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January 17, 2020

Dr. Larson’s Spring 2020 Colloquium Remarks

OCC President Dr. Larson

Ocean County College:
Strategies on the Horizon for Future Growth and Innovation
2021 – 2025

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

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to the New Year and the new decade!  Welcome to The Roaring ’20s!  We have good reason to believe that, like the 1920s, the 2020’s promises to be a great decade.

Good morning everyone, and welcome to our fifty-seventh Spring Semester!

Thank you, Dr. Clay, for opening our program in your customarily elegant style.

Now, let me ask that you all join in welcoming distinguished members of our Board of Trustees who have once again honored each of us by joining us today.  Please give a warm welcome to:

Chair of the OCC Board, Van Thulin, and his lovely wife, Kathleen;

Please also acknowledge our interpreters, our very own Saundra Piscitelli and Kathleen Basilotto!

We thank each of you for joining us today.

You will notice the screen on the other side of the stage.  Through a generous grant from the Ocean County College Foundation, OCC’s Disability Services Program received funding for technology and services promoting CART, otherwise known as “real-time captioning,” and remote interpreting services.  As you can see, captioning provides an instant translation of the spoken word in English text and is considered a reasonable accommodation under the American with Disabilities Act.

Results from research conducted by Oregon State University demonstrate that providing closed captioning benefits not only students with various disabilities but also has the potential to improve learning for students who report having no disabilities, including non-native English speaking individuals.  OCC is proud to integrate new means of promoting inclusiveness and universal access to all who enter our institution as a student, staff, or teaching member or guest from the outside community.

I want to extend a special note of appreciation to Ken Malagiere and our OCC Foundation Board and our CART transcriber this morning, Lauren Schechter, from Total Caption.  Thank you!  For more information about accessibility and universal access, contact the Disability Services Program Office.

Our Colloquium theme today addresses future growth and innovation opportunities for Ocean County College.  Quite naturally, this theme reflects our aspirations as ‘The boldest, most innovative, most entrepreneurial student-centered college in America.’

Further, it encompasses the subtext for my remarks, a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, many of you, have seen in the signature of my email messages:

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

Moreover, it reflects the focus of our strategic plan, OCC, at the Helm, for 2021 – 2025, currently under revision with adoption planned not later than June 2020.

My remarks today will center on the environment in which we can expect to live in this new decade of the ’20s and some thoughts on how we might navigate the uncertain waters and the startling opportunities this new decade will certainly offer for those willing to go ‘where there is no path and leave a trail.’

A number of futurists, including New York Times columnist and best-selling author Tom Friedman, who was our Blauvelt Lecture Series speaker at OCC in November, have been imagining what the implications will be for acceleration in the pace of nearly everything in our lives, largely because of the ‘Moore’s Law’ effect.

Moore’s Law is named after Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and CEO of Intel, whose 1965 paper described a doubling every year in the number of components per integrated computer circuit, and projected this rate of growth would continue for at least another decade. In 1975, looking forward to the next decade, he revised the forecast to doubling every two years.

More recently, Moore’s Law has been adopted by futurists to describe a driving force of technological and social change, productivity, and economic growth and the human impacts of accelerated change we currently experience.

What’s really new here is the scale and scope of these changes … Moore’s Law on steroids, so to speak, since these forecasts address many of the related changes in demographics, climate, technology of all kinds, and the psychological, lifestyle, and economic impacts Americans and most humans around the globe will experience from the anticipated sweeping changes this new decade will likely produce.

Our program today seeks to explore, with your help, some of the threats and opportunities these changes will present.  I call your attention to the concurrent workshop topics and schedules and urge everyone to be an active participant in these colloquial discussions.  You will surely notice a thematic integration in these topics.  The Core Planning Team has been very actively considering and debating the directions OCC might take over the ensuing half-decade.

Our strategic planning consultant, Dr. Tim Coley, will join Dr. Alexa Beshara-Blauth in seeking your input on the emerging ideas the Core Team has been considering.  We want and need your contributions.

