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December 7, 2015

Dr. Larson’s December 2015 Report to The Board of Trustees

OCC president Dr. Larson

Commendations/ Presentations

  • Dr. William Rickert, Professor of Mathematics, will attend Monday’s meeting to report on several very special events:
  • Saturday, November 14, was a very good day for Ocean County College and the Ocean County chess community.  Grandmaster Irina Krush, a seven-time winner of the U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, visited Ocean County College to lecture and exhibit her skills by playing 35 simultaneous chess games.  The event was free, but there was a $15 fee to play against Ms. Krush.  Of the 35 boards, she won 34, with one draw.  The event was well attended, and there was great participation and interest from the audience.  Dr. Rickert will share photographs of the event on Monday.
  • Earlier that same day, the Ocean County College Library accepted an extensive donation of rare chess books from Mr. Steven Doyle ’79.  Mr. Doyle has been civically dedicated to local, national, and global chess communities for decades.  In addition to being a loyal supporter of the OCC Chess Club, he has served as the President of the Toms River Chess Club and President of the U.S. Chess Federation.  He has held the position of the Vice President of the World Chess Federation and is currently a trustee of the U.S. Chess Trust.  In addition to the chess book collection donation, Mr. Doyle has pledged monetary donations to the College through the OCC Foundation in 2016 and 2017.We are grateful for Mr. Doyle’s support and honored to have him as a member of our alumni constituency.  The Library and the College are excited to share this outstanding collection of chess books, maybe one of the best in the country, with students, alumni, and the entire Ocean County community.
  • Each fall and spring semester, the Tau Iota Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa inducts new members into its organization.  On Friday, December 4, 164 students will be recognized as new inductees for the fall 2015 semester. These students have completed the minimum requirement of at least 15 OCC credits and maintained a grade point average of 3.60 or better. They have chosen scholarship, leadership, service, and fellowship as their hallmarks.  The Tau Iota officers and advisors are pleased that Ms. Ashley Geffken Eddy, New Jersey President for the PTK Middle States Region, will be a special guest speaker at the ceremony on Friday evening.  PTK advisors are Dr. William Rickert; Ms. Carolyn Showalter, Assistant Professor of Mathematics; and Dr. Jennifer Dellner, Professor of English.
  • In May 2015, OCC student Christopher Coon had the opportunity to intern for former Speaker of the House, John Boehner.  He was introduced to the political process on Capitol Hill, had the opportunity to work with the Republican National Committee and Congressman Tom MacArthur, and met prominent politicians, such as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.  Through this experience, Christopher realized that his long-term goal is to make it back to Washington, D.C., and into politics.  Mr. Jason Ghibesi, Lecturer II of Political Sciences, was his Faculty Mentor during this internship experience.  As Mr. Ghibesi notes, “political science internships are extremely valuable to students who are considering pursuing political science programs as they provide students with career guidance and valuable work experience.”
  • Melanie Fernandez, an OCC second-year student studying Liberal Arts and American Sign Language-Interpreter Training, is the recipient of the 2015-16 New Jersey Association of New Student Advocates Community College Student Scholarship.  Melanie was nominated by her ACAD instructor, Adjunct Assistant Professor Pat McDermitt, after completing her first semester in December 2014, earning a 4.0 GPA.  She is now a Peer Mentor in the Center for Student Success, visiting first-year classes to explain the array of support services available to students and offering her assistance to other students to access the appropriate resources in order to become successful.  Melanie is an Orientation Leader and a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Gay Straight Alliance on campus.
  • Last month, Adjunct Assistant Professor Kathy DiMario attended the Board meeting to share with you her book, “What Kind of Dog Am I?”  I didn’t realize at the time that a former OCC student, Ms. Tara Ackaway, is Ms. DiMario’s publicist. After graduating from OCC’s Digital Mass Media Program in 2012, Tara went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in communications from Monmouth University.  Using internships as a stepping stone to paid work, Tara entered the field of public relations.  Currently, she works as a social media consultant and publicist.  Her areas of expertise include event planning, social media campaigns and press events. In addition to Ms. DiMario, Tara’s clients include the Association of Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs, Lisa Ascolese (aka “The Inventress”), and product developers Noel Wilkins and Earl McCall.  Her clients benefit from her mix of talent and determination.  Her efforts have led to high-profile media exposure in such outlets as Fox’s “Good Day Philadelphia,” the Home Shopping Network, “The Asbury Park Press,” ABC TV’s “Here and Now,” and “Essence” magazine.  Appreciation is expressed to Mr. Gary Shaffer, Assistant Professor of Humanities, not only for his mentorship to Ms. Ackaway while an OCC student but also for informing us of her outstanding accomplishments since her graduation.

