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President's Post #140: New Jersey Employees Charitable Campaign

Dear Colleagues,

As the holidays approach we are often reminded of those less fortunate than ourselves. I personally encourage you to make a difference in the lives of others by participating in the New Jersey Employees Charitable Campaign (NJECC). NJECC gives over 100,000 state employees the opportunity to conveniently make charitable contributions to over 1,100 participating charities.

New Jersey State employees may designate their contribution to a specific agency or agencies. Ramapo College is listed this year on page 35 of the code book #6508, as well as several other charities which coincide with our mission. A donation to the College may also be specifically designated to the Emergency Student Relief Committee, the Library/Learning Commons, the Gross Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies, scholarships, etc.

Your pledge and the pledges of thousands of fellow state employees will help communities across the world, as well as New Jerseyans in every part of the state.

You may find specific details about how to participate in the 2018-2019 NJECC at the following link: or by contacting Elaine Himmelberg, Ramapo College NJECC campus Coordinator, at ext. 7498 or

Pledges must be submitted by Wednesday, December 19, 2018.

Again, I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to providing basic human services to all members of the community. Thank you, in advance, for your consideration and generosity.

Peter P. Mercer, President

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President's Post #139: In Support of One Another

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

It seems that hardly a day passes without reports of a tragic and angst-producing incident. This morning’s news from California of a gunman who opened fire on patrons of a bar largely populated by college students is the latest horror story in what feels like a relentless barrage. As a college, we can and must support each other as we grapple with these realities.

As you navigate daily the turbulence of these times please also know that you are never alone and you are never without support. Ramapo College has dedicated resources to promote a safe and healthy campus for all of our members. I urge you to tap into these resources. They include, but are not limited to our:

Directing your energies, attention, or need for assistance to these offices is encouraged. Let me be clear though that the support provided by these offices is only strengthened and sustained by the support we provide one another as peers, as colleagues, and as a community, on a day-to-day basis inside our classrooms, our dining spaces, our residence halls, and our social environs.

Reach out to one another. We all benefit from human kindness and empathy not just in times like these but throughout all of our days as we continuously mature and develop as engaged and responsible citizens.

Peter P. Mercer

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President's Post #138: Black Solidarity Day

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Please join the Black Student Union and Equity & Diversity Programs in acknowledging Black Solidarity Day on Monday, November 5, 2018.

Black Solidarity Day was created in 1969 as a day of national observance by African-American men and women. It occurs the Monday before elections and focuses on the values and goals of education within the black community. It continues to be a day of discussion about how we all affect each other’s lives.

Following in tradition with preceding years, an “Honoring Our Ancestors Vigil” will take place on campus. At 12:45pm participants will begin gathering on campus and will proceed through the academic buildings ringing a small bell to call participants together.

The group will then depart from the Arch at 1pm and be escorted by Public Safety as they walk to the Hopper Slave Cemetery across Route 202 where a vigil will be held.

There will also be a banquet to conclude the day’s events at 5pm in the Alumni Lounges. Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Assemblyman Jamel C. Holley, as well as Dr. Pargellan McCall, who was active in the Bergen County Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s will be in attendance.

Peter P. Mercer, President

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President's Post#137: Attack on Tree of Life Synagogue

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

On behalf of all members of Ramapo College, I join in deploring the hateful and horrific killings at yesterday morning’s services at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. We must all redouble our efforts to eradicate the scourge of anti-Semitism and all forms of religious hatred.

Please consider joining the Ramapo College Hillel at the Arch on Monday, October 29 at 1PM where its members will host a candlelight Kaddish ceremony.  In addition, visit our Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies which has abundant resources to support its mission to promote an understanding of the pernicious consequences of anti-Semitism, racism, ethnic hatred, other forms of bigotry, and violations of human rights.

Peter P. Mercer

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President's Post #136: President's State of the College Address

Below is a summary of the President’s State of the College Address from October 2018.

Due to transcription challenges, some elements of the address are not available. We apologize for this inconvenience.  

