An NJCU Day to Remember

In September, NJCU was abuzz with activity. Campus tours maneuvered around lively games on the Green. Faculty art was on full display in the Lemmerman Gallery and all comers showed off fancy footwork in a double Dutch competition. For more cerebral exercise, classrooms were opened to campus guests, offering Lifelong Learning Sessions taught by University faculty on a wide spectrum of subjects: starting a business, writing a memoir, building a brand, and making sense of the gut-churning roller coaster that was the 2016 presidential election.

It was the first ever NJCU Day, a University wide block party event that attracted hundreds of guests from every constituency. Students, prospective students, alumni, faculty, staff and members of the local community enjoyed food, music, and sporting events from dawn until dusk.

Henderson Named to HACU Board

NJCU President Sue Henderson was recently selected to serve on the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Board  of Directors. Established in 1986, HACU was created to champion Hispanic success in higher education by improving access to and the quality of post-secondary educational opportunities for the nation’s youngest and fastest growing population. The organization represents 470 colleges and universities in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Spain, and Latin America that have demonstrated a commitment to Hispanic academic success. NJCU is, of course, one such Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). Due to HACU’s tireless advocacy, NJCU is among the 269 HSI schools in receipt of federal appropriations in order to forward its mission of diversity.

Henderson, in addition to her role at HACU, is also the vice chair of the Society for College and University Planning’s Board of Directors, and chair of the Committee on International Education of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. At the state level, she serves on the Task Force on the Alignment of Higher Education Programs and Workforce Development, and co-chairs the Hudson County Alliance for Action and the Hudson County Vicinage Advisory Committee on Minority Concerns.

Convocation Kicks Off the Year

On October 5, in the historic Margaret Williams Theatre, NJCU’s Convocation Ceremony kicked off the star t of the 2016-17 academic year. University President Sue Henderson used her time at the podium to laud the effor ts of faculty and staff and took pride in noting that this year boasts the highest number of new freshman in the University’s histor y (998). Despite the number of new majors and programs, “I am proud that at NJCU we have not only kept college costs down,” she said, “but also are offering a robust, debt-free promise for our students. Here we are at the forefront.”

Henderson was followed by Provost Daniel J. Julius, who offered timely and insightful remarks. The audience of faculty, staff and students were then treated to keynote speaker Richard Blanco, selected by President Barack Obama in 2013 as the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history and the first Latino to receive the honor. He is also the author of the book City of a Hundred Fires. In his talk, he discussed his life as an immigrant from Cuba and read several of his poems.

NJCU Secures Major Grants

This past fall, NJCU was awarded two grants in support of the University’s rigorous Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs—$5.7 million from the U.S. Department of Education and $1.4 million from the National Science Foundation. The Department of Education Title III grant is awarded through the Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) Program. The five-year grant will enable NJCU to implement a program of interventions intended to increase the number of Hispanic and low-income students attaining degrees in six STEM fields at the University.

The overall goal of the initiative is to increase graduation rates and enhance the educational experience of STEM majors through improved laboratory facilities and academic support services. About 56 percent of NJCU’s undergraduate students belong to underrepresented minority groups, and 52 percent of NJCU’s undergraduates are transfer students, largely from six nearby minority-serving community colleges.

The grant provides more than $750,000 in funding toward the purchase of state-of-the-art scientific equipment and software, the outfitting of student study spaces in NJCU’s Science Building (currently under construction and renovation), and the installation of lecture capture technology in science classrooms.

The project will enable the University to introduce an innovative Summer STEM Academy for rising sophomores and incoming transfer students, and greatly expand student research opportunities. Each year, dozens of NJCU students will conduct cutting-edge research with faculty and gain hands-on, real-world experience with modern laboratory equipment, helping to prepare them for careers in research-related fields. The $1.4 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant, on the other hand, is designed to recruit STEM majors as secondary school teachers for high-need school districts in New Jersey.

Beginning in the summer of 2017, the NSF grant will award scholarshipsand stip ends to NJCU STEM majors who are obtaining teaching certifications in their fields. Funds will be available to undergraduates for their junior and/ or senior years and post-baccalaureate STEM majors may receive stipends to complete their teacher certification process. Participants will be provided with mentoring, supplemental instruction, and professional development.

The Art of Negotiation

“Negotiation” and “compromise” can be dirty words these days but today’s wisest lawyers and entrepreneurs have always understood that they can’t function without them. Our school is not lacking such wisdom. This past summer NJCU was selected as one of 30 teams from around the world (and one of only three teams in the U.S.) to compete in the prestigious Consensual Dispute Resolution Competition (CDRC) in Vienna. By the end of the event, NJCU had earned top honors. Partnered with the Universidad de Jaén (Spain) as a negotiating team, two NJCU students, Leman Kaifa ’17 and Paola Leguizamo ’16, were presented with the award for “Most Effective Opening Address.”

