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January 24, 2019

Dr. Larson’s January 2019 report to the OCC board of trustees

Dr. Jon Larson

Spring 2019 Colloquium
The Spring 2019 Colloquium was held on Thursday, January 17, 2019.  The day began with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m., and my state-of-the-college address followed at 9 a.m.  This Spring’s theme was “Ocean County College:  Expanding Our Reach, Excelling Here and Abroad.”  The Colloquium Program and my speech are attached for your review.

New employees were introduced and employees who had a change in employment status were recognized.  Employees who have been with the College for twenty and thirty years received certificates for their service.

Additionally, recipients of the President’s Awards for Excellence were announced.  These awards acknowledge and express appreciation for outstanding non-faculty accomplishments at the Department, Division, or College-Wide levels.  The awardees received monetary awards and engraved cups.  The recipients are listed below; more information on their accomplishments can be found in my speech.

  • Department Level – Ms. Michelle Youngs, Manager of Operations and Production in the Grunin Center, for Efficiency and Innovation
  • Division Level – Ms. Christine Healey, Director of Purchasing and Payables, for Efficiency and Innovation
  • College Level – Mr. Mark Wilson, Director of Cultural Affairs, Fine and Performing Arts, for New Markets

Following my remarks, several workshops were offered for faculty, lecturers, and administrators:

  • The New Jersey Community College Opportunity Grant
  • Armed with Data: Institutional Research Data Workshop
  • Expanding Our Reach in Egypt
  • Ocean County College Partnerships with K-12 Districts

Phi Theta Kappa

OCC’s Tau Iota Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa honor society conducted its fall induction ceremony on Friday, December 7, 2018.  Invitation letters to join the honor society were sent to 726 students who met the academic criteria of being currently enrolled OCC students with a GPA of 3.60 or higher after earning at least 15 OCC graduation credits.  Of particular note, this year’s invitation list included 21 students enrolled in OCC’s Egypt program.  Of the eligible students, 171 students accepted the invitation to join the Tau Iota Chapter.

The ceremony was streamed live on OCC’s social media platform.  Congratulatory remarks were delivered by Dr. Gerald Racioppi, Vice President of Student Affairs, and me.  It was a special evening for Dr. Racioppi as his son, Jonathan, was inducted.  Tau Iota’s advisors are Dr. William Rickert, Professor of Mathematics; Dr. Jennifer Dellner, Professor of English and Literature; Assistant Dean of STEM Carolyn Showalter; and Adjunct Professor David Rickert.

Finance and Administration

  • The FY2020 Ocean County College budget is on the Finance Committee agenda for approval on Thursday. The proposed budget includes the elimination of the registration fee, which to date has been charged to students every term.   A very moderate increase to tuition is planned, from $119 per credit to $121 per credit.  Even with the increase, OCC will remain one of the lowest-cost colleges in the state.
  • Purchasing and Payables has completed the implementation of a fully compliant online Bid Portal that allows vendors to register for email notifications of upcoming bid and RFP postings by the College. The Purchasing Department is now able to monitor interest levels and capture information from vendors who have downloaded bids/RFPs; notifications of updates, changes, and addenda of posted bids/RFPs can then be sent directly to those vendors.

Along with the new portal, a Contract Management (CM) System has been implemented.  Staff have worked to backload the past two years of contract data.  The implemented CM System is able to schedule notifications for the originating departments and the Purchasing staff of impending contract end dates so contracts will not expire without having renewals in place.  Instructional workshops on the new system will be offered.

The Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts

  • The Grunin Center is very light on shows in January and February due to improvements being made to the HVAC system.
  • Tickets for the 7 p.m. lecture by Temple Grandin on Saturday, April 6, 2019, are sold out. An additional 5 p.m. lecture was scheduled, and half of the tickets are already sold. If you are interested in attending this event, tickets should be purchased very soon.

Dr. Grandin is the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world.  Her lecture, The Way I See It:  A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s, is part of the Beyond the Classroom lecture series focusing on autism.  OCC is partnering with the Toms River School District and Ocean County Library System to invite speakers who will offer Ocean County residents more resources on autism.

Additional speakers who will be available are Dr. Ryan Hourigan, Director of Music for Ball State University; Mr. Jonathan Sabin, Director of the New Jersey Office on Autism and the Office for the Prevention of Development Disabilities; Dr. Christopher Manente, Executive Director, Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services; and Dr. Kate Fiske, Associate Director of Behavioral and Research Services at the Douglas Development Disabilities Center.

