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Welcome Back From President Grey Dimenna

default article imageDear students –

Best wishes, and a warm welcome back to campus following our winter break. I hope your break was restful and reinvigorating.  I also hope that you are already fully engaged with your studies and campus activities as we enter the second week of classes.  If you are a new student, there is no time like the beginning of the semester to meet new friends, explore new clubs and organizations, and make a deliberate effort to get to know your professors.

While some of you may be new to Monmouth, I also know that many of you are entering the “home stretch” in your undergraduate or graduate education.  May will be here before you know it, and I encourage you to take advantage of every opportunity on campus, or in our area, before you take your next steps.

Cheer on our athletic teams, visit our gallery exhibitions, attend a performance or participate in one of our many opportunities to meet with artists and thought leaders this semester.  With longer days and the promise of warmer weather, I hope you will also take time to visit the beach, travel to Sandy Hook, and enjoy the unique cultural resources available in nearby Long Branch, Red Bank, and Asbury Park.

I look forward to seeing you on campus and hearing about the experiences that are making your semester a memorable one.

Grey J. Dimenna, Esq.

President

University Offers Explanation for Annual Tuition Increases

default article imageAs students enter the spring semester at Monmouth University, many of the inevitable annual tuition increase.

According to William Craig, CPA, Vice President for Finance, for the past four or five years, University tuition has increased by just approximately four percent each year. Prior years saw tuition increases closer to four and a half to five percent.

“In the case of Monmouth University specifically, we are extremely tuition and student revenue dependent,” explained Craig. “Tuition alone accounts for 80 percent of our revenues… If you add in room, board, and books the school is 93 percent student revenue driven.”

According to Craig, other private schools similar to the University in size are more likely to be 60 percent student tuition driven, and are more assisted by endowment funds that have grown throughout the history of the institution.

“A lot of schools have these endowment funds that have built up over long periods of time, and the revenue from that can be used to partially support their budgets. Our endowment today is somewhere around $94 million,” Craig explained. “For a school of our size, that isn’t that large, and that puts us in a position that, as costs go up, a lot of it falls on tuition revenue.”

“From the standpoint of the endowment, the endowment assets that we have per student - our average would have been around $13,000 per student. The national average is closer to $22,000 per student,” he continued. While Craig explained that the figures may be slightly out of date since annual data is not immediately available, he added that growing the endowment is a long process because of its complexity.

While raising tuition helps grow the endowment, Craig also explained that the increases are used to benefit students and faculty, as well as other members of the University community.

Some of the increased tuition rates are due to competitive markets and increased financial aid packages.

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Dimenna Reacts to Inappropriate Humor at Fundraiser

President Inappropriate HumorUniversity President Grey J. Dimenna, Esq. issued an apology statement via email regarding a fundraising event where inappropriate humor was used in a comedy act. 

The Jan. 12 email referenced The First Annual Monmouth County Gala and Award Show, hosted by nonprofit organization Hometown Heroes, which took place the day before. The Gala was not planned by the University, however the event was held in Pollak Theatre and honored four guests, which included Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Joseph Azzolina, Jr., Byron Griffin, and Dimenna. 

The fundraiser was originally intended to raise money for the organization, which "aims to support local communities when unexpected needs arise during a time of crisis," according to their mission statement. 

However, audience members and the President were disappointed when the evening took a turn. 

Set to the theme of "The Tonight Show," the event featured, according to Dimenna’s email, “a warm-up comedian as well as an opening monologue and other attempts at humor by the host of the show who is the head of Hometown Heroes.” 

Dimenna described a joke delivered by Michael Schwartz, founder of Hometown Heroes: "He (Schwartz) said something similar to, 'Three Monmouth basketball players arrive in a car. Who was the driver? The cop.'" Dimenna commented that the humor was insensitive and inappropriate, especially with everything going on with the Black Lives Matter movement, and believes that that kind of statement is inadvisable. 

