Skip to main content

President's Post #100: State of the College Address, September 2016

Hello and Welcome.

I will begin today by discussing the email many of you received on September 7.

The Grant Thornton report has informed, in part, the Administration’s interest in some local negotiations – and this represents a learning process for all parties. To do so, both the union leadership and administration must demonstrate good faith and confidence in discussions and arriving at a solution to these problems.

Local negotiations are focused on reallocating our resources for strategic purposes to deliver services when the students are here to receive them. Deploying largely the same amount of staff when the campus has 6,000 students and when it has 1,000 students begs review.

Allow me to clarify as well some points that I understand have percolated through some of the campus. I understand that it is rumored that I have refused to meet with union leaders. That is incorrect. I have advised the union leaders that I am legally prohibited from meeting with them if the discussion to be had is about the substance of the collective bargaining that is now going on. I have no choice but to say that doing so is not within my purview.

Respect and collegiality are essential to productive negotiations. The President, trustees, and other senior administrators, again, are not permitted to enter into discussions and agreements with bargaining unit leadership. Martha Ecker, Doreen Janes, and John Thompson or their designees work with designated staff on local negotiations, largely David Vernon, Jill Brown, and Nicole Morgan Agard.

Further, the administration is legally bound by the state agreements with the AFT, CWA, and IFPTE. We cannot give-up administrative purview nor assume decision making authority over that which must be negotiated.

Generally, the College administration has managerial prerogative to administer the operations of the College and the College can exercise its managerial prerogative as long as there is not a change in the terms and conditions for a member of a labor union.  If so, any negotiable aspect would be subject to negotiation.

On the subject of position conversion, it is the College’s position that the decision to convert certain 12 month positions to 10 month positions for AFT and CWA is managerial prerogative and not subject to negotiation.  However, there may be certain procedural aspects and impact from the conversion that may be negotiable aspects of this potential transition.

The parties will schedule mutually agreeable times to meet and negotiate until there is an agreement as to any negotiable aspects of the matter or until impasse. At the time impasse is declared, the College would be free to implement the conversion without any further negotiation. There is no set time or number of negotiation sessions required to declare impasse nor is there a finite number of positions which the administration is seeking to convert.

I am pleased that the IFPTE contract was ratified, and Human Resources, along with payroll are working on the adjustments in employees pay to comply with the new contract.

Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Compliance

Nicole Morgan-Agard will continue to report to the Provost in her capacity as Director of Employee Relations, however in a few short weeks, she will also step into the role of Chief Equity and Diversity Officer.

Over the past 12-18 months, issues of diversity, privilege, and inclusion have become more prominent on college campuses and elsewhere. In recent months, the College has hosted forums on these subjects and delivered trainings. We have learned through those mediums as well as our formal data sources that while the College’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is promoted as “campus-wide” it is most prevalent where the environment is welcoming, dedicated to social justice, respectful of freedom of expression, and focused on educating and having an ongoing conversation regarding cultural competence and the benefits and importance of diversity. I am grateful for the input I have received from students, faculty, staff, and the DAC leadership on this issue.

Nicole and her team will work closely with DAC, Equity and Diversity programming and the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to formulate and establish a shared understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion as key elements of the Ramapo College mission.

I look forward to also having her join the Cabinet in this regard.

In addition, the Offices of Affirmative Action and Workplace Compliance, Employee Relations, and Human Resources are collecting data to establish an Affirmative Action Plan which will help inform our goals for actively recruiting, hiring and promoting women, minorities, disabled individuals and veterans.

Speaking of veterans, Professor Jeremy Teigen’s research on military/veteran voting and Donald Trump has been featured this presidential election cycle in the Washington Post,, and the Washington Examiner.

Getting back to the Affirmative Action Plan, it is slated for completion later this fall, and will include numerical measures with the intent of addressing the employment of underrepresented and historically marginalized groups across all areas of the College.

On the student side, most notably, this year’s incoming class is the most diverse in Ramapo’s history with 35% of incoming students self-identifying as non-white.  To put that in perspective, in 2009, only 21% self-identified as non-white.

