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President's Post #98: Ramapo College's Affordability

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

In recent weeks, there have been two prominent articles focused on student debt and affordability among New Jersey Colleges. Please note the links below:

NJ Spotlight: NJ COLLEGES WHERE STUDENTS PILE ON THE MOST DEBT

The Record: N.J. CLASS OF 2015 OWES AN AVERAGE OF $30,536 IN STUDENT LOAN DEBT

In light of the content in the articles, as well as additional data that was recently compiled by Ramapo’s Office of Financial Aid, I am sharing with you, in brief, where Ramapo stands with respect to the metrics of affordability mentioned in the articles, as well as national and state data as it relates to the ability of our graduates to repay their debt.

In short, the key takeaways of this data are that, as members of Ramapo College, we have a compelling story to tell regarding our affordability:

  • Among the NJ senior public colleges, Ramapo is tied with Rutgers-Newark for having the lowest percentage of students graduating with debt.
  • Ramapo’s default rate is well below the national average default rate.
  • Ramapo’s default rate is ½ the average default rate of all of New Jersey’s higher education institutions (public and private).
  • Ramapo’s default rate is well below the average default rate of New Jersey’s public higher education institutions.

The College’s ability to mitigate student default and foster affordability has required concerted effort by all of our constituents. While there is always more work to be done, I would like to thank the students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, donors, and friends who have contributed their energy and resources on this front over the years.

Peter P. Mercer, President


President's Post #97: Ramapo Wins National Award for Student Success Initiative

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

On July 27, 2016 Ramapo College was presented with the 2016 Hobsons Education Advances Award for Admissions and Student Success! This national award recognizes the innovation that emerges “when an institution combines people, process, and technology to make a difference in the lives of students.”

Ramapo was recognized for the development, implementation, and assessment of its early alert system, Connect, which fosters an integrated approach to student success by harnessing technology to allow faculty and staff to raise academic progress items when students show signs of concern, improvement, or excelling academically. The early alert system, which Ramapo also uses as a retention Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system provides students a Student Success Network featuring over 15 campus offices engaged in its use. As such, it allows advisors to create referrals to those other offices to facilitate greater collaboration around student success. With the implementation of the winning early alert system at Ramapo, the percentage of academic warning first-year students who have at least two meetings with their advisors has increased from less than 20 to 62 percent!

The early alert system was a highly collaborative initiative at Ramapo. It relied upon the input, support, and leadership of several faculty, staff, administrators, and students to make it both possible and successful. I would be remiss to not especially acknowledge the efforts of the Center for Student Success, the Connect Faculty Advisory Board, and Tracey Bender ’11, Student Success Coordinator. Tracey completed the application on behalf of the College.

One can turn to the Ramapo College mission, Strategic Plan, Student Engagement Project, Strategic Enrollment Plan, Academic Advising Plan,  Writing Across the Curriculum Program, and so many other resources and programs as evidence of our College-wide commitment to student success. In addition, our small class sizes and faculty/student research opportunities foster invaluable exchanges between our students and esteemed professors. All of these things, in addition to the award winning early alert system and CRM system, foster a student experience at Ramapo that is thoughtful, integrated, and rooted in a superior commitment to developing the whole student for a lifetime of achievement.

Ramapo was one of three finalists for the 2016 Hobson’s Education Advances Award, ultimately beating out the University of Missouri and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. Ramapo joins the company of previous award winners including the University of Arkansas, University of Texas at El Paso, and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

This is a proud moment for the College and this achievement is one that I believe will yield several ongoing beneficial returns for our students.

Peter P. Mercer
President


President's Post #96: Ramapo Recommended for $15M in Bond Funds

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

I am pleased to share that Ramapo College of New Jersey has been recommended by Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks for $15 million from the Higher Education Capital Financing Grant Program. There was a pool of $180 million for all of the colleges and universities in New Jersey.

The projects submitted to the NJ Legislature for funding are available for viewing on the NJ Educational Facilities Authority site. The Legislature has 45 days to consider the Capital Improvement Fund projects. If the Legislature takes no action, the projects will be approved.

This is very welcome news and will provide significant support for the proposed Potter Library renovations and Learning Commons.

Peter P. Mercer
President


President's Post #95: The Devastating Attack in Orlando

Dear Students and Colleagues,

Source: www.hrc.org

Source: www.hrc.org

I am deeply troubled by the massacre that took place in Orlando, Florida on Sunday morning. Although we do not yet know the identities of all the victims, we know that many were members of the LGBTQ Latina and Latino community.

