RAMAPO COLLEGE MAGAZINE
PRESIDENT’S CABINET Peter P. Mercer, Ph.D. President Beth E. Barnett Provost Kirsten DaSilva Vice President for Administration and Finance Cathleen Davey Vice President for Institutional Advancement Nicole Morgan Agard Chief Equity & Diversity Officer Director of Employee Relations Christopher Romano Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Michael A. Tripodi Vice President and General Counsel
FROM THE DESK of the PRESIDENT Dear Friends, I am pleased to share that the Ramapo College campus is brimful with initiative and innovation. From grant awards to capital projects to student leadership, it is impossible to be on our campus in recent months and not marvel at our advancements. On the heels of the Board of Trustees’ approval of a new minor in Neuroscience, Professor Amruth Kumar secured a National Science Foundation Grant of $999,999 for student success in computer science. The new minor and the NSF grant demonstrate the College’s commitment to providing talented and traditionally underrepresented students with significant opportunities for handson learning in the flourishing disciplines of science and technology. The Library Task Force, comprised of students, faculty and staff, completed the conceptual phase of the Learning Commons project. The Task Force is now engaged in the schematic design phase which, while challenging, is also inspiring. It engages the Task Force and respective stakeholders in defining and refining the relationships between the Library’s many functions and purposes and innovating ways in which those relationships may be enhanced or even reinvented in the Learning Commons. The Student Government Association also has been busy this semester. Thoughtful and strategic initiatives, including the development of an on-campus food pantry for students in need and the establishment of new executive board positions including a Secretary of Diversity and a Secretary of Sustainability, are just a sampling of how the Association will be positioning itself this year as a strategic partner with the administration and faculty and as an advocate for the students. I look forward to completing the academic year and sharing with you how Ramapo College continues to move forward thanks to the initiative and innovation of our talented students, faculty and staff. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your support and generosity. Thank you,
Brittany Williams-Goldstein Chief of Staff and Board Liaison BOARD OF TRUSTEES William F. Dator Chair BOARD OF GOVERNORS Ralph Mastrangelo Chair Dr. Carolyn Merkel ’78 Chair, Alumni Association Board RAMAPO MAGAZINE Cathleen Davey Editor-in-Chief Mary Cicitta ’07, ’16 Production Editor Angela Daidone Copy Editor Janelle Ferraro ’14 Graphic Designer Carolyn Herring Photo Editor José Hernández ’98 Alexandra Simone Kevin Monko of Kelsh/Wilson Design Contributing Photographers Elizabeth Brand Angela Daidone Contributing Writers This magazine can be made available upon request in alternate media. 201.684.7611. Alumni contact and change of address: Joanne Favata, Director of Alumni Relations at 201.684.7115 Student Relations contact: Melissa Van Der Wall at 201.684.7457
Peter P. Mercer, Ph.D. President, Ramapo College of New Jersey
Ramapo Magazine is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications: Melissa Horvath-Plyman AVP Marketing and Web Administration
Dr. Jacqueline Ehlert-Mercer, Sara Moulton, author of Homecooking 101, and President Peter P. Mercer at the Edible Garden Dinner at the Havemeyer House.
(L-R): Abbe Benowitz, Judy Green, Senator Sandra Cunningham, Immediate Past Chair of the Boards of Trustees George C. Ruotolo, Jr., Stephan Lally ’20, Jessica Pearson ’19 (Active Minds) Nicky Vasquez ’18, Melissa Mitariten ’18
SEND SILENCE PACKING EVENT BRINGS POWERFUL MESSAGE
The Honorable Paul J. Vichness was the guest speaker at the College in January. He addressed the topic “My True Name: Exploring the legal process of changing one’s name in New Jersey.” Pictured from left are Jack Nesmith, Coordinator, Civic & Community Engagement Center; Trustee Sharlene S. Vichness; Honorable Paul J. Vichness; President Peter P. Mercer; Achyut Gautam ’19; Claudia Wetzel ’20.
Members of the Ramapo College campus and health and wellness organizations hosted a powerful event to raise awareness for mental health issues among young people who suffer from their effects. Send Silence Packing is a traveling exhibit of 1,100 backpacks representing college students lost to suicide each year. Ramapo College is one of only 17 institutions across the country selected to host the exhibit. The College also hosted the event in 2011. Among the guest speakers was New Jersey State Senator Sandra Cunningham, Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “When we look at each backpack, we are reminded that it isn’t just a number but it represents a young person who may have been searching for help. This exhibit is so powerful; it’s an opportunity to see the reality,” said Senator Cunningham. Co-sponsors for the event were The Wellness Coalition, The Center for Health and Counseling, The Center for Student Involvement, Mahwah Stigma Free Task Force for Mental Health, and the Community Health Improvement Partnership of Bergen County.
in this issue ANNUAL REPORT | COLLEGE MAGAZINE FEATURES 2
Learning Commons | Library’s Transformation to Empower Ramapo Community
8 Academics | Neuroscience Studies Valuable for Wide Range of Careers
College and Foundation Financials
College News | Opening Convocation, College Choice, Year of Europe
18 Athletics | D-III Students
N.J. State Senator Kristin Corrado was a guest speaker during a Political Science class this semester. (L-R): Tyler Yaccarino ’18, President Peter P. Mercer, Senator Corrado, Assistant Professor Amanda Roberti and SGA President Stephan Lally ’20.
Grant News / Foundation News
Faculty Spotlight | Amruth Kumar
24 Alumni | Stephen Conley ’15 and Sal Alaimo ’88 and Class Notes
ON THE COVER Nick Vallario and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees Susan Vallario look over the rendering for the new Learning Commons Project.
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FEATURE | LEARNING COMMONS
Ramapo College Magazine | Annual Report
THE LEARNING COMMONS: THE LIBRARY’S TRANSFORMATION by Teri Gatto
ibraries have been central to education and research for thousands of years. Starting with scrolls and hand-written manuscripts and reinventing themselves to accommodate printed books, recordings, films and now computers, libraries are hubs for information and knowledge where scholars often work in quiet solitude. Built in 1976, Ramapo’s George T. Potter Library has served as a focal point for research for both the student body and faculty. As time passed, however, it became clear that the facility would need to undergo a complete transformation in order to keep up with the needs of technologysavvy students and the changing curriculum. “For more than four decades, the Library’s faculty have worked tirelessly to keep pace with advances in digital technology and new learning approaches,” says Ramapo College President Peter P. Mercer. “However, the library’s physical space can no longer meet the changing needs of a 21st-century college.” The last decade saw major changes in how libraries function in institutions of higher education. Many colleges and universities have incorporated learning commons features — vibrant spaces where students often work in groups rather than study alone. These learning commons are flexible educational environments that offer access to special collections and electronic resources as well as an array of on-site learning specialists. They also provide inviting and comfortable spaces where students can more easily focus on their studies.
< Learning Commons rendering
FEATURE | LEARNING COMMONS
The creation of Ramapo’s new Learning Commons presents an opportunity to modernize the physical plant and to move to a more contemporary model of education by redesigning the existing facility. In order to assure that the renovations meet Ramapo’s needs, Dr. Mercer identified a cross-section of individuals who represent Ramapo’s various constituencies and formed the President’s Library Task Force. “Our goal is not just to fix the problems of the old library, but to re-invent the facility as one that will be an exciting place to gather, study and collaborate,” says Susan Vallario, a member of both the College’s Board of Trustees and the President’s Task Force. Vallario and her husband Nick are honorary co-chairs of the fundraising effort for the Learning Commons project. “As a member of the President’s Task Force, I’ve had the opportunity to work with each college constituency and brainstorm with the architects to help us refine our ideas,” says Vallario. “We also visited a number of other colleges and universities to understand what a truly modern college Learning Commons looks like and what it needs to encompass.” According to Mercer, empowering students, faculty and staff to openly share their thoughts and ideas with the Task Force is key for the success of the renovation. “This is a big project, both in monetary and operational terms,” he says. “We have to be reasonably flexible in making sure that
our stakeholders are heard. A major part of my job as chair of the Task Force is identifying consensus that will allow us to move forward to the next point; I like engaging in that type of challenge.” A prime objective of the Task Force is fulfilling the needs of the students. “One of the biggest mistakes made by universities and colleges is for people to develop all sorts of plans for students without ever asking the students if the plans are good for them,” adds Mercer. “Libraries are the center point of education,” says Erin McKenna, a senior Marketing Major with a business minor at Ramapo, and is also a member of the Task Force. “I grew up in a public school system where we had a library in each of our schools, and a public library in our town. When not in the classroom, a library is often where students prefer to go to study or add to their knowledge.” According to McKenna, students are looking for spaces that are not too crowded and where they can comfortably work alone or in groups. Easy access to technology is also a top student priority. “Students need convenient access to outlets and charging stations to charge phones or laptops while studying,” she says. “Having access to tablets, projectors or projection boards for group presentations would be wonderful.”
(L-R): Board of Trustees Chair William F. Dator, Vice Chair Susan A. Vallario and Immediate Past Chair George C. Ruotolo, Jr.
Ramapo College Magazine | Annual Report
The Art of Transformation Emily Mann, a member of Ramapo’s Board of Governors, has been involved with the College first as a member of the Board of Trustees in the 1990s and has seen much change – and growth – on campus. “Ramapo is a constantly evolving Liberal Arts College…growing, improving academically, aesthetically, with a fabulous dedicated faculty and administration and wonderful presidential leadership,” she said. “The Potter Library, one of the original buildings, has had repairs over the years but learning styles have changed over the course of time. Our students need to have dedicated spaces for them to work both communally and privately. The building will become a gateway to the campus and act as a ‘lantern’ in the evening to help create a new aesthetic on campus.” Emily Mann, whose mother was a librarian, has had a love of books all her life.
