skip to main content
Search Button


January 17, 2019

Dr. Larson’s Spring 2019 Colloquium Remarks

Ocean County College:
Expanding Our Reach, Excelling Here and Abroad

Jon H. Larson, Ph.D.
January 17, 2019

Good morning and welcome to our fifty-sixth Spring Semester!

The subscript to the title of my 2018 Spring Colloquium remarks cited the current OCC Vision Statement:

“Ocean County College will be the boldest, most creative, most innovative student-centered college in America and, by pioneering community college education internationally, will be a new prototype for global education.”

This year, we’re expanding our reach to excel here and abroad!  I’ve proposed that the Guiding Coalition consider adding the words “most entrepreneurial” to our Vision Statement and today, by way of explanation, I will offer a concise survey of the profound changes in store for higher education as a host of new technologies about to impact nearly everything we do come to market and become as ubiquitous as the cell phone is today.  These sweeping changes will hit higher education like an earthquake and the collateral damage will alter the landscape so familiar to us today.  Chief among the issues all universities and colleges will face is a serious threat to the financial viability of many collegiate institutions.

Need I say that we do not wish to be among the institutions that find themselves tottering on the edge of the ash-heap of history!

My purpose with this peroration is not to alarm you … too much.

It is, however, my intention to bring to our collective consciousness, first, how fortunate we are to be in a position to adapt to these forces of change successfully and, second, to motivate each and every one of us to realize that more than ever before we will need to take judicious steps to be at the leading edge, not the trailing edge, of these accelerating technological developments.

Around the world, tuition at universities is rising at a much faster rate than inflation and challenging students’ return on investment. Reduced government funding and higher operating costs are driving the need for change at universities. The mismatch in employer needs and employee skills is leaving over seven million jobs unfilled in the U.S.

These trends are opening the way for new approaches in higher education.  Innovations in how post-secondary education is delivered, financed, and recognized are driven by a range of actors—from large public universities like Arizona State University to elite private institutions like MIT to the many relatively new education companies entering the sector like Make School, Coursera, and Trilogy Education.

But to understand why these new approaches are emerging, we need to first look at what is driving them. While there are many factors influencing the direction of post-secondary education around the world, three are particularly noteworthy for influencing this spate of recent innovations: 1 – reduced return on investment for students, 2 – reduced government spending, and 3 – significant skills mis-matches between graduates’ abilities and jobs available.

What’s driving innovation in higher education?

 One way students can evaluate whether to invest in higher education is through potential wage premiums—namely if what students would earn with their education is higher than what they would earn without it.  An important element in understanding the return on investment of higher education is the cost of the degree.

The average wage premium in the EU and U.S. for those with a tertiary education is approximately 60 to 75 percent more than they could earn without the degree, while it is around 150 percent in some middle-income countries like Brazil and Chile.  In the U.S., tuition prices have skyrocketed and the cost of an undergraduate degree is 13 times higher than it was 40 years ago. Tuition and fees have increased over 1,000 percent since the late 1970s, while the increase in the cost of food and housing was less than a third of that.

Another aspect influencing recent innovations is the increase in tuition and fees, which stems from a mix of factors including reduced government funding and increased spending on amenities to attract students.  In the U.S., for example, states cut funding deeply after the recession hit—spending 16 percent less per student in 2018 than in 2008. Universities are responding with cost cuts and seeking alternative revenue sources.  For example, Purdue University has reduced its in-state student intake by approximately 4,000 over the last ten years—while increasing its out-of-state and international student intake by about 5,000—as these students pay higher tuition largely without the need of financial aid.

In addition to reduced funding, rising costs, and decreasing wage premiums in places like the U.S. and U.K., there is also the worry that what students learn at a university will not necessarily give them the skills needed for the jobs available.  This skills mis-match is particularly acute in fields like computer science where real-world practice easily outpaces academic curricula.  By 2020, one million computer science-related jobs will go unfilled, and many computer science programs at universities are outdated.  In the words of one Make School college student attending its innovative tech program after taking computer science classes from the elite public university where he received a B.A., “my university courses taught me all about the theory of computer science, but I couldn’t actually code.”

There are currently seven million job openings and over 6.3 million job seekers in the U.S., and the acceleration of the digital economy and the rise of automation is only exacerbating this worker shortage.  Of the job openings mentioned, 1.2 million or 17 percent are in the healthcare sector, highlighting a continued shortage of nurses in the U.S.  According to a recent study by McKinsey, this sector is the only one in which “the need for physical and manual skills will grow in the years leading to 2030.”

These major shifts in higher education are opening opportunities for new approaches and new actors to help support post-secondary learning and skill development.

Let me share with you a recent prognostication by Amy Webb, a professor of strategic foresight at NYU’s Stern School of Business.  On January 7th, Professor Webb wrote, “To understand the future of one thing, you must consider the future of many things.  Otherwise, you are looking at the world through a pinhole.”

“In the coming year,” she writes, “we will see advancements in a host of emerging technologies – artificial intelligence, smart devices, space travel, genomic editing, electric vehicles, and automated hacking tools – that will move further from the fringe into the mainstream.   As these technologies begin to converge, we’ll start to see acceleration.”

Professor Webb looks for emerging trends and signals across a wide variety of technologies looking for meaningful connections.  She offers three tech trends that are on her radar for 2019:

1 – The beginning of the end of smartphones.  We will see new forms that combine technologies, beginning with adaptations of current devices, such as dual sided phones and foldable screens.  However, over the next decade, we’ll transition from a single device to a suite of communication devices which we will wear and command using voice, gesture, and touch.

