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May 29, 2024

Dr. Monaco’s May 30, 2024 Report to the Board of Trustees

Dr. Pamela Monaco

Board Meeting Presentations

Sabbatical Leave Report

  • Lisa K. Cecere, retired Assistant Professor of Fine Arts, will report at the Board of Trustees meeting on May 30, 2024, on the results of her sabbatical leave project during the Fall 2023 semester. Ms. Cecere addressed how Ocean County College can best prepare Fine Arts students for portfolio reviews.  As a two-year program, OCC’s Fine Arts majors have limited foundational course offerings.  Thus, it is essential to have a cohesive program for students to build a portfolio that will be used for transfer.
  • Student placement into Fine Arts programs nationwide requires portfolio submissions; competition is considerable for admission. Cecere’s sabbatical project explored strategies to align curriculum and ensure transferability to enable students to build a two-year program portfolio.  Additionally, her project addressed a universal, modular course curriculum for Two-Dimensional Design that will support student portfolio work.

The Community and Displaced Homemakers Program of Ocean County

The Community and Displaced Homemakers Program performs extraordinary work by providing essential support and resources to individuals transitioning back into the workforce.  The program offers comprehensive services, including career counseling, job training, and educational workshops, all tailored to meet the unique needs of those who have lost their primary means of financial support.  By fostering a nurturing and empowering environment, the program helps participants rebuild their confidence, acquire new skills, and secure sustainable employment, ultimately transforming lives and strengthening the community.

The Program recognized clients’ accomplishments at the 15th Annual Celebration of Achievement on May 9, 2024.  I welcomed the participants and acknowledged the hard work and time they committed to the program.  Dr. Kate Pandolpho, Director of the Counseling Center, presented on the history of the Displaced Homemakers movement, nationally and in New Jersey.

Ms. Carmen Mora, Coordinator of the Community and Displaced Homemakers Program, will share information about the program’s success at Thursday’s meeting and bring Georgina, a program client.  At a critical juncture in her life, Georgina turned to the program while facing numerous obstacles.  With the program’s support, Georgina gained the knowledge to apply for and secure full-time employment.

Peer Language Support Leaders

In October 2023, Assistant Dean of STEM Carolyn Showalter was inspired by a STEM conference speaker, a bilingual tutor at a community college.  After the conference, Ms. Showalter  quickly assembled an ad hoc committee to explore the idea of the conference speaker.  She ultimately worked to develop a similar bilingual support program at OCC by utilizing current students.  Thanks to the committee’s work, Ms. Krystle Wilmot, Coordinator of Tutoring Services, was then able to hire eligible students through Federal Work Study funding to train and prepare them to work with students.

Since their official start at the end of February 2024, these Peer Language Support Leaders have assisted four students by referring them to tutoring to schedule appointments.  Also, they have translated several announcements for the Tutoring Center, designed and developed Spanish flyers and materials to promote their services, and held a meet-and-greet event.  Our Peer Language Support Leaders are Zara Barrios, Evelin Perez, Juan Guzman, and John Zamora.  Ms. Showalter and Ms. Wilmot will attend Thursday’s Board meeting with the four students if available.

Faculty and Staff Recognition, Honors, Successes, and Awards

Congratulations are extended to the following employees for their academic achievements:

  • Stacy Yurcho, Assistant Director of Enrollment Services, earned her Master’s in Business Management from Thomas Edison State University in May 2024.
  • Bryan Zangrando, Procurement Analyst, earned his Registered Public Procurement Specialist (RPPS) certification from Rutgers, Center for Government Services. Mr. Zangrando earned his associate degree from Ocean County College; now, as an OCC employee, he continues demonstrating a proactive approach to professional development.
  • Melissa Bedford, Payroll Specialist, completed her Associate in Science Degree in General Studies, Business, at OCC. Ms. Bedford has proven to be an asset to payroll operations and is valued for her dedication, teamwork, and creative approach to addressing department initiatives.
  • Judith Peto, Accountant, obtained her Master of Business Administration from Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia. Ms. Peto also received two certificates, one in Data Analytics and the second in Marketing.  Ms. Peto thrives on being challenged and actively pursues opportunities to improve department workflows and interactions with the campus community.
  • On May 8, 2024, Ms. Jenna McAteer, OCC Manahawkin Academic Advisor, Ms. Melissa Bedford, and Ms. Judith Peto were all inducted into the OCC Chapter of Tri Alpha Honor Society for first-generation college students. Their dedication and hard work serve as stellar examples to their families.