Ramapo is a constantly evolving Liberal Arts College… growing, improving academically, aesthetically, with a fabulous dedicated faculty and administration and wonderful presidential leadership.” — Emily Mann
Board of Governors (Former member, Board of Trustees)
The transformation of the Potter Library to the new Learning Commons will not require the building to be completely demolished, saving both time and money. “The current library building has a lot of potential, so we are not going to tear it down,” says architect Lee Alison Clark, AIA, Senior Associate at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and manager of the Learning Commons project. “It will however, require extensive repair and updating of mechanical systems and technology infrastructure.” One major aspect of the renovation will be the expansion of the building. “We are planning to push out the wall on the west side and make all of the floor plates larger to give the students more study space,” says Clark. “The building will have a lot more glass, allowing for more natural light, and showcasing the breathtaking mountain scenery. The glass panels will also give the building a more contemporary look.” Another major improvement will be the addition of a dedicated entrance. “Right now you enter a classroom building next to the library, and you go through a little connector between the buildings and through a very modest fire door and
suddenly you are in the library,” says Clark. “Often, when colleges conduct campus tours, they will highlight the library because this is a very important place for students. How a library looks and feels can influence whether a prospective student will choose to attend that particular school. The new Learning Commons needs an entrance that announces how important the building is.” Sustainability and efficiency are also key considerations of the renovation, explains Clark. “We are going to be following a sustainability checklist as we work through the design with our engineers and give the college options on how to make the building more energy-efficient while at the same time balancing the budget” she adds. “We are building a structure that the entire Ramapo community is going to use and appreciate.”
Flexibility and Function “The building is being designed very intentionally to draw people in and to offer interesting, useful and comfortable features,” explains Elizabeth Siecke, College Librarian and Dean. “Traditional services, such as circulation and reference, should see an increase in use, and the new furniture and amenities will keep students wanting to work and spend time there.” Currently, the library is home to a number of academic centers including the Center for Reading and Writing and the Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The expansion, however, will also enable other important student resources, such as IT professionals, to be onsite. “The IT presence in the Learning Commons will provide support for multi-media projects,” says Siecke. The Learning Commons will also have white boards and televisions screens in group study rooms for reviewing videos and presentation materials, as well as a dedicated printing and scanning room on each floor. “Students will be able to use technology in collaborative work areas or in private study spaces,” she adds. www.ramapo.edu
FEATURE | LEARNING COMMONS
(L-R): Board of Governors members Audrey Newman ’93 and Eileen Comerford ’80 and Trustee A.J. Sabath ’93 examine the Learning Commons model.
According to Siecke, the key is to design areas that are multi-purpose. “Technology-rich spaces will be designed with flexibility in mind to respond to ongoing technological changes and upgrades,” she says. Students will have access to a variety of new quiet and collaborative, technologyrich work spaces throughout the Learning Commons. These include group study rooms that can accommodate between four and 12 researchers. The Learning Commons also will house a media room for film screenings, video conferencing, group presentations and remote learning. “We are introducing a compact shelving system that will provide more efficient use of space and offer room for growth of the collection, as well as increase our seating capacity, and will still allow students to access library materials,” explains Hilary Westgate, Reference, Instruction, and Outreach Librarian. Compact shelving systems allow for storage 6
Ramapo College Magazine | Annual Report
of the largest amount of books and other research materials into the smallest possible space through the use of rolling racks fitted with wheel traction systems. When not in use, the units are packed closely together but can be easily moved when books or other items are needed. Another new feature of the Learning Commons will be a café where students can study, take a break or socialize. The café will be a “24/7” type study space equipped with a printing room for students’ use. “There is a tendency on part of the public to conclude that because of long-distance education and on-line availability, the traditional function of a college and university library is obsolete, and that is not true, it has simply changed,” says Dr. Mercer. “The new Learning Commons will give our students – those who live on campus and those who commute – a comfortable place to congregate, work together as groups and undertake the challenges of their curriculum.”
The new Learning Commons will give our students – those who live on campus and those who commute – a comfortable place to congregate, work together as groups and undertake the challenges of their curriculum.” — Dr. Peter P. Mercer
A Perfect Capstone This ambitious three-year project to transform the Potter Library into a modern Learning Commons will require approximately a $42 million investment. In 2016, Ramapo received $15 million from the State of New Jersey Higher Education Capital Facilities program to support the library renovation and expansion. “Ramapo has refinanced existing bonds to secure significant savings to allow for modest borrowing, will support the project with some College capital reserves and is grateful to our private donors who strongly support the new Learning Commons,” says Cathleen Davey, Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Ramapo College Foundation. “We have a fundraising goal of $15 million and to date have raised more than $7 million. I am confident that with the leadership of our Campaign Co-Chairs Ralph and Liz Mastrangelo and the incredible Campaign Cabinet, we will certainly surpass our goal.” For Ralph Mastrangelo, who also serves as Chairman of the Ramapo Foundation’s Board, the Learning Commons project feels very personal.
“I attended a commuter college in New York City and also grew up in a large family. There were four children at home, and I recall the library at the school I attended being the one place where I could find not only resources, but also the quiet that I needed to get through an exam or a particular paper,” he recalls. “This project is certainly something I can identify with personally.” Through his decade-long association with Ramapo, Mastrangelo has seen the College grow and flourish. “It’s been so satisfying how the facilities over time have been modernized to meet the needs of students — everything from the residence halls, to a new science facility, business school, nursing building, spaces for the arts, just to name a few,” he says. “All these building blocks had been put in place and they are all wonderful upgrades and additions to the campus. Now with the Learning Commons we are creating an entirely new type of learning space for our students and the perfect capstone to all the growth of the last decade.”
Now with the Learning Commons we are creating an entirely new type of learning space for our students and the perfect capstone to all the growth of the last decade.” — Ralph Mastrangelo Campaign Co-Chair
Roy Putrino a member of the Board of Governors, Eileen Putrino, Dr. Jacqueline Ehlert-Mercer and President Peter P. Mercer at a recent Campaign Cabinet Dinner.
Campaign Co-Chairs Liz and Ralph Mastrangelo; look toward the Potter Library and visualize the new Learning Commons.
FEATURE | ACADEMICS
Associate Professor Naseem Choudhury (left) displays the use of EEG leads for neurological testing.
VALUABLE FOR WIDE RANGE OF CAREERS When Ramapo College introduced a minor in Neuroscience two years ago, there were 19 students in the program. Last year, the number increased to more than 50 students and enrollment is continuing to grow as the field evolves as a valuable course of study into other areas of career opportunities. “Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field that affects many, many aspects of study,” said Naseem Choudhury, Associate
Ramapo College Magazine | Annual Report
Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience in the College’s School of Social Science and Human Services (SSHS). Neuroscience focuses on the study of the mind, brain and behavior. Students in the minor will gain an understanding of the organization of the nervous system as well as an appreciation of how the physical relates to the mental and emotional behaviors in humans and animals. Among the areas of study include neurological
“WHAT MAKES RAMAPO’S PROGRAM SO STRONG IS THE RESEARCH THAT FACULTY IS BRINGING TO THE STUDENTS…” - NASEEM CHOUDHURY Associate Professor
disorders and diseases of the spine, brain and the nerves that connect them, such as brain tumors, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and stroke, as well as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, dyslexia and attention deficit disorders. “What makes Ramapo’s program so strong is the research that faculty is bringing to the students, who will have the ability to analyze data and explore the interaction between neural structure and function via the brain’s relation to behaviors such as motor control, basic sensory processes, higher cognition and emotional processing,” said Choudhury, adding that major theories of brainbehavior relations, including learning perception and cognitive neuroscience will be studied, as well. “The misconception of this minor is that students will only gain from it if they are planning to pursue a career in medicine or health-related field,” she
“THE MISCONCEPTION OF THIS MINOR IS THAT STUDENTS WILL ONLY GAIN FROM IT IF THEY ARE PLANNING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MEDICINE OR HEALTHRELATED FIELD. THAT WAY OF THINKING IS RAPIDLY CHANGING. MORE AND MORE EMPLOYERS – ACROSS A BROAD RANGE OF INDUSTRIES – ARE FINDING THIS TYPE OF KNOWLEDGE TO BE VALUABLE.”
noted. “That way of thinking is rapidly changing. More and more employers – across a broad range of industries – are finding this type of knowledge to be valuable.” According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics, career opportunities involving a neuroscience background include audiology, physical and occupational therapy, genetic counseling, substance abuse counseling, orthotics and prosthetics, and health education. The Neuroscience minor comprises coursework in psychology, biology, neuropsychology, behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, genetics, chemistry, neuropsychopharmacology, and includes lab work and handson applications. These subjects are becoming increasingly more relevant to the contemporary arts, communication disciplines and teaching, among others.
WORLD-CLASS NEUROSCIENCE TEACHING SPACE FUNDED BY PALESTRONI FOUNDATION The Alfiero and Lucia Palestroni Foundation provided Ramapo College with a major capital gift to help finance a new developmental neuroscience lab, aptly named the Palestroni Developmental Neuroscience Suite. The state-of-the-art space includes a soundproof EEG room, an adjacent control room and observation rooms. Students assess research data from EEG studies.