A statement by the Human Rights Campaign noted, “While the attack in Orlando has not yet been labeled a hate crime, more than 20 percent of hate crimes reported nationally in 2014 targeted people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity” and, according to HRC, that reporting “dramatically undercounts LGBTQ data, as it’s based on local, non-mandatory reporting.”

An act of such violence assaults our sense of humanity and fractures our personal safety. Further, I recognize that this event might be a trigger for some. Students may seek support and resources from the Center for Health and Counseling Services and the Women’s Center. In addition, colleagues may also seek support and resources from the Women’s Center, the Employee Assistance Program, and the Faculty /Staff Pride group.

Through tragedy, strength and solidarity emerge. I am reminded of our Strategic Plan which states, “The College will create a safe and supportive environment for all, with particular consideration toward members of underrepresented and marginalized groups.” With this in mind, I commit to our LGBTQ friends that Ramapo College is with you; and I extend sincere condolences to the victims and their families.

Peter P. Mercer
President


President's Post #94: Our Support of the Educational Opportunity Fund Program

Dear Students and Colleagues,

New Jersey’s Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) provides access to higher education to EOF 1approximately 12,000 students annually from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The academic, professional, and social development provided through EOF is especially critical for many first-generation college students.

This spring Governor Chris Christie proposed a $2,565,000 cut to the 2017 fiscal year state EOF budget. This 8.7% cut would have a dramatic impact for EOF students across the state, including our students at Ramapo College.

Since this proposal was announced, EOF students, staff and alumni have participated in the EOF Day at the New Jersey State Capitol, conducted letter writing campaigns, and testified before the Senate Budget Committee. I thank Barbara Harmon-Francis, the Director of the Ramapo College EOF Program and her staff for encouraging students to participate in these efforts. I encourage you to join them in advocating for access and equity in higher education.

Please visit the Educational Opportunity Fund Professional Association of New Jersey (EOFPANJ) website (www.eofpanj.org – scroll down to see “EOF Advocacy”) to learn how you can support EOF. I encourage you to contact your legislator to urge non support for  the proposed budget cut.

The legacy of Ramapo College EOF graduates has inspired countless other students to pursue excellence in education, leadership, and service. I am proud to support such highly motivated and talented students. Thank you for your attention to this important initiative.

Peter P. Mercer

President


President's Post #93: Class of 2016

For the past decade it has been a privilege for me to preside over the College’s Commencement Ceremony and this year was no exception.

The Ramapo College Class of 2016 was a determined group of 1,509 students and it was a proud moment for me and members of the Board of Trustees to shake their hands as they crossed the stage on May 13. Cap

The Class of 2016 included  65 Educational Opportunity Fund Program participants, 15 Veterans from the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard as well as New Jersey Air and Army National Guard, and 99 graduates that have affiliated with our Office of Specialized Services. Further, the class also included international students from Bulgaria, China, Azerbaijan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Turkey & Vietnam. In addition, several of our graduates studied or completed internships abroad in Argentina, Australia, China, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Nepal, Netherlands, Peru, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Tanzania, Turks & Caicos, and the United Kingdom.

GradsDuring their time at Ramapo, members of the class invested their energies in myriad activities. They participated in undergraduate research, Relay for Life fundraising for Cancer, a 5K Color Run that supported Ramapo scholarships, awareness campaigns dedicated to the prevention of sexual assault and suicide, rallies protesting discrimination and police brutality, and programs to generate Hurricane Sandy and Nepal relief.

The Commencement Ceremony celebrating these individuals was a memorable one with insightful remarks delivered by thoughtful people. Award of Merit recipient Dr. Joseph Barone ’83 encouraged graduates to embrace the “excellent mistakes” they will make in life. Distinguished Professor Dr. Anthony Padovano shared with the graduates, “We were privileged that we came to know you, stood by your side and, today, watched you walk into your future. How foolish it is to believe that America has lost its way and to imagine that you walk into a blighted world or that the past was so much better than the present. You are the future of this nation and of our world.  You will give this nation and the world few regrets; you will make both of them aware of how much more the future holds for all of us.” Student speaker Lindsey Hughes ’16 noted, “As we entered this institution we all walked under the Arch, some of us bright eyed and ambitious– others timid and scared of what our future at Ramapo would hold. Years later, as we walked back through the Arch yesterday, leaving campus in our rear view, I hope we all reflected on the countless memories Ramapo gave us, the lifelong friendships we have made, the education we received that will prepare us for our next step and ultimately the persons we have become during our time at Ramapo.”

Thank you to all of the people who participated in this special day and congratulations to the graduates, families, and friends of the Ramapo College Class of 2016!

Peter P. Mercer

President


President's Post #92: State of the College Address, January 2016

On January 27, 2016, President Peter Mercer delivered his spring State of the College Address. A summary of that address follows.

