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Last updateWed, 23 Sep 2020 2pm

News

President Leahy Appoints New Chief of Staff

PresidentUniversity President Patrick F. Leahy, Ed.D. has named Emily Miller-Gonzalez, Director of Planned Giving within the Division of University Advancement, as the Chief of Staff to the Office of the President. The decision comes as a result of additional organizational changes to the President’s office over the course of this academic year.

“In order to help streamline communications and create efficiencies in my office, I have identified an internal candidate to serve as the Acting Chief of Staff for a term of six months,” Leahy wrote in a memo to Monmouth staff, sent on Monday, Sep. 14. “Emily Miller-Gonzalez, who currently serves as the Director of Planned Giving within the Division of University Advancement, has graciously accepted this temporary appointment.”

Miller-Gonzalez is well-positioned for the role, which includes managerial duties of special projects emanating from the President’s Office, the development of strategic presidential communications, and representing the President’s Office to internal and external audiences alike, Leahy wrote.

Closing over 5 million in gifts and pledges over the past two years, Miller-Gonzalez has introduced over 20 new members to the Shadow Lawn Society, Monmouth’s circle for recognizing donors who have included the University in their estate plans.

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COVID-19 Dashboard

default article imagePresident Leahy announced a COVID-19 Campus Dashboard on Wednesday. Sep. 16. Updated daily by 4 p.m., the dashboard tracks confirmed COVID-19 cases among employees working on campus, residential students and non-residential students, as well as the amount of University-sponsored beds occupied by students currently in isolation or quarantine.

Accessed at monmouth.edu/dashboard, the dashboard “reflects our commitment to transparency related to the health and safety of our campus community,” Leahy wrote in an email addressed to all members of the Monmouth University community. “The dashboard also reflects the number of students living off campus in the local community who may have in person or hybrid courses here on campus who are in quarantine or isolation at their homes in the community.”

After becoming aware of an employee/student who tests positive for COVID-19, one should notify Health Services by contacting Kathy Maloney at kmaloney@monmouth.edu or health@monmouth.edu, Leahy wrote. “Upon such notification, the Health Services will keep the academic area informed should students or professors miss classes due to the illness by informing Danielle Schrama from the Center for Student Success.”

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SGA Fundraises For Yemen Humanitarian Crisis

SGAOver the summer, Monmouth University’s Student Government Association (SGA) held a fundraising event for the people of Yemen, a Middle Eastern nation which has recently been affected by widespread famine and resource shortage, according to the Famine Early Warning System.

This June, the members of SGA created an online fundraiser in an effort to aid people suffering from a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, ultimately raising over $1,500. Stemming from proxy wars in the area between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and the Iran-backed Houthi movement, routes to vital resources like food, water, and medical assistance have been either compromised or cut off, creating a subsequent humanitarian crisis that has escalated to an emergency in some parts of Yemen.

Regarding the creation and execution of the fundraiser, Jenna Lee, a sophomore health studies student and Vice President of the SGA, said, “When we recognized the humanitarian crisis occurring in Yemen, our immediate thought was to help in any way possible. As the Vice President of SGA, my goal is to make a change not only within the Monmouth community, but around us as well.”

Saliba Sarsar, Ph.D, a Professor of Political Science and Sociology at Monmouth who has studied Middle Eastern/American relations extensively, commented that “the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is well-endowed with human and natural resources. But these are not evenly or properly distributed. Yemen happens to be the poorest country in the MENA, with a total population of around 30 million and a GDP per capita of approximately $2,500.”

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New Dean of the School of Humanities

DeanRichard Veit, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology, has been named Interim Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, succeeding Kenneth Womack, Ph.D., effective July 1, 2020.

Viet previously served as an Associate Dean with a focus on faculty affairs in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.  When Dean Kenneth Womack stepped down, Veit decided to apply for the position. 

“I saw this as a great opportunity to serve Monmouth University and a school that I love,” Veit said. “I was thrilled to be selected for the position."

Veit was the founding director of the University’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and the University’s master’s program in anthropology.

Chair of the Department of History and Anthropology since 2014, Veit is a recipient of Monmouth’s Distinguished Teaching Award and the Donald Warncke Award for his service.

Robin Sakina Mama, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Social Work, believes Veit “brings many wonderful qualities” to his new position. “Having spent the last year or so as the Associate Dean has definitely given him some idea of what the Dean’s office needs to accomplish,” Mama said.

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The Outlook Wins Fifth National Award

Outlook

The Outlook, Monmouth University’s student-run newspaper, was named “University Newspaper of the Year 2019-20,” by the American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) earlier this month.

The ASPA holds an annual national competition for university newspapers and other publications. Papers are judged on everything from news coverage to layout and design. This is the fifth national championship The Outlook has won since their establishment in 1933.

“I was ecstatic when I heard that The Outlook received such a prestigious honor,” Melissa Badamo, Editor-in-Chief (EIC) and Features Editor, said. “This award was the result of teamwork, devotion, and hard work across the entire Outlook staff.”

“Each year, our editors emphasize coverage of campus news and events, exceptional writing and page design, and always striving to be fair and truthful,” she continued.