Tamika Quick, Assistant Director for Equity and Diversity Programming, has led two initiatives for providing mentoring support to students of color: Sister Connections and Brothers Connecting. Students of color will be matched with Faculty and Staff of Color to foster an environment where students of color can create community, recognize differences, and celebrate diversity. Also, this year, the EOF program will debut a new peer mentoring program, where all first year students will have a mentor who is an upperclassman.

Our alumni are also establishing themselves nationally on this issue. 2016 Journalism program graduate, Vanna Garcia, was among five individuals interviewed for an article in the May 20, 2016 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, titled “Forum: What Does a Genuine Commitment to Diversity Look Like?” Alongside two professors, a College President, a University VP of Diversity, and a Senior Fellow at a progressive think tank, Vanna provided commentary on the title question.  Vanna, a self-described queer woman of color and first-generation college student was a vocal proponent of diversity and inclusion while at Ramapo and is now currently enrolled in the master’s program in social justice education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Dr. Tal Yonai, Associate Director of Counseling Services, brought training to campus to educate individuals on how to be more aware of critical mental health behaviors in others. As of today, the College has 138 Resident Assistants and Peer Facilitators who have completed the training. The general population of students, staff, and faculty will be invited to partake in the training over the course of the fall semester. This training moves us toward our designation as a Stigma Free campus. On September 28 at noon at the Arch, Governor Richard Codey will be on campus to declare Ramapo College a Stigma Free Campus. Following the Governor’s presentation, the College will present In Their Shoes, a display of 233 pairs of shoes, representing the New Jersey youth who lost their lives by suicide in 2010-2012.

With a new school year underway, many are wondering what colleges are doing to prevent sexual assault.  As an aside: 2014 Theater program alumna Lexi Lapp appeared in a featured role in the Off-Broadway play Stet over the summer.  The play was based on the 2014 Rolling Stone article about a college student’s accusations of a violent gang rape, and the subsequent discrediting of the article.   The production received an extensive review in the New York Times, with a photograph featuring Ms. Lapp.

I’m proud of our efforts at Ramapo College to educate our students and support survivors. It has now been one year since Ramapo Advance was implemented and we continue to bring forward initiatives for the safety of our students and the entire campus.

We have moved to conducting sexual misconduct investigations via a pool of highly trained faculty and staff. This summer Ramapo hosted the Association of Title IX Administrators regional investigator training conference attended by 130 Title IX professionals including new Ramapo Investigators.

Haven: Understanding Sexual Assault Training was implemented for all faculty and staff with face to face and online training options. Over 90 RA’s and the Residence Life professional staff attended training on the protocol for sexual assault response and community education. This semester our 1500+ new students will be required to participate in the following 4 programs:

1) First, students completed the “Haven – Understanding Sexual Assault” online training prior to arrival on campus.

2) On September 5th new students attended SCREAM Theater (Students Challenging Realities and Educating Against Myths), a peer theater program modeling bystander intervention.

3) Next week students will participate in a 1-hour workshop on Affirmative Consent (entitled “Zero Shades of Grey”) presented by healingSPACE community educators.

4) All First Year Seminar Peer Facilitators will lead an “It’s on Us” discussion focused on scenario-based skill building. Peers will also introduce the It’s On Us campus climate survey rolling out this semester.

When I addressed this topic at the January State of the College Address, I mentioned that nearly 100 colleges and universities were under investigation by the Office of Civil Rights for their handling of sexual misconduct cases. There are now 270 active investigations. I am intent that we not join that number,

In light of this and the well-being of our students, Ramapo continues to strengthen our relationship with the healingSPACE Sexual Violence Resource Center. I thank their community educators and leaders and congratulate them on the launch of the healingSPACE mobile application, New Jersey’s first and only mobile app to connect users directly to a New Jersey-based sexual violence resource center.

We should not look to the administration as a focal point for these issues of diversity, equity, safety, and inclusion. There is a responsibility for all members of the campus to engage in and demonstrate the values we hold dear.

