President’s Opening Day Address

September 1, 2009

Good morning everyone.

I do not know how many of you have read Professor Emeritus Joe Moore’s book on the history of Montclair State University.  If you have not, I recommend it, and I credit Joe, with appreciation, as the source of the historical information that follows.

Exactly 80 years ago, in the fall of 1929, as the country was heading into the Great Depression, our predecessors found that Montclair State was not to be spared the impact of that event.  A plan for a new building that would contain classrooms, an auditorium and a cafeteria had actually, after great effort, been funded by the State legislature.  I cannot stress too greatly how big a deal it was, in 1929, to get funding from the State for such a facility.  (Indeed, it was near to miraculous – as, I might add, it would be today.)  So you can imagine the huge disappointment when, suddenly, just one day before the awarding of a construction contract the legislature withdrew the funds.  There would be no new building after all, nor would there be any ability to address other urgently needed campus renovations and equipment purchases.  In addition, all hiring of new faculty was eliminated, as were all promotions and salary increments.  As the Depression worsened, salary reductions of about 7% were put into effect.  On the student side, for the first time, in 1932, the legislature levied tuition, which at first was $50, but was then raised 100% the following year to $100, plus a $12 fee.  For the first time, students also became responsible for buying their own books. 

In short, times were quite difficult.  The institution as a whole, as well as the faculty, staff and students were all struggling with the fallout from the economic depression.  But there has always been a particular and special spirit to this institution that has enabled it to thrive and continue to move forward in good times and bad.  Remember that the subtitle of Joe Moore’s history of Montclair State is: A Century of Triumph Over Circumstance.  So, even in the midst of the hardships of the Great Depression and the institutional and personal and professional disappointments I mentioned above, here’s what happened at Montclair State:

  • Montclair State faculty moved vigorously forward with their extraordinary innovation in teacher preparation that made deep subject matter preparation central to the education of teachers for the first time in the United States.  It also developed a systemic commitment to field experiences and what became nationally recognized practices in the supervision of student teachers.
  • Montclair State became the first of the state colleges to offer graduate courses leading to a master’s degree.
  • Montclair State faculty sought and were successful in receiving external grants, one of which established the first mental hygiene clinic on the campus of any American college.
  • Montclair State solicited and received a grant to establish a Department of New Tools for Learning (what today we would call instructional technology) that added new audio/visual resources to the library. 
  • During this period in the Math department, Professors Virgil Mallory and John Stone developed a collaboration that would produce more than forty textbooks that had a profound impact on the teaching of mathematics throughout the nation.
  • The Music program advanced into a major field of study and, in a study of it conducted by Columbia University, Montclair State’s Music program was praised as one of the most comprehensive in the country.
  • Contributions sought and received by the Library enabled it to expand its space and vastly increase the collection in poetry, science, and specialized areas, including Abraham Lincoln and materials related to New Jersey.  By 1933, the Library, then located in College Hall (pretty much everything was located in College Hall back in those days), had 23,000 volumes and 200 periodicals, which was exceptional for the time.
  • Faculty in the Foreign Languages department held annual language festivals, attracting thousands of people, and reaching out to high school students.  These festivals raised money to support foreign study for undergraduates.

In short, as a result of the extraordinary work and commitment of the institution’s faculty and staff during one of the most difficult periods in this country’s history, despite hiring freezes, salary cuts, the elimination of building and equipment funds, students’ hardships in paying fees, this institution continued its forward momentum unabated and the result was that, in 1937 and 1938, Montclair State’s undergraduate and graduate programs were fully accredited by the Middle States Association under the criteria used for liberal arts colleges.  Montclair State was the first teachers college ever to be so recognized.

Why do I start this year, in 2009, with this piece of history?  You know why.  Because, like 1929 and the hard years that followed, 2009 is also a hard year – not anywhere near as hard, but hard.  And during this hard time, we have in our keeping an institution with ambitions and drive and a mission, an institution with a long history of triumphing over circumstance, an institution with a tradition of gathering the smartest and most accomplished people it can find and making higher education history, producing achievements that nobody outside of this institution expected of us.  We are part of that tradition now, and, despite the hardships and disappointments, we owe it to that tradition and the hard work of those who came before us, not to fail the institution now.