Ms. Christine Healey, Executive Director of Procurement and Compliance, served on the career panel for the first Supply Chain Expo hosted by Ocean County College in partnership with Rutgers Business School, Newark Campus.  This was an exciting chance for local high school students and OCC students to learn about the Supply Chain Management degree program, explore various career options, and connect with industry professionals for conversations about internships and job opportunities.

Student Accomplishments, Honors, and Awards

  • On May 14, 2024, the Delta Alpha Pi Honor Society induction ceremony recognized and celebrated the achievements of 25 high-achieving students with disabilities. The guest speaker, Mr. Javier Robles, a faculty member and Director of the Center for Disability Sports, Health, and Wellness at Rutgers University, added depth to the event.  His insights into the intersectionality of disability and leadership provided valuable perspectives for both the inductees and attendees, highlighting the importance of diversity, inclusion, and empowerment within academic, community, and professional settings.
  • The Athletic Department’s Spring season proved very successful for OCC’s teams.  After competing in their respective national championship tournaments, the men’s tennis team finished third in the country; the women’s tennis team, fourth; and the men’s volleyball team, fifth.  OCC’s baseball team was honored to host the first-pitch event to celebrate the College’s 60th  Last week, the student-athletes from softball, golf, and the previously mentioned teams were recognized at the Spring Sports Awards Dinner.
  • Region 19 held its inaugural Hall of Fame induction ceremony on May 5, 2024. Among those inducted in this first group was OCC’s former Athletic Director, John Stauff, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to Region 19 athletics.
  • Eighteen TRIO Student Support Services participants graduated on May 24, 2024. Seven TRIO Student Support Service participants completed the Spring 2024 semester with a 4.0 GPA: Nosson Breskin, Danicza Garcia, Mariam Ghobrial, Lalaine Imhoff, Stephanie Lucas, Rebecca Morehouse, and Luke Nokes.
  • On Thursday, May 9, 2024, Psi Beta, the national honor society for students attending two-year colleges majoring or minoring in psychology, inducted 32 new members. This club is advised by College Lecturer II in Psychology James Indelicato and is supported through the Office of Student Life.
  • Katherine Toy, College Lecturer II of Business Studies, reports 17 Bloomberg certifications were completed in the Business Lab this Spring semester, spanning the traditional Bloomberg Market Concepts certification and the newer certifications in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and Finance.
  • A total of 37 students were inducted into Alpha Beta Gamma, the Business Honor Society, many of whom attended the May 1, 2024, ceremony.
  • On April 4, 2024, the Lambda Alpha Epsilon Criminal Justice Honor Society held an induction ceremony for the Ocean County College Kappa Xi Sigma Chapter, where 50 new student members were inducted. Patrick Beatty and Dr. Stephen Agresti, College Lecturers in Criminal Justice, hosted the ceremony.  The Lambda Alpha Epsilon Honor Society recognizes academic achievement among criminal justice majors at two-year colleges.
  • Nursing Program completion rates (defined as the percentage of students who complete the Nursing Program within four semesters) for the class that began nursing courses in Spring 2022 and completed the program in fall 2023 was 54%. This was a 6% increase from those who finished in the Spring 2023 semester.
  • The job placement rate for Fall 2023 nursing students was 100%. This data was collected via a survey of Fall 2022 graduates one year following completion of the Nursing Program, as required by accreditation standards.  The response rate to this survey was 87.9%

Student Clubs

  • The 2024 Edition of Seascape, the literary journal showcasing OCC’s creativity, was released at the launch party on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. Holden Holland was this year’s editor-in-chief under the guidance of club advisor, Associate Professor of English Jayanti Tamm.  Copies of Seascape will be provided at the May Board meeting.
  • The Ocean Pride Club and Environmental Club partnered on a clothing swap event to promote sustainability on Earth Day, April 22, 2024.  The clubs collected and organized donated clothing before the event.  OCC students then attended the swap on April 22 and created new wardrobes for themselves from the donations.  Items left from the event were donated to a local organization.
  • The Improv Club held its last show of the season on May 3 and 4, 2024.  “A Court of Fairies and Favors” featured an interactive experience with a choose-your-own-adventure.  Improv Club members created this original performance.
  • The OCC Chess Club welcomed Chess Master Leroy Hill to the Student Center on Saturday, May 18, 2024. Hill shared his story and played simultaneous chess with members of the club.
  • The Sign Language Society hosted the Spring ASL Rock and Roll Fundraiser Show on April 27, 2024, and donated $1,000 from the event to Tunnel to Towers.
  • The Mathematics Club coordinated the WJ Rickert Speaker Series in April. Over 215 people attended the nine lectures, either in person or by HyFlex, with an average of 24 people per lecture.  The top-attended lectures were “Confessions of a Right-Brained Math Phobic” and “Undergraduate Research.”  Professor of Mathematics Vicki McMillian and College Lecturer II in Mathematics Julia Kim are the club advisors.
  • The Viking Video Club completed another successful semester.  Four exciting workshops related to TV programming, editing, screenwriting, and directing were held.  Film Producer and Screenwriter Darren Dean, who has worked on Tangerine and The Florida Project, discussed character development, storytelling, and his experience on set with Willem Dafoe, Sabrina Carpenter, and other talented actors.  Bravo Director Rocco Flammia, who currently directs “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” and “The Real Housewives Reunion,” talked about his career growth, job functions and responsibilities, and led interactive sessions with the students to enhance their skills on set.

