President's Opening Day Address

September 2, 2014

Photo: Mike Peters

"No themes are so human as those that reflect for us, out of the confusion of life, the close connexion of bliss and bale, of the things that help with the things that hurt, so dangling before us for ever that bright hard medal, of so strange an alloy, one face of which is somebody's right and ease and the other somebody's pain and wrong. To live with all intensity and perplexity and felicity in its terribly mixed little world would thus be the part of my interesting small mortal; bringing people together who would be at least more correctly separate; keeping people separate who would be at least more correctly together; flourishing, to a degree, at the cost of many conventions and proprieties, even decencies, really keeping the torch of virtue alive in an air tending infinitely to smother it; really in short making confusion worse confounded by drawing some stray fragrance of an ideal across the scent of selfishness, by sowing on barren strands, through the mere fact of presence, the seed of the moral life."

As my colleagues in the English Department will have recognized, without resorting to their smart phones, that is how Henry James described his vision of the child, the small mortal, he created in What Maisie Knew: "...sowing on barren strands, through the mere fact of presence, the seed of the moral life." Hold that thought. We shall return to it.

Good morning, and welcome to the Opening Day of this new academic year. As we start this year, there are many new people and resources that have been assembled for our beneficial use and enjoyment. First and foremost, we have the annual blessing of thousands of new students. When we take the official count on Census Day, the 10th day of the semester, we anticipate that our total student population may have broken the 20,000 mark. That number will include approximately 3,000 freshmen, 1,500 new transfer students, 1,000 new graduate students and overall a total enrollment of approximately 16,000 undergraduate and 4,000 graduate students. Our students have come from every county in New Jersey, from 16 states and many foreign countries. The top choices of majors among enrolling freshmen who have declared a major are Biology, Psychology, English, and Justice Studies, and a large number of students continue to express an interest in pursuing teacher certification in their academic disciplines. All in all, we have attracted a very strong, highly diverse class of students, and I would note a 6 percent increase in Hispanic student enrollments, a 6 percent increase in African American student enrollments, and we are beginning to see an increase in our students from New York.

I have mentioned in the past, that the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, assisted by the Office of Institutional Research, has been looking carefully over recent years at the characteristics of admitted students that are most predictive of success at the University. As a result of those on-going studies, the University, over a period of years, has been shifting its weighting in admissions decisions away from the SAT and ACT exam scores and more heavily toward the high school GPA. This summer, on the basis of these studies, the decision was taken to move to the final step and to make the submission of SAT scores optional for applicants.

Effective this fall, the University has formally revised its freshman admissions protocol, placing primary emphasis on an applicant’s high school GPA combined with close attention to the specific courses taken. We are now certain that the most powerful predictor of college success is a student’s performance in high school and, in particular, the high school GPA and the rigor of the courses taken. In fact, a student’s high school GPA is three times more powerful than the SAT in predicting a student’s likely performance at Montclair State. In addition to being a better predictor of academic success, the new admissions protocol will better support our mission of serving a talented and striving student population that reflects the full socio-economic and ethnic diversity of New Jersey. Focusing on an individual student’s actual accomplishments in high school, no matter which community the student grew up in, or which high school he or she attended, or whether or not the family could afford expensive test preparation courses, will yield a highly diverse freshman class characterized by determination, ambition and the demonstrated willingness to strive for success in Montclair State’s academically rigorous environment. In becoming the first New Jersey public university to make this change, Montclair State joins more than 800 of the nation’s leading colleges and universities, a group that constitutes about 30 percent of the nation’s schools that grant baccalaureate degrees and that includes Temple University, Wake Forest University, Wesleyan University, University of Arizona and George Mason University.

In addition to new students on campus, we are once again fortunate in welcoming a new class of 33 tenure track faculty, and searches have been approved for 23 new faculty positions for fall 2015. Our new faculty members are a very exciting group of scholars, and I hope you will all get to know them. Their bios will be made available by the Provost online, but to give you a flavor of the new class of faculty, here is a quick introduction to a representative five of them:

Marcos Balter, Associate Professor of Music. Professor Balter received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music Composition and Theory from Texas Christian University and his Doctor of Music Composition from Northwestern University. He is a composer whose artistic career has exploded in the past several years. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition, was a featured composer at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, and he has garnered a number of commissions, most recently from the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall Presents and the Orquestra Sinfonica Municipal de Sao Paulo. He comes to us from Columbia College in Chicago, where he built a very competitive program in composition.

