Skip to main content

Return to Campus

All Kean students who attend classes on campus must receive a COVID-19 vaccination before the Fall 2021 semester begins. Learn more on the #VaxUpKean website.

Kean University's STEM building illuminated at night.

Presidential Announcements

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - May 14, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

What a week it’s been. Commencement is the apex of the academic year for all of us, the magnificent culmination of all we do here at Kean. We are thrilled to be able to offer our graduates and their families the chance to celebrate safely in person amid the pandemic. So far, we’ve conducted nine ceremonies and each one has been exciting for all involved, including those of us on stage. Our 10th and final ceremony will be held tomorrow morning for our doctoral candidates. To see some highlights, you can check out these photos on NJ.com or watch the news coverage from ABC. Congratulations to all of our graduates. It has been a sheer joy to celebrate the Class of 2021.

I thank every member of the Commencement team for all the work they did to make it happen. Staff from across the University came together and focused on every detail — big and small — to create 10 separate, memorable events that allowed us to recognize the achievement of these graduates who persevered through a pandemic and earned their degree. If you were at any of the commencement ceremonies or watched a livestream, you know that the graduates’ excitement and joy was palpable. I can’t say it enough to our Commencement Committee and the many others who stepped up to serve as marshals and in other volunteer roles each day this week — thank you for making this happen for our graduates.

For those students who will be returning to Kean in the Fall, I have exciting news. The new Center for Advising, Persistence and Success (CAPS) will be open for business starting this Monday, May 17. Under the guidance of Director Sherlene Ayala and the leadership of Division of Student Success and Retention Vice President Barbara Harmon-Francis, CAPS will be the hub of student advising, providing expert, one-on-one counseling and support to help our students stay on track for graduation. You can find more information here. I know CAPS will do great things for our students, and I offer the Center my full support.

I am also pleased to announce the establishment of the new Faculty Summer Research Fellowships program, which will start as a pilot program this summer. The program will support research by up to 20 Faculty Summer Research Fellows and up to 10 students. Under the program, faculty will get teaching releases and funding to support individual and inter-disciplinary research in the sciences, social sciences, the humanities, the fine and performing arts and more. This program will build research opportunities for students and faculty and help establish the necessary infrastructure as we advance toward receiving a Carnegie R2 research designation. More information about the Faculty Summer Research Fellowship program, including how to apply, will be coming soon via email. Submissions should indicate how the research contributes to Kean’s role as a leading comprehensive, urban, research university.

One final note — I will be taking a break from my weekly email messages until the middle of August. I thank everyone in the Kean community for your efforts this past academic year. All of you — students, faculty and staff — have carried on under very challenging circumstances to make the year one of success and growth for the University. I look forward to having employees back on campus this summer and the return of students for in-person instruction in the Fall.
 
Wishing all Eid Mubarak as you close out the month of Ramadan. Have a great, relaxing and rejuvenating summer. You have earned it.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - May 7, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

Congratulations! Together we made it to the end of an academic year like no other. Not only did our Kean community overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19, but we also continued to excel in our virtual and in-person classrooms, research labs, athletic fields and so much more. I’m grateful to each of you for playing a role in our success. I’m looking forward to celebrating the accomplishments of the Class of 2021 at a whopping 10 commencement ceremonies next week. Our team has been working nonstop to create a fantastic experience for our graduates. You deserve it. I’ll see you there.

Over the summer, I encourage all of our students and new alumni to work on your career goals. Kean’s Office of Career Services stands ready to support you with finding internships and jobs throughout the summer months. Email career@kean.edu for assistance.

This week I had the chance to visit Downs Hall during our first round of student vaccination appointments. It was amazing to think about just how far we’ve come and to see our students eagerly picking up their #VaxUpKean t-shirts after getting their vaccination. Pat Battle from NBC News came to talk to students about their decision to receive a vaccine. You can watch the report here. All of you who participated made us proud.

Our vaccination appointments continue. Students can sign up here to receive a Johnson & Johnson, one-shot vaccine at Downs Hall on May 11 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or you can also sign up on the county’s vaccination website to receive a two-dose vaccine from Moderna or Pfizer. It doesn’t matter which vaccine you get or where you go as long as you get it done as soon as possible for your own safety. Visit our #VaxUpKean website for more information about why getting vaccinated is so important for all of us. We must not become complacent because this pandemic is far from over. I know many members of our community have family and friends in India who are struggling with a horrific surge in cases and my prayers go out to you and your loved ones.

The University will require all Kean students who attend in-person classes to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, unless they receive a health or religious exemption, before the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester. Earlier today, the Registrar’s Office sent an important message to the entire campus about the University’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement and Fall 2021 registration. Students, I encourage all of you to read through it carefully so that you understand your options for the Fall. I want to make one thing absolutely clear: Our top priority is to support you as you persist to graduation.

As the academic year comes to a close, I want to highlight some of the hardest working people on our campus. In the midst of uncertainty, the Office of Residential Student Services stepped up to a challenge that no one has ever faced before. Our Resident Assistants and COVID testing staff effectively upheld our policies, protecting our on-campus community and preventing a major COVID-19 outbreak. Thank you to the RSS staff for remaining steadfast in our commitment to keeping the Kean family safe.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Kean Moms! Have a great weekend.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - April 30, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

As the president of this great University, I am responsible for the health and safety of our campus community. When making decisions about our response to the COVID-19 pandemic during the past year, I have repeatedly asked myself one question, “Will this help keep us safe?” When it comes to vaccines, the answer is abundantly clear, “Yes.” Your decision to receive a vaccine protects your health and the health of those around you, and it brings all of us closer to safely returning to the University we love. It’s time for each of us to step up.

