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President's Post #125: Spring 2018 Communications Meetings

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

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

The next series of Communications Meetings is March 28, 2018 at 10AM for staff, 12PM for faculty, and 2PM for managers. Topics may be submitted in advance via the suggestion box in the lobby of the Birch Mansion or via Brittany Goldstein at ext. 7609 or bwillia1@ramapo.edu.

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President's Post #124: Services for International Students

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

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

Vigil for Nepal (2015)

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Peter P. Mercer
President

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President's Post #123: Tenure and Emeriti

On Monday, December 11, 2017 I had the distinct privilege to recommend to the Board of Trustees the reappointment with tenure of eight faculty members. The Board approved that recommendation. Please join me in recognizing and congratulating the following faculty members for their contributions to the College and their scholastic and professional achievements:

That night, the Board also approved, upon my recommendation, Emeritus Status for retired professors Ron Hayashida and Jennefer Mazza, of the Salameno School of Humanities and Global Studies.

Congratulations to all.

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President's Post #122: Welcome to New Board Chair William F. Dator and NJ Governor-elect Phil Murphy

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

I recently hosted a networking reception for William F. Dator, recently elected Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees. Chair Dator brings with him a rich historical connection and commitment to the College. It was Chair Dator who guided the State nearly 50 years ago to site the College in Mahwah. In addition, he has raised his family and grown his business here.

Guests at the reception included New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy, members of the College’s Board of Trustees and Board of Governors, local legislators, College representatives, community partners and new friends of the College. Ramapo’s student-run a capella group, 4GotteN SuitCase, performed.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy with Members of the RCNJ Board of Trustees  (Pictured from L to R: George C. Ruotolo, Jr., Immediate Past Chair; Susan A. Vallario, Vice Chair; Sharlene S. Vichness, Trustee; Governor-elect Phil Murphy; William F. Dator, Chair; Gary L. Montroy, Secretary; Bart J. Talamini, Trustee; Peter P. Mercer, College President/ex officio)

Governor-elect Murphy kicked off the event by recognizing Ramapo’s decade-long history of impressive academic quality and strong leadership. “We cannot get our economy right without getting higher education right,” said Murphy, adding that his transition team will include my service on the Urban and Regional Growth Committee.

The transition committees are comprised of numerous policy experts and outside leaders in their respective fields. The committees will meet throughout the state over the course of the next two months and will submit reports and recommendations to the Governor-elect and his leadership team prior to the inauguration that will inform the new administration’s legislative and regulatory agenda.

While I am very much looking forward to serving on the Governor-elect’s transition team for Urban and Regional Growth, I also consider myself and the College-at-large so very fortunate to have the privilege of working alongside a Board of Trustees whose commitment to the College is both palpable and contagious.

Peter P. Mercer
President

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President's Post #121: Fall Communications Meetings

On October 25, my Cabinet colleagues joined me to host Communications Meetings for staff, managers, and faculty.

Topics discussed included the Shared Governance Task Force Preliminary Report, the Learning, Development & Performance Program, Priorities for NJ State Colleges and Universities, and other announcements. In addition, questions received in advance of the meetings were also addressed. Summaries of those topics are noted below:

The next set of Communications Meetings is January 17, 2018 at 10AM for staff, 12PM for faculty, and 2PM for managers. Topics may be submitted in advance via the suggestion box in the lobby of the Birch Mansion or via Brittany Goldstein at ext. 7609 or bwillia1@ramapo.edu.

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President's Post 120: Fall 2017 State of the College Address

On October 11, 2017, President Mercer delivered his State of the College Address. Below is a summary of that address.

Over the years, these addresses have been shaped, in part, by the political and economic climate. The Newfoundland phrase “stunned as me arse” is used by my fellow Newfies to imply incredible stupidity or foolishness. While the expression is apropos of nothing in particular, it is interestingly being used more frequently these days.

Over the course of the last decade, we have made considerable progress on several of our goals while remaining true to our liberal arts mission. For example:

 Enrollment

In undergraduate enrollment, this year’s freshmen class is 41% non-white.

