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March 25, 2021

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

OCC president Dr. Larson

I want to begin this month’s report by noting that it was on March 13 last year that the coronavirus caused colleges and universities throughout the nation to move to remote operations.  The majority of OCC faculty, staff, and students have been away from the campus for an entire year.

I mention this because, again this month, my report highlights the outstanding efforts by our faculty, administrators, and staff, who, despite working remotely from home, have not been deterred; they continued to provide our students with exceptional instruction, impressive and varied opportunities for growth, and all the services needed to be successful.

It has been a most challenging year, but the College’s mission has continued uninterrupted.  This would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of all of our employees at every level within the institution.  I am deeply grateful for all that they have accomplished in service to our students.


After careful consideration, it has been decided to resume in-person commencement ceremonies this May.  Each ceremony will be conducted outdoors with the proper risk mitigation measures to ensure the safety of our graduates and guests.  The following commencement week ceremonies are scheduled:

  • Nursing Pinning Ceremony – Tuesday, May 25 – 5:00 p.m.
  • Awards Ceremony – Wednesday, May 26 – 5:00 p.m.
  • Commencement Ceremony – Thursday, May 27

OCC’s 2021 Commencement will be split into two ceremonies.  Graduates with last names starting with A-L will attend a 10:00 a.m. ceremony, and graduates with last names starting with M-Z will attend a 2:00 p.m. ceremony.

Due to COVID 19 event guidelines, students will be limited to two guests per event.  All ceremonies will be live streamed and, while we would like the entire campus community to join in the celebration, faculty and staff are asked to join each event remotely and not attend the events in person.  Faculty and staff who are needed in person will be notified by their supervisors.

Fall 2021 – Return to Campus Plan

The goal for the Fall semester is to return most classes to the Toms River campus, with limitations. Based on announced COVID vaccine distribution schedules, it is expected that the State will move past Stage 2 by the Fall semester, allowing the College to offer additional in-person instruction on campus in a socially-distanced manner within established restrictions and other safety measures.  A limited number of students will be able to return to campus at one time, and there will be a need to address classroom arrangements and capacities.  Classes will be held by the assigned faculty member with a limited number of students in the room.  The remaining students will connect synchronously to the class lecture, rotating to on-campus instruction as practical.  The number of students who can attend each class in person will vary depending on the size of the room.  Capacity limits will be set for each classroom in accordance with State guidelines.

The College is currently in the planning stages of a project to equip many classrooms on campus with video and audio technology to support the new mode of instruction.  The project involves the IT Department, Facilities, Academic Affairs, and Purchasing all working together on an aggressive timeline to have the equipment in place before the start of the Fall semester.  Funding for the project has been provided by the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF II) grant.

In addition to returning classes to campus, a plan will be developed for the return of staff to support faculty and students.  Several options are being considered, including limiting office occupancy at any given time by staggering employee days and hours on campus.  Each of the vice presidents is considering the most efficient and effective work schedules for their areas.

Middle States

A virtual Self-Study Preparation visit was held on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.  Dr. Ellie Fogarty, the College’s Vice President Liaison from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, engaged with constituents across the institution.  Throughout the day, sessions included meetings with students, staff, faculty, the Self-Study Steering Committee, the Board of Trustees, and me, with Dr. Fogarty meeting with the Self-Study Co-Chairs, Dr. Alexa Beshara-Blauth and Ms. Heidi Sheridan at the end of the day.

These meetings provided Dr. Fogarty with the opportunity to learn more about Ocean County College from varied perspectives, and all in attendance were able to gain valuable insight into the accreditation process.

One component of this visit was for the Self-Study Steering Committee to receive feedback on the College’s Self-Study Design (SSD).  Positive feedback was received, and the SSD was accepted without needing any modifications.  This is a testament to the hard work that went into composing the SSD and the commitment of the Core Leadership Team, the Steering Committee, and College Relations.  Everyone who was involved in writing, editing, designing, and reviewing contributed to this success.

The Self-Study Working Groups have now begun their work, as outlined in the attached Self-Study Design.  As progress is made on analyzing evidence and developing outlines, updates will be given to the campus community.

For current information on the progress of the Self-Study and to find more details, please refer to Ocean County College’s Middle States website.  It will be continually updated.

Strategic Initiatives

Attached to my report is the Fall 2020 Update and the 2021 Final Report, submitted on behalf of the Guiding Coalition.  The Fall 2020 Update reports on the progress of the Charting our New Course transformative and details challenges encountered during the pandemic, while the 2021 Final Report is a culmination of achievements over the past five years and discussion of the College’s Key Performance Indicators, attached.  For more detail on the initiatives supporting the College’s 2015-2020 strategies, please refer to the attached Strategy Maps.  The reports were developed by the Guiding Coalition following receipt of annual strategy progress reports, also attached, and a collaborative process wherein strategy leader submissions are reviewed and discussed, questions are asked, and recommendations are offered.

Due to the pandemic, Strategies for Success, the College’s 2015-2020 strategic plan, was extended through December 2020.  As the Final Report notes, there has been a significant amount of progress in all eight strategies since 2015.  This progress is laying the foundation for the Institutional Goals that are contained in the FY 2021-2026 Strategic Plan, Ocean County College at the Helm.

At Thursday’s meeting, Ms. Jackie D’Amore, Senior HR Specialist for Talent and Organizational Development, and Mr. Anthony Jordan, Enterprise Applications Director, co-chairs of the Guiding Coalition, will provide a brief presentation on this year’s activities and achievements, five-year highlights, and plans for the next five years

Phi Theta Kappa

Last month, Dr. William Rickert, Professor of Mathematics and Phi Theta Kappa advisor, reported to the trustees on the recognition received by the Tau Iota Chapter and its members for being named a 2021 REACH Rewards chapter.  Additionally, Ms. Jen Fazio, Director of Student Life, was named a Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Administrator for 2021.

The good news continues for the Tau Iota Chapter.  Ms. Kaitlyn Barrett has been named a Coca-Cola Silver Scholar by Phi Theta Kappa.  Kaitlyn has served as the Chapter’s Historian for 2020-21.  As a Silver Scholar on Coca-Cola’s 2021 Academic Team, she will receive a $1,250 scholarship and a Silver medallion, which will be presented to her during an All-State Academic Team ceremony.

Kaitlyn’s selection was based on the score she earned in the All-USA Academic Team competition, for which more than 2,000 applications were received this year.  This program is sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and is administered by the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

Congratulations are extended to Kaitlyn for her outstanding academic achievement and leadership accomplishments.

