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President's Post #112: Students, Faculty, and Staff Excel

Dear Friends,

It was my pleasure to participate in the Monday, June 26 meeting of the Board of Trustees. The Board approved the FY18 Budget which is the product of cross-divisional collaboration, innovation, and strategic management of resources. The FY18 Budget also demonstrates the value we place on remaining a liberal arts college with a consistent and preeminent focus on teaching and learning.

On Monday night we also recognized achievements by the Class of 2017, outgoing Student Trustee Stephen Geerlof, and immediate past president of the Student Government Association Erin McKenna. We also enjoyed an enrollment report describing the incoming class of 2021, and welcomed Karen Aguirre to the Board as alternate student trustee and Stephan Lally as president of the Student Government Association. The remarkable contributions of our students are made possible, in large part, by the many faculty and staff who serve them as mentors and advocates.

The excellence of our faculty and staff was also recognized on Monday night when the Board approved promotions to full Professor for Michael Bitz and Aaron Lorenz in the School of Social Science & Human
Services, and Gladys Torres-Baumgarten in the Anisfield School of Business. In addition, promotions to Associate Professor were approved for Roark Atkinson in the Salameno School of Humanities & Global Studies, Sarah Carberry and Julie Fitzgerald in the School of Theoretical & Applied Science,
Eileen Klein and Stephanie Sarabia in the School of Social Science & Human Services, David Oh in the School of Contemporary Arts, and Kathryn Zeno in the Anisfield School of Business.

The Board also recognized the recipients of the 2017 President’s Staff Recognition Awards. Rajesh Adhikari, Ray Fallon, Beth Foster, Deirdre Lynch, Paul Pittman, and the Wellness Coalition were commended for their leadership, service, and advancement of the Ramapo College values and mission.

Congratulations to all.

Peter P. Mercer

President

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President's Post #111: Our Values and Our Experiences

Dear Colleagues,

Today is the annual College picnic. In recent years, many of us have come together at the Trustees Pavilion for the tug of war tournament and the staff recognition awards, and to enjoy the general conviviality that comes with good food, fun activities, and the camaraderie of our colleagues. In addition, we also gather today to consider the challenges we confronted and the successes we shared this past year.

Earlier this academic year, the President’s Advisory Council, a body comprised of students, faculty, staff, and others endorsed the College’s Values Statement. Values statements formally and informally guide the members of an organization by elucidating the enduring beliefs that an organization holds in common.
The College’s Values Statement is:

Ramapo College is the Public Liberal Arts College of the state of New Jersey. The work of the College and its members is conducted with integrity. Our values are:
– Teaching, learning, and mentoring–we are actively engaged in and out of the classroom.
– Developing the whole person–we are scholars, we are creators, we are local and global citizens, and we are individuals.
– Respecting each other and our environment–we are an open, inclusive, supportive, and sustainable community.

Later this summer, you will see us replacing our old mission statement boards around campus with the College’s newer mission statement and our values statement. The importance of publicly stating our mission and values is more than just a symbolic reminder of that which unites us in our efforts to educate the whole student, but also a reminder of the commitment we make to our students and to each other and to which we can hold each other accountable. At the picnic, we will have mock-ups of these new posters on display.

Robert Frost described college as “a refuge from hasty judgment.” I enthusiastically accept that our values may mean something different to each of us, and that range of interpretation is, in part, what enables them to be so widely shared. For example, for some of us, teaching and learning occur through the delivery and absorption of a thoughtful curriculum, for others it may transpire in the privacy of a 1:1 counseling or advisement session, and for others it can manifest as constructive feedback from a colleague.

Student Government Association President Stephan Lally shared with my office that the Values Statement reminds students that they “are advocates, leaders, and innovators that have sought out a liberal arts education to make positive contributions to society,” adding that the Statement “drives home the point that we are a loving, open, stigma-free campus that fosters free thinking.”

In his role as President of the Faculty Assembly, Dr. Tae Kwak noted that the Values Statement “affirms that we are committed to actively promoting and defending diversity in order to enrich learning, foster community, and support meritocracy. It reflects the loftiest American traditions of Liberalism, advancing ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ as the foundation to cultivating successful global citizens.”

Eddie Seavers, President of the Professional Staff Association, expressed to me that “Ramapo College’s Values Statement invokes the commitment of professional staff contributing to the campus, local, and global community as individuals and as part of a team. We are simultaneously reminded of this privilege and responsibility as we develop all aspects of a student so that they may achieve success and positively impact the world around them.”

Indeed, we all have a responsibility to advocate, to defend, and to develop and, to do so, we must conduct ourselves with integrity. For me, reflecting on the past year both personally and professionally, this responsibility means demonstrating respect for one other as contributing peers and colleagues and concomitantly accepting one another as imperfect but well-intentioned members of an esteemed academic community.

As President of the College, I have witnessed how our values and the richness of their diverse interpretations have shaped so many of our achievements. To name a few: student recognition in academic and professional societies, excellence in undergraduate research, exceeding our capital campaign goals, besting many of our peers in retention and graduation rates, maintaining a bucolic campus setting and, year after year, exceeding our enrollment target for first year students. While these achievements are unquestionably worthy of mention here, the paths we have each actually pursued to reach them are the truly essential and largely unsung embodiments of our values. Today, we celebrate them and you!

See you at the picnic!

Peter P. Mercer
President

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President's Post #110: 2017 Commencement

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

I look forward to celebrating with you the achievements of the Ramapo College Class of 2017!

The Ceremony on May 11 at Prudential Center will feature the largest graduating class in our history. 1,625 graduates will earn their bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Among the graduates are 92 Educational Opportunity Fund Program participants; 9 veterans representing the Navy, the Marine Corps. and the National Guard; 124 graduates that have affiliated with our Office of Specialized Services; and 30 graduates who earned their degrees through the Adult Degree Completion program. They will all be joined by faculty, staff, friends, and family (all of whom helped contribute to their success).

As part of the Ceremony we will enjoy remarks by Ron Cephas Jones ’78, veteran actor of stage, screen and television. Ron will deliver the keynote address and will also be honored with the President’s Alumni Award of Merit. We will also hear from Michelle Santucci ’17 who will deliver remarks on behalf of the Class of 2017.

If you are unable to attend the Ceremony in person, join us via a live webcast beginning at 8:45AM and tweeting with us throughout the ceremony at #CapsOffRCNJ.

Thank you and congratulations!