2007 Total Headcount/% Non-white 2017 Total Headcount/% Non-white
5393/20.2% 5618/31%

In graduate enrollment, we have also made tremendous strides.

2007 Total Headcount/% Non-white 2017 Total

Headcount/% Non-white

309/11% 502/23.8%

Endowment

Our endowment has nearly tripled during the last decade. Our endowment is small in light of our youth, but in 2007 it was valued at $6.5 million, now it is $18.2 million and our scholarship program continues to grow as a result of excellent investment returns and new endowment gifts. Our endowment supports 424 scholarships and awards this year. Students, get your scholarship applications in by the deadline of November 6th. Also, the Ramapo College Campaign for the Learning Commons continues to advance as a result of the generosity of our Board Members and Alumni. The most recent gift of $750,000 from alumnae, Marilyn J. Clark, brings the current total to just over $7 million. There is an additional $2.3 million in pending gifts. The Case Statement for the Learning Commons Campaign will be available in November and will allow us to reach more constituents to secure their support.

Value of Liberal Arts

It is difficult these days to hear such scrutiny of our sector and of our mission. But it is so satisfying when prominent people counter that narrative. For example, Guy Berger, a LinkedIn economist said, “There is a real concern that these labor-market-oriented degrees that focus on specific technical skills are not (as) durable.” Quartz magazine reported that Berger believes that “cross-functional skills” like management and analytical know-how are more adaptable across a range of work environments. As technology changes the nature of work across nearly every industry, it’s important to have a wide range of such talents, rather than a narrow subset applied only to a particular sector that may not look the same in the near future (or, indeed, exist at all).

Rankings

Over the past decade, higher education rankings outfits have also grown. We went from really just US News and Princeton Review to now Colleges of Distinction, College Choice, Military Friendly, Kiplingers, Niche, and many others. The Student Loan Report actually just recognized Ramapo as one of the top 2 schools in NJ for offering part-time work opportunities to students.  And, Ramapo is ranked #62 out of 500+ public colleges that offer quality, well-paying, part-time jobs to students.

Operational Transformations

Among the many ways the College has responded to and even anticipated change over the past decade, we can look to the emergence and/or transformations of some areas. For example:

  • Human Resources is now home to Office of Learning and Development
  • Graduate Admissions & Adult Degree Completion
  • Center for Student Involvement
  • Honors Program
  • Office of the Ombuds
  • Roukema Center for International Education
  • Grants and Sponsored Research
  • Alumni Affairs
  • Center for Reading and Writing
  • Krame Center
  • Government Relations
  • Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Compliance

Title IX

Kat McGee, Director of Title IX, participated in a meeting on September 15 with Senator Menendez discussing Title IX, campus sexual assault, and the short/long term impacts of revoking current Title IX guidance. The meeting with the Senator was also attended by our partners with NJCASA, Family Service League/SAVE of Essex County, and representatives of Rutgers University’s Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance Initiative and Center on Violence Against Women and Children. During the meeting Kat shared that Colleges handle many other campus safety concerns (stolen laptops, roommate brawls, arson) and we use the same the “preponderance of the evidence” standard for all policy violations. Regarding Title IX and the news from the DOE, campus received a message from Director McGee, Chief Morgan Agard, Dean Van Der Wall, and Vice President Romano yesterday reinforcing our policy to use the preponderance of evidence standard and detailing our support services.

VP Romano has been invited to serve as 1 of 10 individuals across the country to sit with the acting director of the Office of Civil Rights, Candace Jackson, to discuss the future of Title IX since the rescinding of the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter where the Acting Director can hear directly from practitioners.

Provost Search

Yvette Kisor, Professor of Literature, inb the Salameno School of Humanities and Global Studies will chair the search and we anticipate bringing finalists to campus in late March.

Strategic Plan

While we have made much progress on our current Strategic Plan, there is remaining work to be done. Rather than develop a new plan, I feel strongly that a refinement and extension of our current plan will serve the College well.