Welcome to the spring State of the College address. We are joined today by Board of Trustees Chair George C. Ruotolo, Jr.; and Trustee Susan Vallario.

Ramapo: Advance
Ramapo: Advance is a plan for advancing our campus safety. We have made significant progress on the plan since its development in August.
• The revised Sexual Misconduct Policy Governing Students was implemented this semester and and information session on the policy will take place at 3pm today.
• We have moved to conducting Title IX investigations via a pool of trained faculty and staff. Title IX Investigator Training was delivered to more than a dozen faculty and staff earlier this month. That group includes: Ron Boseman, Jill Brown, Brittany Goldstein, Matt McMahon, Clare Naporano, Ivy Payne, Alfred Prettyman, Tamika Quick, Emma C. Rainforth; Alexandra Simone, Debra Stark, and Danielle Walker.
• The memorandums of understanding with the Mahwah Police Department and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office are in their final stages.
• A sexual assault survivor who requires transportation to Valley Hospital (for evidence collection and medical treatment) or to Hackensack Planned Parenthood (medical treatment only) will be provided the service free of charge by the College. Further, the taxi company selected to provide the transportation is also used by the healingSPACE Sexual Violence Resource Center. All drivers are screened for a driving/criminal background check by law enforcement.
• On the training front, Haven: Understanding Sexual Assault Training will be rolled out in the spring for faculty and staff, participants may choose between a face to face training or an online training.
• Phase II of the Stafford Report which is largely focused on programming is now available on the Ramapo: Advance site and I expect that the next 6 months will provide opportunities for us to collaborate as a community on the best approaches to programming recommendations.
• Ramapo will host the Association of Title IX Administrators regional investigator training conference in late May in which more than 100 Title IX professionals are expected to visit our campus over the span of two days. Our service as host will also allow for up to 20 Ramapo individuals to participate in the conference at no cost.
Nearly 100 colleges and universities are currently under investigation by the Office of Civil Rights for their handling of sexual misconduct cases and that number has nearly doubled in the past year. Ramapo is not on that list. We are indeed not alone as we navigate Title IX, but I do believe we are generally ahead of our peers.

Grant Thornton Operational Review
Last year, my office advised that the College would be engaging Grant Thornton to conduct an operational review of many institutional elements related primarily to staffing, structure, and technology. That review was and is intended to reveal opportunities for efficiency and to, in part, help mitigate the College’s structural deficit.

Over the past several months, the team from Grant Thornton has met with more than 30 faculty and staff. They have reviewed organizational charts, Weave reports, financials, etc… Their draft report is due this month and its recommendations will lead to change. It is so important to remember though that Grant Thornton is not the silver bullet in our work towards ameliorating the structural deficit, it is one element in the College’s efforts to reduce the structural deficit. We are also looking at operational budget adjustments, cost sharing, and additional revenue sources, etc. All of these things will require, to some extent, a shift in how we operate as a college. The current fiscal health in public higher education in NJ, and really across the country, requires us to proceed in this manner.

Turning the Tide Report: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admissions by the Harvard Graduate School of Education
A Harvard-based group is calling for colleges to change their application processes to give greater importance to applicants’ community involvement, asserting that intellectual and ethical engagement (such as concern for others and the common good) are both “highly important.”

The report concludes that teens are taught to “emphasize personal success rather than concern for others,” and adds that changing the application process would send a strong message to young people. The report also makes recommendations for reducing “undue achievement pressure” and redefining achievement. Some of those recommendations are to:
• Make some SAT scores optional;
• Challenge the “misconception that there are only a handful of excellent colleges and that only a handful of colleges create networks that are vital to job success”; and
• Charge Admissions offices with warning students against submitting “overcoached” applications, saying such applications can “jeopardize desired admission outcomes.”
While Ramapo has long benefitted by taking a holistic approach to applicant review, the report from Harvard reinforces an imperative on college campuses to reflect on their practices and to consider new ways of doing things. Change is always in the offing.

DAC Convocation
The Diversity Action Committee and Schomburg Scholars Program will present the 2016 Diversity Convocation with Dr. Marc Lamont Hill on Wed., Feb. 24, 2016 @ 3:30pm in the Auxiliary Gym (Bradley Center). Dr. Hill’s Lecture, “Building Community in an Hour of Chaos: Progress in the Age of Obama” will offer a critical analysis of the current social and political moment. Lamont Hill has been the subject of much scrutiny and advocacy recently for his stances on religion, terrorism, and social justice.

