associate degree.  Mr. Jim Campbell, Coordinator of Enrollment and Outreach, is heading an integrated outreach program designed to drive students to OCC certificates.  Mr. Campbell will be presenting this initiative at the next advisory board meeting.
    • Under the direction of Mr. Scott Farrell, College Lecturer II in Science, HOSA-Future Health Professional students attended the NJ HOSA State Leadership Conference the weekend of March 19, 2022. Students competed in their individual events.  Those who placed in the top three of their events will be competing at HOSA’s International Leadership Conference from June 22 to 25, 2022.  The OCC students who competed include Danielle D’Allassandro (medical reading), Kasey D’Amato (medical terminology), Joseph Krisak (pathophysiology), Nancy Natividad Cruz (pharmacology), and Christa Rodriguez (medical spelling).
  • Center for Academic Success
    • The Center for Academic Success will be hosting a Perkins showcase for the photography program on March 25, 2022. Point Pleasant Boro will be bringing 30 students to OCC to visit the photography lab and take pictures around campus.
    • Toms River Regional schools, OCC, and Georgian Court University are exploring a Teacher Education Pathway program. Students would take courses at all three locations with a goal of obtaining a teacher education degree with a guaranteed teaching job within the Toms River School District upon degree completion.  Teacher education degree options also would include Kean University and Stockton University.
    • College Readiness Now VII testing is going well. Test results to date indicate 460 students were tested in English, with 262 needing remediation, and 545 were tested in math, with 435 needing remediation.  The College Readiness Now grant has provided students access to introductory courses from one of OCC’s certificate/degree programs.  For the Spring semester, the grant is covering tuition for 22 Lacey students taking Environmental Sustainability, 10 students taking Introduction to Robotics at Lakewood High School, and a HyFlex MATH 158 course being offered on OCC’s campus with 8 College Readiness Now students participating remotely from a classroom at Lacey Township High School.
    • Discussions are underway with Donovan Catholic High School about becoming an additional embedded location and with Manchester High School to increase its course offerings in the discipline of music. We are also working with Mr. James Marshall, Assistant Director of Assessment, on general education assessment this Spring for courses in written communications and information literacy, which will include English and history courses.
  • HyFlex Course Offerings
    • Academic Affairs, in collaboration with the Deans, Student Affairs, and IT, has identified more than 30 summer sections that will be taught in full HyFlex modality wherein students have the flexibility to decide to attend the course in person or remotely.
    • In preparation for the launch of HyFlex course sections this Summer and the Canvas skeleton template, workshops are being scheduled to prepare instructors. Evening workshops on Canvas template and using HyFlex are being scheduled for adjunct faculty and will be led by College Lecturer II Ibrahim Moustafa in the second half of the Spring semester.  College Lecturer II Angel Camillo also will be holding weekly office hours to support these workshops and help on a one-on-one basis as needed.  Workshops are also being scheduled specifically for college lecturers and faculty during regular business hours to ensure that all instructors are prepared for the Summer sessions.  Other upcoming professional development initiatives include LinkedIn Learning and a new Faculty Development and Innovation Center.  Information about these initiatives will be available in the near future.
  • Tutoring Center
    This semester has started with a great student demand for tutoring support services.  The Tutoring Center has had 1,104 visits through the first five weeks of the semester with 334 unique students.  Further, as evidenced by the number of virtual sessions, it is clear that students still want to utilize the Center’s online tutoring support.  There has been a total of 263 virtual sessions, including both asynchronous and synchronous.  On a post-session survey, a student commented, “I think it’s a great way to study before an exam or if you’re just not understanding something, and I’m very happy that I can take online [live tutoring] sessions.”

Finance and Administration

  • Executive Order No. 291
    Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Order No. 291 on March 2, 2022, in response to the ongoing conflict and crisis in Ukraine.  Pursuant to the Order, the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) is reviewing its statutes, rules, regulations, and program requirements to identify actions that may be taken to deliver swift and severe consequences to Russia and to significantly impair Russia’s ability to use its economy and financial system to further its unprovoked invasion and unlawful occupation of Ukraine.  In order to further these reviews, OSHE required all licensed institutions of higher education to disclose any institution-level agreements entered into by the institution with entities located within either the Russian Federation or Belarus.  A search was conducted and OCC reported it does not have any agreements or initiatives implicating the Russian Federation or Belarus.