Values & President’s Advisory Council

What are our values? The President’s Advisory Council was established two years ago as a forum for perspectives to be shared on issues of common interest, a sounding board on matters in development, and a vehicle to provide recommendations and advice to me. I am optimistic that at its public meeting on September 23, the PAC will recommend to me a formal values statement that has been under development by the Council since November of 2014.

Some might dismiss the adoption of a values statement as simply a symbolic gesture but I don’t think it is. A vlues statement should be a point of pride and identity for the campus—and I cannot think of a better time in our history than now to extol our values and to demonstrate them in meaningful and compassionate ways.

While the values statement will have several elements- I anticipate that, at its core, it will champion the concept of mutual respect for others through the demonstrated practices of collegiality, civility, and tolerance.

Many, if not most of us already embody these values, here are a few examples of how our actions contribute to an environment of mutual respect and a greater awareness of the world:

    • The Strategic Plan for Comprehensive Internationalization is now in its 2nd year of implementation, and has set the framework for an intentional approach to Ramapo’s academic, co-curricular and community initiatives.
      • This is the year of Sub-Saharan Africa and an Opening Celebration will be held on Wed, Sept. 21 at 6pm in Friends Hall.
      • Also as part of the internationalization plan and the Strategic Plan, the College’s academic programs will be looking to further internationalize by incorporating “meaningful international experiences.”
      • The Roukema Center is launching new programs this academic year that will bring students to Portugal, Cuba, India, Denmark and Jerusalem.
      • Last year, the Roukema Center distributed $90,900 in scholarship funds to students participating in international programs. Additionally, the Center has managed to leverage an additional $50,000 through their partnerships directly to our students.
    • It also gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of the Ramapo College Travel Abroad program for faculty, staff, alumni, and others.  The Alumni Association in partnership with Learning Journeys, a division of Perillo Tours, will offer insightful customized tours led by Ramapo professors in the spring and summer 2017 to world-wide destinations. Professor Yolanda del Amo will take you to Spain, Professor Donald Fucci to Ireland, Professor Erick Castellanos to Italy, and Professor Ira Spar to Israel.
    • Six students were “Meritorious Winners” at the ‘Interdisciplinary Contest in Math Modeling’. All of the students were new to the contest and have majors that span 4 of the 5 schools. One team of students developed a model to select which schools would be the best investment of grant money and another developed a model for an international refugee distribution policy.
    • Professor Gladys Torres-Baumgarten ran a new Study Abroad Course, “International Business Program in Peru,” for which ten students traveled to that country and learned about the interaction of business, society, and culture in Peru.
    • Professor Rikki Abzug and Dean Ed Petkus received a grant to study the sustainability of the eco-tourism industry in Costa Rica.
    • Professor Iraida Lopez has been elected co-chair of the Scholarly Relations with Cuba Task Force of the Latin American Studies Association.
    • In February, Professor Pinar Kayaalp presented a paper titled “Learning Islamic Fashion: Veiling Tutorials on Youtube” at the 10th International Conference on Teaching, Education and Learning in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
    • Professor of Law & Society Dr. Jillian Weiss was appointed the Executive Director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund.
    • The NCAA has recognized us with two grants this year.  Through a partnership between Athletics and HR, we received the Division III Ethnic Minority and Women’s Internship Grant which is “designed to provide financial assistance to Division III conferences and member institutions committed to enhancing ethnicity minority and gender representation in intercollegiate athletics in entry-level administrative positions”.  Mr. Hendro Yauw joined us this fall to begin his internship with us a Sports Performance Coordinator.
    • In July, students, staff, and faculty attended the Campus Pride Organization’s Camp Pride. Campus Pride is an organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students.  Attendees learned effective strategies for grassroots coalition building and social justice initiatives on a college campus, as well as professional development around human rights and civil rights advocacy.  The attendees will be using their experiences at the academy to help enhance the College’s Safer Zones training curriculum.
    • Late in the spring semester, Professor Lisa Lutter directed a joint concert between the Ramapo Chorale and the Ridgewood High School Choir of Tyler’s Suite, a collection of original choral music written by well-known composers to honor the memory of Tyler Clementi. I was privileged to attend the event which raised a substantial amount of money to benefit the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which was established to raise awareness of and to promote intolerance of bullying.
    • Professor Cathy Moran Hajo was awarded two grants this summer in support of the Jane Addams Papers Project—a grant of $108,620 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and a two-year grant of $200,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
    • This past spring, two seniors in SSHGS presented papers at the Eastern American Studies Association conference. David Ward presented “Disease Dialogues: How Medical Language Impacted the Lavender Scare” and Francesca Simone presented “AIM [American Indian Movement]: As Portrayed by the Media”.
    • Professor Paramjeet Bagga presented his research with Scott Frees on human genomics at an international conference in Kyoto, Japan this summer. The presentation had three student co-authors, all graduating bioinformatics majors.
    • Professor Marc Gidal’s book, Spirit Song:  Afro-Brazilian Religious Music and Boundaries, was published recently by Oxford University Press.
    • Professor Rena Bacon recently attended the Northeast Association of Advisers for Health Professions meeting and the Regional Conference  where she participated in  meetings and workshops on Study Abroad programs, Increasing Diversity in Health Professions, and the Holistic Review Process.
    • The Upward Bound Math/Science Program celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.  Over 100 Upward Bound students and alumni and founder Dr. Carol Frishberg, came together this summer to celebrate the program’s success. Many Upward Bound students go on to graduate from Ramapo College and we have served more than 500 students from Paterson and Newark public schools through the program.
    • In April, the Civic and Community Engagement Center partnered with the Department of Athletics, Intramurals, and Recreation to host the Special Olympics on campus.  The event was a Special Olympics Track and Field competition and included 30 Special Olympics Athletes from Northern, NJ.
    • As part of its Community Outreach program, Public Safety is now offering 24 hour free coffee and popcorn in Public Safety Office for students. The Public Safety Newsletter continues to be one of the most opened documents on campus. It has now grown and is being used by College departments to get messages out to campus, provides links to apps and resources of all types. And the Public Safety department, Mahwah PD, and the Black Student Union, at its request, are collaborating to host a meet and greet this fall.

