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President's Post #147: 2019 Commencements

Congratulations to the Ramapo College Class of 2019! Every year, it is a humbling honor to preside over the College’s commencement exercises.

The weather agreed with our plans on Arching Day, May 16, and it was a pleasure to join so many of our graduates and their loved ones at events including the Academic Achievement Awards, the Students of Color Rites of Passage Pre-Commencement Ceremony, the Nursing Pinning Ceremony, and at the display of undergraduate research and senior thesis projects. Further, the Farewell Reception that followed at the Bradley Center was a sublime opportunity for staff and faculty to take pictures with many of our graduates and to wish them well.

On May 17, our undergraduates were celebrated at Prudential Center in Newark where more than 1,000 students listened to remarks by Keynote Speaker Tiki Barber, cheered on student speaker Riana Katz, and crossed the stage to earn their baccalaureate diplomas. A few days later, on May 23, our graduate students packed the Bradley Center and, accompanied by their graduate program directors, faculty, and staff, enjoyed an address by Keynote Speaker Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-37), and made their way across that stage to be ceremoniously hooded and presented with their Master’s diplomas.

I extend my sincere kudos to everyone that participated in the ceremonies and festivities and my thanks to the incredible family, friends, faculty, and staff that supported the Ramapo College Class of 2019!

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President's Post #146: Joint Letter on Immigration

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends,

I joined 23 of my presidential colleagues across the State of New Jersey last week in endorsing this letter to the 116th Congress of the United States to urge it to closely monitor federal policies and administrative actions that threaten the free flow of international students and scholars upon which many of our colleges and universities depend.

Joint Letter on Immigration

#NJImmigration

Issued to the 116th Congress of the United States

Endorsed and distributed by the Presidents of New Jersey’s Colleges and Universities: Bloomfield College, Caldwell College, The College of New Jersey, College of Saint Elizabeth, Drew University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Felician University, Georgian Court University, Kean University, Monmouth University, Montclair State University, New Jersey City University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Rider University, Rutgers University, Saint Peters University, Seton Hall University, Stevens Institute of Technology, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Richard Stockton University, Rowan University, Thomas Edison State University, and William Paterson University of New Jersey

As presidents and chancellors of colleges and universities throughout New Jersey, we are writing to express our concern about obstacles we are facing in our efforts to attract and retain international students, faculty, and scholars.  Our schools vary in mission, size and the makeup of our student bodies, but we all depend on our ability to attract motivated students and scholars from throughout society and around the world. We believe our success in these endeavors plays an important role in building the State’s innovation economy.

Over the past several years, we have observed a disturbing increase in the number – and length – of impediments put in the path of our international students, faculty, and staff.  Some of our schools have experienced decreases in foreign student enrollment and all of our schools have encountered an increasingly log-jammed immigration system that is impacting our ability to recruit, retain, and bring to our campuses foreign talent.

Simply put, as it becomes more difficult for foreign students and academics to study and work in the United States, many of them are turning to other options, weakening not just our individual institutions, but American higher education as a whole, and, by extension, our country’s global competitiveness.

Some examples:

  • Administrative processing delays: In a number of recent cases, graduate students and faculty members have been forced to miss or defer entire semesters because their visa applications were mired in “administrative processing” at the State Department. Administrative processing is the time period outside of “normal” processing times in which cases that appear to meet the basic eligibility requirements are referred for additional background checks.  Visa applicants are generally not provided with any explanations, nor are they told how long the additional processing may last.  This situation creates untenable uncertainty for the visa applicant, the employer, and other affected parties, especially as anecdotal reports indicate an increase in the amount of time that cases are remaining in this category.  This can be especially problematic for foreign students and academics, whose commitments in the U.S. align with an established academic calendar.
  • Processing delays for Optional Practical Training: Optional Practical Training (OPT) permits foreign students studying in the U.S. to apply for “practical training” with a U.S. employer in a job directly related to their course of study. The program allows students to supplement their education with valuable experiential learning and on-the-job-training as they start their careers.  Unfortunately, processing times for OPT applications have increased from a previous maximum of 90 days in 2016 to 3 ½ -5 ½ months today.  Processing times in this range create an enormous burden for students.  The consequence of these delays is that students are unable to begin their job or program on time and, in many instances, they may lose out on the position altogether.  This harms not only the students, but also the employers seeking to hire qualified, U.S.-trained workers for a practical training opportunity.
  • Increased Requests for Evidence: Over the past year, employers seeking to hire foreign-born employees have seen a dramatic increase in the number of “Requests for Evidence” (RFEs) from USCIS, particularly for H-1B visas, which allows U.S. employers to hire highly-skilled foreign workers in specialty occupations.  We understand that USCIS has a responsibility to ensure that it has necessary information about eligibility; we do not doubt that some of these requests are warranted.  The scope of the increase, however, is staggering.  RFEs for H-1B visa petitions more than doubled between the third and fourth quarters of FY 2017.  These requests delay the issuance of visas for employers by months and boost legal costs. Meanwhile, our professors and other employees are putting their lives on hold as they wait for start-dates.

The types of situations described above rarely make front-page news and the isolated impact of each example is certainly not as dramatic as the effect of higher-profile actions such as the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or the travel ban.  However, taken together, they create a frustrating and sometimes hostile environment for those wishing to live in and contribute to our communities.  This cumulative effect is acutely felt at our colleges and universities, where we depend on the free flow of talent to help fulfill our teaching and research missions.

Our experiences over the past several years are reflected in the findings of two recent reports by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS).  The AILA analysis of USCIS data found that the total time it takes the federal government to process foreign visas has increased by 46 percent over the past two fiscal years.  Meanwhile, the Council of Graduate Schools found that new enrollments of international students at U.S. graduate schools have fallen for the second year in a row.  The CGS report comes on top of a 2018 survey by the Institute of International Education, which found that new foreign student enrollment for undergraduate programs in the U.S. has decreased by 8.9 percent since the 2015-16 school year.

