President's Thank You for Educator of the Year Award - November 7, 2013

Speech at the Research and Development Council of New Jersey
 Educator of the Year Award Ceremony.

Thank you Secretary Hendricks for your kind introduction, and thank you to the Research and Development Council of New Jersey for this recognition.  I am grateful to Governor Tom Kean and Josh Weston for saying all those nice things about me, which has saved me the trouble of saying them myself.

There is no question that Montclair State University has undergone transformative development in recent years.  Our enrollments are approaching 20,000 students; we are granting 4,200 degrees each year; we have hired many hundreds of highly qualified faculty; we have built hundreds of millions of dollars of new instructional, research, and campus facilities, with a new Center for Environmental and Life Sciences under construction as we speak; we have developed dozens of new baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degree programs; and we are now generating millions of dollars in federally-sponsored research.  Just a few examples of recently-created research initiatives include the Sokol Institute for the Pharmaceutical Life Sciences, the PSEG Institute for Sustainability Studies, the Passaic River Institute, the Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health, the Center for Quantitative Obesity Research, the Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Laboratory, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Center for Science Teaching and Learning, and the Mathematics Learning Center.  We have collaborative relationships with many industry and business partners, and I would note that fellow awardee Novartis Pharmaceuticals provides support for students in our Pharmaceutical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology programs, and with fellow awardee Rutgers, we collaborate successfully on a joint B.S./PharmD program and a number of research projects.


The University’s advance in the STEM disciplines has been particularly remarkable, with close to 2,000 students studying in these fields, and with the combined life science programs constituting the largest major area of study for our students in the University.  None of this could have happened without an extraordinary faculty, several of whom are here tonight, and I hope you’ll get around to meet them.  They are:  Prof. John Siekierka, Sokol Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Director of the Sokol Institute, working in collaboration with Celgene on kinase inhibitors of parasitic diseases; Prof. Dibyendu Sarkar, Director of the PhD program in Environmental Management, working in the use of phyto-remediation in cleaning up toxic environments; Prof. Diana Thomas, Director of the Center for Quantitative Obesity Research, working in mathematical modeling; Prof. Carlos Molina, working in the fields of cancer research and reproductive biology; Prof. Dave Rotella, the Sokol Professor of Chemistry and, in breaking news, the recipient of a $2.5 million award from the Department of Defense to study botulinum toxins; and Jacalyn Willis, Director of the Bristol Myers Squibb Center for Science Teaching and Learning, which works with school districts all over the state and the nation to improve science and mathematics education; and Provost Willard Gingerich who works in none of these fields.

If I am worthy of this award, it is through the efforts of faculty such as these, the support of my extraordinary Board of Trustees, represented tonight by Rose Cali and Dr. Francis Cuss, Executive Vice President and Chief Science Officer for R&D at Bristol-Myers Squibb, and the efforts of thousands of other committed University faculty and staff.  It is they who are the educators of the year, and I accept this award on their behalf.

Thank you.