Welcome to the New Year
August 20, 2018
Welcome to the start of the new academic year! I hope everyone enjoyed a productive and fun respite this summer, and I hope you are as anxious as I am to kick off what promises to be a very exciting year.
As we enter the fourth year of our five-year strategic plan, we are moving on all fronts to accomplish our goals. We will continue to keep you informed of all key initiatives, and you can check for updates at Moving Forward with a Strategic Plan. For now, though, I want to highlight a couple of very important initiatives. As you know, University Provost Gillian Small has been working in earnest to assess our current academic structure and look for ways to improve efficiency and make similar offerings across our campuses more uniform. Last academic year, she created an internal advisory committee to study restructuring, and many meetings were held across campuses, schools and departments. She also engaged external consultants (Lismore International and American Council of Trustees and Alumni President Michael Poliakoff) to assist us. Their report recommended that we continue with our plan to create centers of excellence such as the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and that to do so we must restructure and reorganize academic units across the two New Jersey campuses.
Next steps include reconvening the advisory committee in September to discuss a proposal for restructuring. Then, in October, Provost Small plans to discuss her proposal with members of the Academic Policies and Research Committee (APRC) and the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate. Following that, she hopes to bring her proposal to the full Senate in late October/early November and to the Board of Trustees at its December meeting, with the understanding that many of the details concerning restructuring will need to be worked out over the remainder of the academic year.
I also want to give you an update on the expansion of our new online division. Last year, we signed a seven-year contract with The Learning House to partner with us on instructional design, marketing, recruitment and retention of students for a number of online programs. The Learning House has begun marketing select online programs for the fall semester and will also work with us on moving some of our face-to-face programs online. In this partnership, the programs starting in the fall include: the MS in Digital Marketing, Master of Business Administration, MS in Accounting, MS in Electrical Engineering, MA in Mathematical Foundations, MS in Cyber and Homeland Security, MA in Student Services Administration, MS in Service Innovation and Leadership, RN-to-BSN, and MSN in Nursing Education.
The Learning House has been actively working with faculty and staff to establish systems and to enroll students. They recently launched the new FDU online division website. While enrollment is expected to be modest in this opening semester, we expect it to build in the spring and progressively increase thereafter.
Speaking of enrollment, while all the data are not in yet, we know there are both positives and continuing challenges. The size and quality of our incoming class is very strong. Our incoming freshmen again feature an exceptional number of high achievers, as reflected in SAT scores and high school GPAs. And we have enrolled an extraordinary initial group to kick off our new Honors Academy. The inaugural class of 19 has an average high school GPA of 3.98 and an average SAT or ACT score of 1426 or 30, respectively. Not all the news concerning enrollment is positive however. Like many universities , we have been struggling lately with international enrollment and graduate enrollment more generally continues to decline. We are now focusing heavily on ways to improve in both of these areas.
Throughout our campuses, there is much to celebrate, beginning with new leadership. In Vancouver we are welcoming Wilfred Zerbe to the role of Campus Executive and we are excited for what he will bring to a very dynamic campus that continues to grow and evolve, so much so that we are considering expanding our facilities in Vancouver for a second time. Across the Atlantic, under the veteran leadership of Dean Nicholas Baldwin, our Wroxton College program continues to grow as well, and this summer we had our first (hopefully annual) nursing group studying abroad. In addition, we recently completed a successful fundraising campaign to support the renovation of the North Arms into a more contemporary gastro-pub and eSports facility for our hospitality program and students studying at Wroxton College, which we hope will open by the start of classes in fall 2019.
Here in New Jersey, we were very pleased to announce the permanent appointment of Brian Mauro as Florham Campus Executive late last spring. And at the Metropolitan Campus, Craig Mourton is now leading the campus as Interim Campus Executive. In addition, Jennifer Noon was appointed the Director of Athletics at the Florham Campus, and we will soon begin a search for a new Director of Athletics at the Metropolitan Campus.
Both New Jersey campuses feature many exciting new projects recently completed and in the works. At the Metropolitan Campus, we have installed a number of new monument signs and are nearing completion on major perimeter projects around Dickinson Hall and the Rothman Center, as well as at River Road and around the Kron Building. Plans continue for key projects including a new footbridge (to be completed in summer 2019), a new Campus Union Building, and a hotel. This is in addition to important upgrades including a new roof at Edward Williams Hall, significant repairs and painting in classrooms around the campus, and some renovations in the residence halls. Also, construction will occur this year for an upgraded and larger space for academic support services for our student-athletes, and athletic teams in the Rothman Center will begin using a newly installed player video analysis system this fall.
At the Florham Campus, we have nearly completed a major renovation of Danforth Hall (converting classrooms to residence spaces), more than doubling its current capacity. We have a new entrance at Dreyfuss Theater, a new weight room at the Ferguson Recreation Center, and a newly created lounge for veterans at the Zen Building. Moreover, we are about to undertake a series of significant athletic field improvements, including a new multisport complex with an outdoor track and hi-definition video scoreboard, and eventually a new baseball complex. In addition, a new dance studio is being created at the Ferguson Recreation Center, and plans for a new eSports (video gaming) venue are underway. Maintenance is being done at Hennessy Hall and in several residence halls as well.
This fall, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Silberman College of Business. The gala event will be held on September 27 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City and will feature a keynote address by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. Alumna and Trustee Brenda Blackmon will serve as the mistress of ceremonies, and several outstanding Silberman College alumni will be honored. For more information, see support.fdu.edu.
Before that, though, we will officially kick off the new year at the annual Academic Convocation on September 5 at 2 p.m. in the Dreyfuss Theater at the Florham Campus. This year we again will honor distinguished faculty and outstanding staff members, as well as welcome new faculty to the University. It’s always a special event. We hope to see you there! And, as always, I hope to see you at various University events throughout the academic year.
Best wishes for a very exciting and successful year!
Christopher A. Capuano, Ph.D.