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February 25, 2021

Dr. Larson’s February 2021 Report to the OCC Board of Trustees

OCC president Dr. Larson

Middle States

As part of the Middle States Self-Study process, Dr. Ellie Fogarty, OCC’s Vice President Liaison from Middle States, will be available to meet with College constituency groups on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.  This all-day virtual Self-Study visit will allow Dr. Fogarty to learn about the current state of the institution, to provide insight to the Self-Study process, and to address any questions that the various groups may have.  Dr. Fogarty will be meeting throughout the day with faculty, staff, students, the Self-Study Steering Committee, the President, and the Board of Trustees.

The trustees are scheduled to meet with Dr. Fogarty from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  The meeting will be open to the public, and an opportunity will be provided for public comments.  Self-Study co-chairs Dr. Alexa Beshara-Blauth, Executive Director of Institutional Research, Planning, and Compliance, and Ms. Heidi Sheridan, Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, will also participate in the meeting.

Phi Theta Kappa

Phi Theta Kappa designed a rewards program for chapters focused on Recognizing Excellence in Acceptance and Completion with Honors (REACH Rewards).  The REACH Rewards program encourages membership by recognizing chapters that achieve or exceed 15 percent for their membership acceptance rate.  The purpose of this program is to ensure that as many students as possible receive the benefits of PTK membership, including scholarships and increased opportunities for engagement.

I received notice from the President and CEO of PTK, Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, that OCC’s Tau Iota Chapter has been named a 2021 REACH Chapter as a result of its excellence in increasing membership.  The chapter will receive special recognition in the form of six Phi Theta Kappa graduation stoles.

Additionally, more good news was received.  Phi Theta Kappa has named Ms. Jen Fazio, Director of Student Life, as a Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Administrator for 2021.  The officers of Tau Iota nominated Ms. Fazio for this well-deserved honor as a Hallmark submission in December 2020.

Ms. Fazio will be recognized at the International Convention (Catalyst) on Friday, April 9, 2021, at the third General Session at 6 p.m.  The entire Tau Iota Chapter is registered for Catalyst this year (special registrations were available since the convention is virtual) so many from OCC will be in attendance for this great recognition of Ms. Fazio.

Once again, I offer my deepest gratitude and sincerest congratulations to the members of the Tau Iota Chapter, its advisors, and its supporters for making Ocean County College an example of excellence.

Black History Month

The month of February is designated nationally as Black History Month.  Although late in the month, it is respectfully requested that the Board of Trustees adopt the attached resolution proclaiming February as Black History Month at Ocean County College.

This year’s theme is The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.  The Office of Student Life and the Organization for Black Unity sponsored several events to celebrate Black History Month:

  • Monday, February 1, 2021 – Raising of the Black Flag on the campus mall
  • Friday, February 19, 2021, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. – From the Black Lives Matter Movement to the Capital Hill Insurrection: How do We begin to Unite a Nation Clearly Divided? This presentation/discussion addressed the rising tension in America around ideological differences, privilege/access (Black and White), and our role as citizens when it comes to uniting a country and respecting one another regardless of ideology.
  • Friday, February 26, 2021 – Lowering of the Black Flag on the campus mall

Dr. Henry Jackson, Executive Director of Academic Success, will say a few words at the Board meeting regarding the activities.

Arts on Campus

The first phase of the Arts on Campus project was completed in March 2019 when student artwork and literary quotations were installed on the third floor of the Instructional Building.  Students, faculty, and visitors were impressed and inspired by the work presented.

The second phase of the project has now been completed with the recent installation of student artwork on the second floor of the Instructional Building.  The transformation of these hallway spaces not only brightens the areas, but, more importantly, it provides students the opportunity to be recognized for their talent and innovative work.

At Thursday’s meeting, Ms. Jan Kirsten, Executive Director of College Relations, and Ms. Heidi Sheridan, Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, will discuss the most recent installation of the Arts on Campus project and will share with you some of the outstanding student art now on display.

Academic Affairs

School of Nursing and Health Sciences

  • There are 320 students enrolled in the Nursing Program for the Spring 2021 semester. The School of Nursing continues to work closely with Security and Facilities to ensure that all guidelines included in the Ocean County College Return to Camps Plan are implemented as students enter the Skills and Simulation Labs for hands-on practice daily.
  • In collaboration with the RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group, the School of Nursing and Health Sciences offered COVID testing to students and faculty required by health care facilities prior to the initiation of clinical experiences. Over a course of four days, 168 tests were delivered within the Health and Wellness Center located in the Hovnanian Health Sciences Building.
  • Ocean County College’s 2020 Nursing licensure passing rate was67%. There were 135 graduates from Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 who took the examination.  Scores remain above the national passing rate for all associate degree nursing programs and all types of nursing programs.
  • Nursing Skills Coordinator Linda Simmons, MSN, RN, CE, completed a Master of Science Degree with a focus on Nursing Education in December 2020 from Drexel University.
  • On January 7, 2021, the Nursing School collaborated with Henry Jackson, Executive Director of Academic Success, to provide Lakewood High School students with information on the Nursing Program. Skills, Simulation, and Student Retention Specialist MaryAnn Kaufmann, PhD, MSN, and Director of Program Services Mary Fennessy provided students with information on how to prepare for entry into the Nursing Program, the skills required, and expectations of a Nursing student.  Students were given a virtual overview of the School’s extensive lab facilities and how they are utilized by student nurses in order to learn skills.  Students were shown pictures of simulated healthcare situations and were able to see a simulation mannequin functioning.