The College is pursuing the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement. The Classification is a point of pride. We would be one of a handful of NJ four-year colleges that have attained the designation and would help Institutional Advancement and community partners work with us to identify potential new funding sources related to Community Engagement.

The prestigious classification is elective, it involves evidence-based documentation of institutional practice. In order to foster widespread campus participation, one faculty member from each school, representatives from the student body, and Enrollment Management and Student Affairs will constitute Task Force membership. Dean Aaron Lorenz and Dr. Rick Brown will co-chair the Task Force.

We have much to brag about to Carnegie:

  • Five teams of second-year MBA students were assigned to area businesses for a ten-week consulting assignment as part of their Capstone Course; the teams completed consulting projects and worked with several corporate and community partners including BMW, Nickelodeon, Stryker, Valley Medical Group and the Wyckoff YMCA.
  • On September 28 the College will host its first day of mindfulness. It will include visiting monks from the Blue Cliff Retreat Center, a labyrinth, and workshops on mindful art and eating.
  • In June, Big Brothers Big Sisters recognized Ramapo College’s Civic and Community Engagement Center with its Community Partner Award at its Annual Gala.
  • The College received $680,496 from the Paterson Board of Education for Assistant Vice President Cristini’s “Paterson Ambassadors for Success in Science” program
  • The NCAA also awarded us its Choices Grant. “The NCAA CHOICES program provides funding for NCAA member institutions and conferences to integrate athletics into campus-wide efforts to reduce alcohol abuse.”  This Grant was worked on through a collaboration between Athletics, the Center for Health and Counseling and faculty members, specifically, Professor Stephanie Sarabia from the Alcohol and Other Drug Task Force.
  • This marks the 7th year of the Leaders in Service Program at Ramapo. Students completed service hours with four community partners. House on a Hill, provides services to children of migrant farm workers and other agricultural workers; The Dellridge Health and Rehabilitation Center; The New York/New Jersey Trail Conference; and the Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization where our students engaged in hands-on environmental activities to promote sustainability.