Academic Affairs

School of Nursing and Health Sciences

  • Teresa Walsh, Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Dr. Elizabeth Stevenson, Assistant Dean of the School, have been meeting weekly with the Chief Nursing Officer/Vice of President of Patient Care Services and Director of Education at Community Medical Center to assure the safe continuity of clinical experiences for students.
  • To assure the safety of students, faculty, and patients, the School of Nursing and Health Sciences has been working with clinical affiliates to secure services required to enter healthcare facilities. RWJBarnabas has provided COVID (saliva) testing and medical clearance for N95 mask fitting.  Hackensack Meridian Health has provided N95 mask fit testing.
  • On March 10, 2021, Ametra Burton and Ms. Denise Peoples of the New Jersey Sharing Network virtually presented information to graduating Nursing students related to organ and tissue donation. Students are required by the New Jersey Board of Nursing to attend a presentation discussing organ and tissue donation processes in New Jersey as part of the Nursing Program curriculum.
  • Mark Adelung PhD, MSN, RN, a graduate of OCC’s School of Nursing, met virtually on March 10, 2021, with students preparing to graduate from the Nursing Program in Spring 2021.  Adelung discussed his journey in nursing, including experiences related to practicing as a male nurse in a predominantly female profession.
  • Representatives from Elder Life Management & Home Care Services (a Hovnanian organization) have met virtually with Nursing students throughout March to discuss Registered Nurse and Nursing Assistant positions available within their facilities. Included in the discussions were Eric Allgair, Senior Vice-President; Ms. Judy Parnes, Executive Director; and Ms. Jenn Gerace, Director of Nursing.
  • OCC’s joint programs with Rutgers University, including Occupational Therapy Assistant and Psychosocial Rehabilitation, have resumed clinical rotations that were delayed due to the pandemic. One student completed the Occupational Therapy Assistant program in Fall 2020. One Psychosocial Rehabilitation student and two Occupational Therapy Assistant students are scheduled to graduate in Spring 2021.
  • On March 24, 2021, the New Jersey League for Nursing sponsored a virtual presentation titled, Next Generation Learning: Clinical Judgement and Creativity in Nursing Education. In attendance were College Lecturers Sharon Scrofine MSN, RN; Mary Sue Gill MSN, RN; and Maryjean Natoli, MSN, RN.  This presentation focused on research related to learning based on brain science and strategies to enhance students’ judgment in live and virtual clinical environments.
  • Teresa Walsh is participating in workforce development meetings with the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, RWJBarnabas Health, and deans and directors of associate degree nursing programs throughout the state. The focus of these meetings is to discuss plans to prepare for expected vacancies of Registered Nurses within RWJBarnabas healthcare facilities.

School of Arts and Humanities

  • In March, the Social Justice Series continued with two events. On March 3, 2021, College Lecturer II Catherine Mancuso had anti-racism educator, Ms. Ashani Mfuko, present Anti-Racism School is in Session, a training series to educate, inform, and illuminate issues around racism in America, specifically for the purpose of guiding Americans on their journey of anti-racism.  On March 12, 2021, a film screening of Hidden Figures took place.  This screening was also a part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.  Based on the nonfiction book of the same name, the film follows the work of black female mathematicians at NASA during the Space Race.  The film highlights the segregation, racism, and sexism faced by these pioneering women.  The screening was hosted by Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Academic Affairs Christine O’Neill; Executive Assistant to the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Bridget Everett; and Director of Library Services Donna Rosinski-Kauz.
  • The latest phase of the Arts on Campus project was installed in March on the second floor of the Instructional Building. The artwork was a collaboration with members of the Mathematics department, who helped the committee identify quotes related to mathematics to find inspiration for the artworks  The committee is chaired by College Lecturer II Renate Pustiak and includes Instructor Nathanial Bard, Assistant Professor Richard Fallon, and Assistant Professor Lisa Cecere.
  • Associate Professor Jayanti Tamm and Professor David Bordelon have established a chapter of the two-year college honor society, Sigma Kappa Delta. The student members chose to have a poetry reading as their first honor society event on March 4, 2021.
  • Throughout March, lecturers held several professional development events for adjunct faculty. College Lecturer II Madison Peschock led this month’s English Adjunct Roundtable meeting. The meeting focused on creative ways to teach ENGL 151, English I, in a remote learning environment. College Lecturer II Samantha Glassford held an Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) Roundtable, which included a check-in with the adjuncts and a review of ALP student surveys.
  • College Lecturer II Christine Bryant, and College Lecturer II Richard Carr have created a series called Writing Through the Pandemic. Students are invited to share their experiences through writing during these unprecedented times.  The series is taking place throughout March and April.
  • Dean of the School Heidi Sheridan and Assistant Dean Veronica Guevara-Lovgren recently worked with Grants, Academic Affairs, and the Academic Schools to apply for funding through the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act. The purpose of the Act is to provide county colleges with financial resources to increase institutional capacity to offer career and technical education (CTE) programs.  If approved, this grant will assist OCC in meeting the increasing needs of industry partners by improving the development of qualified workers through experiential learning.  To address gaps between skills and employment opportunities, the grant involves forming partnerships between the College and industry.  The grant will also support the creation of a new multi-purpose lab that will support Graphic Arts and Electronic Media. The expectation is that this opportunity will support increased enrollment and graduation so students can successfully enter in-demand jobs.

School of Business and Social Sciences

  • Sean Bips, College Lecturer II in Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management (HRTM), organized a career exploration event entitled OCC Alumni Full Circle, during which students had the opportunity to learn about career and educational pathways in the business and hospitality fields. Students heard from recent OCC Business and HRTM graduates about their experiences at OCC and beyond.  Alumni participants included Ms. Callista Silletti, Staff 1 Auditing Accountant at Holman Frenia Allison; Ms. Diana Farnham, Director of Operations and Recruitment at Chick-Fil-A Franchise; Mr. Nick Raymond, Inside Sales Representative at Star Group/Petro Oil; and Mr. Rob Nagel, Entrepreneur and Owner of Surf Taco.  In addition to the alumni speakers, OCC Career Services and Alumni Relations staff spoke about resources available to OCC students and alumni.  Students remained after the talks to ask additional questions.  OCC Full Circle was hosted by the Business Innovation Consortium (BIC) and sponsored by OCC Alumni Relations.  The virtual event took place on March 19, 2021, from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.
  • Ben Castillo, College Lecturer II in Criminal Justice, announced that the Governmental Affairs Institute will be sponsoring the Ocean County Police Chiefs Roundtable. This virtual roundtable discussion, consisting of a select number of Ocean County police leaders, will cover a variety of law enforcement topics, including the impact of marijuana decriminalization on law enforcement; the enforcement of rules pertaining to social distancing and other measures regarding the COVID-19 pandemic; issues such as use of force, implicit bias, and defunding; as well as the essential skills, knowledge, and abilities necessary for a career in law enforcement.  The event will take place on March 30, 2021, from 12:30–1:30 p.m.
  • Patricia Gianotti, College Lecture II in Addiction Studies, announced that Kenneth Finn, M.D., nationally recognized physician and president of the American Board of Pain Medicine,
    will present at the Institute of Counseling Professionals at Ocean County College on March 31, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. Dr. Finn will present Lessons from Colorado:  Cannabis and the Opioid Epidemic — the Unintended Consequences of the Legalization of Marijuana.  He will discuss the impact of marijuana use on physical, emotional, and social health; the impact of recreational marijuana uses on individuals and families; and the role of clinicians in providing services to individuals and families.  Participants also will learn about the science of cannabis and pain, the impact of legalization on adolescent use, and how legalization impacted Colorado’s drug problem.

