NJCU Kicks off Campaign

NJCU’s Blueprint for Tomorrow Gala, as always, provided great food and fine entertainment. But this year’s festivities also had a twist. Following a video presentation featuring students and alumni sharing their stories of transformation as a result of their NJCU education, President Sue Henderson announced the University’s $60 million capital campaign. Designed to provide financial support for students, as well as bolster the University’s arts, science, and business programs, the campaign is the largest in the school’s 90-year history.

Titled “Advancing Knowledge, Transforming Lives,” the campaign has, to date, raised more than $36 million dollars through public support and private philanthropy. Some of the University’s major donors were on hand at the Gala and were singled out in Henderson’s speech: Chirag Patel, George Karnoutsos, Anthony Bastardi, Bob Antonicello, and Al and Anita Parinello. Campaign events will begin in earnest in the fall and will continue until the campaign’s conclusion.

The Gala also celebrated the ongoing revitalization of Jersey City’s West Side at University Place. When construction is completed in 2019, University Place will feature five new residential buildings that will provide 650 living units and retail development, including shops, a fitness facility, tennis courts, landscaped walkways, restaurants, a big-box grocery store, on-street parking and garages, and a future performing arts center and academic building. An NJCU residence hall, which opened in September 2016, launched development of the 21-acre property.

Science Grant Granted

NJCU was recently awarded a $298,000 Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Education and Human Resources (IUSE: EHR) grant from the Na-tional Science Foundation (NSF). The proposal for these funds was a collaborative effort drafted by assistant professors Terry Kamps, Allison Fitzgerald, and Meriem Bendaoud from the Biology Department, and Assistant Professor Yufeng Wei, Professor Ken Yamaguchi, and Associate Professor Robert Aslanian from the Chemistry Department.

Titled “Improving the Undergraduate Learning and Teaching Experience through Innovative Course Cluster-ing,” the grant will provide support to develop a new laboratory curriculum that better reflects the technical and soft skill sets students require to earn positions research-intensive organizations. The project is based on the concept of “course clusters,” wherein multiple class-es from the chemistry and biology laboratory curricula will collaborate to solve a research problem. Students will obtain hands-on experience with modern techniques and instrumentation, and have opportunities to improve soft skills in a student-centered learning environment.

This is not the first time NJCU’s science-based programs have been the recipient of grant money. Last fall, the NSF awarded the University a $1.4 million grant to recruit STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) majors as secondary school faculty for high-need districts in New Jersey. At that time, NJCU was also awarded a $5.7 million grant from the U.S. De-partment of Education designed to increase the number of Hispanic and low-income students attaining degrees in six STEM fields at the University.

Daily Show Host Visits NJCU

Trevor Noah, the host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, visited the NJCU School of Business to read from his new book, Born a Crime, and answer audience questions. Speaking to a packed house, Noah offered a detailed account of his childhood in South Africa under the yoke of Apartheid. It was a difficult upbringing, made even more difficult by his parents’ interracial relationship, which was considered a criminal offense at the time. As a consequence, Noah’s parents couldn’t be seen in public together. Noah couldn’t even walk down the street with either parent, as his skin color didn’t come close enough to matching his black mother’s or white father’s. His parents’ relationship didn’t survive the hardship. Later raised by his newly single mother, Noah grew up critically poor, sometimes getting his daily protein from eating caterpillars.

At the Q&A, Noah was asked how it might be possible to end racism. His reply was measured and philosophical. He equated racism to a forest fire; the trees that were already consumed by flames were, perhaps, beyond saving. The goal, Noah said, should be to look after the trees that haven’t yet been consumed.

As for his future, Noah admitted that he didn’t have any “big goals” in mind. He’s never seen the need. If you work hard and handle yourself well, he explained, opportunities naturally present themselves. It’s been a life script that has certainly worked well for Noah; he parlayed his natural sense of humor to forge a successful standup career on both sides of the globe. From there, he picked up The Daily Show mantle from longtime host Jon Stewart.

While he may not have any big goals, Noah does have an unwavering commitment to a more modest passion. “I like to make someone else’s life better through laughter,” he said. — Collin Officer ’18

Moore Students Mingle Through Music

Every other Tuesday, Marie Caniglia-Robiolio, a music teacher at the A. Harry Moore Laboratory School, chaperones a group of children on a short but very meaningful field trip.

“It’s a chance for the kids to give back a little and a time for them to shine,” she says with a broad smile. “These children don’t have too many opportunities to do this.”

A. Harry Moore, which operates under the direction of NJCU, offers comprehensive academic, therapeutic, and social programs for students classified as Preschool Disabled, Learning and Language Disabled, and Multiple Disabled.