  • Support Staff Association Negotiations
    Negotiations with the Supportive Staff Association are underway.  Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration Sara Winchester and Associate Vice President of Human Resources Tracey Donaldson are representing the College at the table.  The current contract expires on June 30, 2022.
  • PBC Funding
    The budget for FY2023 was approved at the February Board meeting.  The budget included an allocation of $417,595 for new initiatives proposed to the Planning and Budgeting Council (PBC).  The new funding will support a new Speech Lab for communications courses, a Compliance Officer for the Student Affairs Division, a College Lecturer for Health Care Administration, a College Lecturer for Supply Chain Management, and an Operations Specialist for Workforce and Professional Development.
  • College Relations
    • Michael Leon, Graphic Design Manager, led an effort to brand OCC’s Camps on Campus program with a new logo. In collaboration with Grunin Center Assistant Director of Marketing and Sales Jessica Zawerczuk and College Relations Graphic Design Specialist Nicole Howard, a 20-page summer camp catalog was designed to advertise this valuable family resource.  The camp will provide STEAM and SPORTS programs, such as Advanced Robotics, Music, Video Game Animation, Co-Ed Basketball, and a Co-Ed Soccer clinic.  To reach a wide audience, with print cost savings, the program will be advertised digitally, with an expectation of reaching over 2,500 email addresses.  The Camps on Campus Catalog is expected to be posted and distributed in April 2022.
    • The web team collaborated with Dr. Alexa Beshara Blauth, Executive Director of Institutional Planning, Effectiveness, and Compliance, on a Colloquium Workshop web page focused on the College’s reaccreditation process by the Middles States Commission on Higher Education. This resource, housed on the Faculty and Staff Portal, provides access to presentations made by the seven working groups on their findings in the self-evaluation process, including the evidence examined to demonstrate the College is in compliance with a set of quality measures and standards.  A link to the College’s Middle States Accreditation Process web page is available for review.
  • Alumni
    • The Annual BlueClaws OCC Picnic for Students, Alumni, Faculty, and Staff will take place on Friday, August 5, 2022. Tickets will be available for purchase online soon and will include admission to the ballpark for an evening game and a buffet dinner.
    • The Annual SUP the River Paddle Board Race, co-hosted by the OCC Foundation and the Kiwanis Club of Toms River, is scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2022, at the Toms River Yacht Club. The race is open to all OCC alumni and constituents as well as local community members.  All proceeds will support the OCC Foundation and Kiwanis Club.  Volunteer opportunities are available for anyone interested in getting involved.
  • Grunin Center
    • The Grunin Center received a $50,000 grant from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals to support the development and performance of a new piece by Ephrate Asherie Dance.
    • Performances in March and April 2022 include:
      • March 11-20, 2022 – “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” by the OCC Repertory Theatre Company
      • March 19, 2022 – Louis Prima Jr.
      • March 26, 2022 – “The Tortoise and the Hare” (Family Show)
      • March 27, 2022 – Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon
      • April 1, 2022 – The Ten Tenors
  • Planetarium
    The new state-of-the-art planetarium projector system, Digistar 7, will be installed at the end of March.  The Digistar 7 features 3D models and instant real-time access to an extensive cloud of astronomy and science databases from NASA and NOAA available to universities and planetariums worldwide.
  • Foundation
    • The application period for graduating awards remains open through April 18, 2022. Please encourage all eligible graduating students to apply online.
    • The annual college-wide fund request period will open March 22 and close April 18, 2022. The application form may be found online in the Forms section of the Faculty and Staff Portal. All OCC requests are welcome and fund decisions will be announced by the beginning of May for budget planning into the coming fiscal year.
    • Eileen Garcia, Vice President of e- Learning and Learning Enterprises, and Foundation Executive Director Ken Malagiere co-chair the campus-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. A two-day DEI consultant-led training by Ellucian took place on March 10 and 11, 2022.
