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June 26, 2024

Dr. Monaco’s June 27, 2024 Report to the Board of Trustees

Board Meeting Presentations

  • TRIO is one of eight federally funded programs designed to identify and provide services for students with disadvantaged backgrounds.  Specifically, the targeted populations are first-generation college students, low-income students, and students with disabilities.  TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) funding is awarded to higher education institutions to provide opportunities for academic development, assist students with basic college requirements, and motivate students toward completing bachelor’s degrees.  The goal is to increase disadvantaged populations’ college retention and graduation rates.

The TRIO grants are awarded in five-year cycles;  OCC is currently in its third grant cycle, having first been awarded in 2010.  The program is funded to serve at least 140 students each year from September 1 through August 31.

Required services include:

      • Academic tutoring
      • Advice and assistance in course selection
      • Assistance in Financial Aid application
      • Financial literacy education
      • Application, admission, and financial assistance in transferring to a four-year institution

Additional services are permissible:

      • Individualized career counseling, including resume writing, interview preparation, and
      • personal counseling
      • Mentoring programs
      • Exposure to cultural events and academic programs not usually available to participants
      • Providing grant aid to qualifying students who complete additional program requirements

OCC’s TRIO SSS Program has much to celebrate this year.  Currently, 253 students are being served, with another 24 on a waiting list.  In 2023-24, 37 students graduated, 20 students achieved a 4.0 grade point average, 31 students made the President’s Honors List in Fall 2023, and the overall grade point average was 2.77.

Ms. Alison Noone, Student Support Services Program Director, will attend Thursday’s meeting to provide additional information about the program and discuss the possibility of an SSS program for students with disabilities and another targeted toward middle and high school students.

  • In Fall 2021, the Ocean County College School of Nursing experienced a decrease in its overall licensure examination (NCLEX-RN®) passing rate. Post-COVID, many schools experienced a decline in overall pass rates for first-time test takers; although OCC was still above the national and state average, the pass rate of 87% needed improvement.  After returning to campus, the lecturers examined the possible factors impacting this decrease and how the scores could be improved.  The faculty and administration looked to the existing student mentoring program to determine if they could engage the students more meaningfully and increase the pass rate.

The mentoring program had also experienced a decline in engagement by the students.  One of the essential components of the mentoring program was the NCLEX-RN® review product utilized by the School of Nursing.  It was noted that students were not responding to their mentors as they had in the past and were not using the product after graduation.  Following are the changes subsequently implemented to the nursing mentoring program:

      • Allow students to choose their mentors
      • Create a consistent message from all lecturers
      • Utilize text versus email if students choose this option
      • Utilize a OneDrive document for all lecturers to track mentoring efforts and student responses
      • Educate lecturers on the use of the examination review product dashboard
      • Frequent contact with students/mentees to discuss difficulties with NCLEX-RN® prep, coaching on strategies, and timelines for testing

After implementing these steps, the lecturers noticed an increase in the use of the preparation product by almost 400% and an increase of 13% in NCLEX-RN® pass rates from Fall 2021 to Spring 2023.  Lecturers continue to examine mentoring and ways to improve the program. Although there was a decrease in use of the preparation tool in Spring 2023, NCLEX-RN® scores continued to increase.  This speaks to the success of the nursing mentoring process.

At Thursday’s meeting, Dr. Tracy Walsh, Dean of the School of Nursing and Allied Health, will introduce College Lecturer II Sharon Scrofine, DNP, RN, CNE, CEN, who will present to you on the efforts made to the mentoring program that have assisted the success of the students.

  • The Remote Work Committee consists of eleven members from various departments across the campus. They are:
      • Cara Dubinsky, Executive Director, Human Resources
      • Brianna Cardinale, Associate Director, Tutoring Services
      • Mary Granahan, Television Production Director
      • Maria Hartwell, College Lecturer II, Chemistry
      • Karen Light, Associate Registrar
      • Lenny Mannino, Director, Building Maintenance
      • Elizabeth Metzger, Director of Instructional Design and Learning Systems
      • Joseph Rua, Assistant Director, Institutional Research
      • Sherry Shearer, Executive Assistant, Vice President of Workforce and Professional Education
      • John Villanueva-Cavero, Accountant
      • John Wallace, College Lecturer II, Library

The committee members’ expertise spans direct student interaction, instructional roles, non-student-facing positions, and managerial responsibilities.  Beginning in March, the committee met weekly, at times twice a week, to consider a plan that would be conducive to a remote work environment and address the unique operational needs of the College.  Over several months, the committee members conducted surveys, gathered feedback from employees and managers, and researched best practices in remote work.  Their collaborative efforts aimed to ensure that the committee’s proposed plan not only enhances productivity but also continuously supports our students.