Continuing and Professional Education

  • The Ocean County Achievement Center, formerly the Ocean County Youth Success Center, continues to expand. In October, the CPE Department was awarded a one-year $300,000 Work-Related Activities Providers (WRAP) Grant to advance the mission of the Achievement Center by acting as a county-wide hub for at-risk youth services.  The objective of the WRAP program is to provide services to 50 local youth, focusing on career and college readiness.  In just four months since the program rollout, over 40 youth have been assisted via a combination of services, including career exploration workshops and intensive preparation for the high school equivalency exam.  In January, a cohort will enter the dual enrollment program, beginning with the Student Success course, earning three OCC college credits.
  • Transitioning from non-credit to credit, 12 recent CPE Allied Health students in the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant course have earned their national credentials and have been awarded 16 OCC credits each for passing the competency exams. An additional nine students are completing their exams later this month and plan to continue in the same manner.
  • This spring, 12 CPE students will graduate with Child Development Credentials (CDAs). The most recent cohort of EKG Technician graduates has a 100% passing rate for the national certification credential. The most recent Medical Billing and Coding program graduates obtained 100% employment immediately after completing the three-month fast-track training program.
  • This year, innovative STEM camps have been added to the summer Kids Camp offerings, including camps to provide an early college prep experience. Last summer, the OCC Foundation funded a Kids Camp request for $5,000 to better serve campers with different abilities.  Those funds will support program design, implementation, and scholarship opportunities for families with special needs children.


  • Frank Iannone, Director of Security, Mr. Ralph Bertini, TV Studio Director, and Ms.  Megan Dendy, Part-Time Studio Operations Technician, collaborated to produce an OCC Emergency Awareness and Response security video.  The seven and one-half minute video provides valuable information related to an active shooter situation. Mr. Sydney Stroman, Assistant Director of Security, will present this video to you at Thursday’s meeting, and I have invited the security guards to join us.
  • The December 2018 issue of OCC’s Security Newsletter will be distributed to you at Thursday’s meeting.
  • 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 November 28, 2018, through January 16, 2019.

Student Affairs


  • The Advising Pilot Program has completed its second semester.  This fall, 455 students received intrusive and proactive advising from staff members across campus who agreed to serve as advisors to small caseloads of students.  The Advising Committee met on January 18, 2019, to review the results of the program and to make decisions about its future.

Financial Aid

  • The Opening Pathways to Education Now (OPEN) Program is in its tenth year holding sessions to assist with the completion of FAFSA paperwork and discuss the basic concepts of financial aid. The Fall 2018 OPEN series was completed in December after serving 92 students, parents, and guardians.
  • The new FAFSA filing cycle began October 1, 2018, for the 2019-2020 academic year; to date, the Financial Aid office has received 2,015 applications.

Student Life

  • This year’s Student Leadership Development Conference, Trailblazers, was held on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, January 9 to 11, 2019, at the Villa Roma Resort in Callicoon, New York, under the direction of Alison Noone, Assistant Director of Student Life. There were a total of 42 participants, including students and staff.  The entire group was very responsive, engaged in all of the activities and exercises of this unique student development opportunity.
  • Congratulations are extended to Ms. Noone and all others who provide the leadership for this exceptional student program.
  • Student Life introduced the OCC community to a new chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success (NSLS) by inviting an inaugural cohort of students to join. We look forward to more student involvement and engagement opportunities through this self-guided leadership training for OCC students.

Center for Student Success

Testing Center

  • The Testing Center coordinated successful completion of the new ACCUPLACER Certificate of Test Administration (ACTA) process by staff in Admissions, College Readiness, and the Testing Center, who administer the test on campus and at the high schools.
  • The Center coordinated with the English and Mathematics Departments, governance committees, and Information Technology to establish new placement test scores, update policies and procedures, and complete training for Accuplacer Next Generation test administration in preparation for the January 28 implementation date.

Disability Services

  • Disability Services developed a partnership with Campus Security and the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management. Open to all staff, faculty, students, and Ocean County residents, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness.  Through classroom and hands-on instruction, participants will learn about basic responses related to fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, helping individuals with disabilities, and the mission of the CERT organization.  This free ten-session program begins March 5, 2019.  Disability Services and Campus Security can provide additional information about the program.
  • Jamie Prioli, Adaptive Services Specialist, has been selected to serve as chairperson of the Ocean County Community Advisory Group—Emergency Preparedness. The focus of this advisory group is inclusive emergency management throughout the state and local jurisdictions.
  • Disability Services continues to hold a social skills group for students working to improve verbal and non-verbal communication skills in an inclusive environment. The group gives students the opportunity to learn and practice skills, resulting in increased social interactions with peers.