Shared Governance Task Force

The Shared Governance Task Force will be presenting its preliminary findings and recommendations to multiple audiences later this month including the Faculty Assembly, Communications Meetings for faculty, staff, and managers, and the Student Government Association, among others. All of us are encouraged to participate in those presentations by asking questions and proving feedback.

Board of Trustees Officers

At its September meeting the Board of Trustees elected a new slate of officers. It has been rewarding for me to work with a Board that is so dedicated to advancing the mission of the College. Chair Ruotolo’s term expired and succeeding him is William “Bill” Dator as Chair, Susan A. Vallario as Vice Chair, Gary L. Montroy as Secretary, and David G. Schlussel as Treasurer.

College Faculty and Staff Recognition

Culling together the good news and achievements of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni for these addresses is such a rewarding experience as well. A few examples follow of how our colleagues are making their marks in the state and beyond.

NJ: Finalists for the NJ March of Dimes Nurse of the Year have been announced and among them are four members of Ramapo. Congrats to Professor Elaine Patterson, and alumni Wendy Dabney, Stefanie Giddens, and Olga Barry.

NJ: Tamika Quick, Assistant Director of Equity and Diversity Programs, has been named to the Board of Directors for the ACE Women’s Network-NJ.  According to ACE, the group is a diverse group of women committed to the goals of identifying, developing, encouraging, advancing, linking, and supporting women’s leadership in higher education.  Tamika is lending her efforts to the Communications and Programming Committee.

NJ: The Russell Berrie Foundation awarded VP Davey and JoAnne Zellers a $1 million grant to design and create an Institute for Making a Difference at Ramapo College which will provide many opportunities for our students to have paid internships at not-for-profit organizations.

NJ: Last month, the Governor appointed Gina Mayer-Costa, Director of Environmental Health and Safety, to the Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board. The Board assists the Commissioner of Labor in establishing standards for the occupational safety and health of public employees. Gina is the sole representative for higher education.

NY, NJ, PA: Barbara Harmon Francis, Director of EOF, was elected as the 1st Vice President for the Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs in Higher Education.  This is a two year position.  Barbara has been serving on the Tri-State board for 10 years.  The Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs in Higher Education is a not-for-profit association of volunteer members in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.  It represents educational institutions, state education agencies and others involved in the administration of state-supported educational opportunity programs in post-secondary education. At these institutions, the opportunity programs serve tens of thousands college students from educationally and financially disadvantaged backgrounds.

TX: Professor Ira Spar has been appointed to the Advisory Board of the Terrorism Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University. Professor Spar will work with Dr. Neil Brodie, Senior Research Fellow, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford and Dr. Nathan Elkins, a numismatist from Baylor University in identifying and documenting the likely geographic provenance of specific looted Mesopotamian artifacts, he will also review team findings concerning the current status of antiquities trade and strategies to disrupt it.

NY: Ben Neill headlined with Carol Szymanski ​“New Sounds Live” presented by Arts Brookfield  from Oct. 6-11 at The Winter Garden in New York.

NY: Distinguished Concerts International New York City announced in the spring that Dr. Lisa Lutter and the Ramapo College CantaNOVA were invited to participate in a performance of The Music of Eric Whitacre at Lincoln Center on Monday, April 16, 2018. Dr. Johnathan Griffith, artistic director for the concert series, said “CantaNOVA received this invitation because of the quality and high level of musicianship demonstrated by the singers as well as the exceptional quality of their audition recording. It is quite an honor just to be invited to perform in New York. These wonderful musicians not only represent a high quality of music and education, but they also become ambassadors for the entire community. This is an event of extreme pride for everybody and deserving of the community’s recognition and support.” Canta NOVA will spend 5 days and 4 nights in New York City in preparation for their concert.

WASHINGTON, DC: The Center for Student Involvement was selected for the fourth consecutive year as a Lead Institution by NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.)  Ramapo is one of less than 100 colleges and universities which have earned this recognition for making civic learning and democratic engagement a part of every student’s college education.