Ms. Cara Dubitsky, Chair, and committee members will share the results of their research with you at Thursday’s meeting.

Faculty and Staff Accomplishments, Presentations, and Projects

  • Negotiations with the Adjunct Faculty Association have concluded, and a new five-year agreement for September 1, 2024, through August 31, 2029, will be recommended to the trustees for approval at Thursday’s meeting. Negotiations were conducted by Ms. Sara Winchester, Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration, for the College and Adjunct Professor Kimberle Samarelli for the Adjunct Faculty Association.  The process was cordial and professional, and the College and the Association look forward to continuing a mutually beneficial relationship.
  • On May 10, 2024, Dr. Edward Reading, Adjunct Professor in Addiction Counseling, presented training for members of the addiction treatment community and students currently enrolled in the addiction counseling program. The training, titled “Mandatory Legal Course for Alcohol and Drug Counselors in New Jersey,” is a six-hour course required for all Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CADCs) and Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LCADCs) during their first cycle of certification or licensure.  The training also fulfills the state requirement of at least three continuing education contact hour requirements every other renewal cycle for all CADCs and LCADCs.
  • Kate Pandolpho, Director of the Counseling Center, was re-elected as Secretary of the Ocean County Mental Health Board Executive Committee. The Ocean County Mental Health Board is a public advisory board responsible for developing mental health services in Ocean County.
  • In October, the Displaced Homemakers Program will be recognized at the Soroptimist International of Toms River Area’s Hall of Fame celebration. The Program is being honored for its exemplary assistance to women who are working towards economic self-sufficiency after losing their primary source of income due to death, disability, divorce, or separation.  The Displaced Homemakers Program has served 153 clients since July 1, 2023, 54 new and 99 continuing.
  • Student Success Coach Melissa Gutzmore, Executive Director of Enrollment Services Sheenah Hartigan, Director of Enrollment and Retention Services Kathleen Mohr, and Vice President of Student Affairs Gerald Racioppi presented on June 13, 2024, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at the New Jersey Council of Community Colleges’ Opportunity Summit. Presenting within the Holistic Student Support Track, their presentation was entitled “Integrated Approach to Retention.”
  • Jamie A. Prioli, Assistant Director of Disability Services, has been elected Vice President of NJ AHEAD, showcasing her dedication and expertise in disability services within higher education. NJ AHEAD aims to advance the importance and quality of accommodations and services at post-secondary institutions in New Jersey.
  • The e-Learning Department has experienced a year of achievements and unprecedented growth. The Instructional Design Team has worked with Subject Matter Experts to develop 46 courses this fiscal year. This achievement reflects a 109% increase compared to last year, underscoring growth and the department’s profound commitment to innovation and excellence in online learning.  The impact of these efforts has positively affected student academic achievement and enrollment.  The data shows an improvement in student learning, with a 1.4% increase in pass rates and a 9.5% increase in unduplicated enrollment.  These increases signify student academic success and epitomize the department’s dedication to empowering students on their educational journey.