Yes, it is true; we are still not getting adequate operating and capital support from the state.  Yes, it is true; every continuing employee of the University has taken a hit in salary.  For some that will cause personal difficulties, and as an institution, we will try to help people deal with those difficulties.  These salary reductions were not my choice, and they were not your choice.  They were imposed on us all by state policies and mandates, statewide collective bargaining, and legislation.  As they say, it is what it is.  We cannot change it.  If we now respond to it by pointing fingers at each other, by directing anger inward toward each other, we will be letting this institution down, we will be letting our students down, and we will be letting ourselves down.  We will be failing to meet the high standards of the traditions and history which we have inherited. 

We are lucky.  Unlike other campuses elsewhere, we are continuing to hire new faculty and staff, we are continuing to establish new programs, to recruit new and talented students, to expand and improve our facilities and our equipment.  Things could be a good deal worse.  Things are a good deal worse for many people beyond the boundaries of our institution.  Let’s not forget the good things we have: the security and benefits we enjoy, which others have lost; the freedom to practice our profession; the environment of a dynamic, optimistic, and healthy academic community.  Let’s take as our model the faculty and staff of the 1930’s who just got better and better at what they did, even as times got harder and harder.  It was because of them that Montclair State emerged from the lean times an even stronger institution, and it was because of their individual efforts and commitment that they emerged from the lean times having realized their professional potential, having achieved greatness when nobody expected it of them.

That was them; this now is us.  In midst of the turmoil and the uncertainty, let us not be the ones who forget too soon that, yes, we can.

And in that spirit, and to give us a good start on the year, we were gratified this August to learn that Forbes magazine had rated Montclair State University as the best public institution in the state.  With their own methodology which is focused on the students’ educational experience and the value received by students for their tuition dollars, Forbes ranked Montclair State among the top 100 public colleges in the country at number 54, and top among publics in the state.  Forbes also ranked Montclair State among the 25 top best buys in the Northeast.  In that category, they ranked four New Jersey institutions:  Princeton at number 14; Montclair State at number 15; Rutgers-New Brunswick at number 16; and The College of New Jersey at number 17.  It’s kind of lovely to be sandwiched in there just behind Princeton and ahead of Rutgers. 

I have long thought that Montclair State was a much better university than people in the State gave us credit for.  In many ways, our national reputation, and even international reputation, has been stronger than our reputation in Trenton.  That has been changing dramatically over the last several years, and I am sure that the Forbes recognition will make a difference.  While I am not a fan of magazine rankings, in this case they were right to recognize the quality of this institution, and I will immediately take out a subscription to Forbes, which, until this time, I confess to not having read.  Perhaps they read it avidly over in the Business School. 

On the new undergraduate front, we received close to 14,000 freshmen applications for this fall.  That number represents a 10% increase over last year, which was itself a record year, and it is double the number of applications we received a decade ago.  Transfer students also continue to apply to Montclair State in record numbers.  Over 4,500 students applied to transfer here, representing an increase of 16% over last year and an increase of 87% over ten years ago.  Undergraduate students applied from every county in New Jersey, from 48 states, and from many foreign countries as well.  This year, the admissions office moved the admissions standards up a notch, and academic quality increased among both freshmen and transfer students.  The top four choices of majors among enrolling freshman students will be no surprise and are, in order: Psychology, Biology, English, and Business.  Other majors in high demand among enrolling students are History, Fashion Studies, Mathematics, Physical Education, Justice Studies, and Family and Child Studies.  Other high demand programs will not be noted in these numbers because program admissions are so highly selective.  So, for example, our Musical Theater program auditioned 410 applicants for the 18 places in the program.