Student Affairs

After receiving many suggestions from students, I am pleased to tell you the official name of OCC’s Viking mascot…Vidar (pronounced Vee-dahr).  Vidar was made an official member of the Ocean County College campus community on Tuesday, November 10, during a ceremony in the Student Center, at which time he received his official Ocean County College ID card.  The name Vidar was submitted by OCC freshman and Computer Studies major, Michael Mastrianni; more than 125 OCC students voted in the contest.

Vidar has been very busy this semester assisting our Admissions ambassadors on tours; checking out the Toms River Halloween Parade; popping in during Career Week, Welcome Week, and Fall Fest; and greeting and posing for pictures with Ocean County guidance counselors during our NJ STARS Workshop last month.

Vidar’s plans for the spring semester include visiting as many Ocean County high schools as possible to hand deliver acceptance letters to some most amazing new students.  He is also planning to conquer southern Ocean County by spending time meeting students at the Southern Education Center and checking out some of the local entertainment and attractions.  To keep track of his adventures, send him a Friend Request on Facebook (Vidar the Viking).

Academic Affairs

As the semester winds down, the Academic Affairs Division has been focusing on a number of events and initiatives:

  • School Relations hosted the annual Tech Prep Robotics Competition on Wednesday, December 2, with 85 middle and high school students from 6 schools participating. Tuition scholarships of $500, $250, and $125 were awarded to first, second, and third place teams.  Mr. Neil Schiller, Professor of Engineering, was an excellent Master of Ceremonies, and the event was supported by staff from across the campus.
  • On Tuesday, December 1, the Honors by Contract Program held its awards ceremony and presentation of student projects. The Honors by Contract Program gives students the opportunity to work individually with faculty members on directed higher-level educational activities that are related to course objectives.  A student who completes regular course assignments in addition to faculty-directed, higher-level academic assignments will have the designation denoted on his/her transcript.  A student who successfully completes four Honors by Contract courses with an overall GPA of 3.5 or above will graduate from Ocean County College as an Ocean County College Honors Student.  This designation will be noted on the student’s transcript and diploma, as well as in the commencement program.  This semester’s program included 80 students in a wide range of disciplines, including mathematics, science, arts, humanities, and social sciences.
  • The School of Nursing and Health Sciences is busy preparing its students for final exams and their preceptorships.
  • During this holiday season, the OCC Repertory Theatre will be presenting the play, “Doubt: A Parable.”  The dance company will present its annual dance concert on Friday, December 11.  On Friday, November 20, photographer Joe Guerriero spoke on the current state of affairs in Cuba.
  • With the support of funding from the Investors Foundation, Ocean County College will be launching the first initiative of the OCC STEM Academy during the spring semester with 65 chemistry students from Toms River High School South.  In February, the program will kick off with an assembly at the school to introduce and excite the students about the STEM Academy.  Following the assembly, Mr. Vijay Ramdeen, Lecturer II of Chemistry, will be visiting Toms River South for four weeks to conduct STEM-related lessons in three college prep chemistry courses.  The lesson topics will include Synthesis of Aspirin, Ink Chromatography, Atomic Line Spectrum, and Polymer Ball Design.  The initiative will culminate with students visiting the OCC campus on Thursday, March 10, for a STEM Day, at which time they will be divided into groups to participate in two of four workshops led by OCC faculty and staff.  The interactive workshops will cover various STEM-related themes, such as light spectrum at the Planetarium, a crime scene lab, mechatronics, and physiology. This project is under the leadership of Dr. Lisa DiBisceglie, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs; Ms. Eileen Schilling, Executive Director of Academic Assessment and School Relations; Dr. Roseann Bar, Dean of the School of Business and Social Sciences; Mr. Paul Silberquit, Dean of the School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics; Ms. Jane MacDonald, Lecturer II of Education; and Mr. Vijay Ramdeen.
  • e-Learning is currently in a partnership with Sussex County Community College wherein OCC is providing Sussex with LMS technology, course content,  and training and support services to faculty and students, all of which allows Sussex entry into its local online market.  A similar model has been developed with Eastwick College located in Hohokus, New Jersey. With the launch of five online degree completion programs by Kean University, OCC Online and Kean Online will be working together more closely, with OCC providing additional coursework to 80 Kean students.OCC Online and Ms. Eileen Schilling are securing articulation agreements with Arizona State University, Charter Oak College, Colorado State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Temple University.
  • IMI and OCC: Ocean County College’s First International Partnership – Dr. Maysa Hayward, Dean of Instructional Outreach, and Mr. Jeff Harmon, Associate Vice President of e-Learning and Learning Enterprises, recently traveled to Cairo, Egypt, to conduct the inaugural training for OCC’s first international partner, the IMI (International Company for Human Resources and Management Development) Group.  Dr. Hayward and Mr. Harmon trained 13 IMI facilitators on technology and pedagogy and developed the infrastructure needed to commence language training for IMI trainees this fall.Dr. Hayward and Mr. Harmon will make a brief PowerPoint presentation at Monday’s meeting to apprise the trustees of the efficacy of this training endeavor and detail ongoing and future partnership plans of this nature.