School of Business and Social Sciences

  • In conjunction with STEM faculty, Katherine Toy, College Lecturer II in Economics, is attending the Lead Facilitator Workshop as part of Intel’s new AI readiness program called Intel® AI for Workforce Version: Vocational. This program is designed to provide in-demand skills to students of two-year colleges for the expanding field of Artificial Intelligence. Eventually this program will result in increased curriculum offerings at OCC, which include applications to business and economics.  This effort is being led by Mr. Kenneth Michalek, College Lecturer II in Computer Studies.
  • Chris Bottomley, College Lecture II in Business Studies, and Mr. Sean Bips, College Lecturer II in Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism Management, organized Design for Delight, Part II, through OCC’s Business Innovation Consortium (BIC) student organization. This two-hour BIC-hosted workshop, sponsored by the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurs (NACCE), will take place on Friday, February 26, 2021; it is a follow-up to the 2020 Fall presentation that was micro-targeted to the OCC administration and Business/Engineering faculty and lecturers.

This second OCC virtual event, to be moderated by Ms. Katie Calabrese, NACCE Director of Memberships and Projects, is titled Part II, Design Thinking Activity.  Mr. Andy Gold and Ms. Beth Kerly, Professors of Business at Hillsborough Community College in Florida, will cover a series of three principles which represent how Intuit innovates: (1) Purpose:  A Deep Dive into the Practice of Design Thinking, (2) Exploring “Real Life” Challenges Within the College and Community; and (3) Problem Solving: Collaboration and Prototyping.

NACCE provides leadership and resources to foster entrepreneurial thinking and action for community colleges all across North America.

  • As part of the Social Justice Series, Charlotte Langeveld, College Lecturer II in Social Sciences, hosted two events.  The first occurred on February 16, 2021, the Landscape of Higher Education in Prisons. In this event, OCC was joined by Ms. Sheila Meiman, Director of the Raritan Valley Community College RISE (Returning and Incarcerated Student Education) program.  RISE operates statewide within the New Jersey State Prison system and offers an associate degree in liberal arts to students who are incarcerated.  This program is a national model for higher education in prison and has a long-standing commitment to ensuring that the degree quality inside prison is equitable with the same degree on campus.  Ms. Meiman shared information about the structure of the program, both academically and administratively, as well as addressed the successful statewide instructional partnerships that are operational.  Program outcomes, student successes, and legislative initiatives at both the federal and state level were part of the conversation.

Ms. Langeveld’s second event, called Juvenile Justice – Realizing Full Potential, will be held on February 23, 2021, featuring Mr. Brendan Ward, who works as a Program Manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters.  He has helped develop the Back on Track program that provides one-to-one mentoring for children ages 11-17 years who have committed first-/second-time minor offenses.  This program aims to keep juveniles outside of the criminal justice system. Mr. Ward will lead a discussion about the program and its outcomes.  He will talk the need for mentors to work with troubled youth and how together they identify and cultivate strengths needed to realize their full potential.

  • Patricia Gianotti, College Lecturer II in Addictions Studies, announced that the newly formed Institute for Counseling Professionals will be hosting its first virtual presentation on March 31, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. Kenneth Finn, M.D., will be delivering a lecture on Why Legalized Marijuana is Not Helping the Opioid Epidemic.  Dr. Finn has been practicing Pain Medicine in Colorado Springs since 1994.  He is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pain Medicine, and Pain Management.  He is President of the American Board of Pain Medicine and has served on the Colorado Governor’s Task Force on Amendment 64 (which legalized marijuana for recreational use), on Consumer Safety and Social Issues Work Group, and on Colorado’s Medical Marijuana Scientific Advisory Council.  He is editor of Cannabis in Medicine: An Evidence-Based Approach.

This presentation has been approved by the Addiction Certification Board of New Jersey for three hours of continuing education for the addiction counseling credentials, some of which are Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Licensed Professional Counselor. The enrollment fee for the presentation is $30 per person.  Interested parties may submit payment and receive registration credentials by calling OCC’s Workforce and Professional Education at 732-255-0400, extension 409.

Dr. Gianotti also announced that the Addictions Studies Program will be hosting Stories of Hope, a celebration of recovery from substance use disorder.  The day-long virtual event will feature music, poetry, and artwork of recovering addicts. There will be a panel of recovering individuals to share their stories of hope and answer questions from students and family members.  Local treatment centers will present the latest in integrative approaches in addiction treatment, and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office will highlight some of its proactive outreach programs for helping those in active addiction.  Information on the date and time of the event will be forthcoming.