Renata Blumberg, Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Food Science. Professor Blumberg received her BA in Anthropology from Columbia University, her MS in International Agricultural Development from the University of California, Davis, and her PhD in Geography from the University of Minnesota. Her area of research has been in alternative food networks, spatialities, and livelihoods, particularly in reference to the Baltic states.

Amir Golnabi, Assistant Professor of Mathematics. He received his BS in Mathematics from Montclair State and his PhD in Engineering Sciences from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth. Prof. Golnabi comes to us from a Research Fellowship at the Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital Pulmonary Imaging and Bioengineering laboratory where he worked on bronchoconstriction in asthma. He has already published a number of articles in important journals, and he is passionate about teaching. Welcome back to Montclair State, Prof. Golnabi.

Stanislav Mamonov, Assistant Professor of Information and Operations Management. He received a BS in Biology from Bard College, an MS in Molecular Biology from Rockefeller University, an MBA from Baruch College, CUNY, and a PhD in Information Systems from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His research focuses on privacy, intellectual property rights and factors which affect information exchanges in contexts such as social networking sites, mobile applications, and health management systems.

Michael Robbins, Assistant Professor of English. He received his BA in English from the University of Colorado, his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon, and an MA in Humanities and a PhD in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. Professor Robbins is developing a reputation as an important American poet. His work has been published in The New Yorker and Poetry magazines, and in 2012, Penguin published a very well-received first book of poems, Alien vs. Predator. A second book of poems will be published by Penguin later this year. Michael Robbins is also a literary critic and committed teacher, who references Kenneth Burke in his statement that he teaches poetry as “equipment for living.”

So there is a taste of your extraordinary new faculty colleagues.

In addition to our incoming class of new faculty, we have a number of additions and changes to the University’s administrative ranks, and among those:

Katharine Brophy has joined the University this September as Associate Vice President for Finance. She received her BS in Accounting from the University of Baltimore and her MS in Business from Johns Hopkins, and she comes to us from the University of Baltimore. Prior to that she was Chief Financial Officer of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University and Finance/Reporting Project Manager for the Johns Hopkins Enterprise Resource Planning Implementation, similar to our OneMontclair project. Katharine Brophy brings more than 20 years of experience in higher education to Montclair State, having been engaged in all aspects of budgeting and finance, general accounting, endowment management, human resources, capital projects, sponsored research, and information technology projects.

Judge Mark J. Fleming has been appointed as University Counsel. Mark received a BA degree from La Salle College and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He has served as a Superior Court Judge for the State of New Jersey for more than seven years. Prior to taking the bench, Mark Fleming was Deputy Chief Counsel to Governors James McGreevey and Richard Codey, where he oversaw day-to-day operations of the Governor’s counsel office, managing a team of attorneys and support staff. Prior to that service, he worked in the Attorney General’s Office for more than 20 years in increasingly responsible positions, handling important litigation for the State in a variety of subject areas.

Kimberly Hollister is serving this year as the Acting Dean of the School of Business. She earned her BSE, MSE and PhD degrees in Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds her professorship in the Department of Information and Operations Management, and she has served in recent years as the Associate Dean of the School of Business. Dean Hollister has been involved extensively in the School’s recent initiatives to revise its curricula, increase experiential learning opportunities for students, prepare for the School’s upcoming AACSB re-accreditation, and create new, market relevant academic programs.

Luis Montesinos is serving this year as the Acting Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. He earned a degree as Psychologist from the Universidad Catolica de Chile, and an MA in Behavior Analysis and Therapy and Doctor of Rehabilitation, both from Southern Illinois University. He holds his professorship in the Department of Psychology, and he has served in recent years as the Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dean Montesinos has been an active scholar in his field, and in his work in the College he has been engaged in enhancing service learning, global education initiatives, and enhanced uses of technology in the curriculum. He also served, for seven years, as the director of the New Faculty program.