To see more of the neuroscience lab and Professor Choudhury’s research, please visit www.ramapo.edu/foundation www.ramapo.edu
COLLEGE AND FOUNDATION FINANCIALS
RAMAPO COLLEGE The College’s financial report includes three basic financial statements; the Statements of Net Position, the Statements of Revenues, Expenses, and Changes in Net Position, and the Statements of Cash Flows which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America as promulgated by the Government Accounting Standards Board. These statements present the College’s operations on a consolidated basis and focus on assets, liabilities, revenues, expenses and cash flows on an entity-wide basis. Presented below are condensed versions of these statements. The full College financial report, including footnotes can be found on the College website: www.ramapo.edu/controller/financial-report
Condensed Statements of Net Position, Includes Component Unit, at June 30, (dollars in thousands) 2017 2016 ASSETS Cash, cash equivalents and short term investments Total receivables and other current assets Deposits held by Trustees Total Current Assets Restricted deposits held by Trustees Investments, at fair value Non-current receivables, net and other Plant facilities, net Total Non-Current Total Assets Deferred outflows of pension resources
$74,432 $69,800 5,708 6,853 23,816 22,239 103,956 98,892 18,006 18,492 16,476 3,922 1,455 331,552 329,496 371,972 347,427 $475,928 $446,319 22,144
LIABILITIES Accounts payable and accrued expenses Other current liabilities Long-term liabilities, current portions Total Current Liabilities Other liabilities Long-term debt Net pension liability Total Non-Current Liabilities Total Liabilities Deferred inflows of pension resources
$13,380 $12,035 8,389 8,422 8,738 7,150 30,507 27,607 12,696 3,620 248,035 238,582 105,486 88,667 366,217 330,869 $396,724 $358,476 4,695
NET ASSETS Invested in Capital Assets, net of related debt $92,855 $78,145 Restricted 23,830 19,977 Unrestricted (20,032) (3,268) Total Net Position $96,653 $94,854 Total Net Position, Deferred Resources & Liabilities $475,928 $446,319
Condensed Statements of Cash Flow, College Only, Fiscal Years ended June 30, (dollars in thousands) 2017 2016 2015 Net cash provided by (used in) Operating Activities Noncapital financing activates Capital financing activates Investing activities Net increase in cash Cash - beginning of year Cash - end of year
$11,473 18,366 (24,894) 750 5,695 66,659 $72,354
Ramapo College Magazine | Annual Report
$5,540 $(9,671) 18,162 41,235 (19,222) (22,932) 471 278 4,951 8,910 61,708 52,798 $66,659 $61,708
Condensed Statements of Changes in Net Position, Includes Component Unit, Fiscal Years ended June 30, (dollars in thousands) OPERATING REVENUE Tuition, net Auxiliary, net Federal, state and local grants and contracts Other operating Total Support and Revenue
2017 2016 $61,433 $58,559 35,707 36,706 15,666 15,082 4,893 3,871 117,699 114,218
EXPENSES Instruction Institutional support and Auxiliary Operating, maintenance and depreciation Student services Other Expenses Total Expenses
54,366 40,526 32,505 14,995 8,082 150,474
52,211 39,669 31,984 14,378 7,382 145,624
Non-Operating Revenue (Expenses) State appropriations State fringe benefits Investment income/expenses, net Non-Operating Capital gift Increase in Net Assets Balance beginning of year Balance end of year
14,953 14,953 26,246 24,291 (7,707) (7,175) 33,492 32,069 1,082 846 1,799 1,509 94,854 93,345 $96,653 $94,854
ECONOMIC FACTORS THAT WILL AFFECT THE FUTURE The major components of RCNJ’s operating revenue have changed over time due to declining State support over the last several years. In addition, the College faces limited expense flexibility as salaries and benefits are the largest expenses of the College and the State controls salary and benefit negotiations for a majority of College employees. New Jersey continues to face challenging economic times including the underfunding of the State’s pension plan. These economic factors may affect future appropriations to the College, and reduced appropriations may place an increased burden on tuition and fees. Despite these challenges, the College has been able to consistently increase its net position with solid financial operations and fiscally conservative budgeting and financial planning practices. Ramapo has had tuition growth of only 8.8 percent total in the last five years, as compared to other New Jersey institutions which average approximately 13 percent tuition increase for that same time. Masters programs are continuing to enroll significant numbers of students and the College expects enrollment to continue to grow modestly over the next few years. In fall of 2016, the College successfully offered additional opportunities, such as the Family Nursing Practitioner and the Nursing Administrator tracks in the Master’s of Science in Nursing program. In fall of 2017, the new Master’s of Science in Accounting is being offered. As the College looks towards the needs of its students and community, it will continue to expand its graduate programs to meet those needs and build on its undergraduate strengths.
RAMAPO COLLEGE FOUNDATION FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS The mission of Ramapo College Foundation “is to provide resources that make a difference in Ramapo College of New Jersey’s quest for educational excellence.” The Foundation, established in 1971 as a nonprofit corporation, is a 501(c)(3) charitable institution. Its purposes include providing funds to Ramapo College for student scholarships, educational programs, faculty development and research, community programs, construction projects, capital needs, and other College activities for which state funds may not be sufficient or available. The Foundation’s financial report includes three basic financial statements: the Statements of Net Assets, the Statements of Activities, and the Statements of Cash Flows which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America as promulgated by the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Presented below are condensed versions of these statements. The full Foundation financial report including footnotes notes can be found on the College website: www.ramapo.edu/foundation/finreports FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS The Foundation had a phenomenal year and its financial position continues to be strong. The endowment balance grew to more than $18.1 million. Over the last five years, there has been a 33 percent growth in principal and 55 percent growth in total value. In Fiscal 2017, the rate of return on endowment investments was 11.4 percent. In addition, over $735,000 of endowed and annual funds were available to the College for scholarship and program support. The growth in the endowment surpassed the strategic goals set by both the Foundation and College by $1.4 million. This is despite the 5 percent average spend rate, as compared to the average of 3.7 percent for institutions with endowment pools of the same value (according to National Association of College and University Business Officers Fiscal 2016 statistics).
Condensed Statements of Net Assets, at June 30, (dollars in
2017 2016 ASSETS Cash and cash equivalents Grants and accounts receivable, and other assets Unconditional promises to give, net Investments Total Assets
$2,036 455 4,387 18,534 $25,412
$3,118 625 3,438 16,499 $23,680
financial health or position. Trends are important to monitor, but in any given year a significant change in net assets may result from a unique event such as receipt of a significant gift or disbursement of a large capital payment to the College. In Fiscal 2017, assets increased by $1.7 million and liabilities decreased by $756,000. The increases in assets are predominantly the result of a successful capital campaign and higher rate of return on investments. The change in liabilities was predominantly caused by disbursing a large payment to the College for capital improvements.
Condensed Statements of Activities, Fiscal Years ended June 30, (dollars in thousands) 2017 2016 OPERATING SUPPORT REVENUE Donations Contributed service revenue Fund raising events, net Grants Special events/Membership/Program Services/Other Investment income (loss) Allowance for doubtful promise Total Support and Revenue
$5,382 $1,923 1,500 1,192 268 391 1,096 1,266 393 317 1,918 51 (2,000) (1,000) 8,557 4,140
EXPENSES Capital, salary and support payments to College Contributed service expense Foundation operations Scholarships and awards Expenses for restricted and College Grants Other Expenses Total Expenses Change in Net Assets
1,855 1,500 209 645 1,151 709 6,069 2,488
1,692 1,192 187 604 1,431 570 5,676 (1,536)
NET ASSETS Beginning of year End of year
Condensed Statements of Cash Flow, Fiscal Years ended June 30, (dollars in thousands) LIABILITIES 2017 2016 2015 Accounts payable and other liabilities Due to Ramapo College of New Jersey Deferred income Annuities payable Total Liabilities
84 1,577 99 230 1,990
74 2,341 76 255 2,746
NET ASSETS Unrestricted Net Assets Temporarily restricted Permanently restricted Total Net Assets Total Net Asset & Liabilities
386 10,582 12,454 23,422 $25,412
1,704 6,959 12,271 20,934 $23,680
FISCAL TRENDS In Fiscal Year 2017, the net assets of the Foundation increased by $2.5 million, 11.9 percent. The Statements of Activities reports information for the Foundation with focus on the annual revenue raised, the expenses incurred and changes in net assets. It is one way to measure the Foundation’s
Net cash (used in) provided by Operating activities Investing activities Permanently restricted contributions Net increase (decrease) in cash and cash equivalents Cash and cash equivalents beginning of year Cash and Cash Equivalents, end of year
$(788) (477) 183
$921 (685) 646
$(207) (280) 1,544
2,236 1,179 $3,118 $2,236
FUTURE MATTERS Ramapo College continues to expand and renovate on-campus facilities. The College received a $15 million bond from the State of New Jersey to support the transformation of Potter Library and the construction of a 21st Century Learning Commons. As a result, the Foundation has launched a single purpose capital campaign for private funding to provide additional capital support; approximately $6.3 million in gifts, pledges and other promises to give was secured in Fiscal 2017. In addition to the funds already raised, the goal for Fiscal 2018 is to obtain another $4.1 million in designated gifts and pledges. www.ramapo.edu
COLLEGE’S PEER FACILITATION PROGRAM CELEBRATES 25 YEARS The Center for Student Success at Ramapo College celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Peer Facilitation Program during the annual Peer Appreciation Dinner. Current and past peers were present at the event as well as members of the administration, faculty and staff. Over its 25 years, the program has helped nearly 17,000 students make a successful transition during their first year at the College. “The work of this Program as part of larger student success efforts contributes to Ramapo’s outstanding first-year student retention rates that exceed national averages by over 10 percentage points,” said Joseph Connell, Assistant Vice President of Student Success. Ramapo President Peter P. Mercer presented a plaque to the program, honoring its history and work on behalf of Ramapo students. “Twenty-five years ago, the College was in a very introspective period. At the time, in the early and mid-1990s, there was a considerable reduction in funding and a lot of discussion about whether Ramapo and some other colleges would continue or be conglomerated together into a larger entity,” President Mercer said. “Over that 25-year period of peer facilitation we have surmounted a lot of obstacles as a college. There is no doubt that Ramapo College is a vibrant place, recognized for its excellence and recognized for its collective spirit and moral. For that, I want to thank you.” Over the last 10 years, the Peer Facilitation Program has received commendations from Middle States and NASPA (the leading student affairs association in higher education), which awarded Ramapo this year with the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education 2017 Excellence Award. Peer facilitators consistently rank the highest when first-year students are surveyed at the end of the year, according to Tracey Bender, Assistant Director of Student Success at Ramapo, noting that nearly 98 percent agree or strongly agree that their peer facilitator helped them adjust to college life, learn about campus resources and establish connections with peers.