This presentation is intended for licensed clinicians and has been approved by the Addiction Certification Board of New Jersey for three hours of continuing education for the following credentials:  Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor, and Licensed Associate Professional Counselor.

Dr. Finn earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School-Houston and has been practicing Pain Medicine in Colorado Springs since 1994.  He is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pain Medicine, and Pain Management.  Dr. Finn formerly served on the Colorado Governor’s Task Force on Amendment 64 (which legalized marijuana for recreational use), 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, a comprehensive compilation of multiple facets of cannabis from a medical perspective.  There is a $30 fee for the program; registration and payment may be submitted to Workforce and Professional Education.

  • Stephanie Frattini, Interim College Lecturer II in Student Success, worked with the Grunin Center to schedule motivational speaker Kaila Mullady to visit all STSC-150, Student Success Seminar,classes during the 2021 Spring semester.  Ms. Mullaly is the 2015 and 2018 World Beatbox Champion and recently ended her run on Broadway as a cast member in Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hip Hop Improv Show titled Freestyle Love Supreme.  In addition to her career as an artist and stage performer, Ms. Mullady travels the world as a motivational speaker to share her own personal journey, while using her passion for beatboxing as a tool to teach students leadership skills, self-expression, goal-setting, personal motivation, and community organizing.

Ms. Frattini has also arranged for Mr. Max Darwin, also known as The Amazing Max, to present to all Student Success Seminar classes throughout March and April.  Max is a NYC-based actor and magician whose TV credits include Sneaky Pete, FBI, Blindspot, Brain Games, and the hosting of Game Farm on Nickelodeon.  His theater show, The Amazing Max, has received rave reviews from the New York Times and played both Off-Broadway and on tour around the country.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, Max has pivoted his business and created a Virtual Magic Academy, with already over 1,110 virtual experiences for students.

Ms. Frattini worked with the Grunin Center to coordinate two professional development workshops for faculty conducted by Mr. Kevin Spencer, Adjunct Lecture in Special Education at Carlow University in Pittsburgh on March 12 and 19, 2021.  In the first workshop, titled Trauma Informed Teaching, faculty participants were provided with guidelines, resources, and best practices in identifying trauma-related issues within the classroom.  In the second workshop, titled Teach Like A Magician, faculty participants were presented with research-based, interactive, arts-based interventions that can be used immediately in their teaching practice.  MAGICIAN is an acronym in that each letter corresponds to a concept that research has identified as being an essential component of creating a classroom environment conducive to learning.  Practical applications were made throughout the presentation.

In addition to his role at Carlow University, Mr. Spencer is a research consultant for the Occupational Therapy Department and Arts in Medicine program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a subject matter expert and Fulbright Specialist on arts integration for special populations for the U.S. Department of State, and an Approved Provider of Continuing Education for the American Occupational Therapy Association.  He has earned a B.S. in Psychology, an M.Ed. in Arts Integration, and is a Ph.D. candidate in Special Education.

  • Father Edward Reading, Ph.D., Adjunct Assistant Professor in Addiction Studies, testified on behalf of the New Jersey Advisory Committee to the S. Committee on Civil Rights on February 9, 2021, regarding the licensure of persons who have a history of criminal convictions and how that criminal history interferes with their ability to obtain professional credentials. The New Jersey Rehabilitated Convicted Offender Act is the touchstone for evaluating whether an applicant or a licensee with a criminal conviction should receive or retain a license. Dr. Reading explained that “while this Act allows Boards to consider evidence of rehabilitation; which means an applicant could provide documentation of successful completion of addiction and mental health rehabilitation…there remain areas where improvement in processes can and should occur.” Dr. Reading noted that while significant delays in Board approval can be attributed to administrative resources issues, he expressed concern that “to a degree, this can also be a product of implicit bias or stigma against individuals with addiction and criminal histories” and that there needs to be increased awareness of these influences as a means “to make sure that such biases do not slow the return of qualified individuals to their designated practice areas.”

Dr. Reading is the Vice Chair of the State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners, Chair of the State Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselor Committee, and the Assistant Director of the Professional Assistance Program of New Jersey (PAP).  He is a member and past president of INCASE (International Consortium for Addiction Studies Education) and was a founding Commissioner of NASAC (the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission), which accredits college and university addiction studies programs.  Dr. Reading has lectured on addictions studies and designed academic programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels since 1981.

School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

  • OCC Engineering Week events, including the virtual paper airplane contest and the virtual egg triathlon, were a Guest speaker Charles Cebula, Adjunct Professor in Engineering, spoke about Dr. Walter S. McAfee – Hidden Figure and Pioneer in Radar.  Professor Cebula will be asked to repeat this talk next year as a celebration of Black History Month.
  • During the virtual speed networking/mentoring event and follow-up sessions, OCC students, Ocean County high school students, and local entrepreneurs were given advice about school, careers, and how to find investors for an existing patent.
  • The STEAM Camp–Spatial Visualization was held from February 23 through March 16, 2021.  Four sessions ran via Webex each Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. The camp focused on artistic and technical drawing activities that align with drafting techniques to show the full spectrum of STEAM Spatial Visualization to improve spatial skills, which can improve grades in STEM as well as CAD and Design skills.  This program continues to gain momentum as both new and repeat students participate; it is offered free to all Ocean County middle school students through Perkins Grant funding.
  • Pamela Bogdan, College Lecturer II in Engineering, in collaboration with OCC student, Derek Alton, created a joint paper, A Case Study: Individual Design Enhancement for a Saucepan…Providing Practical Experience Within a Community College Engineering Program.  The paper has been accepted for publication and will be scheduled for presentation at the 2021 Integrated STEM Education Conference (ISEC).  Derek won the Spring 2020 OCC Engineering Individual Design contest.  His project is helping to refine this component of the School’s experiential learning program that pairs a student with a mentor as they work on a three- to six-month prototyping project. The Fall 2020 winners and their mentors are beginning their projects now.
  • A series of talks is being scheduled for March and April. The School is offering a free, virtual panel discussion on March 31, 2021, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. to celebrate Women’s History Month.  The panelists will discuss their individual journeys to becoming leaders in their respective fields and will share their significant STEM successes as well as the challenges and rewards of being a leader.
    • Women Leaders in STEM:

S (Science) – Dr. Sylvia Riviello, Dean of the School of STEM

T (Technology) – Dr. Cheryl Cooper, Recognized Expert in Telecommunication/Information Technology Security, T-Mobile

E (Engineering) – Ms. Cristy Richards, President and CEO of JAKTOOL

M (Mathematics) – Ms. Tanya Moore, Intersecting Lines, Managing Partner

College Lecturer Pam Bogdan is moderating the event.