Peter P. Mercer, President

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President's Post #109: April 2017 Communications Meetings

Dear Colleagues,

On April 19, 2017 I was joined by members of the Administration to host Communications Meetings designed for employees of the College. The meetings were advertised on the College Calendar and in the Daily Digest. Suggestions of topics and questions were received in advance via email, the Birch Mansion suggestion box, and from attendees.

The meetings addressed the following agenda items:

President’s Staff Recognition program (President Peter Mercer)

Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership (President Peter Mercer)

  • The President’s Cabinet is inviting employees interested in leadership development and professional growth to apply to participate in the Academy.
  • The application and details about the 8-month long Academy program/residency are available at Ramapo.edu/president/cabinet. Applications are due by May 30.
  • One employee will be selected by the Cabinet to participate in the program.

Proposed State Budget (President Peter Mercer)

Enrollment Trends (Vice President Christopher Romano)

  • The nation is projected to produce fewer high schools graduates in all of the 10 graduating classes between 2014 and 2023 with year of greatest decline as 2017 with biggest decrease in the Northeast.
  • The racial/ethnic mix of high school graduates in the United States will continue to shift significantly toward a more diverse population of graduates. The number of Black, non-Hispanic high school graduates projected to gradually decline by 6% after reaching peak b/w 2010 and 2012.
  • This fall community colleges experienced a 2.6 percent decline. Enrollments were down slightly (0.6 percent) at four-year private institutions and up a small amount (0.2 percent) at four-year public institutions.
  • How is Ramapo addressing these shifts?
    • Archway to Ramapo College Program: Signed with Bergen Community College and Sussex County Community College; Students who don’t meet initial admissions requirements are guaranteed acceptance if they complete Associate’s degree at Comm. College (with exceptions and requirements)
    • iPASS grant work: Advisor from Student Success spends 2 days per week at Bergen CC and 1 day per week at CCM (RCNJ’s 2 largest feeder schools); Expanding this partnership to have her spend time at Sussex beginning fall 2017
    • RCNJ is offering Transfer Academic Scholarship this fall for first time in over 15 years.

President’s Library Renovation/Learning Commons Task Force (President Peter Mercer)

  • The capital project’s goals include:
    • Focus on program elements that promote academic work and learning;
    • Provide a comfortable, healthy and attractive facility that attracts users; Incorporate increased technology that is available for everyone;
    • Future-proof: design space for current and future needs;
    • Provide both individual and group study environments; and
    • Provide access to books, journals and special collections
  • Activity thus far in Programming Phase:
    • Library and Centers programming discussions àTenant Matrix;
    • Information Technology Services programming review discussions;
    • Student input sessions;
    • Meeting with food services;
    • Tour of Williams College Sawyer Library;
    • Existing building seating quantification and collection assessment;
    • Building envelope assessment;
    • Structural and mechanical building survey;
    • Building and site survey
  • Library/Learning Commons Campaign (Vice President Cathy Davey)
    • Honorary Chairs are Susan and Nick Vallario, Co-chairs are Elizabeth and Ralph Mastrangelo; Executive Committee includes: George C. Ruotolo, Jr., Chair of the Board; Peter Mercer, President; Cathy Davey, Vice President; Charles Shotmeyer, Trustee; Roy Putrino; Michael McCarthy; Eileen Comerford; AJ Sabath, Trustee; Tom Palmer; Emily Mann; Jim and Kathy Kranz; and Audrey Newman
    • The scale of gifts seeks 21+ gifts between $3M and $100K; 76+ gifts between $99K and $10K; and 125 gifts between $1,000 and $9,999.
    • The Campaign has already raised $6.29M of its $15M goal

Strategic Resource Advisory Board (Provost Beth Barnett)

  • The Board’s objective is to align institutional and academic priorities with resource allocations. It does this through formally engaging the campus in connecting strategic priorities with resource allocation.
  • The role of the Advisory Board is to
    • Review Strategic Priority Initiative Fund Requests (SPIF) and Capital requests linking strategic goals and outcomes to determine allocations and/or alternative solutions;
    • Monitor metrics, measures, and progress on various goals; and
    • Share recommendations with Cabinet for action.
  • Outcomes of the Board are expected to include:
    • Establish a financial planning and resource allocation process that will be aligned with the College’s Mission and Goals, and linked to College and unit/school strategic objectives;
    • Enable community participation in review and allocation of funds/supports a greater understanding of planning and resource allocation process;
    • Ensure that capital funding requests are linked to the College’s strategic and resource allocation processes;
    • Ensure that results of allocations are assessed and continuous improvement measured; and
    • Ensure that resource allocation decisions are based on institutional priorities.

School Structure Task Force (Provost Beth Barnett)

  • Draft Charge for Task Force is to review our current school structure and to make recommendations for potential alternative structures.
  • Reasons for Task Force include:
    • To address the declining enrollment in Humanities and Global Studies;
    • To break down curricular barriers that have developed between the schools;
    • To create greater synergies between majors and to use these synergies to create new programs that are attractive to today’s students;
    • To increase cross-disciplinarity; and
    • To keep a liberal education at the core of our programmatic offerings.

Mission of Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Compliance (Chief Equity and Diversity Officer Nicole Morgan Agard)

  • Feedback on the Office’s draft mission statement is being collected across campus and is welcome. Please share your feedback with nmagard@ramapo.edu. The draft statement is:

The mission of the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, & Compliance is to advance a shared understanding and practice of equity, diversity, inclusion, and compliance as key components of the College’s Mission and Values. To these ends, the Office aims to ensure that at Ramapo College:

Equity strives to eliminate entrenched biases, stereotypes, and discrimination by encouraging the “critical deconstruction of structures, policies, practices, norms, and values” that are assumed to be neutral (AAC&U, p. 4, 2014).

Diversity fosters greater understanding within one’s own groups and with other groups, it engenders significantly more positive views of conflict, it promotes civic engagement (Gurin et al., 2003), and it empowers and legitimizes the lived social realities and standpoints of marginalized peoples.

Inclusion represents deliberate “organizational strategies and practices that promote meaningful social and academic interactions among persons and groups who differ in their experiences, their views, and their traits” (Tienda, p. 467, 2013).

Compliance is established through the timely and transparent discharge of institutional obligations related to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Age Discrimination Act, Title IX of the Education Amendment Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Violence Against Women Act.

