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President's Post #133: The Comforts of #HomeSweetPo

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

Welcome to Academic Year 2018-19 at Ramapo College.

The Class of 2022 is the second largest in our history: 38% self-identify as students of color, they represent nine different states, all 21 New Jersey counties, and seven foreign countries. From their thoughtful engagement in Opening Convocation to their robust participation in the Student Involvement Fair last week, I am already impressed by their school spirit and intellectual enthusiasm.

2018-19 also marks the year of Asia and the Pacific at our College. Asia accounts for 40 percent of the global economy and by 2020 it is expected to deliver nearly two-thirds of global growth. A series of programs related to this part of the world are planned and your participation in them is strongly encouraged. It is interesting for us all to learn more about the intersections between Asian, Pacific and  North American cultures. For example, while the most popular version of fried dough in the U.S. is the doughnut, did you know that fried dough is also a common treat in the East? Many people in South Asia and the Middle East enjoy saffron-soaked Jalebi, Yóutiáo or Yàuhjagwái is a sweet cruller in China, Balushahi is a flaky pastry served in India, Iran boasts a Bamiyeh fritter and, in Nepal, Sel Roti’s crispy texture is a crowd pleaser—to name a few.

Speaking of crowd pleasers, our College continues to be very well-regarded by external agencies and organizations as a high quality institution that prepares its graduates for success. However, the most important external assessment of our institution, apart from our alumni achievements, is conducted by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education which accredits our College and nearly 600 others. Our next self-study is due to Middle States in 2019-2020 and I don’t want to glaze over the fact that 50+ students, faculty, and staff are actively engaged in that significant effort.

Finally, I want to share how much I enjoyed meeting so many of you at the recent pop-up doughnut event my office hosted in front of Birch Mansion. The sugary treats were a delightful surprise for everyone after coping with the power outages. There is something to be said for the comfort that can come from the familiar, i.e. a hot cup of coffee, a fresh-baked cruller, and some warm conversation.  To this end, I hope you have all found Ramapo College to be a welcoming place thus far and that this fall’s addition of a Dunkin’ Donuts outlet in the Adler Center, along with the current availability of the Padovano Commons, enhances your comfort and sweetens your time with us.

Best wishes for a productive and rewarding semester.

Peter P. Mercer


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President's Post #132: Welcome to the 2018-19 Academic Year

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

The first week of the fall semester is brimful with opportunities to engage, inquire, and learn.

Please take a moment to review the schedule of welcome week activities available at

I look forward to seeing you at some of these events.

Peter P. Mercer

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Post #131: Welcome to Provost Becker

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

It is my hope that your summer thus far has been as enjoyable as it’s been productive.

Please join me on Thursday, July 12 at the Padovano Commons from 2:30–4:00 p.m. for a light reception welcoming Dr. Stefan Becker to our campus. Dr. Becker joined Ramapo College as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs on July 2.

Dr. Becker’s bio is available at

Peter P. Mercer

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President's Post #130: Staff Award Winners

Dear Friends,

This year the President’s Staff Recognition Program celebrated its tenth anniversary! Thank you to everyone who nominated a colleague.

I look forward to formally recognizing the 2018 Award Winners with the Board of Trustees this summer.


This Award is presented to individuals that provided exemplary service by fostering cooperation, collaboration and open communication among college constituents.

  • Tim Babasade, Director of Client Services, Information Technology Services
  • Brian Goldberg, Global Financial Lab Coordinator, Anisfield School of Business
  • Doug Lawrence, Assistant Supervisor of Building Repairs, Facilities Management


This Award is presented to individuals for assuming a leadership role and successfully effecting positive change.

  • Cardacia Davis, MSW/BSW Field Education Coordinator, School of Social Science and Human Services
  • Chuck McBreen, Assistant Athletics Director & Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Athletics and Intramural Recreation
  • Jill Pierson, Registrar Coordinator, Office of the Registrar


This award is presented to a group of employees who achieved a significant outcome or completed a significant project. It is further focused on recognizing collaboration across the College’s units/departments.

Roadrunner Collegiate Recovery Housing Team:

  • Claudia Esker, Assistant Director of Grants & Sponsored Programs, Institutional Advancement
  • Judith Green, Director, Center for Health & Counseling Services, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
  • Daniel Roche, Director of Capital Planning, Administration & Finance
  • Cory Rosenkranz, Psychological Counselor/Coordinator Substance Abuse/Violence Prevention, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
  • Lisa Gonsisko, Associate Director of Residence Life, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs

For more about the awards program, visit

Thank you and Congratulations!