RAMAPO RANKED AMONG THE TOP IN NEW JERSEY Ramapo College of New Jersey has been named among the top in College Choice’s ranking of the 20 Best Colleges in New Jersey. Ramapo is ranked #3, with Princeton University and Stevens Institute of Technology in the top two spots. More specifically, Ramapo ranks as #1 among nine of the public colleges in New Jersey. “This ranking affirms the value of a public liberal arts education in today’s increasingly complex and competitive environment,” said President Peter P. Mercer. “Since my arrival here in 2005, I have heard Ramapo referred to as New Jersey’s best kept secret. The secret is finally out. Our dedicated faculty and staff mentor students through a high quality education at an affordable cost and our students thrive as a result.” College Choice, a leading authority in college and university rankings and resources, developed its list by assessing academic quality, institutional reputation, program accreditation, along with return on investment—the differential between tuition costs and average early career earnings. Data came from the National Center for Education Statistics, Payscale, and U.S. News & World Report. Ramapo College is also listed in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine as among the “100 Best Values in Public Colleges” for 11 consecutive years and has been recognized as a Military Friendly School by Victory Media. Additionally, Ramapo is featured on CollegesofDistinction.com for excellence in student-focused higher education and has received recognition in the Washington Monthly college guide and rankings. 12
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Dr. Will Austin, President of WCCC and President Peter P. Mercer
RAMAPO AND WCCC PARTNER In an effort to provide Warren County Community College students with a smooth transition to a four-year college, Ramapo College of New Jersey recently signed a partnership agreement with WCCC that will offer residents a streamlined opportunity to continue their educational pursuits. Ramapo offers numerous bachelor and master programs, with some of their classes online and easily accessible for students whether or not they are on the Mahwah campus. Ramapo has similar partnerships with other community colleges. “Everything is designed so that students can finish their final two years in a timely fashion,” added Dr. Peter P. Mercer, President of Ramapo. “You earn your associate’s degree at WCCC and Ramapo then supports you in the ultimate goal of completing your degree.” Dr. Will Austin, President of WCCC, expressed similarities of the two colleges. “We are both relatively small in size, and have similar mission statements,” he stated. Indeed, both colleges have high graduation rates, similar environments and generally small class sizes. One of the programs that both colleges are particularly excited about working together on is nursing. Ramapo recognizes that more and more nurses are being required to obtain a BSN degree in order to get better jobs in many health-related fields. Ramapo offers an accelerated RN to BSN degree program, with a majority of those classes available online for students at WCCC, which also features a top-notch nursing program. Ramapo and WCCC have had an unofficial partnership for years for Creative Writing majors.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES EXTENDS PRESIDENT MERCER’S TERM TO 2021 In a special meeting held on January 19, the Ramapo College Board of Trustees approved an amendment to President Peter P. Mercer’s Employment Agreement. The amendment extended President Mercer’s term through June 30, 2021. “I am pleased to share that the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to extend President Mercer's employment agreement through to 2021. We look forward to Dr. Mercer's continued leadership as Ramapo approaches its 50th Anniversary," said William F. Dator, Chair of the Ramapo College Board of Trustees. The College will celebrate its 50 year in 2019. th
as one of the “100 Best Values in Public Colleges” and was recently rated among the top 10 colleges nationwide in low student debt by Kiplinger’s. In addition, in 2017, College Choice ranked Ramapo College as the number one public college in New Jersey. President Mercer has been committed to working toward increasing diversity on campus, recognized now in nearly 42 percent of the student population; and has been instrumental in expanding the College’s academic offerings and graduate programs which has seen an increase in recent years of more than 60 percent in advanced degrees conferred.
Over the past several years, President Mercer “With the support “I AM VERY PROUD OF ALL has led Ramapo of the Board of THAT THE COLLEGE AND OUR College through Trustees over the STUDENTS HAVE ACHIEVED an ambitious and last five years, transformative campusOVER THE PAST DECADE the College has wide building program maintained the AND I AM EMBRACING THE that has resulted in lowest average NEXT THREE YEARS AS A the completion of tuition increase of PROVIDENTIAL OPPORTUNITY the Anisfield School all senior public TO CONTINUE THAT of Business, the Bill colleges in New Bradley Sports and IMPORTANT WORK.” Jersey. Doing Recreation Center, the so has fostered - PRESIDENT PETER P. MERCER Overlook and Laurel Ramapo’s ability residence halls, the to attract and Sharp Sustainability Education Center, the retain an increasingly diverse student Salameno Spiritual Center and the Adler body and to continuously develop our Center for Nursing Excellence. campus and our talented faculty to ensure we provide a liberal arts education The College has recently completed that exceeds expectations,” said President renovation to its academic complex Mercer, adding “I am very proud of all that houses state-of-the-art science that the College and our students have and research laboratories and other achieved over the past decade and I instructional and social space, in addition am embracing the next three years as a to ongoing projects across campus such providential opportunity to continue that as the new Padovano College Commons. important work.” Ramapo is currently embarking on a $40 President Mercer became Ramapo College’s fourth president on July 1, 2005. During his tenure at Ramapo, the College has been increasingly regarded as a great value and a superior institution. Ramapo College has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report as among the “Best Regional Universities in the North,” and by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine
million project to renovate the library and create a transformative Learning Commons. “Having the right kind of place to study and reflect, to connect and collaborate, can inspire people to do their very best work. For the students of Ramapo College, our new Learning Commons will be that place,” said President Mercer.
BACHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE IN ELEMENTARY EDUCATION NOW OFFERED The School of Social Sciences and Human Services (SSHS) at Ramapo College is now offering the Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. Students at Ramapo College will now be able to declare a major in Elementary Education towards certification as a classroom teacher in grades K-6. Students also will have the option to secure Middle School endorsement eligibility in Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science. This will enable graduates of the program to extend their certification from K-6 to K-8 towards increased marketability. Secondary certification will maintain its eligibility requirements with students majoring in a content that aligns with State of New Jersey regulations for certification. “I am excited about the initiation of the Bachelor of Science degree program in Elementary Education. Ramapo College faculty and staff look forward to working with students and the K-12 community to ensure the success of this new degree program,” said Dr. C. Rexton Lynn, Assistant Dean for Teacher Education in SSHS. Program completion requirements (coursework, clinical experience, and practice hours) changed effective September 1 for the three teaching certification options. Workshops on the new degree program and other aspects of Teacher Education have been scheduled.
CELEBRATING THE ‘YEAR OF EUROPE’
Nursing students with villagers in Ghana
STUDENTS GET HANDS-ON NURSING TRAINING IN GHANA For the past 10 years, Ramapo College’s Nursing program has offered a four-credit study abroad program to Africa, first to Sierra Leone and now, for the past four years, to Ghana. This summer, 11 nursing students and one social work student traveled to the West Africa nation with a focus on promoting global and public health. According to Kathleen Burke, Assistant Dean of Nursing, the goal of this program is to review the differences in health care and to gain hands-on nursing experience. “It’s such a valuable learning as well as cultural experience for the students,” said Burke, adding that students return each year with a very unique perspective to their future nursing careers. “They get to see first-hand how different, but yet how similar we really are. It’s a powerful and rewarding experience.”
Ramapo College is recognizing 2017-2018 as The Year of Europe, furthering its Strategic Plan for Comprehensive Internationalization which was introduced in 2015. The goal is to increase global awareness and the multitude of opportunities and initiatives the College is involved in throughout the academic year, including promotion of various international programs, special presentations and performances, guest speakers, language weeks, film series and the Book Club. Ben Levy, Director of International Education, added that the popular language weekly meetings (offered for staff, faculty and students) and themed cooking demonstrations will continue to be part of the year’s events. The College also will facilitate short-term study programs for students from Denmark and Greece during the academic year. Additionally, the 8th Annual Conference of the 19th Century Hispanism International Network is scheduled for March 2018. The two-day event, which draws representatives from the global Hispanic community, will be held in the Trustees Pavilion. The College celebrated The Year of Latin America in 2015-2016 and The Year of Sub-Sahara Africa in 2016-2017. For more information, visit www.ramapo.edu/international/itzn/regional-years
The group, which included Burke and nursing professors Elaine Patterson and Maisha Amen, stayed on the campus of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), a 40,000-student institution in Kumasi with whom Ramapo College has established an academic partnership. Burke said that the students’ days began very early—they boarded a bus loaded with supplies and visited three to five remote villages each day. “With the help of our colleagues there, our students set up clinics where they helped administer well-baby care, maternal care, administer vaccines and provided community educational resources, such as cholera prevention,” Burke said, noting that they also visited the local hospital’s emergency room and obstetrical unit as well as a naturopathic clinic where the emphasis was on prevention and the self-healing process through the use of natural therapies. Patterson was thrilled with how the trip went this year, saying, “The opportunities that our students get to experience are things they would not experience elsewhere.” She added that she hopes more students will consider the trip because the program is not solely for nursing undergraduate and graduate students; in the past, Business, Social Work and Psychology majors have also attended. “It’s for anyone who has a social conscience,” Patterson said. 14
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NEW FACULTY Ramapo College is pleased to welcome new faculty members for the 2017-2018 academic year. Pictured are, seated left to right: Wilson Rosa, Assistant Professor, Accounting; Christopher Reali, Assistant Professor, Music; Anne Marie Flatekval, Assistant Professor, Nursing. Standing, left to right: Dolly Sacristan, Assistant Professor, Social Work; Zach Layton, Assistant Professor, Music Production; Nakia Matthias, Assistant Professor, Communication Arts/Strategic Communication; Sourav Dutta, Assistant Professor, Computer Science; and Shantha Franks, Assistant Professor, Nursing.