In addition to the new people, the news on the facilities front is exciting. Over the summer, the faculty and staff of the School of Communication and Media moved into their new home in the renovated Morehead Hall. The building contains beautiful offices, space for team project work, and great gathering spaces for faculty, staff and students in the School. The design of the renovation is exciting, creative, colorful and altogether terrific, and I congratulate Vice President Bressler and his excellent staff for a very successful transformation of that building. Please feel free to stop by and take a look; you will find that your colleagues in the building will be delighted to show it off. The design is close to completion for the next phase of new construction for the School of Communication and Media and some related spaces in Life Hall that serve Theatre and Dance, and that project is scheduled to be bid this fall.

Construction of the Center for Environmental and Life Sciences and the new School of Business is charging along, on time and on budget. Those of you who have not seen the projects for a couple of months will be amazed at the progress. Both of these facilities are scheduled for completion this spring, so by this time next year, the new science building will be fully occupied, and the faculty, staff, and students of the School of Business will be in their new home. That process will empty out the School’s old digs in Partridge Hall, and we will be ready to begin the renovation of Partridge, turning it into the first real center we have had for The Graduate School.

Last March, the Center for Writing Excellence received a Writing Program Certificate of Excellence from the Conference on College Composition and Communication, one of only six writing centers to have ever received this award. In order to provide appropriate space for this program, we took the opportunity of renovations to Bohn Hall, one of the University’s larger and older residence halls, to develop a permanent space for the writing center that triples the amount of its usable space and provides it with a very accessible and visible space conveniently located for students. The larger capacity will enable the Center to expand programming for the entire Montclair State community, providing individual and small group tutorials and customized workshops for larger groups. More important, the design itself creates a sense of community for all writers. There is a lounge, an outside terrace, and a larger consulting space, all within an open floor plan surrounded by natural light. Please drop in and visit the Center in Bohn Hall. Its director, Dr. Melinda Knight, will be glad to show you around, and please make sure that your students are aware of the services provided by the writing center.

Although it still feels new to me, the beautiful Kasser Theater, where we now sit, is, amazingly, getting ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary, which will occur at a gala scheduled for November 1st. The Kasser Theater has provided an extraordinary performance venue for the students and outstanding programs in the College of the Arts. In addition, the Peak Performances program, under the direction of Jed Wheeler, has brought to the New Jersey/New York City region a rich array of exceptional international artists, commissioning and producing 170 performances that have received regular notice in The New York Times and in the world press, including among them 26 world premieres and 27 U.S. premieres. Last year, two of the Kasser Theater productions were ranked, number 1 and number 4 on The New York Times list of the top 10 dance performances of the year. Not only has the work at the Kasser, both student and professional, enhanced the reputation of the University, but it has constituted a rich educational resource for students in all disciplines. Please take a copy of the 10th Anniversary season brochure with you. There is much in the season that would coordinate with many different course offerings, and please know that Jed Wheeler and his staff are always delighted to collaborate with any faculty member or student affairs professional in using the performance resources of the Theater to enhance your students’ educational experiences.

In the area of technology, the biggest change for the year was the August 31 phase-out of the Blackboard learning management system and the full transition to the Canvas system. Montclair State is one of a small number of institutions that have adopted this first ever software as a service system, which offers greatly enhanced resources, a friendly and intuitive interface, dynamic interactive features, multimedia-integrated capabilities, and graphical analytics reporting. Among the other early adopters are Brown University, Northwestern University, and the University of Texas at Austin. A group of faculty began piloting the system for us last year, and most of the faculty has participated in the many training workshops offered by IT. For those few members of the faculty who may not yet have prepared to use the new system, Dr. Yanling Sun and her team will continue to provide a variety of opportunities for you to get up to speed. There are a number of basic core functions for which all faculty will have to use Canvas, but, of course, the real benefits of the system are in the potential of its rich instructional resources.