  • The Engineering and Technology Departments continue to work with local industry partners to provide employment opportunities for students. Students are being placed with the following companies:  Delaire USA Inc.; JAKTOOL Engineered Solutions; Morgan Engineering and Surveying; OCC Engineering and Technology Department (work-study); RC Burdick Engineers & Associates; and Scope Engineering, Inc.  This list is ever expanding.  
  • The School of STEM is in the process of creating discipline-specific newsletters, i.e., Science, Engineering, and Computer Studies. These newsletters will be uploaded to the STEM web page and will be available at:
  • STEM Assistant Dean Carolyn Showalter hosted a Webex Workshop on Technology Hints. The workshop was recorded and included various subjects pertaining to Canvas, OCC’s Learning Management System. Some topics presented by College Lecturer II in Computer Studies Edmond Hong and Angel Camilo, College Lecturer II in Science, were quizzing through Canvas, Canvas Grade Book, document cameras, and Webex meetings.
  • College Lecturer II in Computer Studies Jon Weiss has initiated a partnership with CompTIA (Computing Training Industry Association). In conjunction with OCC’s Cybersecurity curriculum, an option for students to pursue industry certification (Security+) will be made  Training will be offered on campus, administered remotely by CompTIA instructors.

Mr. Jon Weiss also conducted a sneak preview of the CSIT 200, Information Security Fundamentals, course on Thursday, March 4, 2021, from 3:45 to 5:00 p.m. for students who are already enrolled in the Computer Studies program.

  • The Cybersecurity Seminar Series, hosted by Jon Weiss, continued with a discussion with Mr. Karl Siil, Chief Engineer, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Cyber Warfare Systems Group, on February 26, 2021, regarding how the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are teaming up to help state and local governments enhance their online defenses. Under a pilot program, Arizona, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Texas, as well as the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), are applying Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) to this effort.  SOAR tools enable organizations to collect security-threat data through multiple sources and perform triage response actions significantly faster than with manual processes.  This initiative will enable state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments to quickly and broadly share information, in near real time, and leverage automation to prevent or respond to cyberattacks.
  • The School of STEM recently became a member of the Global Council for Science and the Environment (GCSE). As a member, the School looks forward to contributing and benefiting from the work, resources, and community offered by GCSE – from sharing science with decision-makers in service to the environment, to building collaborative research and synthesis, to sharing best practices for virtual learning and engagement.  GCSE provides ongoing opportunities for the College to engage in meaningful and transformative ways, together with scientists, researchers, educators, and decision-makers around the world.  GCSE membership benefits can be reviewed at:
  • Congratulations are offered to Tracey Hill, Adjunct Professor of Science. Ms. Hill’s submission to the New Jersey City University Community College Showcase, Two Remote Learning Tools to Increase Engagement and Participation: Nearpod & Flipgrid, has been selected to be highlighted.  The virtual conference will be held on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.  For more details about the conference, visit
  • The Fifth Annual Jersey Shore Junior Science Symposium, directed by Mary-Ellen Rada, Science College Lecturer II, received 68 entries this year from high schools across the state. After being redacted, each one was reviewed and scored by between 5-10 paper reviewers.  The scores were tabulated, and a Paper Review Committee chose the top ten papers, whose creators will compete via a PowerPoint presentation for the opportunity to attend the National Competition.  The next six papers were chosen to compete in a poster competition.

An orientation was held for all sixteen winners to instruct them on the best practices for PowerPoint and poster presentations.  Each student was individually mentored by a person from the field that matched their research topic.  A rehearsal was held for the PowerPoint presenters, which involved being critiqued for content and presence.  All of this was conducted remotely via Webex meetings.  The students created MP4 videos for distribution to final judges for viewing and scoring.  The Symposium was held on March 19, 2021, via Webex, at which time the winners were announced.

  • The Mathematics Club, with guidance from Vandana Saini and Ms. Julia Kim, Mathematics College Lecturers, hosted a virtual Pi Day event on March 5, 2021. Winners received $10 gift cards from local pizza pie chains.  A series of math lectures are planned for the near future.

Workforce and Professional Education

  • A course has been developed for the Community Health Worker (CHW) Program, which was recently approved by the New Jersey Registered Apprenticeship Program. It includes 144 hours of didactic instruction, followed by over 1,000 hours of on-the-job training.  This program serves incumbent workers and is part of the New Jersey Department of Health GAINS (Growing Apprenticeships in Non-traditional Sectors) Grant.  The course contains both OCC content (130 hours) and Rutgers University, School of Public Health, Contact Training Instruction (14 hours).  Since the CHW program launched in mid-February 2021, OCC has served 35 students from all over New Jersey in its remote cohorts in daytime and later afternoon programs.

In collaboration with the School of Business and Social Sciences, Workforce and Professional Education has created a curriculum which is slated to be approved by the New Jersey Department of Health as the State’s first recognized CHW credential in which students are eligible to take three challenge exams that lead to up to 9 credits in OCC’s Social Work degree program.  The CHW apprenticeship program is grant-funded and tuition-free to students.  Currently under development is a CHW Master Course that will be completed in time for summer.

  • The College is beginning to refine, promote, and develop articulation and prior learning assessment (PLA).  Preliminary conversations are taking place to develop a landing page on the OCC website for PLA where staff and students can access information about the various opportunities to earn credit for what they already know. On the page, they will get step-by-step instructions on how to engage in the opportunities and ensure they are reflected on their academic transcripts.  Plans are in place to align select existing academic programs that can utilize non-credit credentials for advanced standing toward academic certificates and degree programs that lead to in-demand, living-wage employment.  Promoting and expanding PLA opportunities at OCC will give students a mechanism to save time and money as they work toward their goals.