Class of 2020

This year, we have enrolled 949 First Year Students, the second largest incoming class in Ramapo’s history. We also welcome a talented group of 84 incoming EOF Scholars and 29 students from 11 countries. Ramapo once again surpassed its previous year application total and received 7173 applications for the class, 1% more than last year’s total.

Graduate Admissions concluded an equally successful recruitment year.  We received 484 applications for our graduate programs and finished at 130% of our new graduate student enrollment target.

To put that in context, this fall we have 474 Graduate Students enrolled at Ramapo College. In 2010, we had 212 graduate students at Ramapo College.  In the 6 years since identifying this as a key enrollment strategy, we have grown graduate enrollment 123%!

  • The Educause iPASS grant, funded through the Gates Foundation and Helmsley Charitable Trust continues to provide operating support for the many initiatives being pursued with the goal of increasing student success. Specifically, we will begin, this fall, with having an advisor  2 days per week at Bergen Community College and 1 day per week at the County College of Morris to facilitate a more seamless transfer experience for students coming from our two largest feeder community colleges.
  • Excited to share that the Peer Facilitator Training Program is in full effect. This year, we are excited to report that there are 2 peer facilitators in every First Year Seminar course where one Peer is a returning upperclass Peer from last year and one new peer.
  • Over the last week and half, we have probably seen the greatest participation in Welcome Week activities from our new students (first year and transfers), particularly for the designated ARCH events which include events like  Arching, Convocation, SCREAM Theatre, Choices and Consequences, School Welcome Receptions with the Deans and Faculty and the Student Involvement and Global Opportunities Fair.

Facilities/Capital Projects

An update on facilities needs to start with the announcement of Michael Cunningham as Director of Facilities. Mike joined Ramapo in 2003 as a Senior Repairer/Mechanical Equipment Specialist, and has continued to grow into roles with more expanse and responsibility, including Chief Operating Engineer and Associate Director of Facilities.

In addition, the facilities group has been working tirelessly, completing almost 6,000 work orders – in the residence halls alone – between check out in May and Labor Day.

Ramapo College has received for the 14th consecutive year the Governor’s Occupational  Safety and Health Award.  Our excellent safety record with a below average OSHA incident rate qualified us for this award.

Library and Learning Commons

Significant support has been secured through the Higher Education Capital Financing Grant Program for Ramapo College.  $15 million has been allocated for the complete renovation of the Potter Library and for the addition of a new Learning Commons. The project will increase group study and meeting rooms, gathering and study spaces, Library collections and stacks space, as well as classroom/multipurpose space.

This new campaign follows a year of increased giving at all levels: unrestricted revenue is up 18% over the prior year, capital gifts are up 77%, on-line giving has increased 29%,  fund raising events revenues increased by 43%, and senior legacy giving increased by 45% – a congratulations to the Class of 2016. They also successfully ran the “Run with Color” which saw significant increases in donations and participation. Student scholarships and keeping Ramapo affordable is always a priority for the College. I am pleased to share that 407 named scholarships and awards were given out in the last academic year. Scholarship awards grew by 17%. The corpus of our endowment continues to grow and goals established under the Strategic Plan are being met.

I thank the many faculty and staff who have submitted grant applications for new initiatives, research and special projects at the College. Over $3 million was secured last year through 22 grants.

Padovano Commons

Mobilization for the Padovano Commons began this week, and we are currently planning a Spring opening for this renovation.

Student Center Dining

The Birch Tree Inn renovations in the Student Center are expected to be completed this semester, providing an updated look for our in-house dining experience.

Solar Array

Despite scheduling delays, the installation of the solar array, located on the roofs of buildings, in the parking lot, and on the berm alongside of route 202 is expected to begin this Fall.


Parking is always a topic Presidents discuss at their peril. You will recall why we eliminated first year parking. We didn’t eliminate it, I eliminated it in the misplaced view that doing so would lead to some sort of enrichment in campus life. In fact, all it did was yield the most imaginative reasons, by way of appeal, that students needed cars. So, this is the first year in at least four that first year students are permitted to park on campus and so there are more students competing for parking spots than there were in the past.  However, the delays of the removal of the temporary trailers near Mackin/Bischoff have impacted the number of spaces available. We are aiming to have the trailers removed by October 1st and appreciate everyone’s patience in the interim.