Another new enterprise for this fall is the beginning of the University’s 10-year re-accreditation process with the preparation of the Self-Study Report for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. In that regard, Montclair State has been selected by the Commission to take a leadership role in a Collaborative Implementation Project that will guide the transition to the new accreditation standards which will soon apply for all Middle States institutions. The challenge for us this year will be to update all our academic and administrative program assessment plans, intensify our data collection activities, and produce the first impact reports on how we are using the collected data to inform program development, resource allocation, and policies and procedures in every sector of the University. The re-accreditation process is a University-wide initiative that will require the cooperation of the entire campus community, and the Provost will shortly be announcing the campus-wide leadership team for this process.

And, of course, getting to the most critical subject, starting this year, Montclair State has a new dining vendor, Chartwells, a major provider of campus dining services. The company prides itself on serving healthy meals with apps to support individual fitness and nutritional goals. And if that is of no interest to you, you will also have access to Au Bon Pain, Chili’s, and Which Wich on campus. To make it easier for faculty and staff to get a good bargain, there are six meal plans available to you, all of which include perks for free coffee. You also will be able to order food on the go with the free Tapingo app on your smart phone. Just order from wherever you are and pick up when you are ready to eat. And a number of locations will feature “Out Takes,” a grab and go service of fresh items in a convenience store format. For the ruminants among us or the salad eaters, try “Chop’d” on the first floor of the Student Center, salads that don’t require a knife (not that I don’t trust you with knives). Even the food trucks have been overhauled, and are newly beautiful, and, of course, the faculty/staff dining room in the Student Center will still be there for you. All in all, you will have 16 different locations to eat on campus, so bon appetit!

While we take note of what’s new, it is also worth remembering that the extraordinary growth and development of this University has been accomplished through the years of work and effort of a large community of people who have been committed to its mission. Every year, we are aware of our many colleagues in the University who are clearly providing outstanding contributions day after day and year after year. As we begin this new academic year, I would like to recognize just a few among the multitude of campus heroes who, each in his or her own way with very different and distinctive responsibilities, makes this institution what it is.

  • Amy Aiello, Executive Director for the Graduate School and Graduate Operations, has exhibited the kind of leadership that James MacGregor Burns described as dynamic reciprocity. While the Graduate School staff was seriously reduced for a variety of reasons, Amy not only sustained the operations, but managed to set and to reach important new goals.

  • Julian Brash, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, is the first Montclair State recipient of the NEH Summer Stipend Competition and the recipient of a $125,000 grant by the National Sciences Foundation for “The High Line: Public Space in the Contemporary City,” which will examine the meanings and functions of public space in contemporary postindustrial cities of the United States and Western Europe. Professor Brash’s commitment to teaching is clear in his heavily enrolled classes in Cultural Anthropology.

  • Diane Freedman, Director of Career Services for the School of Business, has played an important role in enhancing the visibility of the School in the marketplace and has infused professional development opportunities for students into the undergraduate programs. Those opportunities enable all Business students to participate in a unique, four semester, zero credit sequence of courses designed to help them transition successfully from the classroom to their careers.

  • Jinan Jaber, Associate Dean for Administrative Affairs in the College of Science and Mathematics, in addition to continuing to manage her extensive administrative responsibilities in the College, has taken on the very time-consuming activity of functioning over the last couple of years as the College’s primary liaison in regard to the construction of the complex new Center for Environmental and Life Sciences.

  • Jamaal Matthews, Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations, is the recipient of two prestigious early career awards. A National Science Foundation award of $730,000 will support his research on African American and Latino middle and high school students’ sense of self-identity in mathematics and the role teachers play in shaping students’ self-opinions. The National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship award of $55,000, one of the most competitive educational research fellowships in the field, will support his research into how classroom social interactions and adolescent cognition interact to inform how students identify with mathematics. Professor Matthews' research agenda is complemented by a strong commitment to teaching in well-enrolled classes in the Psychological Foundations of Education.