2 – 5G will be deployed at scale.  We’ll see the demise of Wi-Fi because blinding 5G wireless transmission speeds, rivaling and surpassing current fiber optic speeds and bandwidth, will allow instantaneous connectivity to multiple devices in a network, such as OCC’s cloud provided by Microsoft.  This means The Internet of Things will grow exponentially with millions of devices connecting seamlessly.  And, a huge array of jobs and new markets for devices and components will flourish as a result.

3 – Data regulation is coming, and it won’t be pretty.  Big Tech will face a reckoning, affecting every company that mines, refines, and stores our digital data.  Policy makers are not well prepared to deal with the challenges arising from science and technology advances.  The result will likely be regulations, rules, and legislation that are either overly restrictive or miss the target entirely.

According to a recent study by the Brookings Institution, there are six trends that are particularly notable.

  1. Online education has become an increasingly accepted option, especially when “stackable” into degrees.
    Enrollment in online courses has more than quadrupled in the last 15 years in the U.S.  While not as explosive in other countries, online options are gaining traction around the world.  Given the increased cost of higher education, online programs are offering not just increased flexibility, but also a major reduction in cost. Coursera offers a fully online master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in computer and information technology for one-third the cost of the on-campus version.  Several programs are also allowing students to “test” degrees by taking courses that can eventually be “stacked” into a degree, thus lowering their risk.  MIT now offers a supply chain management degree with a portion of the curriculum online through edX before students enter the on-campus program.  Arizona State University allows students to take the first year online as part of the Freshman Academy.  In both programs, students complete a portion of the degree online and then apply for the on-campus, full degree at a fraction of the price.
  1. Competency-based education (CBE) lowers costs and reduces completion time for students.
    There is an increase in CBE, which allows students to apply their work and life experience to their education.  These degree programs tend to be less expensive, self-paced, and more career-oriented.  If students—either through workplace training, outside reading, or purely life experience—happen to have the competence and knowledge required for a particular subject, they can take the test and get credit without having to take a class.
  1. Income Share Agreements (ISAs) help students reduce the risk associated with student loans.
    In the U.S., the private sector is improving the student loan dilemma for students with ISAs. Countries like Australia have government-run agreements—where students don’t pay back their loans until they get a job and meet certain income thresholds—but currently, private companies provide ISA options in the U.S.
    Vemo Education works with universities and skills-providers to establish these agreements. Institutions can also make direct offerings, such as at the previously mentioned Make School, which provides a newly accredited applied computer science degree designed to take two to three years.  This requires students to pay back 20 percent of their income for the first five years of employment, and if they don’t find a job, they aren’t responsible for payments.  Institutions share the risk with the students, and in this particular program, are held accountable for student outcomes.
  1. Online Program Manager (OPM) organizations benefit both universities and nontraditional, working-adult students.
    OPMs help traditional universities build and maintain their online degree or program offerings, while opening new and flexible options to nontraditional students.  Generally, through a revenue share model, the university provides the content, while the OPM primarily puts it online and leads the marketing efforts.  The leader in this market is 2U, which, for example, partners with the University of North Carolina to deliver an online master’s degree in public health.  Another smaller but fast-growing player in this market, which according to Eduventures, is expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2020, is Coursera, which works with the University of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and HEC Paris, among others.  Companies like Trilogy Education partner with top universities to deliver in-person skills training on-campus in fields such as coding and cybersecurity.  Other companies like Orbis Education partner with universities to help bridge the healthcare provider shortage through a hybrid approach to pre-licensure healthcare programs, while ExecOnline partners with top business schools to deliver executive leadership courses online.
  1. Enterprise training companies are filling the skills gap by working directly with employers.
    Given the massive mismatch in employer needs and worker skills, there are many companies working with corporations to ensure employees are rightfully skilled. Trilogy Education not only partners with universities, as mentioned above, but also leverages its network of partners and its platform to help companies bridge their own tech-talent gaps in both hiring and training.  One of the more successful models has been Pluralsight, which is an online platform for IT and software developer training.  It’s focused, industry-updated content, and close ties to employers are key success factors.  A unique model to address this mismatch is Revature’s platform, which utilizes university partnerships and close collaboration with employers to deliver a program where students pay their tuition over a two-year period after they are employed.
  1. Pathway programs facilitate increasing transnational education, which serves as an additional revenue stream for universities.
    The brightest students around the world that can afford to study abroad are increasingly embarking on journeys overseas, primarily to the U.S., U.K., and Australia.  According to Studyportals, the number of internationally mobile students is expected to increase from 4.5 million in 2015 to nearly seven million in 2030. International students are increasingly attractive to universities, as they allow expanded reach and programs offered at different price points.  Students from China, India, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea account for more than 50 percent of students who go abroad to earn their degree, with China as the largest source.
    The U.S. has seen a recent decline in its growth of international students, which some link to stricter immigration policies, but student flows are expected to increase globally.  Pathway programs, which are a small but fast-growing segment of the transnational education market, help foreign students get admission into U.S. institutions through bridging academic entry standards.  Companies such as the U.K.-based Study Group and U.S.-based Shorelight partner with universities to set up these programs and use revenue share models, providing an additional revenue source for universities.  Most of these programs are in countries that have been traditional draws for higher education like the U.S., but some are now also in countries like China that traditionally send many students overseas.
    [From: Emal Dusst, a Robert S. Brookings Society member]

So … What are we to do?  What are we to do?  Well…get comfortable with much greater uncertainty.  Broaden our thinking.  Think exponentially, but make incremental decisions that permit future flexibility.