The other concurrent workshops address changes we are considering in curriculum, including how we build courses to eliminate the cost of textbooks in many of our programs of study to make OCC more affordable and easier to access; new programs of study that acknowledge some of the megatrends our County, our State, our nation, and the globe will experience in the decade of the ’20s.  We need to give our students real-world learning that will enhance their ability to adapt as we move away from the energy base and economic drivers of our recent past.  And, how our unique push into global delivery of learning is offering the promise of a more secure and stable long-term growth trajectory for OCC.

We encourage the free exchange of ideas and welcome dissenting thoughts, new ideas, radically creative propositions, and constructive critiques.  Naturally, affirmations and praise for those in the arena presenting these notions are always also welcome!

Clearly, academic institutions are not the only ones facing what are broadly expected to be sweeping changes with profound implications for businesses, industries, services, and governments wrought by the anticipated rollout of 5G wireless in the latter part of 2020.  This 5th Generation of wireless telecommunication technology is widely predicted to boost the fortunes of wireless carriers, like AT&T, Verizon, and their Chinese competitors, computer chip makers, network infrastructure providers, and smartphone makers.

The blazing 5G wireless speeds are anticipated to substantially surpass current fiber optic transmission speeds, revolutionizing manufacturing, health care, the automotive industry, and connecting homes, autos, and people through wearable technology.  Smart cars, smart factories, smart cities, smart logistics, enabling the use of virtual reality and remote surgery, all lie before us, if the predictions become the reality.  Up to now, health care and, to a lesser degree, higher education has not really been impacted by Moore’s Law.

As Tom Fredman has written, depending on how you view the world, these disruptive developments can affect whether you think in the box, out of the box, or assume there is no box!  As we navigate these uncharted waters, we need to be mindful that the comfort level the members of our College community experience will vary, and sincerely seek to manage these changes in a compassionate and humane spirit.

The greatest drivers of our recent spate of rapid economic growth have been technology companies:  Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google … the FAANG stocks, plus Microsoft.  These companies have accumulated massive amounts of money and are all well-positioned to continue to influence how we apply the rollout of several emerging technologies, including 5th Generation wireless technology (5G), Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IOT), cryptocurrencies, and self-driving cars, to name a few.

How our Generation Z students, those born after the year 2,000, already 20 percent of the world’s population, and retiring members of earlier generations, some 800 million of whom will join the “Silver Economy” (over age 65) in this decade, will deal with these changes remains to be seen.  How will we, and others connected to us, change what we do and how we adapt to these unknowns will define our future.

In the 2020s, there will be, worldwide, more grandparents than grandchildren and more people over 65 than people under age 5.  This demographic development will offer both opportunity and challenges – to pension and healthcare systems, and to higher education.  Life expectancy is rising in the western world and will continue as we solve some of the mysteries of cell-level science.  The age of biotechnology will likely play a major role in how the silver generation fares in this brave new world.

The source of much of this information is the head of Thematic Research at Bank of America, Haim Israel.  Like Tom Friedman, he is concerned with what he calls “techceleration” – accelerated growth rates led by technology.  Israel predicts there will be 500 billion connected devices by the end of this decade, generating massive amounts of data.

Big data analytics, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and smart algorithms will unlock knowledge and capacity in all walks of life.  Real machine learning and quantum computing will thoughtfully and intelligently solve problems.

Our strategic plan for the next five years will focus on ways we can find advantages in the brave new world that is dawning.

Thank you for your kind attention to these ruminations.

Now, I turn to a more mundane matter, but one of immediate importance to us all – the state of our College’s enrollment.

While we have fared better than our peers as the national trend in declining high school graduation rates negatively affects the enrollment, and thus the finances of nearly all higher education institutions, still, we also have experienced declining enrollments cumulatively in small increments over the past ten years.

This year is different.  For the 2019-2020 academic and fiscal year, we will be down in enrollment-related revenue some 2.5 million dollars.  This is an unpleasant fact that we must face and deal with.

In a moment, you will hear of the many successful efforts we have made to enhance our student recruitment yield, already one of the highest in the nation.  These efforts, laudable certainly, will not fully overcome the effects of the demographic decline in high school graduations in Ocean County.

You will also hear that we anticipate generating greater revenues from International Education beginning this spring and throughout Fiscal Year 2021.