Capital Projects Update (Vice President Kirsten DaSilva)

  • Padovano College Commons

Following a second round of bidding and the allocation of monies to fully fund the project, the College awarded a construction contract and the work is in progress. The renovated building will be available for occupancy by the end of summer 2017.

  • Photovoltaic System Public/Private Partnership (P3)

Installation of ground-mounted arrays and carports are anticipated to begin after May 2017. Completion of the entire solar project is scheduled for the summer of 2017.

  • Padovano Peace Pavilion Water Infiltration Remediation

Remediation plan reflects reskinning the roof and redesigning the windows to preclude pooling and ponding of water and compromising of the roof. The new waterproofing membrane has been applied, new curtain wall windows installed, and roofing has begun. This structure is schedule to be ready for use by summer 2017.

Q&A

 

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President's Post #108: State Budget and Higher Education

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends,

Barbara Harmon-Francis, EOF Director, testifies before the legislature

With every budget cycle comes a tug of war among competing priorities. The threat and, often times, the reality of diminishing resources pushes us to reexamine our investments, expenses, and our values. We see this play out annually at the federal, state, and institutional level.

The proposed federal budget includes significant cuts and/or the elimination of funding for programs such as:

  • Pell Grants: Provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students to promote access to post-secondary education.
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants: A grant for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need.
  • Federal Work Study: Provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to help pay education expenses.
  • TRIO: A set of federally-funded college opportunity programs that support students from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO includes programs such as Upward Bound and Student Support Services.
  • GEAR UP: A competitive grant program of the U.S. Department of Education that increases the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education by providing States and local community-education partnerships six-to-seven year grants to offer support services to high-poverty, middle and high schools.

EOF student Jaime Velazquez testified before the legislature.

To echo a statement put forward by the American Council on Education, “Federal programs for college students date back to World War II, and have enjoyed strong bipartisan support ever since.” These are programs that provide countless Ramapo College students with access to higher education and critical resources to foster their academic success.

RCNJ faculty, staff and students in attendance at the State budget hearing.

While the State of New Jersey’s proposed budget calls for student financial awards at all levels of need to increase 2 percent over Fiscal Year 2017, the Educational Opportunity Fund’s grants and scholarships, would be cut by 8.4 percent.

Members of Ramapo College testified before the New Jersey Senate and Assembly Budget Committees.

Testimony by Karlito A. Almeda

Testimony by Stephan Lally and Jaime Velazquez

Testimony by Barbara Harmon-Francis

Their testimony focused on restoring funding to public higher education, and their personal narratives, are perhaps more compelling than any statistical data I could present here. I encourage you to read their testimony and to consider how you too might advocate for public education nationally and/or locally.

Peter P. Mercer, President

Note: For guidance on your advocacy efforts, I encourage you to contact the Student Government Association, my office, or the Civic and Community Engagement Center.

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President's Post #107: Principles for Immigrant Students

Dear Students and Colleagues,

On February 22, 2017 the Student Government Association (SGA) hosted a forum focused on discussing the role of the College as a “sanctuary” in the lives of our immigrant students.

I was pleased to support the SGA event as both a participant and an attendee. I joined with students, administrators, staff, and faculty to hear a diversity of perspectives shared in what I would characterize as a largely respectful and thoughtful discussion.

Borne from that discussion and subsequent exchanges with my office, the Student Government Association, and others, the SGA passed legislation on March 1, 2017 outlining “Principles Related to Immigration and Undocumented Students at Ramapo College.”

These principles have my full support and I would like to commend the Student Government Association, Senator Stephan Lally in particular, on facilitating a highly productive and iterative exchange of ideas. The SGA’s legislation is a testament to what can be achieved when inclusivity, constructive criticism, and collaboration are central in difficult dialogues.

I would also like to share these DACA related resources developed, in part, by the College’  Faculty Resource Center.

The SGA’s Legislation and the associated Principles are noted here in full text:

Whereas: The Student Government Association (SGA) of Ramapo College of New Jersey is the official persistent voice of the student body and the liaison body to the Faculty, Staff, Administration, the Board of Trustees, and the Board of Governors of Ramapo College; and

Whereas: Members of the student body, faculty, and staff expressed their views regarding Ramapo College becoming or not becoming a “sanctuary campus” in a Student Government Association hosted forum; and

Whereas: The Student Government Association acknowledges that there remains no statutory or legal definition for “sanctuary campus” and, as such, the term is subject to broad variation in meaning and political association; and

Whereas: The Student Government Association has endeavored to identify principles related to immigration and undocumented students at Ramapo College; and

Whereas: As Chief Executive Officer, the College President is responsible, in pertinent part, for ensuring the safety of all students and has welcomed and engaged in dialogue with the Student Government Association and others on this front; now

Therefore Be It Resolved: The Student Government Association recommends to the College President the administration’s adoption of the principles set forth by the Student Government Association on matters related to immigration and undocumented students at Ramapo College.

Article I.
Principles Related to Immigration and Undocumented Students at Ramapo College:
a. The College refuses the voluntary sending, receiving, maintaining, or exchanging with any Federal, State, or local government entity information regarding the citizenship or immigration status of any member of Ramapo College;
b. The College refuses officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement physical access to all land owned or controlled by The College to the fullest extent allowable under the law;
c. The College prohibits any employee of The College from inquiring about the immigration status of any individual on campus;
d. The College does not use e-verify;
e. The College prohibits housing discrimination based on immigration status;
f. The College will continue to publicly support undocumented and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students’ equal access to in-state tuition, financial aid, and scholarships, and The College will continue to publicly support the continuation of the DACA program.

Article II.
The College publicly advertises that student counseling services are available on a strictly confidential basis and students who have concerns about their legal status should solicit input and advice from the Roukema Center for International Education to ensure their academic success at Ramapo College.

Article III.
The College will: Contact other schools in the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities (NJASCU) to demonstrate support for a formal statement that illustrates the legal protections NJASCU institutions provide their students and staff, work with the Student Government Association to author a position statement noting these principles and, The College will continue to work with its peer institutions to raise awareness around this critical issue.

Peter P. Mercer
President

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President's Post #106: State of the College Address February 2017

On February 8, 2017, President Mercer delivered his State of the College Address. Below is a summary of that address.

The world appears as a different place than when we last met. It is as if everything has been turned upside down. America suddenly seems divided into two solitary groups: the first made up of avid supporters of the new Administration and its ideas for change, and the second comprised of equally ardent opponents.