Needless to say, we are very concerned about the findings in these reports.  For decades, U.S. academia has been the envy of the world, in part because of our recruitment and acceptance of the finest applicants from around the globe.  It has also been an engine of American innovation, bringing together talent from across the nation and around the world to work on the discoveries that fuel our most cutting-edge economic sectors.  Our students, both foreign and U.S.-born, are able to learn from the world’s best professors and conduct research under the tutelage of the most creative minds in their field.  These students, in turn, join the workforce, enter public service, and become educators or researchers themselves.  Eventually, their children attend our colleges and universities, and become productive members of society.

As the 116th Congress moves forward, we ask that you closely monitor the policies and administrative actions that are threatening the free flow of students and scholars upon which our colleges and universities depend.  We appreciate all your work on these issues and hope that you will continue to let foreign-born individuals on our campuses and throughout the State know that people of all backgrounds and nationalities will always be welcome in New Jersey.

Learn More:

Roukema Center for International Education at Ramapo College

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President's Post #145: Sex Education in the #MeToo Era

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

On May 2, Nj.com published the op-ed below. Kat McGee, Director of Title IX at Ramapo, and I wrote it.

Just as previous generations learned the rules of the road in driver’s education classes, students coming of age in the #MeToo era will receive instruction on how to navigate intimate relationships.

Consent is now a mandatory component of New Jersey middle and high school education, thanks to a law recently signed by Gov. Phil Murphy. Strengthened by a subsequent announcement by Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal that his office will be engaging New Jersey’s 21 county prosecutors to host forums across the state on campus sexual assault, the new curriculum will go into effect in 2019-2020 and require sex education classes to teach about consent. Students will learn about their rights under the law and “the virtues of respecting the right of others to say no.”

As employees of New Jersey’s system of higher education, we are responsible for overseeing investigations of sexual assault and, as educators, we understand the need to proactively address sexual assault. Waiting until college, however, to engage young people on this topic is too little, too late. In the absence of comprehensive consent education, our youth learn sexual scripts through the media or pornography, where permission for sex is a foregone conclusion.

According to a study by the Association of American Universities, 23 percent of women and 5 percent of men on college campuses are raped or sexually assaulted. New sex education curriculum for middle and high school students will foster a culture where asking, not assuming, is the starting point for intimacy. Given what has emerged from the national dialogue about sexual assault, this is an important step for New Jersey.

If we are to stop sexual assault, we must ensure that school districts and educators are familiar with best practices for teaching consent. Colleges and universities have been at the forefront of advancing consent-based curricula for many years, and it is working. For example, all incoming students at Ramapo College are required to attend an affirmative consent workshop. Affirmative consent, or a “yes means yes” standard, means clear, mutual agreement for intimacy, rather than inferring consent from the absence of a “no.” What’s the difference? One who feels pressured or fearful will find it difficult or impossible to say “no.” Under New Jersey law, a person who is incapacitated cannot give consent.

Ramapo College is committed to collaborating with middle and high school educators, policy makers, and community groups to advance New Jersey as a leader in sexual violence prevention. Ramapo’s commitment to prevention is demonstrated, in part, by the several testimonies our leadership has provided about sexual assault before the state Senate Higher Education Committee.

In addition, when the federal government recently sought feedback about proposed changes to how colleges respond to reports of sexual assault under Title IX law, Vice President of Enrollment and Student Affairs Christopher Romano was selected for a meeting of college leaders with the Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education. Further, our Title IX Office continues to work closely with the YWCA Bergen County healingSPACE sexual violence resource center on an initiative to provide their services directly on campus. Ramapo College was recently awarded a significant grant by the NJ Attorney General’s office to expand campus-wide services for survivors and to develop violence prevention programs.

One important lesson colleges have learned is that increased awareness and understanding of sexual assault lead to increased reporting. Schools and parents should anticipate that, as students learn more about the laws concerning consent and sexual assault, victims will be increasingly informed and empowered to report these issues. This is a critical step toward eliminating violence and schools must be prepared to provide trauma-informed responses. We encourage K-12 educators to collaborate with local colleges and agencies such as the NJ Coalition Against Sexual Assault to develop evidence-informed consent curriculum and sexual violence response protocols.

Finally, as educators and parents, we believe that teaching our students and our children to respect the boundaries of others early builds an important foundation for future relationships. It matters deeply to us that our middle and high schools reinforce this message. Parents, schools, and communities have an important role to play to ensure that all young people learn the necessary skills to approach relationships from a place of consent and mutual respect. Together we can navigate this turning point in history and provide the next generation with the knowledge and resources to help them choose a better path.

(More information about Ramapo College’s practices and policies regarding Title IX and Sexual Assault Prevention.)

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President's Post #144: Spring 2019 Communication Meetings

The President and the Senior Cabinet hosted Communications Meetings for all employees on March 27, 2019. A summary of the meetings is provided below. The slide deck for the meeting is available here (Comm Mtg PPT March 2019). 

President Mercer began the meeting by highlighting the College’s Strategic Plan Fulfilling Our Promise and noting that the agenda items today are driven by the Plan’s goals of 1) Increasing Student Success and Student Engagement, 2) Cultivating and Supporting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, 3) Advancing Innovation, and 4) Improving Long Term Financial Strength.

National Trends in Higher Education (slides 2-5)
Peter P. Mercer, President

President Mercer described three national trends in higher education that the College must be in a position to manage. First, he noted that the pool of traditional students continues to shrink but a slight uptick in non-traditional adult learners is anticipated. He stressed the importance of the College’s efforts to build articulations with high schools and county colleges, and to grow our degree completion programs.

Second, President Mercer described the recent and continued growth in online enrollment across the country highlighting a recent report released by the NCES that found that about one in six students in higher education in the United States are enrolled exclusively online. He stressed that Ramapo’s capacity to compete in this market must be strengthened and that strengthening will need to include enhancements to our online infrastructure, increases in our online and hybrid offerings, and reallocation of resources to support students that enroll online.