Admissions and Recruitment
Graduate Admissions. We just concluded an extremely successful graduate admissions cycle for the spring 2016 semester. Congratulations to MSET, MAEL and MSN as well as the Graduate Admissions Office who finished this cycle at 229% of their deposit total.
Applications. Currently, interest in Ramapo College has never been higher. As of January 20, the Admissions Office reports receiving 5,910 Applications thus far for the fall 2016 incoming class. This is the highest number of applications we’ve ever received at this time of the year and are on pace to again increase total applications over last year.

NASPA Undergraduates Fellow Program
Ramapo is proud to have three students participating in the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program (a national higher education administrator’s organization). The Program is an initiative to mentor students from traditionally underrepresented and historically disenfranchised populations. Students and mentors apply as a pair. Current Ramapo students and mentors include Uma Joshi and mentor Joe Connell, Frank Albergo and mentor Rick Brown, and Alaina Seyler and mentor Tracey Pastorini.

Public Safety Outreach
Newsletter. By now, you have likely noticed that the Office of Public Safety has been working hard on strengthening its community outreach program. Its weekly newsletter has one of the highest open rates of our electronic newsletters and I want to give a special nod to Officer Tracey Barmore for coordinating the newsletter.
Training. Further outreach by Public Safety has included two training sessions between the Mahwah Police Department, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and our own full Public Safety force to review protocols and enhance communication between the three offices.
Poetry Slam. In addition, on February 22, the Public Safety Outreach program will host a Poetry Slam in the Alumni Lounges between 10pm and 11:30.

Educational Opportunity Fund
Welcome. I would like to welcome our new Director of the EOF Program, Barbara Harmon-Francis to Ramapo College. Please stand, Barbara.
National Capitol Forum on Hispanic Higher Education Conference. I am pleased to share that three student leaders from the EOF Program, Gloria Bramon, Ana Rosano and Essey Wilson along with Student Development Specialist Erika Vega will attend the 21st Annual National Capitol Forum on Hispanic Higher Education Conference in Washington D.C in March.
International Representation. Also, EOF’s Student Development Specialist, Marita Esposito, was accepted to present at the National Academic Advising Association entitled Aspire, Connect and Empower Conference in Dubai. Her presentation is entitled “Intrusive, Holistic Advisement for Low Income First Generation Students.”

Alternative Winter Breaks
Ramapo students continue to take advantage of opportunities to engage in service projects. Several students participated in our alternative winter break programs recently. I’m pleased to highlight two of those programs.
Atlanta, Georgia. Two staff members accompanied 7 sorority and fraternity student leaders on a trip to Atlanta. This is the second time that the college sponsored a trip to this location. The service sites for this trip included:
• Books for Africa: This organization assists African communities in gaining access to school books.
• The Gateway Center: The Gateway Center is designed to serve as a gateway to the community continuum of care that helps individuals move out of homelessness.
• Covenant House Georgia: A place that provides shelter and services to homeless and runaway youth; and others.
Puntarenas, Costa Rica. One staff member accompanied 11 students on a trip to Costa Rica to work with the El Manantial bird/animal sanctuary. This trip marks the 6th time that Ramapo has partnered with the sanctuary. Ramapo students helped care for the animals and learned about the conservation of the Macaws.

2016 King Day of Learning Activities
Our Equity and Diversity Programs partnered with our Community and Civic Engagement Center (CCEC) for the 3rd Annual King Day of Learning Activities. On January 17, one Equity and Diversity student staff member and five CCEC student staff members attended the Apollo Theater and WNYC Public Radio’s co-sponsored program “Race and Privilege: Exploring MLK’s Two Americas.” Then on January 18, the students who attended the event at the Apollo prepared an interactive presentation for student leaders from the Center for Student Involvement, Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and Student Government Association. On January 19, the same students met with other student leaders to facilitate large and small group conversations on the topics of race, privilege, equity, diversity, immigration rights, and the importance of civic participation and activism.

Vote Everywhere: The Andrew Goodman Foundation
The CCEC has announced that two of our students will be ambassadors to the Andrew Goodman Foundation’s nonpartisan program, Vote Everywhere. Vote Everywhere seeks to leverage the history of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement to inspire today’s students to take action for positive social change.

Athletics
Faculty Athletic Representative. Ramapo College Athletics is pleased to announce that Dr. Ben Fine, faculty member in Computer Science, has accepted the role of Ramapo’s NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative (FAR). Thank you, Ben.
Student-Athlete Awards. Further, our student athletes have been very busy. 20 of our student-athletes from the fall season earned top prestigious awards from the New Jersey Athletic Conference and Larysa Iwaskiw was named AVCA All-American for her efforts on the volleyball court this past season.
Team Service. Also, our sports teams participated in 12 community service events this past fall including events with the Mahwah All-Stars, breast cancer awareness, Juvenile Diabetes, and gender relations and sexual violence awareness walks.