The State of the College is fragile.

My assessment of the state of our college runs parallel to my assessment of the country as a whole.  Consider for example, the national unemployment figures which are at a fifty year low.  At Ramapo we have the largest class ever in 50 years.  Yet the financial strength of the country and the College belies an underlying fragility.

All institutions, since they are the product of human endeavor, are potentially fragile if fundamental values go unobserved and hard lessons go unremembered. I ask you to cast your mind back to June 16, 1858.  Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech accepting the Republican nomination for election to the US Senate.  The title of his address, which I am borrowing today, was “A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand”.

Transcript not available.

The issue then was enslavement, the ownership of a trade in human beings, almost all of them having been brought from Africa.  I suggest to you that in a real way, our issue today is also enslavement.  We can effectively enslave even our colleagues by propagating beliefs and engaging in practices which constrain their ability to achieve self-fulfillment.  Sadly, this modern forma involves enslavement of both the victim and the perpetrator.

I intend to begin by identifying some disturbing incidents that have been reported on campus in recent weeks…

Transcript not available (President Mercer described two recent reported incidents of racism on campus noting that they are being investigated. He also recognized students and their placards in the audience. The placards featured messages such as “Ramapo recruits us, then forgets us”).

I unequivocally condemn acts of racism and homophobia and any other form of bias against a member of the college because of their personal characteristics and beliefs.  Anyone who is found to engage in such behavior and is unwilling to recant will have no place at this college and will be assumed to have resigned their membership here.  There is only one class of membership at Ramapo College and all members must be valued equally.

Of course Ramapo may not be of the world but we are in it and we have seen a remarkable display of division during the last several weeks.  Reason has been in short supply, having given way to bare knuckled partisan politics.  Much has been written about the potential demise of the United States Supreme Court. I am not so pessimistic.  Note for example that when Judge Kavanaugh was sworn in, Justices Kagan and Ginsberg made a considerable effort to attend the ceremony.  It is well known that the late Justice Scalia was a very close personal friend of Justice Ginsberg despite their profound intellectual differences.  In his words: “If you can’t disagree ardently with your colleagues about some issues of law and yet personally still be friends, get another job.”

We have to make a choice.  We can follow the example of the Supreme Court and conduct ourselves respectfully, avoiding ad hominem attacks and undermining ideas instead of individuals or we can descend into the infernal domain of insinuation, partisan disparagement and pusillanimous rumor mongering.  Again, it is a matter of choice.

For me as your President, the choice can be difficult as it is for many of you.  If I am told that the environment at Ramapo is toxic, I must resist the temptation to respond reflexively and defensively.  I need to learn what the lived experience of others is and has been and seek to change what needs changing.  And some things are more difficult to change than others.  But I have to try.

In the past several days I have spoken to many about these issues.  I have concluded that the College is not broken but some significant tuning and the replacement of some component parts are needed.  In particular we need to improve the effectiveness of our communications starting with me but not ending there.

Transcript not available.


The salaries of some members of Cabinet were brought to par with median salaries of like positions across the NJASCU institutions. These adjustments were advanced with support of the Board of Trustees and the decision to do so was after the union contracts were settled.


80 applications for the position were received. Of the applicants in the pool that reported their ethnicity, nearly one third of them were persons of color. Ethnicity was not attributed to specific applicants but was provided in the aggregate to the Committee, to EDIC, and to MFSA. The search firm, Witt Keiffer, advised that this representation exceeded national rates. The finalists, which indeed later presented as all white, were selected based on being the most compelling applicants and that determination was made by the Search Committee of faculty, staff, and students in a manner that was blind to applicant ethnicity.


Institutional Research (IR) reports that the diversity of all full-time faculty and staff is 28.3%. There is still work to be done.

Post Address Note: Between FY14 and FY18, the growth in terms of full time employees by ethnicity  at the College has been roughly:

  • -33% in American Indian/Alaskan Native
  • 10% in Asian/Pacific Islander
  • 2% in Black/Non-hispanic
  • 4% in Hispanic
  • 0% in unknown
  • 1% in White/Non-hispanic

Among full time employees, we’ve outpaced white non/hispanic growth in 3 of 5 categories.