Student Accomplishments, Honors, and Awards

  • On May 21, 2024, the School of Nursing hosted the Pinning Ceremony for December 2023 and May 2024 classes. Of the 132 nursing graduates in 2023-24, 116 attended the ceremony. The ceremony presented over $42,000 in scholarships and awards to current students and graduates.
  • The Athletic Department is pleased to recognize OCC’s 2023-24 OCC Academic All-Stars. These students hold the highest grade point averages in their respective athletic teams for this academic year:
      • Katie Bromborsky (Cheerleading, Softball)
      • Josh Corsentino (Men’s Cross Country)
      • Tom Donachy (Golf)
      • Emily Flores (Women’s Cross Country)
      • Robert Giovine (Men’s Basketball)
      • Adam Grelak (Men’s Soccer, Men’s Tennis)
      • Kelsea Jecas (Women’s Tennis)
      • Nicole Jonkoski (Softball)
      • Danny Kejda (Men’s Volleyball)
      • Tom LaSpina (Baseball)
      • Julie Lees (Esports)
      • Alyssa Maisano (Women’s Soccer)
      • Jordan Motyka (Women’s Volleyball, Softball)
      • Alexis Scully (Women’s Soccer, Women’s Basketball)
      • Abby Szuba (Women’s Volleyball)
  • Congratulations are extended to the golf team members selected as OCC’s Academic Team of the Year (highest team GPA). The team comprises Logan Burnett, Tom Donachy, Jack Iovine, Jeremy Kalman, Dylan O’Rourke, Vincent Pawlak, Jeremy Schiel, and Jared Schworn.
  • At the Commencement ceremony, OCC’s 56 military-affiliated graduates were identified as student veterans by their cords or stoles. When the graduates walked across the stage, they received coins from me.  A pre-graduation celebration was held for the Veterans and Military Resources Center students.

Student Support Services and Activities

  • From June 27 to July 4, 2024, Mr. Sean Bips, Lecturer II in Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management, and Ms. Kristyn Stout, College Lecturer II in English, will be leading a Study Abroad trip to Switzerland with 16 students from the Travel Seminar in Humanities and International Tourism Management courses. The global travel itinerary includes stops in Zürich, Bern, Lausanne, Montreux, and Geneva, where students can learn and explore the rich hospitality industry and tourism management and delve into each city’s arts and humanities.  Participants will be immersed in the country’s vibrant culture, history, and world-class tourism industry.
  • On May 21 and 22, 2024, Adjunct Professor of Business Studies Tim Landers and six OCC business students attended the Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival in New York City. This annual event brings together an eclectic list of companies, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and attendees shaping America’s future. This year’s keynote speakers included Pfizer’s CEO Alberto Bourla, Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan, Whole Foods Founder John Mackey, Dartmouth College President Siam Beilock, and Entrepreneur Paris Hilton. The wide-ranging agenda included topics on mental health distress, global warming, the future of men, fighting cancer, and the creator economy.
  • According to the virtual queue system, QLess, the HUB completed over 1,000 transactions in May with an average wait time of less than 2 minutes. Surveys are issued to students via text message following their services; in the past year, the HUB earned a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.  Students indicated the following about their experience with Enrollment Services:
      • “It was a great experience.”
      • “Everyone on campus is so nice and helpful.”
      • “I had everything I needed done in a timely manner, and any questions I had were answered.”
      • “The staff was wonderful; they could not have been faster or kinder.”
  • In Spring 2024, 16 on-campus Express Enrollment days were held for high school seniors to meet with Academic Advisors and complete registration as the culmination of the College Pathways Program. A total of 415 high school seniors attended and were treated to lunch, had a campus tour, and were enrolled for the Fall 2024 term.
  • For the third year, the Office of Disability Services has been approved as a Site Coordinator liaison with the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). This summer, several OCC students and recent graduates with disabilities will have the opportunity to seek internships or permanent employment with federal agencies, thanks to the Workforce Recruitment Program.  The WRP connects federal agencies and, in some cases, private employers with college students and recent graduates with disabilities seeking to demonstrate their abilities in the workplace through summer internships or long-term jobs.

Outreach to Students

  • On May 29, 2024, students from Lakewood High School visited the School of Nursing. The students were provided with an overview of the Nursing Program and an introduction to the simulation labs by Simulation, Skills, and Student Retention Specialist MaryAnn Kaufmann, PhD, MSN, RN, CHSE; Director of Nursing and Health Science Programs Mary Fennessy; and Lab Coordinator Linda Simmons, MSN, RN, CEN, CNE.  While in the lab,  students practiced listening to body sounds, hand hygiene techniques were demonstrated, and they were provided the opportunity to practice their skills.  The visit also included a video that discussed the various areas available for registered nurses to practice.