    • As noted above, Louis Prima Jr. will perform on campus on March 19, 2022. A very special thank you to the Grunin Center Team for organizing this event, two years in the making due to the postponement as a result of the global health crisis.This special celebration of the arts will include a cocktail reception at the Gia Maione Prima Studio Theater at the Grunin Performing Arts Academy, with a concert to follow with Louis Prima Jr. and the Witnesses.  Tickets are available now at
    • On Friday, April 1, 2022, the Foundation will host the TEN Tenors to a sold-out house at the Grunin Center. One of the Foundation signature events, this promises to be a wonderful evening as they present “Love is in the Air.”  Appreciation is expressed to the many community sponsors and supporters of this event.
    • The Blauvelt Speaker Series
      • April 7, 2022 – Inspirational educator and creativity enthusiast JoAnn Nocera will be on the Main Stage at 9:30 a.m.
      • April 11, 2022 – Bravo’s Below Deck Captain Sandy will visit OCC and discuss overcoming obstacles, addiction recovery, and her extensive maritime career at 11:00 a.m. on the Grunin Center Main Stage.
      • May 19, 2022 – An Evening with explorer, producer, author, and social entrepreneur Philippe Cousteau will take place at 6:30 p.m. on the Grunin Center Main Stage.
    • Summer Scholarship Celebration
      Please join us for an evening on our beautiful campus mall, on June 24, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. for the Summer Scholarship Reception.  The event will honor:
      • Rosann Bar, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Business and Social Sciences, and Patricia Gianotti, Ph.D., LCADA, College Lecturer II in Addictions – For the Establishment of the Addictions and Counseling Program
      • Alison Noone, M.B.A. – For Outstanding Dedication to the Operation of the Helping Hands Food Pantry
      • The Wintrode Family Foundation – For the Establishment of the Roberta W. Wintrode Memorial Fund
  • Security
    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  February 23, 2022, through March 22, 2022.

Student Affairs

  • Advise – Retention Pilot Program
    In Spring 2022, Advising, the HUB, Academic Affairs, e-learning, and IT collaborated to implement Advise across the 15-week and accelerated terms in a large-scale pilot designed to identify and address students’ needs and connect them to resources in real-time.  Critical to this effort were a team of faculty, who, as part of the pilot, used Advise to quickly alert retention coaches when they had concerns surrounding students’ grades, attendance, participation, and/or assignments. These efforts were supported by targeted and automated communications to students with lower than a 70% in their classes. The coaches used alerts, coupled with early warning indicators, to facilitate proactive, action-driven outreach to students that is documented and tracked in Advise.  Utilizing Advise has afforded OCC critical insight into students’ learning experiences during the semester that will be used to add additional communicative touchpoints and to expand the pilot in Fall 2022.
    At Thursday’s meeting, a presentation will be made on the success of the Retention Pilot Program by Dr. Sheenah Hartigan, Executive Director of Enrollment Services; Dr. Kate Mohr, Assistant Director of Enrollment Services; and Ms. Anna Regan, Executive Director of Enrollment Services.
  • Advising
    • Training
      The Advising Office is hosting multiple training opportunities this Spring for all campus advisors.  Topics include using Student Planning; Advising for Transfer, hosted by Transfer Coordinator Laura Wills; and Advising for Pre-Nursing Students, hosted by Assistant Director Michele Connolly.
    • Advising Information Sessions
    • The Advising Office is offering a series of virtual advising events for students in preparation for Fall 2022 registration.
    • Associate Director Shirley Baker is coordinating three Pre-Nursing information sessions in collaboration with Records and Registration, Academic Affairs, and the School of Nursing. Additionally, Ms. Laura Wills is hosting a transfer workshop for Nursing majors.
    • Laura Wills is also hosting transfer sessions to educate students on the college application process, transfer of credits, and the role of the grade point average on transfer admissions.
    • NJ STARS Coordinator Jennifer Kipp is hosting a Pre-Nursing information session for NJ STARS students, which will focus on options for how the NJ STARS program can be used when pursuing OCC’s Nursing program.