As vaccines become more widely accessible, Kean is joining many of our peer institutions in New Jersey and across the nation in announcing that all students must receive the COVID-19 vaccine before the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester.

By August 31, 2021, all Kean students must submit a vaccination record to the University that shows they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The vast majority of Kean courses will be conducted in-person in the Fall. Students who choose to remain unvaccinated will not have access to any campus facilities and should consult with their advisors about transitioning to Kean Online. Kean Online students will not be required to submit a vaccination record unless they plan to access campus facilities for any reason.

Students will be permitted to request an exemption to the vaccine requirement for health or religious reasons. The process for submitting a vaccination record or requesting an exemption will be shared in the coming weeks.

To assist students with meeting this requirement, the University has worked with the County of Union to arrange for students to receive free vaccines on campus beginning Wednesday, May 5. Vaccines will be available for Kean students only from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Downs Hall. All students are invited to sign up for an appointment here as soon as possible. Appointments will run throughout the summer. Students are also strongly encouraged to sign up for available appointments in their home communities. Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to receive a vaccine. Employees, regardless of where they live, can sign up for appointments on campus here.

I understand that some of you are still hesitant to receive a vaccine. It is natural to have questions and maybe even some skepticism. However, I encourage you to do your research. You’ll find that the vaccines are overwhelmingly effective and safe. Although there are some things we don’t know, we do know one thing for sure: COVID-19 can be deadly and poses a dangerous threat to those who remain unvaccinated.

Just like we put on a mask to protect others, we must now pull up our sleeves to protect others. Each of you has done your part to keep our campus and our students’ education moving forward during this pandemic. I am confident you will do what it takes now to get us back on campus safely. For those of you who haven’t received your vaccine yet, I ask you the same question that I ask myself, “Will this keep us safe?” Your choice is clear. #VaxUpKean 

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - April 23, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

I’m happy to announce that effective Monday, April 26, all Kean employees, regardless of where they live, will be eligible to register for a COVID-19 vaccine at the County of Union’s vaccination site on the main campus. This important step helps protect our entire community and is made possible through the University’s unique partnership with the county and the leadership of County Manager and Kean Trustee Ed Oatman. My thanks go to Ed and his entire team for helping us provide the Kean community with access. I know many Kean students are also eager to receive a vaccine on campus, and your time is coming. We are working closely with the county to open up appointments for students in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we encourage all students to actively pursue vaccine appointments within their communities.

I continue to advocate for every member of the University community to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for their own health and the wellbeing of those around them. Vaccinations are critical for our plans to return to in-person instruction and activities in the Fall. With that in mind, the University is asking all students, faculty and staff to complete this COVID-19 Kean University Vaccination Survey so we can better coordinate vaccinations and finalize our approach for the Fall. Please complete the survey whether or not you have received a vaccine. You can respond anonymously if you wish. If you have questions or would like more information about the vaccines, please submit your email, and we will reach out to you. We want everyone to feel comfortable and empowered by their choice to receive a vaccine.

I thank the students who joined me at yesterday’s virtual Student Town Hall. I received a lot of great questions about vaccines, safety protocols, class structures and more for the Fall semester. My team is working to respond to each of your points and will post updates on our Town Hall website next week. Those of you who missed the event can also watch it on the website. I always enjoy talking to students and learning more about your experiences so we can improve and grow as an institution.

I also thank the organizers and students who participated in yesterday’s event recognizing our Educational Opportunity Fund Scholars. As I told the scholars and their families, I am a proud EOF graduate. This program truly provides an opportunity for students — regardless of their backgrounds — to achieve their dream of earning a college degree. But it is up to each student to show up and do the work each and every day to get it done. I was so thrilled to be able to celebrate all the hard work of our EOF Scholars.

Today, I was honored to speak at the University’s first Lavender Graduation for LGBTQIA+ students. This is a new tradition for Kean and one that is important in making sure all students feel appreciated and celebrated as individuals. Our LGBTQIA+ students contribute to our wonderfully diverse campus and we are excited to recognize them and their supporters in a safe space. I look forward to seeing all of our graduates at our commencement ceremonies in May.

It’s also been an exciting week for Athletics. On Tuesday, softball head coach Margie Acker collected her 500th career victory as Kean played a doubleheader against William Paterson University. Congratulations, Coach Acker! Also on Tuesday, our men’s lacrosse program, in conjunction with the Athletics department, designated their game as “Connor’s Game” for autism awareness. The game honored Connor Sgaramella, son of Associate Athletic Director and Kean Athletics Hall of Famer Jason Sgaramella and his wife Lauren. I was so proud to see our student athletes recognize the importance of such awareness events. Last but not least, my kudos go out to senior baseball player Josh Jackson who made ESPN’s highlight reel for his bare-handed catch in yesterday’s win over Montclair State University. Nice grab, Josh.

I hope to see you all at our virtual Distinguished Lecture Series conversation with futurist Jamie Metzl on Monday at 3:30 p.m. as we kick off an incredible display of student and faculty research at Research Days on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. 

Enjoy the weekend.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - April 20, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

Like all of you, I just heard the news that Derek Chauvin was convicted on all counts for the murder of George Floyd. People from all walks of life are breathing a collective sigh of relief that the jury did the right thing. As I process this news, I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Today is the result of not only the jury’s decision, but also the witnesses, protesters and organizations around the world rising up and demanding justice through collective action.

I say ‘justice’ because this is the closest we could come under these tragic circumstances. But true justice would be George Floyd alive and well. What we witness today is accountability. This is a significant step in the right direction, but we have work to do to build a world that is truly just. As we were reminded by the deaths of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo, we have a long road ahead.