  • Benny Castillo, College Lecturer II in Criminal Justice, announced that the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) will conduct a Hometown Security Seminar. Topics will include information on the current threat environment, securing soft targets and crowded places, and community preparedness programs and resources.  NJOHSP’s Hometown Security program is a collaborative effort to discuss tools and resources that help strengthen the security of communities across New Jersey.  Information on the date and time of the event will be forthcoming.

Mr. Castillo also announced that the planning for an upcoming Ocean County Police Chiefs’ Roundtable is currently underway.  The discussion will include various topics related specifically to current local and national policing issues and criminal justice in general by select Chiefs of Police from various Ocean County municipalities.  Information on the March 2021 date and time of this event will be forthcoming.

School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

  • Congratulations are extended to Vandana Saini, College Lecturer II in Mathematics. Dr. Saini recently completed her Doctorate of Philosophy, Mathematics College of Science, from George Mason University.
  • Ocean County College is excited to become a member of Intel’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Future Workforce Program. This program is offered to community colleges and vocational schools to accomplish three goals with students: 1) enabling students to gain technical confidence in AI, 2) enhancing employability for AI-related jobs, and 3) applying the AI training to produce solutions to industrial or social issues using AI. To make this program a success, Intel offers training for faculty, access to prepared course lessons and over 200 hours of AI educational material, as well as assistance with the creation of an AI laboratory and AI-based curriculum.  Faculty and lecturers attended training during January and February.  The training and assistance from Intel will be used to develop and offer new associate degrees (A.S., A.A.S.) in Computer Science with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence.  A Certificate of Completion in Artificial Intelligence is also planned for Industry Professionals.  The OCC AI program and degrees are expected to be available in Fall 2021.
  • Ocean County College launched the initial courses of its Cybersecurity curriculum in the Spring 2021 semester. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated 131,000 jobs in the cybersecurity field, increasing by 31% by 2029, while the Chair of the House Subcommittee on Research and Technology pointed out that one-third of such jobs go unfilled today and noted that certificate programs, apprenticeships, and other accelerated paths, like the one offered by OCC, will be key to filling the positions.

OCC’s Cybersecurity curriculum is stackable, offering a one-year certificate program that is the basis for both a specialized two-year Associate in Applied Science Computer Science degree option and an Associate in Science Computer Science degree option with articulation to both public and private four-year institutions.  It also provides the basis for students to pursue specific industry certifications, Security+, and Certified Ethical Hacker, through evolving OCC academic partnerships with their sponsoring organizations, CompTIA and the EC-Council.  The curriculum is being developed and administered by Mr. Jon Weiss, College Lecturer II, a published, full-time OCC Lecturer with over 35 years of experience in the field.

In addition to launching the courses in this curriculum, OCC has established a Cybersecurity Seminar Series with notable and distinguished Chief Information Security Officers from across the industry, including such companies as FireEye, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.  These speakers provide unique practical perspective on cybersecurity career paths and implementation considerations.

  • Christine Girtain, Director of Authentic Science Research for Toms River High Schools South and North, and Ms. Jeanne Gogolski from will partner with OCC to become an InnovATEBIO Ag Biotechnology Hub by working together to secure a grant and start a program with Ag Biotech Academy in New Jersey. Ag Biotech Academy introduces faculty to the ways biotech can be used in agriculture through food science and technology labs and assists in a national effort to educate and inspire science teachers in topics around food production.
  • Pam Bogdan, College Lecturer II in Engineering, worked with an OCC student and an area high school student on submissions to the 11th IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Integrated STEM Education Conference (ISEC ’21), a virtual event on Saturday, March 13, 2021.

The OCC student and Ms. Bogdan will co-author a WIP (Work-in-Progress) paper about the emerging experiential learning activities at OCC, highlighting his engineering design and experience.  The high school student is doing a research project in the area of bio-mechanics and may submit an abstract for posters by K-12 students.

  • Engineering Week 2021 is from February 22 through 26, 2021.  Virtual versions of events are taking place, such as the annual kick-off event, the Paper Airplane Contest, Speed Mentoring/Career Networking, and a featured speaker.
  • The following awards were announced at the OCC Fall 2020 Semester Engineering and Technology Virtual Celebration held on December 21, 2020:
  • Engineering Course Assignments Group – Individual
    • 1st Place:  Johnny Verderosa, Plug Handle Re-Design (ENGR 181 – Remote)
    • 2nd Place:  Johnny Verderosa, YMCA Support (STSC 160 – Remote)
    • 3rd Place:  Nicholas DiMartino, Capo Design (ENGR 181 – DL)
  • Engineering Course Assignments Group – Group (Common Group Assignment)
    • 1st Place:  Cassidy Wojcik, Jimmie Goodman, John Troncone, and Chris Heuner Waterfall (ENGR 181 – Remote)
    • 1st Place:  Cassidy Wojcik, Jimmie Goodman, McKayla Miksza Weathervane (STSC 160 – Remote)
  • Engineering Club – COG Awards
    • Career Networking COG Winner – Kate Tobin
    • Community Service COG Winners – Jimmie Goodman and Cassidy Wojcik
  • William Rickert, Professor of Mathematics, chaired and Assistant Dean of STEM Carolyn Showalter served on an OCC committee to select students for the ALL-USA Academic Team for 2021. The following students will represent Ocean County College as nominees for the ALL-USA Team and the Coca Cola Academic Team for 2021:
    • Transfer Category

Kaitlyn Barrett
Anaheed Dakrat

    • Workforce Category

Miranda Wells

In the past seven years, OCC has had three Gold scholars, one Silver scholar, and one Bronze scholar.  Usually, 1,800 students are in the competition on the international level.