Much has already been written about why this occurred and I do not intend to add my conjecture to the pile. My obligation— our obligation – is to move forward. In that respect, I am heartened. Studies have shown that whereas only 25% of the population is satisfied with the direction the country is going, a full 60% are satisfied with the state of affairs in their own communities.

Our best hope for the future lies in devoting our best energies to the unique community that is Ramapo College. Without that devotion, we run the risk of becoming less competitive at a time when the underlying forces are marshaling against us. Now is the time to re-assert the primary virtues of a Liberal Arts education and Ramapo College’s fundamental commitment to our students.

I believe we should view this as a tremendous opportunity. People of character often tend to thrive in the face of diversity.

This morning I welcomed the President (Mr. Samuel Amoako-Kusi) and the Secretary (Ms. Athina Osei Kyeremateng) of the Student Representative Council of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. Samuel and Athina are here with us in the audience today. During their visit this month, they will gain insights into the student governance structure at Ramapo College, as well as the issues present in U.S. Higher Education today and indeed there are issues.

With the recent confirmation of Elizabeth Devos as Secretary of Education there is reason for us in public education to be considered and cautious. Some of us may recall years ago when the Spellings Commission issued its report and the spirit of deregulation that followed.

 Time will tell how the Department of Education will address Title IX and other relevant issues in the coming years, but regardless of its future positions, the College will continue to advance campus safety in all of its forms. Some recent accomplishments on this front include:

  • the establishment of an on campus Office for Violence Prevention to be led by a Prevention Education Coordinator and that search is currently underway;
  • the completion of Campus Security Authority training;
  • new student participation in SCREAM theater, a nationally recognized program that educates students about sexual violence, and in  an Affirmative Consent workshop, “Zero Shades of Gray”
  • The ongoing training of Title IX investigators

With respect to federal financial aid and student loan debt, the future of these programs and policies is also in question. What we do know is that Jerry Falwell, president of Liberty University, who was recently appointed to the Federal Task Force on Higher Education Policy has described the current regulatory environment of our sector as “over-reaching.”

So what does deregulation, limited access, and a high level interest in an uninformed citizenry mean for Ramapo College?

  • It means angst and discomfort for many much of the time.
  • It suggests that as educators and students we must be impeccable in how we articulate our opinions, advocate our strengths, and model compassion and good citizenship.
    • For example, several student groups have organized a Unity Rally for tomorrow and it is my hope that their demonstration will bring people together to, in their words, “learn and embrace different cultures” and I would add, different perspectives. POST SCRIPT NOTE: Due to inclement weather, the Unity Rally was rescheduled for February 16 at 6pm.
  • It represents increased competition for students, faculty, and staff.
  • It requires us, as a College, to do everything we can to ensure the quality of the Ramapo experience is superb. From the courtesy with which we answer our phones to the excellence with which we deliver our courses, there is no room for even marginal error any longer. 

Much has been talked about recently regarding sanctuary cities and sanctuary campuses. I wish to reiterate the sentiment expressed in my earlier messages regarding President Trump’s Executive Order:

  • I’d like to assure our students that before the College will release personally identifiable information connected to your education records, a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena is required.
  • Colleges and universities are considered “sensitive locations” under federal immigration policy, and federal immigration officials generally do not take enforcement actions on campus.
  • Declaring ourselves a sanctuary campus, which while it is a term not formally defined, could place us at risk of losing federal funding and, while we have a robust endowment, it is by no means sufficient to offset the resources our students receive from the federal government. For example, approximately 30% of our students receive the federal Pell Grant. In addition, a substantial number of our students participate in the Perkins loan program, Stafford loan program, and federal work study program.

Outside of officially declaring ourselves a sanctuary campus, there are other initiatives we engage in to reassure our students and one another. All stakeholders should know that Public Safety will not inquire nor record the immigration status of students or other persons; and immigration status has never been and will never be a factor in student housing or enrollment decisions.

On the Collective Bargaining front, I host monthly meetings with the representatives of AFT, CWA, and IFPTE. Occurring simultaneously but separately from those meetings, the process of negotiations indeed grinds slowly, but IFPTE has settled, AFT is at the table, and CWA is awaiting a court ruling regarding steps.

Some positive takeaways from those meetings include:

  • Voiced appreciation for a perceived shift in HR’s approach to discipline as a development opportunity.
  • The training and development position is posted and the committee is established, it includes: Jill Brown, John Thompson, Anthony Casilli, Deb Schultes, and Rosa Diaz Mulryan.
  • Employees have expressed interest in an on campus child care center. We will explore such a venture but I caution upfront that such business ventures can be very cost prohibitive.
  • Employees have also expressed interest in expanding our dependent waivers program for undergraduate instruction. We will also explore such an expansion.

We are also re-looking at the issue of releasing a less redacted version of the Grant Thornton report as requested by the unions, however, it is unlikely that doing so will occur in a way that is satisfactory to many of you.

The values of a healthy workplace include increased productivity and morale, and reduced absenteeism and healthcare costs. I acknowledge that employee wellness is pivotal particularly during times of stress:

  • The first annual “Spring Into Wellness” event will take place on March 29 in the Bradley Center. Tables and staff from offices all over campus will provide wellness resources and information to students and employees.
  • The Krame Center offers free weekly meditation for students and employees: Mondays and Thursdays at 1:10pm, and Wednesdays at 5:30pm.
    • The Krame Center also recently announced its partnership with the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts. For those of you who may be curious about the Mindful fellows program please speak to a fellow, faculty members from all of our schools have completed the program. If any of them are here today, please stand: Maisha Amen, Amanda Beecher, Alejandra Bozzolasco, Sasha Bogdanowich, Julie Fitzgerald, Mark Howenstein, Kelly Dolak, Ann Lepore, Seon Mi Kim, Eva Ogens, Ed Shannon, Shridevi Shivarajan, Mary Starke, Paula Straile-Costa, Malavika Sundararajan, Terra Vandergraw, and Ashwani Vasishth.
  • Many of us belong to a gym or we occasionally pay to take yoga, swim, spin, pilates, or Zumba classes. I am pleased to announce that the College will issue free Bradley Center memberships for faculty and staff. The free memberships are a non-taxable benefit and will go in to effect on July 1 of this year and will be made available to all full-time and part-time employees and retirees.

