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February 21, 2024

Dr. Monaco’s February 22, 2024 Report to the Board of Trustees

Dr. Pamela Monaco

Faculty and Staff Presentations, Publications, and Projects

  • The Ocean County College fiscal year 2025 budget package has been prepared and is on the Board’s Finance Committee agenda for approval on Thursday.  The budget was balanced by a significant reduction in expense through reorganization, and no allocation of fund balance was necessary.
  • The TV Studio produced the latest episode of its ongoing series, Shore of Support, which focuses on “Opportunities for All” featuring guests from The Arc, Ocean County Chapter, and the Center for Vocational Rehabilitation.  Both organizations work with developmentally disabled members of the community, helping them with housing, employment, and socialization.  This episode can be seen on Ocean TV-20 Sundays at 10:00 a.m., Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m., as well as on OCC’s YouTube channel:
  • During the month of February, Ms. Mary Granahan, TV Studio Director, and the television studio team led tours/workshops for students from the Ocean County Achievement Center and Central Regional High School.  During both sessions, students produced their own interview programs and had the opportunity to work on all crew positions, including director, assistant director, media manager, floor manager, teleprompter, camera, and audio.

Faculty and Staff Recognition, Honors, Successes, and Awards

  • Thanks to the efforts of Ms. Ellen Schaffer, Assistant Manager of Accounts Receivable, the Bursar’s Office recently passed a milestone by collecting over 10,000 payments totaling over $2 million in past due student payments.  Some of these payments were collected through  SOIL (Set-Off Individual Liability), a State of New Jersey program initiated by Ms. Schaffer.  Her dedication over the past ten years has helped students resolve their obligations in a reasonable manner and, as a result, to continue their OCC education.
  • Dr. Marilyn Kralik, Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts and Co-Chair of the OCC Foundation Art Collection, was recently selected to be a convening member of the first-ever national gathering of community college art museum and gallery leaders.  Supported by the Association of American Museums and Galleries (AAMG), Dr. Kralik will help create a national “community of practice,” developing artistic collaborations and advocacy for racially and economically diverse two-year students while establishing standards of accessibility and community engagement for all.
  • Dr. Jennifer Dellner, Professor of English and Literature, is participating in the Modern Language Association (MLA) workshop series, “Reimagining Humanities Coursework for Career Readiness.”  Eighteen faculty members from small or mid-size institutions were competitively selected to participate in this series of virtual workshops that will take place twice a month from February through April 2024.  Participants will create proposed action plans for humanities courses in their subject areas and will present their work at the 2025 MLA convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • A National Flute Association (NFA) proposal submitted by Mr. Beomjae Kim, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Arts and Humanities, was approved.  Mr. Kim will be presenting at the NFA Convention this summer in San Antonio, Texas.
  • Ms. Jamie A. Prioli, Assistant Director of Disability Services, was reappointed by the Ocean County Board of Commissioners  to a three-year term as a member of the Ocean County Commission for Individuals with Disabilities (CID).  CID is an advisory board established in 1983 to address issues of inclusion and awareness throughout Ocean County.  Ms. Prioli will continue to serve as Chairperson of CID during her term.
  • Dr. Sheenah Hartigan, Executive Director of Enrollment Services, was a panelist at the World Conference on Education and Training (WCET) Summit entitled “Elements of Practice + Policy of AI in Education” on February 21 and 22, 2024.  Her presentation was “Operational Uses and Considerations for AI in Higher Education,” alongside Dr. Asim Ali, Executive Director, Biggio Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at Auburn University.

Student Accomplishments, Honors, and Awards

  • During the Fall 2023 semester, students completed an additional 16 Bloomberg certifications in the Business Lab.  Since opening the Lab in 2018, 220 certifications have been completed, including two by students who were successful on the relatively new Bloomberg Environmental Social Governance (ESG) certification.
  • NJ STARS Coordinator Jennifer Kipp reports that 25 NJ STARS students graduated in December 2023.
  • In Workforce and Professional Education, Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) students sat for the National CCMA exam, and all of the students were successful.  Additionally, six of the seven recent graduates were immediately hired upon completion of the program.  More than 50 students interested in the CCMA program attended the recent Open House.