Behind the numbers, here is a closer look at a few of our incoming students: 

Oliqua McKenzie comes to Montclair State from East Orange High School.  She participated in an internship last summer at UMDNJ’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, working on a project that involved the spleens of genetically engineered mice and a certain transcription factor which is a key regulator of a protein that can assist in developing ways to control the growth of cancer.  Not surprisingly, Oliqua will be majoring in Biology and will be entering the University through the Educational Opportunity Fund program.

Maria Vira’s parents immigrated to the United States from Slovakia when she was young, seeking a better life for themselves and their young daughter.  Maria worked tirelessly to overcome the language barrier, and is now fluent in English as well as Slovakian.  While at Bayonne High School, she played varsity soccer, was a swimmer and maintained an excellent academic record, becoming a life guard, and performing in a choir at many venues, including Carnegie Hall.  Maria will be pursuing her degree in English Education.

Cindy Yin comes from High Tech High School in North Bergen.  She will be pursuing a degree in Music Education with a keyboard concentration.  Cindy has already distinguished herself in the field, having won competitions and performed multiple times as a concert pianist at Carnegie Hall and many other venues.  She teaches young children to play the piano, and has won awards from the Piano Teachers Society of America.

Christopher Preciado comes to Montclair State with an academic record and test scores that are nearly off the charts.  In Montville High School, Christopher’s time was spent with the Robotics Club and various other science organizations while he also pursued the status of Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts.  Here at the University, he will pursue his goal of becoming a doctor as a student in the joint Montclair State /UMDNJ medical program.

These are just four among the 2,200 distinct and individual freshmen who are entering the University this September, and we are the guardians of their hopes and aspirations. 

Although the State’s anemic appropriations for higher education have continued to present the University with major challenges, through good times and bad, we have maintained a steady pace of faculty recruitment, adding dozens of new faculty members every year, a process that assures the vitality and currency of our academic programs.  This year will be no exception.  I am pleased to announce that 27 new, full-time, tenure-track faculty colleagues have joined us this September, over half of them in newly created lines.  They come to Montclair State having received their training from some of the best universities in the country.  I urge you to take time to familiarize yourself with the newest members of the faculty and staff by perusing the 2009-10 edition of New Faculty, Professional, and Managerial Staff, which may be found online.  For just a glimpse of a few of our new colleagues:

Yam Limbu joins us as an Assistant Professor of Marketing.  He received his PhD from New Mexico State University.  Dr. Limbu has taught in both Nepalese and American institutions.  His research interests include healthcare marketing, advertising, consumer behavior, the marketing-finance interface, and e-commerce.

Elizabeth McPherson has degrees from Julliard and New York University and joins us to lead the new program in Dance Education.  She previously taught at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University, The City College of New York, and NYU.  In addition to having staged a number of historical dance works, Dr. McPherson has written the book The Contributions of Martha Hill to American Dance and Dance Education, 1900-1995 and articles and reviews on dance and dance education for various publications.

David Schwarzer has joined us as the new chair of the Department of Curriculum and Teaching.  Dr. Schwarzer, who earned degrees from Tel-Aviv University and the University of Arizona, has held faculty positions at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and has held various leadership positions in higher education and K-12 schools.  He served as the National Superintendent for Literacy Development for Israel’s Ministry of Education from 1997 to 1999.  Dr. Scharzer’s scholarship focuses on language and literacy learning, particularly the education of second-language learners.  In addition to numerous articles and book chapters, Dr. Schwarzer has published two books and has a third coming out next year.

Susan Somers-Willett is joining the Department of English.  With degrees from Duke University and the University of Texas at Austin, she is an experienced teacher who comes to us after spending time at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Texas at Austin.  She is the author of two books of poetry and a book of criticism, The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry: Race Identity, and the Performance of Popular Verse in America.  Dr. Somers-Willett is a national expert on slam poetry, and her scholarship focuses on public poetry projects, African-American literature, and verse in performance.