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University Institutes Publish Ocean Health Study

Ocean Health Study 1Two survey reports released by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and the Urban Coast Institute (UCI) on Dec. 5, 2017 showed that citizens in the Mid-Atlantic region and coastal communities had a significant increase in concern for ocean health and the impact of oceans on the economy.

These reports were released simultaneously, and represented the first major report of regional public opinion regarding ocean health since 2009, consisting of two polls conducted in different populations.

Findings from the Mid-Atlantic region showed that 45 percent of respondents said not enough is being done currently to protect the oceans. Sixty-one percent have little to no confidence that the federal government will manage coastal issues adequately in the coming years.

 Karl Vilacoba, UCI Communications Director, reported that of the two distinct polles, one was sent to residents of the six Mid-Atlantic states, from New York to Virginia, including Pennsylvania. The second poll was conducted in a population consisting of people specifically living coastal communities, which was defined as living within five miles of water.

The director of the Polling Institute, Patrick Murray, declined to comment for this story, after repeated attempts by the Outlook, and provided no reason for doing so.

The majority of residents also expressed that should federal funding for ocean health monitoring be cut, they would agree to state taxes being used instead, with 60 percent of residents indicating this as the best course of action.

The poll administered to residents of coastal communities showed that 95 percent of respondents believed that the oceans are at least somewhat important to local economies. Seventy-three percent recognized that local ocean health affects the coasts of other states.

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Gender Studies Students Raise Awareness

default article imageCorey Wrenn, Ph.D., Director of Gender Studies and sociology lecturer, assigns a final project to her Gender Studies students every year, in which she asks students to bring the knowledge they have learned in class to the community in any form of their choice.

Some ideas she offers are: organizing a gender-based event, holding workshops, publishing an essay to a local paper or feminist blog, and creating a community or campus art project. Some of this year’s project included the Singing for Our Sister’s event ran by Students Advocating Girls Education (SAGE and Blue Hawk Records, collecting feminine hygiene products for the homeless, YouTube videos, and essays.

 “Eliminating the gender gap is a lofty goal in the United States, but it is such an important one. Research supports that increased diversity and parity create a more stable, productive, and harmonious workforce. They also make for more fulfilling, stable relationships. Ultimately, however, gender equality is a matter of basic social justice and collective responsibility,” said Wrenn.

“I think our project was a huge success, the concert was a fun way to promote our cause that caught the attention of a lot of people,” said Katie Piltz, a sophomore social work student who helped out at the Singing for Our Sisters event. “Events like this are important for the empowerment of women because it proves anyone can make a change if they put their mind to it, just like we did.”

For her project, sophomore health studies student Cameron Oakley rallied up a group of about ten classmates to collect feminine hygiene products for a non-profit organization she works with called the Blessing Bag Brigade NJ. The organization collects everyday items, like socks, toothbrushes, and snacks, to create Blessing Bags for the homeless. They hand these bags out to the homeless on a regular basis, giving them out in New York up to five nights a week. They have recently brought their efforts here to New Jersey, working in Newark, Asbury Park, and other areas at the Jersey Shore.

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Singing For Our Sisters Event Donates to Women’s Education

Singing For Sisters EventStudents Advocating Girl’s Education (SAGE) and Blue Hawk Records came together for their first annual Singing for Our Sisters event on Wednesday, Nov. 29. The event was created to support female education, to spread awareness on the lack of it, and to empower women to be whoever they want to be.

The two organizations collaborated for the first time last year, for their PB&Jam event, which included performances by five different acts and collected donations for homeless women. With the success of PB&Jam in mind, the two clubs decided to come together once again to host another event to aid and empower women.

“I contacted Kaitlin and within a month we had this amazing show planned. Girls from Blue Hawk Records volunteered to play and I got so much support from both sections of Intro. to Gender Studies,” said Blue Hawk Records’ Aja Armstrong, who organized all the musical acts and enlisted the help of classmates from her section of Introduction to Gender Studies, taught by Corey Wrenn, Ph.D., Chair of the Gender Studies Department.