  • OCC student Sean O’Connor has been awarded an internship at Otsuka Pharmaceuticals in Princeton, starting February 1, 2021, as part of the Applied Innovation and Process Improvement Team.
  • The latest edition of the Computer Studies Newsletter can be found on social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook as well as on the STEM webpage.

School of Arts and Humanities

  • Catherine Mancuso, College Lecturer II in Dance, and Ms. Kristyn Stout, College Lecturer II in English, were nominated to the state-wide General Education Committee.  They are in current conversations with other New Jersey community college members.  The main topic of discussion is the impending legislation to reduce the number of general education credits required for the associate in arts degree.
  • The School of Arts and Humanities offered several professional development opportunities in February. The first, a roundtable hosted by Madison Peschock, College Lecturer II in English, on February 17, 2021, was called, How to Stand Out as an Adjunct Faculty Member.  Dr. Peschock discussed helpful tips about developing a conference proposal, finding calls for papers (CPFs), and how to create a curriculum vitae (CV).

Second, English College Lecturer II Heather Sciarappa hosted the Arts and Humanities Adjunct Professional Development Series meeting during this last week in February.  In addition to adjunct presenters, College Lecturer II Catherine Mancuso presented on the School’s curriculum processes and its page on Canvas.

Finally, College Lecturer II in History Stephen Downey is hosting a workshop for history adjuncts on February 25, 2021.

  • College Lecturer II in Humanities and Fine Arts Stephanie Shestakow began a program for students interested in contemporary art trends called Course Within a Course, which is open to all students in art history courses. It is designed as a virtual meet-up to discuss topics in contemporary art and visual culture.  It provides a chance for students to talk more about art and to apply the visual skills they are building.  Students may also view art that Shestakow may not have time to cover in class, and the students can explore ideas about what art history is and what it can be for the future.  These meetings are being held on four Thursdays throughout the semester.
  • As part of the American Sign Language Interpreter Training Program and hosted by program faculty Kathleen Basilotto and Saundra Piscitelli, speaker and author Trix Bruce presented on February 22, 2021. Her presentation, ASL Semantics: Precision of Expression, served students in better understanding the grammar of American Sign Language.


  • With the help of IT, College Relations, Student Life, and the HUB, CircleIn, OCC’s new studying app, went live at 12:00 a.m. on January 25, 2021, the first day of the Spring semester. CircleIn is an app that allows students to study together remotely. The students collaborate, they chat, and they stay productive.  Using CircleIn, OCC students can brainstorm together online just like they would in a coffee shop or a library study room.

Within the first 48 hours, CircleIn had 1,336 student downloads, 234 studying flashcards created, 469 studying tasks created, and 214 messages exchanged among students.  To further assist students with their questions asynchronously, tutors are embedded in over 100 courses on CircleIn.

  • Knewton Alta, an Artificial Intelligence adaptive learning technology, is now readily available for students needing supplemental support, outside of the Tutoring Center, in math and chemistry courses.
  • In early January, Professional Writing Tutor, Dr. Mary-Beth Brophy, attended the Modern Language Association’s annual conference and facilitated a workshop titled Borrowed Tools for Digital Scholarship and Pedagogy.

Center for Academic Success 

  • In collaboration with the Engineering Department, two sessions are being offered for middle school students on STEAM Spatial Visualization Camp this Spring 2021 semester. Students may sign up for one or both sessions.
    • Session One:   Tuesdays, February 23 to March 16, 2021, from 6 to 8 p.m.
    • Session Two:  Wednesdays, April 14 to May 5, 2021, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Additionally, efforts continue with the Engineering Department to recruit students for the High School Design Competition, with final submissions due May 1, 2021, and to promote Engineering Week, February 22 through 26, 2021, to middle and high school partners.

  • The College Readiness Now Program is offering English I courses at Lacey High School to 14 students and potentially at Lakewood High School to 12-15 students. The course is grant funded at both schools.
  • High School Academies/Embedded Courses: Approval was received from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education on January 11, 2021, for Brick Memorial, Brick Township, Central Regional, Jackson Liberty, Jackson Memorial, and Toms River East, North, and South high schools to be OCC additional locations.  Efforts are currently underway to expand course offerings for the Fall 2021 semester.

Finance and Administration

The fiscal year 2022 budget is on the agenda for approval on Thursday.  In accordance with the announcement made at the January Board meeting, Ocean County College will not increase student tuition and fees next year, maintaining costs at their 2021 level.  OCC is the first New Jersey community college to make such an announcement.  Tuition for the 2022 fiscal year. will remain at $175 per credit.

