In 2019, past and present came together at Montclair State University illustrating how the foundations laid more than a century ago with the opening of College Hall have paid forward the University’s mission of building an inclusive and supportive community where a rigorous, affordable education is accessible to all. From an intriguing message found in the walls of College Hall to fostering the work of a “genius” to celebrating human rights and LGBTQ activism through a stunning choral work, the University’s message resounded across the state of New Jersey and around the world in 2019.
Message in a Bottle
The story of a note written by two bricklayers and kept secret in a bottle inside a wall for 112 years enthralled readers and audiences worldwide, including mentions in People, Newsweek and CNN. The message signed by William Hanley and James Lennon of Newark, New Jersey, was found during the renovation of College Hall and sparked a genealogical treasure hunt that will bring descendants of the laborers to the re-opening of the hall in 2020.
Genius in our Midst
In September, Montclair State’s own in-house Milton scholar, Associate Professor of English Jeffrey Alan Miller, was awarded a 2019 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship – better known as a “Genius Grant” — in part for his discovery of the earliest known draft of the King James Bible. At a celebratory December event, Miller explained the discovery “happened because I was fortunate enough to be at Montclair State, surrounded, encouraged, perpetually uplifted by the students, faculty, administration and the wider University community.”
Communicating Across Divides
In November, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake) met with a small gathering of students and then later spoke at a public event about her new collection she edited, The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories. Regarding literary translation, Lahiri told students, “Nothing feels impenetrable. These stories are like all literature. It’s a way of forming dialogue, a community across time, language, place.”
The Power of Song
2019 was book-ended in extraordinary fashion for students at the John J. Cali School of Music: In January, the Montclair State University Chorale made its Carnegie Hall debut performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and in December, the University Chorale and Singers ensembles presented the regional premier of the Considering Matthew Shepard oratorio at the Kasser Theater. Under the direction of Professor Heather J. Buchanan, students made challenging and inspirational works soar and also paid forward the University’s dedication to humanitarianism. The Carnegie Hall performance raised awareness of the plight of Rohingya refugees in Myanmar. For Considering Matthew Shepard, University events and outreach on and off campus continued the legacy of Matthew Shepard whose 1998 hate crime murder has led to pro-LGBTQ advocacy and action.
Getting Down to Business
In September, former Google senior executive Carley Graham Garcia took the helm as executive director of the University’s Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Garcia is using her experience building community relationships for Google to usher the Feliciano Center into a critical second phase, one that looks more externally to connect and serve the broader Montclair community, while preparing students for future workforce demands.
Fostering Academic Excellence
Montclair State University’s online Master of Arts in Educational Leadership degree program achieved a Top 20 national ranking in the U.S. News & World Report 2019 Best Online Graduate Education Programs. The new ranking confirms the University’s status as a leader in educator preparation and its R2 Doctoral University – High Research Activity designation in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
Welcome to New Jersey!
Montclair State began offering the National Student Scholarship to attract high-achieving students from coast to coast and guarantee that academically qualified out-of-state students pay in-state tuition. With the introduction of the National Student Scholarship, the University plans to expand and further diversify the students who contribute to a vibrant learning experience.
Emmys All Around! Students and Alumna Shine
In March, students Mariano Arocho, Natalie De La Rosa, Laura Galarza, Babee Garcia, Madison Glassman, Genesis Obando and Madijuene Traore beat out 600 submissions from 174 colleges and universities to win two of eight College Television ‘Emmy’ Awards. Montclair State’s Montclair News Lab: Hurricane Recovery Mission to Puerto Rico won the Best in News award, as well as the prestigious Bricker Humanitarian Award, which recognizes work that highlights global human issues.
Meanwhile, alumna Halley O’Brien ’08 won a regional Emmy Award in August for her work as host of The Snow Report Show presented by SKI Magazine. O’Brien had been nominated five times for a Heartland Regional Emmy before her win for the 2018-19 season.
Also Seen and Heard on Campus
In January 2019, as the nation’s longest government shutdown in history passed its one-month mark, Montclair State opened its doors to provide furloughed federal workers with free classes, yoga, enrichment, and a conversation with newly elected New Jersey Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D-11).
Governor Phil Murphy visited the University in August to congratulate and inspire 30 elementary school teachers engaged in the New Jersey STEM Innovation Fellowship, a new program designed to improve math education for public school students across New Jersey: “This fellowship is about creating the New Jersey where opportunities and innovation blossom for all of our residents,” Murphy told the teachers.
In October, Valerie Jarrett, one of President Barack Obama’s closest mentors, took part in a conversation hosted by the National Society for Leadership and Success and the Center for Leadership and Engagement, where she shared her views on fighting for gender equality and civil rights, and advocating for women in business and politics: “Recognize there are going to be some bumps along the way, and then surround yourself with people who wish you well.”
As the Allen B. DuMont Broadcaster of the Year, Hallie Jackson, chief White House correspondent for NBC News and “MSNBC Live” host, shared advice with media majors when she sat down with Carpe Diem in November: “Just learn how to ask questions. Be smart and be hungry. That’s all you need.”
The Red Hawks men’s soccer team captured its second-straight New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) championship on November 10 with a 1-0 victory over Rowan University in the NJAC Tournament Final. The win earned Montclair State a berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament, where the Red Hawks made a hard charge to the Elite 8 for the second straight year. Go, Red Hawks!