Marketing and Web Administration
If you have visited our homepage recently, you know that the website redesign has been completed and the new www.ramapo.edu homepage design was launched before the winter break. All sections of the website will move to the new design on a rolling basis over the next couple of months. The Marketing and Web team will contact each unit before sites move to the new design. The new design addresses the strategic plan, it is based on feedback from a college-wide survey and is responsive, which means it resizes and works better on smart phones and tablets. In addition, it has new features and tools that better highlight the College including alumni and student success stories, updated links/navigation, an interactive majors and programs exploration tool, and more.

Budget Office
Welcome. The new year marked the appointment of Kirsten DaSilva as our Vice President for Administration & Finance. Please stand, Kirsten.
Adaptive. The FY17 budget process is already upon us, but this year the College is using its new software system, Adaptive Insights, to create the FY17 budget. All areas of budgeting have been moved from Excel spreadsheets into Adaptive Insights, and this process has helped cut at least 4 months from the budgeting process (a nearly 50% reduction in time). Adaptive will be used to request FY17 funding for Inflationary, Capital and SPIF. The Budget Office is rolling out mandatory training for those who will enter budget requests, which will occur in mid-February, and we hope that this tool will not only help the budgeting process, but planning and forecasting as well.

Human Resources
On the HR front, the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) new requirement to send all employees eligible for health insurance coverage an annual statement describing the insurance available to them has been delayed. IRS Form 1095-C is now required to be sent to employees by March 31, 2016 and ITS is working with HR and Business Services on these new reports.

Business Services
Name Change. There have been a lot of changes within the Bursar’s Department, with Artie Chill retiring after 41 years with the College, and a departmental name change later in the semester. The Bursar’s Office will be renamed to align its name with its function, and will be called the Office of Student Accounts. Look for announcements later in the spring semester for more information.
Electronic W2s. The College continues to embrace technology and commit to sustainable practices. I am pleased to note that Payroll is doing its part to move towards sustainability. It is asking all employees to “go green” and sign up for their electronic W2. More than 109 colleagues have already signed up, and you can sign up until February 1 on Banner Self Service.

Capital Projects Update
Library Renovations and Addition. With approval from the Board of Trustees, the College is seeking State bond funds that would be used for a $50 million capital project to renovate the George T. Potter Library and construct a 43,650 gross square foot Learning Center. Features of the renovated building and new addition would include quiet reading areas; library collections and stacks; computer laboratories; group study and meeting rooms; a multipurpose room for large workshops and academic seminars; art galleries; etc. The project is identified in the latest Campus Facilities Master Plan as a high priority and the conceptual plans are available in the Library. In the months ahead, the College’s Office of Capital Planning & Construction will work together with Library staff, representatives from the Faculty Assembly, staff from the various centers, and other stakeholders to develop further the preliminary program for the project, floor-by-floor. Speaking of the Library, Dean Siecke is pleased to announce that the George T. Potter Library is continuing to offer extended hours throughout the semester, made possible by the College’s 100 Jobs Initiative. The Library is now open until 2:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. on Friday, and 11:00a.m.-7:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Padovano College Commons. We are moving forward with our plan to take the former Copy Center located in the old stone garage and repurpose it for dining, socializing and meeting. A generous pledge from Professor Anthony Padovano will help support the project. Project architect and engineers completed plans and specifications that were released by the Department of Community Affairs for construction. A request for proposal was issued for public bidding, and submissions were received in late October. As the lowest bid exceeded the available project budget, all bids were rejected and the project architect is evaluating design elements of the project and developing a list of alternates in order to rebid the project. The updated project schedule reflects commencement of construction this spring and completion in the fall.

Anisfield School of Business
School, faculty, and student achievements continue to abound in ASB:
• The AACSB International Continuous Review Committee has concurred with our Peer Review Team’s recommendation for the extension of our accreditation by AACSB. The Board of Directors of AACSB will make the final ratification at their meeting on February 11, 2016.
• In November, 2015, Finance major Emma Munro was one of the top five scorers in the Americas for the Bloomberg Aptitude Test in finance and has joined the Bloomberg Institute Hall of Fame. Emma shares the Hall of Fame honor with students from the University of Chicago, University of Virginia, NYU and TCNJ.
ASB faculty have published several research articles in peer reviewed journals since September, 2015, some of them include:
• Management Professor Rikki Abzug and co-author Dr. Natalie Webb had their paper entitled “Financial Dereliction of Duty: Are charities that aid servicemen and veterans systematically mismanaged?” accepted for publication in the journal Armed Forces & Society.
• Management Professor Susan Eisner’s paper “The In-Factor: Signature Traits of Innovation’s Leaders” was just published in the Journal of Applied Business Research.
• In December, Management Professor Rick Nunez (who returned to us from Montclair this past fall!) had his paper “The Temporal Dynamics of Firm Emergence by Team Competition – Examining Top-Performing Solo, Family and Team-based Startups” published in the Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship.
• Information Technology Management Professor Yuan Gao and Economics Professor Xiaoyu (Sh-ow’-u) Wu had their paper “User Acceptance of Learning Technology: The Case of Using Moodle” published in The International Journal of Learning: Annual Review in October, 2015.
• Charles Steindel, Resident Scholar in Economics, formerly Chief Economist for the State of New Jersey and Senior Vice-President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, is the new Editor-in-Chief of Business Economics, the journal of the National Association for Business Economics.