The event included musical performances by members of Blue Hawk, including: Monica Flores, Skyeline’s Brittany Byrne, Nicole Govel, and Incolor. Performances included some covers of female empowering tracks, like Corrine Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On,” as well as some original pieces by the artists.

“I love doing shows, and I love helping my community, so what’s better than a show for a cause!” Armstrong continued.

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University Mourns English Professor

MU English Professor Passes 51

David J. Tietge, Ph.D., a beloved professor of 15 years and respected colleague at Monmouth University, passed away at the age of 51 on Nov. 28. This comes as a shock to those who knew him.

Tietge’s influence on the entire community at Monmouth is easily seen, but it is within the quiet corridors of the English department building where his presence was most known. His door was covered with newspaper clippings, cartoons, and other images, all giving a small snapshot of his humor and personality.

Inside his office, everything is gathered neatly around his desk. There is a guitar in the corner of the room, a baseball resting in a cup, and various books stacked next to each other. “Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge” sits comfortably next to Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”

The desk sports a half-finished bottle of soda sitting next to a coffee travel mug. The chair is well-worn and leans against the wall next to an air conditioner and a boarded-up window. The office is well-lived in, and has character in every inch of it.

Tietge focused on the various rhetoric of theory, science, and popular culture. He published three books and had articles in numerous journals. As the Director of First-Year Composition, he was responsible for many of the changes currently present in those courses today, making the course more streamlined and accessible to new students.

“He had a really in-depth knowledge of critical and literary theory that put him on equal standing with any of the literature professors in our department,” said J.P. Hanly, Associate Director of First Year Composition, an assistant professor of English, and a close colleague of Tietge.

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Students Present Forum on Institutional Reform

Students Present Institutional ReformThe Academic Exchange Program (AEP) piloted the first ever integrated class at a maximum security prison in New Jersey, this fall. The directors and students of this program explored the significance of this experience while hosting a critical forum on the complications connecting educational and correctional institutions on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

Students enrolled in the “Investigating the School to Prison Pipeline 2” class will have spent 12 class periods this semester inside of the New Jersey State Prison, learning alongside incarcerated students. The curriculum of this two-part course was uniquely developed by the AEP Program Directors, Eleanor Novek, Ph.D., an associate professor of communication, and Johanna Foster Ph.D., the Director of the sociology department, and an associate professor of sociology.

Throughout the semester Monmouth and incarcerated students collaborated on a report on why prisons needed to be made more like schools, and schools less like prisons. Students gathered information and creatively responded to four major research questions: “How can we support at-risk youth and end zero-tolerance policies in public schools?,” “How can we understand the larger societal forces that limit support higher education and reentry preparations?,” and “How can we reduce the stigma of felon status and increase empathy for returning citizens?.”

“We broke down into groups in our class with the inmates at Trenton State, and we worked together to distribute a focus for each group to touch upon as far as what we felt the general public needs to know,” said Paul Matt, a senior communication student.“We need to listen and understand who they are, and how they got to prison based off of their upbringing, environment, and previous educational experiences. The purpose of education in prison is to teach the inmates what they haven’t been taught before in order to be a productive member of society.”

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Monmouth University Among Academic Institutions Named in Paradise Papers

MU Among Paradise Papers 1Monmouth University has been named alongside 104 colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, including Yale University, Princeton University, and Oxford University, in the Paradise Papers, a leak of documents and files that indicate the institutions named had affiliations with offshore accounts, most often, to avoid tax liability.

While the University’s connection to the Papers may not indicate any wrongdoing or illegality on their part, the business practice’s commonality among institutions of higher education raises a question of ethics and moral duty.

The Paradise Papers are the second-largest data leak in history, following the 2016 release of the Panama Papers. Both leaks were obtained by German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, who then shared the material with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a United States based organization that won a Pulitzer Prize for their work on the Panama Papers.