EMILY ALLEN WILLIAMS NAMED VICE PROVOST Emily Allen Williams has been appointed Vice Provost for Curriculum and Assessment at Ramapo College of New Jersey. “I’m happy that since I arrived I have had the opportunity to meet with key players and see how all of our roles will intersect,” said Williams. “The experience has been very positive so far.” One of the areas charged to Williams will be to adjudicate academic concerns or disputes and to help students navigate their way through academic grievances, she said. She also will work on assessing curriculum development with the deans and conveners, “not just for accreditation purposes but to ensure that every year we are consciously evaluating our roles as educators,” she added. Williams has worked in academia since 1990 in various capacities as professor, department chair, dean and provost. She began her career at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where she taught and conducted research for 13 years. She later spent time at the University of the West Indies (Kingston, Jamaica) on a Fulbright Fellowship where she completed research on a book publication while lecturing on West Indian Poetry. Her most recent appointments were at the University of the Virgin Islands and Texas Southern University. Williams holds a Master of Arts in Linguistics and Literature from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Doctor of Arts in Humanities (emphasis on Caribbean and British Cultural Studies and Literature) from Clark Atlanta University. She received a certificate in Management and Leadership in Education from Harvard University and is a published author of several books and numerous articles and reviews for peer-reviewed scholarly journals. Prior to her work in higher education, Williams worked as a Grants Director and Arts Program Manager for the City of Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs and the State of Georgia Council for the Arts. Born and raised in the Bronx, Williams said, “I’m happy to be back in the New York metropolitan area. Some family is still here so I enjoy being close by.” Williams lives in Riverdale, New Jersey.
INTERIM DEAN NAMED IN SSHGS Susan Hangen has been named Interim Dean of the Salameno School of Humanities and Global Studies. Hangen, who joined Ramapo College in 2002, holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has served as a Professor of Anthropology and International Studies and has held several administrative roles at the College, most recently as Director of the College Honors Program (20162017). Previously, she was Coordinator of Honor Societies (2012-2015) and Co-Convener of the International Studies major (2007-2014). She has worked extensively on expanding international education at the College, serving on the Study Abroad Committee, the core faculty of the India Study Abroad Program, and the International Risk Assessment Committee. “I am fully committed to finding new ways to connect the Humanities with the current needs of the students,” said Hangen. Among her goals is to deliver an expanded language curriculum. Hangen also is working on expanding the public policy curriculum, and hopes that a Philosophy major will be launched soon. “The humanities and social sciences can be a meaningful contribution to students’ future careers,” said Hangen. “Interdisciplinary programs, like American Studies and International Studies, for instance, offer advantages for students. They show potential employers that they are flexible. College, after all, is a time for growth and exploration and the humanities allows a student to explore the world.” Hangen, who is fluent in Nepali, has written two books, a coedited volume, and a dozen articles or book chapters, focusing on the areas of nationalism and ethnicity in Nepal, and identity politics among Nepali immigrants in the USA. She has more than 15 years of experience in fundraising for nonprofit organizations focusing on social justice and education. She was a Member and Chair of the Board of Directors of Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice and a Member of the Board of Directors of Educate the Children. www.ramapo.edu
The Ramapo College Music Program launched RAMIX RECORDINGS, a new college-based independent record label. Ramix is dedicated to developing and promoting Ramapo student talent and providing Music Industry majors with hands-on, real world experience. The label released in November its first recording, Ramix Volume 1, a compilation featuring 13 Ramapo student artists and bands. (L-R): Chair of the Foundation Board of Governors Ralph Mastrangelo, Bergen County Freeholder Mary Amoroso, Governor Phil Murphy, Mahwah Mayor William Laforet, President Peter P. Mercer, Board of Trustees Chair Bill Dator, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and member of the Foundation Board of Governors Susan Vallario, and Secretary, Board of Trustees Gary Montroy
GOVERNOR MURPHY ATTENDS RECEPTION FOR TRUSTEES CHAIR WILLIAM F. DATOR Ramapo College President Peter P. Mercer hosted in November a networking reception for William F. Dator, newly elected Chair of the College’s Board of Trustees. Guests at the reception, held in the historic Birch Mansion on the College campus, included New Jersey Governor 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. Governor Murphy kicked off the event by recognizing Ramapo College’s decade-long history of impressive academic quality and strong leadership by President Mercer and the Board of Trustees. “We cannot get our economy right without getting higher education right,” said Murphy, adding that his transition team will benefit from service by President Mercer 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. Immediate past chair of the Board of Trustees George C. Ruotolo, Jr., shared with guests that Chair Dator’s “recent years of dedicated service as vice chair of the Board are sure to serve as a wonderful omen for his leadership as Chair.” President Mercer added that Chair Dator brings with him a rich historical connection and commitment to the College noting that it was Chair Dator who guided the State nearly 50 years ago to site the College in Mahwah. Mercer said, “While I am very much looking forward to serving on the Governor’s transition team for Urban and Regional Growth, I also consider myself and the Collegeat-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.” Chair Dator thanked attendees for their past, present and future support of Ramapo and highlighted for them some of the College’s recent achievements and ongoing projects. “Ramapo College has been named among the 20 Best Colleges in New Jersey. Our College is ranked Number Three, with Princeton University and Stevens Institute of Technology in the top two spots. More specifically, Ramapo ranks Number One among nine of the public colleges in New Jersey,” Dator said. He also commended the College’s “dedication to the liberal arts as a path forward in enhancing the State’s economic and civic health.” 16
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Ramix is an important new addition to the Music Program, which already has a strongly contemporary focus and has experienced tremendous growth in the past several years. Recent graduates have found great success in the popular music and entertainment industries, and the new label is designed to help students to start building their careers as performing/ recording artists and music industry professionals while still in school. In addition, the label will give the Music Program broader exposure, increasing its profile nationally and internationally. The school’s state of the art Les Paul Studio, created thanks to a grant from the Les Paul Foundation, opened in 2016 and will serve as the primary production facility for Ramix releases. Ramix Volume 1 features 13 songs by different Ramapo current students and 2017 graduates. A wide range of genres are represented on the release. All of the music was written by the student artists, and most of the recordings were produced in the school’s on-campus recording and production facilities. The development and launch of the label was part of the curriculum for the Spring 2017 upper level Music Industry courses, and the ongoing process of producing future recordings will be integrated into subsequent classes and research projects. Information about the label and the artists can be found at www.ramixrecordings.com
Pictured cutting the cake are: President Mercer, Board of Trustees Chair William F. Dator, Board of Trustees Vice Chair Susan Vallario, SGA President Stephan Lally ’20 and students from the SGA.
(L-R): Alissa Paulison ’18, Paul Brennan ’18, Briana Burkert ’19, Sara Catherine Lichon ’18, Lindsey J. Gray ’18, Jerard Guevarra ’18, Reeve Olivia Harden ’19, Thomas Morel ’18, Jimmy Grissman ’19
COLLEGE CELEBRATES 48TH YEAR AT FOUNDERS’ DAY EVENT
STUDENTS REPRESENT RAMAPO AT ANNUAL COPLAC CONFERENCE
Ramapo College celebrated its 48th birthday during a celebration of Founders’ Day on Wednesday, November 8 at the historic Havemeyer Arch and in the campus Grove.
Nine Ramapo College students presented at the Northeast Regional Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activity Conference of the Council of Public and Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) on October 13-14. The annual two-day conference was held at Mansfield University, Pennsylvania.
The event was sponsored by the Student Government Association and the Office of the President. “I’d like to thank the Student Government for its enthusiastic support,” said President Peter P. Mercer, who also acknowledged several of the founding faculty members who are still with the College: Paul Elovitz (Associate Professor of History, Psychohistory and Interdisciplinary Studies); Michael Fluhr (Associate Professor of Politics and Social Processes) and Edward Saiff (Interim Dean, School of Theoretical and Applied Science). Also in attendance was Board of Trustees Chair William F. Dator, who also has been actively involved with the College since its founding. The event coincided with the first-ever Day of Giving, an initiative to help provide countless student scholarships, fund faculty-student research and support special College projects. Faculty, staff and students enjoyed a delightful lunch buffet and refreshments and festivities included a photo booth, music and a caricaturist.
“Showcasing their research, scholarly interests, and artistic creativity, Ramapo College was excellently represented across the five schools by our students," said Ramapo College Vice Provost Emily A. Williams. Students, who are juniors and seniors and did their research under the guidance of faculty mentors, presented their works in poster and oral presentation form. Ramapo College is one of eight regional COPLAC participants in the Northeast. Students at COPLAC institutions have the opportunity to present the results of their undergraduate research at regional conferences where they can meet and discuss their work with peers and faculty members. COPLAC is dedicated to the advancement of high-quality, public liberal arts education in a student-centered residential environment.
FOUNDATION SCHOLARS MENTORSHIP ETIQUETTE DINNER The Foundation Mentorship Program, chaired by Alison Banks-Moore, recently held an Etiquette Dinner for our mentors and student mentees. Board member and founder of Manners Matter LLC, Theresa Salameno, led the students and their mentors through a very informative and interactive dinner. The evening was the first opportunity for the mentors and their mentees to meet. The mentors are board members and the mentees are all scholarship recipients. www.ramapo.edu
STUDENT-ATHLETES FOLLOW THEIR PASSIONS WHILE STAYING IN BALANCE Ramapo studentathletes fit the mold of what employers are looking for when hiring, they’re educated, competitive, dedicated and wellrounded individuals and leaders that have so much to offer. That’s what being a D-III athlete means.” — Harold Crocker
Director of Athletics Members of the baseball team participate in the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” challenge to raise awareness of domestic violence.
ou more than likely will not find a Division III (D-III) athletic event televised on a major network or splashed on the front page of a national newspaper. Typically, the major university Division I games grab those headlines. But if you think that lessens the impact – or importance – of what a D-III student-athlete accomplishes, think again. “Many people are under the impression that Division III athletics are not as competitive as D-I programs because of the school’s size,” said Harold Crocker, Director of Athletics at Ramapo. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only are our student-athletes competitive, but they must also maintain their grades in order to stay in the program. They work hard, maybe even harder than most, and it shows.” Athletics competition in colleges and universities across the United States is governed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which maintains three divisions which offer a more level playing field for schools of various sizes. As a member of Division III, Ramapo College of New Jersey is among the more than 445 schools across the country comprising approximately 180,000 D-III student-athletes. Crocker said D-III athletics is all about balance: student-athletes must juggle rigorous academics as well as a competitive schedule – with many also engaging in extra-curricular activities and employment — all without the benefit of an athletics scholarship.
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“For Ramapo student-athletes, it’s all about time management and commitment,” Crocker said. “I’m proud of our student-athletes’ work ethic.”