School of Contemporary Arts
CA is also replete with achievements:
• During the last week of the winter break, thirty Ramapo Theater students participated in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival regional competition in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Four of them made it to the semifinals of the Irene Ryan Acting award: Kelly Blake, Amber Walker, Tom Kiely, and Lawrence James (L. J.) Hickmon. Both Tom and L. J. made it to the finals, and then L. J. went on to win the award, the first Ramapo student to do so! He will compete at the nationals at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C., in April.
• Twenty-two members of the Ramapo Chorale were also busy over the break, on a concert tour in Cuba, directed by Lisa Lutter and accompanied by Itay Goren. The tour included a performance with the National Choir of Cuba.
• Two members of the Ramapo College Concert Band, Meghan Mudrick and Josh Raymundo, have been selected to perform with the New Jersey Intercollegiate Band next month at the New Jersey Music Educators Conference in New Brunswick.
• Visual Arts major Gina Scalza will be exhibiting her art as part of the exhibit WORD at the respected Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art. Her work will be part of an exhibition that includes well-established artists like Ann Hamilton, Robert Indiana, and Jeffrey Gibson, along with many emerging artists. It opens February 27 and runs through July 31.

Salameno School of Humanities and Global Studies
Continuing along the thread of school-based successes, SSHGS also has much to share:
• In October, Professor John Gronbeck-Tedesco had his book titled Cuba, the United States, and Cultures of the Transnational Left, 1930-1975 published by Cambridge University Press.
• Professor Dean Chen has his third book, US-China Rivalry and Taiwan’s Mainland Policy: Security, Nationalism, and Taiwan’s 1992 Consensus, set to be published early next year by Palgrave Macmillan.
• Professor Stacie Taranto presented a paper titled “Foregrounding the ‘Silent Majority’: Vatican II and the Roots of Lay Catholic Political Party Realignment in the Sixties” at the Society for U.S. Intellectual History Conference this past October in Washington, DC. The paper was based on a chapter of Taranto’s forthcoming book Kitchen-Table Politics: Conservative Women and Family Values in the Seventies, slated to be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press early next year.
• Professor Edward Shannon presented a paper at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association Meeting in Durham, North Carolina in November titled “’Who are all these friends?’: The Politics and Poetics of Naming the Dead in Woody Guthrie’s ‘Plane Wreck At Los Gatos (Deportee)’”. In addition, in January, Shannon participated in a Faculty Resource Network Seminar on Critical Reading and Critical Thinking held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
• Professor Jeremy Teigen co-presented a paper on “Political Attitudes of Recent U.S. Veterans” at the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society, held in Chicago in October.
• Three SSHGS students presented papers at the biennial convention of Phi Alpha Theta, the national History honor society, held earlier this month in Orlando, Florida. They included: Sara Barsky, “Pushing for Peace: The United Nations during the Congo Crisis, 1960-1961”; Karlito Almeda, “A Closer Look into Policies and Relationships: A Brief Analysis of Two Administrators’ Liability in the September 11th Terrorist Attacks”; and Samantha Sproviero, “Bletchley Park Intelligence and the Battle of the Atlantic”.
• Lastly, with a major grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the funding arm of the National Archives, the Salameno School is now host to the Jane Addams Papers Project. Under the direction of Dr. Cathy Hajo, this print and digital publication project will make available the letters, speeches, and other writings of Jane Addams, one of the leading social reformers and peace activists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It will also give students hands-on experience with all facets of a historical publication project.