Student Success Seminar

The College Success Seminar course, formerly named First-Year Experience Seminar, has had a service learning, high impact component since the Fall 2016 semester.  According to Vanderbilt University, service learning is defined as “a form of experiential education where learning occurs through a cycle of action and reflection as students seek to achieve real objectives for the community and deeper understanding and skills for themselves.”

During the last two years, students have had the opportunity to participate in varied direct and indirect experiences.  They have completed academic research on organizations and issues, which resulted in action plan papers.  Some examples of research topics included:

  • “Ocean Noise Pollution” and how it affects the sonar and communication of marine life
  • “Human Trafficking” and strategies to create awareness
  • “Addiction” and the impact on the local community
  • “Hunger” and how to reallocate and appropriately distribute resources to the community

Students have also had the opportunity to develop events to benefit various local and national communities and host them on campus.  The students are responsible for the marketing, research, and logistics of the events.  Past events have included:

  • A book drive and breakfast for a local terminally ill child who loved to read
  • A head shaving event for Baldrick’s Foundation, with the $5,000 raised donated to childhood cancer research
  • Food and material collections for local animal shelters
  • Awareness campaigns for suicide prevention
  • Dodgeball and corn hole tournaments to raise money for Semper Fido
  • Bake sales for a multitude of organizations, such as Ocean of Love, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Field of Dreams

To showcase how much our students are involved with the community, the first Service Learning Day for the campus community occurred on November 19, 2018.  Students set up tables outside of the Jon and Judith Larson Student Center for the all-day event.  Featured organizations were:

  • Wildlife Warriors
  • Susan G. Komen Foundation
  • Askate Foundation
  • Bear Hugs Inc.
  • Jersey Shore Animal Shelter
  • Clean Ocean Action
  • The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide
  • Jude’s Children’s Hospital

Over $1,300 was raised for the organizations, and boxes of items were donated to the Jersey Shore Animal Shelter.

At the Southern Education Center, students in Dr. Sarah Campbell’s College Success Seminar completed their service learning project by holding a bake sale and seeking donations from local merchants for the benefit of Pets for Vets.  The class raised $2,702, which allows Pets for Vets to complete one application for one pet to be paired with a United States veteran.

Because of the service learning component in the College Success Seminar and all of the related activities, students are learning that it doesn’t take a lot to make a difference.

Tutoring Center

  • As the new Assistant Director of Academic Support Services, Ms. Willmaria Miranda has designed and implemented a Virtual Tutoring Pilot Program that will make tutoring even more accessible to face-to-face students.  The Center continues to provide effective academic support through a myriad of existing programs and will begin an ESL program, Conversation Partners, this semester.  During the Fall semester, the Tutoring Center serviced 17% more students than last year.

The HUB – Express Enrollment Services

In order to improve the student experience, the HUB has implemented QLess, a virtual queuing system that connects the HUB with Financial Aid and Registration and Records.  QLess allows students to maintain their places in line from any location on campus and notifies them via text when it is time to visit the HUB counter.  QLess also helps the HUB track vital analytics related to the student experience.

Since the beginning of the year, the HUB served over 200 students per week with service times of 5.03 minutes or less and wait times of under 7 minutes.

The HUB has also been hard at work on multiple call campaigns, which are tracked in CRM and supported by OCC’s virtual assistant, Reggie.  Reggie is helping with the onboarding and enrolling of prospective students by facilitating the following:

  • Helping registered students with making payments efficiently to preserve their class schedules
  • Encouraging students who have stopped out to return to OCC
  • Introducing students who completed High School Equivalency Assessment testing to consider OCC as the next step in their educational journeys

Ben Hudnall Memorial Trust (BHMT)

The partnership between OCC and the Ben Hudnall Memorial Trust of Kaiser Permanente continues to grow.  In May 2018, the contract was extended from OCC online lab science courses to include entire degrees.  The expansion of the contract encourages eligible employees of Kaiser Permanente to complete entire online degrees at OCC, without incurring any out-of-pocket costs for students.

The partnership began in Spring 2017 with three registered students.  The number increased to 17 students in Spring 2018 and to 30 and growing in Spring 2019.


