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MCC Celebrates Successful Fall Semester

By Cailee Oliver
On January 26, 2017

Middlesex County College President Joann La Perla-Morales presented the successes of the Fall 2016 semester in the College Center cafeteria on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 9 a.m. Before the speech, staff and faculty gathered at 8:30 a.m. in the College Center cafeteria to enjoy coffee, breakfast snacks, and conversations.

President La Perla-Morales started with the recognition of new staff members and faculty who had recently joined the College, such as custodian Fatima DeCarvalho, CIT service desk analyst Vito Joseph Pezzolla, and campus police officer Alexandra Harris. She also spent some time discussing the redesign of the Human Resource Department with new staff development, new technology to pay for the payrolls of the college, and some topics with purchasing and budgeting controls.

Next, she mentioned the success the fall semester accomplished like the openings of the two new buildings, West Hall and South Hall. Faculty who have retired after 50 years of service came back for a reunion to celebrate the opening of West Hall. La Perla-Morales explained how everyone was impressed with the beauty and the functionality of the new home for enrollment services. Friends and supporters gathered on Oct. 24 for the ribbon-cutting of South Hall. “Although the old South Hall [is] gone, our connection to our past is constant. What connects the first days of [the] College to the arsenal site to our present is [the] continuing commitment of everyone of the College to provide access, opportunity, and excellence for the residents of Middlesex County,” said La Perla-Morales.

She recognized Dr. Robert Birk, an alumnus of the College’s class of 1971. He is a practicing pediatric physician and an associate professor of pediatrics at Brown University. Dr. Birk wrote a letter of thanks, noting that “Middlesex was the gateway to my success. I am and forever will be grateful, not only for myself, but for my family, and that includes my daughter who is also a pediatrician.” The College was named a “Veteran Friendly School” and received recognition of service to student veterans from media companions: Military Times, Military Vast Education, and Victory Media. The College was named the no. 4 college for veteran services in the nation. La Perla-Morales acknowledged the success of the fall semester orientation and the Student Activities Fair, hosted by Brian Clemmons, dean of enrollment management. “[Students] became engaged in campus in the Student Activities Fair, conducted research, assisted dentist and caring for local kids, participated in a beach clean up, scored a thousand points in basketball, and excelled academically and were inducted to Phi Theta Kappa,” she said.

La Perla-Morales highlighted some of the faculties’ successes during the fall semester: Brian Clemmons received an honorary membership to Phi Theta Kappa; Elaine Weir-Daidone, counselor for students with disabilities, and Cheryl Kolber, learning disability specialist, hosted a Disability Awareness Day; Patty Kiernan, executive board member of the Center for the Enrichment of Learning and Teaching, invited a best-selling author to a meeting of the College’s Math and the Mouse club; Professor Louis Dell’Omo, from the Visual, Performing and Media Arts Department, had an exclusive interview with Hollywood actor Danny Devito.

Two speakers shared their story with the campus. Famous author Junot Diaz, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, was the keynote speaking for the College’s Spanish Heritage Month. “Mr. Diaz was born in the Dominican Republic, but was raised here in New Jersey. He spoke of his career and as an advocate for social justice,” La Perla-Morales acknowledged. Eva Wiener shared her amazing story of the time she was a passenger on the St. Louis, which left Europe in 1939 and attempted to flee Nazi Europe. “The ship was denied entry by multiple countries and was forced to return to Europe where hundreds of passengers were eventually killed in the Holocaust. The ship has become a symbol of the plight of European Jewry on the eve of the Holocaust,” La Perla-Morales recited the story.

The fall semester ended with good news from the Middle State Commission on Higher Education regional agency. A quote from the meeting in November was read, “They voted accept the periodic review report, and recognize the institution with its progress to date.” The next evaluation will happen 2020 to 2021. President Joann La Perla-Morales would like to thank everyone for helping make the Fall 2016 another successful semester.


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