School of Social Science and Human Services
There is also much to celebrate in SSHS.
• The Spring 2016 volume of the Ramapo Journal of Law & Society was recently published. Led by Dr. Sangha Padhy and Dr. Mia Serban, the journal showcases the work of two recent LAWS graduates and several other articles from undergraduates across the country including the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, Dr. Padhy has her latest forthcoming book, Greening Law: Environmental Human Rights and Social Justice in India, coming out this year.
• Dr. Emily Abbey has in press her latest edited books, the third and fourth since her arrival at Ramapo, The Poetics of Everyday Life and Cultural Psychology of Transgenerational Family Relations: Investigating Ambivalences. In addition to these books, Dr. Abbey has a commentary in the refereed journal Culture & Psychology.
• Ramapo will host the Tri-State Ed. Leaders Superintendent Summit on February 26. Senator Cory Booker and NJ Commissioner of Education David Hespe will be on campus along with nearly 800 superintendents from NJ, NY, and CT.
• Several Sociology students have been accepted to present their research at the American Sociological Association national conference in March in Seattle, WA.
• Dr. Maya Poran and Dr. Leah Warner will accompany some of our Psychology students who will present their own research at the Association for Women in Psychology Conference in March in Pittsburgh, PA.
• Dr. Eva Ogens, using a model and simulations to understand how antibiotics work, will be published in The American Biology Teacher, Spreading Disease-It’s Contagious!.
• The MSW students and faculty will be traveling to Ghana in May to work on issues related to global public health at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

School of Theoretical and Applied Science
TAS is pleased to share the following achievements:
• Professor Sara Carberry reports that the American Chemistry Society’s Ramapo student group received an honorable mention for their chapter and also won the national chemistry week demonstration contest at the Liberty Science Center in the fall. They’ve earned first place in 4 out of the past 5 years. Chapter members will represent Ramapo at the national ACS meeting this spring in San Diego.
• Dean Eddie Saiff was recently elected chair of the board of directors of the New York- New Jersey Trail Conference.
• Again, congratulations to TAS Professor Benjamin Fine on his appointment as the College’s NCAA Faculty Representative.

More News from TAS

Institutional Advancement
Capital Campaign. On December 4, the Board of Trustees and Board of Governors officially celebrated the success of the College’s $56.1 million Further Our Promise Comprehensive Capital Campaign. More than any dollar amount raised, the lasting impact for our students and faculty is what speaks of the real success of the campaign. I thank the more than 13,500 donors who supported this effort. Our faculty and staff participation was tremendous.
Major Gifts. Recent major gifts that have been received include a $250,000 endowment to support our Honors Program from Robert and Ann Hiden. An additional science lab was supported with a gift of $75,000 from the Birch Foundation. We received a most generous commitment ($50,000) from our own Dr. Eddie Saiff and his wife, Robby, for the Dean’s Suite in the recently renovated G building. Alumna Marilyn Clark increased her endowed scholarship fund by $50,000 and alumna Carol Schaffer just provided an additional $25,000 for her annual scholarships. The Foundation expects to provide a record number of student scholarships this year, estimated at $580,000 – which is 14% higher than last year.
Endowment. The Foundation Endowment balance increased to more than $16 million. In Fiscal 2015, we had 16 new endowments created, including four established by College members bringing in more than $600,000 in permanent funds and $780,000 in pledges.
Grants & Sponsored Programs. The Office of Grants & Sponsored Programs has worked with the campus community to secure 11 awards totaling $2.1 million. Some of those funded projects since my last State of the College include support for STEM programming:
• Grants of $500,000 from the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority for the Meadowlands Environment Center (MEC);
• A $153,000 grant from the Little Ferry Board of Education;
• A $68,000 grant from the Wayne Board of Education; and
• A $7,000 grant from the Murray Charitable Trust for MEC programming.
Together, funding for these projects totals $728,000.

Question & Answer


President's Post #91: Welcome and Welcome Back

Dear Students and Colleagues:

Welcome (and welcome back) to campus.

Institutions of higher education have changed dramatically since their origins as training grounds for the clergy or the children of the bourgeoisie. Yet, despite the magnitude of those changes over time, higher education has managed to hold fast to many of its storied traditions. This commitment is known as commensalism, a word originally used to describe the practice of dining together but whose broader modern definition denotes, “the means by which a sense of community and long-term institutional loyalty is created.” It reflects our determination that academic training must be completed by providing students with broader social experiences. These social experiences often become significantly represented in institutional traditions.