WASHINGTON, DC: Professor Amruth Kumar joined Ramapo in 1993.  He has been named a Distinguished Member by The Association for Computing Machinery in recognition for his individual contributions to the field of computing, and for having advanced the science and education of computing in a significant way. In 2008, he was awarded a roughly $401,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. In less than 10 years, Amruth has managed to double that amount. This year, as the Principal Investigator, Professor Kumar secured a nearly $1 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation to provide scholarships to Computer Science students who demonstrate academic talent and have a strong financial need.

WASHINGTON, DC: Ramapo’s American Chemical Society Student Chapter (aka the Chem-Biochem Club) won the Outstanding Student chapter award from the ACS.  This is a national award and is the highest honor given to student chapters.  This is a first for Ramapo.  They also were given the “Green Chapter Award” by the ACS for the second year in a row.

CA: Beth Walkley was invited to serve on a roundtable for Adaptive Insights. Participants learned from Beth and others how to implement the system further into our financial planning processes.

ONTARIO: John Woods joined the College in 2006. As Ombudsman he has spent the past decade working quietly, unobtrusively, but effectively in mediating conflicts and disputes. I am pleased to share that at the National Bar Association’s 92nd Annual Convention in Toronto in late July, John was awarded the Association’s Presidential Award for Outstanding Service in dispute resolution.

Student/Alumni Leadership and Engagement

There is never enough time in any address to cover the breadth and depth of our student’s engagement. A few examples follow:

The Student Emergency Relief Fund Committee which is led by the Student Government Association but comprised of faculty, staff, administration, and students is a wonderful demonstration of Ramapo Values. As a campus wide initiative, it was established in collaboration with the Civic and Community Engagement Center and the Office of Equity and Diversity Programs. The Student Emergency Relief Fund Committee was established to assist currently enrolled students who are facing issues of food insecurity. The Committee has already raised $2,250. Applications for these emergency relief funds are accessible through the SGA and through Equity and Diversity. The Committee is also keen to establish a food pantry on campus in the spring and that request is currently under review by the Space Management and Allocation Advisory Committee.

Leaders in Service turned 8 this year. The fall 2017 cohort includes 44 first-year students who participated in the off campus civic engagement activities including volunteer service on environmental and home building projects, social engagement with residents of health facilities, and mentorship with migrant agricultural families.

Student Affairs is proud to announce the opening of the Office for Violence Prevention, located in C215 and C216 (across from the Women’s Center).  The office focuses on education and prevention activities for students related to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

As part of Disabilty Awareness Month, The American Sign Language Club and Young Leftists and Progressives have collaborated to deliver “Who Did Helen Keller Grow Up To Be? A Conversation About Disability Activism” on October18 at  5:00PM . Disability Awareness Month & Queer and Trans History Month Keynote Speaker: Kay Ulanday Barrett will speak on October 25, 2017 – 2:00 PM Friends Hall

Today is Pride Fest. In celebration of National Coming Out Day today marks Ramapo’s first ever Pride Fest.   LGBTQA+ friendly and advocacy groups joining us today at 3pm at the Arch include Garden State Equality, the Pride Network, Ramapo Pride, The Women’s Center, Office of Equity and Diversity, Diversity Peer Educators, and others.

Also on display today in the Grove is the Clothesline Project, a visual display dedicated to raising awareness about the reality of violence in our society. It is composed of t-shirts created by survivors of violence, or in honor of someone who has experienced violence. Each t-shirt reflects the personal experience of its creator and may occasionally have some graphic material on them.  The Clothesline exhibit follows last month’s Send Silence Packing Display, a national awareness campaign facilitated by Active Minds.  Send Silence Packing was an exhibition of 1,100 backpacks representing the college students lost to suicide each year.  Since 2008, Send Silence Packing has been displayed at over 200 stops and traveled to more than 38 states across the country reaching almost 1 million students.  Ramapo, which has its own Active Minds chapter celebrating its 10th year on campus, was honored to have been selected for a second time to host the exhibit.  The program included remarks from immediate past chair of the Board of Trustees George C. Ruotolo and the presentation of a Senate Resolution by the State of New Jersey by Senator Sandra Cunningham that praised Ramapo for its service, leadership, and commitment to programs committed to mental health and suicide prevention.