Last year, OCC bundled the cost of books and electronic course materials, as well as college and student fees, with tuition.  The freeze on the all-inclusive tuition rate is another effort to keep OCC affordable and assist students in reaching their educational goals, which is especially important as families struggle with the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Expenses increased moderately in the fiscal year 2022 budget.  This reflects predictable operating cost increases, including salary increases, software maintenance contracts, and utilities, which were partially offset by the reduction in activity on campus projected for a portion of fiscal year 2022.  In addition, Federal Higher Education Emergency Relief grants will fund approximately $900,000 in salary and benefit costs related to the continuing pandemic response.  These grants will also be used to improve remote instructional technology and support a safe return to campus.

Ocean County College Foundation

Blauvelt Speaker Series Update

Best-selling author and journalist David Ignatius will be at OCC for a virtual lunch and learn on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, at 12:30 p.m.  Dr. Temple Grandin will be welcomed back to OCC on Saturday, March 13, 2021.  Advanced registration is required, and both events and more information can be found at

The Blauvelt Speaker Series Committee continues to meet as it develops the balance of the Spring 2020 Series and continues into Fall 2021 and beyond.


The current scholarship award period is well underway.  Named scholarships will be awarded this week for the coming Spring semester.  All rollover awards from the Fall semester have been submitted to the cashiers to be posted to student accounts.

Efforts continue through the HUB and Student Affairs teams daily to reach students with 2020 Fall semester balances to bring them current so eligible students may enroll in the 2021 Spring semester using the recently approved dollar for dollar match opportunity provided by the Foundation. With much appreciation to the Foundation Board’s leadership, these opportunities will have a meaningful impact for the students of Ocean County College.

Annual Appeal

To date, the Foundation’s annual appeal has raised an additional $30,000 for the students of OCC, which is a tremendous response given the vast majority of gifts in this campaign have been under $100.

The Year Ahead

The Foundation is currently working with its Board Chair and respective committees to determine special events dates for 2021 and into 2022.  The Annual Scholarship Celebration is scheduled to be held on Friday, June 18, 2021, guidance permitting.

The Foundation and Alumni Advancement, in partnership with community organizations and College divisions, have scheduled SUP the River, the annual stand-up paddle board race on the Toms River, for Saturday, September 18, 2021.

The Annual Foundation Golf Outing has been scheduled for Tuesday, October 12, 2021.


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, January 14, 2021, through February 19, 2021.

Student Affairs


Transfer Update

Transfer Coordinator Laura Wills has continued to organize remote events with four-year institutions this Spring semester.  These events are critical in ensuring OCC students receive the information they need regarding transfer, even while most institutions operate remotely.  OCC hosted an information session with Rutgers School of Arts and Science, with about 20 students attending.  Rutgers School of Engineering also met remotely with 10 OCC students regarding transfer in STEM.

Partner colleges Montclair, Stockton, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and New Jersey City University are all hosting events this Spring.  In addition, some out-of-state institutions, such as The College of Saint Rose, SCAD: The University for Creative Careers, Temple University, and University of the Sciences (USciences), will be hosting drop-in sessions for OCC students.


Advising continues to collaborate with IT, the HUB, and Academic Affairs to implement Advise CRM (customer relationship manager).  The Title III Coaches are currently responding to alerts generated by Advise for students enrolled in Title III courses.  These alerts prompt intervention due to low assessments.  In the Spring 2021 semester, over 450 alerts have been generated so far.  The Advising Office is also utilizing Advise this Spring for communications and documentation, as well as early intervention for NJ STARS students and outreach to pre-nursing students.

Career Services

Mr. Chris Carbone, Career Services Coordinator, has been invited to Thursday’s meeting to discuss with you two new programs that are now available to OCC students, Handshake and MyPlan.

  • The Career Service department recently premiered its new CRM platform called Handshake.  Ocean County College is the first community college in New Jersey to add this professional network platform.  Over 12,000 students and alumni have been uploaded to the system and over 600 employers and nonprofit organizations have been recruited, which have posted over 2,000 jobs, internships, fellowships, and volunteer opportunities.

Career Services, in partnership with the Southern Ocean County Chamber, will host a webinar series for the community, leading to a virtual career fair titled Start Hiring on a Handshake.  The webinar, which will take place via Zoom on February 24, 2021, at 10 a.m. will introduce Handshake and train employers how to connect with thousands of students and alumni of all ages with businesses around the region and the world.  In addition to the opening information session on February 24, there will be technical assistance workshops to support users on March 3, 2021, at 10 a.m. and March 10, 2021, at 3 p.m.  This will all lead up to OCC Virtual Career Connect on April 7, 2021.  Students and alumni will meet with employers through online video interviews, with the opportunity to be hired on-the-spot.  Students and alumni will be able to access Virtual Career Connect for free from their computers or their phones from 3 to 6 p.m.

  • MyPlan is a comprehensive academic planning tool, available to students to help them develop a plan by making well-informed decisions about their education and careers. It assists students explore options by bringing clarity and insight into determining their interests and strengths and provides invaluable information about courses, curricula, transfer colleges, and

Career Services continues to provide virtual Career Counseling; Online Career Assessments and Review; Resume, Cover Letter, and LinkedIn Profile Writing; and Internship and Employment Placements for students and alumni.