Third, President Mercer called attention to declining state funding of higher education. From 2008-2018, N.J. cut its funding of higher education by 23.5%. Citing a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, President Mercer read, “Most Americans believe state spending for public universities and colleges has, in fact, increased or at least held steady over the last 10 years, according to a new survey by American Public Media. 27% thought it was up, and 34% thought that it had stayed the same. They’re wrong. States have collectively scaled back their annual higher education funding by $9 billion during that time, when adjusted for inflation. Ten years ago, students and their families paid for about a third of university operating costs. Now they pay for nearly half.” He added that, in light of declining state support paired with rising expenses, shrinking enrollment, and affordability concerns – we must be nimble and we must innovate and do things differently. We will need to make cuts and increase revenues. “Revenues grow over time and we accept that, to an extent. So, I have asked each Vice President to identify 5% and 10% cuts to their division budgets. This is an exercise that my office is also participating in and will represent both shared sacrifice and opportunity across the College,” he said.

Higher Education in the State of New Jersey (slides 6-9)
President Mercer then provided an overview of the new State Plan for Higher Education, Where Opportunity Meets Innovation: A Student-Centered Vision for New Jersey Higher Education, and the outcomes-based funding formula therein. The funding formula, he noted, does not place any clear value on quality, graduation rates, affordability, or growth in access and attainment among traditionally under-represented populations. These are among Ramapo’s most significant points of pride and yet the funding formula sadly does not reward any of these hallmarks of a Ramapo education. As a result, at this time we do not stand to benefit from the funding formula.

President Mercer also noted that recent legislation that caps baccalaureate degrees at 120 credits (of which Ramapo was exempted in light of our 4 credit structure) and associate degrees at 60 credits may disadvantage Ramapo’s capacity to recruit transfer students. For example, an associate degree holder enrolling at Ramapo will need to complete an additional 68 credits to earn their bachelor’s degree as opposed to only needing 60 credits to earn that degree at most of our institutional competitors. The 60 credit cap, when tied to our 128 credit structure, also disadvantages transfer students from a financial aid perspective.

FY20 Budget and Beyond (slides 10-18)
Kirsten Loewrigkeit, Vice President of Administration and Finance
Vice President Loewrigkeit outlined the Fy20 Budget. She highlighted that the College has been communicating about its structural deficit for several years in multiple mediums including but not limited to Communications Meetings, the Annual Budget Hearing, the State of the College Address, and at a range of Board of Trustees Committee Meetings. A structural deficit, in short, is when long-term spending exceeds the projected long-term revenues that will be generated by operations. She noted that, while the College has taken steps to mitigate the deficit (leveling its debt, increasing graduate enrollment, growth in auxiliary revenues), we cannot resolve it without significant change in how we operate.

VP Loewrigkeit went on to review financial results trending and described the current budget process which is projecting a loss of $6 million. She described the State budget detail noting that Ramapo’s appropriation, as proposed, may be less than last year. VP Loewrigkeit presented a series of items for consideration that are aimed at shifting our practices and planning for long term results. She highlighted that the budget process must involve stakeholders across the college so that strategies that explore staffing levels, organizational structure, SPIF awards, deferred maintenance, new program development, etc. are advanced when appropriate and implemented well.

VP Loewrigkeit closed by sharing a quote about change that she shared when she interviewed for the Vice President position. Noting that she loves change when she’s involved in it, she cited Socrates, “The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Academic Innovation (slide 19)
Stefan Becker, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs
Provost Becker advanced VP Loewrigkeit’s report reinforcing her point that addressing the deficit and ensuring long term financial strength can only be achieved when stakeholders involve themselves in strategies that increase revenues and cut expenses. He repeated that the College is facing a significant shortfall unless we start doing things differently and doing it now. We do not want to be on the path of mounting debt that has forced some colleges to close programs or even their operations all together. Moving forward on the path that we are on now is no longer an option if we want to ensure financial stability he said, adding though that the good news is that we are still able to take the right steps and steer our institution in the right direction; but it is not an automatic process. It will require thoughtful considerations and, above all, it will require us to come and stand together to make it happen.

If you are facing a budget crisis, Provost Becker said, there are only two things in principle that you can do. You can increase the revenue and you can cut the expenses, and we need to do both. He noted that the majority of our revenue comes from our students via tuition or room and board. To increase it, we need to attract more students to Ramapo. Our admissions team is highly engaged but the competition for students is very stiff; one of the main arguments for students’ choice today is money. The quality of the education students receive at Ramapo is superior and most valuable and not to be infringed on, but it is not enough for us to rest on.

Provost Becker noted that we will advance strategies that increase enrollment in high-in-demand graduate programs (nursing, business, education, social work). These programs are already successful in generating revenue but we need to step that up even further. We need to understand that these programs are not only supporting themselves or their school; they support all of us here at Ramapo. If you are here working in one of these programs, know that we all see, acknowledge, and appreciate the difference you are making for us as at Ramapo and that we are counting on you to step up to the challenge even further.

Referencing back to national growth in online enrollments mentioned by President Mercer, Provost Becker stressed the importance of launching Ramapo Online. This requires us to build first-class courses, develop the infrastructure, offer 5-6 start days per year, and begin with nursing, business, and maybe education. He also described the potential for the College to become a broadly recognized hub for Data Science. Name recognition in this area will not only affect enrollment in the Data Science program but in Ramapo programs across disciplines. A rising tide lifts all boats, he said.

Provost Becker also advised that delivering our courses online does not exclude delivering our courses elsewhere. Establishing satellite instruction on county college campuses will be a sustainable practice for the College, he said. Provost Becker also shared that he is working with the deans to fill our courses and to expand our portfolios as professionals, as faculty, and as leaders.

Enrollment Realities and the Future (slides 20-37)
Christopher Romano, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
Vice President Romano thanked the Provost for his remarks about doing things differently and innovating in our enrollment strategies with a focus on transfer students. He noted that the size of the first year class has increased from 931 in 2015 to 946 in 2018, new transfer students increased from 555 to 577, graduate student enrollment increased from 365 to 565, and degree completion students increased from 82 to 101 during this same timeframe. We have been able to achieve these numbers in part thanks to new graduate programs, the launch of a Transfer Advising Corps, and increased involvement by faculty, staff, and students in recruitment and yield events.