    • Transfer
      Ms. Laura Wills has been busy organizing the following events for students:
      • Hosting Instant Decision Days to provide easy access for admission to students graduating from OCC:
        • New Jersey City University
        • Stockton University
        • Kean-Ocean
        • Fairleigh Dickinson University
        • Drew University
        • Rowan University
        • Monmouth University
        • Montclair State University
      • Visiting college representatives are invited to provide opportunities for students to access information about transfer colleges. These important meetings help students understand the expectations for admission as well as tuition, scholarships, and housing. Every semester the number of participating colleges increases and all partner institutions are invited.  In addition to being on campus, some colleges and universities were able to provide drop-in virtual hours for flexibility.  The following colleges have visited OCC to assist students:
        • Centenary University
        • Felician University
        • Rowan University
        • New Jersey City University
        • Berkeley College
        • John’s University
        • Saint Elizabeth University
        • Kean Ocean
        • Rider University
        • Fairleigh Dickinson University
        • Stockton University
        • Penn State University
        • Chestnut Hill College
        • Thomas Edison State University
        • Georgian Court University
        • LaSalle University – Online BSN
        • Southern New Hampshire University
        • SUNY Maritime College
    • Veterans Advising
      • On March 9, 2022, a virtual site visit was held with an external evaluator for the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success (CEVSS) grant project.  The Advising Office reported the following initiatives to support the persistence and retention goals of the grant project:
      • All student veterans are enrolled in a Canvas Advising course which contains resources for major, transfer, registration, and graduation; FAQs and advising tips; and announcements about important dates and upcoming events.  Advisor Deeanne Gatta-Salter facilitates and manages this course, and students are able to contact and communicate with the advisor directly through this course.
      • Students are able to meet with Advisor Deeanne Gatta-Salter in-person or remotely by appointment. The Veterans Advisor is also available for walk-in advising.  Course plans are created for students each semester before registration to keep them on track with the recommended courses for their degree programs.  Referrals are also made for campus resources, as needed, including tutoring services, financial aid, and disabilities services for students who are seeking accommodations.
      • When veteran students are called to active duty during a semester, Ms. Gatta-Salter assists students in making arrangements with their professors for their in-progress courses, in keeping with College and State policies.
      • Advising has collaborated with the Veterans and Military Resources Center and Financial Aid to offer workshops for veterans to review information related to course planning and registration; services at the VMRC; and financial aid/veterans’ benefits.
      • Advising participates in bi-weekly meetings with other OCC staff who are working with veteran and military-affiliated students to discuss student concerns, in-progress initiatives, upcoming events, and new business.  The purpose of the meetings is to coordinate services with Enrollment Services, Financial Aid, and the VMRC to support this student population and improve campus processes for veterans.
      • Advising collaborates with Enrollment Management and Financial Aid to create a cohesive communication plan for veteran students in the Advise CRM. This plan will include veteran-specific messages at key points of the semester and also provide early alerts for students who may need referrals for academic support services.  This communication plan is continuing to be developed to best meet the needs of the veteran student population.
  • Office of Disability Services
    • Assistant Director Jamie Arasz Prioli was selected as a contributing member of the RESNA Standards Committee on Emergency Stair Travel Devices (ESTD). RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, is comprised of several Standards Committees, and the ESTD Committee received approval from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to publish a new version of their standard known as ED-1:  American National Standard for Evacuation Devices–Volume 1:  Emergency Stair Travel Devices Used by Individuals with Disabilities.
    • Disability Services continues to support students through the provision of accommodation services. The office shares several virtual events through the OCC app, including free access to worldwide events, such as Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month.
      • To promote community engagement and support, Disability Services continues to collaborate and serve as chair of the Ocean County Core Advisory Group – Emergency Preparedness for Individuals with Disabilities. Staff attended the quarterly meeting hosted by the Ocean County Commission for Individuals with Disabilities.  Meetings focus on addressing trends within the community and identifying barriers and resources for individuals with access and functional needs.
  • Career Services
    • Career Services now occupies the old Financial Aid office in the Administration Building. The office moved in mid-February.  Facilities renovated the space to accommodate the office, employer, and student needs.  Hours are advertised as Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    • Workshops
      Seven workshops are scheduled for the Spring 2022 semester.  Each workshop will be offered in a Hy-Flex classroom, giving students the option to attend in-person or virtually via WebEx. Topics include resume writing, career and major exploration, job and internship searching, and career fair preparation.  Four workshops are co-sponsored by the Veterans and Military Resources Center, which will include specific information for veterans and military-affiliated students and their families.