As the children get settled on he bus, their eager anticipation is obvious and infectious.

Their destination isn’t far, just five blocks away to St. Ann’s Home for the Aged. There, students, aged 3-10, interact with the elderly residents, singing songs and playing instruments.

“But this is not a show where the children perform and the seniors sit and listen,” Caniglia-Robiolio says. “Everybody sings. Everybody plays. Everybody enjoys the music together.” It is what Caniglia-Robiolio describes as an Intergenerational Music Program, where CDs are spun as the young and old mingle and build meaningful friendships.

This pilot program is the brainchild of Caniglia-Robiolio.

She, with the assistance of her colleague, teacher Melissa Lombardi, and a small yet enthusiastic contingent of teaching assistants, got things rolling this past September.

On their first visit to St. Ann’s, however, the children were not greeted as enthusiastically as their music teacher had hoped. “That first week, the seniors were quiet and reserved,” she says with a laugh.

“They didn’t know what to think of us.” But that frostiness thawed by the second trip. A month later, the children’s arrival was greeted with cheers. “The seniors now call out, Where’s my friend?’ ‘Where’s my little guy?’ And the children are so happy to see them. They’re beaming. They feel like superstars.”

As for the music selections, the seniors set the playlist. In other words, no rinky-dink kids’ music. “They tell me what they want to hear and I do my best to accommodate them. I want the music to spark happy memories of days gone by.”

In the program’s short life, its popularity has noticeably grown. The A. Harry Moore visitors have increased from a group of 5 to 12 and the seniors there to greet them have surged from 12 to 25. Also, graduates of the A. Harry Moore School (the school’s age limit tops out at 21) who now attend St. Ann’s Adult Daycare also take part in the music sessions.

In fact, the Intergenerational Music Program has been embraced so enthusiastically that next year, Caniglia-Robiolio plans to expand it to include other nursing homes.

“I’ve been teaching children with special needs at A. Harry Moore for more than 30 years,” she says. “And this program has been one of the highlights of my career.”

Mediators Shines In City Light

NJCU students Justin Davis, Leman Kaifa, and Kaylee Saltos traveled to Paris in February to flex their negotiation muscles at the 12th ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition. Each year, a select group of university teams from around the world are invited to participate in this globally-renowned event—a week-long series of mock mediation sessions that allow students to put their classroom knowledge into practice and interact with some of the world’s top mediators.

Hundreds of prestigious schools vied for a spot in the competition. NJCU was the only business school in the U.S. to be among the 66 schools that were accepted.

Well equipped with classroom and life experience, the NJCU students proved to be adept at holding their own throughout the rigors of these negotiation sessions.

“Our participants represent the best in leadership and international cultural sensitivity,” said David Weiss, Director of the NJCU School of Business Institute for Dispute Resolution (IDR). “Each of them has demonstrated skill sets well established before this competition.”

Davis, an accounting major, previously served as a comptroller chief in the U.S. Marine Corps. He also served as the fiscal liaison during the development and implementation of the Global Combat Support System, which replaced the Marine Corps aging supply and logistics systems.

Kaifa, a political science major, is president of the NJCU Student Government Organization and an active figure in Model UN. Last year, he earned “Most Effective Opening Address” honors at the prestigious Consensual Dispute Resolution Competition (CDRC) in Vienna.

Saltos, a dual major in global business and biology, is executive vice president of the NJCU Student Government Organization. Recently representing NJCU at an economics competition in India, Saltos secured awards for “Critical Thinking” and “Best Q&A Session.”

The team was coached by Christian Corrales and Karen DeSoto. Corrales, an NJCU graduate and program alumnus of NJCU’s IDR, coached both the ICC and CDRC competitions in 2016. DeSoto, the co-director of the IDR, is the founder of the Center of Legal Justice and serves as a legal analyst for NBC’s Today Show and on MSNBC.

The Dining Dozen

In February, NJCU President Sue Henderson opened her home to what has recently becomegerly-anticipated event. “Dinner with 12 Strangers” brings together a small gathering of students and alumni who all share a common college major. There, they break bread and talk shop.

This dinner’s guests all shared a love of history, but past meals have focused on other disciplines such as Business, the Arts, STEM fields, Ed-Tech, and Nursing.

“It is a marvelous way to inspire the students and impress our alumni,” notes Executive Director of Alumni Jane McClellan. “It’s an informal, freewheeling discussion that also builds connections.”