VP Romano shared that the enrollment goal for first year students in fall 2019 is 1000. Plans are in place to meet this goal through increasing the size of the nursing program, increasing yield, and focusing on out-of-state students. He noted that increasing yield (meaning those we accept to Ramapo say yes to us) requires every employee’s support. From simply saying hello to tour groups on campus to ensuring your office is welcoming contributes to yield. He went on to commend Vince Tomaselli, Public Safety Officer, noting that he receives so much positive feedback from prospective students and their families about the warm welcome they received from the Guard Booth. However, he said, he also receives feedback from families that paints a different picture when describing a lack of service orientation from other units on campus. Please keep this in mind, he cautioned: Most applicants apply to 12 different schools and gain admission to nine of them. A prospective student’s experiences with each of you on our campus are more often than not what can make a student choose Ramapo for their undergraduate education.

He closed by sharing that other enrollment strategies employed include a four year freeze on tuition for out-of-state students which has helped drive their enrollment numbers up from 307 in 2017 to 388 in 2019 and that concerted efforts to enhance relationships with the county colleges have been yielded articulation agreements, partnerships, the presence of Ramapo transfer advisors at county colleges, and…enrollments.

50th Anniversary (slides 38-45)
Cathy Davey, Vice President of Institutional Advancement
Vice President Davey shared with attendees that the College’s 50th Anniversary is being leveraged and celebrated to enhance the Ramapo’s  reputation and visibility across stakeholder groups. She praised the members of the 50th Anniversary Task Force for their collaboration and time commitment. She added that we will celebrate 50 years of who we have proudly become today as well as our brand promises of who we are proud to authentically be for our students as we move forward.

While some new events/programs will be introduced, VP Davey noted that the Task Force is mindful of budget constraints and existing strengths and, as such, is expending much of its efforts in using our existing programs as hallmarks for the celebration. The Task Force Committees include foci on Scholarly Programs, Community Relations, Marketing and Communications, and Student Programs. She went on to highlight the good will among the task force and several of the programs noted below with emphasis on a new brand/marketing campaign, lecture series, service projects, and the groundbreaking of the Learning Commons.

Discrimination and Complaint Processing (slides 46-52)

Nicole Morgan Agard, Chief Equity and Diversity Officer

Chief Morgan Agard began by noting that she has been asked by persons across campus to clarify the NJ Law Against Discrimination and the State Policy Prohibiting Discrimination. Protected categories include creed (faith, religion), nationality, ancestry, race, sex/gender, sexual orientation, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, genetic information, gender identity or expression, service in the armed forces, disability, and marital status. She described zero tolerance on matters of discrimination and the potential outcomes of related violations.

Chief Morgan Agard walked attendees through the steps employees must take when there is a report of discrimination. She closed by noting that mandatory diversity training for staff will be held on June 4.

Announcements (slide 53)

President Mercer thanked Vice Presidents Loewrigkeit, Becker, Romano, Davey and Chief Morgan Agard for their presentations and encouraged attendees to involve themselves in addressing our budget challenges.

He closed by sharing the following timely announcements:
• Graduating Senior Christina Dwyer is the College’s most recent Fulbright Scholar. Dwyer will spend a year as an education and literature scholar in South Korea.
• The President’s Staff Recognition Awards are now accepting nominations thru to April 26. Apply online at Ramapo.edu/president/recognition or take a paper nomination form with you today.
• The Middle States Self Study Town Hall will be an opportunity for all stakeholders to hear what we’ve learned from the self-study process and to share your thoughts. The Town Hall will take place on April 17 at 2:30PM in the Trustees Pavilion.
• Later in April we hope you will join members of our Planning Office and assessment committees including CWAC, GECCo, AAC, and SRAB for roundtable information sessions on planning and assessment.

Question and Answer

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President's Post #143: In Memoriam of Professor Joe Johnson

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends,

I regret to report the passing of founding faculty member Joe Johnson. Professor Johnson died on February 17.

Born in Harlem in 1940, Professor Johnson joined Ramapo in 1971. Two years later, he earned his Master’s in Applied Linguistics from Columbia University. In the 1970’s he taught in and advised students in the then emergent African-American Studies Program. In the 1980’s, he initiated and served as co-director of the Kenya Study Abroad Program and, for the next several decades, he was an active founding member of the Minority Faculty/Staff Association. During his career with Ramapo as Associate Professor of Literature, he taught courses in Poetry, African American literature, Multicultural literature and American popular literature and culture. Professor Johnson also mentored countless students and stayed in touch with many successful Ramapo alumni.

Professor Johnson authored three books of poetry and countless literary reviews. His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies. He was a principal in Reed, Cannon and Johnson publishers alongside contemporaries Ishmael Reed and Steve Cannon. He authored Heat and Hot and he was selected to write the introduction to Calvin Hernton’s collected poems: Medicine Man. Professor Johnson was published in the Neworld Review, and in the popular anthology, The Poetry of Black America, among other publications.  He performed his very popular poem, “If I Ride This Train” on the Smithsonian-Folkways CD New Jazz Poets USA and he participated in the Meet the Author Ramapo Cable TV Series.  In 2016, he and fellow poet Harry Lewis were interviewed by Local Knowledge Magazine. In the interview he discussed his poem “100 Blocks” and shared his perspectives on writing and poetry and their intersections with race and the modern world. He retired from Ramapo in September 2017.

Professor Johnson is survived by his daughter, Circe Johnson-Flenga, who often strolled with her mom and dad on the campus she grew so fond of, his son, J. Johnson, his family, and all of his friends at Ramapo. For information regarding a memorial for Professor Johnson on March 13 from 3:30-5PM in the York Room of the Birch Mansion, please contact the Minority Faculty and Staff Association care of Professor Warner Wada. Professor Johnson will be honored, as well, as part of the College’s 2019 Remembrance Day Ceremony.

Our sympathies are with the Johnson family.