John Morano, a Professor of Journalism, has been the faculty advisor to The Outlook for over 30 years, and from his experience, the paper could’ve won 15 times. “The paper is consistent in their coverage of the campus and its news… There is really one main focus, bring quality news and information to the readership of Monmouth University,” he said.

“In the pursuit of that, be fair and tell the truth. Whether the paper has managed to that or not, is for the reader to decide, but certainly, judged by independent journalists against other institutions, The Outlook has distinguished itself,” Morano added.

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Class of 2024 Reported to Be Monmouth's Most Diverse Class Yet

2024Monmouth’s Class of 2024 is the most racially diverse class yet, with students of color representing 33.1 percent of the class, according to President Leahy.

This is compared to 28.7 percent of last year’s incoming class and 29.0 percent the year before that, Leahy said.

He also said that Monmouth’s success with student diversity resulted from the accrual of several efforts over the last decade. “It starts with making all students feel welcome and wanted on our campus, which is a message we try to send in everything from our recruitment materials to our highly personalized on-campus admission programs,” he said.

Leahy also mentioned that the introduction of the Intercultural Center in 2019, with Dr. Zaneta Rago-Craft as the director, has paved the way for the development of a more diverse community.

“It is an exciting benchmark for our University and I trust that our community will continue to grow in its diversity for many years to come,” said Rago-Craft.

According to Monmouth’s website, the Intercultural Center promotes university-wide shifts towards diversity, inclusion, and respect. It also provides programs, educational opportunities, and consultation that supports the academic, social, and professional success of historically underrepresented campus community members including (but not limited to) People of Color, LGBTQIA+, first-generation, low-income, international, and religious minority members of the University.


“It’s quite possible that prospective students saw the existence of this Center and the outstanding work Dr. Rago-Craft is doing as emblematic of our commitment to continually improving on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Leahy.

Rago-Craft emphasizes the importance of building up the skills and empathy required to understand the various experiences of others.

She said, “Because so many of our K-12 schools remain economically and racially segregated, attending university provides one of the first opportunities to build authentic and       meaningful relationships across lines of difference.”

Rago-Craft has also been named Advisor to the President on Diversity & Inclusion.

2024 2

The University has developed a five-year plan to increase diversity on campus. Two recent initiatives involve renaming Wilson Hall to “The Great Hall at Shadow Lawn” in June and creating a crowd-sourced resource repository on race, racism/anti-racism, and policing and equality found through the library website.

Leahy continued to stress the importance of diversity at Monmouth, “We all know that learning and problem-solving are more robust and effective when there are different voices and approaches.”

He continued, “We have a responsibility to get students to think critically about race and privilege and unconscious biases and many other things that might prevent them from being informed and critically aware citizens of the world. Part of our role as educators is to get students comfortable with going out into our diverse world after graduation—even if we challenge them to be uncomfortable at times before graduation.”

“By answering the call to build a more welcoming campus environment, we will all only become more inclusive scholars, employees, and colleagues at a time where the world around us demands it,” said Rago-Craft.

GRAPHIC MADE by Angela Mascla

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University

Library Pick-up

default article imageThe University has taken steps to maintain accessibility to learning and study resources at the Guggenheim Memorial Library.

The University has begun implementing new guidelines regarding its facilities in order to mitigate COVID-19 spread. Although other indoor facilities will be closed, the Guggenheim Library will remain available with adjustments in place to lower the risk of infection.

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University Raises Tuition

Bursar OfficeUniversity President Patrick Leahy informed students that annual tuition will increase by 2.75 percent for the 2020-21 academic year, in an email announcement sent on Wednesday, June 24.

The Board of Trustees approved a 3.75 percent increase for tuition and comprehensive fees last February but reevaluated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impact, according to the email.

“With this new reality as a backdrop, our Board of Trustees voted to lower the tuition and fees increase to 2.75 percent,” Leahy wrote. This increase translates to an added cost of $540 per semester.

However, faculty members remain opposed to the decision. Marina Vujnovic, Ph.D., Faculty Council Chair and an Associate Professor of Communication, explained that she understands that the tuition increase was planned last year and that students will be offered more money in the form of scholarships but disagrees with any increase during a global pandemic.

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Wilson Hall Renamed “The Great Hall at Shadow Lawn”

Great HallThe University has removed Woodrow Wilson’s name from its marquee building and renamed it to the Great Hall of Shadow Lawn in an effort to cultivate a more inclusive campus community, announced by President Leahy in a June 19 email.

“Wilson was a controversial politician, who never actually set foot in the current building,” Leahy wrote. “Removing his name, and incorporating these earlier names, connects the centerpiece of our campus more accurately to our historical roots and eliminates a symbolic barrier to the important work of creating a truly welcoming and inclusive space in the Great Hall.”

Wilson, who served as Governor of New Jersey before being elected as the 28th president of the United States, received a Nobel Peace Prize for his role as a leading architect for the League of Nations. However, he also had a history of discrimination that includes re-segregating the federal government, endorsing the Ku Klux Klan, and denying African American students admission to Princeton University where he served as president from 1902 to 1910.