Alumni who took part in the event included Jersey City Public Schools Vice Principal Chris Gads-den ’01; historian, author, and former NJCU professor, Carmela Karnoutsos ’64; senior consultant, Fi-nancial Services Risk Management at EY, David Miranda ’10; and History Teacher Gene Woods ’06.

Mathematicians Meet

Two Hundred research mathematicians from around the globe gathered at the NJCU School of Business in March to participate in the 51st Topology and Dynamical Systems Conference. The three-and-one-half-day event—the first of its kind hosted by NJCU—was sponsored by a $40,000 National Science Foundation grant and featured over 150 talks by world experts in areas repre-sented in six parallel sessions: Continuum Theory, Dynamics, Set-Theoretic Topology, Geometric Group Theory, Geometric Topology, and Computer Science and Topology.

Associate Professor of Mathematics Frédéric Mynard, a member of the conference’s steering committee, was the main organizer of the event. His colleagues, Assistant Professor of Mathemat-ics Debananda Chakraborty and Mathematics Department Chair Beimnet Teclezghi served as co-organizers.

NJCU Spurs Economic Mobility

In a recent study by The Equality of Opportunity Project, NJCU was given high marks for improving the economic futures of its students. Out of
369 selective public colleges, the University had the 23rd highest intergenerational mobility rate; that is to say, NJCU degree holders have a considerably increased likelihood to move up two or more income quintiles into the middle or upper economic classes.

With 44.8 percent of the University’s student body drawn from the lowest 40 percent of household incomes, the EOP findings—coupled with the school’s Debt Free Promise—affirm NJCU’s commitment to improving the financial futures of its graduates.

To arrive at these findings, The Equality of Opportunity Project analyzed data from 30 million college students to construct mobility report cards. It ranked “mobility rate” by analyzing the fraction of a college’s students in the bottom fifth of the income distribution and the corresponding fraction that ends up in the top fifth of the income distribution after graduation.

A Goldman Opportunity

Since November 2016, global investment firm Goldman Sachs has been working with 10 students in the NJCU School of Business, offering insight to address real world corporate problems.

This new initiative, the Goldman Sachs College Collaborative Program, assigns students “Business Case Challenges” on topics covering a wide range of corporate matters such as mergers, expansion, public relations, and diversity. Under the mentorship of Goldman Sachs managers, NJCU students play roles within a simulated corporation (CEO, COO, Communications Director, etc.) and coordinate their efforts to arrive at efficient, ethical, and fiscally responsible solutions. The Goldman Sachs executives visit the NJCU students monthly at the NJCU School of Business.

The Goldman Sachs College Collaborative Program also works with three other area colleges and periodically assembles all participating students to provide guidance on more general corporate expectations, such as professionalism and etiquette. The program subsidizes the students’ travel to site locations, including a visit to Goldman’s corporate headquarters in New York City.

NJCU students were selected for the program through a rigorous process of interviews, faculty recommendations, and review of writing samples.

“It is a remarkable initiative and the students are learning a great deal,” said Gail Marquis, the School of Business Director for Community Outreach. “Goldman Sachs is an outstanding corporate citizen. We are grateful for the company’s dedication to helping our students acquire the skills they need to successfully enrich the businesses and communities where they will one day work and live.”

When Words Collide

Is there an event on earth more stressful for a middle school student than standing alone before an enormous crowd and spelling “scrobiculate?”

Probably not, but such is the nature of spelling bees. For many of the past 58 years, NJCU has hosted the The Jersey Journal-Hudson County competition—the winner of which moves to the state final and, if successful, to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

In 2017, the event was hosted by Secaucus High School while renovations were completed in NJCU’s Margaret Williams Theatre. NJCU’s role was significant in other ways, however. Alumnus, librarian, and noted linguist, Clifford Brooks ’96 M.A., for one, manned the Merriam Webster Dictionary (a.k.a. the spelling bee bible) to serve in the role of pronouncer. In addition to repeating words and offering synonyms to the stressed spellers, Brooks also selected the words to be used in the competition.

NJCU’s role didn’t end there. Longtime University administrator, Ellen Wayman-Gordon, the Assistant Vice President for University Advancement – Public Information and Community Relations, served as one of two judges at the event, given the unenviable task of sending young spellers packing if they mistook a “k” for a hard “c.”

Furthermore, alumnus William LaRosa ’73, the director of Hudson County Cultural Affairs and Tourism, is one of the primary planners of the event. LaRosa works closely with The Jersey Journal’s publisher, David Blomquist; editor, Margaret Schmidt; and Spelling Bee coordinator, Harvey Zucker.

Long story short, NJCU is committed to keeping our countykids from turning our literary lexicon into an unintelligible gallimaufry.