But, until those prospects become realities, we are faced with the necessity to tighten our collective belts.  Accordingly, we are formulating plans for numerous cost-control measures that will allow us to conclude FY 2020 and FY 2021 in balance.  Many of these will have minor impacts on our operations and will hardly be noticed, and those of greater significance will be shared with you later in the Spring Semester after the Board of Trustees has reviewed the proposed expense reduction plans.

We will be undertaking these measures to responsibly respond to a near-term financial shortfall, but we will simultaneously be working diligently to assure that our enrollment and financial strength return to better health over the next few years.

This is not a financial crisis, but it is a financial reality that we must address.  Over the remaining months of FY 2020, ending June 30, 2020, we will keep our entire College community updated on our progress in solving this shortfall.

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:

  • Ocean County College and Kean University received notice in December that our joint application to develop a generic 3+1 BSN program was approved by the New Jersey Board of Nursing. This BSN 3+1 program is the first in the state to be approved by the Board of Nursing, and members of the Board noted that it will be the first integrated generic Nursing program in the nation to be jointly delivered by a community college and a university.
  • Fifty-three students completed the Nursing Program in December 2019 and are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN®). OCC licensure passing rates continue to remain in the top rank of scores nationally.  Job placement rates for our Nursing graduates is 100%.
  • As part of Global Education Week, Assistant Professor Jayanti Tamm, Dr. Joaquin Rolon, Dr. Jennifer Dellner, and Dr. Ameer Sohrawardy hosted a lecture entitled, “Global Women Authors: Powerful Visionaries.”
  • Dellner traveled to Amsterdam in October to attend the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies Conference as a presenter and board member.
  • Madison Peschock had an article about Alfred Hitchcock and his abuse of power published in the book, “Hermeneutics, Metacognition, and Writing.”
  • Assistant Professor Kathy Basilotto, Professor Saundra Piscitelli, and the ASL Interpreter Training Program held the first-ever Halloween Rock and Roll Show in October.
  • School Relations is providing professional development to K-12 teaching staff, including Advanced Placement workshops to over 400 school teachers in January. An online professional development course is being developed for instructors of Egyptian students.
  • Angel Camilo and Professor Eric Antonelli are collaborating with Toms River high schools on several projects to research the benefits of hydroponic nutrients using grow lights and grow tents. Four student papers will be submitted to the New Jersey Academy of Science for publication.
  • OCC is hosting the fourth annual Jersey Shore Junior Science Symposium this spring. Sponsored by the Department of Defense and the National Science Teaching Association, the symposium highlights the research projects of high school students as they compete for college scholarships.
  • Lecturer Sean Bips will lead a study abroad trip to Switzerland in July for Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management students;
  • Ana Guerra will conduct the first continuing education event in recognition of Social Work Month;
  • Chris Bottomley will coordinate the 2nd Annual Sink or Swim competition on campus;
  • Margaret Maghan will collaborate with Institutional Research to survey student perceptions of our Helping Hands Food Pantry for the development of a campus-wide awareness campaign.
  • In April, Lecturer Patricia Gianotti will lead OCC’s Addictions Summit, “Expo for Wellness Technologies and Integrative Treatments for Addictions and Behavior Health.”
  • The Business Department faculty and lecturers will be teaching in the new Business Academy Program at St. Peter School in Point Pleasant Beach. The Business Academy will be limited to 8th grade students and will run for seven consecutive weeks beginning this month.
  • Katherine Toy, College Lecturer II in Economics, continues to advise and lead business students who are competing in the Bloomberg Stock Market Trading Challenge. Dr. Toy now has two teams competing for the best financial performance pitting their selected stock portfolios against those of hundreds of other student teams at colleges across the country.
  • The Center for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education, under the directorship of Dr. Ali Botein-Furrevig, is in its new location in the Library’s second-floor tower reading room. Its initial exhibit, Modern Genocides, continues to attract visitors.  To promote the Center, Dr. Botein-Furrevig has developed courses through the Continuing and Professional Education Department, participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the Asbury Park Press, and made presentations to high school teachers and counselors.