Peter P. Mercer
President

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President's Post #142: State of The College Address (February 2019)

President Mercer delivered the spring 2019 State of the College Address on February 6, 2019. A summary of that address follows:

The state of the College is strong but we are on a precipice of sorts. The State budget looms ahead as does the release of the Secretary of Higher Education’s Plan. We continue to grapple for our share of students as well and their financial need continues to grow. Indeed, our reputation is strong, but fragmentation within the State, including now four designated research institutions and legislation that favors 60-credit associate degrees, place challenges on our capacity to continue to compete successfully in a shrinking market.

(Transcript not available.)

This is the time for us to innovate.

With respect to our academic programs, I am pleased to share that we have several new developments. We understand that we must continually evolve and actively strive for student success, and for that reason our exploration of fully-online programs continues. This is a re-envisioning of our delivery and one that will not only help us meet the needs of today’s students who often rely on the flexibility and convenience of online learning, but also, frankly,  provide a new revenue stream for the College, consider firstly the potential growth to our summer enrollment. Programs in nursing, business, and education have been tapped to be our first step into this arena, and we expect to launch the first fully-online program for a Fall 2019 cohort.

In addition to online programs based on our current offerings, during this academic year we launched:

  • a new Philosophy major;
  • a new Sustainability major;
  • Management, Marketing, and Finance majors;
  • a minor in Museum and Exhibition Studies; and
  • a certificate program in Spanish for Healthcare Professionals

There are several other new programs under various stages of development as well. This is important. It is what we need to do. As a member of the N.J. President’s Council, I see our peers presenting new programs but look behind the curtain a bit and many times they are actually introducing old win in new bottles. That’s not good enough. We must be introducing new ideas and new programs.

Among the four goals of the College’s Strategic Plan: Fulling Our Promise is to “Advance Innovation as the College’s Promise and Obligation to its Students, Community, and the State of New Jersey.” Fulfilling Our Promise is accompanied by a visual mapping of indicators tied to the goals and outcomes in it. This mapping, Dashboard 2021, features approximately 60 indicators that will be updated annually and made available to the campus. Dashboard 2021 represents not only our attentiveness to advancing the College under the new strategic plan but also our institutional commitment to assess and continually inform that advancement.

Turning now to Middle States, we are engaged in the MSCHE Self-Study process.  Working Groups have submitted the second draft of the self-study document which is currently under review by the Steering Committee.  They look forward to presenting the Self-Study draft document to the Ramapo community during the month of April for everyone’s review and feedback, and I mean everyone. The chair of the Middle States visiting team will be on campus in the fall followed by the entire team in the spring of 2020; and I have already received suggestions about who will chair the team.

Turning back to Innovation, I am pleased to highlight a few of the recent innovative contributions of our faculty:

  • Professor Iraida Lopez has been selected for a 2019-20 Fulbright Scholar award which will allow her to teach postgraduate courses in Fall 2019 at the University of Chile and the Catholic University of Chile. Our track record with Fulbright scholars is truly impressive and speaks to the talents of our faculty.
  • Professor Amanda Roberti will receive the Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for Research in Women and Politics. The prize comes with funds for research on a project on conservative women state lawmakers and abortion regulations.
  • Professor Naseem Choudhury set up a new virtual reality lab on campus. The lab is an interdisciplinary effort (with psychology, neuroscience, computer science and visual arts) to train students in creating interactive three-dimensional stimulus environments within which responses can be recorded.  This is a dynamic testing and training environment that offers students the option to develop and carry out experiments that are not available using traditional techniques. The future integration of VR technology with brain imaging provides our students with experience in a cutting edge and innovative technologies that makes them competitive for entry into graduate and professional programs.
  • Professor Ashwani Vasishth f brought Dr. Biswajit Mohanty to campus several months ago to discuss local grassroots movements in India. The discussion illuminated the adverse impacts of the forces of globalization that act upon local communities and to better understand the innovative ways in which communities of the rural south there react to and resist these adverse pressures.
  • Professor Paul Reck sponsored “Driving While Black in New Jersey.” Seton Hall Law Professor Mark Denbeaux, several of his former law school students including Marquis Whitney, Jason Castle, Anthony Osei, and a study participant, Tevin Bell, presented their research on racially and geographically selective police stop and ticketing patterns of motorists in Bloomfield, New Jersey. A fascinating discussion that helped us understand the broader phenomenon of racial profiling in the United States, including how it occurs, why it occurs, and what the consequences are for those targeted as well as the society as a whole.
  • A collaborative effort between HGS, TAS and SSSHS, the Cahill Center, Study Abroad and the Grants Office yielded a new Certificate in Spanish for Health Care and Human Services. The program is funded by a $155,000 U.S. Department of Education grant and I want to recognize Professor Natalia Santamaria and all involved in that work.
  • Professor Michael Edelstein earned a $294,000 grant from a Hawaiian non-profit to study the Native Hawaiian geothermal psycho-social health impact. I have tremendous admiration for anyone who can secure a research grant in Hawaii.
  • We are awaiting the final budget approval of about $400,000 from the NJ College and University Sexual Violence Awareness and Response Grant Program from the Department of Justice. Congratulations to Kat McGee, Marie Attis-Springs, Claudia Esker and the others who worked on this grant.
  • Professor Kathy Hajo has had additional grants funded for the Jane Adams Papers
  • Professor Sandra Suarez earned additional funding for the Upward Bound Math/Science Program.
  • Associate Dean Kathy Burke earned a National Institute for Health grant for her work with the Ramapough Nation on health intervention.
  • The Cahill Career Development Center received a $3500 grant from Enterprise Holdings Foundation to increase student engagement. Enterprise, a longtime partner of the Career Center, has over 20 Ramapo alumni working for their company in various capacities.