For Ocean County College, this scenario essentially means we must look for multiple streams of income to offset rising technology costs and to supplant the loss of financial support from public sources, i.e., taxpayers.  Here’s what we know:

State and local governments are struggling with accumulated debt obligations from decades of kicking the can down the road. Some states are in better shape that others having begun dealing with public pension and health care liabilities from overly generous promises for which the taxable base was inadequate.  Who leads the pack of those states?  New Jersey, California, Illinois, and to a lesser degree other states with large urban populations, including Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio.  It is axiomatic that all states will be looking to control higher education spending while these issues are being addressed.  Our task is clear: as Thomas Edison said, “There is a better way.  Find it!”

We simply cannot rely on public taxpayer funding to sustain excellence in higher education.  We must find a ‘better way.’

This is our mission in 2019 and beyond:  identify and pursue new revenue streams, new markets, new partners, and new academic programs that are in demand across the entire spectrum of the workforce/knowledge eco-system continuum.  This is the answer to attracting the new students who need a world class education we at Ocean County College, together with university partners and high tech industries, can provide.

Our breakout sessions today address several dimensions of our efforts to respond to these forces.  They include:

  1. A discussion of our efforts to open partnerships in Lakewood to facilitate enrollment and on-site locations for instruction utilizing the “Free Community College” funding available under the Community College Opportunity Grant for County residents whose adjusted gross income is $45,000 or less and who enroll in a degree program taking a minimum of six credits;
  1. An Institutional Research Data Workshop presented by a bevy of data mavens seeking to engender greater participation in research that can further the mission and goals of OCC;
  1. A review of the tremendous challenges ahead of us in Egypt as we begin instruction on the ground in 2 plus 2 partnerships in locations along the Nile from the Mediterranean to near the Sudan Border; and
  1. A presentation detailing a myriad of programs and partnerships with Ocean and surrounding county K-12 school districts.

Now, in a recent survey of faculty members at colleges and universities across the country, the No. 1 tech respondents said they wished for was virtual reality gear.  Interactive, large-screen displays came in second, followed by detachable tablets, 3D scanners, and interactive projectors.

These findings come out of Campus Technology‘s third annual Teaching with Technology Survey, which asked higher education faculty for their perspective on technology in the classroom, its impact on students, and its potential in the future.

The reality of tech in today’s classrooms, however, is much more banal. The most common hardware currently in use, according to our respondents, remains traditional desktop computers/workstations and laptops (each cited by 80 percent of faculty in the survey) — the same items that have topped that list for three years running.  The majority of classrooms also use non-interactive projectors (cited by 68 percent of respondents), mobile phones (64 percent), non-interactive, large-screen displays (60 percent), and tech-enabled lecterns (55 percent).

Tying the top spot for faculty’s most wished-for software: collaboration/whiteboard software and animation software.  No. 2 on that list was audio editing/mixing software, followed by adaptive learning software, video editing and e-portfolio software (another tie), and lecture capture/screen capture software.

Friends, the bottom line is … we have to be on the leading edge, not the trailing edge, of these developments to sustain excellence and actually be the best, boldest, most creative, most innovative, most entrepreneurial student-centered college in America!

We need your dedication, your expertise, your energy, your talent to make that happen!  Are you ready?  ARE YOU READY??

Anyone who wishes to help is welcome to get on board and enjoy the ride.  I mean this, sincerely.

Now, I would like to highlight some of the many wonderful things happening at Ocean County College.

Dr. Joe Konopka reports the following from Academic Affairs:

  • In the School of Nursing, 136 graduates passed the NCLEX examination in the first three quarters of 2018, with an average passing rate of 91.18%, above the national average, and achieved a 100% job placement rate.
  • The School is working closely with Kean University to develop a 3 plus 1 BSN degree and is creating an A.A.S degree in Health Sciences.
  • The School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics hosted the Annual Robotics Competition in December; 144 students participated, representing 35 teams from 12 Ocean County schools.
  • Three study abroad courses were developed by College Lecturers Vijay Ramdeen and Dr. Mary-Ellen Rada for study in Ireland, Costa Rica, and Italy.
  • The School of Business and Social Sciences reports that Addictions Lecturer Jeffrey Lang received the International Coalition of Addiction Studies Educators (INCASE) 2018 Educator of the Year Award in October in Houston, Texas. Adjunct Lecturer Father Edward Reading received the INCASE Life Time Achievement Award for his work in this field.
  • College Lecturer Katherine Toy completed the IBM Predictive Analytics Modeler Workshop at NJIT and passed the Mastery Certification Exam. Working with NJIT, OCC is currently exploring ways to incorporate Data Analytics into our Business curricula.
  • Maria Paradiso, College Lecturer II in Social Work, completed the Program Announcement for an A.S. degree in Social Work and has been busy working on articulations for the program with Stockton, Monmouth, Georgian Court, and Rutgers universities.
  • Plans for a Crime and Forensics Lab are underway that will enable Criminal Justice Professor Joseph Kirchhofer to provide hands-on training for Criminal Justice students. Crime scenes will be set up, and evidence collected at the scene will be analyzed in the forensics lab.
  • The OCC Hospitality Club, led by Advisor Sean Bips, teamed up with Chef Brett Hill from Canteen for this year’s Chowderfest in Beach Haven. The OCC team was represented by 25 volunteers from among the College’s business students and faculty.  Canteen prepared over 150 gallons of soup for the nearly 15,000 hungry guests.  This year’s event benefitted David’s Dream and Believe, organizations that raise funds to provide financial assistance, wellness services, and hope to families affected by cancer diagnoses.
  • The Entrepreneur Club, led by Business Lecturer II Christopher Bottomley, and the Maker’s Club, supervised by Dr. Angel Camilo and College Lecturer Edmund Hong, will jointly participate in OCC’s first Sink or Swim competition. Modeled on the popular “Shark Tank” television program, students will create a pitch for innovative projects.  Judges will evaluate their ideas and select winners, who, will be awarded monetary prizes.
  • Under the tutelage of Dr. Toy, 44 students successfully completed Bloomberg certification in 2018. Business instructors routinely hold class activities in the Business Lab utilizing the Bloomberg terminals for research, illustration of course concepts, and stock market competitions.
  • Members of the OCC community participated in a workshop entitled Realizing Potential with Mindset that was facilitated by Maria Paradiso, College Lecturer II in Social Work, alongside colleagues Susan O’Connor, Director of Curriculum Management, and Brianna DeCicco, Equity Coordinator. The workshop highlighted improved student outcomes when specific growth mindset strategies were implemented in the classroom.
  • Under the direction of Political Science Lecturer II Jennifer Barnes, the Governmental Affairs Institute sponsored the annual Mayor’s Panel; a speech by Assemblyman David Wolfe; an anti-smoking, vaping, and juuling event that involved the Ocean County Health Department and the Dart Prevention Coalition of RWJ Barnabas Health; and a discussion on video gaming and gambling addictions among millennials given by the Assistant Executive Director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling for the State of New Jersey.    Former National President of the ALCU and constitutional scholar, author, and professor Nadine Strossen discussed 1st Amendment free speech on college campuses.
  • In the School of Arts and Humanities, the Fall Repertory Theatre Company productions of Almost Maine, Driving Miss Daisy, and Best Christmas Pageant were huge successes, with all three of the performances sold out. A special thank you goes to David Wintrode and the Wintrode Family Foundation for sponsoring one of the productions.
  • English Professors Dr. Jennifer Dellner, Dr. Joaquin Rolon, Dr. Sandra Brown, and Jayanti Tamm presented Myths and Stories: An Examination of Storytelling in Literature from Around the Globe on November 14 as part of the International Education Week celebration.
  • The Dance Club, advised by College Lecturer II Catherine Mancuso, held its Fall Dance Showcase in December in the Grunin Theatre.
  • The Music Club Winter Recital showcased student performances of various styles and skill levels and the club sponsored an Alumni Piano Recital featuring works by Mozart, Chopin, Bartok, and Prokofiev on the beautiful Bosendorfer Imperial Grand Piano. Finally, Adjunct Associate Professor of Music David Marowitz shared that the OCC Jazz Band was the subject of an article by jazz journalist/author/curator Sanford Josephson in the Jersey Jazz Journal.
  • Librarian Catherine Pontoriero and Coordinator of Disability Services Gina Zippo-Mazur have written an article, Evaluating the User Experience of Patrons with Disabilities at a Community College Library,” which will be published in the Spring 2019 issue of Library Trends.
  • In the Center for Academic Success, Dr. Henry Jackson is working with e-Learning to secure the usage of the Rosetta Stone software in K-6 school districts in Ocean County. Rosetta Stone Spanish software will be implemented in Eagleswood Elementary School District in fall 2019. 
  • The Embedded Program in K-12 school districts enrolled 1,400 students in fall 2018, triple the number of students enrolled fall 2017.
  • College Readiness Now V is underway. To date, approximately 500 students have been tested from Central Regional, Lacey, Point Pleasant Borough, and Toms River South high schools and the Ocean County Vocational Technical School.
  • The Math Statistics Acceleration Learning Program at Central Regional High School is underway with 18 students enrolled. The course will run until June 2019.
  • Lacey Township High School has 23 students on track to graduate at the end of spring 2019 with A.A. degrees in Liberal Arts. The second cohort began in fall 2018 with 15 students in the College Academy program.
  • In School Relations, OCC has 19 districts taking part in the Professional Development Academy held on campus every month. These districts pay to become part of the Academy.
  • The Magpie project, our partnership with a technology company to provide professional development and standards-based lesson planning, is in the pilot stage and moving along. The Magpie software should be ready for use for the upcoming school year in Ocean County school districts.
  • A series of Advanced Placement seminars for AP teachers in K-12 were held this month. Approximately 200 teachers were on campus for four days of meetings to exchange information. Dr. Jackson provided an overview of our Early College Program at each of the sessions.