  • Yvelices Nunez, Motor Vehicle Operator, has been recognized by many as an outstanding representative of the Montclair State community. In her ten years of service as a Shuttle Bus Driver and Transport Operator for Persons with Disabilities, Ms. Nunez has welcomed her passengers with a contagious smile and a positive spirit. Generations of students have praised Ms. Nunez as always conveying to them that she cares. One student said to me, Yvelices Nunez always makes my day better.

  • Patricia Piroh, Associate Director of Broadcast and Media Operations, earned her BA and MA degrees at Montclair State, and, over many years, she has skillfully overseen an impressively broad portfolio of responsibilities which touch upon every aspect of broadcast media production in the College of the Arts. She contributes to the management of the DuMont Television Center and the radio studios; she teaches and mentors students in production courses and co-curricular projects; she stewards relationships with program alumni, and recruits and supports outside clients of the Television Center. Patty Piroh is one of those people who have become part of the bedrock of the University, always doing more than her part.

  • Catherine Rush, Director of Financial Systems Administration in the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Treasurer, has, over the last several years, provided focused leadership to the very complex development of the financial component of the new Enterprise System, OneMontclair. She has overseen a detailed review of the full range of business processes and formal statements of work that are a foundational necessity for the implementation and integration of the new PeopleSoft Financial Management System.

  • Allyson Straker-Banks, Associate Vice President for Student Academic Services, has consistently performed with excellence in her primary role to insure the quality of our student services and to manage the complex collaborations necessary with Academic Affairs. Allyson has been at the forefront of the University’s efforts that focus on student success and our strategic initiatives designed to retain and graduate our students in a timely way.

  • Dr. Yanling Sun, Director for Technology Training and Integration, has been instrumental in the development of our online courses and programs, and, this past year, she provided exceptional leadership in achieving the implementation of the Canvas learning management system, developing multiple training modalities, collaborating with departments and units across the university, and transitioning thousands of courses to the system.

I want to express my appreciation to these people for their consistent hard work and accomplishments. I present these people, not because they are the only outstanding contributors, but because they represent all of you – the incredibly talented and committed people who make us the institution that we are. I show you these faces because I hope that doing so reminds us that we are beholden to each other, that we are a community, and that, without each other, we have little chance of doing anything great.

So, everything taken together, the massive development of the University over the last decade and the new initiatives and resources for the coming year, and the outstanding people who comprise the members of this community, it is clear that we are part of an institution with enormous capacity. As a consequence, it behooves us to lift our eyes and to consider the landscape beyond the boundaries of our campus. It behooves us to consider the context within which we exist.

What we do here, we do not do in a vacuum. As we sit here today and contemplate our work for the year ahead – the courses we will offer and the students we will advise and mentor, the research and scholarship we will advance, the buildings we will build – as we do all that work, the world turns around us, and we must lift our eyes and see it.

I mean the thousands of Yazidis still stranded on a mountain range in Iraq without shelter, food, or water, victims of ISIS and others. Thousands of men, women and children in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, and now Nigeria, falling victim to Ebola, without access to prevention, treatment, or even the succor of a gentle hand. I mean that there are teenagers lying dead in the street, there is the hopelessness of the disenfranchised, there are angry people in our cities, not knowing what to do with their rage, and, in other lands, they chop off heads. The Middle East is coming apart at the seams – and the indiscriminate death of men, women, and children, the missiles and bombs and heavy artillery are the ordinary facts of everyday life in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Palestine and Israel, in Ukraine, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and I could go on.

The gap between the poor and the wealthy grows, and how many of the world’s children are raking through garbage dumps today for scraps to eat or sell? Refugees from north Africa are trapped in cargo containers and dead from drowning off capsized boats on their desperate quest for a life with a future for themselves and their families. Thousands of children are walking across Central America to find refuge from violence on the borders of our country, and our fellow citizens are spitting on them. Women all over the world continue to fall victim to extremist oppression. Where are the hundreds of school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram? Our elected leaders continue to feed the disaffection of the electorate through their lack of integrity and so obvious interest first and foremost in their own ambitions. Ill-educated and abused parents continue to abuse and commit violence against the next generation of children. There are still people in the U.S. picking crops and doing day labor under conditions that are close to slavery. There continue to be millions who suffer from curable diseases without access to treatment.