Meiyin Wu has joined the Department of Biology and Molecular Biology.  With degrees from Chinese Cultural University and Washington State University, she is an expert in the ecology and management of aquatic ecosystems.  Her work is aimed at developing new restoration techniques to improve the quality of coastal and wetland habitats.  Dr. Wu has EPA funding that she brings to Montclair State for a two-year project to “Develop a Wetland Monitoring Program and An Invasive Species Management Plan for the Au Sable River Watershed.” 

It is a matter of serious satisfaction to me that this fall’s new faculty cohort brings to 286 the number of tenure-track faculty hired since my arrival in 1998, or more than 54% of all faculty on campus this fall.  Hiring new faculty is actually quite hard work, and these results represent the efforts of a large number of individuals, most particularly the deans and the members of department search committees, and I want to express my gratitude for your efforts to enhance a faculty that is already second to none in our sector in New Jersey.

We have already approved about 33 new faculty searches to begin in the fall, representing a continued investment in the future of the University and providing new faculty resources to programs that are expanding rapidly or whose potential for growth has been convincingly demonstrated.  While the enormous growth in campus facilities is critical to the University’s success, I consider our continued investment in faculty to be our most important legacy to the Montclair State University of tomorrow.

While we are focusing on this year’s new faculty, I thought it might be interesting to check in on a few of the faculty who we have hired in the last few years to see how they are doing. 

Jason Dickinson joined the Department of Psychology in 2004.  His areas of scholarly interest are centered on such aspects of forensic psychology as children’s memory and eyewitness testimony and the disclosure of child sexual abuse.  Professor Dickinson has developed a successful publication record and he has attracted external funding for research that is having a tangible impact on the field of child abuse and neglect.  He recently received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to study the impact of cuing on children’s eyewitness testimony.

James DiGabriele joined the Department of Accounting Law and Taxation in 2006.  The focus of his work is forensic accounting, and he is often called on to serve as an expert witness.  In addition to his numerous professional activities, Professor DiGabriele has made significant contributions to the scholarly literature in forensic accounting, publishing 28 peer-reviewed journal articles and presenting his research at numerous national and international conferences since joining our faculty.  He serves as editor of Forensic Accounting in Matrimonial Divorce/Divorce Engagements, which is a supplement to The Journal of Forensic Accounting.  He also serves on the editorial review board of seven peer-reviewed journals and is a director of the American Accounting Association.

Rob Horn joined the Department of Exercise Science and Physical Education in 2003.  He has been conducting cutting-edge research on motor learning, motor behavior, and motor-skill acquisition, and publishes on the application of motor behavior research to coaching education.  Recent articles of his have appeared in The Journal of Sports Sciences, The Journal of Motor Behavior, and The International Journal of Sport Psychology.  Dr. Horn has played a leadership role in the College of Education and Human Services, serving as chair of the CEHS Advisory Group on Faculty Scholarship, chair of the CEHS Graduate Curriculum Committee, and a member of the CEHS Doctoral Council.

Scott Richards combines his varied talents in composition, music history, and singing to prepare students for careers in performance.  Winner of the Jonathan Larson Award and the Frederick Loewe Award, Professor Richards joined the faculty of the Cali School of Music in 2005.  Recently, Arlington’s TONY award-winning Signature Theatre announced that Prof. Richards will be the recipient of an American Musical Voices grant for the development of his musical ideas.  This year’s projects include music and lyrics for a musical adaptation of the classic Jean Shepherd film A Christmas Story, which opens at the Kansas City Rep this November, and the development of projects for The Public Theatre’s Musical Theatre Initiative.

Johannes Schelvis, who joined the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 2007, has been awarded more than $400,000 for a three-year project to study how DNA damage caused by exposure to solar ultraviolet light is repaired by bacterial enzymes and how that might translate to more efficient repair of specific DNA damage in humans.  This is Dr. Schelvis’s second NSF grant at Montclair State, and the project will provide training for a graduate student in laser spectroscopy and career mentoring for a postdoctoral associate and graduate student.

There are hundreds more of our interesting colleagues out there in the University.  Make this the year that you get to know more of them and perhaps discover some mutual interests and opportunities for cross-disciplinary projects.