Athletics has taken a lead and has implemented NCAA Drug Testing for athletes this year.

Our Men’s Basketball Team is ranked second in the nation.

Social Science contract major Mindy Gorin just began her study of law at Michigan Law School.  She intends to research aspects of discrimination as it pertains to gender and law.

International Studies major Jimmy Grissman was selected to receive a Global Health Fellowship with the UN Foundation.

Students Reeve Olivia Harden and Cassandra Fenton will be presenting their work at COPLAC this weekend at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania.  Once again, our students are showcasing their intellectual talents across the country.

Alison Banks-Moore, the Chief Diversity Officer for Blue Cross-Blue Shield and alumna, is chairing a new Foundation Mentorship Program that invited student scholarship recipients to be paired with a member of the Board of Governors who will serve as their mentor for junior and senior year.

Best friends in Disney’s “Descendants 2” are at a relationship crossroads halfway through the musical when they break out in song – “Space Between” – co-written by North Arlington native and alumnus Stephen Conley. Also, Samantha Simone, Theater program alumna from the class of 2015, in her third year of the MFA program in Acting at Columbia University, was cast recently in CBS television’s series “Blue Bloods,” for which she received SAG (Screen Actors’ Guild) membership.

Ramapo’s Student Health Center is now an HIV testing site as designated by the Department of Health.  The College can now routinely offer free HIV testing to students directly in the Student Health Center as opposed to scheduled visits from off campus agencies.  The funding for the service comes from the Federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act of 2006.  Ramapo College is one of only 5 colleges in New Jersey to offer this service.

Counseling Services is pleased to launch its new ENHANCE program. The Program provides additional services, beyond what is required by disability law, to students who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  An increase at Ramapo in students with Autism Spectrum Disorders prompted Counseling Services, with assistance from the Office of Specialized Services, to create a program that aims to establish a dedicated way for more strategic attention to be directed to students.  The program is led by Ms. Suzanne Calgi, LCSW.  Students who enroll in the fee-based program experience support with social challenges, coaching around communication difficulties, individualized therapy without any session limits, tools for building healthy relationships, mentoring, skills for working within a group, and adjustment coaching for those students living on campus.

The College is providing all students, faculty, and staff with the LiveSafe app – a safety tool that provides a quick, convenient, and discreet way to communicate with Ramapo College Public Safety.  The app provides for emergency contact to Public Safety, allows for sending messages to the Public Safety Desk, and allows for tracking of a person while on campus to and from locations through the assistance of a person in the Contacts of the subscriber in the form of a buddy.

All first-year students now have three advisement meetings in their first year with their assigned advisor starting at Orientation and continuing until they transition to faculty advisors as sophomores. In our first year of implementation in fall 2016, the Center for Student Success had 618 more student appointments, which was a 36% increase over the prior year. As part of the Academic Advisement Council, the Center for Student Success looks forward to continuing to foster Ramapo’s culture of academic advisement for student Success.

Curriculum and Faculty

Among some of the curricular advances and many faculty achievements, I’m pleased to highlight the following:

The College launched the MS Accounting Program this fall and exceeded its targets in its first year.  The goal was to enroll 13 students in the first year and we have 24 students enrolled.

The Eastern Economics Association has returned to ASB, and it represents an interdisciplinary effort, with ASB Professor Alex Olbrecht as Executive Director and SSHS Professor Kristin Kenneavy serving as Conference Coordinator.

This past summer ASB became a signatory on Principles of Responsible Management Education, a United Nations Global Compact initiative to promote ethics, social responsibility, and sustainability in business education, as manifest in curricular, extra-curricular, and faculty research activities

Recipients of the 2017 Foundation Faculty Research Challenge include:  Professors Nikhil Varma, Gilad Cohen, Lisa Cassidy, Naseem Choudhury, and Thomas Owen.  This evening at my home, my wife, Jackie, and I will have the opportunity to recognize all of the many faculty and staff members who have applied for grants last year to support our students, fund special programs or advance research. You should know that 66 individuals applied for grant funds last year both internally and externally thru the Foundation.

