To the William Paterson University Community
As we conclude the 2010-2011 academic year, I would like to congratulate all of our graduating seniors and graduate students who have completed their studies at William Paterson University. We are proud of your accomplishments and wish you great success in the future. I also would like to thank the University’s outstanding faculty for a job well done.
At this time, I would like to share with you some highlights from our very full and productive spring 2011 semester. Our biggest hurdle, which we successfully navigated, was the ten-year campus visit by an accreditation team from the Middle States Commission in March 2011.
Middle States Visit and Report
The visiting team from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the University’s accrediting agency, made their decennial visit to campus March 20-23, and we are very pleased with the team’s summary findings. In their final report, the team evaluated the University against the fourteen Middle States standards and found that we fully met thirteen of these. The team told us we partially met Standard 2, “Planning, Resource Allocation and Institutional Renewal,” because of the lack of a cohesive strategic plan. We expected this comment and started addressing the issue last fall. Officially, we began our Strategic Planning Initiative on April 1, 2011 as outlined in my memo to the campus community and sent to all Board members. The Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPC) is now meeting and the Board’s representative is Will Pesce. The Middle States preparation was a mammoth eighteen-month undertaking and requires University-wide participation. Our review is quite successful and when the Middle States Commission issues its final report in June, we will make it public.
Strategic Planning Initiative 2011-2020 Underway
With the guidance of Anthony Knerr and Associates, we are undertaking a comprehensive strategic planning initiative, involving faculty, alumni, students, and staff from almost every area on campus in discussions about the future of the University. A sixteen-member Strategic Planning Steering Committee (SPC) was formed to focus the discussion and guide the process. We have completed four by-invitation-only Presidential Dinners around topics of importance to the University’s future, including visibility, resource generation, academic focus, and enrollment and retention. The Board of Trustees will hold a retreat with the consultants on May 23, and the SPC will continue its deliberations throughout the summer. Monthly updates will be provided. For information about the strategic planning process and to review some of the documents made available to the consultants as background material, follow the Strategic Planning link from the University’s homepage.
Capital Projects on Campus
I am sure you noticed the construction fences around Morrison Hall, which appeared a few weeks ago. This is just one capital project that we are moving ahead with this spring. Morrison Hall is being renovated, with the addition of a new atrium entrance facing Pompton Road. It will house Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions and the offices that support our Enrollment Management function. This project will pull together these functions in one location, making it easier for students.
We are making some renovations to the recital and rehearsal halls in Shea Center, principally for use by our Music Department and University Performing Arts. These rooms are “work horse” spaces, desperately in need of modernization, including new mechanical systems, acoustical treatments, stage lighting, and sound recording, and will resolve needed storage issues. We will also replace the roof on Hobart Hall this summer, as a harsh winter took its toll on many of our flat roof buildings. And we continue to study the feasibility of a parking garage, which we discussed earlier this year. The Science Building phase two project is on schedule and we look forward to its completion in late fall.
Enrollment Outlook for Fall 2011 is Good
Overall student headcount enrollment was up for fall 2010 by 5 percent, and up 3.3 percent for spring 2011. The outlook for fall 2011, although early in the season, is positive with higher numbers of applications at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We welcomed Kristin Cohen, our new vice president for enrollment management, on April 11. She will provide leadership for the areas relating to the enrollment and retention of students. Kris has more than twenty years of experience in the field, mostly in New Jersey where she served as head of graduate enrollment at Montclair State University and most recently as vice president of enrollment management at Bloomfield College.
Legacy Award Gala
If you did not attend, you missed a delightful evening at The Villa at Mountain Lakes for the annual Legacy Award Gala on April 8. We were pleased to honor Foundation Board member Aaron Van Duyne and Van Duyne, Behrens & Co., P.A. with the Legacy Award for Corporate Service. Also receiving the Corporate Service Award was the PNC Financial Services Group represented by Foundation Board member Linda Bowden ’78. Other award recipients were alumni Anthony Benevento ’68, Rod Daniels ’75, and Vivian Semeraro ’60. Professor Tina Lesher received the Faculty Service Award. The Legacy Award Gala is one of our primary fundraising opportunities for scholarship support. Congratulations to Sandra Deller and her staff for mounting another successful evening.
Recent Gifts to the University
I am pleased to announce that Ontel Products, a $300 million direct sales and marketing company, has pledged $1 million to William Paterson University in support of our students and faculty. Chuck Khubani, the company’s founder and CEO, is a 1983 graduate. We are grateful for this strong statement of support from a successful alumnus who has chosen to provide significant resources for his alma mater. The gift will support scholarships for high-achieving incoming students and support faculty development initiatives at the Cotsakos College of Business.
We also received a new gift of about $70,000 from The Roy Meyer Swingers Group, a private group of musicians with whom Sandra Deller and I met recently. The gift will create an endowment fund to award one music scholarship each academic year. The purpose of the fund is to play a role in increasing movement to preserve the wonderful music and style of the Swing Era and the Great American Songbook through education to young people.