Student Support Services and Activities

  • The HUB completed 1,130 in-person transactions in April, an increase of 18% over the prior year. The average service duration was 2.53 minutes, while the average wait time was less than 2 minutes.
  • College Pathways completed nine high school Express Enrollment Days between April 1 and May 14, 2024, successfully registering 210 new students to Ocean County College. Seven additional events are scheduled through June 4 to serve new and incoming students.
  • Early College registered 2,494 unique students in Fall 2023, Year-Long 2023, and Spring 2024 terms. The students registered for 19,866 credits, an increase of 2%, and a single additional student over the preceding year.
  • Ben Hudnall Memorial Trust had an increase of 55% in credits taken from Spring 2023 to Spring 2024 and a unique student increase of 117%. The 36 unique student enrollments for the non-credit Google IT course offered through Workforce and Professional Education are not included in these increases.
  • The Counseling Center’s student outreach efforts were highlighted for innovation and engagement at the May 3, 2024, Uwill Statewide Convening, hosted by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education.
  • On April 30, 2024, over 400 students attended, and 333 signed in for “There’s Nothing Childish About Mental Health,” a stress management event featuring a petting zoo, an obstacle course, creative activities, snacks, and all-around fun. This grant-funded activity was hosted with the Kean Ocean Psychology Club and the OCC Foundation.
  • The Counseling Center hosted the first annual Suicide Prevention Conference on May 9, 2024, which was attended by more than 135 community college, university, agency, government, and organization mental health professionals from around the state. The event featured speaker, Dr. Shawn Christopher Shea, is a world-renowned expert in suicide prevention and interviewing techniques.  The Counseling Center partnered with Bright Harbor Health Care, Kean University’s Counselor Education Graduate Program, and the OCC Foundation to present this event.  Appreciation is expressed to those partners and all who attended this important conference.
  • The CARE Team has handled 634 reports since July 1, 2023; during the same time frame last year (July 1, 2022 – May 17, 2023), there were 638 reports. The team is updating the Maxient system with relevant information to generate more in-depth reports of CARE issues and interventions.
  • Advising assists all new students with registration for their first semester at OCC. Students can meet with advisors in new student group advising sessions on a walk-in basis.  Advisors ensure students are in the correct degree program, teach students how to utilize Ocean Connect and Student Planning, and assist students with registration.  To provide an excellent experience for new students, Advising recently hired and is currently training eight new reserve advisors.  These reservists will help Advising to provide individualized attention to each new student, while still working efficiently and keeping wait times at a minimum for students.  New students are also able to register via the New Student Registration form.  Using this form, new students can request a fall schedule, and an advisor registers the student based on the student’s major and preferences.
  • The Advising Office is participating in high school-specific enrollment events this spring in collaboration with the HUB. When students sign up for these events, advisors create an academic plan for each student before the event.  When the student attends the event, advisors teach the student how to utilize Ocean Connect and Student Planning.  Students learn how to customize their academic plans, create schedules, and register for their first semester at the event.  After the event, an advisor reviews each student’s schedule and follows up as needed to ensure that every student has an accurate schedule.
  • The entire OCC community enjoyed Student Life’s annual Spring Day activities on Thursday, May 2, 2024.   This year’s event featured a butterfly garden, a mini-golf course, club-sponsored activities, a petting zoo, games, and a DJ.  The Veterans and Military Resources Center also invited members of military-affiliated groups to join the celebration and host activities for students.
  • Kevin Dooley, author and Department Chair of Political Science and Sociology at Monmouth University, visited OCC on April 17, 2024, for a talk titled “Climate Change, Food Insecurity, and Civil Unrest.” Mr. Jason Ghibesi, College Lecturer II of Political Science, facilitated this discussion, and OCC’s Governmental Affairs Institute sponsored it.  There is a growing consensus that the effects of climate change contribute to worldwide civil unrest, so the presentation discussed the connection between climate change and the breakdown of food security systems, political institutions, and political party affiliations.
  • On behalf of Business Studies, Mr. Chris Bottomley, College Lecture II in Business, and Mr. Sean Bips, College Lecture II in Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management, completed the fourth annual Sink or Swim competition on Thursday, April 18, 2024, with over 80 high school students in attendance. The winning teams, all from Toms River High School South, were:
    • Third place team ($1,000) was Glutenless Delights
    • Second place team ($2,000) was S&W Secured
    • First place team ($3,000) was Rhino Development
  • The top five winners from the South Jersey Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), held at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in February, went on to present at the National Competition on May 6, 2024. Led by Dr. Mary-Ellen Rada, College Lecturer II of Anatomy and Director of the Regional JSHS, two New Jersey high school students placed in the top three nationally.
  • The OCC Preparatory Symphony Orchestra students finished the Spring semester with a performance in the Gateway Building on May 20, 2024.