IR reports that the year to year retention rate of employees is 99.4%. Nationally the average total turnover rate reported for higher education employers in 2015 was relatively flat at 12.8 percent, according to Compdata Surveys’ national survey. Although we anticipate that our turnover rate is low in comparison to national rates, my colleagues and I join you and we are keen to continue efforts to foster inclusivity, stability, and morale among students, faculty, and staff.


The Strategic Plan has been revitalized to guide us through the next several years. The focus of the plan is innovation. Its development followed the Shared Governance Protocol and worked very well. Fulfilling our Promise will include a dashboard of indicators and roundtable information sessions will be forthcoming. Thanks to Aaron Lorenz for his leadership of the Extension Task Force and all the faculty, staff, and students who served, please stand to be recognized. Fulfilling Our Promise does require us to shift our resources in some areas, this is true integrated planning and budgeting. For example, we will be shifting resources to our equity, inclusivity, and diversity efforts.


The Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Compliance is exploring the idea of establishing a Bias Committee on campus, one that would be responsible for reviewing complaints of bias brought by students, faculty and staff. Some of our sister institutions have such mechanisms and we are working with them to learn more.


The Name Committee continues its work to bring awareness and understanding to name assignment concerns for students from an international, transgender, faith and spirituality, legal, family dynamic, and other related perspectives.  The work of the committee invites all members of the College to express and identify themselves for who they are, which may not necessarily be according to one’s name assigned at birth.  The Committee continues its efforts to work with students who are using names and pronouns that differ from the academic rosters.  During May’s Commencement Exercises, for example, the Committee offered a service to interested students to have their Reader Cards updated so that the name that they use was announced as they process across the stage.  This service was offered for both the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies.


In the past, Ramapo College had one off-campus shuttle, managed by the Center for Student Involvement.  The shuttle ran between campus and the Ramsey 17 train station weekday mornings, primarily to serve commuter students who use public transportation.  During weekday afternoons and evenings and on weekends, the shuttle included a few local stops (shopping centers, shopping malls, restaurants), primarily to serve residential students.  A frequent concern expressed about the prior shuttle schedule was that on weekday afternoons and evenings, commuter students had a significantly longer trip to the train station.  The additional local stops more than tripled the time it would take to get to and from the train station. The Center for Student Involvement added a second off-campus shuttle – one serving just Ramsey 17 (known as The Train Shuttle), and one serving all other local stops (known as The Area Shuttle).

A “two shuttle model” aids commuters, and also significantly benefits resident students.  The Train Shuttle dedicates its routes to only those commuting to public transportation and the Area Shuttle serves primarily resident students with local shops on the route.

Transcript not available.

The addition of a second shuttle has permitted us to include more restaurants and shopping centers.  In addition, the Area Shuttle schedule includes stops at two medical offices. Students who are in need of off campus resources for medical or psychological concerns will now have greater options for treatment and transportation.


We would like to remind the community that PSA has changed its name to the Ramapo Staff Association (RSA) — and that it is an advocacy and community building group designed as a resource to share information about the institution, support the interests of staff, provide social events and discuss trends in higher education as well as new techniques, policies, and procedures as they affect work. Additionally, RSA is designed to enhance connectivity among its membership while supporting institutional quality and organizational cohesion. The RSA membership is comprised of unionized and non-unionized staff, however, it does not engage in matters that are the purview of collective bargaining.


Under the We Care program, stemming from the Center for Student Involvement and the efforts of the Student Government Association, the Food Pantry, located in ASB 130 is open for use. Are students Jaime Velasquez or Stephan Lally here? Their efforts were exhaustive in bringing the pantry to fruition.


SGA is also working on an initiative to promote the use of Open Educational Resources on campus. Text books are expensive and, this initiative, in partnership with the Provost and the Faculty Assembly, is to be commended.