 

In 2019, the Berrie Center for Performing and Visual Arts is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The Center was the first building on our campus with a $1Million donation behind it.  The Center will host the Les Paul Festival, which is generously supported by the Les Paul Foundation,o n  February 16 and will feature guitarist Bill Frissell and Grammy-award nominated hip-hop producer and 2014 alum Brandon Korn. Concurrently, our art galleries will be filled with exciting and provocative work in our semester-long exhibition curated by gallery director Sydney Jenkins.  Entitled !!!PUBLIC ART??? INQUIRIES, ENCOUNTERS, the exhibit will include graffiti art by Lady Pink, works on monuments by Howard Skrill, and a series of lectures, performances, protests, and provocations around the campus, including a dance workshop from Black Lives Matter choreographer/activist Shamell Bell at the Arch on April 4. The very next day, our Theatre Program will present Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Sharp Theater. There is a nice symmetry here that the production will be directed by Professor Terra Vandergaw, who directed the same play as the first production on the Sharp Theater stage in 1999.

The College’s 13th Annual Diversity Convocation and Pre-Convocation Luncheon will take place on Wednesday, February 13th. Convocation will feature Emmy Award winner John Quińones, from the ABC News Program “What Would You Do?”  In addition, the Pre-Convocation Luncheon will feature Guest Speaker, Dr. Kevin Kumashiro, award winning author and education consultant.  All are welcome and there is no charge to either event, but seating for the Luncheon is limited.

As mentioned in the Fall, plans are currently being finalized for Diversity & Implicit Bias Training for all Staff, including Administrators, to take place in late May or early June. The training will be mandatory for all Staff and will last a minimum of two hours.  The training will be similar to the one provided to Faculty in April of last year and it will be offered at least two different times to accommodate employee schedules. A Bias Reporting Form has been set up online on the EDIC website. Individuals can now report claims of Bias on campus anonymously. In addition, the Bias Response Team that was announced last fall will have its first meeting within the next few weeks.

Banner 9 is fully live with Banner 8 having been decommissioned as of the start of the year and the Ramapo College “BUG” (Banner User Group) had its inaugural meeting in early January and will continue throughout the year. ITS has also been instrumental in advancing Mobile Print campus wide.  You can send an email to print@ramapo.edu and print the attachment in any computer lab, including in the Fishbowl, by swiping your Ramapo ID. ITS is also rolling out a new help desk ticketing system that will greatly increase the visibility of requests and provide feedback to clients at every step of the resolution process, with the ability to create requests with an email, from a web site, or even an app on your phone.  WiFi upgrades will be coming to Overlook over spring break and once Overlook is complete, The Village is up next, with WiFi upgrades planned there for the summer.

The College was recently inspected by NJ Department of Environmental Protection for compliance with hazardous and medical waste. The College was found to be in full compliance. In addition, we completed a Public Employee Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSH) safety consultation to assure safe roof work for employees. All of the recommendations from that consultation are now in place.

Other physical enhancements to campus include Ramapo’s much anticipated Dunkin’ which officially opened in the Fall semester, after a complete renovation of the Adler Cafe over the summer break.  The grand opening was held on November 28th and for the total of four weeks that Dunkin’ has been open, here are the results: 13,939 Total Customers serviced, 4,860 Donuts purchased, and $61,385 in Gross Sales. What I like most about this bit of news is the anecdote that opening Dunkin’ was not born from an institutional desire to get you to spend more money, but rather to simply spend the money you were already expending elsewhere here on our campus.

The Potter Library moved to its temporary location in Linden Hall over the winter break and opened on time on January 22nd. The lovely renovated space is fully open, providing all regular Circulation and Research Help services, computer labs with new printers, group study rooms, study spaces, Interlibrary Loan, and print book collections. If you have not yet walked through the space, do so. The beauty and ease of it exceeds its transitional status.  The Gross Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies is on the 1st floor and The Center for Reading and Writing is on the 2nd floor.

Further, the Learning Commons project is currently on schedule and hitting all of its milestones. The 90% Design Plans are currently under permit review by the DCA, and bids for the interior demolition work in the existing Potter Library building were received on January 17th.  Contract award is expected by February 15th, with construction activity starting by the end of February.  You will witness the building peeled back to its studs, it will be transformed, but it will also be noisy. The Learning Commons Campaign has now reached more than $9.5 million in gifts and pledges toward our goal of $15 million. I am most grateful to the Board of Trustees for their 100% participation in the campaign and their $1 million Challenge Grant to attract new alumni donors who have never given a restricted gift before.  We also are working with our Campaign Cabinet on a special 50th Anniversary Appeal to support the Learning Commons at the $50,000 level.

This year nearly $1Million will be awarded in student scholarships, faculty support and college support through endowment income and annual scholarships. Students receiving more than 480 named scholarships will be honored by the Foundation on April 9th at the Annual Scholarship Dinner.  Further, we are pleased to share that total gift income for both current operations and capital purposes, as reported on the Voluntary Support for Education (VSE) / CASE Higher Education Survey grew by 25.2% from 2017 to 2018.

The Student Governors and SGA will be hosting our Annual Day of Giving next week. An interesting factoid, February 12th, 1969 was actually the date the Ramapo College Board of Trustees met for the first time but they didn’t actually know that they were the Ramapo College Board of Trustees at that time because the college was not yet even officially named. Student Governors, Jennifer Noctor and Ryan Greff, are working with the Foundation to organize this effort which begins February 12 and will run just beyond February 13. Faculty and staff may wish to know that anybody who donates by February 13 will be entered into a raffle for a parking space.

The Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey recently recognized Ramapo College and the Foundation at its 5th Annual Best Practices Conference saluting innovation in the workplace.  Our Allocations Grants Program was cited for its innovative way to create “workplace heroes at all levels.”  This program provides an opportunity for faculty, staff or student organizations to advance a project with an emphasis on leadership, engagement and diversity.  In the last five years, grant awards have increased by more than 30%. The successful spring grant recipients will be announced on February 28th.

As part of Ramapo’s continued commitment to addressing campus sexual violence, the College applied and was accepted to join NASPA’s Culture of Respect Collective. The Collective is an ambitious two-year program that brings together institutions of higher education who are dedicated to ending campus sexual violence and guides them through a rigorous process of self-assessment and targeted organizational change.  The program is grounded in an expert-developed public health network, cross campus collaboration, and peer-led learning to make meaningful programmatic and policy changes.  As part of our participation, we will receive strategic support and technical assistance throughout the process, as well as detailed documentation of campus-initiated changes that support survivors, prevent sexual violence, and communicate that violence is utterly unacceptable. Ramapo College of New Jersey will be connecting with 40 other institutions, both national and international, in this third cohort of the program.