Academic and Tutoring Support Services

  • Two months ago, Academic and Tutoring Support Services launched CircleIn, an app by which students can study together remotely. The students can collaborate on their assignments, chat, and stay productive.  Using CircleIn, OCC students can brainstorm together just like they would in a coffee shop or a study room in the Library, but they are doing so online.  To date, there have been over 2,500 unique student downloads of the app and over 24,000 study actions by students on this virtual platform.  Also, students who help their fellow OCC students by sharing their notes or answering their questions will be rewarded with gift cards that are honored at many stores, such as Panera, Starbucks, and Amazon.  OCC students have started receiving their rewards for their hard work and interaction on CircleIn.  To date, over 200 gift cards have been distributed to our students.
  • Academic and Tutoring Support Services has purchased TutorTrac to replace the current data tracking and appointment scheduling system, Accudemia, in early June. TutorTrac has various features that will provide better service to students.  Some of these features include automatic text reminders of appointments, personalized e-mails, streamlined service selection, as well as extensive reporting options and follow-up surveys to continuously improve tutoring services.


Janet Marler, Library College Lecturer II, and Ms. Kayci Clayton, Associate Director of Grants Administration, worked with three other New Jersey community colleges and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges to write a grant proposal for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) Open Textbooks Pilot program. The New Jersey grant proposal was accepted for funding, and the participating institutions were informed in December 2020.  This grant will support the creation of new open textbooks and expands the use of open textbooks in courses for degree-granting programs, with an emphasis on high-enrollment courses.  OCC will be focusing on Technology, Innovation, and Computer Science.

Finance and Administration

  • The New Jersey Council of County Colleges is highlighting one of our own during Women’s History Month. Christine Healey, Director of Purchasing and Payables, is featured in social media posts from the Council.  Ms. Healey has recently been a featured speaker at a National Assessment of Educational Progress event for its centennial celebration.  At the event, she discussed how the community colleges of New Jersey took it to the next level by successfully creating a consortium, overcoming challenges, to realize cost savings in contracts for shared services.  Ms. Healey is a Qualified Purchasing Agent by the State of New Jersey, has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University and bachelor of science degree in Marketing Management from St. Peter’s University.  She is recognized as the Lead Purchasing Agent for the New Jersey Council of County Colleges Joint Purchasing Consortium.

Congratulations are extended to Ms. Healey for her outstanding work on behalf of Ocean County College and all New Jersey community colleges.

Conference Center

The new Conference Center is complete and ready for use.  Because it can accommodate a large number of students and has remote capabilities, it will be available for scheduling of classes for the Summer and Fall this year.  This is an opportunity to offer more students the chance to attend a class in person.  Secondary use will be for Grunin/Planetarium events (if any).  The Center will not be scheduled for meetings or rental until after the conclusion of the Fall semester.

College Relations

The Web

  • College Relations launched its updated Intake Request System. The process has been streamlined to enable a smooth project flow from start to finish.  New features include single sign on, access to a knowledge base, and writing/editing services.  Benefits of the system include confirmation of submissions, email updates as work is completed, communication to all involved by posting notes in one location, as well as the ability to access final versions, including the full history of approved projects.
  • In collaboration with the School of Arts and Humanities, ​ Maureen Conlon, Associate Director of Web Services, and Mr. Nicolaus Burr, Social Media/Web Developer,created a YouTube playlist of Humanities College Lecturer Brian Gilmore’s performances of 10 Beethoven’s sonatas recorded for his students and OCC’s student Music Club.
  • OCC launched a TikTok channel. This short video social media platform will provide the College with an additional method to connect with students on a platform they often frequent.  According to Forbes Magazine, 60% of TikTok followers are members of Gen Z.  Follow the College on TikTok at @oceancountycollege.  College Relations is accepting requests for posting on TikTok through its Intake Request form.


The Alumni Office, Career Services, and BIC (Business Innovation Consortium) co-hosted OCC Alumni Full Circle on Friday, March 19, 2021.  The virtual event featured three recent OCC alumni from the School of Business who shared their experiences transferring from OCC to four-year institutions and transitioning into the workforce.  Mr. Christopher Carbone, Career Services Coordinator, spoke to attendees about career services and professional development available to OCC students and alumni; and Ms. Kimberly Malony, Alumni and Advancement Director, spoke to attendees about the OCC alumni network, services, and ways to stay connected to OCC.  Mr. Rob Nagel, Owner of Surf Taco, was also a guest speaker to offer advice to OCC students and alumni.  The collaboration between several OCC departments successfully engaged both students and alumni.

Design Services

In collaboration, the HUB and Mr. Michael Leon, Manager of Graphic Design, launched the “Should I” campaign to promote affordability.  The promotional materials informed students, staff, and the community about the FY 2022 OCC tuition freeze.  The campaign will be sent to counselors, high school students, and the community.

Ocean County College Foundation

Blauvelt Speaker Series Update

Please consider joining the next two scheduled events of the Blauvelt Speaker Series, Alton Fitzgerald White on April 20, 2021, and Arthur C. Brooks on May 6, 2021, for lunch and learn virtual opportunities.  More information is available on the Grunin Center website,

Alton Fitzgerald White is Broadway’s longest-running Lion King.  He has starred in six smash Broadway hits, including Miss Saigon, Smokey Joe’s Café, Ragtime:  The Musical, and The Who’s Tommy.  During his presentation, About my Pride:  Mastering Life’s Daily Performance, he will share his secret to fulfillment and joy in everyday work and life.

Arthur C. Brooks is a Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and Professor of Management Practice at the Harvard Business School.  He is the author of 11 books, including national bestsellers.  Based on his book, Gross National Happiness, and his documentary, The Pursuit, he will talk about the pursuit of happiness and true success.


Graduating award opportunities opened on March 8, 2021, as scheduled and will remain open through April 25, 2021.  Fall Semester applications will open in May and remain open through August.

Social Justice Task Force

OCC representatives continue to serve on the Social Justice Task Force of the higher education institutions of Ocean County and Monmouth County.  The purpose of this initiative, spearheaded by Monmouth University and funded by the Grunin Foundation, is to create an academy for all K-12 educators and higher education professionals to learn how to educate, address, and explore topics of historical significance and current events with an eye toward diversity, equity, and inclusion.  There is a great need to teach the teachers and give them the tools to address these most important issues of our time.

Fund Distribution

The 2021 Fund Request period will open March 22, 2021, and remain open through April 25, 2021.  The Committee Chair will call a meeting, traditionally by the first week of May, to review all applications that may be received.

All funds previously approved for this academic year have been set aside if not used due to the Global Health Crisis; reapplication is not required.

Summer Scholarship Celebration

This year’s hybrid celebration will be hosted on the beautiful Campus Mall on Friday, June 18, 2021.  Limited in-person tickets will be available to the live event, and unlimited virtual registration will be available through the Grunin Center.

Most notably, with the generous assistance of donors, the OCC Foundation has pledged over $1,000,000 in scholarship and special program support to the students of Ocean County College this academic year alone, which would not be possible without the support of the entire College community.