Led by Human Resources, the programs offered have focused on 360 performance assessment, skill building, leadership, managing conflict, etc.


The Padovano Commons was recently dedicated and serves as a place to foster community and friendships. At the dedication, Distinguished Professor Anthony T. Padovano said (the full breadth of his remarks are available here):

“What we need most in life is one another. We are at our best when we reflect, with those we care about, on what gives us meaning and how well we give ourselves to it. The Padovano commons is where we join with and share friendship and a meal with those who became friends along the way…We cannot meet regularly at meals with one another without friendship growing between us… May we find each other often in the sharing of bread together. May this happen many times in this Commons. May what is most common about this place be the friendships that are nourished here.”

I can only echo this sentiment and remind everyone that the Commons has a bifurcated structure for faculty/staff use during the day and student use in the evenings. Some level of overlap, however, should be expected, as academic symposia or programming hosted there may be of interest to both groups.

Transcript not available.


The College recently hosted Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis and Deputy Secretary Diana Gonzalez.  Among the topics we discussed with the OSHE were access and attainment in NJ (TAG, EOF, Upward Bound), 128 credit legislation, and the desire to have the state appoint diverse trustees to the Board which is a concern preeminently held by the Board itself.

In addition, we agreed that the state’s focus on two year colleges should not be at the expense of the senior institutions. To this end, Ramapo must continue and expand our efforts to partner with our two year colleges. From the colleges where we have placed an onsite advisor, we have seen double digit growth in enrollments. Our Transfer Advising Corps program, where we have Ramapo staff members physically working on the campuses of partner community colleges, continues to achieve significant results.  This fall if we aggregate applications and deposits from the four schools where the advisors were, we were up 11% in applications and 26% in deposits.   This contributes to our 12% increase in transfer enrollment compared with last year.

Transcript not available.

Just two weeks ago, VP Romano and I attended the inauguration of the new Rockland Community College president and on the 20th of September we began having a Ramapo advisor on their campus as well. We must grow our presence at these institutions and explore, in earnest, opportunities to deliver Ramapo instruction on other campuses. We have little choice here, we must be entrepreneurial in this regard.


Thank you to Stephanie Sarabia, David Nast, and more recently Michael Unger for their efforts on our accreditation. The Self Study process is a tremendous endeavor across the college. Please stand if you are a member of any of the Middle States working groups or committees. Last spring, Ramapo began the reaffirmation process by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.  Middle States accepted our Self-Study Design which describes our intended outcomes, working groups and their charges, and the time line for the self-study process.

The Steering Committee also launched the Self-Study 2020 webpage to both keep the Ramapo College Community informed and to elicit feedback from everyone within the community.  The webpage has a comments/feedback button to submit feedback at any time during our self-study.  Upon Middle States approval of our Self-Study Design, Working Groups began meeting to execute their charge and produce the first draft of their respective chapters of the Self-Study as well as the supporting evidence, which is due on October 15, 2018.  After that time, the Steering Committee will provide a first review of the entire Self-Study document and deliver feedback to all Working Groups.

During the Spring 2019 semester, Working Groups will submit additional revised drafts for not only Steering Committee review, but also the greater Ramapo community for comment prior to its finalization and submission to Middle States.  Our first visit from Middle States will be the Chair of the Peer Review Committee in the fall of 2019 followed by the entire committee for the site visit in the spring of 2020.


The Office of Institutional Research shared that our four-year graduation rate for the year 2018, measured by the fall 2014 cohort, is 61%!  That marks a 2% increase over last year’s four year graduation rate and, most importantly, ties the highest graduation rate that we have had in the last decade.  Further, that achievement is on the largest class we ever enrolled, which speaks to the efforts to increase graduation rates as part of the Strategic Plan. This is a testament to the culture of student success that we’ve created at Ramapo and I can share that this has caught the attention of HESAA which is working with the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education on a Master Plan for higher education.