Finance and Administration

  • Jon and Judith Larson Student Center – Please join the College community at the ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new Jon and Judith Larson Student Center on Friday, January 22, at 3:30 p.m.  The afternoon will include food and fun with the opportunity to tour the new facility, meet the new food service provider, and discover the building’s many amenities.
  • Alumni – On Wednesday, October 28, Ms. Rebecca Feiler-White, Director of Alumni Relations, hosted an Alumni Networking event at Tuscan House Bistro in Toms River for alumni to reconnect with old friends and establish new networks.  Additionally, Ms. Feiler-White seized the opportunity to discuss upcoming College initiatives and receive feedback on alumni programs and services.  The event had a great turnout and attendees represented alumni from the Class of 1978 through the Class of 2014.OCC alumni have remembered the College with gracious donations.  One such gift was from Mr. John Murphy ’90, a Toms River resident, who donated an NCAA backboard to the Athletics Department to support the College’s basketball program and student-athletes.
  • Grants – The following grant proposals, totaling $282,442, have recently been submitted by the College:
  • Stewart Funding Bill 966 – Radiological Response Plan Equipment Grant ($27,527) – To purchase specific equipment needed to implement a Radiological Response Plan.
  • NEH Challenge Grant ($146,547) – To support development of a Humanities Center and create an A.S. Degree in Humanities.
  • Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Grant ($10,500) – To support the production of Dancing at Lughnasa.
  • Microsoft HoloLens ($97,868) – To develop Microsoft HoloLens 3D modeling and manipulation capabilities for use in remedial and introductory STEM programs.
  • Facilities – Facilities Management hosts safety training courses on campus for essential staff through the MEL Safety Institute (MSI).  The training provides essential knowledge and skills necessary to safely manage and provide for the College campus.  MSI trains over 30,000 employees each year in a broad range of safety topics required by PEOSHA and other agencies.  Additional MSI training has already been scheduled for 2016.  Since the initiation of this training, safety awareness and knowledge of safety protocols have increased, which, in turn, will hopefully reduce injury claims on campus and in the Maintenance Department.
  • Office of Information Technology – After working for two years towards its implementation, the Colleague Microsoft SQL conversion was completed over the Thanksgiving weekend.  Being on the SQL platform has many benefits, such as ensuring that OCC is using the latest supported version of Colleague, improving reporting capabilities, and taking advantage of the latest Ellucian innovations, such as Colleague SaS (a cloud-based version of the ERP).This major accomplishment was completed under the leadership of Mr. Hatem Akl, Chief Information Officer.  The IT team, Ellucian Managed Services, and OCC staff worked diligently to make this project a success.  The following individuals are commended for their dedication to this project and their outstanding work to ensure the success of this conversion:
    • Ed Tafaro, Executive Director, OIT
    • Chuck Keeler, Ellucian General Manager
    • Kevin Leahy, Ellucian CIO, Transition Services
    • Ed Browne, Ellucian Senior Programmer Analyst
    • Craig McKeough, Ellucian Senior Programmer Analyst
    • Joseph Pelkey, Programmer Analyst
    • Rick Mortellaro, Programmer Analyst
    • Sally Crawford, Systems Analyst
    • Kerry McEachen, Systems Administrator
    • David Wechter, Programmer Analyst
    • Edwin Ayres, Senior Programmer Analyst
    • Ben Sievers, Ellucian Programmer Analyst
    • Bryan Cochran, Colleague Technical Lead
    • Anthony Jordan, Programmer Analyst
    • Sean O’Leary, Network Systems Administrator
    • Patrick Stivale, Network Systems Administrator