Human Resources

Training and Organizational Development

Search Committee Training

A new online training program for search committees has been launched, offering a timely and more convenient training experience.  The training is deployed within the Safe Colleges learning platform.  It will be assigned to hiring managers, search committee chairs, and search committee members.  Refresher training will be offered every two years.

The course is designed to provide a practical understanding of the search process and the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the process.  It includes hiring policies and procedures, the legal framework for recruitment, and focuses on how to avoid implicit biases from entering the search process.  Also addressed are best practices to ensure an inclusive and equitable search and the benefits of behavioral interviewing.

Ocean Way Training

Ocean Way Training was held on Friday, March 12, 2021.  There are 35 new graduates of the Ocean Way training program.

Performance Management Annual Program

Upcoming steps in this program include:

  • Self-evaluations open on April 5 and are due by April 30, 2021
  • Supervisor evaluations are due to Reviewing Officers by June 4, 2021
  • Evaluation meetings are held by June 18, 2021
  • Employee acknowledgments of evaluations are due by June 30, 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, February 19, 2021, through March 18, 2021.

Student Affairs



The Advise implementation team is piloting the use of low course average data to create early intervention alerts for NJ STARS students.  The framework of these alerts will be used as a model going forward, as early warning alerts are expanded to more student groups.


NJ STARS Coordinator Jennifer Kipp participated in a NJ STARS Information Session presented by the HUB.   The event was a great collaborative effort between the HUB, Financial Aid, and Kean Ocean and was attended by 29 potential students.

Counseling Center

  • The Counseling Center continues to provide a full range of services and programs in remote operations. An OCC team has been created for the virtual American Foundation of Suicide Prevention walk; information about joining and/or supporting the team was released on March 15, 2021, to the campus community.  Additional information is available from the Counseling Center.
  • A Nicotine Recovery Workshop was held in collaboration with the RWJBarnabas Institute for Prevention and Recovery, providing education on nicotine addiction as well as information on various pathways to quitting and linkage to Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialists. QPR was offered to all faculty, staff, and students; seven participants attended one session.  A vision board workshop was also offered with all supplies for the activity provided to interested students.  On March 17, 2021, the Center partnered with the Planetarium to present the popular Sunset Meditation program; another session is scheduled for May 10, 2021.

Weekly Recovery Support meetings and opportunities continue to be held for student engagement with the Recovery Support program, both virtually and in the community through partnership with Hope Sheds Light.

A comprehensive event schedule is planned for April, focusing on recovery from substance use disorders and other addictions.  Events will provide education and celebrate the journey of recovery taken by so many in our community, as well as the efforts of community stakeholders in supporting individuals affected by addiction.  Focusing on a theme of Prevention and Recovery with a Vision of Hope, the activities begin with Matt Bellace, Ph.D., presenting Finding Your Natural High, on April 12, 2021.  Other activities include a training for professionals on Current Drug Trends, presented by the DART Coalition on April 13, 2021; a panel of individuals in recovery, speaking about language and stigma, on April 19, 2021; and a collaborative presentation with the DART Coalition and the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide on self-care, scheduled for April 26, 2021.  The Recovery Program is serving 102 students in its second program year; plans are being made to open the Wellness and Recovery Center upon return to campus.

  • April is Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. An event scheduled for April 22, 2021, which features a panel of representatives from OCC, local law enforcement, community agencies, and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
  • The CARE Team has been working on reports submitted by faculty and staff. For the period July 1, 2020, to March 14, 2021, there were 583 reports filed, with 548 reports received since September 1, 2020.  In comparison, for the same time periods in 2019, 239 reports were filed for the period July 1, 2019, to March 14, 2020, with 230 reports from September 1, 2019, to March 14, 2020.
  • Activities focused on retention and student success have increased, with the implementation of a subcommittee of the CARE Team that is focused on managing the academic CARE reports. Over 130 reports have been received from faculty and staff notifying the CARE Team about students who are in academic jeopardy. Approximately 25 of those reports were for more exigent circumstances related to mental health, financial, housing, and death or illness of family members.  The Restore Your Score Program is working with 73 students, and Starfish is working with 157 students.
  • The Displaced Homemakers Program is providing services to 73 clients (24 new and 49 continuing); two clients became employed this month and five are or will be participating in the Medical Assistant Certification course. The Program continues to provide a wide range of remote training, including computer skills and career/employment seminars.  Six clients are enrolled in OCC classes, for a total of 56 credits.

Disability Services

  • The Office of Disability Services continues to provide proactive outreach to OCC faculty, staff, and local high school personnel focusing on accessing reasonable accommodations at OCC. The Office provided a virtual information session to parents and students in the Jackson School District on March 15, 2021.
  • In collaboration with Sheenah Hartigan, Executive Director of Enrollment Services, and the HUB, Disability Services has deployed a student usage and satisfaction survey to students enrolled in courses with Ally for Canva s (Ally).
  • Jamie Arasz Prioli, Adaptive Services Specialist, was selected to serve on the Ocean County Commission for Individuals with Disabilities (CID).  CID works in collaboration with the Ocean County Department of Human Services, Office for Individuals with Disabilities. It provides information about programs and advocates, as well as offers technical assistance at a local level.
  • Gina Zippo-Mazur, Coordinator of Accessibility Services, moderated the Q&A session for Dr. Temple Grandin titled About Developing Individuals Who Have Different Kinds of Minds on March 13, 2021, which was presented through the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts.
  • Zippo-Mazur obtained a License as a Professional Counselor (LPC) in the State of New Jersey.

HUB/Enrollment Services

  • The Enrollment Services Office has been hosting virtual “application days” in collaboration with various high schools to encourage seniors to complete their OCC applications, giving them swag and answering questions regarding applying to and attending college. Recent high schools included New Egypt, Jackson Liberty, Jackson Memorial, Barnegat, and Pinelands.
  • The NJ STARS Information Session was held virtually on March 2, 2021, at 7:00 p.m., and 29 potential students were in attendance. In addition to College speakers, which included Enrollment Services Technician Jenna Puglisi, Financial Aid Advisor Karen Wilson-Wylie, Ms. Jennifer Kipp, and Kean Director of Admissions Richard Harrell, two current NJ STARS students were recruited to speak about their decisions to attend OCC and their experiences thus far.
  • Toms River High School South students and parents received a presentation at a recent Wednesday Night Live event regarding dual enrollment, featuring Henry Jackson, Executive Director of Academic Success, and Ms. Sheenah Hartigan. There were 35 attendees.
  • Sheenah Hartigan recently participated in a virtual panel discussion hosted by the Chronicle of Higher Education on March 4, 2021. The topic was Digital Marketing from Recruitment through Graduation.  The link to view the presentation is available here.