Student Support Services and Activities

  • The Office of Disability Services hosted  28 virtual sessions titled “An Overview of Ally for Canvas” during January and February.  Through a seamless integration with Canvas, Ally is a software tool that focuses on making digital course content more accessible for all students.
  • In collaboration with the Veterans and Military Resources Center, the Office of Disability Services co-hosted a “Chat and Chew” event for student veterans, veteran alumni, and invited community guests, which focused on connecting students with resources and breaking the stigma of disability.
  • On February 6, 2024, Vice President of Student Affairs Jerry Racioppi visited OCC Manahawkin for a Spring semester student meet and greet and welcomed all in attendance with pizza.
  • Transfer Coordinator Laura Wills, Transfer Advisor Jennifer Gersman, and Senior Advising Technician Lisa Gilliar are providing OCC students with a robust transfer event schedule this Spring semester.  Representatives from over 20 institutions, including Kean Ocean, Stockton University, and New Jersey Institute of Technology, will be on campus this semester to speak with students about degrees, programs, and campus life.
  • Ms. Laura Wills and Ms. Jennifer Gersman are also offering training to help advisors assist students at all stages of the transfer process.  Advisors can attend a Transfer Advising Overview, which will cover topics such as how credits transfer and the New Jersey Transfer Agreement.
  • Instant Decision Days provide OCC students the opportunity to meet with four-year college admission representatives; students very often receive offers of admission, with application fees waived.  Participating institutions include Stockton University, Rowan University, Farleigh Dickinson University, Monmouth University, Montclair University, Kean Ocean, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Seton Hall University.  Dual Advising Days are also available for students with Kean Ocean, Stockton University, and Southern New Hampshire University.
  • In an effort to make Transfer Advising more accessible, Ms. Laura Wills and Ms. Jennifer Gersman are hosting Open Transfer Chats and Open Transfer Advising Sessions this Spring.  Students can log into a chat, or join them without an appointment, on scheduled days throughout the semester.
  • Advising, the HUB, Academic Affairs, e-Learning, and IT are continuing to collaborate on the administration of Faculty CX, which allows instructors to raise alerts throughout the semester about students of academic concern.  Over 170 instructors currently have access to the system after receiving training in Spring 2023 and Fall 2023.  Other interested instructors have access to Faculty CX training in NeoEd.
  • In Fall 2023, there were 1,054 alerts raised by instructors.  The majority were issued for high alert, which included failing grades, missed assignments, and attendance issues.  Success Coaches, under the direction of Dr. Kathleen Mohr, Director of Enrollment and Retention, are responding to the alerts by contacting students to discuss various topics, such as the importance of attendance, technical issues, study strategies, and resources on campus.  The Success Coaches completed over 1,700 phone calls to almost 500 unique students who received instructor alerts in the Fall semester.  In Spring 2024, there have been 150 alerts issued to date.
  • OCC counselors met with Ms. Anais Mompoint, College Lecturer II in Social Work, to coordinate internships for social work students.  Two social work interns are currently working with the Displaced Homemakers Program and the Counseling Center.
  • The Displaced Homemakers Program is currently serving 135 clients, 36  of whom are new.  Six clients are enrolled in OCC credit programs, four full-time and two part time, for a total of 60 credits.  Three clients completed Billing and Coding training through Workforce and Professional Education (WPE); and two are currently enrolled in WPE training, one in Dental Technician and one in Certified Medical Assistant.
  • The CARE Team has handled 438 reports from July 1, 2023, through February 14, 2024; in comparison; there were 442 reports during the same time period last year.
  • Student Intervention Specialist Darra Stack and Prevention Education Coordinator Kelly Petrolis organized and presented “Learning to Love Yourself” on February 14, 2024.  Activities included practicing yoga, learning about sleep, visiting with the Ocean County Health Department and LivWell, and creative activities.
  • Ms. Darra Stack and Ms. Kelly Petrolis presented Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) to five members of the Pride Club as well as Mental Health First Aid to five students and one staff member.  Ms. Stack also presented on mental health and counseling to Adjunct Faculty Member Pamela Goldsmith’s Contemporary Health class.

Outreach to Students

  • During the month of January, Enrollment Services made over 3,800 outgoing calls to students.
  • Ms. Stefanie Caton, Case Manager/Mental Health Technician, presented to a group of 8th graders on Leadership and High School Preparedness with the College Readiness staff.
  • The Office of Disability Services attended two transition events for high school students with disabilities.  The events were hosted by Barnegat High School and the Toms River School District. Staff from Disability Services presented on the topic of requesting accommodations and accommodation services at the postsecondary level.
  • On January 26, 2024, Mr. Brian Schillaci, Director of OCC Manahawkin, joined Enrollment Services Advisors Melissa Sporer and Haley Abruzzese on their first visit to Southern Regional High School, at which they presented College Pathways to a group of 50 graduating seniors.  The seniors completed OCC applications and engaged with current OCC students as part of a student panel.  Appreciation is expressed to OCC Manahawkin student Ian Wheatle and Toms River students Dereck Gonzalez, Jaden Pasos, Anna Malandro, all of whom were excellent panelists and effective OCC representatives.