In Fall 2018 and for the third semester in a row, the All-Greek GPA average, All-Greek Women’s GPA average, and All-Greek Men’s GPA average was higher than the undergraduate average. Further, in the fall, the Greeks completed 5,278 hours of community service and raised over $17,000 for numerous causes.

In November, the Civic and Community Engagement Center hosted the annual OXFAM hunger banquet.  The event explores the global issues of food insecurity, poverty and injustice. Approximately 101 students and staff attended the dinner this year.  The participants experienced world poverty firsthand through a simulated event whereby they were placed in high, middle or low class income brackets and experienced classism while partaking in a meal.  The participants experienced the imbalances of food distribution and access to food and processed how they felt going through the simulation as the event transpired. The College has almost doubled the number of participants who experience the dinner, as the 2016 dinner had 60 participants. The event also offered discussion around Ramapo’s We Care Program (food pantry and student emergency relief fund), as well as the Hunger Free Campus bill promoted by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.

In January, 10 students and 1 trip leader, attended the CCEC’s first-ever Alternative Winter Break to India.  In the city of Bengaluru, the students worked with and learned from some of the most dynamic non-government organizations advancing equity and human dignity in South India.  The students also worked with Fireflies, a center promoting Earth spirituality, the resolution of ethnic violence and deepening civil society in India.  Students drove through a safari and a forest that is home to wild bison, tigers, and elephants.  There was still 10 that returned.

On January 20, students and staff from the Center for Student Involvement attended the Apollo Uptown Hall: Unsung Champions of Civil Rights from MLK to Today where they participated in interviews and panelists discussed Dr. Kings’ legacy and its impact on modern social justice movements.

As I mentioned earlier, the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education hosted three forums about higher education in New Jersey to help inform the state plan. According to OSHE, the forums focused on affordability, preparation for post-college employment, and student success. SGA President, Stephan Lally, served on the panel at Rowan University on November 19, 2018 and the College hosted a live stream of the event.

On November 10, 2018, the College Programming Board and Student Government Association hosted the College’s most successful concert to date.  A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie (known as “A Boogie”) performed in the Bradley Center to a sold out student crowd of 1300 individuals.  A Boogie is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter.  In the weeks leading up to the event, the Center for Student Involvement hosted 2 student auditions for the house DJ and opening act.  A student was selected to be the house DJ for the event where music was offered while students were welcomed to the arena and in between sets.  Omiette Allisson, a junior majoring in Music with a concentration in Music Production and a minor in Music Industry, competed against 9 other student acts and was selected as the opening act for A Boogie.

Implemented with the Registrar and ITS, the Center for Student Success is developing customized degree plans for all first-year students using U. Achieve software.  Faculty will be invited for continued training through the Academic Advisement Council and their Unit Council meetings.

Via our Transfer Advising Corps (TAC), Enrollment Management, Student Success and Admissions continue to focus on advancing the College’s efforts to partner with county colleges in order to facilitate a seamless transfer of students from the Associate’s degree to the Bachelor’s degree.  This semester, we have added both Raritan Valley Community College and Hudson County Community College as our newest partner institutions in the transfer advising corps model.  In this model, we continue to have a Ramapo staff member spend one day per week at the county college building brand and meeting with students in an attempt to increase the number of transfer students from each partner school.  This has also been identified by the new Secretary of Higher Education as a key priority and so Ramapo is positioned well to support this state initiative.  VP Romano and I are also in conversations to begin advancing this work with Passaic County Community College this spring.

A special acknowledgment to our Public Safety, Facilities and Housekeeping teams who helped when a pipe burst on Jan 24th and flooded parts of the 4th and 3rd floors of Gwing. Residents of Gwing greatly appreciate the work of Public Safety, who was on site within minutes of the alarm, Facilities for the repair, and Housekeeping for the spectacular cleanup, as well as the Dean of Students and the Registrar who found alternate classroom and lab spaces for us. After the cleanup, the TAS lab staff made sure that all equipment was up and running and safe to use.

The Honors Program took four students to the National Collegiate Honors Conference in Boston in November. Junior Finance major Stephanie Guzman won second place in the national poster competition. Her research examined the use of migrant labor in the US agricultural industry. The Honors Program is sending fifteen students to Nepal for the first Honors Alternative Spring Break, and taking ten students to the Northeast Regional Honors conference in Baltimore in April.

The President’s Committee on Campus Sustainability is launching a survey to assess the opportunities and possibilities open to the College in our campaign to become a leader in sustainability. The College is participating in the 2019 RecycleMania Contest, to improve our recycling rates and to reduce the volume of solid waste and trash we are generating.  It would be really helpful if we could all pay particular attention to how much stuff we throw away and how effectively we recycle.

Professor Neriko Doerr has launched a Fair Trade Campaign, with help from Professor Ashwani Vasishth and the support of the President’s Committee on Campus Sustainability. They will be hosting a series of events–starting with a film screening during Valentine’s Day week. Students, staff and Faculty can now share rides using Wheeli, a Ride Share App and your Ramapo College email address. For any questions, concerns or suggestions with regard to sustainability at RCNJ, send an email to ramapogreen@ramapo.edu.

The Krame Center for Contemplative Studies and Mindful Living has been working to imbue mindfulness and stress-reduction strategies for Ramapo Faculty, Staff and Students. Everyone is welcome to the free weekly meditations in ASB 420. There are now 5 and 30 minute meditations being held in classrooms.  To support faculty, there is a Mindful Fellows Program with the deadline for sign ups this week and convening group meditations beginning next week.

Finally, the Ramapo Staff Association is continuing to undertake efforts to build community and staff cohesion and provide professional development activities.  In January, RSA partnered with Human Resources to host “Personality Styles at Work” and RSA extends an invitation to all to join them at Biggie’s tomorrow after work for Happy Hour.  See you there.