With respect to our financial health, the College was recently reassessed by Standard & Poor’s and earned an A rating with a positive outlook.   Factors supporting the ‘A’ rating include:

  • good quality of students and historically stable enrollment
  • consistent conservative budgeting and financial planning practices; and
  • excellent adjusted unrestricted net assets as a percentage of adjusted operating expenses.

In contrast, the agency also reassessed the state of New Jersey and bestowed upon it an A- rating with a negative outlook.

Purchasing successfully negotiated a competitive three year contract extension with Follett for management of the college bookstore. We look forward to our continued relationship with Teri King and her Follett colleagues.

An RFP for dining services management was recently issued, responses are in hand and will be reviewed over the next few weeks. Our relationship with Sodexo is one that many of us value greatly but the College must do its due diligence to ensure that our contract for food service remains competitive and cutting edge.

ITS has partnered with departments across the College on a series of implementations including the integration of Slate Admissions application and Ellucian Banner Admissions.  In its first year, the Office of Admissions has saved approximately 112,000 pieces of paper so far by processing applications electronically via the Slate software. By having our internal ITS talent lead and/or support these integrations and implementations, the College has saved a significant amount of money that might otherwise go to external third parties.

The Center for Innovative and Professional Learning is required to generate net revenue. One strategy it is pursuing to do so is the launch of a series of summer programs to attract high school students to our campus including: Art Portfolio Preparation, Brazilian Percussion, Numerical Analysis, and an online Web Site Development course submitted by Professor Alex Vengerov and approved by ARC as a 3-credit course specially designed for high school students.

Last year PepsiCo announced that its environmental sustainability programs saved the company more than $375 million in five years. The savings were achieved through the continued progress of the company’s water, energy, packaging and waste-reduction initiatives. I am pleased to share that our Committee on Campus Sustainability, Residence Life, the Center for Student Involvement, and a number of student clubs have been very active on this front. This month alone, these groups are organizing a series of sustainable-minded events including participation in the National Campus Eco-challenge competition, a Food Waste Audit, a Trash Audit, and the launch of an App for students to make it easier for them to find other students with whom they can share rides.

On the enrollment front, the high school population is shrinking, and competition for students is more fierce. After steady increases in the overall number of high school graduates for the last 15 years, the US is headed into a period of stagnation. The nation is projected to produce fewer high schools graduates in all of the 10 graduating classes between 2014 and 2023 with year of greatest decline as 2017. In 2013, the Northeast produced approx. 639,000 graduates, which represented 18% of the national total. By 2030, the number of high school graduate is projected to decrease to about 567,000 graduates, this means the Northeast will produce only 16% of the national total.

Getting back to what I mentioned earlier, we must continue to focus on doing what we do but we must do it even better than before. A few examples:

  • Graduate enrollment continues to remain strong at Ramapo, finishing the Spring semester at 106% of its established target.
  • Our M.S. in Accounting Program has launched. The program prepares students for Certified Public Accounting certification and a wide variety of professional endeavors, including forensic accounting and fraud examination; students can obtain both B.S and M.S. degrees in five years. Are Dean Ed Petkus, Karen Norton, and Professor Connie Crawford here? Please stand to be recognized. Thank you and your colleagues for your diligence in bringing this program to fruition.
  • The Office of Student Accounts and a few other student facing units were open on Martin Luther King day. Student Accounts reported that it serviced over 100 students and their families that day. Both parents and students alike expressed their pleasure that we were here to assist them. Targeting our services in this way is critical to our success.
  • The TRIO Student Support Services Grant program, housed in the Office of Specialized Services, reported a six year graduation rate of 78% in its Annual Performance Report to the Department of Education for students who started in the fall of 2010. The 78% rate is 23 percentage points higher than the grant’s objective of 55% and almost 5 percentage points higher than the College’s rate of 73.2% for the same period.
  • Our Peer Facilitation Program was selected as the Bronze Award Winner for the 2016-2017 NASPA Excellence Awards. NASPA is an international student affairs association of over 15,000 members.
  • Professor Eric Wiener and students from his Ecological Field Research class documented over 8,000 hawks, falcons, vultures and eagles (including 10 golden eagles!) migrating past the Ramapo Mountains this past Fall. Two of the students, Patrick Erb and Holly Ellerbusch, will present the findings this spring at the Annual Conference of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Ecological Society of America. All of the data the team collects are being shared with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection.
  • Student Michael Flood, also working with Professor Wiener, will present findings from his project about a rare outbreak of oak leaf roller moths that defoliated thousands of chestnut oak trees over in West Milford, NJ. Those data are also being shared with the NJ Conservation Foundation.

Our campus continues to shift and change and renew itself. Ramapo College is now the full-time host of the Bergen County Office of the New Jersey Small Business Development Center.  The Center’s consultants help small businesses expand their operations, manage their growth, or start new ventures. They will also be working with faculty and students as a resource for research and classroom learning experiences.

Facilities Management recently underwent a restructuring of its management team.  As a result, one managerial position was eliminated and it is designed to improve work order response times, increase agility, aid in succession planning, and empower and recognize the very good work of our facilities management team.

The solar arrays on the rooftops of Mackin and Bischoff Hall are nearly complete. Construction for solar arrays on the A-E wings, the Bradley Center, and the Potter Library is currently taking place and is expected to be completed this June.  Preparation for ground mounted arrays on the berms near Health Services are in process and being scheduled to start mid-February and completely installed by the end of this semester. Coordination of the parking lot canopies is ongoing with a logistics plan expected later this month.  At this time, any approved plan will require us to take one parking lot offline at a time while foundations are installed. Possible locations for the redistributed parking are being evaluated, including the parking lot at Mahwah Township’s Continental Soldiers’ Field.  Until a viable plan for parking is finalized, the carports will be delayed until at least mid-May when the parking lots will be mostly empty of cars, eliminating contention for spaces. The entire solar array project is currently scheduled to be completed by mid-summer.

The Office of Residence Life opened gender inclusive restrooms in Laurel, Mackin, Bischoff, Pine, Linden and Overlook residence halls.

The Padovano College Commons is finally well underway. The old Carriage House will be repurposed into a coffee shop and activity space.  Interior demolition has been completed. The installation of new rough framing and heating & cooling, electrical, and plumbing systems is in progress right now with the installation of sheetrock and ceilings to follow.  Construction is scheduled to be completed by summer.