Finally, with regard to faculty, last April, Provost Gingerich and Dean Hunt introduced the first Montclair State celebration of faculty authors.  On display in the library that day were 86 books published over just the past two years by University faculty, an extraordinary harvest of scholarship that has also been memorialized in a handsome brochure of faculty authors.  You can see the entire display for yourself on the Sprague Library website or in handsome hard copy. 

We have also made some important additions on the administrative side of the house:

James H. Bruns has joined us as our new Vice President for University Advancement.  Mr. Bruns has had an extensive career, serving as the Founding Director of the National Postal Museum of the Smithsonian Institution and briefly as the Smithsonian’s Director of Development.  The Office of University Advancement oversees the University’s development activities, communications, and alumni and community relations. 

Constantine Theodosiou is our new Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Research.  Dr. Theodosiou comes to us from the University of Toledo, where he served in numerous administrative roles, including Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.  He is an accomplished physicist, having won numerous grants for research and program development from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, and the Ohio Supercomputer Center.  I am also pleased to announce that coincident with this appointment, we have revived the Graduate School as an academic unit. 

Marietta Morrissey is our new Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.  Dr. Morrissey also comes to us from the University of Toledo, where she was a professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work and also Acting Associate Dean for the Natural Sciences and Mathematics.  She previously served as the Associate Dean for the Social Sciences, and has also been department chair and Director of Graduate Studies. 

Elrie LaBrent Chrite will be coming to Montclair State in January 2010 as Dean of the School of Business.  Dr. Chrite is Associate Dean of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona.  At Arizona, Dr. Chrite led a reorganization of the Eller College full-time MBA program and successfully introduced an executive MBA to the regional market, which entailed construction of a new branch campus facility.  We are fortunate that Interim Dean William Turner will continue in his position through the Fall semester, and planning for the new School of Business building will continue to move forward.

Joanne Coté-Bonanno, formerly a member of the faculty of the College of Education and Human Services, has returned to the University from Centenary College, where she was Dean for Curriculum and Faculty and Staff Development.  She will assume the role of Associate Provost for Academic Programs in the Office of the Provost.  Dr. Cote-Bonanno brings extensive experience in the theory and practice of online learning, in program development, and in assessment, and we are pleased to welcome her back to Montclair State.

Bryan Terry, another prodigal son, formerly our Director of Financial Aid, is returning to Montclair State as Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Academic Support after serving in a similar position at Seton Hall University.  While there, he supervised Admissions, Student Financial Aid, the Registrar's and Bursar's Offices, and the Director of Student Affairs Information Technology.  We are pleased to welcome Bryan back to the bright side as well. 

While I am discussing administrators, I would like to take a moment to recognize a couple of current staff members who have been doing an outstanding job:

Information technology systems engineer Charles Fraser first joined the University’s IT organization as a student employee in 1995.  In short order, he proved himself a superb technician and became a full-time member of the IT team.  Charlie took advantage of every training and professional development opportunity available to him to expand his areas of expertise.  Most recently, he has focused his considerable talents on the University’s cyber-security agenda, and his expert support and forensics analysis has brought many University investigations to a successful conclusion. 

I would also like to recognize Gail Feinbloom, Associate Director of our Center for Academic Advising & Adult Learning.  Gail has been at Montclair State since 1973, and the National Academic Advising Association singled her out as a 2009 Outstanding Advising Award Winner.  Her superior knowledge of curricula and University polices has been a crucial resource for students, faculty, staff, and the advisors she has trained.  Gail has had a profound impact on the lives of students and colleagues and has been instrumental to thousands of success stories during her 36 years at Montclair State.

