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February 24, 2014

Dr. Larson’s February 2014 Report to the Board of Trustees

Dr. Jon Larson

e-Learning Partnerships

Ocean County College is continuing to deepen the successful partnerships already in place with Kean University and Fairleigh Dickinson University.  On February 12, Executive Vice President Sara Winchester, Vice President Jianping Wang, Director of e-Learning Jeff Harmon, and I joined with Mr. Matt Leavy and Ms. Allison King, CEO and Vice President of Pearson eCollege, respectively, to meet with Kean President Dawood Farahi and FDU President Sheldon Drucker and Provost Christopher Capuano.

The meetings were held to explore the possibility of OCC partnering with both Kean and FDU in offering online programs abroad.  Both universities have an on-ground presence internationally, and there is unique potential for OCC to use its expertise to bring top-notch online education to students outside of the United States.  Talks with the universities will continue, and we are very hopeful that the relationships will bear fruit in the near future.

Academic Affairs

  • The New Jersey Council of County Colleges announced a partnership between the Office of the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education and New Jersey’s 19 community colleges for the improvement of college readiness of graduating high school students through the College Access Challenge Grant program.  OCC submitted a College Readiness Now proposal in December and received approval in January; the first installment of the grant has been received.
  • OCC’s approved College Readiness Now Program is a partnership with the Toms River Regional High Schools, and a program launch ceremony will be held in the Gateway Building Auditorium at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 26.  Invitations have been extended to 94 Toms River high school students and their parents to visit OCC for an overview of the program as well as to learn how they may participate and benefit from the opportunities available.
  • In response to the rapid changes in technology and student learning styles and needs, the process of re-envisioning the future of the Library building has begun with the goal to transform the Library into the most conducive space for student learning.  The consulting firm, Cohen and Associates, spent two days on campus and met with various groups, including students, to better understand the needs of our students.  In the next two months, this process will be concluded.
  • Our Honors by Contract pilot program continues to succeed.  Last semester, 150 contracts were executed.  At the beginning of the semester, Dr. Wang and I met with a group of faculty members who voluntarily served as faculty advisors to our students and expressed our appreciation for their service.  Each of the faculty reportedly enjoyed working with these highly motivated students.  This semester, a similar number of contracts is expected.  On May 1, the College will host a conference for the Honors students to highlight their most impressive scholarly accomplishments.
  • A cross-disciplinary internship program is being introduced.  The program is intended to better prepare our students for their future studies and employment.  Mr. Ken Kubes, Psychology Lecturer II, will provide a brief description of the program on Monday.
  • In addition, a cross-disciplinary approach in instruction is being encouraged and promoted. One example is the collaboration between Ms. Heidi Sheridan, Assistant Professor of English, and Mr. Nat Bard, Instructor of Fine Arts.  In the Fall 2013 semester, they collaborated between their painting and creative writing courses.  Students were responsive to exchanging and incorporating text and visuals through both artistic mediums.  The results of their efforts are now on display in the Arts and Community Center.
  • A Volunteer Mentoring Program for students has been established, with the first meeting held on Friday, February 14.  This program builds one-on-one relationships between the students and their mentors.  The relationship will offer encouragement, support, and guidance to the students, which will, in turn, help in promoting student success.  Anyone interested in being a mentor or referring a student who might benefit from the program should contact Ms. Diane DeFilippo, Academic Support Specialist in the Center for Student Success.
  • Events continue to be offered that enrich our campus life:

On Friday, February 28, OCC is hosting the Regional Conference on Student Success in the Gateway Building.  As of February 19, more than 120 people from 17 county colleges and 4 universities have registered for the conference.

During the week of March 3-7, the OCC Global Education Committee and Student Life Committee will host the 2014 Drepung Gomang Monastery Sacred Arts Tour.  Merchandise will be available for purchase at all events.  All proceeds go directly to support, educate, house, feed, and clothe the nearly 2,000 refugee monks at Drepung Gomang Institute in Southern India.


  • The staff of the Southern Education Center, including the student worker, presented the first SEC Career Night and Evening Coffee on Wednesday, February 19.  Susan McCabe, Esq., Mayor of Barnegat Township and an OCC adjunct faculty member, hosted the session.  Mayor McCabe shared her experiences and knowledge in the fields of Law, Politics, and Law Enforcement.  Appreciation is expressed to the Office of Student Life for providing the refreshments for the evening.  The staff is now planning the next Career Night and Evening Coffee with adjunct faculty member and School Psychologist, Mr. Paul Santasieri.

Business and Finance

  • On February 18, Ocean County College was issued its draft 2011 Three-Year Cohort Default Rate from the U.S. Department of Education of 11.9%.  This is a reduction from the 2010 Three-Year Final Cohort Default Rate of 18.1% and the 2009 Three-Year Final Cohort Default Rate of 19.9%.