Last week we welcomed 300 new students to Ramapo. Despite the bitter cold, the students, faculty, and staff rallied together and processed under the Arch in keeping with Ramapo tradition. Pursuant to another Ramapo College tradition, I will deliver my State of the College Address on January 27 at 1 p.m. in Friends Hall (SC 219). Please join me to hear about the many wonderful continuing achievements as well as the challenges ahead. Opportunities to come together over the next few weeks include:
• An information session on January 27 at 3 p.m. in SC157 regarding the revised Sexual Misconduct Policy Governing Students.
• The kickoff of African Ancestry Month on February 1 at 12:30 p.m. in Trustees Pavilion (space is limited.)
• The national tour of the 35th Annual Black Maria Film and Video Festival will come to campus on February 12 at 8 p.m. in the Sharp Theater.
• The Diversity Action Committee’s Diversity Convocation on February 24 at 3:30 p.m. in the Auxiliary Gym featuring Dr. Marc Lamont Hill.
• The President’s Advisory Council on February 26 at 11:30 a.m. in Trustees Pavilion.

Again, welcome to a new semester at Ramapo College.

Peter P. Mercer
President


President's Post #90: A Season for Inclusion

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

At this time of year when exams, essays and holiday events compete for our attention among the regular demands of everyday life, we are all conscious of the need to take a half step backwards and reflect on the closing of another year. It is my hope that, as members of Ramapo College, we share a unique sense of community that follows from Ramapo’s particular values and traditions that emphasize inclusion and mutual respect for one another’s differences.

Recent terrorist incidents threaten to abrade that fundamental communitarian element in ways that we must all resist. It is important, as we enter the holiday season, to reinforce our commitment to inclusion by reaching out to peers who may be feeling lonely or even alienated. Our Muslim colleagues, in particular, need to hear that they are valued just as all of us recognize that same need within ourselves. Now is the time to stand up and actively affirm the principles and beliefs that unite us.

I am proud to serve as your President and I thank you for your efforts in support of the College while wishing you the most tranquil and restorative of holidays.

Sincerely,

Peter P. Mercer
President


President's Post #89: Ramapo: Advance Progress Report

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends,

The College issued Ramapo: Advance in August 2015. I am pleased to provide you with a report of the progress made during the past four months. As you may recall, Ramapo: Advance is a plan to advance campus safety at the College. Further, it represents our promise to take substantive action to improve how we educate our students about the resources available to them, and enhance the steps we take to reduce the occurrence of sexual misconduct on our campus, as well as to ensure cases are fairly adjudicated.

Our purpose in publishing Ramapo: Advance was to publicly share our plan for integrating and activating campus safety recommendations contained in two separate reports produced by external experts (Anne Milgram, Esq. and D. Stafford & Associates). We have made substantive progress on all of the initiatives housed in the plan, and you can review that progress by clicking on Ramapo: Advance Progress Report.

Of special note within the Ramapo: Advance Progress Report, I ask that you turn your attention to the compliance and structural initiatives related to Title IX. First and foremost, as I wrote in September, Kat McGee has assumed the position of Director of Affirmative Action and Workplace Compliance. Her first objective was to follow up on the recommendations related to identifying and training Title IX investigators. We are identifying a pool of investigators to conduct Title IX investigations. These compensated positions are available to current faculty and staff.

The application to serve as a Title IX Investigator is available by visiting http://www.ramapojobs.com/postings/975. If you have not already considered taking advantage of this opportunity, I encourage you to do so for it is truly emblematic of the College’s mission to promote inclusiveness, engagement, and community involvement. Comprehensive training will be provided on campus to selected investigators January 11-13, 2016. More information may be obtained by contacting Kat McGee, Director of Affirmative Action and Workplace Compliance/Title IX Coordinator at kmcgee@ramapo.edu.

In addition, as we begin to move beyond the compliance recommendations contained within Ramapo: Advance, this spring semester we will share Phase II of the Stafford Report. Phase II’s focus is largely on programming and content development. Phase II will continue to require thoughtful collaboration across campus and we look forward to engaging with many of you on its recommendations in the spring for implementation in fall 2016.

Ramapo: Advance, while comprehensive, does not paint the full picture of our collective efforts to provide a safer campus. It is heartening for me to share with you some of those other meaningful efforts here:
• The Student Government Association and Black Student Union have collaborated on public efforts to promote a safe campus.
• The Public Safety Department launched community outreach initiatives aimed at fostering community and trust-based relationships including its newsletter as well as its blue light program.
• Many of our faculty, staff, and students have worked together to expand Ramapo’s It’s On Us campaign through peer networks and special events like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.
• The Title IX Committee, comprised of students, faculty, and staff, continue to meet monthly with a focus on thwarting a campus culture of violence. The Committee has focused on community education. It published a Sexual Violence Resource Packet (currently available in the Public Safety Department) and it identified a new training model for College employees for release this spring. The Committee has also researched survey options to assess the prevalence of interpersonal violence and further identify strategies to prevent violence and support survivors.

Thank you all for your attention and contributions toward a safer campus of which we can all be proud.

Peter P. Mercer
President