The Ramapo Green web site has up to date information on these and other sustainability endeavors:

    • Professor Michael Edelstein recently represented the College at a workshop on environmental victimization organized by the International Association of Impact Assessment for the World Bank.
    • Professor Daniela Buna started her sabbatical at the naval postgraduate school. She is   working on thermoelectric generator modeling and a microwave detection materials project.
    • Professor Ben Neill has been awarded a very competitive grant from New Music USA to develop Fathom, a series of music/video pieces, with his collaborator Mimi Goese.  Fathom is based on real-time environmental data taken from the Hudson River.  With support from the Ramapo Faculty-Student Research initiative, Professor Neill has engaged two music students to work on the project.
    • Professor Karl Johnson participated in a joint conference of the American Anthropological Association and African Studies Association held in Senegal. The workshop was titled “Innovation, Transformation and Sustainable Futures in Africa.”
    • One of Professor Sarah Carberry’s research students presented at the Green Chemistry Conference in Oregon.
    • The Electrical Shop has installed new energy efficient LED lighting throughout the auxiliary gym.
    • Hydration stations were installed in every suite style or room style residence hall building.
    • Several offices are transitioning to paperless operations and workflows. The Board of Trustees, the Cabinet, my office, Dean’s Council, Prospect Research, and Admissions have largely moved in this direction. Human Resources is also working to convert the manual, paper-based staffing requisition process to an automated workflow.
    • Composting on campus has been expanded to reach the residents of the Village and, as a pilot program, the residents of Redwood CPA.
    • A Town Hall on Campus Sustainability is being held at 2 PM in the Alumni Lounges today.

Alumni Achievements

  • Recent Psychology graduate Christopher Warren recently learned of his acceptance to Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School. Chris has credited Dr. Gordon Bear and the student-faculty research he did while at Ramapo as integral to his 97th percentile scores on the MCAT exam.
  • After working with Professors Christian Reich, Joseph Cataliotti, and Naseem Choudhury, recent graduate Aliana Acciardi is about to embark on her PhD in neuroscience.
  • Recent Law & Society graduate James Ticchio just began his first year at Georgetown School of Law on nearly a full ride.
  • The Engineering Physics class of 2016 was a very strong graduating class. Eight students had one or more summer internships at NJIT, University of Texas, Celgene, etc. and all eight received offers for one more summer internship, graduate studies fellowships and full time employment.
  • 2006 Theater program alumna Jen Ponton has the featured role in the independent film, Love on the Run, which was released at the end of August. Jen has had roles on the television shows Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; 30 Rock; Orange is the New Black; Law and Order, Special Victims Unit; Blue Bloods; The Good Wife; and Boardwalk Empire.
  • 2016 Theater program graduate Lawrence (L.J.) Hickmon recently completed a three-week all expenses paid internship/residency at the Shaw Festival in Ontario, which resulted from his winning the National Partners of the American Theatere Classical Acting Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival last spring.
  • 2016 Journalism program graduate Emily Sakowski is currently employed as an Associate Producer at News 12 New Jersey, and writes stories for broadcast.

