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September 27, 2018

Dr. Larson’s September 2018 Report to the OCC Board of Trustees

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail

Egypt Trip

Mr. Hatem Akl, Interim Associate Vice President of e-Learning and Learning Enterprises, and I left for Egypt on Monday, September 17, 2018, and are returning on Tuesday, September 25, 2018.  Dr. Maysa Hayward, Assistant Vice President of International Programs, Dr. Howaida Eraky, English as a Second Language College Lecturer II, and Dr. Lilian Mina, Adjunct English Instructor, have been in Egypt since Thursday, August 23, 2018, and will be returning in the near future.

Mr. Akl and I will provide a summary of our Egypt visit at Thursday’s Board meeting, and we will share with you our many activities and successes.  The highlight of our trip was the signing of agreements on September 19, 2018, with nine Egyptian universities to establish the American Community College in Egypt on each of their campuses and to facilitate the transfer of OCC’s American Community College students to their university programs in a seamless manner.  The nine colleges are:

  • Ain Shams University
  • Helwan University
  • Zagazig University
  • Suez Canal University
  • Menoufia University
  • Alexandria University
  • South Valley University
  • Sohag University
  • Marsa Matrouh University

I was invited and honored to address the graduates at the Arab Academy School of Engineering Commencement Ceremony on Friday, September 21, 2018.  On Sunday, September 23, 2018, we met with Mr. Thomas H. Goldberger, Chargé d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, along with Ms. Helen LaFave, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs, and Ms. Ruth Ann Stevens-Klitz, Cultural Attache, to update them on OCC’s progress.  As a result of our conversation and in recognition of his support, Charge d’Affaires Goldberger offered to host a reception for Dr. Joel Bloom, President of NJIT, and me in November.

OCC Study Abroad – Ireland

Dr. Maureen Reustle, Part-Time Teacher of Humanities, and Mr. Vijay Ramdeen, College Lecturer II of Chemistry, led the OCC Study Abroad trip to Ireland in August.  The nine-day trip, from August 3 to 11, 2018, toured Dublin, Belfast, and surrounding areas.  Some of the highlights included St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Kilmainhaim Gaol, Blarney Castle, Blarney Stone, Knowth/Hill of Tara, Giants Causeway, and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

Dr. Reustle and several students will share their trip experiences at Thursday’s meeting.

OCC Athletics

Ms. Ilene Cohen, Executive Director of Athletics, and members of the men’s and women’s cross country teams will attend Thursday’s meeting to discuss the teams’ accomplishments.

The men’s cross country team was named 2017-18 Academic Team of the Year in its category by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) on June 27, 2018. The team, comprised of an even mix of three freshmen and three sophomores, posted a combined 3.49 grade point average to earn this national distinction.

Additionally, OCC’s men’s golf, and women’s tennis, softball, and volleyball teams placed among the NJCAA’s top 25 academic teams in each of their respective sports for 2017-18.

Although the 2018-2019 cross country season had not yet begun, the members of the cross country teams hit the ground running at the sixth annual Barnegat Fire Department’s Stop, Drop, and Run 5K, which was held on September 1, 2018.  The run benefitted the volunteer fire company and a local charity.  Coach Jen Nelson-Siciliano and the team had a great time while supporting a worthy cause.

The men’s and women’s cross country teams started the 2018 season strong at the Dukes Invitational on Saturday, September 8, 2018,  hosted by Cumberland County College.  The men’s team finished 2nd place overall out of the ten teams present and 1st among the non-Division I schools.

The teams followed up with another outstanding performance at Rowan University’s Bill Fritz Invitational on Saturday, September 15, 2018.  The Vikings placed 3rd among all participating Division III teams and placed 16th overall in a field that was predominantly stacked with Division I programs.

Ms. Cohen and several members of the men’s and women’s cross country teams will be at Thursday’s meeting to tell you about their successes.

Strategic Initiatives

Attached to my report is the FY 2018 Annual Year-End Report, submitted on behalf of the Guiding Coalition, which provides an update to the Board of Trustees on the progress of the Charting our New Course transformative initiative.  The Year-End Update is 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.

There has been a significant amount of progress in all eight strategies during the past year.  At Thursday’s meeting, Ms. Maureen Conlon, Assistant Director of Web Services, and Dr. Henry Jackson, Executive Director of Academic Success, co-chairs of the Guiding Coalition, will provide a brief presentation on this past year’s activities and achievements, as well as plans for next year.