As a campus community, we must continue working together to move forward with the message that it takes a village to bring about change. We must continue using peaceful protest and raise our voices to demand systemic change so that a trial like this one is not needed.

Today is an important day, and we should each take a moment to pause and process how we feel.

For some of us, this news evokes more than simple joy and relief. Many of us have complicated feelings about this based on our lived experiences. Please know that it’s okay to feel whatever you feel right now. Give yourself grace and space to process. We need your energy to seize the momentum of this moment and leverage it for more significant change. It will take all of us working together to move forward and create the just and equitable world we know is possible. 

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - April 16, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

Today I am excited to share news that Kean’s Physician Assistant Studies program recently received provisional accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), paving the way for our first class of up to 20 master’s degree students to begin their studies in Fall 2021. The program aims to bring more diversity into the profession and to address health disparities in our communities, building on the University’s commitment to equity and academic excellence.

As we celebrate this milestone for the School of Physician Assistant Studies in Nathan Weiss Graduate College, I congratulate Executive Director Carol Biscardi, PA-C, Ph.D., and her team, along with Senior Vice President Andrew Brannen. They have worked tirelessly to create a robust academic program of coursework and clinical experiences that will prepare Kean students to succeed in the job that U.S. News & World Report ranked as the best job in America for 2021. I hope to see many of our Kean undergraduates apply for this new program.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to virtually welcome more than 100 members of our Kean community and others to a powerful and timely exhibit in memory of George Floyd in the Human Rights Institute Gallery lobby of the Nancy Thompson Learning Commons. I am proud of the Kean students and alumni who came together to create this exhibit, which includes paintings, photos and other artwork that they carried with them during a peaceful protest last summer following George Floyd’s death. Each piece of art conveys a personal response to the racial inequality and racism that continue to plague this nation.

This exhibit invites each of us to reflect on Floyd’s senseless death as we follow the trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis police officer charged with his murder, and absorb the death this week of another Black man — 20-year-old Daunte Wright — at the hands of a Minnesota police officer. It is natural and understandable to become angry about these brutal incidents, but the students and alumni who created this exhibit remind us of another way forward — that we all can and should use our voices and creativity to express our views and demand the change we want to see in this world. I encourage each of you to visit the exhibit in person at the Learning Commons through May 3. If you have any protest artwork or photos of your own that you would like to submit for the online exhibit, you are invited to email curator Jacquelyn Tuerk-Stonberg, Ph.D.

I thank Steve Remotti, A.J. Whitmore and Alonso Losada on our Facilities team for turning the campus lighting blue as part of the #LightItUpBlue campaign in support of World Autism Awareness Day earlier this month. The campus looked great and the blue glow across our buildings sent a strong message about the importance of inclusivity. Great job.

I remind our students that I’m hosting a virtual Student Town Hall on Thursday, April 22 at 3:30 p.m. to hear your questions and concerns regarding the Fall 2021 semester. There are still a few slots left for those of you who wish to sign up to speak. I hope the rest of you will watch it online.

Before I close, I wish Ramadan Mubarak, a happy and blessed Ramadan, to everyone in the Kean community observing Ramadan. May this Ramadan be as bright as ever. 

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - April 8, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

I hope you are rested and ready to finish out the semester strong after Monday’s Wellness Day. It is important for each of us to tend to our physical, emotional and mental health so that we can be at our best in our classes and workplaces. As we approach the end of the academic year, with the stresses of final exams, projects and presentations, I encourage all of you to seek ways to find peace in your life and make those practices part of your daily routine.

I know that everyone is working hard to close out the semester, and I congratulate and thank you for your dedication. Let us all stay focused on the tasks at hand and the goals we have set, and in a few short weeks, we will mark another successful school year together and celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2021 at a whopping 10 commencement ceremonies. Graduating students, it’s not too late to register for your ceremony. Check your email for details or email commencement@kean.edu for more information.

One of the things I love about education is the cycle of the school year and the fresh start that comes with each semester and each academic year. Just as we are getting ready to give a grand sendoff to our graduating students, we also are preparing for next year’s students, those returning as upperclass students and incoming freshmen and transfer students. Registration for Summer/Fall 2021 is already underway, so students are reminded to meet with their advisers and sign up for the classes they need and want in the coming semesters.

Congratulations to Jason Pleitez, the student trustee on Kean’s Board of Trustees, on his election as the new president of Student Organization. This past year, I have seen firsthand how hard Jason works on behalf of Kean University. He will undoubtedly bring that same level of commitment to this new role, and I wish him the best as he further applies his leadership skills at Kean for the benefit of our students. Jason has been leading the team planning our next virtual Student Town Hall on April 22. I encourage all of our students to sign up and speak or to view the event online. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about the upcoming Fall 2021 semester.

And, congratulations to Kean’s field hockey team for earning the 2020 NFHCA Division III National Academic Team Award. This talented and intelligent group of young women earned the highest team GPA in the nation for the Fall semester. Their 3.87 GPA tied for the top spot with Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The demands on student-athletes are great, and it is impressive that Kean’s team has stayed focused on the field and in their classes, especially amid the challenges of the pandemic. I salute these scholar athletes.

Finally, you have probably seen Kean’s emails offering employees COVID-19 vaccinations through our partnership with the County of Union. I am delighted that many of you have taken advantage of the opportunity and received a vaccine at a county site. I am a strong advocate of the vaccine, and I encourage everyone in the Kean community to be vaccinated when eligible. We are developing more opportunities to be vaccinated through the county’s program, so keep an eye on your email for updates. 