There is perhaps no single capital project that will have a more significant impact on Ramapo College than the renovation of the Potter Library and the new addition of the Learning Commons. We have already secured more than $5.7 million in gifts and pledges for the project and another $1.3 million is pending. I would like to recognize the members of the Campus Campaign Committee. Please stand if you’re here with us today: Roark Atkinson, Susan Auger, Bonnie Blake, Joan Capizzi, Marie Ciampi ’15, Angela Cristini, Harold Crocker, Anthony Dovi ’05, Odalin Dume, Kathleen Finnegan ’80, Sue Gluchanicz, Cathy Hajo ’85, Teresa Hutchins, Robin Keller ’98, ’02, ’07, Liz Kloak ’16, Amruth Kumar, LeQuan Norman, Eva Ogens, Purvi Parekh ’01, ’04, Ivy Payne ’12, Eddie Seavers, Ellen Senese, Liz Siecke, Jose Vallejo ’02, and Hillary Westgate. Please consider joining with them in supporting this effort. Internal participation is what matters to outside corporations and foundations when evaluating our requests  to them for funds.

I am also happy to share some other examples of palpable good will on our campus. First, the Friends of Ramapo organization has almost 250 members including young families and retirees. The Friends of Ramapo provide valuable Scholarship support to our students. This year alone, 9 scholarships were awarded, totaling $19,700.  And the Friends of Ramapo have pledged $75,000 over the next 5 years to support the new Library and Learning Commons Project.

Second, if Elaine Himmelberg is here, please stand. Thanks to Elaine’s leadership in 2017, Ramapo faculty and staff will use payroll deductions to contribute $6,240 to charities of their choosing – including National Kidney Foundation, Puppies Behind Bars, Ramapo College, Alzheimer’s Association, Ocean Conservancy, Native American Rights Fund, among others.  This represents a 13% increase in charitable commitments over 2016.

Third, Human Resources and the Professional Staff Association are coordinating a program for employees’ dependent children grades 3 through 8 on Thursday, April 27, 2017.  Among some of the activities the children will participate in is a photo session at my desk.

Fourth, the Cahill Center is implementing Ramapo’s first College-wide celebration of National Student Employment Week with daily celebrations of food, prizes and entertainment for our approximately 1,000 student employees. The week will take place from April 10-14.

Fifth, the Public Safety Outreach Unit, Officers Tray Barmore and Will Holmes, did a walk-around during exams as Santa and Santa’s Helper handing out candy canes. The Department of Public Safety conducted Winter Break Training that included “Active Shooter” training with the Mahwah Police Department and all officers received training by the Public Safety Managers, Tom Mauro and Frank Dara on Racial Diversity and Effective Communications.

Sixth, the Ramapo Readers Project has provided nearly 150,000 books for students and families in Paterson. Ramapo will be recognized by the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey Association as a “Company that Cares” in March as a result of their efforts.

Seventh, building upon a series of student-led activities focused on #GivingTuesday, the College targeted its outreach to our alumni, parents, and faculty/staff. We exceeded our goal and 538 donors made a gift or pledge. In addition, our own Student Governors of the Ramapo College Foundation, Princep Shah and Sarah Brown, organized the Roadrunners Give Back Campaign and worked in conjunction with the Foundation’s Giving Tuesday initiative. The main purpose of their event was to raise awareness among the student body about the importance of giving back. They asked students, faculty, and staff to write a message about why they think giving back is important or how they have benefited from various Ramapo scholarships. 175 students participated.

I’d like to see a show of hands for those who attended the Diversity Action Committee’s recent Diversity Convocation Luncheon or Address.  It featured Kanya Balakrishna of The Future Project. She spoke about the tenets of “possibility thinking” and the importance of cultivating people’s talents and potential to achieve. We do a very good job of fostering our own brand of “possibility thinking” here at Ramapo from clubs and organizations to student leadership development and student/faculty mentoring. A few examples:

  • On January 21, Tamika Quick, Advisor to the BSU and17 students from the Black Student Union organizations participated in a seven hour retreat to discuss their mission, vision and goals for the upcoming spring semester.
  • In December, three ASB students represented Ramapo College in the ‘College Fed Challenge’, 2016 at the Federal Reserve Bank, NYC. The students played the role of monetary policymakers by analyzing economic conditions and recommended a course for monetary policy to the economists of the Fed.
  • Heidi Pilla, a literature major, presented her paper, “The Importance of Symbolism and Parallelism in The Great Gatsby,” at the 2016 COPLAC Northeast Regional Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activity Conference in October. Her paper was also published in Metamorphosis. She wrote the paper for Survey of American Literature: Romantics to Contemporary, taught by Professor Lisa Williams.
  • Resident Student Victoria Einchenlaub and GRD Amanda DelGaudio attended the 2016 MACUHO Conference, they presented “Fostering a Safe Community to Call Home.” They talked about how to build inclusion, eliminate micro aggressions, and cultivate better ally behavior for students of diverse backgrounds.
  • Fall 2016 marked the first semester for the newly conceptualized Emerging Greek Leaders Program. 20 Greek leaders were selected to be inducted into the inaugural class and will serve as peer leaders for engaging and training their peers during the Spring semester’s new member education process.
  • Senior Frank Albergo has been selected as a student staff member for the Northeast Greek Leadership Association conference this month. He has also been nominated for the Greek Leader of Distinction Award to be presented at the conference.  This represents the first time a Ramapo College student has been nominated for the award.
  • Stephen Geerlof, student trustee and employee in the Center for Student Success, had his first article published this September in Educause Review titled “Choosing Your Degree Pathway: A Student Viewpoint On Choosing A Degree Planning Tool And An Academic Advisor ” which focused on his participation in student success initiatives at Ramapo.
  • Visual Arts major Monica Lucianna has a drawing in Subjective, a current exhibition in New York City sponsored by the New York chapter of the Women’s Caucus of Art.
  • Over the winter break, 28 theater students attended the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Regionals held at Montclair State University, accompanied by Professor Terra Vandergaw. Two of the students were selected to participate in the Nationals, which will be held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
  • Six students majoring in Communication Arts have been selected to present their research papers at the Eastern Communication Association Student Research Conference in Boston in March on a range of topics including “An Analysis of Evolving Gender Representations of Male Disney Villains” and “The Impact of Celebrity Narcissism on Instagram Towards Young, Affluent, White Women in America.”
  • 15 EOF students recently attended the Bryant Student Leadership Group’s Conference. Ramapo won an award for bringing the largest delegation of students to the conference. The conference had student leadership tracks for African American, Asian American Pacific Islander, and Chicano Hispanic Latino students and they participated in a recruitment event where they spoke to high school students, from along the East Coast, about what Ramapo has to offer.
  • Last month, the Office of Equity & Diversity Programs sponsored a two day training for students that have volunteered to serve as Diversity Peer Educators. These students will provide ongoing educational training and workshops related to equity & diversity programs.
  • Cory Rosenkranz, Coordinator of Substance Abuse, brought four students to the Apple Training Institute to train participants on how to implement an evidence-based substance abuse prevention and education model on a college campus through a comprehensive, action plan. This opportunity was made possible under the NCAA Choices Grant.
  • The EOF Program has started a male mentoring program that is run by student development specialists Tushawn Jernigan and Andre Turner. Men Achieving Success Together (MAST) meets up to six times a semester.  The group has an upcoming community service event, where they will feed the homeless.
  • On April 28, Ramapo College will host its annual Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Is Kathleen Finnegan here? This year, the College will formally recognize Kathleen’s 41 years of service when it inducts her as a remarkable administrator and coach.
  • Athletics has had tremendous success this year. This fall, women’s volleyball had one of the most successful seasons in the program’s history. They won the NJAC regular season championship for the first time here at Ramapo, and they earned an at-large bid to the NCAAs, another first.  Currently the men’s basketball team, after a historic start of 19-1 is currently ranked #7 in the nation and looks to take home the NJAC crown for the fourth time in program history later this month.