An update from Dr. Eileen Garcia, Vice President of e-Learning and Learning Enterprises, includes the following:

  • In November, the School of e-Learning launched its first virtual professional development webinar. Educational webinars provide pedagogical best practices and practical strategies for instructors to effectively utilize OCC technological online services and resources.  Upcoming workshops will focus on Online Student Retention, Adjunct Promotion Criteria, and Academic Dishonesty: Keeping Integrity in the Curriculum.
  • Online Instructor Training has been updated and launched. This automated training allows instructors to self-enroll and takes virtual training independently.  Over 20 instructors have completed the training successfully.
  • e-Learning partnered with the College Library to incorporate library resources and Open Educational Resources in online classes. Free instructional course materials for students eliminates the cost of purchasing textbooks.
  • Existing online courses have been updated with innovative technologies in 217 master course shells. Over 120 instructors have been trained to develop quality online courses and to review course content.
  • The 2020 Spring e-Learning Newsletter is now available online, highlighting e-Learning students, e-Learning instructors, and scholarly online articles.
  • The e-Learning Team had productive visits to Egypt during the Fall semester, including:
  • Meetings with the President of Ain Shams University regarding the continuing partnership among OCC, Ain Shams, and Kean University. Hayward and Dr. Howaida Wahby Eraky offered training workshops to participating Egyptian students.  The fourth cohort of 38 new students will begin in the Fall of 2019.
  • The trip included a number of visits to future sites of instruction in Egypt. The curriculum will be offered in the form of special programs using a 2+1+1 model.  Agreements have been signed with Dr. Dawood Farahi, President of Kean University, and Dr. Sue Henderson, President of New Jersey City University, to partner with four host universities in the fall, Ain Shams University, Helwan University, Alexandria University, and Beni Suif University.
  • During a visit to Badr University in Cairo, collaborative opportunities were discussed with the President, Provost, and Deans. An agreement was reached for OCC to offer English language courses to Badr students; training was provided to the Deans by Dr. Hayward and her team.
  • During our visit, I participated as a panelist for a plenary session at the 2019 Egypt Entrepreneurship Summit titled, “Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship”; and Dr. Hayward and Mr. Akl were panelists for a session titled, “The Role of Universities in Supporting Entrepreneurship.”

In Student Affairs, Vice President Jerry Racioppi reports:

  • With the help of Reggie, our AI chatbot, and the OCC app, we are able to successfully bridge the gap between students, academic schools, and our community.
  • The Military Times has ranked OCC’s Veterans and Military Resource Center as one of the top 20 “Best for Vets” colleges. Rankings were based on policies related to military and veteran students, academic outcomes, and military-supportive cultures.  Under the direction of Veterans Coordinator Ryan Luurtsema, the Center provides a welcoming environment so veterans can focus on their academic success.  OCC is home to 232 veteran students.
  • The HUB is now taking in-person check and credit card payments, increasing the office’s functionality, and streamlining the student enrollment process. Working with the Advising Department, the HUB is assisting students with pre-advising, which is a tremendous time saver for both students and advisors.
  • The Southern Education Center has seen a 10% year-over-year increase in advisor sessions.
  • OCC Athletics enjoyed a successful fall season, with all five of our teams advancing to postseason play:
  • Under new Head Coach Brian Decker, Men’s Cross Country finished the season ranked 6th in the country after competing in the national tournament in Massachusetts at Holyoke Community College. Women’s Tennis also finished 6th nationally after battling in the national tournament in Peachtree City, Georgia.
  • Both Men’s and Women’s Soccer teams advanced to their respective Region XIX Championship rounds, while Women’s Volleyball finished its season in the semifinal round of the Region XIX tournament.
  • The 2020 season brings the launch of two new programs, Women’s Lacrosse and eSports, competitive video gaming that is a fast-growing international phenomenon. Women’s Lacrosse coaches are in place, and recruiting is currently underway for players, while an eSports coach will be announced soon.  The first eSports game our new team will be competing in is “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate!”
  • Through the generosity of the Joseph A. Citta Fund, the OCC Foundation has allotted funds for current students to use for acute, unexpected financial needs that may prevent college attendance. The Student Emergency Relief Fund has helped several students maintain enrollment at OCC, with a total of $5,184 disbursed to meet such needs as car repairs, gasoline, bus passes, childcare, and assistance with rent payments.
  • A Proactive Advising Pilot initiative has been expanded and integrated.   Four full-time advisors counseled approximately 300 students, including the NJ STARS cohort and Veteran students.  Preliminary data for spring 2020 shows an overall increase in retention for students advised under the proactive advising model.
  • The Counseling Center is proud to announce that OCC is the first New Jersey community college to be awarded a Supporting Students in Recovery grant through the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The program is scheduled to begin this month.
  • A Canvas course, Mental Health: What Everyone Needs to Know, is available for students to access information on topics related to well-being, mental health resources on campus and in the community, and academic success.
  • The Displaced Homemakers Program provided services to 43 new and 33 continuing clients since July 1; three clients completed CPE training, and another six are registered for Spring. Sixteen clients were registered at OCC for 143 credits in Fall 2019.
  • The Student Support Services program achieved remarkable results in 2018-2019. The program exceeded the project’s approved objectives in all criteria, earning 15 out of 15 prior experience points.  Of the 142 students who participated in the TRIO program, 58% graduated with associate degrees or certificates, and 88% were in good academic standing, with an 86% retention rate.
  • As a result of a successful 2018-2019 College Pathways program with 12 partner high schools, more Ocean County high school graduates were enrolled in Fall 2019 than in Fall 2018 despite fewer graduating high school seniors.  To date, approximately 250 presentations have been made by Admissions and Financial Aid representatives to over 3,000 high school seniors at 14 different high schools. The program is currently entering Phase III, Testing and College Readiness.  Admissions and the Center for Academic Success have already started the process of visiting 14 partner high schools to deliver the Accuplacer exam.
  • The 2019 Fall Open House took place in October, and the event was a great success, with over 428 people in attendance, including almost 200 prospective students.  Students had the opportunity to tour our beautiful campus and interact with many faculty and lecturers, academic deans, and student support services representatives.

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

  • The fiscal year 2019 audit report was accepted by the Board of Trustees in December. The auditor’s opinion was unqualified, and there were no audit findings this year.  In addition, the findings from last year were corrected to the external auditors’ satisfaction.  Mary Lancaster, Controller, and Ms. Kathleen Higham, Director of Financial Reporting, are commended for their leadership and expertise throughout the financial statement preparation and audit process.
  • The Community College Opportunity Grant program was reauthorized. It was revised by the State of New Jersey in fiscal year 2020 to allow families with an adjusted gross income of $65,000 or less to qualify for free community college.  OCC awarded funds to 482 students, totaling $569,514, for the fall 2019 semester.

To spread the word about CCOG and support its implementation, OCC was awarded a $250,000 grant.  The funds are being used for marketing campaigns on social media and websites as well as Google search and Google display to attract and recruit potential students.  In addition, specific phone lines and request for information forms were fed into the HUB, where all technicians were trained to answer questions ranging from the application process to options for financing education. Reggie is used to reach students in a modality that they’re comfortable with – texting.