Enjoy your weekend.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - April 1, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

This morning I had the pleasure of welcoming New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney to our Kean community for an important panel discussion about supporting students on the autism spectrum. As we prepare to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day tomorrow, Kean plays a key role in both educating students on the spectrum and preparing the next generation of teachers, therapists and support professionals who help autistic children thrive. One in 32 children in New Jersey is diagnosed with autism. That figure is striking and is a call to action for all of us in education to ensure we are supporting these children from pre-K to postsecondary education so they can live full and meaningful lives.

Sen. Sweeney is a tireless advocate for children and adults with special needs across the state, and we are grateful for his partnership. I also thank the other panelists who joined us for this important conversation, including Ashley Tufuga, a Kean undergraduate and mother of four children, two of whom have autism. Ashley reminded us that we need to use our voices and caring hearts to help empower the lives of people with autism and their families. This week, Kean is showing its support by joining the Light It Up Bluecampaign and turning the lights on campus blue. Watch it here. We are also initiating programs to support autistic children and their families, including creating a preschool program for children on the spectrum in our Child Care and Development Center. Stay tuned for much more to come.

A big congratulations this week to Nicky Sheats, Esq., Ph.D., director of the Center for the Urban Environment at the John S. Watson Institute for Urban Policy and Research at Kean University, on his appointment to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. This extraordinary achievement recognizes Dr. Sheats' years of advocacy, activism and action at the state and federal levels on behalf of communities, often communities of color, that are overburdened by pollution. In announcing the advisory council, Vice President Kamala Harris said, "We know that we cannot achieve health justice, economic justice, racial justice, or educational justice without environmental justice." Knowing that Dr. Sheats will inform the Biden administration's policies and programs makes me optimistic that changes will be made to better protect the health and environments of endangered communities. I wish him the best and offer the full support of Kean University in his efforts.

I also want to congratulate and thank the committee of faculty and staff that worked together to host Kean's first Open Educational Resources conference this week. More than 1,000 participants from 13 universities across the globe joined us for our virtual conference focused on empowering learning communities by making educational content accessible to all. Thirty-six speakers, including keynote speaker Krishna Rajagopal, Ph.D., the dean for digital learning and the William A.M. Burden Professor of Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), helped make the event a success. Kudos to Jeffrey Toney, Ph.D., our senior vice president for research; Paul Croft, Ph.D., associate vice president; and Muhammad Hassan, director of digital information resources in the Learning Commons, for their leadership in making this happen. I look forward to more conversations about this important equity issue. 

Lastly, I want to close by wishing all those who celebrate a happy Easter. Remember that Monday is a wellness day, so I encourage all of you to relax and take some time to step outside or participate in a virtual yoga session. We'll see you back and recharged next week. 

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - March 19, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

I am delighted to report the prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) this week awarded Kean University a $314,000 grant to support research led by Kean Assistant Professor Matthew Niepielko, Ph.D., that will include up to four of our students.

Dr. Niepielko is collaborating with David Joiner, Ph.D., also from the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics, on an interdisciplinary research project investigating reproductive health to shed light on underlying causes of infertility and sterility. The grant provides for up to four students, two undergraduate students and two graduate students, to work on the project over three years.

The grant is part of the NIH’s Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) program, which is specifically designed to stimulate research at educational institutions that provide baccalaureate training for a significant number of the nation's research scientists but have not been major recipients of NIH support. The program is highly competitive, and we are proud to see Kean research included in it. Congratulations to Drs. Niepielko and Joiner as well as the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, which continues to work diligently to identify and secure external funding for Kean research projects. We have charted a course toward R2, and you are all moving us forward on this journey.

I also congratulate baseball head coach Neil Ioviero on his 700th career win — an incredible accomplishment! The win came last Friday afternoon in the opening day game against New Jersey City University, under sunny skies on Kean’s new turf baseball field. After 24 seasons at Kean, Neil is the winningest coach in the history of our athletics’ program. We are lucky to have him. Our softball team also shined when they opened the season Saturday on their new field. Taryn DiGiacomo threw the seventh no-hitter in program history and the first since 2017 — what an incredible performance Taryn! I want all of our players to know that we are proud of them. Together, they are building school spirit here at Kean.

Before I close, I want to say a few words about the tragic shootings that occurred in Georgia earlier this week as I know they have been weighing on many of our minds. Although the details are still unfolding, we know that six of the eight victims were of Asian descent and all but one of them were women. Regardless of the shooter’s motives, the terrible and violent loss of life has understandably caused fear among many people across this country. This incident also has educated many of us on the sharp increase in hate crimes suffered by members of our Asian American communities since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, I once again find myself repeating that hate, in any form, has no place in our communities, and we must stand together to condemn it and prevent its violent consequences.

We also must make time to celebrate our diversity and the richness and beauty of the many cultures we embrace here at Kean and in our daily lives. Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is recognized nationally in May, but this year at Kean we will celebrate it in April in order to have a full month of activities before the academic year concludes. I hope you will join me in supporting all members of our community as we climb higher together. 

Sincerely, 

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

Important Update on the Fall 2021 Semester - March 12, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

This is the message I’ve been looking forward to sending for months. I am pleased to announce that Kean University plans to fully return to in-person instruction, research, residential life and activities in Fall 2021. This decision comes as COVID-19 vaccinations increase and the country moves toward herd immunity. The University is now scheduling all classes, with the exception of Kean Online courses and a limited number of select courses, to take place on campus beginning September 1. We can’t wait to welcome you back and see you out on Cougar Walk.