This fall semester, we enrolled 946 first-year students, the second largest in our history and a 3% increase over last year’s class.  This crop was selected from 6,943 applications (3.3% more than we received in fall 2017). This year’s incoming class is 38% non-white. As we completed the 14-18 strategic plan, we were at 565 graduate students enrolled in our programs.  As you recall, the Strategic Plan goal was for 8% of our total enrollment to be in graduate studies.  This semester, 9.3% of our total enrollment is graduate.


The College has won some impressive awards and accolades recently.

  • Ranked #1 Best Dorms in NJ by Niche
  • Best College for the Money, Money Magazine
  • Forbes America’s Top Colleges
  • Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine Best College Value
  • US News & World Report, regional rankings
  • Princeton Review
  • CIANJ Best Practices Award for Foundation Allocations Grants Program
  • Military Friendly School
  • College of Distinction
  • We were also ranked the 4th hardest college in NJ to get into (after Princeton, Stevens, and TCNJ) by, this is a ranking that for many of us I trust brings with it mixed responses as we engage more fully in discussions about access
  • The Marketing and Communications team has won 5 W3 Awards: 1 Gold and 4 Silver for the Customized Acceptance video, Make Ramapo Your Choice,and the redesigned Transfer Website (;


I want to highlight that the Ramapo College Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  The entire campus is invited to join the November 3rd celebration at 5:00pm in the Pavilion.  Tickets to the fundraiser can be purchased by going online to the EOF website.


In the past three weeks, we have connected our students with our growing career opportunities both on and off campus. Highlights include:

  • Withum, a nationally ranked accounting firm, chose Ramapo College to pilot a case study competition for teams of 1st and 2nd year students. The winning student received $1000 in cash and a guaranteed second-round interview.
  • Unilever and Google invited Ramapo students to participate in open houses for summer internships.
  • Through Handshake, the new career management system, 6,400 employers posted over 13,000 job and internship opportunities since January 2018. This volume nearly doubles the connections that we provided to students just one year ago.


Our iPASS (Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success) Grant funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation started through EDUCAUSE concluded over the summer. Through our participation as one of 24 funded colleges, we became national leaders in the movement for student success and have had our work featured in White Papers, Case Studies and journal articles. Special thanks to Project Leads, VP Romano and AVP Connell as well as Tracey Bender for her coordination of several of the initiatives, Jill Pierson, Fernanda Papalia and Jessica Steinheimer for their work implementing UAchieve our new Degree Audit and Planning Software, Robin Keller, Pratik Surti and Sandy Cohen for their partnership in information technology and to Michelle, Barbara, Dee and all of our Advisors / Student Development Specialists who have embraced using technology to transform how we work with students.


The US Department of Education awarded Ramapo College $150,000 to develop curriculum for the Certificate in Spanish for Healthcare and Human Services. Natalia Santamaria Laorden is the Project Director for this grant and she developed the proposal with the assistance of Angela Cristini, Claudia Esker,  Susan Hangen and Ben Levy .

Cathy Hajo, with assistance from our Grants team, secured a new NEH Grant for $300,000 to continue the Jane Addams Papers Project. ($250,000 is an outright grant with a $50,000 match component for which there are donors to meet that.)

Professor Jun Zhang (who also goes by Felix) is a Fulbright FLTA scholar and is teaching Chinese at Ramapo this year.  He holds a Ph.D. in linguistics and is a faculty member at Anhui University in China. He is serving as a cultural ambassador from China and making many presentations on campus this semester.


SSHS also welcomes a Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Francesca Scafuto, Fulbright scholar, from the University of Naples, Italy.  Dr. Scafuto’s research is in the field of psychology where she addresses research-action projects like “Youth and urban planning: how active citizenship works,” a project funded by the Ministry for work and social policy. This project achieved results of common planning of ideas for urban regeneration of secondary school students, using instruments such as oasis games, community maps, participative theatre.

SSHS also welcomes Adrielle Matos, a psychology scholar from Brazil whose recent publication includes a chapter, “The School Psychologist in Higher Education: promoting an expanded view on student assistance” in the book “School and Educational Psychology.”

