Dimenna Gives State of the University

Dimenna State UniversityUniversity President Grey Dimenna, Esq., released a “State of the University” for the 2018-2019 academic year to the Monmouth Now weekly recap last Wednesday, April 10.

Dimenna highlighted the University’s accomplishments in enhancing academic excellence and initiatives, achieving milestones, improving campus facilities and resources, athletic achievements, the University’s scholarship campaign, and looking ahead to future success. 

“As president I have made student success the guiding principle for decisions that affect Monmouth University. This commitment extends beyond academic, athletic, and career outcomes. It includes engagement with diversity, the arts, community service, and compassion for others,” says Dimenna in his letter. 

He noted that academic quality of the incoming freshman class was the highest in the University’s history, with an average high school GPA of 3.42 and an average SAT score of 1134. Additionally, Monmouth enrolled the highest percentage of out-of-state students, and welcomed the third highest percentage of racially and ethnically diverse students in its history, at 26.3 percent and 27.4 percent, respectively. 

The University has also seen more academic programs and initiatives. In April 2018, the Department of Political Science and Sociology launched the Center for Active Citizenship. 

“The vision was for a student-centered space (now BH226) to support our Department's competitive academic student teams and clubs, especially, the Debate Team, the Model United Nations Team and the Mock Trial Team,” said Ken Mitchell, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Political Science and an associate professor of political science.

He said, “Monmouth’s Debate Hawks are nationally ranked and [our] Model United Nations Team each consistently wins awards at competitive contests in the USA and the UK.”

Mitchell continued, “Most important from my perspectives, participating students after graduating have gone onto prestigious graduate schools, law schools, and employment opportunities after graduation,” highlighting the success of the Department and its students. 

In addition to dedicated space in Samuel E. and Mollie Bey Hall, formal organization of the center has allowed increased funding for Monmouth’s academic teams, including the Debate Team, Model UN Team, and the Mock Trial Team.

At the graduate level, the University will now be offering two new programs beginning in summer and fall 2019: a Master of Science in Athletic Training and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. The MFA will become Monmouth University’s third terminal degree program, following the Doctor of Nursing Practice and the Doctor of Education programs. Additionally, in January of 2020, Monmouth will begin offering an online post-professional doctorate in Occupational Therapy, with plans for an entry-level doctoral program in Occupational Therapy in 2021. 

“Together, these programs will significantly broaden the scope of advanced academic opportunities at Monmouth,” says Dimenna in his address. “With nearly half of our academic offerings directly related to the health professions, Monmouth University is uniquely positioned through the IHW to partner with hospital systems and other healthcare organizations to advance and amplify initiatives that will positively impact the health and well-being of our region.”

The University’s new state-of-the-art Simulation Laboratory, created in partnership with Monmouth Medical Center, an affiliate of the RWJBarnabas Health system, will also advance efforts in health care initiatives, including education and workforce development.

The School of Social Work, in partnership with the Division of Student Life, has also received a second $300,000 Garrett Lee Smith grant focused on suicide prevention over a three-year period. Only seven percent of universities who apply for this prestigious grant a second time receive it. The School is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of its nationally ranked Master of Social Work program.

Carolyn Bradley, Ph.D., Director of the MSW Program, believes this program distinguishes from other institutions because of its focus on social justice and human rights serves as the foundational perspective of the curriculum. She also believes since the program is small, it allows students easy access to faculty who provide mentorship.

This past fall, students organized and opened a student-run food pantry, “The Nest,” to combat a food insecurity, which is national issue. The effort to serve Monmouth students without a meal plan is a joint effort between the Division of Student Life and the Student Government Association (SGA). 

“I think it is awesome that the school realizes how tough it is for many students, even when it comes to having a meal. I work and eating out around here can really empty your pockets fast," said R’reanna Hester, a senior communication student.

SGA receives food and toiletries for The Nest solely through donations. Funding for the pantry comes through support from our beverage partner Coca-Cola, Gourmet Dining, SGA funds, and the generosity of many campus donors. 

The University also welcomed a new Hawk monument in the center circle outside the OceanFirst Bank Center. The statue was sculpted by alumni Brian Hanlon and his wife, Michele Hanlon, underwritten with a generous donation from the Brockreide family, including trustee John Brockriede. 

Beginning with the Hawk Walk at Homecoming, the figure quickly became a rallying point and source of pride for students, Monmouth athletes, and alumni; a new tradition of the football touching for the Hawk for luck before every game also emerged. 

In Athletics, Monmouth has also made several accolades, claiming its fourth straight Overall Commissioner’s Cup, including winning its first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Women’s Commissioner’s Cup. Men’s Tennis won its third consecutive MAAC Tournament Championship while Field Hockey and Women’s Soccer won MAAC Championships on the same day on campus in the fall. It was the third consecutive advancement to the NCAA Tournament for both teams.

“We remained strong… because we have always had high priorities that the new guys who came in and the new coaches agreed and shared with the already existing members of the team,” said Nicola Pipoli, a senior business administration student and Men’s Tennis team captain. 

“Winning MAACs once was a great feeling. The second MAAC Championship boosted our confidence even more and put a target on our backs for this past season,” said Jessica Johnson, a junior communication student and Women’s Soccer team captain. “This third win let the conference know that we are the team to beat.”

Johnson said, “Winning this past fall meant so much to us because we work so hard to be the best team in the MAAC and we love to see it pay off. It gets more special each year we win because it proves that it wasn’t a fluke.”

In October, the president also announced his Together We Can scholarship campaign in order to raise private funding for student scholarships. Since October, the campaign has raised $12.89 million in gifts and pledges committed to scholarship funding, more than 86 percent of the University’s $15 million goal. “Achieving success will enhance our ability to continue to attract highly qualified students from economically, geographically, and culturally diverse backgrounds,” says Dimenna. 

“It is an honor and privilege to serve as president, and I am deeply appreciative of our generous, talented, and loyal alumni and friends who support Monmouth by serving on our boards, mentoring students, giving back through financial support, and sharing valued insight,” he says. “I am grateful to the faculty and staff who make it possible for students to discover, learn, and grow.”

He concluded, “Our students remain a source of continuing amazement and delight for me, and I will strive to carry their incredible energy and optimism with me through the end of my tenure as president, and into the adventures that await.”  

As Monmouth’s 2018-19 academic year approaches its last months, the University looks forward to more successes and accomplishments in the future, and welcomes its new President-elect Patrick Leahy, Ed.D.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University