As you process this important news, I want to be clear about one thing: The safety of our entire campus community remains my top priority. With millions of additional vaccines becoming available this spring and summer, we have every confidence that Kean will be able to bring our students, faculty and staff back to campus safely. We will follow guidelines and protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Jersey Department of Health to do so. Over the next five and a half months, our team will work to ensure our classrooms, labs, residence halls and other spaces are safe and ready for full use in the Fall semester.

We are tremendously fortunate to partner with the County of Union on COVID-19 testing, processing of results and vaccinations on campus. This partnership has been essential to keeping our community safe, and I cannot say enough about how grateful I am to County Manager and Kean Trustee Ed Oatman ’98 for spearheading it. This summer, we expect to be able to offer vaccinations on campus for members of the Kean community who have not already received one. We will share more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, I encourage all of you to receive a vaccine in your community as soon as you become eligible. This important step gets us all one step closer to reopening.

Over the past year, we have called on each one of you to follow health guidelines and step up in a number of ways to move this University forward during this unprecedented pandemic. Your response has been overwhelming, and I am humbled to be a part of this amazing learning community. I wish I could say that our work is done and this pandemic is behind us, but it most certainly is not. The coming months will bring about new  challenges for all of us as we prepare for a full return to campus. I ask that you stick with us as we overcome those challenges, finalize the details, and prepare for this exciting time together. I am already looking forward to Move-In Day, Homecoming and all the other Fall activities. Remember, cougars climb higher. We’ve got this. 

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - March 5, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

I started my day surrounded by some of the most powerful and influential women in New Jersey and the nation. In our final roundtable discussion of the “COVID-19 Vaccinations and New Jersey’s Path Forward” series, the conversation focused on supporting women at home and at work while balancing the challenges arising from this pandemic. I thank Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman and AFT President Randi Weingarten among many others for joining us in this important conversation. New Jersey Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter ’96 told the group that I am “not afraid of girl power.” She’s right. In fact, I celebrate it. I told the campus community in my Women’s History Month message that women have shaped the history of this country for generations, and women are instrumental in leading the campus, state and nation on our path forward from this pandemic.

Thanks to everyone who has participated in the four panels of our series. I encourage all of you to visit the Path Forward website to view any of the discussions you may have missed. We look forward to bringing leading voices to our campus for more conversations about critical issues in our nation going forward.

This week, I am also tremendously pleased to announce that Kean University has been recognized as a First-gen Forward Institution by the Center for First-generation Student Success for our support and advancement of students who are the first in their families to attend college. As a former first-generation college student myself, this is a proud moment for me. More than 46% of Kean’s students are the first in their families to go to college. I know firsthand their potential and continue to work with our Division of Student Success and Retention to provide resources, mentorship and support to make their dream of earning a college degree a reality. We look forward to collaborating with first-generation peer institutions across the country to share resources and evidence-based practices that will enhance our programming for these students.

Lastly, I want to close by congratulating the members of our women’s swim team on an important milestone. The team picked up its first New Jersey Athletic Conference victory since 1995, breaking five school records during the 177-59 virtual decision over William Paterson University in the season opener on Saturday. All 14 of our men’s and women’s athletic teams are competing in NCAA and conference play over 90 days this spring. With 60 days to go, they are bringing their all to the competitions. Not only are we proud of their accomplishments, but also we recognize the steps each and every team member is taking to follow the COVID-19 safety protocols to protect their own health and the health of their teammates. Our athletes are taking it seriously, and it shows. Kudos on a job well done.

This weekend, the women's and men's basketball and men's lacrosse teams have games, and there is a football scrimmage. Good luck to all of our athletes. You can find the teams' schedules on the Athletics webpage

Enjoy the weekend.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - February 26, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

This morning, I joined student athletes, athletic leaders and health experts from across this state to talk about returning to play in our third COVID-19 Vaccinations and New Jersey’s Path Forward panel discussion. I am grateful to all of the panelists, including Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly of the 35th legislative district; Dr. Margaret Fischer, a world-renowned pediatric infectious disease expert; Kean football player Leo Cruz; and Emily Bretschneider, a lacrosse and soccer player at Kean, for joining us. Leo told us that Kean’s football team members are committed to taking care of each other and will not do anything to jeopardize their upcoming spring season. “We have to do our part, and hopefully we can finish the season strong,” Leo said. I couldn’t be more proud to hear that from a student, and I look forward to seeing our teams back in action safely. Denise Wujciak, Kean’s director of sports medicine, said: “We have worked so hard to get where we are.” I agree, and I am grateful to our Athletic staff under the direction of Director Kelly Williams for putting in the work required to balance our desire to play with the need to keep our athletes safe. I encourage all of you to watch the panel for more insight. 

Earlier this week, I had the chance to join Donna Chiera, president of the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, in a visit to George Washington Carver Elementary School in Newark to deliver books donated by AFT. These books are among more than 1,300 that AFT is providing to school districts across this state to support Black history education for our youngest readers. We were happy for Kean to be involved in the distribution as part of our partnership with AFT that has grown since national AFT President Randi Weingarten joined us last month to talk about the importance of incorporating Black history into the K-12 curriculum throughout the year. This kind of collaboration is key to moving the University forward. The visit marked a great conclusion to my first Black History Month at Kean. I thank everyone who participated in our various events spearheaded by our new Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. I also thank our design students who are working to develop a strong visual brand for that office. I look forward to celebrating more heritage months, beginning with Women’s History Month in March.