Outreach to Students

  • e-Learning’s launch of Brainfuse live online tutoring and Writing Lab services for the 2023-24 academic year was a success. Brainfuse replaced Pearson’s Smarthinking online tutoring service in September of last year.  As the Spring 2024 semester ends, over 256 hours of Brainfuse service were used by students compared to 218 hours of Smarthinking online tutoring service, a 15% increase in usage by OCC students.
  • Spearheaded by Dr. Mary-Ellen Rada and Dr. Samantha Glassford, Assistant Dean of Arts and Humanities, two upcoming Study Abroad trips are planned:
  • Travel to Ireland from August 8 through 17, 2024, to study the ancient megaliths, archeology, Viking exhibits, Bog Bodies, architecture, and certain natural land formations, such as the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren.
  • Travel to Italy during the 2025 Winter session to study Ancient cultures, the Renaissance, and the Christian Era through architecture, painting, sculpture, health care, Galileo, Brunelleschi, and DaVinci, visiting seven cities, including several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The trip is sold out, but there is a waiting list should cancellations occur.
  • On May 21, 2024, the Grunin Center finished a great year of Schools n’ Stage performances with the Underground Railroad story of “Finding North” by David Gonzalez. Over 4,000 Ocean County students attended Schools n’ Stage productions during the 2023-24 school year.

Community Outreach

  • An MOU was developed between Ocean County College and Embrella, an organization that assists in college transition for students aging out of the foster care system. Through the hard work of Ms. Calleigh Kearns, Enrollment Advisor for Partnerships and Outreach, the partnership was formalized in a signing ceremony on May 9, 2024.
  • On April 20, 2024, almost 100 members of the Latin community came to campus for the first Latin Youth Conference hosted by the Community Ambassadors student group. Advised by FIPSE Grant Manager Jim Campbell and with assistance from Community Advisor Adalberto Candia-Aguilar, students were treated to workshops on transitioning to college, received information about aid options, could apply for college, and had dinner.
  • Calleigh Kearns visited Harbor House and presented options for college and Ocean County College to their current residents.
  • The School of Nursing held an Advisory Committee Meeting on April 17, 2024. There were 22 participants representing various clinical agencies as well as members of the community, students, faculty, and staff. End-of-program student learning outcomes and program outcomes were shared with members, including licensure pass rates, program completion rates, job placement rates, student learning outcome survey information, and clinical agency satisfaction survey information. Representatives from major acute care organizations spoke highly of Ocean County College graduates and indicated they are hiring new nurses, with many offering one-year Residency Programs.
  • The OCC Repertory Theatre Company sold out every performance of its recent production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.
  • On April 18, 2024, John Moore, Executive Director of the Institute for Earth Observations, presented a talk on the A3SAT Project. This Acquire – Analyze – Apply Data Project designs kits consisting of inexpensive parts that can be put together to build a satellite data collection device enabling the teaching of data science, coding, electronics, and environmental science.  The questions and discussion from the audience of students and instructors lasted long after the allotted time. Members of the Computer Science Club are eager to work on Mr. Moore’s A3SAT project.  College Lecturers in Computer Studies Ken Michalek and Edmond Hong will keep us posted on their progress.
  • On May 16, 2024, the Grunin Center hosted Salute to Ocean County: A Celebration of Arts and Heritage, a program organized by the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission to honor the County’s exceptional cultural organizations, artists, historians, preservationists, educators, and government leaders. The event featured performances by winners of the Teen Arts Festival, and OCC alum and pianist Luke Nokes performed for Salute attendees at the pre-show reception.
  • The TV Studio continues to produce and air the ongoing series Shore of Support with new episodes related to Housing Insecurity, Mental Health Awareness, and LGBTQ+ Equality and Support. The organizations featured were HABcore, Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity, NAMI, Preferred Behavioral Health, PFLAG Jersey Shore, and Your Authentic Self (an affiliate of Ocean Partnership for Children).  Upcoming episodes will focus on keeping our waterways clean and back-to-school assistance programs.  Shore of Support airs 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 the College’s YouTube channel.