  • In order to improve communications, the Office of Information Technology will be rolling out campus-wide use of WebEx, a tool that allows users to host or participate in video conferencing, online meetings, and screen sharing, with up to 1,000 participants allowed in a virtual meeting room. Meetings can be joined in a number of ways via the WebEx desktop, web, and mobile apps.  Attendees have the flexibility to choose how to connect the audio, which will improve the quality of conference calls.  Toll-free dial-in provides a dedicated number to connect the audio conference.  Voice over IP (VoIP) leverages a computer’s built-in speakers with wideband audio support for outstanding quality.  In addition, the use of WebEx will improve the quality of international communications with a reduction in cost.
  • Continuing and Professional Education and the College Relations graphic design team created a new, consolidated version of the department’s spring and summer catalogs. The new catalog highlights the most popular programs for adults as well as Kids and Teens on Campus.  Producing one catalog instead of three saves considerable time and money and encourages the public to visit the website for detailed information.
  • A $12 million HealthWorks Scaling Apprenticeship Grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, was recently awarded to a consortium of 14 New Jersey community colleges. OCC’s sub-contract award is $660,080 over four years, 2019 through 2023, with $165,020 being received in Year 1.  CPE will place students in non-credit apprenticeships in the health care industry.
  • With the help of generous community sponsors, there were many exciting events at the Grunin Center in 2019. The Wintrode Family Foundation provided financial support for free summer shows for campers during the months of July and August.  The Center hosted over 3,000 campers from across Ocean County this summer.  In addition, the RWJ Barnabas Health Family Series sponsored annual favorites, such as “A Christmas Carol” and “The Nutcracker,” as well as the return of “Pinkalicous: The Musical” and “Artrageous.”
  • The Blauvelt Speaker Series is presenting the second year of National Geographic Live this year. In addition, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman appeared at the Grunin Center.  The Afternoon Recital Series is a new event that debuted in 2019 and featured professional pianists on Fridays at 2:00 p.m. throughout the year.
  • A new Student Enrollment Building to house a one-stop-shop for student services will be constructed on the campus mall.  The design phase has been completed, and construction will begin in early 2020, with an expected completion date in 2021. The building will serve as a hub for individuals to accomplish all of the tasks required to become students of OCC.  The new building will contain Admissions, Testing, Advising, Financial Aid, Registration, and Student Account Services.  It will also include a waiting area and computer kiosks for student use.
  • Construction of a Conference Center on the footprint of the former Bookstore began in 2019. The project will be completed in early 2020 and will provide student activity space and meeting rooms for both external and internal users.
  • Construction of an auxiliary gym in the space that was originally the natatorium is nearly complete.  The second gymnasium will provide space for athletic and recreational activities, such as basketball, volleyball, aerobics, and yoga.  The space may also be used by the Performing Arts Academy High School and will support summer camp needs.
  • The Ocean County Vocational Technical School’s Performing Arts Academy (PAA) High School Building on campus is complete and we are delighted that students began their classes here on January 6. The building is approximately 50,000 gross square feet; and, in addition to classrooms, it contains a Black Box Theater, dance studios, audio program space, and science labs. The building will be available for College use when not in use by the high school.  The PAA students will participate in an Early College program that will allow all students to earn OCC credits, and some students may opt to earn their associate degrees and high school diplomas at the same time.
  • A number of smaller projects were undertaken to add more laboratories to meet student demand. A crime lab is currently under construction as an addition to the existing Security Building.  The lab will be used to simulate real-world scenarios for Criminal Justice students.  In 2019, two new laboratories opened in Building 4 (formerly the Nursing Building) to support science courses.  The new labs allowed OCC to increase the number of sections offered in Anatomy and Physiology, which is in great demand by students who are focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
  • The OCC Foundation has provided over $387,000 in scholarship support over the last two semesters, with an additional $125,000 in applications under review for this Spring semester. In this current academic year alone, the Foundation has contributed over $325,000 to support campus programs and initiatives, including the Blauvelt Speaker Series, the Global Travel Experience, Arts on Campus, Athletics, Disability Services, and many more.
  • This year, the Foundation will honor the 200 Club of Ocean County at the Annual Scholarship Celebration on June 12 in recognition of its steadfast support of Ocean County College, contributing over $250,000 to the Dollars for Scholars Campaign since its inception in 1985.
  • The Foundation continues to focus on increasing endowment funds to serve Ocean County students for years to come. The support of the entire College community has enabled our Foundation to make higher education even more accessible to Ocean County residents.
  • And, finally, the very popular employee recognition WOW Awards are being reinstated, and a new awards program will be introduced to reward team player attributes. More information will be coming from Human Resources in the coming weeks.

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!

It is time to introduce new employees hired since our Fall Colloquium as well as to recognize current employees with new titles and responsibilities.  As your name is called, please come to the front of the Theatre and remain on stage for a group photo to memorialize your presence at Ocean County College!

Before I call on the vice presidents, I would like to introduce our new Vice President of e-Learning and Learning Enterprises, Dr. Eileen Garcia, who just arrived on campus on January 2.

The vice presidents now will come to the podium to introduce new employees and will then return to recognize those employees who have assumed new roles and responsibilities:

New Employees:

  • Lauren Arduini, Part-Time Academic Coach, Title III
  • Shirley Baker, Associate Director of Academic Advising
  • Demitry Byrd, Senior Test Administrator Technician
  • Alexis Crosta, Academic Administrator, Foreign Learning Programs
  • Brian Fiducia Part-Time Security Officer II
  • Jill Hopf, Admissions Representative
  • Emily Jones, Part-Time Graduate Intern e-Learning
  • Michael Leon, Manager of Graphic Design
  • Michael Lonergan, Part-Time Security Officer II
  • Anastacia McCloskey, College Lecturer II
  • Desiree McSulla, Senior Human Resources Technician
  • Robert Proft, Part-Time Enrollment Services Technician
  • John Villanueva-Cavero, Accountant
  • Ryan Ward, Project Manager
  • Marina Wassef, College Lecturer II

Now, the vice presidents will announce their employees with new responsibilities:

  • Hatem Akl, Associate Vice President of International Programs, Operations
  • Melissa Bedford, Part-Time Human Resources Technician
  • Sherri Bray, Assistant Director of Events and Advancement
  • Danielle Cameron-Robleski, Registration Services Specialist
  • Maureen Conlon, Associate Director, Web Services
  • Cynthia Fallon, Academic Administrator, STEM
  • Maysa Hayward, Associate Vice President of International Programs, Academic
  • Kathleen Higham, Director of Financial Reporting
  • Melani Kovacs, Part-Time Graduate Intern – e-Learning
  • Mary Lancaster, Controller
  • Charlotte Langeveld, College Lecturer II, Social Science
  • Leonard Mannino, Director of Building Maintenance
  • Christina Matuszewski, Talent Acquisition Specialist
  • Ceili Pestalozzi, Watershed Specialist, Barnegat Bay Partnership
  • Nicole Petersen, Water Quality Specialist, Barnegat Bay Partnership
  • Jared Rosen, Part-Time Professional Tutor II, Math
  • Jon Ross, Assistant Director of Custodial and Landscape Services
  • Connor Sampson, Operations Coordinator, Tutoring Center
  • Angela Stephen, Bursar
  • Heather Tatarian, Manager of Mail and Events Services
  • Mark Wilson, Executive Director, Cultural Programming and Partnerships

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 longer-term employees.  As I call your name, please join me on stage to receive your certificates.

For twenty years of service:

  • Ralph Bertini, Television Production Director
  • Matthew Burton, Adjunct Associate Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Barbara Collins, School of STEM Laboratory Coordinator
  • Rosita Cotto, Administrative Assistant in Facilities
  • Joseph DiMeo, Security Officer II
  • Bridget Durbin, Sr. Accounts Payable Technician
  • Mary Fennessy, Director of Program Services for Nursing and Allied Health
  • Joy Press, Administrative Assistant I
  • Aline Rogalski, Adjunct Professor of English and Literature
  • Gary Shaffer, Assistant Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Deborah Stellhorn, e-Learning Adjunct Associate Professor of Social Sciences
  • Michael Tier, Adjunct Associate Professor of Business Studies

For thirty years of service:

  • Michael Bateman, Adjunct Associate Professor of Business Studies
  • Deborah Daley, Executive Assistant in e-Learning and Learning Enterprises
  • Robert Furstoss, Instructor of English and Literature
  • Richard Fallon, Assistant Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts

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

President’s Awards for Excellence

And, now, we present 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 the awards.

The purpose of this program is to acknowledge and express appreciation for outstanding accomplishments at the department, division, and College-wide levels that do not fall entirely within the scope of normal duties, but, rather, clearly indicate above-and-beyond routine efforts.  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 recipient receives a monetary award, an engraved cup (which you will receive after engraved with your name), 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 2019.

The recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence at the Department Level is Lauren Dix, Learning Management Systems Specialist in e-Learning.  Lauren was nominated in the categories of

“Outstanding Service to Students” and “Efficiency and Innovation.”