Consensual Dispute Resolution Competition (CDRC) participants celebrate their win. From left, NJCU School of Business Institute for Dispute Resolution Director David S. Weiss, Most Effective Opening Address winners Leman Kaifa ’17 and Paola Leguizamo ’16, Institute for Dispute Resolution Co-Director Karen Desoto, and Adjunct Professor at Rutgers School of Law Robert Marguiles.

For more than 20 years the Vienna event has been the international moot court for commercial arbitration. The competition, which simulates legal negotiations, focuses on the students’ ability to utilize negotiation and mediation skills and strategies to arrive at a settlement that best serves the needs of the parties.

University teams were selected by competitive qualification and skill based assessments, bringing students from around the world: Australia, Brazil, India, Kenya, Lebanon, the U.S., the U.K., Russia, and many other countries. All teams were coached, supported, and assessed by some of the leading experts in the field of international mediation and negotiation.

In addition to Kaifa, a senior in political science, and Leguizamo, a psychology graduate minoring in pre-law and business, the NJCU team was comprised of Cody O’Malley ’16, a finance graduate minoring in economics, and Kendall Tribbett ’17, a senior accounting major. The team was coached by David S. Weiss, director of the NJCU School of Business Institute for Dispute Resolution; Robert E. Margulies, adjunct professor at Rutgers University School of Law; Karen DeSoto, co-director of the NJCU School of Business Institute for Dispute Resolution and an assistant professor at the NJCU School of Business; and Amro Atitalla ’16, a finance graduate and former vice president of the senior class.

“The CDRC in Vienna is paving the way for a new generation of business leaders,” noted Weiss. “NJCU students competed with leading law schools and business schools around the world by negotiating actual international business disputes with the support of a mediator. The scenario can’t be more real world than that.”

To read a negotiation article written by David Weiss click here

Clinical Interns Honored

Two NJCU College of Education students, Jeanne Barsa and Madelyn Leon, were recently honored with the Distinguished Clinical Intern Award. Presented by the New Jersey Department of Education, this honor is given to clinical interns across the state who have proven themselves academically and have also received superior ratings by their University supervisors and district based cooperating teachers in their student teaching placements. Only 15 awards were given statewide.

Barsa is an Early Childhood and Teacher of Students with Disabilities major. She was honored, along with her cooperating teacher, Lisa Papandrea, for her stellar work at the Mill Lake School, in the Monroe Township School District. Leon, a Mathematics Education major, was similarly honored for excellence, along with her cooperating teacher, Peter York of Union City High School in the Union City School District.

Recipients are chosen by noted educators and past award recipients from across the state. The event is hosted by the New Jersey Association of Colleges of Education, the state organization representing teacher preparation programs in New Jersey.

Students Learn to Attack Hacks with New Cybersecurity Lab

In times of crisis, command centers are created to provide centralized authority to monitor and best respond to events as they unfold. Sometimes such centers are used to counter natural disasters (for example, command centers were set up across New Jersey to address the effects of Hurricane Sandy), but these days, crisis management professionals are more often needed to address disasters of the cyber variety.

The value of command centers to cybersecurity experts makes NJCU’s newly installed simulated command center an essential tool for its National Security Studies students. The specialized Information Assurance/Cyber Security (IA/CS) Laboratory features SMART-board technology, an instructor’s station, wireless access, electrical support, and everything else needed to best replicate circumstances found in a classified environment. In short, it gives NJCU students hands-on experience with new techniques to counter cyberthreats and vulnerabilities in the information security infrastructure. Emerging strategies to deal with these threats include countering hackers and thoroughly investigating cyber activity through forensics, which students are able to practice in the simulator.

“The center provides students with the experience and knowledge needed to successfully work with these digital tools after graduation,” said Joe Chimento, an NJCU adjunct professor who is a facility security officer and information security subject matter expert for Zimmerman Consulting Group and was instrumental in establishing the command center. “This space is unique among college-based labs in that it allows students to explore scientific fundamentals and research into cutting edge technologies that identify vulnerabilities, detect intruder attempts, and secure and recover data.”

Potter Award Praises Superlative Prose

From left, Fatmire Ahmeti (winner), James Baginski, Cristaly Argenal, and Jenna Szymanski.

Fatmire Ahmeti was selected as the winner of the Kathy Potter Memorial Writing Award. Honorable mentions were given to Cristaly Argenal, James Baginski, Rebecca Poggiali, and Jenna Szymanski. Named in honor of Kathy Potter, who studied and worked at NJCU, the award was created to recognize the literary merit of memoir and creative nonfiction. Now in its fourth year, the award acknowledges the hard work, commitment, resilience, and creativity of NJCU students and fosters the growth of the NJCU writing community.

Winners are selected each year based on the quality of their work and are evaluated by a panel of three judges comprised of an NJCU faculty member, NJCU graduate writer, and a professional writer unaffiliated with the University: Antoinette K. Ellis-Williams, Michelle Rodriguez, and Marianne Villanueva, respectively.