Peter P. Mercer, President

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President's Post #129: Our Campus, Our Safety

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

On April 20, 2018, Ramapo College will host Our Campus, Our Safety at 11AM in Trustees Pavilion. All are welcome to attend.

Following a meeting on April 11 with the Faculty Assembly Executive Council, SGA President, AFT President, and my office, participants agreed to co-deliver a program focused on  providing information about safety and fostering a dialogue on the topic. The event will feature a panel discussion and opportunity for Question and Answer.

Our Campus, Our Safety coincides with the National Day of Action. Organized by students and  supported by various education groups, the day recognizes the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, where two students opened fire in 1999, killing 12 of their fellow students and a teacher.

Click here to review the program for Our Campus, Our Safety  and the presentation. Following the event, all are welcome to meet at the Arch at 12:30PM for a moment of silence to honor those who have lost their lives to gun violence.

Peter P. Mercer




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President's Post #128: Announcement of New Provost

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

On July 1, we will welcome Dr. Stefan Becker as Ramapo College’s next Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs. Dr. Becker brings to Ramapo a distinguished record in teaching, scholarship and administrative leadership as well as an unimpeachable enthusiasm for the mission, values, and pillars of our College. Dr. Becker’s abbreviated bio is available here. The Board of Trustees will take formal action on Dr. Becker’s appointment at its April 30 meeting.

I am pleased to join the Provost Search Committee and the Board of Trustees in extending thanks to those of you that made the time to meaningfully engage in the Provost Search process and candidate visits.

I look forward to working together in the weeks ahead to ensure that this transition in leadership advances thoughtfully and that Dr. Becker enjoys a warm welcome to our College.

Peter P. Mercer

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President's Post #127: Spring Communications Meetings

On April 2, my colleagues joined me to host Communications Meetings for staff, managers, and faculty. I reminded attendees that we are pleased to receive questions from people that are posed for response at these meetings, but the administration is also keen to receive suggested topics for discussion. Knowing more about what you want to know about advances all of us.

Topics formally discussed included the Staff Recognition Awards, Strategic Plan Extension Task Force, Update on the Search for the Provost/VP of Academic Affairs, Middle States Self-Study, and a Summary of the Governor’s Budget Address. A question/answer session followed. Summaries of these topics are noted below:

  • President’s Staff Recognition Awards (President Mercer)
  • Strategic Plan Extension Task Force (President Mercer)
    • Task Force Membership: Aaron Lorenz, Task Force Chair, Dean of the School of Social Science and Human Services; Anthony Dovi, Associate Director of Adult and Graduate Admissions; Donna Flynn, Assistant Professor of Nursing; Susan Gluchanicz, Foundation Budget Analyst; Melissa Horvath-Plyman , Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communications; Nick Lapiska, Student Government Association, Class of 2019; Erin McKenna, Student Government Association, Class of 2018; Nicole Morgan Agard, Chief Equity and Diversity Officer/Director of Employee Relations; Stephen Rice, Professor of American Studies; Nicholas Salter, Associate Professor of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Director of the Faculty Resource Center; Beth Walkley, Director of Budget and Fiscal Planning
    • Resource Personnel: Brittany A. Williams-Goldstein, Chief of Staff and Board Liaison; and Deyu Xu, Database Program Analyst
  • Update on Search for Provost/VP of Academic Affairs (President Mercer)
  • Middle States Self Study (Dr. Emily Williams, Vice Provost of Curriculum and Assessment)
  • Summary of Governor’s Budget Address (Kirsten DaSilva, Vice President of Administration and Finance)
  • Announcements
    • Student athlete achievements highlighted: Men’s Basketball Team Advanced to NCAA Final Four; 13 members of the Ramapo College field hockey team were honored by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association for their work in the classroom during the 2017 season;
      The Ramapo College baseball team played host to the Lightning of Lehman College today as they posted a 6-0 win behind a complete game pitching performance from Jon Brignoni (with the win, Ramapo advances to 12-6 overall); Senior Amber Edwards won the triple jump at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships with a mark of 12.52-meters (41′ 1.00″); and
      Senior Jeremy Hernandez won the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship in the mile and broke the NCAA Championship Meet record with a time of 4:05.95.
    • Remembrance Day Honorees include: Millicent G. Anisfield, Trustee & Benefactor; Eileen Buckley, Staff; Robert Daniell, Benefactor; Jonathan Demme, Benefactor; Thomas Joseph “TJ” Franzese, Jr., Student; Thomas J. Goss, Founding Faculty & Faculty Emeritus; John Gunzler, Benefactor; Seung-Sup Kim, Faculty; Elizabeth Knowles, Staff; John P. Lucchesi, Student; Colin F. MacDonnell, III, Staff; David Maltman, Jr., Faculty; Geraldine Meyer, Staff; Samuel J. Pinn, Jr., Faculty Emeritus; John Sloan, Staff; Margaret J. Starmer ’84, Benefactor; Tula Tsalis, Faculty; and Janet Williams, Staff.