  • The Cross Country program was impressive this season, consistently placing in the top ten among two-year colleges at every meet in which they participated. Both the Men’s and Women’s Teams competed at the National Championship in Massachusetts, where the Men’s team finished in the top five in the country.  Head Coach (and OCC Hall of Famer) Jen Nelson-Siciliano was named Region XIX Coach of the Year.
  • The Tennis Program had a successful season, with all six team members being selected for the All-Garden State Athletic Conference 2nd team.
  • Women’s Volleyball advanced to the Region XIX Championship and has ranked among the top teams in the Garden State Athletic Conference for the last four seasons.
  • A total of 48 OCC student-athletes across 8 teams who participated in Fall 2018 were named to the Academic All-Garden State Athletic Conference Team by finishing the semester with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. In addition, 40 of these 48 students also received Academic All-Region XIX honors for possessing a GPA of 3.25 or higher.
  • Former OCC standouts Samantha Allen for Women’s Volleyball and Doug Jensen for Men’s Soccer were honored for their athletic and academic achievements by Region XIX, with Samantha receiving the 2017-18 John Stauff Female Scholar Athlete Award, and Doug named recipient of both the 2017-18 College Athletic Administrators of New Jersey Student-Athlete of the Year Award and the 2018 Robert Zifchak Male Scholar Athlete Award. Samantha graduated in 2018 with a 0 GPA, while Doug finished with a 3.5.

Academic Affairs

School of Nursing and Health Sciences

  • Fifty-six students completed the Nursing Program in December 2018 and are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN®). OCC’s licensure passing rates continue to remain above the national scores.
  • Nursing students returned to campus on January 14, 2019, to begin practicing for competency validation. All returning students are required to demonstrate competency in skills previously learned at the beginning of each semester.  Students are also required to complete orientation programs for each clinical agency they will be attending during the semester.
  • Ninety students will begin the Nursing Program in the Spring 2019 semester. Orientation was held on January 8, 2019.  During the orientation program, students are introduced to faculty, basic program policies and procedures, and strategies to enhance learning.  The Student Nurse Organization (SNO) also meets with the students and provides a luncheon to welcome them.
  • Orientation for two new Clinical Instructors was held on January 10, 2019. The orientation program provides information on program policies and procedures, orientation to clinical agencies, teaching strategies within the clinical area, as well as student evaluation methods and documentation.  A meeting was also held with all Clinical Instructors.  This semester there are 34 clinical rotations with 30 instructors assisting faculty within various clinical agencies.
  • On January 10, 2019, the School of Nursing and Henry Jackson, Executive Director of Academic Success, collaborated to provide 40 students from the Lakewood school system a tour of the Skills and Simulation Labs located within the H. Hovnanian Heath Sciences Building. Students were introduced to the Nursing Program and provided with an opportunity to observe demonstrations of various nursing skills.
  • OCC and Kean University met on January 9, 2019, to discuss plans for the development of a joint BSN degree. This program will be offered on the OCC campus and provide students with an opportunity to obtain a BSN degree close to home at an affordable cost.  Also discussed were plans for the Kean University BSN and MSN completion programs to be offered in a hybrid format, which will allow practicing nurses to complete their degrees in an efficient manner.

Ms. Tracy Walsh, Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences, is a member of the Kean University search committee interviewing candidates for the position of Associate Director of Nursing at Kean Ocean, which will be responsible for overseeing the BSN and MSN completion programs and collaborating with OCC on the development and implementation of the new BSN program.

School of Arts and Humanities

  • Professors Kathy Basilotto and Saundra Piscitelli organized the Deaf Awareness Expo, which was held on December 7, 2018, and featured two excellent performances by Keith Wann, a CODA (child of Deaf adults), and Mr. Crom Saunders, who is a Deaf entertainer.

The American Sign Language Holiday Rock and Roll Show was held in the Grunin Theatre on December 8, 2018.  The theatre was once again packed for this event.

  • Advised by Music Instructor Karin Gargone, students held the Music Club Winter Recital showcasing student performances of various styles and skill levels. The club also sponsored an Alumni Piano Recital with pianists Benjamin Burnaham (OCC Class of 2016/Rowan University) and Diana McEntee (OCC Class of 2017/Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam) performing works by Mozart, Chopin, Bartok, and Prokofiev on the Bosendorfer Imperial Grand Piano.
  • The OCC Jazz Band performed at the Toms River Elks Festival of the Trees. This was the fifth annual performance of the OCC Jazz Band at this event.  This year’s performance included the music of ten gifted, creative, and entertaining musicians and a vocalist, who were directed by Adjunct Professor of Music Dave Marowitz.
  • Beth Brierley, Associate Professor of Communications and Theatre, directed Stand by Me, the Fall 2018 Musical Theatre Workshop showcase, featuring songs that celebrate equity and acceptance. Along with the superb musical performance, a bake sale was held and proceeds were donated to the Honor Them with Action Fund, the national campaign to commemorate the Pulse massacre.
  • David Bordelon and Dr. Mary Ellen Carr, Professors of English and Literature, held a celebration honoring the achievement of students, whose works were selected for publication in the PEN.

