December 19, 2016President's Post 103: Tenure and Emeritus
Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends
At its December 12 meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the granting of tenure to seven faculty members and the awarding of emeritus status to four retired professors.
To borrow from the American Association of University Professors, “The principal purpose of tenure is to safeguard academic freedom, which is necessary for all who teach and conduct research in higher education…Free inquiry, free expression, and open dissent are critical for student learning and the advancement of knowledge. Therefore, it is important to have systems in place to protect academic freedom.” As a professor and an administrator, I know of the dedication and talent required to earn tenure. Congratulations to the following newly tenured faculty:
- Tammi C. Redd, Assistant Professor of Management
- Sridevi Shivarajan, Assistant Professor of Management
- Mark Skowronski, Assistant Professor of Management
- Dean Chen, Assistant Professor of Political Science
- Stephanie Sarabia, Assistant Professor of Social Work
- Andrea Centrella-Nigro, Assistant Professor of Nursing
- Donna Flynn, Assistant Professor of Nursing
Also on December 12, the Board awarded emeritus status to four esteemed professors. The emeritus title may be awarded to retiring faculty members who have served the college for at least ten years and have been distinguished in teaching, scholarship, college and community service, and the fulfillment of professional responsibilities. It was humbling to present with the Board the resolutions granting emeritus status to:
- Wayne Hayes, Professor of Sustainability
- Don Fucci, Professor of Literature
- Anthony Padovano, Distinguished Professor of Literature and Philosophy
- Sebastian J. Raciti, Professor of Economics (posthumous)
November 17, 2016President's Post 102: Policy of Non-Discrimination
Dear Students, Colleagues and Friends:
I have become aware of informal student reports of vilification and harassment. Such behavior bears no relation to the type of respectful debate and discussion we should all be promoting at Ramapo College.
I will reissue this assurance as many times as necessary to have it sink in: Ramapo College will not tolerate such behavior.
Any reports of discrimination and/or harassment by others at the College, including students, faculty, staff members, vendors, and contractors should be officially filed as complaints to any of the following entities:
- Affirmative Action and Workplace Compliance, ASB 017, (201) 684-7540, or
- Public Safety Department, C Wing, Room 102, (201) 684-6666, or
- Mahwah Police Department, 221 Franklin Turnpike, (201) 529-1000
For more information regarding the College’s Policy of Non-Discrimination, please review the resources online via the Office of Affirmative Action and Workplace Compliance or visit the Office in ASB017.
Click Here to Read Recent Related Official Messages from my office, the Faculty Assembly President, and the Dean of Students
Peter P. Mercer, President
November 11, 2016President's Post #101: Message to Campus
Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends,
Individuals, departments, and organizations across the country and across our campus are engaging in dialogues centered around the presidential election. For those of you participating in these discussions, thank you. And, for those of you who may feel anxious, discouraged, or even dispassionate about the societal impact of this election cycle, I encourage you to reject the false comfort of isolation and instead to engage with your peers, colleagues, faculty, and staff in ways that promote mutual understanding and respect. We all, always, have something to learn and something to share.
Today is Veteran’s Day. After a tumultuous week, it is fitting to reflect more deeply on its historical significance. On November 11, 1918 fighting between the allied nations and Germany ceased on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The resolution passed by the United States Congress in 1926 which established Veteran’s Day includes, in pertinent part:
…the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and…
…inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
As we look to the future of America and, more locally to our campus, it is imperative that we continue to hold fast to these tenets of good will, mutual understanding, and friendly relations with all peoples. We cannot take for granted our institutional values which state, in part, that we are guided by:
Respecting each other and our environment—we are an open, inclusive, supportive, and sustainable community.
We advance our values through our good will, mutual understanding, and friendly relations with all peoples. To exhibit any behaviors that fail to honor these tenets and our values would be a transgression of the very principles for which Ramapo College of New Jersey has always served: to educate and to learn from one another.
The College’s Values Statement was approved by the President’s Advisory Council (PAC) in September. It is available in full here. The PAC will meet again on November 18 at 11AM in Trustees Pavilion. Its agenda will include an overview of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, Compliance and Equity. All are welcome to attend PAC meetings.
Peter P. Mercer, President
September 22, 2016President'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, Fivethirtyeight.com, 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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
September 2, 2016President'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
August 26, 2016President's Post #98: Ramapo College's Affordability
Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:
In recent weeks, there have been two prominent articles focused on student debt and affordability among New Jersey Colleges. Please note the links below:
NJ Spotlight: NJ COLLEGES WHERE STUDENTS PILE ON THE MOST DEBT
The Record: N.J. CLASS OF 2015 OWES AN AVERAGE OF $30,536 IN STUDENT LOAN DEBT
In light of the content in the articles, as well as additional data that was recently compiled by Ramapo’s Office of Financial Aid, I am sharing with you, in brief, where Ramapo stands with respect to the metrics of affordability mentioned in the articles, as well as national and state data as it relates to the ability of our graduates to repay their debt.
In short, the key takeaways of this data are that, as members of Ramapo College, we have a compelling story to tell regarding our affordability:
- Among the NJ senior public colleges, Ramapo is tied with Rutgers-Newark for having the lowest percentage of students graduating with debt.
- Ramapo’s default rate is well below the national average default rate.
- Ramapo’s default rate is ½ the average default rate of all of New Jersey’s higher education institutions (public and private).
- Ramapo’s default rate is well below the average default rate of New Jersey’s public higher education institutions.
The College’s ability to mitigate student default and foster affordability has required concerted effort by all of our constituents. While there is always more work to be done, I would like to thank the students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, donors, and friends who have contributed their energy and resources on this front over the years.
Peter P. Mercer, President
August 3, 2016President'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
June 29, 2016President'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
June 13, 2016President'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
May 31, 2016President'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 approximately 12,000 students annually from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The academic, professional, and social development provided through EOF is especially critical for many first-generation college students.
This spring Governor Chris Christie proposed a $2,565,000 cut to the 2017 fiscal year state EOF budget. This 8.7% cut would have a dramatic impact for EOF students across the state, including our students at Ramapo College.
Since this proposal was announced, EOF students, staff and alumni have participated in the EOF Day at the New Jersey State Capitol, conducted letter writing campaigns, and testified before the Senate Budget Committee. I thank Barbara Harmon-Francis, the Director of the Ramapo College EOF Program and her staff for encouraging students to participate in these efforts. I encourage you to join them in advocating for access and equity in higher education.
Please visit the Educational Opportunity Fund Professional Association of New Jersey (EOFPANJ) website (www.eofpanj.org – scroll down to see “EOF Advocacy”) to learn how you can support EOF. I encourage you to contact your legislator to urge non support for the proposed budget cut.
The legacy of Ramapo College EOF graduates has inspired countless other students to pursue excellence in education, leadership, and service. I am proud to support such highly motivated and talented students. Thank you for your attention to this important initiative.
Peter P. Mercer