The next series of Communications Meetings will take place in the Fall 2018. Topics may be submitted in advance via the suggestion box in the lobby of the Birch Mansion, via PSA, or to Brittany Goldstein at ext. 7609 or

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President's Post #126: Provost Candidate Visits

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

In September 2017, Beth Barnett announced to the College that, after 12 years of service, she would be stepping down from the role of Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs. Shortly thereafter, I established a Search Committee. The Committee, chaired by Professor Yvette Kisor, partnered with Witt/Kieffer Executive Search Firm to conduct a national search for Ramapo’s next Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs.

After a series of first round interviews, the Committee has confirmed three candidates to visit our campus. This is an opportunity for each of the candidates to get to know us better and for all of us to learn more about them. Candidate visits will occur over the last two weeks of March. Each visit will take place over a day and a half and will include sessions with various audiences including but not limited to students, trustees, faculty, deans, and staff.

At 1PM on the first day of each candidate’s campus visit, he/she will lead an open presentation on the following topic: The value and vision of the liberal arts in a changing higher education environment and the role the Provost must play in supporting and engaging others in that vision. Question and answer will follow the presentation.

Visit dates include:
• Candidate A: Tuesday 3/20 through Wednesday, 3/21
• Candidate B: Thursday 3/22 through Friday, 3/23
• Candidate C: Wednesday, 3/28 through Thursday 3/29

The professional backgrounds and the itineraries for the three candidates are available via the Intranet at Please refer to these documents to familiarize yourself with the candidates’ qualifications and to determine opportunities to participate in the sessions. An opportunity to provide my office and the Search Committee with feedback on the candidates will be made available in the weeks ahead.

This is an auspicious time to welcome a Provost to Ramapo College. Ramapo is fueled by a host of exciting initiatives and achievements that, for the next Provost, provide fertile ground for growth and innovation. Among these pearls are:
• Our approach to shared governance has been healthily revitalized through a new dynamic protocol and is already yielding positive returns.
• The Library/Learning Commons Project is a transformational initiative that is robustly moving forward.
• The Middle States Self Study process is an earnest exercise that presents opportunities for college-wide reflection and dialogue across divisions and disciplines that will inform the College’s future directions.
• A new general education program will launch this fall.
• A thoughtful effort to orient the College toward Open Educational Resources is growing.
• This year we will deliver our first Graduate Programs Commencement which reflects the significant enrollment growth in our graduate programs.
• Our student athletes are excelling on the national scene in ways that enhance our visibility but, more tangibly, generate a school spirit that is infectious.

Amid all of this we are increasingly recognized by external organizations (Kiplinger’s and College Choice for example), prospective students and their families, as well as by graduate schools and employers, as a high quality institution whose liberal arts mission is of immeasurable value. These achievements would not be possible if not for our shared commitment to do what is best for our students and for the College-at-large.

Thank you to the Search Committee for their work thus far and thank you for your contributions to the College and for your participation in the upcoming candidate visits.

I look forward to the weeks and months ahead and to welcoming to campus, with you all, our next Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs.


Peter P. Mercer

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President's Post #125: Spring 2018 Communications Meetings

On January 17, my colleagues joined me to host Communications Meetings for staff, managers, and faculty.