Disability Services

  • The Office of Disability Services continues to facilitate training and awareness of Ally for Canvas, an integrated program that helps check for accessibility issues within Canvas and generate alternative accessible format materials for students. Since the start of the Spring semester, Ally has been downloaded 619 times at the conversion rate of 67%. Disability Services is working with e-Learning and the School of Arts and Humanities to deploy a Faculty Survey on the use of Ally for course content remediation and usefulness.  A student survey will be deployed to analyze usage and accessibility.  Ally will be continually promoted and marketed through Ocean Connect, the OCC app, and social media platforms.
  • Disability Services and e-Learning presented a session titled Ally for Canvas and Inclusive Learning at the Lecturer Institute and Adjunct Institute.  Staff promoted the use of Ally in the School of Arts and Humanities and anticipate presenting to the School of Business and Social Sciences in early March.
  • Disability Services staff performed training for Tutoring Services on working with students with disabilities. Trainings will continue throughout the Spring semester, targeting prospective high school students and their families.  Additionally, eight brief webinar sessions were conducted to discuss Ally for Canvas, Sonocent Audio Notetaker, and Glean Notetaking software.  The sessions provided students with an introductory overview of each application and how it may help a student in the remote learning environment.  Additional webinars will be scheduled throughout the Spring 2021 semester.
  • Disability Services continued to collaborate with the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management to provide training and technical support for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) online training. The February training had over 50 active participants, including many OCC students and staff.  Due to increased demand, a March 2021 training is scheduled, and details will be shared with the OCC community.

Educational Opportunity Fund

  • EOF@Ocean is proud to announce its 2021 Educational Opportunity Fund Graduate Achievement Awardees. There are four categories of awards for students who graduated at the end of Summer 2020, Fall 2020, or anticipate a Spring 2021 graduation.  The grade point average required for each designation and the students recognized follow:

The 2021 Educational Opportunity Fund Graduate Achievement Award Winners are:

    • Distinguished Scholar Award – 4.0 grade point average:
      • Charles Pastori – 4.0
    • Outstanding Academic Achievement Award – 3.5 to 3.99 grade point average
      • Freddy Juarez – 3.697
      • Jackolin Hernandez-Lopez – 3.765
      • Valentina Marrone – 3.63
      • Grace Roveda – 3.608
      • Leah-Marie Williams – 3.601
      • Zachary Carroll – Best exemplifies the spirit and intent of EOF
    •  Academic Achievement Award – 3.2 to 3.49 grade point average
      • Spencer Grant – 3.493
      • Sarah McHenry – 3.212
      • Alexzia Quiles – 3.471
      • Cesar Serrano – 3.311

 These students will be recognized in a virtual ceremony on Friday, April 9, 2021.

  • EOF is proud to feature Grace Roveda for the EOF Graduate Achievement Award Spotlight. Grace lives in New Egypt, New Jersey, and is a graduate of New Egypt High School. Grace will be graduating from Ocean County College with an Associate in Applied Science degree in American Sign Language-English Interpreting.  Grace displays her passion for American Sign Language by serving as secretary for the Ocean County College Interpreter Training Program Sign Club.  As an active member, she has participated in the club’s holiday shows as well as represented the group during Club Day Fairs on campus.  Grace is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa.  She has been named to the President’s Honors List numerous times during her tenure at OCC.

Grace is an enthusiastic member of EOF.  She actively participates in EOF retreats and summer programs and works with EOF staff to help plan retreats.  Grace created and directed a Murder Mystery Game for an EOF retreat that was hailed as a success by students and staff alike.  With Grace’s roots from England, she helped plan an authentic English Tea for the Spring retreat.  Grace was inducted into EOF’S Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society in 2019.

Grace’s future plans include becoming an American Sign Language Interpreter and a Teacher of the Deaf.  She plans to obtain her National Interpreter Certification and become credentialed to work in schools.  Grace would also like to work at one of New Jersey’s military bases serving as an interpreter.

Financial Aid

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) Grants for Students

Ocean County College has received authorization and funding through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) to disburse federal emergency grants to students.  The federal government has clarified that funds must be reserved to provide students with financial aid grants, which may be used for any component of the student’s cost of attendance or for emergency costs that arise due to the coronavirus, such as tuition, food, housing, health care (including mental health care) or child care.  The College developed an application form designed to help understand students’ circumstances and needs.  The application has been posted on OCC’s COVID-19 page, the Federal Emergency Grants for Students page, and as an Ocean Connect announcement.

The CRRSAA requires that institutions prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell grants, in awarding financial aid grants.  In an effort to make CRRSAA funding available to students whose academic pursuits are negatively impacted by COVID-19, the College has decided, in order to help as many students as possible, the amount of eligible expenses that an eligible student requests can be funded up to a maximum amount of $2,000 to full-time students (12 credit hours or more) or $1,000 to part-time students (11 credit hours or less).

Thus far, 529 applications have been received, and 352 students have received awards. The total amount awarded and disbursed is $551,000.