Dr. Jackson has completed his two-year term as co-chair of the Guiding Coalition.  Ms. Jacqueline D’Amore, Senior Human Resources Specialist – Talent, will be introduced to you as the new co-chair who will be serving with Ms. Conlon during the next year.

Finance and Administration

  • Sara Winchester, Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration, is attending the NACUBO Constituent Councils Meeting on September 25 and 26, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The focus of the meeting is to explore advocacy options and tools that members can use to better manage the regulatory burdens on campuses.
  • The terms of the student payment plan have been revised for the upcoming spring 2019 semester.  The plan will require a 10% down payment, no payment in December, and four equal installments in January, February, March, and April.  The pay-back period will be extended further into the semester in an effort to ease the financial burden on students.  Registration for the spring terms begins on November 13, 2018.

The Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts

  • September began the 2018-2019 season. Former New York Yankee, Bernie Williams, brought down the house performing his Latin Jazz program.
  • Choir! Choir! Choir! came to a packed Larson Center performing Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer. Over 300 students, including students from Toms River South High School, performed with the group, and there are over 9,000 views of its Facebook Live video.
  • Assisted Living the Musical was performed on September 22, 2018, to two sold-out shows. In attendance were 920 patrons who were brought to tears and laughter.  Many patrons have called to ask us to bring the troupe back to the Grunin Theatre.
  • In partnership with the Egyptian government, the Center will be presenting the Alexandria Folk Dance Troupe of Egypt. The performance will be free to the public on Sunday, October 21, 2018, at 3 p.m. in the Theatre. A performance for school groups is scheduled for Monday, October 22, 2018, at 11 a.m.

Highlights for the fall include:

  • National Geographic Live – Friday, October 5, 2018
  • Farewell Angelina – Saturday, October 6, 2018
  • Yesterday: The Beatles Tribute Live From Las Vegas – Friday, October 12, 2018
  • The Rainbow Fish – Saturday, October 13, 2018
  • Broadway’s Next H!t Musical – Friday, October 26, 2018

Human Resources

  • The W.O.W. (Winning the Ocean Way) on-the-spot awards program kicked off on September 11, 2018, and, to date, the program has three winners. The program, intended to reinforce the tenets of The Ocean Way, allows any employee to nominate a colleague who is observed demonstrating excellent Ocean Way behavior and actions.
  • W.O.W. awardees will receive a $10 gift certificate to the Canteen in the Student Center, recognition in OCC’s e-Newsletter, an invitation to a group celebration event, and a chance to win a grand prize.
  • The initial hard work to implement the Performance Management module in PeopleAdmin is complete. Beginning September 26, 2018, managers will move to the next step, which entails the manager entering performance and developmental goals for the 2019 performance year into their employees’ records in PeopleAdmin.  These performance and development goal records will serve as the basis for performance appraisals in late spring 2019.
  • Approximately 70 College leaders completed a workshop entitled “Ethical Leadership.” The workshop, which received positive feedback from all involved, was facilitated by Judy Young from the Rutgers Center for Ethical Leadership.

Unfortunately, Ms. Tracy Donaldson, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources, was recently informed by the Center for Ethical Leadership that its program direction was being revised and this training would no longer be offered.  Discussions are underway to identify or create a similar curriculum that will be offered to all employees and as part of the Leadership Academy and Management Institute programs.

  • An employee Summer Social was held on August 21, 2018, providing staff and faculty with an opportunity to meet new employees, catch up with colleagues, enjoy some treats, and gear up for the fall semester.

College Relations

  • A groundbreaking ceremony for the Performing Arts Academy is scheduled on October 18, 2018, at 2 p.m. following the Board of Trustees Retreat. In attendance with be representatives from the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Ocean County Vocational Technical School, the Jay and Linda Grunin Foundation, and OCC.  The event will feature OCVTS students, who will perform various songs, and the OCVTS Culinary Program, which will be providing delicious desserts for the reception.
  • A $52,838 grant has been awarded to the College by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges and the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education for the College Readiness Now V Program. The funds will be used for continued collaboration between high schools and the College, targeting 11th and 12th graders, to ensure the students are ready for college when they graduate high school.  Henry Jackson, Executive Director of Academic Success, will lead the program from July 1, 2018, through August 20, 2019.