Financial Aid

  • On February 26, 2021, Governor Murphy signed legislation to permanently establish the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG). CCOG began in Spring 2019 as a pilot program to provide free tuition for eligible New Jersey residents in order to promote access to higher education degree and certificate programs.  For Fall 2020, OCC awarded $500,928 of CCOG funds to 445 eligible students.
  • The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) emergency grants application processing was made available to students on February 1, 2021. Since then, 826 applications were received, and 612 students were awarded funding; the total amount awarded and disbursed is $968,000.  The CRRSAA requires that institutions prioritize students with exceptional need, such as students who receive Pell grants, in awarding financial aid grants to students.  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 maximum amount of eligible expenses for which students can be funded is $2,000 to full-time students (12 credit hours or more) or $1,000 to part-time students (11 credit hours or less).
  • The new FAFSA filing cycle began October 1, 2020, for the 2021-22 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 to discuss the basic concepts of financial aid for our students and the Ocean County community.  Additionally, the Financial Aid 101 presentation has been posted on the OCC website for students, parents, and community members to access.  As of March 16, 2021, the Financial Aid Office has received 8,114 FAFSA applications for 2020-21 and 2, 916 FAFSA applications for 2021-22.

Student Life

  • Student Life’s online chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success (NSLS), which was started in Fall 2018, is reaching new heights this semester as the remote environment has fueled its growth. The NSLS chapter has seen an 18% response rate to the invitations sent out to eligible students this year.  In addition to the honorable distinction now held by 253 students, the NSLS provides a step-by-step online program for members to strengthen their leadership skills.

OCC’s chapter of NSLS recently hosted two live speaker broadcasts for the campus community.  The first, A Lesson in Leadership conversation, was with Mr. Mark Cuban on February 16, 2021, followed by Mr. Bill Gates on March 9, 2021.  These virtual events are open to the campus community, and these speaker broadcasts fulfill a step for members on their journey toward induction into NSLS. 

Southern Education Center

  • The utilization of the Canvas shell dedicated to the Southern Education Center continues to alert students registered in one or more of the class sections labelled as SEC or MT (MATES Building) to many of the campus events. During February and into March, the SEC Canvas shell recorded over 2,800 views of Announcement emails.  The topics covered during this time frame included:  Handshake; the latest round of CARES funding – Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF); Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF); and the OCC Foundation Graduating Student Award information.
  • The rollout of L.A.N., Promoting Learners to Achieve Now, continues at both Barnegat High School and Pinelands Regional High School. As high school juniors and seniors begin planning their schedules for the 2021-22 school year, the Guidance Departments at both schools are scheduling presentations to provide specific information explaining P.L.A.N.  Details of the communication efforts continue to be phased in, such as planning for an evening virtual information session at both schools for parents and students.  Ms. Sheenah Hartigan and Mr. James Hauenstein, Director of the Southern Education Center, continue to collaborate with the schools to create the informational details for this Early College opportunity.
  • James Hauenstein will be attending the NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) 2021 Virtual Conference from March 22 to 24, 2021.
  • In preparation for Hiring on a Handshake, a collaborative virtual career fair between the OCC Career Services Department and the Southern Ocean Chamber of Commerce, three workshops have been presented, one informational and two for technical assistance, by Christopher Carbone, OCC Career Services Coordinator; Mr. Taylor Dulemba, Health Sciences Career Specialist; and Mr. James Hauenstein.  Chamber members will create accounts in Handshake to highlight opportunities for southern county students who attend a Virtual Career Fair scheduled for April 7, 2021.  In addition, outreach is taking place to alert the OCC students of the employment opportunities through Handshake.  The goals of this career fair are to expand local employment opportunities for OCC students as well as heighten awareness of the SEC’s educational presence in Southern Ocean County.
  • Installation work on the synchronous immersive classrooms, a component of a Title III grant, is continuing at the SEC. This endeavor will link, through technology, at least one classroom and a small group instruction room with classes on the main campus.  Once complete, students will be able to register for classes being taught on the main campus or receive instructional support through a virtual and fully immersive experience with the same class while staying at the Southern Education Center.

Veterans and Military Resource Center

  • The Veterans and Military Resource Center (VMRC) has been communicating with Columbia University to develop a transition success program. The specific program from Columbia University has been successful and gained accreditation throughout the country as a modeled program.  The VMRC will utilize the Columbia University Veteran Integration and Transition Program to create, mentor, and establish the Ocean County College Veteran and Military-Connected Access Program (OCCVMAP or VAMP), for OCC’s military-affiliated students and alumni.
  • The VMRC is developing a Call to Action letter with Alumni Services to begin the process of reaching out to veteran and military-alumni graduates to encourage them to get involved with VMRC programs and initiatives on and off campus.
  • The VMRC has been invited to participate in a nationwide Veteran Administration and Center of Excellence event for Veteran Student Success grant recipients. It will be hosted by Congresswoman Lois Frankel and Congressman Mark Takano, who serves as the Chairman of House Veterans Affairs Committee. Topics to be covered include:
    • Stressors and successes of housing a Veterans Center on a collegiate campus
    • Testimonies on the importance of having a veteran- and military-connected advocate within a higher education institution is imperative to the success of military-connected students
    • Expanded federal resources for military-connected programs, such as:
      • Mentorship-assisted programs
      • Social and wellness activities
      • Staffing and team building programs
      • Supplementation benefits for military liaison personnel
      • Academic tutors
      • Career coaches
  • The second episode of Veterans’ Voices was completed on March 16, 2021, and will be available by the end of the month. The featured guest for the episode is Retired Lieutenant Colonel Sally Stenton.  Lieutenant Colonel Stenton also participated in the 2020 virtual Veterans Town Hall event.  She is an attorney in the Law Office of Robert Ebberup, Esq. Topics discussed during Veterans’ Voices include:
    • Veteran benefits and compensation
    • Veteran Affairs outreach
    • Compensation understanding for service-connected disabilities
    • Issues veterans face when transitioning out of active service
    • Access to Veteran Service Officers or other resources
  • VMRC partnered with Margaret Maghan, Psychology College Lecturer II, on coordinating the first VETS (Veterans Engaging Teachers and Students) Panel at OCC, covering topics on transition out-of-service experiences, food insecurities while deployed and stateside, assistance from Veteran Affairs, and student perspectives on resources that assist veterans in education. The VETS Panel included Assistant Director of Military and Veteran Services Ryan Luurtsema (Army Retired), Veteran Affairs Social Work Manager and V.I.T.A.L. Coordinator Jennifer Garcia, and Student Veteran Organization President Maryellen De Leon, who is an Army Veteran graduating from OCC in May.
  • VMRC has developed a 13-person Military Support Committee assisting all departments across the campus to develop procedures, policies, and common practices to support military- and veteran-affiliated students in support of the Center of Veteran Student Success. The purpose is to create identifiable administrative personnel for military-affiliated students to specifically develop a plan of action that aligns with objectives and expectations of the Center of Excellence for Veteran Student Success.
  • Ocean County College has been awarded the Military Friendly designation for 2021 by VIQTORY Media group. This company surveys thousands of higher education institutions on compliance, social activities, completion and retention rates, as well as availability of military and veteran programs.

e-Learning and Learning Enterprises


As part of a strategic effort managed by Dean of e-Learning Vivian Lynn, the e-Learning Department is reexamining its course schedule for online offerings based on historical data for the past three academic years.  Additionally, the department is working in collaboration with Academic Affairs to plan and map online and traditional course sequences to ensure that students can proceed sequentially through courses and their prerequisites in a timely manner; this effort should result in an increase in student enrollment.