FAFSA Completion Assistance

The new FAFSA filing cycle began October 1, 2020, for the 2021-2022 academic year.  The Opening Pathways to Education Now (OPEN) workshops were cancelled for Spring 2021.  In lieu of face-to-face workshops, the Financial Aid Office will be facilitating one-on-one virtual appointments to assist with the completion of FAFSA paperwork and discuss the basic concepts of financial aid for students and the Ocean County community.  Additionally, the Financial Aid 101 presentation has been posted on the website for students, parents, and community members to access.  As of February 16, 2021, the Financial Aid Office has received 8,039 FAFSA applications for 2020-2021 and 2, 562 FAFSA applications for 2021-22.

Southern Education Center

  • The Promoting Learners to Achieve Now (P.L.A.N.) Program is currently being introduced to prospective students at Barnegat Township High School. L.A.N. is a collaborative effort between OCC and two high schools in the southern part of the county to assist students in completing one full year of college experience prior to high school graduation.  After collaborating with Ms. Leah Purpuri, Barnegat Township School District’s Supervisor of Guidance, and Ms. Sheenah Hartigan, Executive Director of Enrollment Services, two PowerPoint slides were created and will be presented to all Barnegat High School juniors and seniors outlining the specifics of P.L.A.N.   Presentations will be made to the Barnegat students during class-based scheduling information sessions.  Additionally, a PowerPoint slide will be shown to eighth graders to prepare them for this opportunity as they progress through high school.  In moving the P.L.A.N. program forward at Pinelands Regional High School, two presentations are being prepared for an April roll-out; informational invitations are in design phase.
  • James Hauenstein, Director of the Southern Education Center, will be representing OCC at the annual Lacey Township High School Career and Education Fair, being held via a virtual platform the evening of February 25, 2021. The goal is to create awareness not only of the opportunities at OCC but to provide information that the same community college opportunities are available at the Manahawkin campus.
  • Proposed courses and course schedule information for the SEC Fall 2021 semester has been sent to the College’s Academic Administrators.
  • The SEC Canvas shell is continuing to serve as a message board for students who are enrolled in courses identified as SEC or MT sections in the course code. Since the opening of the Spring 2021 semester, CircleIn (tutoring) and Handshake (employment) have been featured, resulting in over 1,700 views.  Upcoming outreach will be conducted for EOF and other departments.
  • Both Michele Marcum, Senior Student Services Technician, SEC, and Mr. James Hauenstein have been identified as SEC liaisons for the Veterans and Military Resource Center, Center of Excellence Grant.

Veterans and Military Resource Center

  • Veteran Voices is a televised program developed by the Veterans and Military Resource Center (VMRC) in partnership with the Director of Television and Media, Ralph Bertini. The program will host non-profit, organizations, and community leaders that advocate, develop, and lead industry models for military and veteran Ocean County constituents.  The goal is to have an episode or two, per month, throughout the year.  The platforms will be on OceanTV20, Comcast Channel 24, and the new YouTube Mini Series by OCC Media Relations Specialist Nicolaus Burr.

Veteran Voices will air on the following schedule:  Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.; Thursdays, 12:00 a.m.; and Sundays, 7:00 p.m.

  • Episode 1: Project Refit featuring BlueSky Mobile App for Veteran and First Responders; Combating Isolation through Virtual Community Socialization.
  • Episode 2 [Tentative]: Sally Stenton, Esq., Lieutenant Colonel, U.S, Air Force (Retired), specializing in Military and Veterans Law, Veteran Affairs Compensation, Disability Understanding, and Female Veteran Health Advocate.
  • Ocean County College has been designated the 2021-2022 Military Friendly Badge of Excellence. The VMRC represents integrity, innovation, community, and transparency, and it is in the beginning stages of expanding the social community representation with outreach, partnership, and mentorship for all Ocean County military and veteran residents through the development of monthly virtually hosted socials.
  • OCC’s Student Veterans Organization and VMRC will be participating in the 2021 Student Veterans of America National Conference (SVA NatCon), virtually this year, with the OCC Organization President, Ms. Maryellen De Leon, who is graduating this Spring 2021. The SVA NatCon is the largest conference in the country for post 9/11 veterans.  Over 5,000 student veterans from across the country gather and socialize with industry leaders on transitioning from a college student to an industry success story.
  • The S. Department of Education, Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), awarded OCC $444,130 over a three-year period, designating the College as a Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success. With this grant, the VMRC will develop a Laptop/Chromebook lending library for all military- and veteran-affiliated students in partnership with the OCC IT Department.

e-Learning and Learning Enterprises

Faculty Training and Professional Development

January was a busy month for training and professional development in e-Learning.  On January 21, 2021, department leaders hosted a faculty meeting to welcome instructors and provide updates on new developments.

