September 2015Dear Members of the NJCU Community: I am delighted to welcome you to the start of the 2015-16 academic year! A special welcome to our new students, faculty and staff who are joining us. We have 905 freshmen joining NJCU—a record number! These students come from states including Maryland, Florida, and New York, and include four valedictorians and one salutatorian. I so often say that an institution can only be as good as its faculty, so I am thrilled that we have added twenty remarkable new faculty to our ranks. They hail from institutions including the University of Maine, Auburn University, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. In addition to their exceptional credentials and experience, many of them bring with them grants and research skills that will raise our profile and augment opportunities for our students to be engaged in cutting-edge research. In addition to faculty hires, NJCU welcomed new administrative staff, each of whom brings skills and experiences that will advance the University and its mission in significant ways.It is especially gratifying to welcome these new students and colleagues, since at our May commencement we graduated a record number of students—a total of 1,935 degrees were awarded (1,482 undergraduate and 443 graduate), as well as 10 doctoral from our first cohort of doctoral students. While we all know that NJCU is on the move and is providing our students with a high-quality education, it is always satisfying when others recognize our excellence. That happened this summer when the Washington Monthly, one of the most prestigious organizations that measure universities, ranked NJCU in the top 10 schools as “Best Bang for Your Buck” in the northeast. Their ranking notes our accomplishments in providing our students with a first-rate education at a low cost and leaving them with the lowest debt in the state. We can all be most proud of this recognition. I am grateful to all of you whose deep commitment to NJCU and hard work has resulted in this well-deserved recognition.Much has happened over the summer that will contribute to an exciting and exceptional fall semester. Here’s a quick update:Relocated School of BusinessBuilding on our competitive advantage of being located in Jersey City on the Hudson River and across from Wall Street and the ‘back office of Wall Street’, our School of Business opens its doors this week in a new location on the Hudson River: Harborside Plaza 2. The new 70,000-square-foot location offers convenient access to the Exchange place PATH station and light rail, as well as a parking garage. As highlighted by NJTV News in April, this new facility will feature cutting-edge technology, a simulated trading floor, classrooms, faculty offices, and a conference space with spectacular views of lower Manhattan. In addition, NJTV will broadcast a nightly business report from an on-site studio overlooking the New York City skyline. In addition to its new home, NJCU’s School of Business has a new program that begins this fall—New Jersey’s first undergraduate Honors Program in Finance.I encourage you to stop by to see this magnificent new space! The Dean will provide tours for those interested (contact the School of Business for details). Also watch for the forthcoming announcements of our official ribbon cutting that will take place in the fall (date and time to be determined). Air-Conditioned GymBack on campus, our gym is now air-conditioned, much to the relief of our volleyball and fall sports teams. This will enable the Athletics Department to make full use of the facility and expand the successful summer camp held for the community this summer. Our local seniors will be thrilled as they are regulars in the facility. It is an added bonus to the seven new athletic teams that will begin this fall, including track, swimming and tennis.New ConstructionConstruction is slated to begin on the science building this fall, following selection of the construction firm. On July 31, three developers submitted applications to the EDA to review the possibility of developments on the West Campus designed to revitalize this side of Jersey City and provide the citizens of this community with good housing, restaurants, retail space, a fitness facility, and a first-rate grocery store. These developments will provide NJCU with the cash flow from long-term leases that will fund the new Academic Building.Our students moved into an improved Co-Op Residence Hall as the new residence hall rises on the West Campus. Its completion date is next spring and will more than double the housing capacity for our students. Vodra Hall will also have a new lobby once the construction schedule can be arranged so as not to interfere with the currently housed students. General Education and Student Success InitiativeWhile student housing has been improved, so has the curriculum with the new General Education. Thanks to the impressive work done by faculty over a number of years, students will now begin an integrated and coherent course of study that will ensure multidisciplinary work and in-depth analysis, including a capstone course. To complement this work, many faculty and staff have been hard at work on our Student Success Initiative designed to increase student engagement and retention, ensuring that students have the information they need to make wise decisions in selecting their courses of study and their academic career path at NJCU. This work is laser focused on advising, financial literacy, student needs in and out of the classroom, tutoring, and career options. Our internship and study abroad offices will be providing enhanced opportunities to ensure that our students graduate with a strong education and the needed internships and abroad experiences that make them highly competitive in the labor market. Building New PartnershipsAs we continue to increase the numbers of students studying abroad, we are also seeking additional institutional partners both domestically and abroad to work with us in providing rich learning experiences. Once again we are partnering with Na Ni Chen Dance Company as we strengthen our dance program. Our Media Studies Department continues its strong relationship with the Black Maria Film Festival, as well as other Jersey City-based festivals. Our nursing program has several partnerships with hospitals including the JCMC and Meridian Hospital in Monmouth. The School of Business begins a program with Bayonne High School where students take college level courses in high school, and our work with Innovation High School begins its second year. Just as the world has come to Jersey City, we need to provide our students with opportunities to go out into the world. This spring a record number of Fulbright scholars were selected and will be abroad during the current academic year. Thanks to the good work of a number of faculty and staff, our Confucius Institute will be inaugurated this fall. Mark your calendar for November 2, as we dedicate the second Confucius Institute in New Jersey. This is a remarkable accomplishment as none had been approved for the last two years. We have signed agreements with six schools in China and four in India, all of which will result in joint degrees or new international students here on campus. Philanthropic donors eager to duplicate their successes in coming to this country will fund some of these. Several faculty have traveled to both countries to lecture, teach and create programs. This week, I will travel to Cuba with 15 other presidents to work on collaborations with institutions there. Given that Union City has the second largest Cuban population in the country, we will be well served to create these strong programs. This is truly an exciting time to be at NJCU and to serve in a pivotal role on behalf of Jersey City. I am grateful for the many ways in which you help us to achieve our success.