The Grunin Center offered many performances:

  • The OCC Jazz Band performed Recording Live in the Black Box Theater on May 17, 2024.
  • On May 19, 2024, James Austin Jr. performed for the Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon Series.
  • On May 20, 2024, the Ocean County Office of the Fire Marshall celebrated its Fire Fighter Graduation Ceremony and reception in the Grunin Center.
  • On the Main Stage, the Grunin Performing Arts Academy held its Vocal and Dance showcase on May 3, 10, and 14, 2024.
  • The OCC Concert Band, comprised of students and community members, held its Spring Concert, A Musical World Tour, to a sold-out audience on May 4, 2024.
  • College Lecturer II Brian Gilmore presented the season’s last Afternoon Recital Series event on Friday, May 17, 2024, with acclaimed pianist Awadagin Pratt.
  • The Novins Planetarium hosted 28 shows for K-12 students, scouts, and adults with special needs, including sixth and seventh graders from Brielle, funded by the OCC Foundation. The Planetarium also offers engaging programming, such as A Galaxy Near You, a Star Wars-themed show about exoplanets, and the New Taylor Swift Laser Show, which has sold out eight shows in May and June.
  • Another great summer of Camps on Campus is anticipated. Three new Camps on Campus sports instructors were hired, one OCC alum and two recent graduates.


  • The Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) Basic Needs grant was able to fund over $15,000 directly to students between April 1 and May 13, 2024, in the form of grocery and gas gift cards, auto repairs, health care bills, and utility bills. Of the students funded in Spring 2024, 96% passed their courses, showcasing the success of the grant.
  • The Novins Planetarium was awarded $6,000 from the New Jersey Space Grant to support education programming.

Professional Development

  • Representatives from the e-Learning Department attended the NJ Edge, EdgeCon Spring 2024 conference at The College of New Jersey on Thursday, April 18. Many sessions, including the keynote speaker, focused on artificial intelligence, gamification, and accessibility in higher education.

Workforce and Professional Education

  • Joseph Konopka, Vice President of Workforce and Professional Education, is currently working with Ms. Donna Bonacorso, Chief Nursing Officer for Community Medical Center, to implement workplace literacy courses in the leadership academy at the hospital.
  • The Workforce Education department is collaborating with the County College of Morris and Brookdale Community College to apply for funding in three industry clusters: solar energy, construction management, and healthcare.
  • The School of STEM and the Workforce Education Department are working with Dr. Kate Mohr, Executive Director of Enrollment Services, to identify students eligible for scholarships in Advanced Manufacturing. There are currently 15 scholarships available at approximately $6,000 each.
  • Joseph Konopka attended the 11th annual symposium for the NJ Big Data Alliance. The keynote speakers included the Secretary of Education for New Jersey, Dr. Brian Bridges, and senior executives from Amazon and Instructure. The topics included Artificial Intelligence (AI) in higher education.

Allied Health Programs

  • Six of seven recently graduated students from the EKG course sat for and passed the National Healthcareer Association EKG exam.
  • Eight out of ten students who recently completed the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant class took the National Healthcareer certification exams and passed Clinical Medical Assistant, EKG, and Phlebotomy.

Adult Education, Civic, and Workforce Preparation

  • Since January 2024, nine students have earned a State of New Jersey high school diploma.
  • High School Education Prep orientation was held on March 29, 2024. Sixteen students will be attending the Spring 2024 session that begins on April 8, 2024.

Work Readiness Assistance Program

  • Eleven participants completed the Exploration of Career Pathways and Entrepreneurship training. Credentials were earned in OSHA-10 General Industry, Customer Service and Sales, and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)/Basic Life Support (BLS).
  • Eight participants completed Leadership Academy with service learning, and six new participants enrolled in March.
  • Participants of the Center attended Adolescent Gambling Addiction Prevention and Drug Trends, held at Ocean County College in partnership with the Children’s InterAgency Coordinating Council (CIACC).
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