Continuing and Professional Education and Workforce Development

  • The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Ocean County Workforce Development Board have funded the Work-Related Activity Providers Grant, which will be run from October 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019. The $300,000 award will serve to support local at-risk youth, ages 16-24, as they work to complete their high school diplomas, develop career readiness skills, explore local in-demand careers, and prepare for continued education.  Many youths will also be engaged in the dual enrollment program on campus as well as participate in leadership, mentoring, and job shadowing opportunities.
  • The department recently completed another successful Summer Camp season, hosting over 1,000 kids and teens on campus. Summer Camp is often the first experience local youth have at OCC, so their positive experiences during camp are critical for potential future enrollment as students.  All camps were well-received, especially the fan-favorites, Adventure Camp and the American Sign Language Camp, instructed by our very own Mel Fernandez, OCC graduate and former student/alumni representative on the Board of Trustees.  Plans are already in motion to develop a host of ‘pre-college’ academic-focused teen camps for next summer.  The department would be delighted to receive referrals for faculty and staff who are known for engaging and inspiring young people and would be interested in joining the Summer Camp program.


  • 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 August 15, 2018, through September 19, 2018.

Student Affairs


  • The expanded Advising Pilot Program for the fall 2018 semester has commenced. Twenty-eight staff members will be providing intensive advising to 446 students.  Advisors will be utilizing a minimum of six pre-determined touchpoints, as well as a weekly communication plan, in order to engage students in the advising relationship.
  • Each advisor has developed an advising course in Canvas as a means of distributing information to students and facilitating communications.  Advisors will be documenting student interactions in Colleague as well as utilizing Student Planning to assist students in creating their academic plans.  Student engagement, student success, and spring registration will be assessed at the end of the semester to gauge success of the pilot and identify areas for improvement.
  • Ten faculty advisors are also participating in the pilot.  They have been granted access to the Student Remarks screen in Colleague to document student interactions and communications and to be aware of student advising sessions taking place in the Advising Office.
  • From April to August 2018, five Parent Orientations were offered to 175 attendees. The feedback was excellent; 100% of the parents completed the evaluation forms indicating they were “very satisfied” with the information received.  Many of the parents were not familiar with the college experience so they were extremely appreciative for the presentations.
  • Ms. Laura Wills, Transfer Coordinator, and Ms. Jennifer Kipp, NJ STARS Coordinator, facilitated workshops as part of this fall’s New Student Launch. Ms. Wills presented Starting Your Journey to Success, which provided incoming students with transfer planning information; and Ms. Kipp provided an NJ STARS information session and was available for a “meet and greet” with incoming NJ STARS students.

Financial Aid

A cross-functional training plan was implemented within the Financial Aid Office to improve communications and processes within key areas.  The training broke down barriers between functions and also encouraged a holistic approach to processing a student from FAFSA application to verification, award, and, ultimately, satisfactory academic progress.

A vital component of the office is the verification process for financial aid eligibility.  A lengthy verification process can result in lost enrollment; therefore, cross-training in this process was made a priority.

In the 2016-2017 academic year, the average number of days to perform verification within the office for selected students ranged from between 42 to 56 days.  During the month of July 2018, verifications were up to date.  As of August 27, 2018, the verification process was decreased to only a few days.  This very significant processing improvement will, without a doubt, benefit both the students and the College.

Counseling and Student Development Services

  • Staff of the Student Support Services Program and the Displaced Homemakers Program have relocated to the Russell Building, and all counselors are now located in the Instructional Computer Center. The department’s main phone number has changed to 732-255-0386.
  • Counselors are presenting to 29 College Success Seminar sections, on campus and at the Southern Regional Center, on how to interpret the course’s non-cognitive assessment, the College Skills Factor Index.

Activities scheduled during the fall semester include:

  • Presentations on suicide prevention, domestic violence, human trafficking, vaping, and substance abuse.
  • Screening and information sessions on depression, alcohol use, eating disorders, and anxiety.
  • A Mental Health Awareness Day, featuring local mental health organizations, on Monday, October 7, 2018.
  • Plans are underway with the DART Prevention Coalition and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office for training of faculty and staff in November on signs of substance use, substance abuse trends in Ocean County, and vaping. Counseling Services and Security will participate to discuss the ways in which the College addresses these issues on campus.
  • Kate Pandolpho, Director, is working with Ocean County and community organizations on the annual Silent Witness Program, which highlights the impact of domestic violence on Ocean County residents. The event is scheduled for Friday, October 5, at the Ocean County Mall.
  • Kelly Petrolis, Part-Time Student Intervention Specialist, is working with the Ocean County Prevention Project Coalition to present seminars about human trafficking and domestic violence in October.
  • In compliance with the New Jersey Madison Holleran Suicide Prevention Act, all OCC students received an email with information about local and national suicide and mental health resources, including the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