Workforce and Professional Education Programs

  • Nine students enrolled in the Integrated Education Training (IET) and Civics – Culinary Foundations course.  The course began on January 18, 2024, and runs for 12 weeks.
  • High School Diploma preparation classes began on January 22, 2024, with 29 new students and 23 returning students enrolled.
  • ESL and Civics classes started on January 22, 2024, and there are 54 new students and 429 returning students.
  • Career Services collaborated with Student Life to offer 18 Student Success Seminar classes. Additionally, two employer vendor tables are set up in the Larson Student Center through the Spring 2024 semester.
  • FOCUS 2 workshops guide users through a reliable, intuitive career and education decision-making model to help them choose a college, select a major, explore occupations, make informed career decisions, and act in their career development.  In January, a FOCUS 2 workshop was provided for all Workforce Development staff to become familiar with its activities.  The program currently has 1,238 students registered, a 7.6% increase from December 2023.
  • Handshake is the number one site for college students to find jobs.  Its mission is to democratize student access to available job opportunities, and OCC is one of 260 community and technical colleges with access to it.  Handshake currently has 12,294 in- and out-of-state positions posted with 4,855 employers, including 33 New Jersey employers.

Community Outreach

  • On February 3, 2024, Culinary option students from the Advanced Culinary Concepts course (HRTM 232) prepared assorted hot and cold appetizers for the Women’s Health Expo at the Clarion Hotel in Toms River.  This event brought exposure to OCC’s Culinary option and provided students with a real-life, off-site catering experience.
  • The School of Nursing is preparing for a site visit by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) from March 12 to 14, 2024, as part of the reaccreditation process.  During this visit, the ACEN Site Team will meet with College community members to validate the information in the Self-Study Report submitted in January 2024.
  • The OCC Repertory Theatre Company opened its performance of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire on February 16, 2024, for a two-weekend run; it will run for seven performances in the Black Box Theatre until February 25, 2024.  OCC students work on all aspects of these performances, including painting and creating sets, lights, acting, costuming, and assisting with directing.
  • The School of STEM’s Mathematics department hosted the annual Math Counts Competition held by the Engineering Society of New Jersey, Ocean Burlington Chapter, on February 3, 2024.  Math Counts is a competition for middle school students (grades 6 – 8) to display their mathematical prowess.  The top four winners from the Countdown Round move on to the State competition.  Of those four students, one was from Goetz Middle School in Jackson Township, New Jersey.
  • Through the month of February, the Grunin Center Gallery is displaying artwork created by children and adults receiving mental health services from Bright Harbor Healthcare.
  • On January 25, 2024, the Northern Ireland artists, Cahoots NI, performed The University of Wonder and Imagination, an interactive magical theatre world where the audience enters rooms with art, science, or math.  Attending the two performances were 253 individuals from Ocean County, including participants from three schools and four community groups.
  • The Grunin Center hosted the first of the Spring semester’s Afternoon Recital Series on January 26, 2024.  The OCC Music Club and community members enjoyed Pine Street Winds, a Windwood Quintet.  The second in the series was held on February 16, 2024, and featured pianist Emiko Edwards.
  • In connection with Black History Month, artist LeLand Gantt performed his autobiographical solo play Rhapsody in Black at the Grunin Center on February 1, 2024, for 186 high school and OCC students.  Prior to the performance, he visited College Lecturer II Paul Chalakani’s acting class to speak with students about the process that allowed him to write, develop, and eventually perform Rhapsody in Black, a full-length one-person performance piece in which he retells his efforts to transcend racism.  Later in the day, 49 students from the Grunin Performing Arts Academy participated in a workshop with LeLand Gantt.
  • On February 7, 2024, the Grunin Center hosted the Region 3 (Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex) Poetry Out Loud competition.  Students from 14 high schools competed to go on to the State competition, with 250 members of their school communities cheering them on.  Poetry Out Loud is a project with the New Jersey Council on the Arts and the Count Basie Center for the Arts.
  • Thanks in part to receiving a Mid-Atlantic Arts Grant, in addition to the support from the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission, the Grunin Center participated in the Performing Arts Global Exchange program.  The program allows performing artists from around the world to tour the Mid-Atlantic Region.  As part of the event, on February 8, 2024, 237 high school students, OCC students, and community members attended a matinee of CelloGayageum with a Q & A following, and the public performance was held that evening.
  • The Planetarium presented 28 public shows this month and 30 private shows, including schools, groups, and birthdays.  Nearly 1,000 K-12 students had field trips to the Planetarium this month.
  • The Counseling Center is sponsoring a Summit on Addictions and Recovery and Recovery Speaks on Wednesday, April 18, 2024, in collaboration with Hope Sheds Light, OCC’s Recovery community partner, and Dr. Patricia Gianotti, Coordinator of the Addictions Studies program.
  • The Counseling Center is planning a Suicide Prevention conference for regional mental health providers on May 9, 2024.  This event is a collaboration with Bright Harbor Health Care and Kean University’s Counselor Education graduate school.
  • On February 10, 2024, Enrollment Services Advisor Melissa Sporer met with students at a Girl Scouts event held at the College.  Girl Scouts were able to learn about OCC and receive some free college gear.  I had the pleasure of welcoming the group to the campus.
  • Ms. Calleigh Kearns, Enrollment Services Advisor for Partnerships and Outreach, participated in the Causeway Cares Carnival on behalf of the Ocean County College Foundation on Sunday, February 18, 2024, held at the Holiday Inn in Manahawkin.  Non-profit organizations from across the County were able to showcase their services while children of all ages enjoyed complimentary carnival food, participated in games, and were entertained by magicians, ventriloquists, clowns, and face painters.
  • Enrollment Service Advisors Melissa Sporer and Haley Abruzzese visited several high schools including the Performing Arts Academy, Central Regional High School, and the OCVTS Academy of Law and Public Service (ALPS) to help students schedule early college classes.

Professional Development

  • For the Spring 2024 semester, an update was made to the student expectations statement for HyFlex classes.  Instructors may now require cameras on students during class and activities and voice-only communication during class time.  This update was based on instructor feedback, student course evaluation data, and quantitative data collected for HyFlex classes.
  • Tech Bytes, express e-Learning training sessions designed to explore a specific app or tool within thirty minutes, have officially started.  The virtual sessions are advertised on e-Learning’s e-BreakRoom upcoming events calendar and through email.
  • Racial and Cultural Empathy (R.A.C.E.) Training, a four-part series, began in January and continues through April. Twenty-four faculty and staff members are enrolled in the training.
  • Trauma and Resilience Informed Practices in Higher Education is a two-part series that began in February and continues on March 3, 2024.  Eighteen faculty and staff members are enrolled in the training.
  • Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) training will be held on April 19, 2024, and Mental Health First Aid training will take place on April 26, 2024, for faculty and staff, who may register electronically through NeoEd.
  • Dr. Kate Pandolpho, Director of the Counseling Center, presented to the e-Learning faculty on student well-being and resources.  Topics included an overview of counseling services and programs; information about Uwill, the telehealth counseling services available to all students; Talk Campus; CARE Team and CARE reporting; handling student situations and crises in the online environment; trauma-informed teaching and how trauma manifests in the classroom; and the warning signs of suicide and what to do when a student discloses or displays concerning behaviors.
  • The Advising Office will offer training for all campus advisors this Spring semester on Student Planning, including using Curriculum Tracks, to assist students in planning to complete their degree programs.  Pre-Nursing student advisors will have an opportunity to meet with Associate Director of Academic Advising Michele Connolly to review Nursing requirements and best advising practices.


  • Career Services has acquired two new employer partnerships –  Davison • Eastman • Muñoz • Paone, P.A., in Monmouth County and Jump, Perry and Company, L.L.P,  in Ocean County.


  • The Grants Office and the Accounting staff collaborated to submit a proposal for the continuation of funding for the second year of the Suicide Prevention Grant.
  • Under the Work Readiness Assistance Program (WRAP) grant, 12 participants began Exploration of Career Pathways and Entrepreneurship training on January 23, 2024.  In addition, participants in the Achievement Center attended the Winter Wellness Reset event held at OCC in partnership with the Children’s Inter Agency Coordinating Council (CIACC).
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