Question and Answer

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President's Post #141: December Communications Meetings

On December 5, 2018 President Mercer hosted Communications Meetings for staff, faculty, and managers. Following a call for agenda items that was issued the weeks prior, the President and others across campus, spoke with attendees on the topics of: State-wide Initiatives Affecting Higher Education; Advances in the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Compliance; the Academic Vision for Student Success; Dashboard 2021, a Visual Mapping of Strategic Plan 2018-2021: Fulfilling Our Promise; the Middle States Self Study and Reaccreditation Process; A Capital Projects Update; and a Preview of 50th Anniversary Planning.

A summary of the meetings follow.

State-wide Initiatives

President Mercer described the 120-Credit legislation noting that Ramapo, the College of New Jersey, and Richard Stockton University were recently advised that they are not required to meet the mandate. President Mercer advised that he is co-chair of the Transfer Committee of the NJ President’s Council. He described the reverse transfer legislation noting that Ramapo’s first Reverse Transfer Agreement has been established with Bergen Community College.

President Mercer also described a recent visit to campus by Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis and Deputy Secretary Diane Gonzalez. The two Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) officials met with students, faculty, and staff as part of their tour of campus. 

President Mercer outlined the Governor’s Economic Development Plan and the emergent themes of the Strategic Plan for Higher Education. He shared that Ramapo has provided feedback on the draft plan encouraging the inclusion of additional indicators related to competitive grant awards, student loan default rates, EOF graduation/retention rates, state investment per FTE, and internship and cooperative education rates. He noted that the emergent plan seems to be heavily focused on the delivery of vocational skills and workforce training.

President Mercer also shared data from OSHE which pointed to trends in earnings, educational attainment. He noted that the state’s 65×25 initiative aims to foster equitable economic growth by improving college completion and increasing adult enrollment. He added that Ramapo’s role in supporting such growth and remaining competitive will rely on continued advisement, retention, and graduation rate successes, as well as on strategic growth in our adult and online programs, and increasingly nimble delivery of our curriculum.

    

News from Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Compliance (EDIC)

Nicole Morgan Agard, Chief Equity and Diversity Officer, described some of the changes at the College since the establishment of EDIC. She highlighted structural changes and the professional talents that comprise the Office. In addition, she described initiatives and collaboration with Human Resources and others to broaden job postings and diversify candidate pools, to foster training and community building, and to build relationships with student organizations.

         

Chief Morgan Agard noted that plans underway for completion in spring 2019 include: Establishment of a College-wide diversity plan; formation of an advisory diversity committee; creation of a bias response team; and the integration of bias training and reporting systems. She encouraged attendees to save the date of February 13, 2019 for the Annual Diversity Convocation featuring journalist/correspondent John Quinones.

    

Academic Vision: Student Success

Stefan Becker, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, briefly described some of the factors that are shaping his academic vision for the College. He expressed that his vision continues to be informed as he experiences life at Ramapo and learns more from the students and his colleagues about the College’s strengths and opportunities as they relate, in part, to growing our online offerings, establishing cyclical program assessments, internationalizing our curriculum, and advancing new programs. Provost Becker also stressed the importance of all employees seeing themselves and one another as valuable and integral to advancing the College.

Strategic Plan 2018-2021: Fulfilling our Promise

Brittany Williams-Goldstein, Chief of Staff and Board Liaison, provided an overview of the new Strategic Plan and the draft Dashboard 2021. She highlighted that the decision to refresh the Strategic Plan was advanced via the Shared Governance protocol. She briefly described the four goals of the Plan and outlined the components of Dashboard 2021. Chief Goldstein noted that Dashboard 2021 includes approximately 60 metrics or indicators that are linked to the goals, objectives, and outcomes of the Strategic Plan. Dashboard 2021 will generally be updated biannually and will be made available to the campus online. In addition, info sessions on Dashboard 2021 will be delivered in the coming weeks.

 

        

Middle States Self Study

Stephanie Sarabia, Associate Professor of Social Work, and David Nast, Director of the Office of Specialized Services, described progress thus far on the Middle States Self Study. A first, rough draft of the self-study has been generated. As co-chairs of the Middle States Steering Committee, Sarabia and Nast highlighted important deadlines and described upcoming opportunities for broad campus engagement in the reaccreditation process.

   

Capital Projects Update

Kirsten Loewrigkeit, Vice President for Administration and Finance, shared with attendees news of recent capital projects. She highlighted the addition of lounge spaces on campus, the refurbishment of the Fishbowl, upgrades to classrooms, the opening of the Padovano Commons, and the temporary relocation of the Potter Library to Linden Hall. VP Loewrigkeit also recognized the efforts of the many college and dining services employees who contributed to the recent successful grand opening of Dunkin’ in the Adler Center for Nursing Excellence.

  

 

50th Anniversary Planning

Cathy Davey, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Ramapo College Foundation, and Eddie Saiff, Dean of the School of Theoretical and Applied Science, described the planning efforts underway to celebrate the College’s 50th Anniversary. As co-chairs of the Task Force, Davey and Saiff noted that the year long celebration is an opportunity for the College to commemorate academic excellence, foster intellectual exchange, broaden our community impact, and promote student success. A Task Force of student, faculty, staff, and others has been established and is already developing strategies to ensure that their efforts are founded on strong communication, collaboration, and coordination across campus.

Question & Answer

 

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

Dear Colleagues,

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

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

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

You may find specific details about how to participate in the 2018-2019 NJECC at the following link: http://www.ramapo.edu/hr/news-hot-topics/ or by contacting Elaine Himmelberg, Ramapo College NJECC campus Coordinator, at ext. 7498 or eharm@ramapo.edu.

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

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

Peter P. Mercer, President

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

Dear Students, Colleagues, and Friends:

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

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

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

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

Peter P. Mercer
President

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President's Post #138: Black Solidarity Day

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

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

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

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

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

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

Peter P. Mercer, President

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