    • Events
      • Career Services hosted a virtual Career and Internship Fair on March 2, 2022. There were 36 employers in attendance with 28 unique student/employer connections.  The Part-Time Job Fair will be held outside on the campus mall on April 5, 2022, with 30 employers registered at this time.  Employers can register on Handshake until March 25, 2022.  Students can view the list of employers on Handshake and will have access to the booth map in the days leading up to the fair.  Promotional materials are in the process of being developed to begin promoting the Part-Time Job Fair across campus.
      • Kirsten Bollinger, Career Services Coordinator, worked closely with Mr. Sean Bips, College Lecturer II in Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management, to plan and execute “HRTM Connect” on March 10, 2022. Ms. Bollinger invited 13 employers to campus to network with students and provide insight to the industry.  Mr. Bips coordinated all of the event logistics, working with other departments across campus.  Career Services provided the funding for the floral arrangements and distributed flyers and branded items at the check-in table. The event had a great student turn-out.
      • Appointments
        Ms. Bollinger has met with 60 students to discuss career/major exploration, resume writing, and their job/internship search since January 2022.  This is an average of six students per week.  However, during the week of March 14-18, 2022, she met with 12 students, which is the most students in one week since beginning this role in April 2021.
  • Counseling Center
    The Counseling Center continues to provide an array of activities and programs during the Spring semester, both in person and virtually. Some services include:
    • The Holleran suicide prevention notification was released to New Jersey students.
    • Counselors Katie Hueth and Darra Stack presented to the School of Humanities and the Arts.
    • Student Intervention Specialist Kelly Petrolis presented on Veterans Mental Health in collaboration with Ms. Jamie Prioli and Ms. Jennifer Garcia of the VITAL Program.
    • The Singing Bowls meditation provided inspiration and relaxation to participants.
    • Counseling’s community partner, Hope Sheds Light, joined the table in the Larson Student Center to share information and resources about the recovery program.
    • Recognizing the increasing need for stress reduction and management, the Center continues Relax and Recharge sessions, hosted by Ms. Kelly Petrolis.
    • On March 30, 2022, Ms. Darra Stack, Student Intervention Specialist, will present “Guidance in Grief,” developed in response to students’ increasing concerns about grief, bereavement, and loss. April will be a busy month of programming.   Rachel Piazza returns to present her well-received seminar, “Empowerment Self-Defense,” on April 14, 2022.  Another session of Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) will be offered on April 29, 2022.  The Center will sponsor Mental Health First Aid training, an eight-hour evidence-based program, in collaboration with the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, on April 22, 2022; registration ends on April 1, 2022.
    • The Counseling Center is partnering with the Veterans and Military Resources Center during Wellness Week. April will be recognized as Alcohol Use Awareness month and as Sexual Violence Prevention month.  On April 7, 2022, the Recovery Program will be providing resources in the Student Center; and on April 27, 2022, Denim Day will be recognized as the end to sexual violence in collaboration with our community partner, Providence House.
    • Since July 1, 2021, the CARE Team has handled 724 CARE reports. This is 130 more reports than in the same time frame in 2020-2021; in fact, there were a total of 816 reports from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021.  The CARE Team thanks the members of the campus community for their diligence in reporting concerning behaviors and students who are experiencing challenges which impact their academic success.
    • Through the Recovery Support Program, a vision board workshop, Crystal Singing Bowls Meditation, Compulsive Gambling Prevention, was offered in collaboration for the New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling and an anti-stigma campaign with program participants wearing “Ask me about Recovery” shirts, promoting positive discussion about recovery among students. In addition, the “Sober Spring Break” event with Hope Sheds Light, will offer social activities promoting recovery for students.  As of March 2022, the Recovery Support Program has reached 186 students.  In addition, Ms. Katie Hueth, Prevention Education Coordinator, provided training to students on “Ethical Considerations in Recovery Coaching” through the Center for Addiction Recovery Training.
    • The academic intervention programs, Restore Your Score (RYS) and Starfish, have conducted outreach to students, updates of the non-credit Canvas courses, expansion to students with probation sanctions, and introductory workshops. There are 60 students in the RYS Program, and about one-third have had at least one contact with Ms. Kelly Petrolis, the RYS counselor.  The second program, Starfish, with approximately 380 students, provides services to students who are in the first level of academic sanction; Ms. Petrolis and Ms. Heather Mayer, Case Manager/Mental Health Technician, work with this program.