Professional Development

  • Twenty-five instructors attended February’s e-Learning Adjunct Roundtable. Stefano Maranzana, e-Learning Humanities Adjunct Assistant Professor, demonstrated his use of PlayPosit software to create interactive educational videos that incorporate quiz questions for students.  Dr. Howaida Wahby Eraky, Assistant Dean of e-Learning, International Programs, presented a document that she distributes to guide students in creating effective dialogue within the asynchronous discussion boards.  Dr. Christine Webster-Hansen, e-Learning Assistant Dean, presented a slideshow titled Grading for Stronger Discussions, and attendees shared their own strategies in an open discourse.  In closing, Educational Technologist Eric Daniels offered the group an update on new and important features in Canvas to help educators use Canvas to its fullest.
  • The weekly e-Learning Professional Development series continues this month with sessions on Dropout Detective, McGraw Hill Connect, VoiceThread, and Cengage’s MindTap. Recordings of all sessions are available in the Center for Instructional Empowerment.
  • On March 19, 2021, at the Online Learning Consortium Innovate 2021 conference, e-Learning Lead Instructional Designer Laura Wingler, Mr. Eric Daniels, and Christine Webster-Hansen co-presented From Facilitation to Instruction: Supplementing Online ‘Master’ Courses with Multimodal Communication and Technology. Additionally, at the Rutgers Online Learning Conference on March 16, 2021, Dr. Christine Webster-Hansen presented Strategies for Facilitating Successful Asynchronous Discussions.  These presentations were part of a departmental effort to showcase Ocean County College’s best online teaching practices.

Course Design and Technology


  • The e-Learning Department recently signed a contract with NJ Edge, which is a member-based, nonprofit education technology services provider. NJ Edge will be providing Instructional Designers to work with selected Ocean County College Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to design and develop ten distance learning courses. Due to limited internal Instructional Designers, assistance from NJ Edge will allow the e-Learning Department and Ocean County College to continue building high quality online courses, as well as modify existing highly-enrolled distance learning master courses to ensure course content meets quality standards and promotes student engagement.

The course development process is projected to start in April 2021 and has an estimated completion date of September 30, 2021.

Course Design and Development

  • Laura Wingler has been creating innovative graphics, videos, and interactions within distance learning courses using new software products the department recently purchased. Using VoiceThread, H5P, Canva, Articulate360, and WellSaid Labs, Ms. Wingler has enhanced the students’ online course experiences.  Text-based lectures have been updated with video-based lectures, which allow for universal design and the option for students to now listen to lectures.  Additionally, Ms. Wingler has been using H5P to create interactive graphics that have hotspots within the courses.  Hotspots are designated locations on an image that students can press and a pop-up appears with additional text or video.  This makes learning more engaging and creates interaction between the content and students, making learning rewarding.

International Program

  • OCC’s employees in Egypt, Enjee Auda and Ms. Rehab Ismail, participated in the annual Edu Gat Fair, the largest expo of universities in Egypt, exhibiting the Ocean/Kean/Ain Shams program. The three-day event had a good number of students interested in the program, which will hopefully be reflected in the upcoming Cohort 6 enrollment.
  • Vice President of e-Learning and Learning Enterprises Eileen Garcia, Associate Vice President of International Programs Maysa Hayward, Assistant Dean of e-Learning Howaida Wahby Eraky, and I had a virtual meeting with Egyptian leaders: Ayman Ashour, Deputy of the Minister for Universities Affairs; Dr. Shirin Wagih, Assistant Secretary of the Supreme Council of Universities; and Dr. Dalia Sami, Assistant Secretary of the Supreme Council of Universities.  Several University Presidents and executives attended the meeting as well. The attendees were:
    • Hussein Eissa, Former Ain Shams University President and Former Chair of Budget Committee, Parliament
    • Abdelwahab Ezzat, Former President of Ain Shams University
    • Maged Negm, President of Helwan University
    • Mahmoud El Meteini, President of Ain Shams University
    • Abdelaziz Konsowa, President of Alexandria University
    • Essam El-Kordi, President of Al Alamein University
    • Mohamed El Shenawy, Advisor to the Minister, International Cooperation
    • Vice President of El Galala University
    • Mohamed Samir Hamza, Cultural Counselor and Director, Egyptian Cultural and Educational Bureau Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
    • Hanan El Said, Director and Coordinator, Special American Programs in Egypt

Our presentation was well received by all participants.  The proposed plan going forward is to cooperate with the new Egyptian Technological Universities, the new Egyptian National Universities, and the existing Governmental Universities with the Special Programs.  The start of these programs is anticipated to be in Fall 2021.  The plan for a community college in Egypt is being advocated by the Egyptian Minister of Higher Education, to receive final approval from the Egyptian Cabinet this Fall 2021.

After the meeting, Dr. Dalia Sami, Supreme Council Vice Chair, expressed an interest in OCC building a preparatory bridge program year in the STEM field.  Dr. Eileen Garcia and Dr. Sylvia Riviello, Dean of the School of STEM, are working on the project.

New Jersey City University

New Jersey City University (NJCU) Provost and Senior Vice President Dr. Tamara Jhashi, Dean of the School of Business Dr. Bernard McSherry, and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Joao Sedycias met with Dr. Eileen Garcia and Dr. Maysa Hayward on the Teachout plan for the Branch Campus in Egypt.  NJCU is working on the OCC/NJCU/Egypt agreement that should be finalized by the end of April.

Professional Development

  • Howaida Wahby Eraky participated in the International Symposium on Applied Linguistics Research and was chosen to participate in its Reviewer Panel based on her peer review profile.
  • Alexis Crosta, Academic Administrator, Foreign Programs, attended several trainings on how to fully utilize Datatel. She also participated in the Ocean Way training and was trained on the new payroll system, along with OCC’s employees in Egypt, Ms. Enjee Auda and Ms. Rehab Ismail.
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