STUDENT-ATHLETE COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECTS
Crocker said he is most pleased that the Roadrunners have consistently sustained successful academic records in the classroom, often complementing their teams’ above-average performances on the field. For instance, the Ramapo Women’s Softball team in spring 2017 not only won the NJAC regular season championship and advanced to the D-III NCAA Super Regionals, but also was recognized by the College for the highest team grade point average. Crocker said the coaching staff works diligently in conjunction with the faculty to ensure student-athletes keep up their grades, noting that follow-up is crucial. “These young men and women are playing for the love of the game, for the love of the sport. But they know there is life after college sports so while they’re with us, we want to make sure they are getting the education they need to help them in their careers and next steps, whatever they choose,” Crocker said. “And they’re learning valuable life skills along the way, like teamwork and community involvement.” Ramapo College student-athletes participate in a wide range of community service activities, including organizing a Special Olympics event on campus each spring, visiting a local senior assisted living facility and hosting holiday food and clothing drives. “Ramapo student-athletes fit the mold of what employers are looking for when hiring,” Crocker said. “They’re educated, competitive, dedicated and wellrounded individuals and leaders that have so much to offer. That’s what being a D-III athlete means.” — A.D.
Graduating student-athletes received their stoles at a ceremony.
Here is a sampling of the community service projects and initiatives in which Ramapo student-athletes participated during the past year: Special Olympics (Athletics Department) Freshmen Move (Men’s Soccer and Women’s Soccer) Dash For Diabetes (Women’s Soccer) Walk For Diabetes (Women’s Basketball) Shriver Cup Special Olympics (Sponsored By NJAC) (Presidents of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) Relay For Life (Swim Teams/Softball/ Women’s Soccer/Women’s Basketball) Eosinophilic Esophagitis Awareness (EoE) – (Softball) Ramathon “For The Kids” (Cross Country/Women’s Basketball/Field Hockey) *Women’s Basketball Raised $690 for Children’s Specialized Hospital Breast Cancer Game (Field Hockey/ Women’s Basketball) Holiday Toy Drive (Baseball/Men’s Basketball) Thanksgiving Baskets (Athletics Staff/ All Teams) Cans Across the Conference (Athletics Staff/All Teams) *More than 10,800 canned food items collected by NJAC teams and donated to charities across the state Meters For Mike (Swim Teams) *One-mile open swim at the Jersey Shore to raise money and awareness for people living with brain trauma Suffern Little League Clinic (Baseball) Mahwah Food Drive (Baseball)
Assistant Professor of Computer Science Benjamin Fine, left, meets with students. Fine serves as one of the faculty advisers for student-athletes.
Mahwah Recreation Basketball (Men’s Basketball) www.ramapo.edu
NEW GRANTS HELP SUPPORT STEM EDUCATION FOR UNDERSERVED STUDENTS Faculty at the College have been awarded prestigious competitive grants from the National Science Foundation aimed at helping underserved students in the STEM fields. Despite being interested in the sciences, even the most highly talented and motivated students from underserved populations often lag behind their more fortunate counterparts in STEM majors and careers. Amruth Kumar, a professor of Computer Science in the School of Theoretical and Applied Sciences, received a $999,999 grant for scholarships for low-income, vulnerable students who complete a computer science degree. To help improve the educational outcomes of such students, Kumar will use “cognitive apprentice-style faculty mentoring” for the most challenging courses in the major, as well as contests, peer-tutoring, and technology clubs, all to help engage and support the students. “We’ll also provide one-on-one mentoring from alumni in the computer science field to help guide the students on career options and workplace expectations,” he added. In partnership with Montclair State University, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Ashwani Vasishth will help lead regional support for a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to help tackle the problem of persistent under-representation by low-income, minority and women students in STEM disciplines and careers through transdisciplinary teamwork. Participating students will develop professional skills and strengthen STEM- and sustainability-specific skills through real-world experience in problem solving and team science. Vasishth will help build partnerships with community groups, academic institutions, and corporations, a role for which he is uniquely suited as the President of the NJ Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability. (NJHEPS), a consortium of colleges and universities dedicated to building sustainability practices. Sandra Suarez, director, received a renewal of an Upward Bound Math Science Program TRIO grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The $278,000 grant has the potential for $1.5 million in funding over five years. Designed to help students successfully complete high school with the STEM-skills necessary to succeed in college, the program includes a summer intensive program at Ramapo, workshops on financial aid, college admissions, and other topics."Ramapo's Upward Bound Math Science program has touched the lives of more than 600 students since 1995. Our alumni are doctors, pharmacists, business owners, research scientists, teachers...the list goes on. We could not have impacted so many without the ongoing support of the College, where our participants have the opportunity to experience a world that expands their vision of the future,” Suarez says. 20
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Students participated in a variety of science-related courses through the Upward Bound program at Ramapo College. The Upward Bound programs are Ramapo faculty-led. Pictured, from left, are Brailin Sarita, Mohamad Chacha and Shakil Hannan working in a chemistry lab during a Saturday session of the program. Hannan is now attending the College and is in his first semester as an EOF scholar.
GRANT HIGHLIGHTS In a climate where grants for the arts and humanities are scarce, Assistant Professor of History Cathy Hajo ’85 received funding from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a first for the College. The funds will support Hajo’s work with the Jane Addams Papers Project, bringing the words and works of this icon of the 1920s peace movement to a wider audience by posting her correspondence — with Theodore Roosevelt, John Dewey, Alice Hamilton, and others — online. Students working with the Project are gaining valuable research skills, while learning more about Ms. Addams’ role in American history.
BUSINESS PARTNER SPOTLIGHT
KONICA MINOLTA BUSINESS SOLUTIONS Located in nearby Ramsey, N.J., Konica Minolta Business Solutions is a longstanding business partner of Ramapo College and generously supports the Bradley Center and the Berrie Center for Performing Arts. Konica Minolta is revolutionizing the Workplace of the Future™ and is ranked on the Forbes 2017 America's Best Employers list. Thirteen Ramapo College alumni work for this innovative company and this past summer, Meghan Forsyth ’18, participated in Konica Minolta’s on-site cooperative marketing internship. In this role, Meghan worked with sports marketing to understand brand awareness and tracking the return on investment of sponsorships; assisted the Direct Sales department to learn the request for proposal process and gain hands-on experience with industry software; and managed meetings with various internal business groups to learn the importance of collaboration. “My coursework at Ramapo made me confident in a variety of different areas including public relations, research, advertising and writing,” Meghan shared. “One of my favorite experiences was preparing for
and attending a press event in New York City to introduce a new line of products. It was a great learning experience and helped to improve my confidence to take part in similar events in the future.” In August, Rod McVeigh, Director of Human Resources at Konica Minolta, reached out to the College to organize a gathering of company executives and Ramapo leadership to brainstorm ways to further engage students and to determine how the company can continue to benefit Ramapo in the future. The successful, day-long meeting was well-attended. McVeigh, whose son Ari graduated from Ramapo in May 2017, is a new member of the Ramapo College Foundation Board of Governors.
Ramapo College benefits tremendously from engagement with regional corporations. If your business would like to become more involved with the College and become a Business Partner, please contact Lisa Johnson, Assistant Vice President, at 201-684-6259 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Meghan Forsyth ’18 welcomed guests to the Konica suite at Citi Field as part of her internship.
TERRIE O’CONNOR HONORED AT COLLEGE’S 30TH ANNUAL GOLF OUTING Terrie O’Connor, founder and broker/owner of Terrie O’Connor Realtors, Ramsey, N.J., received the Havemeyer Presidential Leadership Award at Ramapo College Foundation’s 30th Annual Golf Outing at the North Jersey Country Club in Wayne, N.J. More than 120 golfers participated in the event which raised funds that will provide scholarship support for qualified students, fund collaborative research initiatives between students and faculty, and support special programs and projects on campus. “This year’s outing was a great success thanks to the support from our sponsors, golfers and the hard work of the Ramapo and North Jersey CC staff,” said Frank Conway, of Franklin Lakes, who served as Golf Committee Chairman. “We could not have asked for better weather in July and the North Jersey course was in top condition.” The Havemeyer Presidential Leadership Award is given to an individual who has offered his or her expertise and whose contributions have touched the lives of the community as well as the students, faculty and staff at Ramapo College. In 2012, Ramapo College’s Center for Innovative and Professional Learning entered into an affiliation with Terrie O’Connor Realtors Real Estate School, Ramsey, to prepare students and adult learners for successful careers as licensed real estate salespersons with the pre-licensing requirements necessary to pursue a career in the field.
(L-R): Matt O’Connor, Andrew Scott, Terrie O’Connor, Sean Farley, Joe O’Connor
“Ramapo College is grateful for the generosity of our donors, friends, and business partners who place real value on our mission as New Jersey’s designated public liberal arts college,” said Ramapo College President Peter P. Mercer. Ramapo College recognized event sponsors including Stryker, Inserra ShopRite Supermarkets, DialAmerica, BMW of North America, LLC, UPS, O’Connor Davies, LLP, and Prestige BMW/ Prestige Mini. www.ramapo.edu
Art, Cuisine and Culture | June 2 - 9, 2018 Gastronomic Experience of Provence | June 9 - 12, 2018 LEARNING JOURNEYS (a division of Perillo Tours) in association with Ramapo College of New Jersey presents: SOUTHERN FRANCE – La Cote d'Azur (main tour): Art, Cuisine and Culture PROVENCE (extension): Gastronomic Food and Wine Journey Both trips with President Peter P. Mercer and Dr. Jacqueline Ehlert-Mercer
Scenes from the beautiful picturesque Southern France
Main Tour | June 2 – 9, 2018
Post-Tour | June 9 – 12, 2018
Join us as we tour from Nice to Aix-en-Provence and personally guide you through the Museums of Matisse, Chagall, The Maeght Foundation, Picasso, Cezanne and Van Gogh, stroll through open markets and sample local delicacies and wine among friends…all while under the warm sun and temperate nights of the picturesque Mediterranean. This trip is limited to 24 guests. Search for www.ramapo.edu/learning-journeys on the web to register for the main tour.