For those of you who missed it, I encourage all of you to watch this NJ PBS / NJ Spotlight News interview with Robert Pyatt, Ph.D., who is the director of the University’s COVID-19 testing lab. As you will see, the lab is working on a pilot project that is analyzing the genomic sequencing of positive COVID-19 samples to look for different variants of the virus. This is tremendously important work that is taking place in only a limited number of research facilities across this country. This work is a testament to the high quality of research being done at Kean, and we applaud all of those involved. Keep up the good — and important — work. 

I look forward to welcoming many of you back to campus next week with the return of face-to-face and hybrid classes as well as our cohort work schedule. Please remember to follow the University’s safety protocols, including washing your hands, wearing your mask and keeping your distance from others. Don’t forget to fill out your #CampusClear screening each day you’re on campus. Together, we will keep our community safe. 

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

President Repollet's Statement on Violence, Discrimination and Hate Speech Against the Asian American Pacific Islander Community

In less than one year, we have lost more than 500,000 of our fellow Americans to COVID-19. The collective trauma we have experienced is undeniable as our world has been turned upside down. The pandemic has revealed the best of humanity and, unfortunately, an uglier side. In recent weeks, hate crimes against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community have been on the rise, including horrific attacks on the New York City subway and across the San Francisco Bay Area. More disturbingly, this uptick in violence is part of a larger trend. Dr. Russell Jeung, chair of the Asian American studies department at San Francisco State University, created a tool that tracks incidents against members of the AAPI community called Stop AAPI Hate tracker. This month, Dr. Jeung reported a 1900 percent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes since the beginning of the pandemic.

I condemn, in no uncertain terms, these incidents of violence, discrimination, and hate speech directed toward members of the AAPI community, as well as incidents that go unreported but nevertheless cause harm. In the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, we witnessed hateful acts and speech toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders following reports that the virus originated in China. As the Commissioner of Education, I immediately charged all educators, and members of the public, with raising awareness of the deep educational and personal harm brought by stigma, bullying and harassment. I urged everyone to accept factual public health information without fear or stigmatization. I set a clear expectation that our shared humanity would prevail, regardless of the stress and trauma we were all experiencing.

I repeat that charge today. Now is a time for empathy, understanding and civil discourse. In a recent memorandum condemning racism, xenophobia and intolerance against the AAPI community, President Biden noted that an estimated 2 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have served on the front lines of the COVID crisis as first responders, healthcare providers and essential workers and have “made our nation more secure during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout our history.” We owe a debt of gratitude to those 2 million front line workers, and it is our responsibility to stand in solidarity to renounce violence, discrimination and hate in all forms. 

While physical violence is horrific, we must not ignore mental trauma. Any act of aggression, from civil rights violations, to verbal harassment, to microaggressions, takes a toll. As a Black man, I know what it’s like to internalize racism, discrimination and the hateful acts of others. I stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in the AAPI community to reject such hate, forcefully and unequivocally, and to call for justice.  

At Kean, diversity, equity, and inclusion are not buzz words, but priorities for our entire community. Our global Kean community from Union, New Jersey to Wenzhou, China stands together against all ugliness and hate demonstrated toward the AAPI community in the United States. We raise our voices to call for peace and unity. 

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - February 19, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

Did you enjoy your Snow Day yesterday? I hope you did something fun, even if it was just relaxing and watching the snow fall. Taking a wellness day is so important for all of us. I thank Kean’s top-notch facilities team for cleaning up from this latest storm, particularly in keeping the parking lots and walkways clear for the County of Union’s COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites. We are grateful for their dedication to this important job.

Kean University continues to be a place where national and state thought leaders come to share their views with our community. This morning, we held the second roundtable in our “COVID-19 Vaccinations and New Jersey’s Path Forward” series, focusing on Next Steps for Our Urban Communities. The panelists, including N.J. Congressman Albio Sires, brought a wealth of experience in public service, health and business. The expertise on the panel was so broad, I could not do it justice in a few sentences here. Dr. Chris Pernell, chief strategic integration and health equity officer at University Hospital in Newark, said, “This is heart work for me.” I agree. It is our obligation to inform our communities. I invite you to view the roundtable; you won’t be disappointed. And, join us next Friday at 10 a.m. for the third roundtable, Returning to Play for New Jersey’s Student Athletes. Find it here.

Next week we bring back the President’s Distinguished Lecture Series with a virtual fireside chat on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. with Bakari Sellers, a CNN commentator, lawyer and best-selling author. Sellers, who became the youngest African-American elected official in the nation when he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2006, will have a conversation with Jeremiah Sullivan, executive director of the School of Communication, Media and Journalism, on the topic Education, Civil Rights and Equality: Cornerstones for Our Future. I am thrilled that the series can return safely in a virtual format after being suspended due to the pandemic, especially since this is my first Distinguished Lecture as Kean president. Join us to view the livestream of the conversation at kean.edu/lectureseries.

Since I established the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Executive Director Tamika Quick and her team have been hard at work planning programming that will engage our entire community. They will share more about their mission and ways for all of you to get involved during a virtual Meet & Greet next Friday, February 26 at 3:30 p.m. Find out more at CougarLink

Lastly, I thank Emil Bustamante ’18 for his work and vision developing the Kean Fleet Sweep project. This week we found out that Kean received a $1.95 million grant from the State of New Jersey to purchase a fleet of seven electric buses. This clean-air effort will have benefits on campus and beyond. As Governor Phil Murphy said of the state's clean transportation program, it represents a major step toward addressing climate change, achieving environmental justice and moving the state toward 100% clean energy by 2050. Kudos to Emil for leading the way for Kean. 