Topics discussed included the Provost Search, Strategic Planning Online Initiative (SPOL), Board of Trustees Bylaw Revisions, Capital Projects, Enrollment Updates, and other Announcements. A Question/Answer session followed. Summaries of these topics are noted below:

The next series of Communications Meetings is March 28, 2018 at 10AM for staff, 12PM for faculty, and 2PM for managers. Topics may be submitted in advance via the suggestion box in the lobby of the Birch Mansion or via Brittany Goldstein at ext. 7609 or

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President's Post #124: Services for International Students

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

I write to highlight some of the efforts that are underway by members of the College for our international student population. The Roukema Center for International Education, within the Division of Academic Affairs, is the College’s lead agent in serving our international student population. As such, the Center functions by working across campus to provide an experience for our international students that is on par with the experience of our traditional student population but also, at times, more acute in its delivery. These efforts include:

Vigil for Nepal (2015)

  • Issuance of scholarship and housing contracts.
    These contracts denote for our international students and others the anticipated expenses and provisions for tuition, fees, room, and board. They detail the costs and services associated with College closures and breaks and are distributed through various departments.
  • Access to resources.
    With respect to College closures, shuttle service is provided for international students who reside on campus during these periods of time. Recently, the frequency of that service has increased. Additionally, all international students who elect to stay on campus during a closure are housed in residence halls with kitchens or are provided access to an on-campus kitchen.
  • Prepared meals and activities.
    Arrangements for prepared meals and social activities for international students during College closures are sponsored and organized through groups including the Roukema Center, Faculty Assembly, Minority Faculty Staff Association, Student Government Association, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, the Honors Program, and individual members of the faculty, staff and administration.
  • On-campus employment.
    The College promotes on-campus employment opportunities to our international students over the college breaks. This allows international students to generate income as well as receive housing discounts during non-traditional semesters. Thus far, most of the international students that are at Ramapo maintain at least one on- campus job.

International students arrive in the U.S. after what many would agree is a highly rigorous process to obtain their F-1 student visa. This federal process requires, in all cases:

  • Proof of enrollment in an educational program at a school (like Ramapo) that is approved by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services;
  • Proof of English language proficiency or enrollment in courses leading to English proficiency;
  • Proof of a residence abroad which will be maintained throughout the course of study and which the student has “no intention of giving up”; and
  • Proof of sufficient funds for self-support during the entire proposed course of study. For Ramapo’s international students, this equates to documented availability by the student or a sponsor of $36,000 per year of study. To defray some of this expense, Ramapo awards an out-of-state housing grant to international students. The grant brings their total cost closer to that of our New Jersey students. This grant (and any other academic merit grants received), however, are defined by the IRS as taxable income. So, unless an international student is from a country with a tax treaty with the U.S. and filed the appropriate form, this liability cannot be eliminated. In the spring, with input from the Roukema Center, our Office of Student Accounts implemented a protocol for this tax that complies with our reporting requirements while also recognizing the financial demands on our international students. In short, the College pays the tax on the student’s behalf to the IRS and records this amount due on the student’s account. The international student then files a tax return with the IRS to be issued a tax refund. Once provided the refund, the student can use these funds to apply to the charges on his/her account. Acknowledging the timing and other challenges potentially facing our international students, the Office of Student Accounts does not place registration holds on the student’s account for these charges.

As many of you already know, the financial realities of the majority of our students are increasingly cumbersome and the College is not unique in its desire to manage efficiently and defray, when possible, the cost of a Ramapo College education for all of our students. To these ends, with the support of the Board of Trustees over the last five years, we have maintained the lowest average tuition increase of all senior public colleges in New Jersey and, over the same time period, named Foundation scholarships for students has increased by 38%. As FY19 approaches, we are examining ways to shift more of our institutional aid to need-based packages including the Disaster Emergency Fund.

Finally, it is not to be understated that once an international student arrives in the U.S. they can quickly be overcome by the norms and challenges of homesickness, a new country, a new system of higher education, a new campus, a new everything. Knowing this, in addition to the services noted above, the College delivers customized orientation programs, advisement, referral services, and social and educational programming for our international students, coordinated through the Roukema Center. In addition, our International Student Organization, an SGA-recognized student group that is dedicated to creating meaningful intercultural experiences for all Ramapo students, hosts events and programs. If you would like to participate in, support, or inquire about these services and the experiences of our international students, please contact a representative of the Roukema Center for International Education.


Peter P. Mercer

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