You will stay at a deluxe Relais Chateâux with beautiful views. This guided exploration of Provence includes food markets, nearby villages, lavender and olive fields and artists’ studios. Food and wines are the focal point as we tour private wineries in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Beaumes de Venise and dine at Michelin star restaurants. By the end of this journey you will be well-versed in the foods and wines of the region.
This trip includes 4-star rated hotels, transfers to and from the airport, tour guides, and most meals. $4,800 plus air fare.
Ramapo College Magazine | Annual Report
This trip is limited to ten people. $3,399 per person, includes 5-star accommodations, guided tours, transportation, gourmet breakfasts and dinners. To register for this trip please contact Alumni Relations at 201-684-7115 or email@example.com.
(L-R): Kyle Stanski ’18, Amruth Kumar and Bishal Regmi ’18
mruth Kumar joined the faculty at Ramapo College in 1993 as an eager young professor whose goal was to make strides in the computer science department. He admits, however, there were a few snags.
“For one thing, not every desk had a computer so it was a little difficult,” said Kumar, professor of Computer Science in the School of Theoretical and Applied Science. “Also, there really wasn’t a push for careers in the field, certainly not the way we see it now.” Today, almost 25 years later, nearly every aspect of learning – and life, Kumar said – is connected in some way to computers, and he couldn’t be happier. “Look at where we are today; we live with our smart phones! And just look at the possibilities of where we can go,” he said. Kumar could hardly contain his enthusiasm when he discusses the advances Ramapo’s program has made. “We’ve identified the demand and successfully translated that demand into programs for our students that will actually help them in every step of their
careers,” he said, noting the emergence of artificial intelligence, graphics design, programming language and many other computer-based applications that are being incorporated into the curriculum at Ramapo. “It’s remarkable and it’s still evolving rapidly, so we constantly need to keep pace.” Some of the progress here at the College can be tied to Kumar, who recently received a $1 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant, “Priming Science Students for Success,” is designed for students who want to study computer science, are academically talented but have a financial need. (see story on page 20). “Needless to say, I was thrilled when I learned we were going to receive this,” Kumar said. “The strength of the Ramapo faculty is we know our students and what their goals are,” he said, noting that the small class sizes prove to be a plus. “We as faculty can spend ample time with each student and provide clear, concise instruction to them. Other subjects can work well in a lecture hall setting but
computer science instruction is best hands-on, and that’s what we do best here at the College.” Benjamin Fine, an assistant professor in TAS, lauded Kumar for his willingness to collaborate. “Our Computer Science convening group’s culture is one of open exchange of ideas and support,” said Fine. “Amruth is no different. As a first-year faculty member, I had a lot to learn but I never felt that my opinions or ideas were undervalued. Amruth took time out of his day to discuss various teaching and career topics with me. He treats everyone with the same level of respect and decorum no matter your role at Ramapo.” “This department is not about me,” Kumar said. “It’s about the faculty working together and investing in the students. I feel that the job of the academic is to chase the mythical beasts and draw satisfaction from having found them. Here at Ramapo, we keep chasing and we keep finding and we bring our students along. That’s the goal.” www.ramapo.edu
STEPHEN CONLEY ’15
bout halfway through the recently released Disney Channel Original Movie “Descendants 2,” two of the main characters find themselves at a crossroads in their relationship. And like in every good made-for-TV Disney musical, the BFFs sing about their angst and how the world is changing but they’ll remain true to each other. The lyrics and music for the song – “Space Between” – are the product of Ramapo alumnus Stephen Conley ’15 who said he’s surprised by the sudden popularity of both the tune and the movie. “I can’t believe how it has all taken off so fast,” said Conley, who graduated with a degree in Music Production from the School of Contemporary Arts. By fast, Conley actually means meteoric. Within the first three days of the song’s release on Disney’s YouTube channel, it received more than 3 million hits. Conley, a North Arlington, N.J. native, said his experience at Ramapo truly shaped what is turning out to be quite a successful young career. “I transferred in from another school and had no idea where I wanted to go,” he said, noting that he was on the verge of giving up hope after what he called a rocky start. “Basically, I was a train wreck. But my advisor Ben Neill and the professors in the department took the time to steer me in the right direction. They really cared about me and my future. Even when I felt like I was wasting my time, they told me to stick with it. Coming to Ramapo was the best decision I ever made.”
Stephen Conley ’15 stands in front of the Disney poster at the film premiere.
Conley said he moved to Los Angeles shortly after graduation because “That’s the place to be to get into the music or movie business.” Currently a freelancer, he stated that he works hard, admitting that it’s a tough go sometimes. So when this opportunity came along, he jumped at it. “I received an email along with maybe a hundred other people to submit a song for this particular movie. The email included very specific details about what was going on in the scene,” Conley said. “I reached out to some other musician friends and we came up with ‘Space Between.’ Needless to say, we were thrilled when we got a call that the Disney people were really excited about it.” The rest, as they say in the biz, is history. “Descendants 2” is a bona fide hit with youth demographics, especially the tween and teen set, recording more than 21 million views in TV simulcast airings in the first week alone after its premiere on July 21. It continues to smash social media records and DisneyMusicVEVO views, and Conley is enjoying the success. “I’m glad I got the chance but I’m more grateful for the support I got along the way.” Conley composing in his home studio in Los Angeles
Ramapo College Magazine | Annual Report
Sal Alaimo (right) at Food Gatherers with Dan Calderone. Jacket cover (left) of Alaimo’s documentary
SAL ALAIMO ’88
hen Sal Alaimo set out to make a documentary film, he asked people a simple question: What is philanthropy?
“I was surprised to learn that there are a lot of people out there who don’t really know how to answer that,” said Alaimo, a Ramapo College alumnus from the Class of 1988, whose film “What is Philanthropy?” is aptly named. “The first thing people say is philanthropy is only for the rich. Well, I wanted to dispel that myth, that philanthropy is only for the Bill Gates and the Andrew Carnegies of the world,” said Alaimo. His 86-minute full-feature documentary, released in 2016, includes interviews with several notables from the entertainment and sports worlds, business executives, politics and community leaders, but the real focus is the acts of kindness of everyday folks, Alaimo said.
is following in her famous dad’s footsteps with her efforts in sustainable agriculture, passion for the environment and charitable giving. And pro footballer Alex Smith, of the Kansas City Chiefs, established a foundation to provide foster teens with the resources needed to transition to successful adulthood. “These are famous people so it’s easier for them to get the word out. I wanted to let the average person know that there are countless ways to be philanthropic, and you don’t need to be famous,” said Alaimo. “I had a vision for what I wanted and I’m pleased with the result.”
He spent almost six years gathering information and traveling across the country to conduct interviews with people from all walks of life. Mostly, he listened to people tell their stories, he said. “That was the most interesting part of the process. So many people out there are doing incredible acts of charity and no one knows or hears about them. And the funny thing is, they’re okay with not being in the spotlight.”
Alaimo, who graduated from Ramapo with a degree in Business Administration, spent nine years in the business world, primarily in purchasing and operations/logistics. He switched gears after earning his master’s in 1999 but took the lessons of his undergraduate studies with him along the way. “I was ready for a career change. I realized I really liked community work so I spent some time at non-profits.” His path eventually led him to academia and he currently is an associate professor in the School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Alaimo’s film covers a wide range of issues. He interviewed actor Mike Farrell of the television show “M*A*S*H” who does work with organizations that are against the death penalty. Nell Newman, daughter of actors Paul Newman and Joann Woodward,
“I feel that I’m right where I’m supposed to be right now,” said Alaimo. “Philanthropic giving can take place in so many ways and at so any levels. It’s not just opening up your checkbook. It’s giving of time, talent, and most important, giving of oneself.” www.ramapo.edu
ALUMNI | CLASS NOTES
WHERE WE ARE what we are up to 1985
HELEN MCNEILL (Biology) has been named a BJC investigator at Washington Universityâ€™s School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. She is the first researcher of 10 expected to be named BJC investigators. The program recruits scientists to bring innovative approaches to biological quandaries to inform new ways of understanding disease and developing treatments.
M. DAVID POSSICK (Political Science) has joined Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP as a partner in its New York office; he serves on the business and distribution litigation team. He had been a litigator for more than 10 years with Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York. David has been named a New York "Super Lawyer Rising Star" in the areas of business, securities and antitrust litigation. He earned a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law.
KRISTIN E. C. GREEN (Social Science), acting head librarian and reference librarian at Penn State Worthington Scranton campus, presented at the Innovative Library Classroom Conference (TILC) at Radford University in Virginia in May, 2017. Her session was titled, "Dust off those Encyclopedias: Using Reference Sources to Teach the Association of College and Research Libraries Framework for Information Literacy."
Dr. McNeill is currently a professor in the Institute of Medical Science and the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. She is also a senior investigator at the LunenfeldTanenbaum Research Institute, part of the Sinai Health System in Toronto. Her new appointment begins January 1, 2018. She earned a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular physiology from Stanford University.
1990 CRAIG S. RAMSEY (Computer Science) is being honored by SC Magazine, a cybersecurity publication, as part of its Reboot Leadership Awards program which recognizes executives and leaders for their contributions to the cybersecurity profession. Craig is CIO of ID Watchdog, an identity protection services provider, headquartered in Denver, Colo.
2001 SHAWN M. DOWIAK (Literature and Psychology) is the new assistant dean of students and director of fraternity and sorority life at the University of Idaho. Before coming to UI, he served as director of fraternity and sorority life at East Tennessee State University.
2002 ASHLEY PINES (MSET) was honored by the Cedar Grove public schools as one of four "Teachers of the Year" for 20162017. Ashley is a kindergarten teacher at the North End Elementary School where she has worked for 18 years. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology and special education from Marist College.