Mia Serban recently published, “Stemming the Tide of Illiberalism? Legal Mobilization and Adversarial Legalism in Central and Eastern Europe,” in Special Issue: Legal Change in Post-Communist States: Courts, Police and Public Administration, eds. Peter Solomon and Kaja Gadowska, Communist and Post-Communist Studies 51(3).

Psychology students Sarah Keir and Samantha Stolker will be presenting their research, on The effect of test anxiety on performance in timed and untimed problem-solving tasks, at the New England Psychological Association’s annual conference in  Worcester, MA.  Both Sarah and Sam are part of Prof. Choudhury’s Neurodevelopmental lab.

Psychology students Shane O’Sullivan, Can Ozer, and Sarah Keir presented their research at the New Jersey Academy of Science in June.  They were awarded 2nd place for undergraduate research.  The presentation was on Cortical ERP’s for Attention Under Passive, Active and Covert Conditions in Adults with High, Moderate and Low Self-Reported Deficits of Attention.  


Ben Fine received an award for Outstanding Computer Science Teaching from “The Conference of New Jersey/New York Computer Science Chairs”.

Sandra Suarez won a $40,000 supplement and a 4.25% increase to our Upward Bound Grant to enhance STEM preparation in computer science. Much of the funding will provide resources for Upward Bound students to engage in research with TAS faculty.

Of 80 2018 nursing graduates, 79 have taken the NCLEX (National Nursing Boards) and 76 have reported to us that they have passed.


Graphic design student aide, Melody Lenda, was asked to submit and present her poster at an upcoming COPLAC conference and will be accompanied by her mentor, Janelle Ferraro from Marketing and Web Administration.

Ben Neill performed ITSOFOMO: In the Shadow of Forward Motion, his 1989 multimedia collaboration with David Wojnarowicz, at the Whitney Museum September 14-16.

Joel Weissman did a Digital Atelier Residency at the William Paterson Center for New Art, using state of the art automated manufacturing tools to carve a large-scale sculpture of a meteorite on Mars. The digital 3D model came from NASA and was created by the Opportunity Rover.

Theater alumna Samantha Simone earned her MFA in Acting from Columbia University last spring and is currently a regular on the CBS series Blue Bloods.

“Deep End,” the web series developed in Communication Arts faculty member Kelly Dolak’s class last spring, was nominated for New Jersey Web Fest Awards in three categories including Best Drama Series and Best Actor for senior Richard Bruno. It won the award for Best Editing by students Michael Nowicki, Christopher Heinz, Andrea Castro, Kyle Faber, and Stephen Rosado. The award ceremony was in September at the Claridge Theater in Montclair. This was not a student festival – most of the other nominees are working professionals in film, television, and web series. Dolak reported that “The festival coordinator was shocked when she found out that this was a student project.”


Murray Sabrin and Scholar-in-Residence Charles Steindel hosted a panel discussion,  “The 2008 Financial Crisis: A Ten-Year Retrospective” on Tuesday Sept 25.  Panelists include Alan Blinder, of Princeton University and the Brookings Institution; Christine Cumming, formerly of the New York Federal Reserve; and Patricia Mosser, formerly of the U.S. Treasury.

Charles Steindel recently authored a new book, Economic Indicators for Professionals: Putting the Statistics into Perspective, published by Routledge

Rick Nuñez & Susan Eisner published “Establishing Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programs with Limited Resources,” which was accepted for publication in the Advanced Management Journal.

Mark Skowronski authored “Bringing the Law to Life in Human Resource Education” which was accepted for publication in the Journal of Human Resources Education.

Nikhil Varma authored “Investigating Circular Business Models in the Manufacturing and Service Sectors” accepted for publication in the Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management.


In addition to its expanded membership, the RSA is busy with other initiatives. They recently coordinated a hike at the Reservation and are working with the LDP program to bring forward additional workshops for employees. Would members of the RSA Executive Board please stand?

Transcript not available.