And that is just a small part, a little and inadequate summary, of humanity’s assault upon itself. There is all the rest that is part of the planet and the universe in which we exist. The wildfires, the earthquakes, the eruption of volcanoes, the floods, the decimation of species of wildlife and plant life, the melting of the icecaps, the pollution of air and water and land.

What we do here, we not do in a vacuum; what we do, we do in the context of the larger world, with reference to the larger world, to serve the larger world, and to prepare the young to serve. In this most powerful nation in the world, right here at Montclair State, our job is to provide an education so powerful that some of our graduates might be able to make a difference and the rest will be more likely to engage in constructive, rather than destructive, lives.

The kind of greatness of mind that can have a substantial impact on the world can be nurtured and prepared here at Montclair State. Indeed, it has been nurtured here.

Think of Nellie Katherine Morrow Parker, born in Hackensack, New Jersey, in 1902. Nellie’s father was a janitor at the Johnson Public Library in Hackensack. Having struggled through segregated schools, she was determined to become a teacher, and in 1922, Nellie graduated from this institution, then called Montclair Normal School. Despite vigorous race-based opposition from the community and school board, with fortitude and intelligence and using the preparation she received here, Nellie fought for and won her place as the first African-American public school teacher in Bergen County. She remained in the school system for 42 years, and the focus of her work during all that time was the creation of a loving classroom atmosphere and instilling a sense of pride in successive generations of her students.

Think of Herman Sokol, a young lad who came to Montclair State in the 1930’s to study science. Dr. Sokol became a pioneer in the production of antibiotics. He and several associates discovered the antibiotic Tetracycline, and, after World War II, under the Marshall Plan, he was responsible for the design, construction and initial operation of the first plant for manufacturing antibiotics in Europe, work that saved literally millions of lives.

William Gordon received a baccalaureate and a master’s degree from Montclair State, in 1939 and 1942 respectively. He designed and oversaw the operation of the Arecibo telescope, located in Puerto Rico. Since its creation in 1963, that telescope was used to map the surface of Venus, to detect ice on Mercury’s surface and to determine that planet’s period of rotation, and to discover the first planets outside the solar system and to monitor the motions of asteroids.

Max Sobel graduated in 1947 and, after further education, came back to Montclair State as a professor, making a lifelong career inspiring others in the art of teaching mathematics. He authored over 60 books on math education, books that were used by teachers in schools across the nation. Over a 50-year career, he inspired the work of colleagues, thousands of undergraduate and graduate students, and had an enormous impact on 20th-century mathematics education in the United States.

Fast forward to the period of the 1970’s and 80’s, when Barbara Buono and Valerie Maholmes graduated from Montclair State. Barbara worked her way through college and law school and served in the New Jersey legislature for twenty years. She was the first woman to Chair the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the first woman to be Senate Majority Leader. During her time in the Legislature, Barbara’s primary focus was on the creation of laws that protected lower income families, providing consumer protection and prohibiting predatory lending practices. She ran a losing battle against Governor Chris Christie in the recent gubernatorial election, but she was fearless in her effort.

Dr. Valerie Maholmes earned both a baccalaureate and master’s degree from Montclair State, and went on to earn a PhD at Howard University and to do post-doctoral training at Yale. She works at the NIH, specifically the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, serving as Chief of the Pediatric Trauma and Critical Illness Branch and managing the Child Maltreatment and Violence Research Program in the Child Development and Behavior Branch. Her career has been focused on efforts to provide a better future for some of the country’s most vulnerable children, and her work touches on the effects on children of critical illness and acute traumatic experiences, such as natural disasters, child abuse and neglect, and exposure to violence.

Where are some of our students who graduated just in the last few years? Chris Ruli graduated in 2010 and joined the Peace Corps where he assisted with Malaria Control in Senegal. David Keefe, a veteran of the war in Iraq and an artist, graduated in 2009 and is Director and Coordinator for the Combat Paper Program at the Printmaking Center of New Jersey, serving a community of veterans who are trying to demonstrate, reclaim, and communicate their military experiences to the world through the visual arts. Kristin Kehoe graduated in 2006 and is now the Associate Director of volunteer services at City Harvest, a food rescue organization dedicated to addressing hunger in New York City. City Harvest salvages excess food from grocery stores, restaurants and other venues and distributes it to places such as soup kitchens, food pantries, senior centers, and homeless shelters. Kristin leads the team that recruits, trains, and oversees volunteers for food rescue, produce distribution, and nutrition education programs.