You may ask, why we are taking the time to look at all these people.  I know that you really know the answer – it’s because people are what we are.  Not we and they, not “the administration” and “the faculty,” not “the faculty” and “the staff.”  Not a divisive, blaming categorization of people, but, from one end to the other of the institution, individuals who care about the university, who care about the students and who care about our shared profession.  We are a collection of professionals, each of whom understands the importance of higher education to our society, all of us doing the best we can to do our discrete job, our part of the whole.  All of our accomplishments arise from multiple efforts toward shared goals.  We all make mistakes from time to time, we all have bad days, but the difference between the team that achieves and the one that doesn’t is the ability to work together, to understand, to support other members of the team and to not start every assessment of every situation with an analysis of what someone else did wrong.  No we and they here – just us – together doing more and doing it better than anyone ever thought we could.

And talking about doing difficult things, we are continuing our effort, under the most difficult of circumstances, to expand and improve the University’s facilities.  Those challenging circumstances include the lack for the last two decades of any State resources for campus capital projects, the enormous bureaucratic complications of building as a state institution, and the regulatory requirements that often make the quality of our vendors and contractors a very variable affair.  Nevertheless, under the able leadership of Vice President Bressler and his hardy team, we continue to make progress. 

The much needed John J. Cali School of Music is in the final stage of construction.  The renovated Chapin Hall has been completed and is being occupied as we speak (with a few finishing touches still to come), and the new Leshowitz Recital Hall is in its final phase of construction.  The Panzer Athletic Center re-opened in August after a year of renovations with a completely rebuilt infrastructure, main gymnasium, team rooms, and weight training rooms, as well as a beautiful new façade and entrance.  Both of these projects have enhanced the University’s Mission-style architecture at the front door of the campus.  This part of campus will be further enhanced by the redevelopment of College Avenue, which will improve the College Avenue entrance and the pedestrian path from Normal Avenue to University Hall.

The fit-out of the leased space at 1515 Broad Street in Bloomfield is complete, and the graduate programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Audiology are beginning the new year in expanded and specially designed new space.  This facility provides room for growth and needed clinical facilities.

Renovation of Finley Hall for foreign languages and linguistics has met some bumps in the road, but has not been forgotten.  Some redesign work is now being completed, and we expect the project to go to bid for construction by December.  

Construction is continuing on a new student housing facility to provide 300 beds on Clove Road and to help a little with the huge demand we face for student housing.  You will also notice an exterior renovation occurring at the old Clove Road Apartments.  We continue to work with a private developer, the Capstone Group, on a project to provide from 700 to 1,000 beds of student housing in downtown Montclair.  In addition, with the recent enactment of the New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act, after years of effort to get this provision enacted, we are now able to partner with a private developer for an on-campus development consisting of 1,200 beds of student housing and associated dining and parking.

Ground was broken in late July on another parking structure on what was previously Parking Lot 25.  This project should be completed in June 2010 and will accommodate 1,500 cars.  Unfortunately, we had to take some parking out of circulation in order to build the new deck, so parking will be particularly tight on campus this fall.  I advise folks to come early and stay late or seriously explore car pooling and mass transit options.

As we look to the immediate future, there are two major academic projects at the top of our priority list.  The first is a new facility for the School of Business, which will also provide space for Global Education.  With the help of an active committee from the School of Business and the Facilities staff, programming for the new building has been completed, and the architects have begun the schematic design.  The building is sited for the area where the tennis courts are now (the tennis courts will be moved to the north campus), and the new building will form the third, western side of the quad of which Dickson Hall and University Hall make up the south and north borders.  This location will enable the School of Business to take advantage of the classrooms and lecture halls available in University Hall.  If all goes as planned, we should see the completion of a new School of Business in fall 2012. 

The second major academic project is a new building for the Environmental and Life Sciences.  Architects have been selected and, with a committee from the College of Science and Mathematics and Facilities, are proceeding with a full analysis of the utilization of our current science facilities and the programming needs for the new facility.  A good deal of study has already been undertaken in regard to those matters, so the initial planning activities should move along fairly rapidly, and we can then move into building design. 

In the area of infrastructure, a project is advancing to develop a Combined Heat, Cooling and Power Plant as our co-generation plant reaches the end of its useful life.  Given the rising cost of energy, developing a well-conceived plan for meeting the University’s current and future energy needs is obviously of critical importance.  We are exploring the possible opportunities afforded by the new Stimulus Act that I mentioned earlier to provide some innovative private partnership models for this project.