Ramapo serves as an Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF) Vote Everywhere partner campus.  Claudia Wetzel and Elsu Mathew presently serves as the student on-campus ambassadors of the program at Ramapo.  Together, they are responsible for holding numerous voter registration and education events throughout the academic year.


Building Tomorrow is a non-profit organization that helps build schools for under-served children in East Africa.  In 2013, our Ramapo students were so inspired to help children in Uganda receive a quality education that they immediately organized efforts to have a Building Tomorrow chapter established and recognized at Ramapo.   We are among other colleges such as Purdue, UNC, and Notre Dame.  Ramapo has the only active chapter in NJ. Most of the early efforts for the Ramapo chapter were driven by Anthony Darakjy – who would later become our Student Trustee.


Brian Enriquez of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. repelled off a building in Elmwood Park, NJ in order to bring awareness to autism. His peer from sorority life, Johanna Smith, also participated by raising money for the cause.  Held in April, this was a fundraising event through the Alpine Learning Group. “Individual courage” is referenced by the Alpine Learning Group as a hallmark to this event.


Three Ramapo College students were inducted into the New Leadership New Jersey class of 2018.  Sabrina Santamaria, Angie Montilla, and alumna Kristie Khoe were among a diverse group of women from 20 colleges and universities across NJ to participate in a residency program at Rutgers.


Sponsored by the New Jersey Secretary of State, Tahesha Way, Ramapo College continues to promote civic engagement by participating in the first ever New Jersey Ballot Bowl.  The Ballot Bowl is a campus-centric, student-driven effort to increase voter awareness and participation through registration drives.  At the end of the Ballot Bowl, the College will report our voter registration numbers to the coordinating office and the winners honored at a press event.


Dr. Rick Brown, Director of the Center for Student Involvement and Ms. Karen Booth, Assistant Director of Civic Engagement traveled to India and Nepal in August 2018 to plan for the addition of another alternative break winter and spring experience for our students.  While in Nepal, they hosted a dinner for Ramapo’s fall incoming Nepalese first year students.  As a result, we are pleased to announce that there will be three international Winter Alternative Break trips this year to Nepal, Costa Rica, and Ghana.  Interested students should e-mail


The Office of Specialized Services is happy to report that the OSS Student first-time college student retention rate from Fall 2017 to Fall 2018 is 95%.  This represents a 12% increase from Fall 2016 to Fall 2017.


The campus wide upgrade to Banner 9 is currently underway is expected to be fully live by mid-October.   Banner 9 provides a friendlier and more robust user experience, while maintaining the overall core functionality of Banner 8, so users do not need to relearn the system.  The staff in my office as well as those across campus have been to training and testing on the new Banner system. ITS advises to “just give yourself some extra time to get your work done until your fingers and eyes become used to the new design/format of the pages. It’s not scary.”

In Spring 2019, the Self Service portion of Banner will receive a similar upgrade, enhancing the student and faculty facing Banner experience.


The Linden Hall interior demolition completed and interior work has started for the Library functions to move in before the spring semester.

We are awaiting release of state grant funds for renovations to the White House to serve as Recovery Housing in fall 19.

The Dunkin’ project is on schedule for fall opening.

Athletic Field Synthetic Turf replacement is complete.

Learning Commons Addition and Potter Library Renovation is on schedule, and construction documents are being completed. The efforts to secure private support for the Learning Commons campaign is moving forward with more than $8.3 million secured in gifts and pledges.


Also, Christina Conner from the Library coauthored an article about her work with the American History Textbook Project. Re-Reading the American History Textbook in the Global Age. In Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy. A description of the work notes: “This article reconsiders the American history textbook as a pedagogical tool, arguing that with creative use, textbooks can be used to introduce students to historical thought and critical reading as global citizens.”


The Office of Budget & Fiscal Planning is pleased to announce that viewing budget availability, adjusted budget detail, encumbrance detail and encumbrance summary is now available in Adaptive Insights. This feature will help unit directors who need to review budgets and expenses for more than one unit. Data can also be viewed across several years in one report.