    • The Displaced Homemakers Program is currently working with 108 clients. Four clients are enrolled in OCC degree programs for a total of 23 credits; one client is enrolled in Rutgers and one is with Kean Ocean.  Four clients are in WPE job skills programs (medical billing and coding, EKG, and medical insurance).  The program continues to provide computer skills, life skills, and career/employment workshops. The Displaced  Homemakers Program has developed outreach plans with new partners, including the U.S. Air Force (Recovery Care Coordinator), Ocean Connection, Salvation Army, and the Ocean County Board of Social Services Substance Abuse Initiative program.  Additionally, the program staff have increased their efforts to enhance partnerships with Catholic Charities’ Providence House, Dottie’s House, libraries, schools, churches, and mental health community providers.
    • The Counseling staff is committed to continuous professional development. They attended training on Mental Health First Aid, trauma, ethics and legal standards, cultural competence, counseling with specific populations (veterans and military related, LGBTQ+) and skill building in CBT, EMDR, recovery, addiction, and other counseling related topics.
  • Financial Aid
    • The Department of Education’s fiscal year 2022 budget was signed last week. The budget includes a $400 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award, bringing the total to $6,895 for the 2022-2023 award year.
    • The White House extended the coronavirus national emergency, which was set to expire on March 1, 2022. For financial aid offices, the announcement extends verification flexibilities, use of the return of Title IV funds (R2T4) waiver and withdrawal benefits, as well as the transferal of unused Federal Work-Study funds into the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program. These flexibilities are being extended by one year, unless the national emergency is ended before then.
  • Southern Education Center
    • Academic class schedules for the Fall 2022 semester at the Southern Education Center have been provided to the Academic Administrators in preparation for the Fall registration period. In addition to the OCC courses, collaboration with the Workforce and Professional Education program has been completed to continue Adult Basic Education courses at the SEC.  Finally, discussions have taken place to restart SEC-based Kean Ocean Fall 2022 classes.
    • The SEC will also have Summer First-Five Week and Second Five-Week courses available for students. Toni Ann DiPasquale, Academic Advisor, SEC, has completed outreach and training sessions with SEC students to advise them of the positive impact summer courses can bring as students seek degree completion.
    • Southern Education Center Academic Advising staff continue to manage the Academic Advising email inbox.
    • James Hauenstein, Director of the Southern Education Center, along with Mr. Thomas Gialanella, Executive Director of School Relations, and Dr. Sheenah Hartigan, Executive Director of Enrollment Services, met with central administration leaders of the Toms River Regional School District to begin developing the Promoting Learners to Achieve Now (P.L.A.N.) program. High school students in Toms River will be encouraged to achieve 24-plus college credits prior to high school graduation under the P.L.A.N. program.
    • Students at the SEC continue to receive important messaging points through the Canvas SEC Announcement shell. In February and early March, messages were sent regarding the NJ Virtual Transfer Fair, Career Services programs, the OCC Foundation Graduation Scholarship application cycle, Student Life “grab and go” snacks, Disability Services, and summer course options.  More than 2,200 views of these announcements occurred during the time period, further demonstrating the value of this important messaging system.
  • Veterans and Military Resources Center (VMRC)
    • During March, the VMRC hosted and celebrated K-9 Corps Birthday, which was March 13. Established in 1942, the Quarter Master Corps in the U.S. Army has a dog training program, labeled the War Dog Program.  The VMRC hosted an array of emotional support dogs in honor of the K-9 Corp birthday, which included a 144-pound, four-year old black Newfoundland named Jefferson by Plow Farms.
    • Throughout March, the VMRC team has dedicated to community outreach and partnership, focusing on areas such as the Toms River High schools and the community law enforcement industries. Establishing partnerships for military-connected students is pivotal not only for the VMRC growth, but also for the community academic needs.
    • Rachelle Bertholf, Part-Time Program Assistant to the VMRC, has been working on the return of the Ruck for Reason event, which was last hosted by OCC and VMRC in 2019. The Center asks that interested individuals contact or call 732-255-0400, ext. 2080.
      Ruck for Reason will be hosted on April 18, 2022, at 10:00 a.m.  The event is aimed at promoting well-being on campus for both military-affiliated students and non-military-affiliated students while also bringing awareness to military culture.  At 10:00 a.m., Mr. Ryan Luurtsema, Assistant Director of the Veterans and Military Resources Center, will provide opening remarks.  The march will spread out over the OCC campus, starting at the Hovnanian Building and ending in front of the Jon and Judith Larson Student Center.