An update from Hatem Akl for e-Learning and Learning Enterprises includes the following:

  • 26 e-Learning courses were developed or updated for the spring semester; 28 courses will be created and 31 courses will undergo review in preparation for the fall 2019 semester.
  • The 20th cohort of Online Instructor Training and the 5th cohort of Master Course Developer Training will conclude on January 28. 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 our e-Learning Program.
  • Vincent Petrecca was appointed the Chief of Detectives of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office in October. He serves e-Learning as an online Instructor, Master Course Developer, and Master Course Reviewer.
  • 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.
  • 20% of our Ocean-Ain Sham students have met the requirements for the PTK Honor Society. The students have represented OCC in several off-campus activities in Egypt, including fundraisers for the Children’s Cancer Hospital.
  • OCC’s non-credit ESL hybrid/online program with a leading governmental department in Egypt has 150 executives enrolled in English for Specific Purposes classes. In addition, a first cohort in Mexico taking English as a Second Language through Go English Language School began in fall 2018.
  • Joel Bloom, President of NJIT, and I were invited to participate in a panel discussion at the Egypt Entrepreneurship Summit in Luxor in November.  During our visit to Egypt, Charge’ d’Affaires Tom Goldberger hosted a reception in honor of OCC and NJIT, and 300 prominent executives from the government, education, and industries were in attendance. Nine Egyptian governmental universities signed agreements to begin the first-ever American Community College in Egypt.  The agreements are pending the approvals of the Egyptian cabinet.  Mr. Goldberger and his wife are visiting OCC on January 24; we are hosting a reception for them in the Instructional Building Atrium.
  • I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Hatem Akl and Maysa Hayward for their work. Their contributions in all aspects of the Egyptian initiative have been invaluable.

In Student Affairs, Dr. Jerry Racioppi reports:

  • OCC hosted the NJ Council of County Colleges’ Admissions and Registration Affinity Group. Twelve colleges consulted on how OCC’s model for proactively serving students is impacting enrollment.  Spring and fall enrollments were discussed, and it was noted that OCC was the only school in the state to report positive enrollment numbers in both semesters.  Currently, spring enrollment continues on an upward trend.
  • On January 3, OCC and Stockton University signed an MOU to launch a new dual admission and transfer partnership that will help our students make a smooth transition to Stockton’s bachelor’s degree programs. The five-year Transfer Pathways agreement offers multiple opportunities for students to seamlessly pursue associate and bachelor’s degrees at our two institutions.
  • Admissions has reached two new partnerships have been reached with Wawa and Ocean County Labor Workforce Development. Wawa will begin sponsoring student events, including Spring Open House and a Club Fair.  Plans are underway to start working with local stores at new employee orientations and staff meetings to market tuition reimbursement and educational opportunities available to Wawa employees.  Additional presentations have been given during multiple orientations at the Workforce location.
  • Very successful Career Fairs were offered this past fall.  Hundreds of students and members of the community were able to explore employment opportunities with some of the region’s top employers.
  • Two Express Enrollment Days were held in November and December. In total, 57 students were able to test, meet with academic advisors, and register for spring 2019 in one day.
  • The Advising Office hosted another successful Transfer Fair in October. Over 70 institutions attended, and 300 students signed in with at least one admissions representative.
  • Once again, OCC’s Athletic Department boasted an impressive season, starting with the Cross Country program consistently placing in the top ten among two-year colleges. Both the Men’s and Women’s Teams competed at the National Championship in Massachusetts, where the Men’s team finished in the top 5 in the country.  Head Coach (and OCC Hall of Famer) Jen Nelson-Siciliano was named Region XIX Coach of the Year.
  • Our Women’s Volleyball team advanced to the Region XIX Championship, ranking among the top teams in the Garden State Athletic Conference for the last four seasons. Former OCC standouts Samantha Allen and Doug Jensen were honored by Region XIX for their athletic and academic achievements.
  • The College Pathways Program has expanded to 12 schools with over 2,000 students participating.  The pilot with Lakewood High School produced tremendous results, increasing the yield from the school by 7%.  This was not only the highest yield on record for the high school but also the highest number of students.
  • Disability Services has 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 program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness, basic responses related to fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, and helping individuals with disabilities.
  • Academic Support Services designed and implemented a Virtual Tutoring pilot this semester that will make tutoring even more accessible to our face-to-face students. It will also be providing an ESL program, Conversation Partners, this semester.
  • Efforts are underway to increase enrollment and the services at the Southern Education Center. During the winter recess, over 2,000 postcards were mailed advertising the SEC to potential transfer students.  Courses are being offered with a 3:00 p.m. start time to try to increase enrollment during the afternoons.
  • Students at the SEC proudly collected and distributed over 50 bags of donated food to the Barnegat Food Pantry and Manahawkin Food Kiosk program at Thanksgiving. Students wrote over 150 holiday greeting cards which were sent to U.S. Veterans housed at the Lions Hospital and East Orange VA Clinic and collected two boxes of toys that were donated to the Stafford Recreation and PBA Toy Drive.  Most notably, Adjunct Faculty Member Sarah Campbell’s class collected over $2,700 and donated the funds to Pets for Vets.

Sara Winchester shares the following from the Finance and Administration area:

  • Planning for the FY2020 budget is underway. Yes, 2020!  It sounds futuristic but fiscal year 2020 is a mere six months away.  The FY2020 budget will include the elimination of the registration fee, which to date has been charged to students every term.   At the same time, a very moderate increase to tuition is planned; even with an increase, OCC will remain one of the lowest-cost colleges in the state.
  • Ocean County College was one of thirteen institutions selected to participate in the inaugural cohort to pilot New Jersey’s Free Community College initiative.  This program will provide financial assistance for tuition and educational fees to students who register for six credits or more and whose family incomes are within the program guidelines. The program will be jointly administered by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority.  In addition, OCC received a $250,000 grant to support the implementation of this program for our spring 2019 semester.  The grant will provide eligible Ocean County citizens, who may not have the financial means to pay for college, the opportunity to attend OCC for free.  If the program continues to be funded by the State, it is expected to have a major impact on enrollment in FY2019 and beyond.
  • OCC was awarded a $2,491,257 Title III Strengthening Institutions Program grant by the U.S. Department of Education for the period October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2023. Funding will be used to:  1) Enhance student success and retention through improved academic advising, expanded academic support services, and an enhanced early alert system; 2) Initiate academic coaching for pre-nursing students and first-time, full-time students interested in health sciences; 3) Expand degree offerings in the health sciences field; 4) Improve instruction through structured and expanded faculty development opportunities; and 5) Strengthen fiscal stability by increasing enrollment and retention.
  • A new Student Services Building to house a one-stop shop for enrollment services is in the design stage. The building will serve as a hub for individuals to accomplish all of the tasks required to become OCC students.  The new building will be in the range of 20,000 to 22,000 square feet and will contain Admissions, Testing, Advising, Financial Aid, Registration, and Student Account Services as well as a waiting area and computer kiosks for student use.   The building will be situated on the footprint of the College Center, which is scheduled for demolition this year.  At the same time, the old bookstore will be repurposed as a small Conference Center.  The Conference Center will provide student-centered activity space and meeting rooms for internal and external users.
  • It is not financially feasible to make renovations or improvements to the existing, but crumbling, Administration Building. A financial plan for building a new Administration Building is anticipated to be approved by the Board of Trustees and the Board of Chosen Freeholders this spring.  With the support of the County of Ocean, the new building will be built between the existing building and the Planetarium.  This will allow operations in the existing building to continue without interruption while the new building is constructed.
  • Construction of a Performing Arts Academy (PAA) High School Building on the campus is well underway, with completion expected in late 2019. The building will be approximately 50,000 square feet.  In addition to classrooms, it will contain a Black Box Theatre, dance studios, audio program space, and science labs.  The PAA students will participate in an Early College program that will allow them to graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree at the same time.  The College will permit the OCVTS to use various College facilities, and the College will be permitted to use the PAA High School Building.  This joint venture will add much needed performing arts space to the campus while simultaneously boosting college enrollment in FY2020 and beyond.
  • Another project that will soon begin is the repurposing of the natatorium, which was built in 1974. This project will convert the pool deck to another gym station.  The space may also be used by the Performing Arts High School and will support summer camp needs.
  • The Grunin Center is continuing to build relationships in the community and attract sponsorships. A Corporate Partnership brochure has been published to reach out to the business community.  Through the leadership of Mark Wilson, Director of Cultural Affairs, corporate sponsorships on campus now include:
  • RWJ Barnabas, which is sponsoring a Health Family Series for young audiences.
  • The Wintrode Family Foundation is sponsoring a Camp (Community Arts and Music Programs) Series which offers opportunities for local summer camp groups to come to OCC for enriching and entertaining theatrical events, free of charge.
  • The Matus Law Group has sponsored the prominent author and speaker, Temple Grandin, who will appear at the Grunin Center this spring.
  • The OCC Foundation is continuing to thrive under the leadership of Ken Malagiere. This fall the 17th Annual Golf Classic raised over $43,000.  The Foundation also received a gift of $150,000 from the estate of Jean A. Stirba.  Additionally, the Foundation has a $100,000 pledge from the Wintrode Family Foundation to bolster the offerings of the Blauvelt Lecture Series.  Discussions are underway with Academic Affairs to determine how to best to link the Lecture Series and first-year curricula.  Most recently, the Foundation received a $75,000 pledge to our Health Sciences Campaign from Community Medical Center Foundation. This most recent gift will be memorialized on the exterior of the second floor Main Classroom.
  • And, the on-the-spot W.O.W. Awards (Winning the Ocean Way) kicked off in September 2018, and it has been enthusiastically embraced by the College community. The program, intended to reinforce the tenets of The Ocean Way, allows any employee to nominate a colleague based on the observance of excellent Ocean Way behavior and actions.  O.W. awardees receive a $10 gift certificate to Canteen, recognition in OCC’s e-Newsletter, an invitation to a group celebration event, and a chance to win a grand prize.

What do you think of that list of forward-looking programs and activities?  Impressive, yes?

Thanks go to all those who made these achievements possible.  Let’s give them a round of applause!

This is the first Colloquium for a number of new OCC employees.  We would like to recognize each new employee, so when I call your name, please join me up front … so everyone will know you as you move about the campus.  In addition, we are recognizing current employees who are in new positions.

Please remain on stage for a group photo to memorialize your presence at Ocean County College!

New Employees

  • Madison Lindsay Akins, Part-Time Information Access Technician
  • Anastasia Benson, Undergraduate Intern
  • Michael Brinzo, General Building Maintenance Worker
  • Chu Cheung, e-Learning Instructional Designer
  • Sara Cook, Part-Time Information Access Technician
  • Darin Cranmer, Assistant Project Manager, Facilities
  • Kevin Cupples, Associate Director of Marketing
  • Julie Eisenlohr, Part-Time Writing Skills Tutor
  • Katherine Hammack, Student Intern, Accounting
  • James Hauenstein, Director of the SEC
  • Melissa Jerden, Resource Coordinator
  • Jeong Kim, College Lecturer II, Mathematics
  • Shealyn Ann Manning, HVAC Technician
  • Couper Thomas McLay, Graduate Student Intern, e-Learning
  • Willmaria Miranda, Assistant Director, Center for Academic Excellence
  • Jaimee Danielle Nadzan, Graduate Student Intern, e-Learning
  • Gina Opauski, Assistant Director of Work Readiness
  • Malia Padalino, Part-Time Information Access Technician
  • James Perri, Security Officer II
  • Samuel Pinkava, College Lecturer II, Mathematics
  • Saundra Piscitelli, Instructor of Humanities
  • Christina Ragone, Academic Advisor
  • Jon Ross, Manager of Buildings and Grounds
  • Sherry Shearer, Office Coordinator, Business and Social Sciences
  • Linda Simmons, Nursing Skills Lab Coordinator
  • Nicholas Tyler, Programmer Analyst
  • Malcolm Wagner, Part-Time Information Access Technician
  • John Wallace, College Lecturer II, Library
  • Christine Webster-Hansen, Assistant Dean, e-Learning