In the area of the less visible, but equally important, campus information technology, we remain committed to providing our students, faculty, and staff with networking, computing, and classroom technology resources that are second to none among our peers.

Our primary effort right now is the Bell Tower Initiative, which is well underway, with many project teams planning for the implementation of a new suite of business applications to replace our outdated financial records, human resources, and student information systems, as well as the various Web services applications that align with them.  This multiyear effort is on track for completion by the end of calendar year 2011.

In response to the ever increasing reliance on Web-based content and methodologies as an integral part of our curriculum and as a vehicle for supporting the administrative needs of the community, we continue to work through the New Jersey Higher Education Network (NJEDge.Net) to achieve deep discounts in the cost of our connections to the Internet and Internet2.  With the savings thus realized, we have installed a gigabit-speed circuit connecting us to the World Wide Web and increased our cumulative bandwidth connection from 200 to 300 megabits per second.  

The University has also embarked on a project to replace our mosaic of wireless hot spots with a pervasive, robust, high-speed, wireless network.  The new wireless local area network will offer secure access to information resources through any portable and Wifi-compatible computing device from virtually any location on campus.  The first phase of the project calls for wireless connectivity in all of our residence halls.  The second phase will outfit our key academic and administrative buildings, and the third and final phase will provide for pervasive wireless in all of the University’s outdoor spaces.  It is anticipated that the entire project will be completed in two to three years.

To meet the growing demand for the Blackboard Course and Content management system, the IT Division has installed the next generation of the Blackboard system on our development servers in order for faculty and staff to prepare to work with the newest revision (version 9.0) of the application.  This version offers all manner of integration with Web 2.0 collaboration applications such as Twitter, blogs, wikis, and Facebook to enrich the learning experience of our students.  The new version of Blackboard will be in production for the entire campus for the spring 2010 semester.  To prepare, several faculty members are working in collaboration with the Technology Training and Integration group to test the new version of Blackboard.  All members of the faculty and administration who use Blackboard are strongly encouraged to participate in the seminars that IT will offer to learn about the many changes and enhancements available with this new release.  The University has also introduced “Elluminate,” a virtual classroom tool that provides for synchronous distance learning via the Internet, enabling students and faculty to see and hear each other as they collaborate and interact online in real-time.  The Elluminate application allows instructors the flexibility to conduct classes fully online, in combination with a face-to-face class in a hybrid mode, or as a powerful supplement to a face-to-face class.

Finally, as the size and academic profile of our student body grows, the need for 24/7 dedicated spaces for them to gather and study has also increased.  Beginning September 14, 2009, Sprague Library and Café Diem will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and students will have access to all of the print and on line research materials available in the Library, and access to laptop computers installed with all of their course-related applications, as well as coffee and food in the Café.

The stories and data that I have related to you today suggest that, even in perilous economic times, even with failing state support, public institutions of higher education can survive and flourish if they have the inner resources and determination to remain relevant and vital.  I firmly believe that we do have those inner resources and that determination.  If an institution possesses those structural efficiencies that promote good practices and harmonious relationships, if its faculty remain energized both by their own professional potential and the ever-renewed potentialities of their students, if professional staff believe in and are committed to the daily impact of their services on the full range of the University’s mission and on the campus atmosphere that they do so much to create, if facilities staff continue to take personal ownership and pride in the appearance of their campus and their ability to create and maintain the finest work and living environments, if all of us share, not only a confidence in and commitment to each other, but an understanding of the indispensible roles that each of us must play in promoting the utmost effectiveness of the university, and if everyone together remembers it is always, first and last, about the students and their success, then a miracle like Montclair State can happen.  In fact, it has happened, and our job is to make it keep happening.  Our campus, set on a high point, with clear views in all directions, has been for a century, and can continue to be, the site of sweeping and transforming visions.

So, let us go forth and be wise!

Thank you.