With respect to faculty and staff achievements, we also have much to commend:

  • Professor Elaine Patterson’s text “Transition from Clinician to Educator: A Practical Approach” was voted #2 on the American Journal of Nursing’s list of books of the year 2016.
  • ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society. It named Professor Amruth Kumar as an ACM Distinguished Educator. To quote the association, “ACM Distinguished Members are recognized for their individual contributions to the field of computing, and their achievements have advanced the science and education of computing in a significant way.”
  • In November, Professor Fran Shapiro-Skrobe presented a paper entitled “The Importance of a Text’s Surface Features on College Students’ Critical Reading Skills: Little Items with a Big Impact” at the annual conference of the National Association of Literacy Educators & Researchers.
  • EOF and TREO inducted three faculty members as honorary Chi Alpha Epsilon (XAE) National Honor Society members. The faculty inductees include: Professor Karl Johnson, Dean Edward Saiff, and Professor Frances Shapiro-Skrobe.
  • Professor Peter Heinze recently published “Psychopathy, unconscious shame and attachment: Considering the Psychodynamics of Psychopathy” in The Journal of Psychodynamic Practice.
  • Professors Michael Bitz and Tilahun Sineshaw traveled to Ethiopia over winter break through the Provost’s Sub-Saharan Africa Travel Grant. They worked with school teachers and university faculty there to build creative pathways to literacy and presented at Addis Ababa University, a development session titled “Literacy, Creativity, and Cognition: Exploring Learning and Development through Youth-Generated Comic Books.”
  • Professor Mia Serban was invited to the United Nations Development Programme in Paris where she presented “Regime Change and Property Rights Consciousness in Post-Communist Romania”, which is also forthcoming in The Journal of Law and Social Inquiry.
  • On February 24, under the leadership of Professor Eileen Klein, Ramapo College is hosting the New Jersey BSW Educational Associations Annual Policy Symposium, titled “Changing Political Climate: Local and Global Implications.”
  • Next month, Dean Ann Marie Moreno and Professor Stephanie Sarabia will be taking 11 MSW students to Lisbon, Portugal to examine their system of drug decriminalization including visits with parliament members who were instrumental in passing the legislation and researchers from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
  • Professor Stacie Taranto’s book, “Kitchen Table Politics: Conservative Women and Family Values in New York”, will be released from University of Pennsylvania Press on March 21, 2017, in its Politics and Culture in Modern America Series. Professor Taranto also has an article entitled “Goodbye to the Party of Rockefeller: How a Decidedly Un-Silent Minority’ Pushed the GOP to Embrace Antifeminism,” coming out in Inventing the Silent Majority in Western Europe and the United States: Conservatism in the 1960s and 1970s, an anthology edited by Anna von der Goltz and Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson, to be published by Cambridge University Press.
  • Professor Lisa Cassidy’s article “The Ethics of Shaming in the Era of Social Media” has been accepted into the edited volume Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Shame—currently the proposed volume is being reviewed by SUNY Press and by Lexington Books.
  • Professor Paula Straile-Costa will be presenting a paper entitled “Fears and Fantasies of Globalization in the Americas: Faustian Epics of Human-Alien Contact and Coexistence from Cuba, Brazil and the United States,” at the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts annual conference in March.
  • Professors Paula Straile-Costa and Lisa Williams attended the NYU Faculty Resource Network (FRN) Winter Seminar titled “Uprooted and Displaced: Refugees, (Im)Migrants, and Exiles in World Literature.” Professor Susan Hangen also attended the program and took part in an accompanying seminar on “Refugees and Migrants in the 21st Century.”
  • Professor Susan Hangen also presented a paper based on her funded research on Nepali restaurants in New York City at the South Asia Institute. The paper is titled, “The Momo Matrix: The Evolution of Nepali/Himalayan Restaurants in New York.” She is revising the paper for publication.
  • Professor Hugh Sheehy has short stories out this winter in the literary magazines Guernica and The Collagist.
  • Professor Pinar Kayaalp’s article “An analysis of the hospitals of Sultan Suleyman and Hurrem: Two Different Approaches to Healthcare in Sixteenth-century Ottoman Empire” was published in last month’s issue of The Journal of Medical Biography.
  • Professor Yvette Kisor presented her paper “Children’s Beowulfs for the New Tolkien Generation” at the Beowulf for Younger Readers Symposium. In May she will present her paper “Tolkien’s Monsters: An Asterisk in His Translation of Beowulf” at the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies. In July 2017 she will present her paper “Tolkien’s Beowulf: Translating Knights” at the International Medieval Congress.
  • Professor Sam Mustafa completed his fifth book last semester, titled Paper Kingdom: Napoleon, The Germans, and the Strange Case of Westphalia, under offer from Palgrave Macmillan.
  • On Tuesday, January 20, more than 350,000 people viewed Mediacracy, a staged reading of the November 2016 New York Times interview with Donald Trump, on Now This News’ It was composed and directed by Professor Peter A. Campbell, and performed by a chorus of twelve women, including five Ramapo students and alumni.
  • Professor Rachel Budin recently designed lighting for the play Brownsville Song: B-Side for Tray at Florida Studio Theater in Sarasota.
  • Professor Gilad Cohen was commissioned to compose a piano trio by the Concert Artists Guild. The piece, which is titled “Around the Cauldron”, will receive its world premiere on March 14 at Carnegie Hall.
  • Professor Lisa Lutter will direct 26 Ramapo Chorale students in a Spring Break concert tour in Ghana, which includes performances with the choir at KNUST.
  • Professor Jackie Skrzynski has work in the exhibition “Order and Chaos” at Western Kentucky University.
  • Professor John Peffer will present a talk, “Youth Protest, Art, and Post-revolution Iconoclasm in South Africa circa 2015,” at the symposium Imagining Histories, Performing Identities to be held on February 25 at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester.
  • Michael Alcee and Tara Sager, Psychological Counselors in Counseling Services, co-authored an article for The Journal for College Student Psychotherapy entitled “How to Fall in Love with Time-Limited Therapy: Lessons from Poetry and Music.” Dr. Alcee also authored an article for The Journal for College Student Psychotherapy entitled “The Importance of a Male Presence in College Counseling.”