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President Leahy Details Fall Reopening Plan

hawkPresident Patrick F. Leahy Ed.D., held an open call for returning students to learn more information regarding the University’s fall reopening plan. The call touched on topics related to COVID-19 safety, student housing, activities, remote learning and more on Tuesday, Aug 18.

Leahy hosted the call “... with the aim to simply give [students] information as complete as [the University] can give, so all students and families can make a good, informed decision about the fall.”

The campus community is still subject to social distancing requirements, mask requirements and other health and safety protocols, Leahy said. “[New Jersey] has not relaxed those at all, and I would argue with good reason.”

Mary Anne Nagy, Vice President for Student Life and Leadership Engagement, was also present in the call, assuring listeners of a full array of programs and activities sponsored by the student activities board, as well as the continuation of greek life and programming in the residence halls.


“The difference is the way that programming is going to be delivered is going to be different than what you might have experienced last year when you came to the University,” Nagy said. “It will be a mix, very much like your academic experience. There may be some small group activities that can happen inside when we can have 25 people or less, which we are allowed by the state.”

There may be opportunities for larger events outside, Nagy said, where “several hundred people” can participate. Fraternities and sororities successfully completed their recruitment and new member intake processes last semester, so “... all of those things will happen in the fall semester as well, it’s just going to be a mix of delivery systems that we’ll be using.”

The University has   “plenty of tests available,” according to Leahy, so there will be no issue distributing COVID-19 tests to students should the need arise. A threshold as to how many positive test results would cause the University to close remains to be established.

“I can’t tell you what’s going to constitute an outbreak that would lead us to make some decisions about the fall,” Leahy said. “I can tell you that we are going to aggressively check the symptoms, do the testing, do the contact tracing, and we are going to be very candid about what we’re finding on the campus so that our campus community is well informed.”

Should a student come in direct contact with a COVID-19 positive individual, or someone suspected to be COVID-19 positive, the student will be in quarantine during the wait for results, according to Nagy.

“If the results are negative, the student goes out of quarantine,” Nagy said. “If the student is positive, the student needs to be isolated. We are asking that all students who are isolated, or who are quarantined that live within 100 miles of campus to complete the isolation at home.”

Mask Sign

If a student in a class becomes COVID-19 positive, it does not mean the remaining students must be quarantined, Nagy said. “That’s what the contact tracing apparatus will determine, and we will do that in cooperation with the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission.”

Any students who are dissatisfied “....at any point in the semester” with their on-campus housing experience will be allowed to leave housing and receive a refund on a “prorated basis” for any unused portion of room and board from that point until the end of the semester, Nagy said.

“If a student does not decide to start with us and instead wants to defer their housing to the spring, we will guarantee that their room, their building, and their roommate will remain intact for them to come to us in the spring,” Nagy said.

Naser Haroon, a junior Software Engineering major and Student Government Association (SGA) President, “strongly believes” in the effectiveness of Monmoth’s reopening plan.

“The administration has been working tirelessly to make the return as safe as possible for the students,” Haroon said. “There have been many changes made leading into this year, such as ordering food on an app to prevent big gatherings, resident hall restrictions, and so on. This new normal will help minimize the spread of the virus and keep our campus safe.”

Jenna Lee, a junior Health Studies major and Vice President of SGA, detailed some of the organization’s adaptations during the fall semester.

“We had our first meeting last week via Zoom, and it went great,” Lee said. “Navigating the online format can be overwhelming, but our meeting was a success. The president and I are working on holding our meetings outside, or possibly holding a hybrid type of meeting.”

78 percent of classes are synchronous and 22 percent are asynchronous as of Tuesday, Aug 22, according to Rekha Datta, Ph.D., Interim Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“Since the [last] spring semester we have been spending a lot of time reflecting how we can [have] online classes, adding more quality, adding more communication and looking at it from the student perspective,” Datta said. “This past summer we had a few online academies for faculty, all in preparation for delivering quality online instruction to our students. This is a learning process for everyone and we’re doing our best, whether it’s synchronous or asynchronous.”

Leahy intends to continue with the semester “as is,” intending to finish exams by their traditional time period of mid-December. “We [could] reserve the right at some point, if we feel it is necessary, to empty out the campus a little bit earlier and perhaps shift the remaining couple weeks of the semester online,” Leahy said. “We want to keep those options available to us, but at this point, we don’t want to make those decisions until we enter the fall and get a sense for how things are going.”

PHOTO TAKEN by Melissa Badamo

PHOTO TAKEN by Matthew Cutillo

 

 

Dining Hall App

default article imageIn the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the University has begun a fully-online system for ordering food from the Student Center dining hall.

Transact Mobile Ordering is an application for iOS and Android which will offer students the capability to order their dining hall food remotely and pick it up when ready, similarly to features of popular food courier apps like DoorDash and Grubhub. However, Gourmet Dining Marketing and Office Manager Jennifer Pomarico notes that, instead of using a student’s debit or credit card information, “the mobile ordering app will…be integrated with our meal swipe system, so students will be able to use meal swipes and declining dollars.”

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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