Community Outreach

Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts

    • The first weekend of June wrapped up the 2023-24 season for the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, with The Breakers on June 1, 2024, and the final Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon performance by the Joel Zelnik Trio on June 2, 2024.
    • On June 5, 2024, the Grunin Center partnered with the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission, the Jewish Federation of Ocean County, and Change to present the Spring 2024 Ocean County Student Leadership Conference. Arts administrator and DEI consultant Deonte Griffin-Quick’s keynote was “Re-Imagine What a Leader Can Be.”  Seven Ocean County high schools participated in this program.
    • The Grunin Center hosted four rental events in June, including two concerts with professional booking agencies and artists, and two dance recitals for local dance studios.
    • On June 13, 2024, the Grunin Center hosted the Grunin Performing Arts Academy’s graduation ceremony.
    • On June 24, 2024, the Grunin Center kicked off its third season of Camps on Campus. OCC’s Camps on Campus offers week-long summer camps for students ages 8-18 in art, science, sports, music, and more.  This year, there are 44 unique camps scheduled from June 24 to August 16, 2024.

Novins Planetarium

    • In June, the Novins Planetarium performed the 25th and 26th showings of the in-house written and produced “Astronomical World of Harry Potter,” an immersive live event transforming the Planetarium into a Wizarding Academy.  The show has been immensely successful, educating nearly 2,300 patrons of all ages while they participated in themed activities.
    • The Planetarium was recently selected for a NASA Team II Anchor Grant to provide STEM programming to underserved middle school students and their families, which enhances the Planetarium’s reputation as a science hub in the community.
    • The “Reach Beyond the Stars” Capital Campaign will launch at the OCC Foundation Gala on June 28, 2024. Funding will support the renovation of the interior spaces of the Planetarium building to provide more opportunities for educational experiences.
  • On May 17, 2024, OCC hosted the inaugural Supply Chain Expo in collaboration with Rutgers Business School. This successful first event, organized by College Lecturer II of Business Studies Sharmi Banerjee, had 67 participants.  Professionals from industry and academia provided insights into supply chain management and the nature of supply chain jobs.  OCC and Rutgers University alums also participated in a panel discussion to explore various career paths and share their experiences in the supply chain sector.
  • The OCC Repertory Theatre Company opens its Summer musical, All Shook Up, on Friday, July 12, 2024, at 7:30 p.m. There are eight performances over two weekends.  With a cast of 30 singers and dancers accompanied by a 12-piece orchestra, this upbeat, fun, and colorful show, inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley, is guaranteed to have you dancing in the aisle.  College Lecturer II Paul Chalakani, Performing Arts Program Chair and Artistic Director of the OCC Repertory Theatre Company, directs it.
  • On June 13, 2024, the Veterans and Military Resources Center (VMRC) proudly hosted a table for First Responders Night at the Jersey Shore BlueClaws BallPark. First Responders Night is an annual salute to the heroes of the community, police departments, fire departments, EMTs, lifeguards, and more, all of whom keep us safe daily.
  • OCC is again partnering with Jersey Shore BlueClaws for a ticket sale fundraiser to support the VMRC. Game dates are July 11 and August 17, 2024.  Tickets are $15 and proceeds from each purchase will go directly toward supporting VMRC, which provides scholarships, academic support, campus and community resources, mentoring, advocacy, counseling services, and so much more to help veterans and military-affiliated students achieve their goals.
  • The VMRC participated in Toms River Pride Day on Saturday, June 15, 2024, in partnership with the Ocean County Veterans Service Bureau.
  • Jim Campbell, FIPSE Grant Manager, and Mr. Adalberto Candia-Aguilar, Community Advisor, attended the inaugural Be Future Ready event on June 3, 2024. This community resource fair, open to the public, targeted the Hispanic/Latino population of students and their families within the Toms River Regional School system.
  • On June 8, 2024, a National Immigration Celebration was held at the Church of Grace and Peace in Toms River. OCC representatives from Enrollment Services and the ESL department within Workforce and Professional Education attended.  Community Ambassadors sponsored the event, and there were approximately 150 attendees, 4 of whom applied to Ocean County College on the spot through the “Application Station.”
  • Haley Abruzzese and Ms. Calleigh Kearns, Enrollment Service Advisors, assisted with tours of the OCC campus following a planetarium show for 80 middle school students from Freehold Intermediate School on June 7, 2024.
  • The Office of Disability Services partnered with the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department, Office of Emergency Management, to co-host an inclusive training focused on the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). The eight-session training addressed personal preparedness for the whole community, including individuals with disabilities.  Ocean County community members, OCC staff, and students attended the training.