Professor. Sandra Suarez’s TRIO Grant for Upward Bound to prepare at-risk high school students for college success in math and science was funded for 5 years at nearly $1.4 million.

Professor Angela Cristini was awarded a $200,000 grant from Reed Academy for “Greens Do Good” that will involve research by Professors Yan Xu, Ashwani Vasishth and Mike  Edelstein, as well as a conference with Professor Julie Norflus-Good and her education students.

Professor Dean Chen (Political Science/International Studies) was awarded a Fulbright and is teaching in China at Jilin University for the 2017-18 year.

Professor Stephanie Sarabia has soon to be published, Impact of Adult Roles on Maturing Out of Substance Use Among Sexually Diverse Women in the Journal of Mental Health in Social Work;

Professor  John McTighe has a new book coming out entitled “Narrative Theory in Clinical Social Work Practice”, published by Springer.

Professor Kathleen Ray has in press, “Developing a problem-solving treatment for gulf war illness: Cognitive rehabilitation of veterans with complex post-deployment health concerns” in the Clinical Journal of Social Work.

Professor Peter Heinze recently published “Teleology and the Collective Unconscious” in Semiotics 2016.  It compares Jungian and Freudian perspectives while also critiquing some aspects of contemporary relational analysis.

Professor Eileen Klein published, “Using Social Support for LGBTQ Clients with Mental Illness to be Out of the Closet, in Treatment and in the Community” in the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services.

Professor  Henri Lustiger-Thaler edited a 2017 book, “Witnessing Unbound.”  The work helps inform our cultural understanding of the multiple experiences of the Holocaust.

The Law & Society faculty worked to recently publish the spring 2017 Ramapo Journal of Law & Society, a journal that allows undergraduates from across the country to publish their research.  The faculty are working with the student editors on the fall 2017 issue – please look out for it.

Business and Infrastructure

In September, the Department of Human Resources launched the Learning, Development & Performance website and developmental training opportunities for all employees.  Our Learning and Development initiatives are focused on (1) cultivating Ramapo’s workforce and enhancing Ramapo’s organizational culture through professional development programs; (2) assisting individuals in developing their interpersonal and supervisory skills; and (3) improving the quality of work life and job satisfaction for employees. Learning & Development opportunities are available for individual employees or can be scheduled as a group or unit-based developmental opportunity.

The Budget Office completed the transaction detail implementation pulling detailed information from Banner into Adaptive, and continues to train users. The office has also begun the implementation of helpful dashboards in Adaptive Discovery.

ITS has been navigating the College through a series of upgrades and implementations. As a business partner, our ITS Team:

  • started the implementation of moving from Banner 8 to Banner 9
  • implemented Handshake, the replacement of the Archway in Cahill
  • implemented AIM online software with OSS
  • is implementing uAchieve  and uAchieve Planner degree audit and planning software with Registrar and Student Success
  • with Financial Aid, upgraded AppWorx (Automic) and automating Financial Aid Daily Banner Job Processes
  • Developed Spaceman online space planning application in concert with Planning and Facilities

For client services, major projects completed over the summer by ITS included:

  • Upgrades of the computers in 7 labs, swapping out slower hard drives for SSD drives, replacing monitors
  • Working with facilities to provide desktop power outlets for student laptops and other portable devices.