The success of the migration project was in no small part due to the end users who spent many hours testing every application to be sure there were no unexpected problems when the system went live.  Many of the users volunteered their time over the Thanksgiving weekend to complete testing.  In keeping with the principles established in Charting Our New Course, this accomplishment will be noted with a celebratory luncheon honoring the staff who persisted over two years to bring this project to conclusion.

    • Learning Management System (LMS) Selection Process – As you are aware, the College has been considering the procurement of a new Learning Management System (LMS) to replace the current Pearson Learning Studio.  The College took advantage of a recently completed Request for Proposals by NJEDge that evaluated and negotiated contracts with four major LMS providers. The products on the approved list were Canvas, Blackboard Learn, Blackboard Moodlerooms, Desire to Learn (D2L), and Web Study.    The College then decided to use a multi-phase approach in selecting the final product.  The following is a brief description of each phase.
    • Phase 1:  A ten-member committee comprised of faculty, administrators, and technical staff determined the major criteria required in the new system.  The vendors were invited to make presentations, which were evaluated by the committee.  Based on the evaluations, it was determined that Canvas and D2L met the College’s needs and should be explored further.
    • Phase 2:  Each vendor set up a sandbox (a sample of its system) and held training sessions, followed by open labs.  Faculty, students, and staff were asked to evaluate their experiences, after which the vendors held open forums.  The vendors also conducted online sessions for remote e-Learning faculty, who also evaluated the systems.
    • Phase 3:  Reference checks were conducted on each vendor relating to implementation services and ongoing support.
    • Phase 4:  Each vendor was asked to provide final pricing based on criteria defined by e-Learning and the academic area.
    • Phase 5:  The financial viability of each company was reviewed by Executive Vice President Sara Winchester.
    • Phase 6:  CIO Hatem Akl, worked with the Institutional Research Office to rate the two products based on faculty survey results, technical review results, reference check results, and cost estimates submitted by both vendors.

Following this extensive, comprehensive review, a recommendation is being presented to the Board on Monday to award a three-year contract to Canvas Learning Management Systems to serve as the College’s new Learning Management System provider.