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - February 14, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

This morning I joined some of the state’s top health, policy and political leaders in the first roundtable of our “COVID-19 Vaccinations and New Jersey’s Path Forward” series. We focused our discussion on the best way to communicate with people, particularly communities of color, about the facts and science behind the COVID-19 vaccines. Our goal is to encourage everyone to receive a vaccine when it becomes available to them. Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, who is the state’s former epidemiologist and a COVID-19 advisor to Gov. Murphy, reminded us this morning that wearing a mask, washing our hands and keeping our distance from others are still the first lines of defense in protecting our own health. I encourage all of you to watch the recording of this roundtable to learn more about what is going on right here in New Jersey. This is a critical issue for our state and one that we must address together to help bring an end to this pandemic.

Yesterday, U.S. Representative Tom Malinowski came to Kean for a tour of the vaccination site run by the County of Union in Downs Hall. We are grateful to County Manager Ed Oatman ’98, who is also a member of Kean’s Board of Trustees, for leading the efforts to provide COVID-19 vaccines and testing on our campus. We also appreciate the many members of the Kean community who have stepped up to volunteer at the vaccination and testing sites. This is truly a team effort.

We are nearly halfway through Black History Month, and I want to highlight the work of the Nathan Weiss Graduate College Racial Equity and Justice Task Force. Members of this group have been collecting names and inspiring stories of Black health professionals who shaped their fields and disciplines. You can see the stories here. Kudos to all involved in this important effort, including Dr. Jennifer Block-Lerner, Dr. Myra Robinson, and Psy.D. students Victoria Interra and Danielle Fishbein.

As many of you know, I am a big advocate for using data to measure effectiveness. With that in mind, the University sent a survey to the entire campus community earlier today that is designed to help us better understand how we can support you during this time. Please check your email and respond to the survey by March 1. It should only take 5-10 minutes. The questions were designed by the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium and your responses are anonymous. We value your opinion and want to understand your experiences. Thanks in advance for your participation.

Before I close, I want to take a moment to recognize and celebrate the beautiful life of Faithe Thomas, daughter of Trustee Linda Lewis and mother of Joshua Woodford and Anthony Windham. Faithe, who died on February 2, was a joy to be around. Her infectious smile and loving nature made everyone she met feel a little better about being alive. Faithe loved education and loved Kean University. She and her sons attended Homecomings, theatre programs, summer camps and various conferences throughout the years. She left us far too soon, but her legacy of love and faith will stay with us forever. 

Enjoy the long weekend.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - February 5, 2021

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. 

Dear Kean Community,

Our University continues to be a leader in the fight against COVID-19. Today I joined Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, N.J. Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli and state leaders to announce a series of virtual roundtable discussions that Kean will host this month to address critical issues surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations and solutions that will support our state. Government, health and policy experts will join us for four panels covering Vaccine Safety and EfficacyNext Steps for our Urban CommunitiesReturning to Play for New Jersey’s Student-Athletes; and Supporting Women at Work and at Home. The panels will air on YouTube at 10 a.m. every Friday from February 12 to March 5. I encourage each of you to tune in and spread the word to help keep the citizens of our state informed. More information can be found at kean.edu/pathforward.

This weekend marks a milestone for our Kean student athletes with the return of basketball scheduled for Kean’s men's team and women’s team. While no spectators are allowed right now for health and safety reasons, the games will be livestreamed, so we all will have an opportunity to see the teams in action and cheer them on. Details are available on each team’s website. Keeping Kean’s athletes safe in a pandemic is no small feat, and I thank Director of Athletics Kelly Williams and his team, specifically Denise Wujciak, director of sports medicine/SWA; LaKitha Murray, deputy director of athletics; and Jay Sgaramella, associate director of athletics, for making it happen.

My congratulations go out to Patricia Morreale, Ph.D., executive director of the School of Computer Science and Technology, for receiving a $130,000 National Science Foundation grant. With professors at Oregon State University and Cornell University, Morreale will investigate a new approach to teaching software design that integrates equity and inclusion throughout all undergraduate courses. She expects the work to develop new course materials, which will transform existing Computer Science curriculums to include equitable design. This research goes to the heart of what we are about at Kean, groundbreaking research and equity. Kudos to Dr. Morreale and all of Kean's Computer Science and Technology faculty on this research award.

I thank everyone on our Facilities team for their hard work clearing our campus from last weekend’s major storm. There is more snow in the forecast this weekend, so it is good to know that we have a great team ready to go. 

Finally, with the Lunar New Year approaching, I wish everyone a happy new year! The Year of the Ox symbolizes hard work, positivity and honesty, traits that we value in abundance.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

An Important Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., on COVID-19 Vaccines - February 4, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

Today, I joined five other college and university presidents of color in New Jersey to urge everyone, particularly people of color, to get a COVID-19 vaccine when they are eligible. In an op-ed that was published today on NJ.com, we write, "We believe and trust the science. We ask that you do, too."

Please watch the video below to learn more about why I believe it is critically important for everyone to make decisions based on facts to protect their health and the health of their family and friends. 

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - January 29, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

As we wrap up the second week of the Spring 2021 semester, I am happy to see our residential students back on campus and so many of our students engaging in virtual and in-person activities. Last night I joined Kean PULSE in a virtual workout session conducted by John Mayfield of John Gets Results held in our newly renovated East Campus gymnasium. Kudos to Maris Henson, my executive assistant, for not only helping to organize the event but also showing off her fitness skills as part of John's demonstration. I know many of us were exhausted, in a good way, by the end of it. Wellness is an important component of success.