The Student Support Services (SSS) Program received a 10% funding increase for 2018-2019 and an increase in the number of students to be served. Planned activities for the fall semester include:

  • The annual vendor fair, which raises funds for the SSS Club’s activities, on October 3, 2018.
  • A visit to Montclair State University on October 4, 2018.
  • The annual Purple Bake Sale on October 23, 2018, with all proceeds donated to local domestic violence programs.
  • Educational activities for the Displaced Homemakers Program include:
  • Ten clients are enrolled in OCC credit programs for a total of 104 credit hours.
  • Three clients are enrolled at Kean/Ocean, and one is enrolled at Georgian Court University.
  • Seven clients are currently enrolled in Continuing and Professional Education job training programs, including Medical Assistant, Phlebotomy, Pharmacy Technician, and Microsoft Office.
  • Five computer skills courses were conducted for 24 clients, providing 37 hours of training in Advanced Excel, PowerPoint, Computer Literacy, Quick Books, and Windows Operating System.

Academic Affairs

School of Nursing and Health Sciences

  • The School of Nursing and Health Sciences admitted 109 students into the program for the fall 2018 semester. A total of 315 students are enrolled in the program for fall 2018.  Thirty-two Clinical Instructors are providing education for 35 clinical groups within various health care facilities.
  • The Student Nursing Organization (SNO) will be hosting a blood drive in collaboration with the Central Jersey Blood Center on October 9, 2018. A Zumba Fundraiser is scheduled for October 3, 2018, to raise scholarship money for nursing students, which will be awarded during the annual Pinning Ceremo On October 21, 2018, the SNO will participate in the Making Strides against Breast Cancer walk in Point Pleasant to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.
  • Tracy Walsh, Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences, represented OCC at the Ocean County Community Health Needs Assessment meeting on September 13, 2018. The meeting, sponsored by the Ocean County Health Department, focused on a discussion regarding health care needs of the community.  Participants included representatives from public and private healthcare agencies, academia, community and faith-based organizations, and businesses. Information reviewed at this meeting will be used in the development of the Ocean County Community Health Improvement Plan, which will be a guide to improve health care in Ocean County.
  • Assistant Dean Elizabeth Stevenson has initiated a Walking Club for nursing students under the direction of faculty. This initiative is intended to promote better health and demonstrate the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to patients.  Daily walks begin at 8 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, weather permitting.

School of Arts and Humanities

  • Several new programs, certificates, and courses are being developed within the School. New initiatives are also being investigated with Continuing and Professional Education.
  • Applied Music Facilitator Brian Gilmore assisted in acquiring a Bosendorfer Imperial Grand Piano on loan from community member for the upcoming year. The piano will be used primarily for Applied Music instruction, but it will also be featured in upcoming recitals performed by OCC students, alumni, faculty, and guests.
  • Adjunct Associate Professor of Music David Marowitz reported that Bernie Williams, former New York Yankee, met with the OCC Jazz Band for a master class. The class began with a performance of “Butterfat” by Steve Kuhn and concluded with Mr. Williams performing with students for ninety minutes.  Additionally, Mr. Sanford Josephson, jazz journalist, curator, and author of “Jeru’s Journey: The Life and Music of Gerry Mulligan” and “Jazz Notes: Interviews across the Generations,” was present.  He is currently writing an article about this event for the Jersey Jazz: Journal of the New Jersey Jazz Society, which will be published soon.
  • College Lecturer II of English and Literature, Dr. Madison Peschock, organized a special workshop on the English language tool, Inquizitive, with English Adjunct Associate Professor Michael Shampine on September 12, 2018. This workshop was well attended by those teaching developmental courses; Inquizitive will help further acclimate students to using online resources in conjunction with face-to-face instruction.

Dr. Peschock also organized the Banned Books Read-In on September 27, 2018.  Banned Books Week is an annual event that highlights the importance of free and open access to texts and draws attention to the dangers of censorship.  Presenters for this event represent various constituents from across campus.