Lauren is being recognized for excellent service to the College community and, in particular, for her work with e-Learning students and teaching staff.  As we all know, technology can sometimes cause frustration, especially on the part of our students.  Lauren handles all of the concerns and problems experienced by our more than 3,000 e-Learning students and 200 faculty.  She is tireless in her efforts, working on problems until she finds resolutions, and is in continuous contact with department staff to keep them apprised of her results.  It is not unusual for Lauren to reach out to students and instructors late at night and on the weekends.  She is in contact with them whenever she senses a level of anxiety or frustration to ensure they are able to properly access their classes.

In all of these situations, Lauren assumes control and constantly reports progress to all who need to know.  She is independent in gathering solutions, but, at all times, she is tethered to the department and student needs.

In addition to the cyclical maintenance tasks associated with the many online course integrations, Lauren prepares all of the master course shells in preparation for each semester and term.

Perhaps Lauren’s best attributes are her unbridled work ethic, her commitment to resolving issues, and, most of all, her passion for helping others.  She mentors new employees and has a guiding presence that is rich in laughter, concern, and dedication to performance.  She inspires all those around her.

We are proud to present this award to Lauren Dix for her outstanding service to the College.

The Recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence at the Division Level is Maureen Alexander, Academic Administrator in the School of Business and Social Sciences.  Maureen’s award is in the category of “Efficiency and Innovation.”

Maureen recognized it is often difficult to find qualified adjunct faculty to teach courses in certain specialized fields, such as geography and forensic science.  Sometimes a potential adjunct instructor is identified who has limited teaching experience.  To address this challenge, Maureen developed a Canvas-based instructional course for potential adjunct faculty.  The seven-module course, which requires a live teaching demonstration at the conclusion of the course, was piloted last fall with four new department instructors.  College Lecturer Jason Ghibesi assisted in critiquing the teaching demonstrations at the end of the course.

The feedback from the instructors was overwhelmingly positive.  They were happy to receive the extensive and clear information outlined in the modules and were appreciative of the support received from the School in helping to improve their teaching.

The Adjunct Training Program developed by Maureen has benefited the School by helping to find and hire strong content experts to teach our students.  Additionally, this program can be adapted and used by all of the Academic Affairs Schools, including for the employment of qualified adjunct faculty for embedded high school courses.  Lastly, even current adjunct faculty with teaching experience can benefit from the course since it addresses many areas of importance to part-time faculty and provides the opportunity for professional growth in teaching.

Maureen does not hesitate to take on new projects to benefit the College.  She has created courses for the Global Supply Chain Management Program, participates in Perkins-funded advisory boards, advises fire science and homeland security students, and was a part of the recent advising pilot.

Thank you, Maureen, for your innovation and outstanding efforts on behalf of the department, the College, and our students.

The Recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence at the College-Wide Level is Janine Emma.  Janine was nominated in the categories of “Work Environment” and “Efficiency and Innovation.”

When Janine joined Registration and Records in January 2018, she invigorated the staff from the start and encouraged them to work together to move in a new direction.  She established monthly office meetings and weekly personal meetings and encouraged staff to provide input and share ideas, not only to improve the office environment but also to collaborate and partner with other College departments.  As a result, many office processes have been updated and made more efficient.  She also shared her extensive knowledge about Datatal and Ellucian with her staff to improve performance.

Janine was instrumental in coordinating the way in which Registration and Records merged with the newly established HUB, our one-stop-shop for students.  Her positive attitude, humor, and grace provided guidance and support to her staff as the transition took place.  Her knowledge, support, and enthusiasm became contagious, which has had a direct influence on how well our students are being served.  Students know they can go to the HUB as their primary source of information; but, if they can’t get an answer at the HUB, they will be directed to the Registration Office for their “tier two” issues.

Janine values and respects the uniqueness of all students and employees.  She provided insight to her staff regarding new millennial students and employees, whose expectations require that we continually change the processes utilized to better serve and work with them.  Janine drove a number of registration-related process improvements within both Student Affairs and Academics that have had a significant impact – and students are noticing, as evidenced by their many positive comments.

Thank you, Janine, for your influence in supporting such a positive work environment and improving processes for efficiency, which, in turn, benefit all of our students.   

Congratulations to our President’s Award recipients!

Thank you all for your participation today, 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!

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