During the “summer vacation” our facilities team was hard at work:

  • Nicole Jones refreshed the Campus Classroom recycling plan.
  • Ed Roessler and Joe Castoro implemented a new wildflower meadow at the north end of the athletic fields.
  • James Sanders is rebuilding the veggiewatt from the ground up using his diesel mechanic skills.
  • Also, with an enhanced level of cooperation between facilities and Student Involvement, this year’s new students were greeted with a “Welcome” sign for move-in day painted on the hill by the Bradley Center. I’m told that facilities, and more specifically our Grounds crew members, were excited to be involved, and recognized for their efforts. The team also helped lay out the plan for the class picture on the band shel
  • Chuck Jurgensen and Doug Lawrence hiked a 100 mile section of the Appalachian Trail in Maine.
  • New exterior seating has been installed near the arch and in the grove.
  • Capital is seeing the wrapping up of the Padovano Commons project, slated to open in late November, and the finalization of the programing for the Library Learning Commons project. The group is now turning its attention to the transitional plan for the Library and other spaces while we transform the existing Library.
  • We also saw the retirement of Dick Roberts after 47 years with the College this summer. Dick’s legacy will persevere, as he has been integral to the foot print of the College and much of its development over those many years.

 Q&A

 

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President's Post #119: Tragedy here in the United States and Abroad

Dear Students and Colleagues,It seems that seldom a week or even a day passes that we are not additionally weighed down by tragedy here in the United States and abroad.

Whether it is the horror of a mass shooting, the disastrous wake of a hurricane, or simply the unsettling ambiguities that confront daily our way of life, please know that none of us are alone in navigating these realities.

As a College, as a home, and as an employer, Ramapo is a place that is small enough to be described affirmatively as “relational” and yet is also large enough to be “complex.”  This is important because, just as you find your way at Ramapo by trusting in the good will of others, exercising  critical thinking, demonstrating respect, and building relationships that reveal truths beyond your own lived experiences, you will, or more importantly, we will find our way.  I believe that we can emerge from this as a more compassionate, just, and connected community.

Counseling is in Building D, room D-216 and  is available to all students. All  of our counselors are professionally trained, and sessions are confidential and free.

In addition, the Daily Digest is replete with opportunities for engagement and relationship and community building as are your classes. You are also invited to join me and others today Thursday, October 5 at noon in the Arch for a moment of reflection and silence.

Peter P. Mercer
President

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President's Post #118: A Path Forward

Dear Colleagues and Students:

The Provost and I met with faculty this week via Unit Council meetings and open sessions. The purpose behind our attempt to meet with as many faculty as we could was to go over some of the important tasks which the College must accomplish, to share our desired timeline, and to receive feedback.

The search for Provost Barnett’s successor will begin immediately. I expect to have the committee established by next week. It will consist of one faculty member from each school, one Vice President, one student, one member of the Board of Trustees, and one administrative facilitator. At its September meeting, the Board of Trustees approved a bid waiver for the recruitment of a search firm to help us with a national search with the intention to have a new Provost in place by July 1, 2018.

Searches for Deans. In order to provide some latitude to the new Provost, I will recommend to the Board that the deanships in TAS, SSHGS, and CA be filled by “interim” deans through to June 30, 2020. The new Provost will then have the opportunity to get a year under his or her belt in 2018-19. The searches for the Deans could then be formally carried out in 2019-20.

College Senate. In light of the tasks already before us, the pending review by Middle States, the implementation of the new General Education curriculum, feedback from some of you, and the ongoing deliberations of the Shared Governance Task Force (SGTF), I will defer the advancement of a College Senate. Once the SGTF has delivered its report outlining the Principles of Shared Governance, discussion on the broader structure(s) for shared governance at RCNJ should commence.

Middle States Self-Study. Our accreditation was last reaffirmed in 2015. Middle States is scheduled to conduct its next self-study review of Ramapo in 2019-20. The development of the self-study will launch in January 2018 with an announcement regarding the appointment of co-chairs for this exercise to be shared later this fall. The timeline below provides more detail:

October 16, 2017: MSCHE Town Hall Meeting – Standards Update
November 6-8, 2017: MSCHE Self-Study Workshop – 2014 Standards for Accreditation and Requirements of Affiliation
December 2017: RCNJ Self-Study co-Chairs appointed and steering committee populated
December 6-8, 2017: MSCHE Annual Meeting
January 2018: RCNJ Self-Study launched
January 2019: Self-Study completed and transition to completion of final report
June 2019: Completed RCNJ Self-Study delivered to the chair of the MSCHE Visiting Team
Fall 2019: MSCHE Visiting Team at RCNJ
Spring 2020: MSCHE Reports RCNJ Accreditation Status and assessment of the Self-Study

We look forward to a robust academic year and to your feedback and contributions on these and other fronts.