Ramapo College Magazine | Annual Report
2003 MICHAEL R. DIBARTOLOMEO (Communication Arts) has been appointed vice president for enrollment management at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Rockland County. Mike was previously director of undergraduate admissions at William Paterson University; before that, he was dean of enrollment services at Bergen Community College; he also served as associate director of admissions at Ramapo College. He earned an M.A. in communication studies from Montclair State University. MARK R. SCHWARZ (History) is the new superintendent of the Madison Public Schools. He had been superintendent of grades K-8 in the Rockaway Borough School District where he also served for five years as principal, vice principal and curriculum coordinator. Previously, he was supervisor of social studies, art and technology in the Jefferson Township School District. Mark holds a master's degree in educational leadership from Seton Hall University.
2011 JEAN GUEVARRA YOU (Biology) has joined Children's Dentistry of Gales Ferry in Conn. She completed a D.D.S. degree at the University of Buffalo, School of Dental Medicine and continued her training in pediatric dentistry at Columbia University-New York Presbyterian Hospital. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association and the Connecticut Dental Association.
2013 LAUREN MORGAN (Psychology) has joined the Dumont Police Department as a patrol officer. She was a police dispatcher in Allendale and Ho-Ho-Kus as well as a volunteer EMT in Allendale and Upper Saddle River. KRISTEN SELLIX (Social Work) is a board member of SIBS NJ, a non-profit organization that she co-founded to offer support and training to siblings of people with a disability.
2014 ENEURI ACOSTA (Communications) presented at Ted Talks in Virginia. Eneuri is the Chief Operating Officer at Hodinkee, an online content platform for luxury wristwatches. Previously, he was the manager of Marketing Communications for Cadillac and filled a number of key positions with General Motors managing the overall brand strategy. Eneuri is an EOF alumnus.
2015 GRANT NOVAK (Sociology) was recently sworn in as a Ridgefield police officer. Upon graduation, Grant worked as a dispatcher for the Upper Saddle River and Ramsey police departments until he joined the Ridgefield department.
Cory Cannici ’11, Founder of EVOLVE Personal Training “refereed” a competitive Bean Bag Toss Tournament (left). Thanks to Philip Mendola ’20, even mascot “Fledge” made an appearance! Joining Fledge is Michael Best ’05 and his son.
BIRTHS JENNA (ROMATOWSKI) TURLEY (Business Administration, 2007) and her husband, Brandon, welcomed a baby boy, Daniel Victor Turley, on April 13, 2017.
IN MEMORIAM KENNETH R. KATELUS ’75 TULA TSALIS ’81 SAMANGELO “SAM” M. CIERVO ’82 WILLIAM E. WIETZKE ’82 MARGARET J. STARMER ’84 JOAN V. NOTARO ’86 ELIZABETH A. AWAD ’93 MARGARET “PEGGY” JOHNSON ’16
COLLEGE ALUMNI ENJOY REUNION More than 70 Ramapo Alumni and families attended the Ramapo College Alumni Reunion in July. Alumni who attended represented every decade since the College’s first graduating class. Alumni and their families enjoyed perusing five decades of historic photos from Vincent Marchese ’76. WRPR Radio Club President Kyle Bandilla ’20, took us through the decades musically. Newly elected Student Government Association (SGA) president Stephan Lally ’20 also welcomed alumni to campus. He spoke about a new initiative “Student Emergency Relief Fund” that was established to assist students in financial need outside of traditional room and board or academic expenses. A portion of the reunion ticket price was directed to this worthy effort. “The camaraderie of being with fellow alumni,
a delicious upscale menu, VIP parking followed by a concert and fireworks on a beautiful summer evening all added up to a wonderful event,” said Dr. Carolyn Merkel ’78. The reunion committee including Merkel, Jessica Finaldi ’11, James Sorace ’84, Venetta Ellerbe ’03, Clifton Shambry ’12 and Sandra Cooper ’17 brought a new level of fun to this year’s reunion. "I enjoyed working with other alumni on this event," stated recent graduate Sandra Cooper ’17, "it was fun to plan and then attend and socialize with other Ramapo Alumni. It was just the experience that I had hoped for as an alumna of the College." Check the Alumni website for information about more Alumni events and Benefits. If you would like to become involved planning future alumni events please contact Joanne Favata at firstname.lastname@example.org www.ramapo.edu
GOOD TIMES, THEN AND NOW Members of the Student Government Association 1985-86 recently met for an informal gathering with a friend from their days at Ramapo College. They and their spouses visited with Fr. George Mader who was campus chaplain from 1984 through the early 1990s. Over time, the group became good friends and even spent time together at Fr. George’s cabin at Lake George, N.Y. “We all have great memories of that time,” said Priscilla Tovey-Van Aulen, Coordinator of Program and Faculty Outreach in the Center for Reading and Writing at Ramapo. She added that Fr. George, who now lives at St. Ann’s Home in Jersey City, N.J., turned 91 this November. He officiated at the wedding of Tovey-Van Aulen and her husband Peter as well as many other Ramapo couples. “We have all remained good friends ever since,” said Tovey-Van Aulen.
Standing (L-R): Peter Van Aulen ’87, Priscilla Tovey-Van Aulen ’87, Tom Stika ’87, Maria Vitolo Stika ’87, Lisa Mekarzel, Mary Berntsen Hutchins ’90, Curtis Hutchins. Seated with Fr. George is Christian Mekarzel ’86.
AUTHOR JON RONSON DELIVERS OPENING CONVOCATION ADDRESS Welsh author and journalist Jon Ronson delivered the keynote address at the Opening Convocation for the fall semester. Ronson discussed his book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, which was chosen as the summer reading selection for first-year students. The book concerns the effects of public humiliation in the Internet age, with a particular focus on Twitter. “Social media was really created to give a voice to the voiceless, and that’s a good thing,” said Ronson. “But in addition to being a positive, it’s also become a forum for negativity, like ridicule and inaccurate information which can be harmful.” He said that some of the well-known “provocateurs” that use social media – newsroom figures, celebrities, people in the public eye, for instance – can handle the negative backlash from posting their particular views about social issues. “Those folks typically have millions of followers so they are looking for reaction. But the average person with 25 followers is often not equipped to handle the negative, and it becomes a terrible experience for them,” he said. Ronson said response to the book since its release in March 2015 has been mostly positive. “But the first few months were difficult for me. People were really not welcoming the content or the message,” which he said is that we must remember “we are all human.” “The sharing of information, especially when it’s so instantaneous, can be a good thing. But let’s care about others first,” he said.
Ramapo College Magazine | Annual Report
Jon Ronson chatted with students during a book signing of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed following his address at Opening Convocation.
Ronson offered some words of advice to students, staff and faculty. “Curiosity is good. Finding your voice is good but be thoughtful about what your words can do. And if you witness a social injustice online, don’t be afraid to speak up. That is more important that staying silent.” Ronson’s works include the best-selling The Men Who Stare at Goats (2004) and The Psychopath Test (2011). He has published nine books and his work has appeared in British publications such as The Guardian, City Life and Time Out. He has made several BBC Television documentary films and two documentary series for British public service television.
AROUND CAMPUS: WHAT THE STUDENTS ARE SAYING Favorite professor? Favorite spot on campus?
Professor BONNIE BLAKE, I have never met a professor who cared so much about her students that she would stay up until 5 a.m. emailing us.
Favorite spots have to be the GYM and the TRACK. Always have to stay in shape for the seasons. KEVIN EDWARDS Class of 2019
BRAD BISTRITZ Class of 2018
ALPHA PHI OMEGA is a great club that is centered around community service and friendship. It is a great organization to be a part of and I feel lucky to have friends who share the same interests.
Professor CATALIN MARTIN’S lectures are thoroughly enjoyable. His passion for physics inspires every student to learn more and he helps a student as much as he can.” RAJAT SAINJU Class of 2018
MOLLY KRAWCZYK Class of 2020
Pleasant surprise at Ramapo? When I first came to Ramapo, I was expecting to take classes and join a few clubs. I never thought that I would be a Resident Assistant, join Greek Life, find a job on campus that I really enjoy, or intern in New York. These opportunities have made my experience at Ramapo great and I’m really thankful!
Favorite spot on campus? Definitely the BIRCH TREE INN. Not only do I enjoy their multiple food options throughout the day, late night dining is very beneficial to grab a cup of coffee or bowl of cereal and get work done. SHIVANI NAIK Class of 2021
ISABELLA SANTOS Class of 2018
Pleasant surprise at Ramapo? I’m surprised how much my experiences here have made this school FEEL LIKE HOME. So many great memories from classes, organizations, campus jobs, nursing clinicals and friends. It will be hard to say goodbye, but Ramapo has prepared me for whatever comes next! RACHEL KOZAN Class of 2018
Favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spot on campus is relaxing in the ADIRONDACK CHAIRS in front of the Birch Mansion on the weekend. STEPHEN GEERLOF Class of 2018
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505 Ramapo Valley Road Mahwah, N.J. 07430-1623 www.ramapo.edu
KRAME CENTER for Contemplative Studies and Mindful Living at Ramapo College
The superb professors at Ramapo College helped me to develop critical thinking skills, which have been instrumental to my success. I give to the Annual Fund to show my appreciation and pay it forward to the next generation of graduates. I know how critical the Annual Fund is to realizing Ramapo’s mission and I entrust the College to provide the same life-changing opportunities for its students as it did for me.” Please join me in making a gift to the 2017-18 Annual Fund.
Eileen Curley Hammond ’79 Member, Stephen & Mary Birch Fellowship
Eileen graduated from Ramapo College with a B.A. in Psychology and Business Management. She developed an extensive professional background in life insurance and annuity marketing, product development and sales. She has served as Corporate Vice President at New York Life, Vice President of Marketing at AmerUs Group, and recently retired from Nationwide Financial as the Vice President of Life and Annuity Marketing. Eileen is a member of the Stephen & Mary Birch Fellowship, Ramapo’s leadership giving society, and has made consecutive gifts to the Annual Fund for more than 10 years. Her company, Nationwide Financial, is also a generous matching gift company; a benefit she has shared with Ramapo College for many years. She currently lives with her husband in Ohio and enjoys being happily retired.
www.ramapo.edu/give Questions? Contact Dawn Lozada, Director of the Annual Fund, at email@example.com or (201) 684-7141.