On April 12, we hosted a dinner for guests of Basem Hishmeh, Ghassan Shebaneh, and Awni Abu Hadba of the Arab American Scholarship Committee for members of the Arab American community in northern New Jersey to raise funds for a new scholarship that will provide support for undergraduate students with financial need.
Funding through External Grants
The New Jersey Commission on Higher Education has recently notified us that our grant proposal for Aim High Academy: A Summer of Science at William Paterson University has been funded for $139,000. This project will bring forty high-achieving high school juniors to our campus for three consecutive weeks of academic courses in science, college-preparation sessions, leadership training, off-campus field trips, and a residential dormitory experience, including weekends. We also have been invited by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation to consider leading a statewide $500,000-plus initiative to develop a master’s level accelerated teacher training program in sciences and math. At the same time, the Dodge Foundation visited campus and has now invited us to submit a proposal for faculty and teacher development in the arts. One of our long-term goals is to increase sponsored research for academic projects, as well as support from large foundations that focus on higher education.
The faculty continues to bring distinction to the University in such diverse ways. Michael Rees, associate professor of art, has developed a software program that allows artists to create three-dimensional sculptures virtually on a computer and then transform them into real plastic models or molds for other materials such as bronze. This software gives students a way of entering the art world through a digital format for careers in such diverse areas as moviemaking, toy manufacturing, and graphic arts.
David Gilley, assistant professor of biology, is New Jersey’s only honeybee researcher and conducts field research on how bees communicate with each other. His latest research has collected data to examine how pollen-gathering bees report the location of the best food source to the hive. This research is critical in a time when honeybees are diminishing.
In April, we had a day devoted to faculty scholarship and student research. This University Research and Scholarship Day highlighted more than 150 articles, presentations, and other publications and creative work completed by our faculty over the past twelve months.
At our Commencement Ceremony, we honored three of our professors with the 2011 Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. Our award recipients this year are Sharmila “Pixy” Ferris, professor of communication; Linda Kaufman, professor of computer science; and Ki Hee Kim, professor of marketing and management. This annual award recognizes members of the faculty, based upon the recommendation of a committee of their peers, for their particular contributions to excellence in the areas of teaching, research and creative expression, and service. Congratulations to each of them.
Our students continue to make us proud by their achievements. Our support for them through scholarships is more critical now than ever, and I want to thank the Foundation Board for championing them and their desire to obtain their degree from William Paterson. Some examples:
- Three student winners from the Cotsakos College of Business who participated and won the National Financial Planning Challenge (Nick Scheibner, Calga Yildirim, and Nathaniel Phillips) announced at the Legacy Award Gala that they are creating a scholarship to benefit William Paterson University students. The scholarship will award $1,000 to a financial planning major at the University and all three students indicated their intent to make annual gifts to continue the scholarship for the future.
- Cotsakos College of Business students Vincent Brevard of Rahway, a junior marketing major, and Kelly Tacore of Pennsauken, a sophomore finance major, were two of only twenty-four students nationwide who were selected to attend the SIFE 2011 Partner Summit held in New York City. SIFE is the acronym for Students In Free Enterprise, a national organization of student entrepreneurs.
- Tara Halpern, a senior, is conducting groundbreaking—and somewhat controversial—research to discover the source and a cure for autism. Tara, along with two of her professors, studied the effects of cannabinoids (marijuana-like substances) on the activity levels of autistic mice. Her research project was funded and supported by the National Institute of Health, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the University.
- Junior BriAnna Lucas was named to the ten-member Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division III State Farm All-America Team, while classmate April Smith was an honorable-mention all-America honoree.
- The Cheerleading Squad won the first place trophy in the All Girl College Division at the American Cheer and Dance Association’s (ACDA) Reach the Beach Nationals held in Ocean City, Maryland on April 2 and 3. The Pioneers defeated five other teams in their division.
As we continue to attract more students—and donors—to the University and the good work that we are doing here, I have taken several opportunities to publicize the University through public appearances. On March 15, the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey co-sponsored the “Women of Influence in New Jersey” lecture series, where I served as a panelist with three other female executives. I also appeared on “In Our Colleges,” a County College of Morris program featuring CCM President Edward Yaw. That interview was broadcast via FiOS and Cablevision in Morris County. About 10 percent of our students come from Morris County, and CCM is one of our top five transfer feeder schools.
On April 14, I spoke to the Industrial/Commercial Real Estate Women (ICREW), followed the next day by a presidential panel discussion with four of my New Jersey college president colleagues as part of the ACE/New Jersey Women in Higher Education conference, attracting more than 100 attendees. I want to thank Cheryl Hardt for making this opportunity available. Finally, I was part of an editorial board meeting with the Star-Ledger, discussing the Governor’s Task Force recommendations, the proposed FY 2012 budget, and the need for a bond issue to support higher education construction in the years ahead.
In closing, I wish all of you a productive and enjoyable summer. I also look forward to the many challenges and opportunities that await us in September.