Ahmeti’s winning essay, “Gjakmarrja: When Jesus Comes Back, I’ll Be There at That Deli Counter (With a Piece of Pork in My Hand),” is a poignant and darkly humorous chronicle of her life as a Wal-Mart employee. A senior majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing, Ahmeti is now at work on “New Yugoslavia,” her honors thesis, which focuses on the intercultural experiences between American-born children and their immigrant parents.

Argenal is majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. Baginski, a 2016 NJCU graduate, majored in English with a concentration in journalism. Szymanski graduated from NJCU as an English major and is now the Coordinator of Centralized Tutoring Services at the University. She is working on her master’s degree in English and creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University. Poggiali graduated from NJCU as an English major. Her writing has appeared in NJCU’s student creative writing journals PATHS and Thought Catalog and the multi-volume series Across the Way. She works as a writer for Hudson Place Realty.

NJCU Doubles Down on Student Success

NJCU’s strategic plan is focused on making the University more accessible to worthy students. As a result, the school launched the Student Success Initiative. Asserting that NJCU is personally dedicated ensuring that each student receives a high-quality education and a first-rate experience, the Initiative was built around the goal of helping students graduate with minimal debt, an academically rich degree, and a meaningful future.

NJCU faculty and staff are ready to address each student’s unique circumstances through financial aid, degree progress reports, accommodating schedules, and other tools. The NJCU goal, in short, is to put students first. For more information about the Student Success Initiative and how it might benefit you check out the University website at


Doctors and Dewey Decimals

Director of Public Safety Ronald Hurley ’15 D.Sc. (second from left) was among the first 10 students to earn a doctorate at NJCU. His dissertation is now in the Guarini Library’s collection. Congratulating Hurley’s achievement is (from left) Library Director Frederick Smith, Co-Chair of the Department of National Securities Studies Richard Cosgrove, University President Sue Henderson, and Co-Chair of the Department of National Securities Studies Kathleen Rennie.

In May 2015, NJCU graduated its first class of Ph.D. students. The ten graduates, of all of whom earned a doctorate of science, were honored at the University’s commencement ceremony.

This past fall, those same students were honored once again—this time in the University’s Guarini Library. In what will become a new annual NJCU tradition, each student’s dissertation was bound and added to the library’s lending collection.

Teacher Trainees Show Their Talents

Professor Audrey Fisch (third from left) poses with the inaugural group of teacher trainees.

In September 2015, nine young men and women from NJCU donned their most professional clothing, put on their best game faces, and entered the building on West Side Avenue as teacher trainees. For the next year, these NJCU students served as teaching assistants, role models, and mentors to the students at University Academy Charter High School (UACHS).

These nine were the inaugural group of teacher trainees in the brand new University Academy Charter High School/New Jersey City University Teacher Training Program. All of the applicants, mainly sophomores and juniors, were drawn to the position by the opportunity, early in their college careers, to gain valuable experience in urban public education. The fact that the position was paid ($17 an hour) and credit-bearing (two co-op credits) allowed the students to make the program a central component of their academic year.

Each teacher trainee is assigned to one or two UACHS teachers. In the classroom, the teacher trainees help with instruction and classroom management, offer moral and academic support, build relationships, and serve as role models and mentors. Outside of the classroom, they participate in professional development, field trips, and student events. In other words, teacher trainees learn it all and all at once as a fully embedded member of the UACHS community.

Teacher trainees get support from biweekly program meetings with NJCU education faculty. Trainees use these meetings to review case studies, receive feedback from both peers and faculty, and leave with new strategies and increased confidence. In addition, NJCU faculty members meet regularly with UACHS teachers and administrators to gather information about the program and to ensure the teacher trainees are meeting the needs of UACHS.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Most UACHS faculty members asserted that it was always beneficial to have the teacher trainees in the classroom. The most consistent comment from both UACHS faculty and students was the desire to have more time with the teacher trainees.

This year NJCU has expanded its Teacher Training Program to include METS Charter School, also in Jersey City. If you are interested in seeing if the Teacher Training Program might work at your school or if you wish to donate to support this program, please reach out to English Professor Audrey Fisch for more information (

Rogers Inspires Business Majors

John W. Rogers, Jr., chairman and CEO of ArielInvestments, LLC, the largest minority-owned mutual fund company in the U.S., recently visited campus. A guest of NJCU’s newly-established Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series, Rogers discussed his life and career to a packed house in the University’s School of Business.

A scholar/athlete at Princeton, Rogers founded Ariel Capital Management in 1983 with $10,000 and the support of family and friends. The company grew to be an investment powerhouse and, in 2008, was renamed Ariel Investments, LLC.

A community-minded leader, Rogers has assisted many service organizations through the years and regularly contributes personal finance commentaries to “The Patient Investor” in Forbes.