  • Through a Monmouth Ocean Educational Services Commission grant, Ocean County College was awarded over $20,000 to purchase school supplies for College Preparatory Kits for 12 unhoused students planning to attend OCC in the Fall. Working with the districts’ homeless liaisons, the College identified 12 students.  Thomas Gialanella, Executive Director of School Relations, delivered the kits to all students in the first two weeks of June.  The kits included laptop computers and bags; Ocean County College gear, including a blanket, t-shirt, and hat; and a gift card to Amazon to purchase additional school supplies to ensure the students are prepared for their new educational endeavors in the Fall semester.

Professional Development

  • The School of Nursing lecturers participated in an annual workshop from May 14 to 22, 2024. Participants completed an assessment of all nursing courses, program outcome data, and licensure test plans to revise curriculum content as needed.  The School of Nursing’s Systematic Plan of Evaluation, which addresses standards and criteria required for accreditation, was also reviewed.
  • Nursing lecturers attended an educational program on May 14, 2024, titled “AI in Nursing Education: Exploring Conversational AI in Higher Education.” This program focused on the need to discuss with students the implications, strengths, and consequences of incorporating AI within nursing programs.
  • Leanne Grimes, Fine Arts Adjunct Faculty Member, recently participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities Institute through the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City. Professors traveled from all over the country and Italy to attend the institute. Thanks to these participants and the generous programming FIT arranged for attendees, Ms. Grimes has many new projects and teaching strategies she is excited to apply to her classes.  This year, the institute served as a reminder to her about the importance of students understanding their heritage and feeling connected to places throughout history.  She feels immense gratitude for the NEH Summer Institutes.
  • Planning is underway for OCC’s Fall 2024 Teaching and Learning Institute. This year’s theme is “Learning as a Living Environment.”  Proposal submissions are in the final review, and presenters were notified the week of June 17, 2024.  It will be exciting to bring together all faculty and lecturers for a day of engagement and collaboration.
  • Simple Syllabus is being rolled out for all courses, with instructors having the option to utilize it at the beginning of the 2024 Summer Sessions. All instructors will be using Simple Syllabus by Spring 2025.  Training is being planned for the rollout throughout Summer and Fall 2024.

Workforce and Professional Education

  • The Ocean County Achievement Center (OCAC) Graduation was held on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in the Grunin Center. This was the 5th graduating class.

OCAC began on campus in January 2018 to provide programs, services, guidance, and support to the Ocean County community.  The Core Partner members, Ocean County College, Ocean County PIC, Georgian Court University, and Goodwill, aimed to support a place for young adults and adults to seek help, no matter the need.  OCAC would also not be possible without the staff, partners, speakers, businesses, mentors, community members, agencies, and especially space at the college.

Adult Education, Civic, and Workforce Preparation

  • A total of 49 Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education students earned credentials; 9 students earned a ServSafe credential, and the other 40 earned a credential in Customer Service and Sales.
  • In 2023-24, the Adult Education, Civic, and Workforce Preparation classes had 684 students enrolled: 114 in Adult Basic Education, 21 in High School Equivalency, 443 in ESL, and 106 in Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education.
  • The OCC program exceeded the Measurable Skill Gains at 69.46%, well beyond the New Jersey target of 51.5%. Additionally, 74.12% of the participants were employed after completion, exceeding the New Jersey target of 46%.
  • Orientation will take place in July in preparation for ESL and High School Equivalency classes starting during the summer term.

Work Readiness Assistance Program

Over the last seven months, the Work Readiness Assistance Program participants earned a total of 187 certifications:

  • 33 Cyber Safety Awareness Certifications
  • 33 Leadership Academy with Service Learning that included local partners: JBJ Soul Kitchen, Cattus Island Beach Clean-Up, Field of Dreams, Popcorn Park Zoo and Refugee
  • 28 Exploration of Career Pathways and Entrepreneurship training
  • 24 Customer Service and Sales
  • 28 CPR
  • 24 OSHA-10
  • 15 Teen Mental First Aid
  • 1 Driving School
  • 1 OCC Student Success Course
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