  • Webinars and virtual training sessions were provided on a variety of topics, including Honorlock proctoring for face-to-face and e-Learning faculty as well as Cisco WebEx, Turnitin, and all processes related to the Canvas LMS. To kick off the weekly professional development series, several members of our Academic and Instructional Design teams presented a webinar titled Creating Interactive Discussions, which reviewed out-of-the-box methods for engaging and robust online discussions.  The webinar attracted 22 participants.
  • At both the Lecturer and Adjunct Institutes, e-Learning partnered with Disability Services to introduce Blackboard Ally, a tool that provides real-time feedback regarding the accessibility of all content in Canvas. Forty-six were in attendance.
  • The Faculty Onboarding program, which the department has expanded this Spring, provides new online instructors with the tools needed to deliver exceptional instruction to students. On January 13, 2021, for the first time, a live onboarding was hosted where course preparation was discussed and technical training was provided to 27 attendees for the Spring 2021 term.  On February 3, 2021, a second live training was hosted; best teaching practices were discussed and guidance was provided to 23 attendees on how to conduct self-evaluations and prepare for an official OCC teaching evaluation.
  • The Center for Instructional Empowerment (CIE) continues to be home to a growing number of training and professional development materials for faculty and staff. The CIE provides a central resource center for all technical training material, recorded webinars, schedules for upcoming events and professional development, as well as a knowledge base for Canvas and Canvas-related products.

Student Support

  • The e-Learning Department met with Ryan Luurtsema, Coordinator of the Veterans and Military Resource Center, to discuss a process for allowing deployed students to take proctored exams with a military official for courses that require Honorlock proctoring. Students who are stationed in high-security locations that do not permit use of a camera or microphone now have a means for taking proctored assessments.

Course Design and Technology

  • The Instructional Design and Technology team has been actively researching and testing software products that will enhance the design and development of OCC’s distance learning courses. These software products will allow Instructional Designers the ability to bring courses to life by creating interactive and engaging content for diverse student populations, as well as allow for the development of courses that meet universal design.
  • The department has moved forward with purchasing software from Articulate 360, H5P, WellSaid Labs, and is currently looking into Canva Pro. With state-of-the-art instructional design software tools, the Instructional Design and Technology team can bring Ocean County College’s courses to the next level by designing higher quality, engaging, and interactive content, while, most of all, making learning fun.  The Instructional Design and Technology team has already started utilizing these tools in the courses being developed or redeveloped for Summer and Fall 2021, with a focus on implementing them into the highest enrolled distance learning courses to enhance the student learning experience. For example, Instructional Designers can bring ordinary text lectures to life by creating VoiceThread lecture presentations and utilizing WellSaid Labs to produce voiceovers without spending countless hours of recording narration.  The software reduces time and allows for more innovation and creativity in courses, bringing Ocean County College closer to achieving the vision of being the “boldest, most innovative and entrepreneurial student-centered college in the nation.”
  • The Summer 2021 Course Development Schedule will be wrapping up on March 1, 2021, which includes one new development, seven redevelopments, and two courses with minor content updates. The Fall 2021 Course Development Schedule is still in progress and will conclude on July 1, 2021.


Ocean County College, Ain Shams University, and Kean University Partnership

  • Cohorts 4 and 5 started their Spring terms with OCC, and Cohort 3 starts its final courses with Kean University in March. Howaida Wahby Eraky, e-Learning College Lecturer II, conducted a series of virtual pre-semester trainings and is meeting with students regularly to assist in their academic progress.  With the return of Ms. Alexis Crosta as an academic administrator, ASU students are getting weekly notification from Ms. Crosta on their progress and how to be more successful in their courses.
  • In January, William Rickert and the officers of Tau Iota Chapter at Ocean County College engaged with the members of Phi Theta Kappa in Egypt in a virtual activity. The outcome of engaging OCC Egyptian students with domestic students was very positive.  In continuation of such engagement, Dr. Ameer Sohrawardy, College Lecturer II in English, started a pen pal project between his English I class and 20 Egyptian students from Cohort 4 at ASU.
  • Student Coordinator Enjee Auda and Office Coordinator Rehab Ismail in Egypt are continuing to assist Cohort 3 students in completing Kean applications as well as following up with the students on their academic and financial obligations.

Special Programs

  • Maysa Hayward, Associate Vice President of International Programs, in collaboration with Ms. Eileen Schilling, Executive Director of Academic Assessment, continue to work on course mapping for programs needed in Egypt. In addition to working on programs with Kean University and William Paterson University, Dr. Hayward and Ms. Schilling are working currently with the University of Maryland Global Campus on mapping Digital Media and Web Technology as well Biotechnology programs.  Southern New Hampshire University is currently reviewing its curricula and will continue working with OCC in May.
  • Eileen Garcia, Vice President of e-Learning and Learning Enterprises, and I will be meeting the Egyptian Minister of Higher Education soon to discuss the status of OCC’s proposals for Egypt.

Additional Location

New Jersey City University (NJCU) is well poised to open an additional location in Egypt starting in Fall 2021.  The OCC and NJCU agreement on the additional location will be finalized next month.

New Programs

  • The International team participated in a meeting with Suzan Thompson from Discovery Education to discuss the possibility of delivering Discovery professional education programs to Egypt.
  • Eileen Garcia, Dr. Maysa Hayward, and I met with Dr. Kamal Shahrabi, President of Rochester Institute of Technology Kosovo. OCC will draft a business model on ways to collaborate in three areas:  2+2, Study Abroad, and a pre-college Bridge program.
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