School of Business and Social Sciences

  • Sixteen faculty, lecturers, and staff participated in a workshop entitled Realizing Potential with Mindset on November 16, 2018.  The workshop was facilitated by Maria Paradiso, College Lecturer II in Social Work, with colleagues, Ms. Susan O’Connor, Director of Curriculum Management, and Ms. Brianna DeCicco, Equity Coordinator. The workshop included a review of data collected across the globe highlighting improved student outcomes when specific growth mindset strategies were implemented in the classroom.  Topics also included how implementing a growth mindset can strategically address issues of equity in the classroom.
  • Under the direction of Jennifer Barnes, Political Science Lecturer II, the Governmental Affairs Institute will sponsor an event celebrating Freeholder John Bartlett’s lifetime contributions to Ocean County College from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Instructional Building Atrium on Thursday, February 28, 2019.
  • The Business Lab continued to be well utilized throughout the fall semester. Since September, an additional 22 students became Bloomberg certified, bringing the 2018 total to 44 students.  Additionally, several instructors held class activities in the lab utilizing the Bloomberg terminals for research and stock market competitions:
  • College Lecturer II Stephanie Kroeger’s Principles of Accounting II classes followed a pair of publicly traded corporations. Concepts such as cash flow, financial ratios, and dividend yield were explored, and students presented their research in class at the end of the semester.
  • College Lecturer II Sean Bip’s Marketing and Customer Service Management classes researched Microsoft, Sony, or Tesla to find macroeconomic data related to consumer spending and data specific to the tourism industry.
  • Business students from College Lecturer II Kathy Toy’s Microeconomics classes engaged in a late semester stock market competition and learned about relative performance and selecting stocks in a market downturn.

School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

  • OCC coordinated the annual TechPrep Robotics Competition on December 12, 2018. This year’s competition consisted of three events:  student presentations of the robot design using Lego Mindstorm robots, a bulldozer event, and a remote control robot wrestling event.  Participating in the competition were 144 students (52 girls, 92 boys) in 35 teams from 12 Ocean County schools (4 middle schools and 8 high schools).  Four students from Manchester Township High School videotaped the competition.

Appreciation is expressed to the many faculty, lecturers, and staff who volunteered for this competition to ensure its success.

  • Caterina Gibson’s General Biology lab class students participated in an annual event that is both educational and provides service to the department and the community. The students learn the differences between flowering plants (angiosperms) and non-flowering plants (gymnosperms), leading to a discussion and an assignment about poinsettia plants.  The students then donate poinsettia plants to decorate the Hiering Science Building lobby and the desks of members of the Science Department.  At the end of the semester, the poinsettia plants are donated to residents of a local nursing home.  This year, the plants were delivered to the Rose Garden Nursing and Rehabilitation in Toms River.
  • The 2019 Jersey Shore Junior Science Symposium (JSJSS) registration closed on December 5, 2018. This year, 86 high school students from across New Jersey are participating.  OCC received an additional $10,000 incentive grant from JSHS to provide 11 Title I schools with $800 designated for transportation assistance for students to attend the 2019 JSJSS presentation/competition on March 21-22, 2019.

e-Learning and Learning Enterprises

  • The 20th cohort of Online Instructor Training and the 5th cohort of Master Course Developer Training will conclude on January 28, 2019. The Online Instructor Training program has been revised to make the course self-paced.  Going forward, all instructors must engage in the revised training as a qualification to teach in OCC’s e-Learning Program.
  • An e-Learning Newsletter has been developed that will be distributed before each spring and fall semester.
  • The current OCC/Ain Shams University/Kean University program, now in its third year, has 120 students, 40 of whom will be graduating OCC in May. At least ten of these students are planning to attend our May graduation ceremony, spending two weeks on the OCC campus and six to eight weeks on the Kean Union campus taking courses for their first semester of the senior year.
  • The e-Learning Department continues to investigate incidences of plagiarism in online course discussions and assignments. This investigation uses effective software applications and includes the establishment of a data base to track individual cases over time, which will assist instructors in reviewing the work of their students.
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