Faculty/Staff Achievements

  • Andrea Sappelton, Assistant Director in Purchasing, authored an article which was published in the Summer 2016 issue of the National Association of Educational Procurement Journal.
  • Thanks to Dr. Kathy Burke, the College was granted $15,000 from the TD Bank Foundation for Nursing tutors.
  • Professors Julie Norflus-Good, & Anne DeGroot were recently published in the Association of Mathematics Teachers of New Jersey.
  • Professor John McTighe was recently published in Critical Thinking in Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis.
  • Professor Yvette Kisor recently co-authored and Palgrave published Beowulf Unlocked: New Evidence from Lexomic Analysis.
  • Professor Eva Ogens was recently published in The American Biology Teacher.
  • Professor Todd Barnes’ work on Shakespeare was published by Public Books, he lectured on the subject at the Shakespeare Garden at the invitation of the Central Park Conservancy, and he presented his research on Julius Cesar at the London Conference in Critical Thought. His research will be published next month in Julius Caesar: A Critical Reader, edited by Andrew J. Hartley, an Arden Shakespeare Early Modern Drama Guide.
  • Professor Henri Lustiger Thaler edited Witnessing Unbound: Holocaust Representation and the Origins of Memory, forthcoming from Wayne State University Press.
  • The National Science Foundation recommended Professor Catalin Martin’s major research instrumentation grant for funding. The grant has Professor Robert Mentore as co-PI and is for $150k to purchase an infrared spectrometer with optical cryostat.
  • Professor Joost Monen has been published recently through the American Physiological Society Workshop: Institute on Teaching and Learning, and the Experimental Biology International Scientific Conference.
  • Three TAS students, under the tutelage of Professors Seung-sup Kim, Sarah Carberry, and Loraine Tan presented posters at the American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in Philadelphia. Professor Carberry and members of the Chem/BioChemistry club also presented at two conferences of the American Chemical Society (ACS). The Ramapo College ACS student chapter received “Honorable mention” for its chapter which was announced in Chemical and Engineering News. NOTE: The college is at an all-time high for registered clubs and organizations – with over 150 present at the Student Involvement Fair on September 7th.
  • Professor Diane Andronaco has been invited to present at the 2017 Annual American Nurses Association Conference.
  • Brittany Williams-Goldstein , Chief of Staff  and Board Liaison, has been invited to present her mixed methods research on the professional orientations of boards of trustees at the annual conference of the Association of Governing Boards.
  • Professor Stephen Anderson and three students were recently published in the Journal of Undergraduate Chemistry Research.
  • Professor Eric Karlin has an article in in press in the Journal of Bryology.
  • Professor Emeritus David Freund is under contract for a four-volume boxed set of books of his photographic work to be published by Steidl, which is one of the world’s foremost publishers of art books.
  • The Visual Arts Faculty Exhibition, which is mounted every four years, will open later today in the Berrie Center Art Galleries, with a reception beginning at 5:00 p.m. and artists’ talks beginning at 6:00 p.m.  The show will run through October 14.
  • Professor Lisa Williams published a poem titled “Clouds,” in the June 2016 online journal, Quill and Parchment. Only in academic would an online journal be titled
  • The Budget Office will be implementing transaction level detail from Banner into Adaptive so that users will have more detailed information in their accounts to be able to better manage their funds.  In addition, because of all of the hard work on the Adaptive system, Beth Walkley, Director of Budget and Fiscal Planning, was invited to give a webcast presentation to the newly formed Adaptive Insights Higher Education User Group.  It should be noted that as a result of our Budget group reaching out and searching for best practices, Ramapo was the only College that presented at this first meeting.

Question & Answer


President's Post #99: Library/Learning Center Task Force

Dear Student, Colleagues and Friends,

On June 29, I shared with you that Ramapo College was recommended by Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks for $15 million from the Higher Education Capital Financing Grant Program which will provide significant support for the proposed Potter Library renovations and Learning Center.

I am pleased to advise at this time that I have appointed a Library/Learning Center Task Force. The Task Force will routinely engage with design professionals and others to inform and shape the form, function, and aesthetic of presented plans and designs.

The Task Force includes:

  • Roark Atkinson, Assistant Professor, Salameno School of Humanities and Global Studies
  • Cathy Davey, Vice President, Institutional Advancement & Executive Director of the Foundation
  • Erin McKenna, President, Student Government Association
  • Steven Perry, Dean of the School of Contemporary Arts
  • Stephanie Scheeler, Event Planner in the Office of the President
  • Elizabeth Siecke, Dean of the George T. Potter Library
  • Susan Vallario, Member, Board of Trustees
  • Melissa Van Der Wall, Dean of Students
  • Faculty Member-at-Large (to be identified by the Faculty Assembly) 9/16/16 UPDATE: Leigh Keller, Associate Professor & Librarian
  • Representatives of Ramapo’s Capital Planning Team

I look forward to updating you on this project over the coming year.

Peter P. Mercer







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:



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

Dear Students and Colleagues,



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'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 ( – 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'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'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.

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 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