Yesterday I also welcomed Union County College President Margaret McMenamin, Ed.D., and members of her senior team to campus to celebrate UCC's participation in our Pathway to Kean program. As I explained in a Fall message, the pathway program is changing the way we approach admissions for high school students. Instead of saying "no" to applicants who don't meet our admissions standards, we're saying "not yet" and committing to welcome them as juniors upon their completion of an associate degree at our partner community colleges. UCC is the latest to join us in this initiative and we look forward to welcoming additional partners in the coming months, giving more New Jersey students a clear path toward a four-year degree.

The University announced yesterday that we are extending remote learning and the remote work schedule for most employees through March 1. We made the decision, after hearing from members of our President's Task Force, based on the high rate of COVID-19 transmission that continues across our state. I thank the task force members from across the institution who continue to play a vital role in developing our COVID-19 response strategy. This is important work and we all owe them a debt of gratitude. With news of COVID-19 variants around the world, I urge all of you to remain vigilant in keeping your distance, washing your hands and wearing your mask while vaccines continue to roll out. Now is not the time for complacency.

Lastly, I thank the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Student Affairs and dozens of other campus groups planning Black History Month events that begin next week. I am grateful for the opportunity for all of us to come together to reflect on the history, rich culture, achievements and profound influence of Black Americans. But I hope you also remember that Black history is American history. It is not separate from the nation's struggles and progress. In fact, it is an integral part of what defines us as a nation. I look forward to participating in Thursday's Kickoff event that will include powerful spoken word performances for all of us to enjoy and reflect on as we enter this important  heritage month.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - January 24, 2021

Dear Kean Community,

As we wrap up the second week of the Spring 2021 semester, I am happy to see our residential students back on campus and so many of our students engaging in virtual and in-person activities. Last night I joined Kean PULSE in a virtual workout session conducted by John Mayfield of John Gets Results held in our newly renovated East Campus gymnasium. Kudos to Maris Henson, my executive assistant, for not only helping to organize the event but also showing off her fitness skills as part of John's demonstration. I know many of us were exhausted, in a good way, by the end of it. Wellness is an important component of success.

Yesterday I also welcomed Union County College President Margaret McMenamin, Ed.D., and members of her senior team to campus to celebrate UCC's participation in our Pathway to Kean program. As I explained in a Fall message, the pathway program is changing the way we approach admissions for high school students. Instead of saying "no" to applicants who don't meet our admissions standards, we're saying "not yet" and committing to welcome them as juniors upon their completion of an associate degree at our partner community colleges. UCC is the latest to join us in this initiative and we look forward to welcoming additional partners in the coming months, giving more New Jersey students a clear path toward a four-year degree.

The University announced yesterday that we are extending remote learning and the remote work schedule for most employees through March 1. We made the decision, after hearing from members of our President's Task Force, based on the high rate of COVID-19 transmission that continues across our state. I thank the task force members from across the institution who continue to play a vital role in developing our COVID-19 response strategy. This is important work and we all owe them a debt of gratitude. With news of COVID-19 variants around the world, I urge all of you to remain vigilant in keeping your distance, washing your hands and wearing your mask while vaccines continue to roll out. Now is not the time for complacency.

Lastly, I thank the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Student Affairs and dozens of other campus groups planning Black History Month events that begin next week. I am grateful for the opportunity for all of us to come together to reflect on the history, rich culture, achievements and profound influence of Black Americans. But I hope you also remember that Black history is American history. It is not separate from the nation's struggles and progress. In fact, it is an integral part of what defines us as a nation. I look forward to participating in Thursday's Kickoff  event that will include powerful spoken word performances for all of us to enjoy and reflect on as we enter this important heritage month.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

Our Democracy Will Prevail - January 6, 2021

My dear Kean community, this evening, let me state calmly and clearly: Our democracy will prevail.

In its more than 240-year history as a nation, America has consistently triumphed over evil and adversity. Today is no different.

The scenes we watched play out this afternoon in our nation’s capital were outrageous and frightening. Every American should be offended and disgusted by the behavior exhibited both on the steps and in the halls of the U.S. Capitol, a building that symbolizes the strength and dignity that traditionally have defined our United States.

But our democracy will prevail.

In November, I urged all of you to not only exercise your right to vote, but also to work hard to ensure that the rights of others to engage in our democracy through the voting process were protected. Our students created the Voting Squad, a non-partisan volunteer group committed to getting 100% voter participation on campus. Our faculty and administrators focused the annual Human Rights Conference on the topic of voting rights, bringing attention to this important issue at a critical time in American history. I asked the County of Union to place a voting ballot box on campus to make it easier for everyone in our community to cast their ballot; it was installed outside Wilkins Theatre.

Kean invested in these efforts because our community recognizes the strength of a democracy is inexorably tied to its citizens’ right and duty to vote. Indeed, as we try to process the appalling events of this difficult day, we need only look further south to the state of Georgia and the U.S. Senate run-off elections to be reinvigorated by the election process and inspired by the notion that every single vote matters.

Rioters and anarchists invaded Washington, D.C. this afternoon with the clear objective to rock the foundation of what it means to be a democratic nation. They initially met with little resistance—and for many of us that is perhaps most troubling.

But as I write, our Congress has taken back its house. The U.S. Senate has re-taken its floor and is getting back to the business of doing exactly what our Constitution says should be done: d

“The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;—The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President."

I encourage everyone in the Kean community to stay focused, stay calm and stay engaged. In the coming hours, I pray, Congress will certify the valid and true results of the Presidential election without interruption, and the country will welcome its President-elect Joe Biden as the head of our nation.

Happy New Year, Kean Cougars - January 1, 2021

Kean University President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., with a video play button overlay.