Kat McGee, Director of Title IX, and I recently testified before the NJ Senate Higher Education Committee at the Legislative Hearing on campus sexual assault.  Ramapo was one of three NJ colleges who presented to the Committee. Our testimony is available on my Post.

Transcript not available.

EDIC will be rolling out Sexual Harassment Training to all faculty and staff this year, starting with training to faculty this semester and training to all staff and Managers in the Spring semester.  The training for faculty is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, November 14th. More details will be provided within the next two weeks.

Thanks in large part to Dorothy Echols Tobe and Tamika Quick’s efforts, the ACE Women of Color Conference will be hosted by Ramapo on October 26.


This fall the College and Foundation deepened our partnership with REED Academy for Autism and REED Next through a grant from the NJ Department of Health Autism Registry and the Reed Foundation. We welcomed this fall to campus young adults on the autism spectrum and their job coaches to specially designed positions to gain valuable work experience and pre-vocational job training.


If you have noticed more alumni on campus lately, your observation is absolutely correct. With the help of our academic deans, there has been a significant increase in alumni activities.

Three upcoming alumni programs of interest include:

  • the November 3rd EOF Anniversary Celebration, the November 9th Alumni Directed main stage production of Frankenstein that will include a special alumni and parents dinner before the show,
  • a Victorian Holiday Weekend in Cape May at the end of November, and
  • a trip to Ireland led by Professor Emeritus Don Fucci in August 2019.


Categories: Uncategorized

President's Post 135: Dedication of Padovano Commons

Dear Colleagues, Students, and Friends:

On September 26, the Padovano Commons was formally dedicated.  Renovations to the Commons, which is housed in the old carriage house of the Birch Estate, were completed in the spring following lengthy but thoughtful planning and construction phases.

A working group assembled roughly four years ago included representatives of the faculty, staff, students, and administration and that group, recognizing the need for a campus space to foster academic culture and campus community, proceeded to generate a vision for the space that featured a bifurcated structure for faculty/staff use during the day and student use in the evenings. It also envisioned a coffeehouse like atmosphere with space for presentations, lectures, performances, and symposia, overlooking Cameron Pond.

With the Padovano Commons now open, thanks in notable part to the generosity of Dr. Anthony T. Padovano, distinguished professor of literature and philosophy, our campus has a dedicated space to come together as scholars, colleagues, and friends.

The Padovano Commons is open on weekdays from 8AM to 4PM for faculty and staff use, closed from 4-5PM for daily maintenance, and then reopens from 5PM to 1AM for student use. It is not available for external rentals. Requests to use the space on weekends can be advanced through Events and Conferences, and during exam periods its hours of operation will be extended.

At the dedication, Dr. Padovano said (excerpted):

“What we need most in life is one another. We are at our best when we reflect, with those we care about, on what gives us meaning and how well we give ourselves to it. The Padovano Commons is where we join with and share friendship and a meal with those who became friends along the way…We cannot meet regularly at meals with one another without friendship growing between us… May we find each other often in the sharing of bread together. May this happen many times in this Commons.  May what is most common about this place be the friendships that are nourished here.”

The full breadth of Dr. Padovano’s remarks are available here.I encourage you to read and reflect on them and come visit the Padovano Commons. Provost Becker and I will host joint open office hours for faculty at the Commons on October 3.

Peter P. Mercer, President

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President's Post #134: Testimony Before the Senate Higher Education Committee

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

In early September, the New Jersey Senate Higher Education Committee invited representatives of institutions of higher education to provide testimony on their campus sexual assault policies and any recent initiatives undertaken to address campus sexual assault. Kat McGee, Director of Title IX, and I accepted the invitation as did representatives from Rutgers University and Princeton University. Our testimony from that hearing on September 17 is available here (Testimony by President Mercer, Testimony by Kat McGee).  Additional resources and information regarding the College’s commitment to preventing sexual assault can be found at

I encourage us all to continue to be a part of addressing this national epidemic.

Peter P. Mercer, President

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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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