I say that the kind of mind capable of understanding the context can be fostered here. And now we have our chance with three thousand freshmen who are as new as anything can be, ready to “live with all intensity and perplexity and felicity in [this] terribly mixed little world…flourishing, to a degree…really keeping the torch of virtue alive in an air tending infinitely to smother it…drawing some stray fragrance of an ideal across the scent of selfishness, by sowing on barren strands, through the mere fact of presence, the seed of the moral life.” These are their faces:

Yousef Aljamal was born in Ramallah, Palestine, and graduated from Hackensack High School. He has been accepted into the Montclair State/Rutgers combined B.S./PharmD program and plans to major in Biochemistry. Yousef was a member of the Spanish Honor Society and the Hackensack High School Medical Club, and he volunteered at Hackensack University Medical Center, where he earned a Citizenship Award for his service to the community. Yousef is proud to be following in his father’s footsteps, his father, Faisal, having earned an MS in Computer Science at Montclair State.

Stephen Campbell graduated from Collingswood High School. He is planning to study in the fields of Linguistics and Education. Stephen is passionately interested in languages and has applied himself to learning Malay, Indonesian, Cantonese, Tagalog, French, German, Spanish, Arabic, and Amharic – to varying degrees of proficiency. He has been an ESL tutor and is eager to prepare to be a teacher and wants, in his own words, “to make a difference in the lives of others through language and cultural understanding.”

Kishawn Jean-Pierre graduated from Livingston High School. He has been focused on being an Accounting major since his freshman year in high school, and he has already taken Accounting I and II, AP Economics and Business Law. Kishawn speaks fluent French, and was a member of his high school debate team and enjoyed being a recreational basketball referee. His guidance counselor describes Kishawn as “engaged, sharp, observant, dignified, powerful, kind, peaceful and rational.”

Gregory Miller graduated from the Australian International School in Singapore. He is planning to major in Television and Digital Media. He is passionate about the theater arts and is also an athlete, enjoying rugby and soccer. His international upbringing fostered his commitment to both local and global community service and has taken him hiking through Nepal to assist Nepalese children and volunteering for the Cambodia House Building Team.

Meaghan O’Brien graduated from Jonathan Dayton High School. She took eight AP courses while in high school, was a member of the National Honor Society and the French National Honor Society. She played varsity softball and track, was the cross country team captain, participated in international Irish Dance competitions, and yet found time to volunteer at Food Bank of New Jersey and at Connection for Women and Families. Meaghan thinks her strongest academic abilities are in mathematics, but she is not yet ready to decide on a major. So, she will study broadly and, meanwhile, keep on dancing.

Who knows where our students will go with what we give them, but we need to gather our resources and fight for them as though our lives depended on it, because their lives do depend on it, and because I actually believe, soppy as it may sound, that the world depends on them, and what we do here is not in a vacuum. There is a context.

So on that note, I will conclude by taking you back to the week of May 8th, 1975, when, for the first time since the founding of this institution in 1908, an electronic carillon began to play from the bell tower of College Hall. The carillon was donated by Dorothy Westcoat, a graduate of the class of 1933. The bell tower chimes sounded for decades every day, every hour on the hour, with two musical selections played at 8:00 a.m., noon, and 5:00 p.m. Some years ago, the carillon died. Kaput, done, croaked, not another note to be heard. However, after a determined effort this summer by Shawn Connolly of University Facilities, as of the beginning of this academic year, the carillon lives again in the century-old bell tower of College Hall. Listen for the chimes as you leave the Kasser Theater today, and let those chimes be our call to extremely joyful action.

I wish you all a most satisfying and productive year, shared in the company of good colleagues. The world awaits our work.

Thank you.

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