  • The Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts – Approximately 350 people attended the Alvin Ailey II performance on Thursday, November 5, making it one of the highest viewed performances for a week night at the Grunin Center. Two December performances are already sold out, the Westminster Concert Bell Choir on December 4 and the Vienna Boys’ Choir on December 16. The Grunin Center has partnered with Prime 13, Villa Almafi, and Panini Ristorante to offer dinner show packages for a variety of performances throughout the year.  The dinners have been well received by patrons and host restaurants. Upcoming performances include:
  • The Repertory Theatre Company’s “Doubt, A Parable,” directed by Mr. Paul Chalakani, College Lecturer II of Communications and Theatre, is being presented from Thursday, December 3, through Sunday, December 6, at 7:30 p.m.  “Doubt:  A Parable” won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as a Tony Award for Best Play.
  • The 16-member Westminster Concert Bell Choir is performing on Friday, December 4, at 8:00 p.m.  The Choir, conducted by Kathleen Ebling Shaw, is composed of undergraduate and graduate students of Westminster Choir College of Rider University.
  • On Saturday, December 5, an Ocean County College tradition, Yates Musical Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” will be performed at 1:00 p.m.  This musical adaptation is the timeless tale of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, who hates Christmas.
  • The OCC Concert Band presents “Sounds of the Seasons” on Saturday, December 5, at 8:00 p.m.  The OCC Concert Band, with its joyous tribute to the holiday season, will help to make your spirit bright with its renditions of “Sleigh Bells,” “Carol of the Bells,” “Christmas Festival,” “C’est Noel,” and new, exciting arrangements of many more holiday favorites.
  • On Friday, December 11, Canadian Brass will perform at 8:00 p.m.  With an international reputation, Canadian Brass has truly earned the distinction of “the world’s most famous brass group.”
  • Ballet for Young Audience’s “The Nutcracker” will take place on Sunday, December 13, at 1:00 p.m.  Another Ocean County College tradition and Ocean County favorite, this delightful ballet is a dream story brought to life through music, dance, and beautiful costumes.
  • On Wednesday, December 16, the Vienna Boys’ Choir will perform at 7:30 p.m.  The Choir has been singing at the court in Vienna since the 14th Century. As one of the best known boys’ choirs in the world, the Vienna Boys’ Choir has been an enduring symbol of Austria for more than 500 years.
  • Planetarium – At last month’s meeting, the College accepted the donation of a holiday themed Planetarium show, “Let it Snow.”  The generosity of the donor, Mrs. Tara Murtha, continued as she sponsored a free premier event in the Planetarium on Sunday, November 22.  Friends of the Planetarium were invited, and staff members provided a tour for individuals who were not familiar with our campus.
  • Human Resources – The search for the Provost/Vice President for Learning Enterprises is underway.  The search is being facilitated by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).  ACCT is an experienced higher education search firm that has already begun national recruiting for this key position.  Internally, the search committee has been selected, which includes representation from all areas of the College.
  • Accounting – The Fiscal Year 2015 Audit Report will be presented for the Board’s acceptance on Monday.  The final audit report was delayed pending the release of pension liability numbers from the State of New Jersey. Effective with the close of FY 2015, the College has adopted the Governmental Accounting Standards Board’s (GASB) Statement 68, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Pensions, and Statement 71, Pension Transition for Contributions Made Subsequent to the Measurement Date.  This is notable because, for the first time, Statements 68 and 71 require the College to report its share of the defined benefit pension liabilities and expenses, as well as the related deferred outflows and inflows of resources allocated to it by the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS).  The July 1, 2014, balance of the net pension liability and related deferred outflows and inflows of resources is reported in the Statement of Revenues, Expenses, and Changes in Net Position as a restatement to the 2015 Net Position, beginning of year. The June 30, 2014, financial statements will not be restated. The adoption of GASB Statements 68 and 71 dramatically reduced the FY 2015 unrestricted net position in the financial statements.  This decrease in net position reflects the College’s long-term liability for pensions, but it does not impact the unrestricted fund balance.
  • Purchasing – Efforts to increase the effectiveness of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges’ Joint Purchasing Consortium have continued.  OCC spearheaded an effort to help New Jersey community colleges save money while satisfying the new obligations under the Affordable Care Act (Internal Revenue Code Sections 6055 and 6056).  Of the 19 colleges, 8 have signed up to use the same information return preparation services; as result, all 8 will realize significant savings.
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