Change-of-Status Employees

  • Adam Bisaccia, College Lecturer II, Business Law
  • Pamela Bogdan, College Lecturer II, English
  • Marisol Brodie, Interim College Lecturer II, Humanities
  • Nancy Carmody, Assistant Dean, Business and Social Sciences
  • Benny Castillo, College Lecturer II, Criminal Justice
  • Sarah Fagan, Part-Time Enrollment Services Technician
  • Bryn Farace, Part-Time Technical Production Coordinator
  • Deeanne Gatta-Salter, Academic Advisor
  • Brian Gilmore, College Lecturer II, Humanities/Fine Arts
  • Jack Kelnhofer, College Lecturer II, e-Learning
  • Joseph Konopka, Vice President of Academic Affairs
  • Marybeth Millan, Nursing Skills Lab Coordinator
  • Megan Miskin, Interim Director, Student Support Services Program
  • Mikaela Polchak, Admissions Representative
  • Bridget Root, Assistant Registrar, Systems and Services
  • Nicole Scerbo, Office Coordinator, Facilities
  • Julie Scruggs, Director of Clinical Instruction
  • Carolyn Showalter, Assistant Dean, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
  • Elizabeth Welch, Instructional Design Specialist
  • Kendall Whitmeyer, Interim College Lecturer II, Humanities

To each of our new employees, welcome to Ocean County College!  We hope you will be with us for many years.  To our employees with new responsibilities, congratulations!

Speaking of being with us for many years, I would now like to present service awards to our very valuable employees.  As I call your name, please join me on stage to receive your certificate.

For twenty years of service:

  • Carmen Anderson, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology
  • Ellen Corvinus, Administrative Assistant, Library
  • Ann Feneis, Special Assistant to the Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration
  • Raymond Gardner, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Business Studies
  • Joseph Kirchhofer, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice

For thirty years of service:

  • Mary Ellen Carr, Professor of English and Literature
  • Mindy Castro, OIT Administrative Technician
  • Katherine Dillon, Associate Professor of Business Studies
  • Neill Freiermuth, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Business Studies

Congratulations to all.  Your contributions to the College for these many years are very much appreciated.


And, now, we have the President’s Awards for Excellence to recognize individuals for their work at Ocean County College.  I invite Tracey Donaldson to join me as we present each of the awards.

The purpose of this program is to acknowledge and express appreciation for outstanding accomplishments at the department, division and College-wide level that do not fall entirely within the scope of normal duties, but, rather, clearly indicate above-and-beyond effort.  Employees are nominated based on their achievements in one or more of the following criteria, all of which support the College’s strategic plan – “Charting our New Course.”  The categories are:

  • Outstanding Service to Students
  • Efficiency and Innovation
  • New Markets
  • Work Environment

The award recipients were nominated by their fellow employees and all nominations were reviewed and considered by the President’s Leadership Team.

Each award recipient receives a monetary award, an engraved cup, and lunch with the President’s Leadership Team.  Additionally, engraved cups for each award level will reside in the Administration Building in a showcase, where, annually, awardee names will be added and displayed.

Without further ado, we are proud to recognize the outstanding performance of the recipients of the President’s Award for Excellence for the year 2018.

The recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence at the Department Level is Michelle Youngs, Manager of Operations and Production in the Grunin Center.  She was nominated in the category of “Efficiency and Innovation.”

Michelle understands that the Grunin Center can and should serve as a strategic tool to entice high school students to attend OCC because of its academic excellence, affordability, and outstanding offerings.  She had a strong desire to assist high school students in transitioning to OCC, especially through the performing arts.

To that end, Michelle sought to design a program that would raise the Grunin Center’s profile among high school students by creating a volunteer usher program to provide the opportunity for them to interact with OCC staff, students, and artists.  For many of these students, this connection would be their first interaction with our College.  This usher program not only raises the Grunin Center’s profile but it also gives the students real world experience working in a performing arts center.  By doing so, the program gives the College multiple ways to identify, recruit, and retain new students.

Michele interacted with various stakeholders on campus and in the community to develop this program.  High school teachers have expressed support for the initiative and are encouraging their students to get involved.  The principal and staff of the Performing Arts Academy at the Vocational Technical School are always looking for ways to connect students to both the front and back of a theatre.  Being exposed to the administrative practices of the arts can give the students many more career choices in addition to performing.

The program also offers another avenue for students to connect with community members of all ages.  Many of our patrons and volunteer ushers are seniors.  The students will gain insight into how to communicate with them and navigate the social norms of working in an arts center.  Current Grunin staff members are excited to mentor these students.

Michelle’s positive attitude and drive to find ways to help students while promoting OCC are inspiring.  She recognizes the many benefits that will result from having the Performing Arts Academy on campus and is prepared to pursue all opportunities that will develop the students and enhance the Grunin Center and the College.

Given the initiative and innovation that Michele has demonstrated, we are proud to present this award to Michele Youngs for her outstanding service to the College.

The Recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence at the Division Level is Christine Healey, Director of Purchasing and Payables.  Her award is in the category of “Efficiency and Innovation.”

Christine has become a leader for the New Jersey Community College Purchasing Consortium.  Although part of her responsibilities include participating in the Consortium, Christine has provided leadership to all other community colleges in the state.

Christine has led 13 joint procurements with the community colleges, 7 of which had OCC as the lead agency.  These efforts results in an estimated savings of $1.7 million plus $150,000 in administrative costs in FY 2018 alone.  Prior to her participation, the consortium had limited output.  Christine overcame the barriers that seemed to keep the colleges from working together and dramatically increased not only the number of procurements but also the number of colleges that participate in each contract.

Since joining OCC, Christine has worked with her staff to improve the College’s procurements methods and increase efficiency and savings.  She expanded the use of RFQs for professional services, which allow pre-qualification of firms.  When a service is needed, the College requests quotes for the specific work rather than having to utilize the RFP process that requires several months of lead time before work can get started.

Additionally, she expanded the use of purchasing cooperatives, an arrangement to agree to aggregate demand to get lower prices from suppliers.  Cooperatives are frequently used by governmental agencies, such as public colleges, since they are required to follow laws requiring competitive bidding.  In this manner, OCC can legally use a contract that was procured by another governmental agency, thus saving time and money.

Christine has also increased joint procurement within the College.  She has found ways to combine the purchases of various departments that results in the advantage of lower pricing for higher quantities and lower administrative costs.

A new online portal for purchasing has been implemented by Christine that allows vendors to download documents and submit questions and information to OCC electronically.  This has also resulted in cost savings in printing and postage as well as increased the number of vendors who want to do business with the College.

Overall, Christine has made the procurement process faster, easier, and more transparent for stakeholders.  She has worked with Facilities to improve processes related to both operations and capital projects, which has resulted in Purchasing being able to meet the need of the physical campus in a more effective manner.

Christine’s initiative and achievements have made a tremendous impact on the College.  She has deepened OCC business relationships with our sister community colleges, created efficiencies, and saved a very significant amount of money for all participants, especially OCC.

Christine has proven herself to be positive, hardworking, proactive, collaborative, and supportive.  She is a dynamic and integral member of the OCC team.  Thank you, Christine, for your outstanding efforts on behalf of OCC.

The Recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence at the College-Wide Level is Mark Wilson, Director of Cultural Affairs, Fine and Performing Arts.  Mark was nominated in the category of “New Markets.”

Mark has been responsible for utilizing the Grunin gift in a manner that reflects positively on both the College and the donors.  His focus on ensuring the Grunin Center serves students goes above and beyond his job requirement to manage the Center.  Before Mark’s arrival, low student participation was an ongoing problem, and faculty and staff were frustrated by the lack of stage time for students.  He has since continually revised the schedule and has made student stage time a priority.  He has also brought a high level of performers to the theatre that, in turn, attract our students.  He prioritizes his efforts to bring high school students to the campus by including them in performances.

A new marketing strategy has been implemented, which included a new Marketing Coordinator specifically for the arts programs in the Grunin Center.  These efforts reach beyond the borders of the County, which has resulted in a dramatic increase in ticket sales.  During the 2017-18 season, the Grunin Center had a total of 45,437 patrons.

Mark is consistently finding new opportunities and additional revenue streams.  He has partnered with local restaurants that cater special Dinner and Show events, and many participating restaurants have then sponsored other unrelated activities on campus and they provide free advertising at their establishments.

A new brochure on Corporate Sponsorships was recently developed by Mark.  He has increased such sponsorships, such as the previously mentioned RWJ Barnabas, which is sponsoring a Health Family Series for young audiences, and the Wintrode Family Foundation, which is sponsoring a Camp Series for local summer camp groups to come to the campus for enriching and entertaining theatrical events free of charge.  Additionally, the Matus Group has sponsored the prominent author and speaker, Temple Grandin.

He has continued to be instrumental in bringing the Vocational Technical School’s Performing Arts Academy to the campus.  His enthusiasm and professionalism helped convince the PAA staff that an Early College Program on the OCC campus was in the best interests of everyone.  He brought the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra to campus for a free “Starry Nights” concert last summer, an event sponsored by JCP&L and PNC Bank.  The orchestra is committed to returning to the campus and expanding its relationship with the College.

Mark created a rental application and pricing list for rooms, technical staff, and equipment to better serve the members of the community who want to utilize the main theatre or the black box.  This has provided consistent pricing and has resulted in more facility usage.  Many community groups use OCC’s facilities, including the Garden State Philharmonic and the Performing Arts Academy.  The Grunin Center is now the host to several regional and local academic events, such as the New Jersey Teen Arts Festival, the New Jersey Poetry Out Loud Competition, the Ocean County Senior Arts Exhibit, the Jersey Shore Science Symposium, and the Ocean County Teen Arts Festival.

Without a doubt, Mark has a wonderful attitude and an excitement for the arts that is exhibited through the work he does.  He is to be congratulated for his dedication and resourcefulness in bringing prestige to our institution and encouraging OCC’s commitment to performing arts.  Thank you, Mark, for your consistent efforts to achieve excellence and pave the way.   

Congratulations to our President’s Award recipients!

In conclusion, thank you all, ladies and gentlemen.  We appreciate your courteous attention.  I will now turn the podium over to Dr. Clay to offer further details on the great Colloquium we have planned for you.  Have a great Colloquium day!

Text Link