Peter P. Mercer, President
&
Beth E. Barnett, Provost

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President's Post #117: DACA

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

Your news feed, if it is anything like ours, is barraged by headlines that routinely describe significant changes to national policy.

Among these changes, in recent weeks, we have been privy to announcements that portend revisions to Title IX and that end protections for undocumented students. Please know that, as your College President and your Student Government President, our commitment to fostering diversity, inclusiveness, and equity at Ramapo College remains steadfast.

The Trump Administration recently announced plans to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In the spring of 2017 we worked together to enumerate a set of principles for immigrant and undocumented students at Ramapo College. Despite the planned rescission of DACA, those principles remain intact. In brief, they include:
– maintaining a student’s privacy;
– not allowing officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement physical access to College land to the fullest extent allowable under the law;
– prohibiting any College employee from inquiring about the immigration status of any individual on campus;
– prohibiting housing discrimination based on immigration status;
– demonstrating public support for undocumented and DACA students’ equal access to in-state tuition, financial aid, and scholarships.

DACA resources are available at www.ramapo.edu/international/immigration-updates/. In addition, the College’s Office of Equity & Diversity Programming and the Faculty Resource Center also maintain valuable information related to DACA.

President George W. Bush, said, “Immigration is not just a link to America’s past; it’s also a bridge to America’s future.” Nearly 26,000 DACA program participants call New Jersey home. Together, we are working with our congressional delegation, professional associations, and personal networks to ensure that these talented young persons can stay in this country and contribute to its future.

Peter P. Mercer
President, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Stephan Lally
President, Ramapo College Student Government Association

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President's Post #116: Welcome to Fall 2017 at Ramapo College

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

Welcome (and welcome back) to Ramapo College of New Jersey!

I often get a chuckle from the annual Mindset List issued by Beloit College. Included among the 60 items on the list for the Class of 2021 this year are:

  • Women have always scaled both sides of Everest and rowed across the Atlantic.
  • Men have always shared a romantic smooch on television.
  • They are the first generation for whom a “phone” has been primarily a video game, direction finder, electronic telegraph, and research library.

While these three characteristics, at first consideration, may seem a tad banal, they are representative of broader and deeper truths. First, regardless of gender, race, religion, disability, etc., our students arrive at Ramapo with a tenacious and inspiring belief in their own capacity. Second, they overwhelmingly bring with them a penchant for acceptance. And third, they are relentlessly connected to information in ways that make navigating volumes of stimuli both challenging and nuanced. So, students, you are wondrous creatures, and the Ramapo College administration, faculty, and staff are here to celebrate your tenacity, encourage your open-mindedness, and facilitate your intellectual growth.

We spent much of the summer preparing for your arrival and, in so doing, doing what we do best—serving as the state of New Jersey’s designated Public Liberal Arts College.  A recent article in The Atlantic asserted that a liberal arts education provides a path for an increasingly diverse array of students who seek to be “difference makers in society.” For example, at Ramapo, our Student Relief Committee was established by students last spring to assist their peers who are facing issues such as homelessness, food insecurity, and other financial hardships.  All students are encouraged to click here to complete the Committee’s brief Needs Assessment Survey, the results of which will be used to guide institutional decision making processes regarding housing, a food pantry, public transportation, etc.

Ramapo’s steadfast commitment to the liberal arts, academic excellence, small class sizes, faculty/student mentoring, access and affordability, and civic engagement were recognized recently by College Choice. An independent authority, College Choice ranked Ramapo among the top three colleges in the state, with Princeton University and Stevens Institute of Technology taking the top two spots, respectively.

So, while there is much to celebrate at Ramapo, there is also a tremendous amount of achievement in the offing. I look forward to your contributions to the College in the weeks and years ahead and I thank you in advance for your tenacity, your open-mindedness, and your appetite for learning.

Peter P. Mercer
President

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