  • Paul Chalakani, College Lecturer II of Communications and Theatre, held auditions for two upcoming shows through the Ocean County College Repertory Theatre Company. The auditions took place on September 10 and 12, 2018, for productions of “Almost Maine by Mr. John Cariani and “Driving Miss Daisy” by Mr. Alfred Uhry.
  • English College Lecturer II Jason Molloy has launched the Communications Adjunct Resource page to support new and current adjunct faculty teaching Public Speaking.
  • Dean Heidi Sheridan and Assistant Dean Veronica Guevara-Lovgren visited Warren County Community College with colleagues from Academic Affairs and Student Affairs on September 24, 2018, to discuss Warren’s success in implementing a “no measures” approach to student placement.

School of Business and Social Sciences

  • Professor of Business Studies Edward Kissling led a ceremony in remembrance of the attacks on September 11, 2001.  Victims of the attack with Ocean County connections were memorializedas their names were read by Jason Ghibesi, College Lecturer II of Political Science, and Ms. Lynn Kenneally, Professor of Social Science.  The National Anthem was sung by Ms. Lydia Poluk (Class of 2020), and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” was performed by Ms. Rose Lees (Class of 2019).   The poem, “Who Am I,” by Kim Dunne was read by Kean-Ocean student Kathryn Latona.  Dr.  Stephen A. Kubow, Interim Provost of Kean-Ocean, Mr. Richard Trimble, Director of the OCC Military History Institute and former Associate Professor of History, and I spoke at the event.
  • Screenings of the documentary, “The Words that Built America,” were held to commemorate Constitution Day on September 17, 2018.   The film, originally presented by HBO, highlights the language of the United States’ founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights, as read by lawmakers, celebrities, and children.  The film was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi.  The film screenings were facilitated by Ghibesi and were open to the public.
  • The OCC Hospitality Club, led by Sip Bips, Chair of Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management Program, and Club Advisor, will team up with Chef Brett Hill from Canteen for this year’s Chowderfest in Beach Haven, New Jersey, on September 30, 2018, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The OCC team will be represented by 25 student and faculty volunteers from OCC’s Business Department, who will be competing for the first time in two competitions:  Best Decorated Booth and Best Manhattan-Style Clam Chowder.  OCC’s recipe is a take on Clams Casino with signature ingredients that include roasted corn, garlic, purple potatoes, and panko-style breadcrumbs.  The canteen is preparing over 150 gallons of soup to ensure there is enough to serve upwards of 15,000 hungry guests anticipated at the festival.  OCC is among 13 other restaurants and catering companies that are vying for the best chowder title.  This year’s event will benefit David’s Dream and Believe as the 2018 Chowder for a Cause Partner Charity.  These organizations raise funds to provide financial assistance, wellness services and hope to families affected by cancer diagnoses.
  • The 3rd Annual Ocean County Mayors’ Panel will be held in the Gateway Lecture Hall on Thursday, October 25, 2018, at 11 a.m. Mayors from municipalities within the county will discuss pressing issues in their respective communities.  There will also be an opportunity for students to ask questions of their elected officials.

School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

  • College Lecturers Dr. Angel Camilo and Mr. Edmond Hong and members of the Maker’s Club met with the Entrepreneurial Club to begin organizing a Shark Tank competition, to be scheduled in January 2019.
  • The members of the Maker’s Club and the Computer Science Club have relocated their equipment, tools, and supplies to their new spaces in the Russell Building.
  • Camilo, Dr. Caterina Gibson, Mr. Dan Keiser, and Dr. Mary Ellen Rada, College Lecturers, with Assistant Dean Carolyn Showalter and Dean Paul Silberquit, led subject-related sessions at the Fall 2018 Adjunct Institute.

e-Learning and Learning Enterprises

  • During the six sessions/terms this past summer, e-Learning successfully offered 234 course sections. There are 227 sections running this fall semester and first fall accelerated term.
  • During Online Education Training Week, from September 17 through 21, 2018, ten training sessions were scheduled. Drop-in sessions and live webinars are available for instructors to learn ways to utilize and maximize the many tools that are offered, such as Canvas, Pearson, Cengage, and McGraw-Hill.  Rosetta Stone training sessions will be scheduled in October and   In addition, Online Instructor Training is being redesigned to make it self-paced, which will allow for many more training sessions to be offered.

e-Learning is currently working on the development or revision of courses for the spring 2019 semester:

  • 8 courses with textbook updates
  • 16 courses are being developed
  • 10 courses are being redeveloped by Cengage for Wave 4
  • 13 courses are undergoing review
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