    • With the overwhelming success of Green Zone Training (GZT) in November 2021, the VMRC hosts Spring semester Green Zone Training. GZT is an on-campus training workshop offered to staff, faculty, and lecturers by the VMRC team that provides a military and veteran cultural understanding to increase proficiency and situational analysis when interacting with the acute members of the military and veteran community.  Two more opportunities will be offered:
      • April 6, 2022, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. in BART 203
      • April 8, 2022. from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. via Webex

Additional information is available by emailing Mr. Luurtsema at

e-Learning and Learning Enterprises

  • e-Learning Academics
    e-Learning leadership is reviewing online programs and course offerings with a plan to offer additional fully online programs in Supply Chain, Accounting, Psychology, Social Work, and Biology.  The Academic Deans are working in collaboration with Ms. Vivian Lynn, Dean of e-Learning, on the degree programs.
    To better assist students with their syllabi requests, the e-Learning department is working to integrate Simple Syllabus software to increase efficiency by automating the process for students in Canvas.  Simple Syllabus is a centralized, template-driven platform that will provide e-Learning the ability to create and publish interactive class syllabi for its online courses.  In addition, the software will give students immediate access to syllabi and offer faculty the opportunity to personalize specific information for their courses.
  • e-Learning Professional Development Series
    The 2022 Spring Professional Development Series for March included the General Meeting for online faculty on March 16, 2022.  This meeting examined the Online Evaluative Criteria procedures and policies for best practices and provided the opportunity to analyze student communication case studies.  Topics reviewed were prioritizing tasks in online courses, managing student needs, and increasing student engagement in course discussions. Finally, the meeting concluded with participants collaborating on a gallery of the best online teaching practices across the academic disciplines.On Thursday, March 31, 2022, at 6:00 p.m., e-Learning will host the monthly Roundtable for Adjuncts.  This month’s topic is Time Management and will include learning how to manage multiple projects and effectively learn about self-care and wellness.  The Wellness Coach and Founder of Yogabilities, Ms. Amy Zambrano, is the featured speaker and will provide tips on mental health and wellness.During the Adjunct Roundtable, the e-Learning faculty will meet in an interactive session on managing their time effectively in online courses.  The roundtable will have four case studies in designated breakout rooms facilitated by e-Learning College Lecturers.  The breakout rooms will have discussions related to grading, online course discussions, life and work balance, and emails.
    The Adjunct Roundtables are held on the third Thursday of every month, and all e-Learning teaching personnel are welcome to attend. All trainings are recorded.  To find additional information about the Adjunct Roundtables or present on a topic, please send an email to Dr. Meredith Riddle, Assistant Dean of e-Learning, at
    Also, e-Learning continues to offer training with partners Aspire Instructor Insight, Honorlock, and Voice Thread.
  • Instructional Design and Technology
    The Instructional Design Team is finishing up with the Summer and Fall course development schedule.  With the help of the selected distinguished Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), the team continues to design and develop distance learning courses that are universally accessible, interactive, and engaging to serve OCC’s diverse student population.
  • International Programs
    Earlier this month, Dr. Maysa Hayward, Associate Vice President of International Programs, and I traveled to Egypt with Chancellor Antonio Tillis, Rutgers University Camden, to meet with Egyptian National University delegates to discuss potential partnership projects with OCC in Egypt.
    Dr. Hayward has remained in Egypt to resume her face-to-face efforts to recruit international students.  Dr. Hayward and OCC’s two representatives in Egypt, Ms. Enjee Auda, and Ms. Rehab Abdelkhalek, attended the Egyptian EDUGATE college fair.  In addition, they are visiting Egyptian high schools to meet potential students and their parents.
    International Programs is currently working with Badr University’s marketing team to deliver marketing materials, including webinar presentations, brochures, and OCC swag/promotional items to prospective students.
    The International Programs team has met with Ms. Maureen Conlon, Associate Director of Web Services, to launch a Facebook group associated with OCC’s official Facebook page.  The Facebook group for OCC International Programs is currently under development and will be published before the end of March.
Text Link