Question and Answer

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President's Post 105: Statement on Federal Executive Order

Update: On February 6, 2017 Ramapo College endorsed the statement issued by NJASCU. 

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

All members of Ramapo College are valued. While this is indeed true for all, I write to emphasize its magnitude for our international students, faculty, and staff. As I traveled this weekend from San Francisco to New York, I saw some of the chaos and disbelief occurring in the airports. However, I also witnessed palpable good will among airport personnel, passengers, protesters, and others.

Such good will is also present here on our campus. In recent years, we have reiterated our support of internationalization and multiculturalism through our Strategic Plan and the development and strengthening of associated curricula and programming.  In September of 2013, along with many of the presidents at our sister institutions, I endorsed a letter urging the NJ Congressional Delegation to address the adverse impact of current immigration policy on the state’s higher education system and economic growth. More recently, on December 1, 2016, I again joined my presidential colleagues and signed a letter pledging to support our students who registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

President Trump’s January 27 Executive Order (EO) “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” has raised critical questions and concerns for many of us and our families. Indeed, some of the elements of the EO readily appear incongruous with the purposes of higher education. The College, however, continues to review the order and the associated rulings that have since been issued to understand more fully how our campus may be affected.

Ramapo College has existing policies and procedures to protect its members and their privacy. In addition, Ramapo is a long standing member of NAFSA (the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange). We rely on NAFSA, in part, for guidance on matters related to the interest of our international students and scholars and participants in our study abroad programs. NAFSA issued this advisory regarding President Trump’s Executive Order. It details the exception made for lawful permanent residents and it describes the application of the EO to nonimmigrants and immigrants. I encourage you to review it and direct any questions you may have concerning any international travel or immigration policies to Ramapo College’s Roukema Center for International Education. 

In addition to NAFSA and the Roukema Center, helpful resources for faculty, staff and students also include:

Perhaps, however, our biggest resource is one another. What we can learn from one another through patient, respectful dialogue, and simple kindness yields us tremendous and transformative power. I have no doubt that we are a campus that is, and will continue to be, enriched by the range of our human experience.

Peter P. Mercer, President

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President's Post 104: 20 Days Into 2017

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends,

Welcome and welcome back to campus.

We are only 20 days into 2017 and there is already a host of news items to share that reflect the talents and energies of so many of you.

First, I’d like to acknowledge the staff, faculty, students, and alumni who contribute their time and talents to our recruitment and retention efforts. Our enrollment this semester is strong and we continue to see positive strides in the development and delivery of our graduate programs including the most recent launch of the M.S. in Accounting Program. Further, our undergraduate students are continuing with us at noteworthy rates and, to our new transfer students, it was my pleasure to welcome you to campus at the Winter Arching Ceremony earlier this week.

Second, the College has received a series of positive media highlights including:

  • Ramapo was ranked No. 184thin the nation in the Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine Top 300 Best Value Colleges. Other NJ institutions on the list included Princeton, Rutgers New Brunswick, TCNJ, and Stevens Institute.
  • NJ Monthly’s January 2017 issue featured a prominent article on the College’s Krame Center for Contemplative Studies and Mindful Living.
  • NJ Business’ January 2017 issue highlighted the College’s success in competing for federal grants.
  • Northjersey.com featured the successes of the RCNJ Men’s Basketball Team on December 29 noting that the team is ranked No. 19 in the D3hoops.com Top 25 list as of January 1. The only other NJ institution to make the ranking is Jersey City University at No. 23.

On February 1, our basketball teams will host a doubleheader against Rutgers Newark.  Our Women’s Basketball team will play at 5:30PM and the Men’s Basketball Team will follow at 7:30PM. The matchups will feature the new Roadrunner Pep Band and a recognition ceremony for the Women’s Volleyball Team’s championship season.

Also on February 1, the Diversity Action Committee (DAC) will host the annual Diversity Convocation. The event will feature a luncheon and remarks by Kanya Balakrishna, Co-Founder and President of The Future Project. More information about Kanya is available on the DAC website.

Third, on the capital front the Library/Learning Commons Task Force met earlier this month with architectural and engineering professionals from Bohlin, Cywinski, and Johnson (BC&J) to discuss the phased work of the Task Force and BC&J. Further, the College, with the support of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors, has launched a capital campaign for the Library/Learning Commons and nearly $5 million has already been raised toward the project.

Last, although I grew up in Canada, I had frequent introductions to American lore— George Washington confessing to his father that he had chopped down the cherry tree, and Abraham Lincoln allegedly doing his sums by firelight using a piece of coal on the back of a shovel. Corny stuff, perhaps to some, but important nonetheless in impressing the importance of personal virtue in character development.  As New Jersey’s designated public liberal arts college, it is incumbent upon us, in 2017, to continue to inform and challenge one another through curricula that represent multiple perspectives and to create an environment in which those perspectives are valued and respected. When we conduct ourselves with virtue, with personal integrity, we are a stronger campus and, in turn, a greater asset in forging an educated citizenry.

Thank you, in advance, for your continued contributions to Ramapo College.

Peter P. Mercer, President

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President'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)

Thank you.

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