Although the 2011 rate is a draft figure and the final rate will not be released until September 30, 2014, this reduced rate clearly indicates the efforts taken by the Financial Aid office to improve its efforts in providing outreach to student loan borrowers and informing them of their payment and deferment/forbearance options upon graduation or ceasing attendance.

It should be noted that Mr. Thomas Curtin, former Financial Aid Advisor who we lost due to illness in December, played a critical role in improving OCC’s default management process.  He is credited and acknowledged for the advances made in this important area.

  •  The Fourth Annual Senior Living Expo will be held on Wednesday, March 26, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Ocean County College Gymnasium.  The Expo provides area businesses, community organizations, and the College the opportunity to showcase products and services to area senior citizens.

For the fourth consecutive year, Community Medical Center will be a major sponsor and will provide special displays, screenings, and informational handouts.  For the second consecutive year, AAA will sponsor its “Car Fit” program, which provides a 12-point check to see how well you and your vehicle work to keep you and your family safe.  Horizon-Blue to You is again sponsoring this event with their informative displays and handouts.  New Jersey Natural Gas is also a sponsor for the fourth consecutive year.

Community organizations also participate; this year the Ocean County Connection will bring its mobile van to our site.  The College will also showcase the Arts and Community Center, the Planetarium, and Continuing and Professional Education.  We anticipate up to 500 community visitors to attend the four-hour event.

  • Advising Center Updates – Several events have been planned in the Spring 2014 semester to engage and train faculty advisors.  Through these trainings and workshops, the Advising Center staff aims to support faculty advising and provide faculty advisors with the tools they need to create an excellent advising experience for both faculty and students.
  • The Advising Center participated in training designed for the Program Chairs in January 2014.  This training focused on the importance of advising, the connection between professional advising and faculty advising, Program Chair/Advising Center liaison roles, and curriculum changes.
  •  In-depth registration advising training will be repeated.  This training, which will be held on March 17 and 19, will be offered to all faculty but will be specifically promoted to ACAD faculty, Lecture II’s, and Program Chairs.  This training provides a comprehensive review of degree and certificate programs, WebAdvisor, program evaluation, advising special populations, and an overview of transfer issues.
  •  Advisor Update Sessions will continue to be offered, which are open to anyone who advises students.  These sessions focus mainly on changes or updates relevant to advising.  They will be offered on March 10, March 19, and March 21.
  • The Advising Center will partner with the Faculty Center for Innovation and Excellence to offer workshops on March 5 and March 11 about the transfer process and NJ Transfer.  Ms. Laura Wills, Transfer Coordinator, will discuss how to assist students with researching colleges and navigating through the application process.  She will also provide a tutorial on the popular online transfer tool, NJ Transfer.
  • In the Fall 2013 semester, pre-nursing students were, for the first time, assigned to the Library faculty for advising.  In conjunction with the Nursing Department and the Records and Registration Office, the Advising Center provided training to the faculty, specifically geared toward the unique needs of pre-nursing students.
  • The advising staff will participate in a Professional Development Day on March 26.  The agenda for this meeting will include a focus on advising students with low GPA’s/academic sanctions, an in-depth discussion with the Records and Registration office regarding processes and protocols, training for orientation advising, and advising updates.

The advising staff will also engage in an ongoing peer observation activity during the Spring 2014 semester.  This program is designed to allow advisors to grow in the profession and become more proficient in advising.

  • Efforts will continue in Spring 2014 to proactively advise students with academic sanctions.  Advisors will reach out to students on Special Probation to discuss issues such as course schedules and choices, tutoring/campus resources, options for summer classes, a two-year plan, Fall 2014 Registration/Financial Aid paperwork, and speaking with professors/seeking help.
  • Nine Instant Decision Days will be hosted during the Spring 2014 semester with six institutions:  The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Rowan University, William Patterson University, Monmouth University, Montclair State University, and Kean University.

Faculty Commendation

Mr. Gary Shaffer, Assistant Professor of Communications, recently had an article published in the trade publication, “Selling Halloween.”  His article, entitled “Scaring Up Sponsors,” is a how-to guide for presenters looking to secure sponsorship opportunities, which relates to his teaching of the Public Relations course at OCC.

Congratulations, Gary.

Ocean County College Foundation Golf Outing

Please save the date:  The Ocean County College Foundation has scheduled its 13th Annual Golf Outing at Pine Barrens Golf Club in Jackson for Tuesday, May 6.  The entry fee is $295 per player, which includes lunch, use of driving range for one hour before the shotgun start, greens fees, golf cart, and a golf gift.  An Awards and Cocktail Reception, in the clubhouse, will immediately follow the afternoon tournament.

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