The ICIJ published the Papers in 2016, exposing the methodology behind how wealthy citizens, organizations and institutions avoid paying taxes by keeping funds in offshore accounts.

George Yager, a CPA who specializes in tax compliance and family wealth planning, and provides consultation on tax advisory services to a broad range of clients including management companies and their owners in the alternative investments industry, as well as energy and real estate clients, explained tax avoidance as an action taken to reduce one’s tax liability and maximize after-tax income.

“Tax avoidance is perfectly legal and involves the practice of maximizing deductions, adjustments to income and use of tax credits to lower tax liability within the Tax Code and Regulations. While the legality of tax avoidance is clear, the ethics of it are not.  Most taxpayers use some form of tax avoidance to legally lower their taxes such as contributing pre-tax income to a 401(k) retirement plan,” said Yager.

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Debate Team Wins Three Awards at On-Campus Tournament

Debate Team Wins 3 AwardsThe Monmouth University Debate Team hosted its 5th Annual Jersey Shore Invitational Debate Tournament on campus. Three University teams won awards by advancing into the playoff rounds. 

More than 150 participants from ten universities registered for this nationally-sanctioned tournament, which took place on Nov. 18 and 19.  Registered debaters included students from New York University, George Mason University, Liberty University, Cornell University, the New School, Rutgers University, University of Rochester, Wilkes University, SUNY Binghamton, and Monmouth University.

The University team took home three team awards over the weekend behind the team of sophomore political science students Landon Myers and Chase Petras, who made it into the quarterfinals after a playoff round victory on a 2-1 ballot over New York University.

“Advancing to the quarter finals was amazing,” said Myers. “To get there we won an upset against NYU in the elimination rounds. It was my first win in the elimination rounds and I was ecstatic. During the tournament I generally try to be unemotional because there is always that next round of debating and I need to stay focused.”

The team of sophomore Alexis Vasquez and senior Chris Diolosa received awards for advancing into the playoff rounds.

“I was jubilant, but debate teaches you to be humble and gritty because to get an award, you have to take a few on the chin to realize that you need to keep on trucking through the tough times,” said Diolosa, a political science student.

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SVA Donates for Thanksgiving

The Student Veterans’ Association (SVA) planned an event called “Ask-a-Veteran” on Nov. 13. Despite the low attendance of non-military affiliated students, the event turned into a food drive and branched into a discussion to plan more charitable programs.

Rocco Puzzo, a communication radio/television first-year student, Treasurer of the SVA and an infantryman in the Army said, “Well, the ‘Ask-a-Vet’ turned into a meeting simply because we didn’t have anyone show up. We decided it was a good idea to talk about what we need to do for next time in order to make this event more of a success.”

“The organization rallied themselves together to use it as an opportunity to brainstorm ideas on engaging with the community for the upcoming holiday season,” said Michael Callahan, Coordinator of Veteran Services at the University.

Nick Venier, a junior marketing student, SVA President, and Air Force veteran said, “It was a failure in that not many people came but it was a success because we all got together and planned.”

Although their original event became a meeting for the SVA, the assemblage led to the planning of charitable programs for the organization to take part in along with the completion of a food drive in time for Thanksgiving.

“It was a simple turkey drive; everyone contributed a certain amount of money and that got us a few turkeys to donate,” Venier noted.

Shannon Hudson, a sophomore health studies student and Navy veteran said, “The event turned into a meeting and we ended up doing a food drive. We talked about an upcoming event, which is going to be a toy drive for Christmas.”

 “I thought the food drive was very successful; we were able to raise enough money to get eight full turkeys, six boxes of stuffing, one large apple and one large pumpkin pie,” Puzzo said. He then delivered the collected food to the Peoples Pantry in Toms River. “We got 125 pounds worth of food. I wanted to at least attempt to make Thanksgiving just a little bit better for a family who doesn’t have much,” Puzzo continued.

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Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey
07764

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu