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2020 Presidential Announcements

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - December 18, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

Congratulations, we made it! The Fall 2020 semester officially comes to a close today. When we started 16 weeks ago, we were well prepared with safety protocols, academic planning and virtual services, but we didn’t know for sure how the semester would unfold. All of you stepped up to make sure our University continued to climb higher. You helped us stay safe and you worked hard. I know we are all tired of virtual classes and meetings. But we did it, and that is no small accomplishment. Thank you.

Like many of you, I watched closely this week as healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities received the first COVID-19 vaccines in the nation. Although we know it will likely be some time before the vaccine is widely available, this week brought some light to the dark road we have been on. And that is also a moment worth celebrating.

For me personally, today also marks the end of my first full academic semester on campus. I’ve been the president now for six months, and I’ve already met and learned from hundreds of you. From students who spoke in our virtual Town Hall to members of the University Senate and many other groups, you have all guided me through my first semester at Kean. So thank you for that as well.

This week I had the privilege to watch our Music Conservatory students perform over Zoom and witness their true talent and hard work on display. I also viewed the Michael Graves College 2020 Portfolio Review, in which our seniors showcased their outstanding work in a virtual environment. One of the Michael Graves students is Holly Taylor, an actor known for her work on the critically acclaimed series The Americans who will be a regular on the next season of Manifest. Holly, in particular, reminds me of the diversity of personal stories on our campus. Each of our students comes to Kean with unique experiences and talents, and we must do all we can to open new doors of opportunity for them. With that in mind, I want to encourage all of our students over the break to think about the next steps in their career journeys. Now is the perfect time to schedule a virtual appointment with Career Services for help securing an internship in the spring or summer.

We also have another great virtual event happening this week from Kean Stage — a streamed concert by Broadway legend Andrea McArdle recorded at Enlow Recital Hall. Thanks to Steve Cochran and the rest of the Kean Stage team for continuing to provide exciting programming in a digital environment. 

To all who celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa — and to everyone at Kean — I wish you all the joys of the season and light to brighten your days. I will see you in two weeks with a special video message to celebrate the new year.

Enjoy the holidays,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - December 11, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

With one week remaining in the semester, I want to commend all Kean employees for working together to build a better, stronger and more responsive University. This morning, I let our students know that we heard their concerns in the recent Student Town Hall and we are already addressing them. I encourage all of you to visit the Student Town Hall website to see our progress related to: discussion questions in remote and Kean Online courses; student life and safety protocols; as well as other issues raised by students. It’s important to be responsive to student concerns to keep the University climbing higher, and I look forward to our next Student Town Hall in the spring.

When I joined the University in July, I asked my senior management team to undertake a series of professional development initiatives to build teamwork and inspire creative thinking. Together, we enrolled in an MIT Executive Education course entitled Master Design Thinking. During the three-month program, we focused our team project on identifying new ways to enhance career services opportunities for Kean students. I want to congratulate the senior team for earning their MIT certificates this week, with a special nod to Deputy Chief of Staff Kate Gallagher who identified this opportunity for professional growth and guided us through the program. We are now focused on taking our course concepts and making them a reality for our students.

Our professional development will continue and expand in January to include our vice presidents and deans, with a book study of The Empowered University by higher education thought leader Freeman A. Hrabowski III, Ph.D., the president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. We will meet over the course of several weeks to explore Hrabowski’s approach of shared governance, innovation and “inclusive excellence” as we continue to grow as leaders together at Kean.

Maintaining the well-being of everyone at Kean is a responsibility for all of us, and I thank each of you for rising to the occasion and coming together for the good of the University community this semester. Special thanks go to the Student Affairs team that went above and beyond to keep us safe and engaged. Michael Jordan once said: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Well, these folks are our champions: Vidal Annan at the Counseling Center; Robin Mansfield in Student Health Services; Denis Castanon at Residential Student Services; Kerrin Lyles at Miron Student Center; Nicole Rodriguez at Community Standards and Student Conduct; Stephanie Faser at Student Government; and, Susan Figueroa at the Center for Leadership and Service. Each of them stayed focused on our students and community, and together, their efforts helped us build a stronger, more resilient Kean.

Finally, congratulations to Associate Professor Jenny Li, Ph.D., in the School of Computer Science and Technology, for receiving a Google Research grant to support students and faculty from across the country working together on research into artificial intelligence. Kean will work through the Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (CAHSI) to offer these research opportunities to students from traditionally underrepresented groups. That supports my foundational pillars of equity and academic excellence, and I salute all involved. 

Good luck to all of our students and faculty as we enter Finals Week. I wish each of you continued success.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - December 4, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

It’s hard to believe there are only two weeks left in the Fall semester. As our students and faculty prepare to wrap up their coursework, I had the opportunity this week to meet with two groups that support our University in many ways. I want to thank Ed Esposito and other members of the Kean Alumni Association Executive Board for welcoming me to discuss how we can work together to build alumni engagement across the institution. Together with the Kean Foundation and the Alumni Association, the University is embarking on a series of new initiatives that will better connect our students and the institution with Kean’s 100,000 alumni through networking, new communication tools and more. Stay tuned for more information in the coming months.

I also got a chance to meet with the College of Business and Public Management Board of Advisors this week. The board includes leaders from across the business world who give their time, insight and strategic advice to Dean Jin Wang and his team. It was great to hear about the internship opportunities that are available to our students as a result of this group. Thanks to board Chair Sandy Ghezzi and Vice Chair Mark Franciotti Jr. for inviting me to speak with the group. I look forward to hearing more from them in the future.

One of the highlights of my week took place this morning when I welcomed guests to our virtual Business Plan Competition. This year, the competition received nearly 100 submissions from students or teams of students from Kean and other schools. The contest celebrates entrepreneurship, motivation and creativity, and I congratulate all of the finalists and all of the participants.

I also congratulate all of those in the School of Physical Therapy within the Nathan Weiss Graduate College who this week received the good news that the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) has decided to continue the school’s accreditation, which is an important milestone for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Kudos to all involved.

Lastly, I am reminding our students that now is the time to start planning for the Spring semester to ensure you remain on a timely path toward graduation. I encourage all of you to visit our Spring 2021 Prep Weeks page for information about advising, registration and financial aid. Our faculty and One Stop teams are standing by ready to assist you in this process.

I look forward to seeing many of you at our virtual Board of Trustees meeting tomorrow at 11 a.m. You can access the meeting on the Board of Trustees Meetings page. 

Enjoy the chilly weekend.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - November 20, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we should all be reflecting on the importance of gratitude. Some people will say there isn’t much to be grateful for in 2020. It’s true that history books will remember this year for the COVID-19 pandemic and all the loss and challenges that have come with it. But we all write our own stories, and each one of us has things to be thankful for during the past year if we choose to look for them. Research shows that focusing on our gratitude makes us happier and healthier. In fact, gratitude is so important to our well-being that study after study has focused on ways to foster it. Writing grateful thoughts is one of the best ways to do that — as I said earlier this year, what will be your verse?

So here goes. First and foremost, I am grateful for my wife, Darlene, my two daughters, Lauryn and Taylor, and many other family members who support me on my life’s journey. I am thankful to live in a country where we all get a voice in our democracy. This year I am particularly grateful to people of all races who continue to stand up for racial justice and equity. I appreciate the work of scientists across the globe who are working to develop vaccines that will help end this pandemic as well as the everyday people who are stepping up to participate in clinical trials to test those vaccines. I’m sure many of you join me in also being especially thankful for all of our front-line workers — from doctors and nurses to supermarket staff — who stepped into the unknown for all of us in March and continue their work as we face a second wave of COVID-19. That includes the many people who run the COVID-19 testing site at Kean. To those of you on the front lines, we appreciate you and are praying for you.

Now let’s talk more about the University. I am immensely grateful to the Kean community for welcoming me these past five months. Whether it’s a socially distanced chat on Cougar Walk or an email, so many of you have reached out to me personally, and that made all the difference as I took on this role during a pandemic. When we established our health and safety guidelines, residential housing protocols and hybrid academic schedule over the summer, I didn’t know how the University would respond. I am overwhelmed with pride and gratitude for each one of you — faculty, staff and students. You have demonstrated remarkable dedication and resilience. I offer special thanks for our cleaning crews, residential students, staff and everyone on campus who followed the safety protocols and made on-campus living and learning possible. Many of you have also stepped up to volunteer your time at community food drives on campus. Thanks also to all of our remote learners, faculty and staff for helping to make this semester successful. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t over. But we are getting the job done together.

I’m grateful to be able to share my thoughts with you in my weekly messages. I hope you will write down some of the things that you are grateful for this year and share them with your family and friends. Many of us will be gathering at much smaller tables than usual this year, missing those we love. But you can make connections through a thank you note or a Zoom call until better days ahead. You’ll be glad you did.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - November 13, 2020

November 13, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

As I meet with members of the Kean community, both virtually and in person, I’m struck by a feeling that we are all dealing with stress. I’m not just talking about the kind of stress that passes after a big exam or an important meeting. I’m talking about a pervasive feeling coming from the weight of a pandemic and the challenging political and social times we live in. With that in mind, I’m working with partners across the University to develop a campus wellness initiative with services, events and programs to support our minds and bodies.

It’s time for all of us to step away from our computers, cell phones and even Netflix for a while to rest our eyes and our thoughts so that we can be healthy and succeed in our classes and careers. Some members of the Kean community across colleges and offices have already gotten started with reflections and meditation in the Mindful Moments program run by the University’s school and clinical psychology doctoral program. All of you are invited to log in at 9 a.m. on Tuesday mornings to join them in a variety of practices aimed at fully experiencing and reflecting on the present moment. You don’t need to register in advance. You will be surprised by the ways that committing just 30 minutes of time to your own well-being can make a difference in the rest of your week. Thanks to our PsyD faculty and doctoral student Anthony Fortuna for spearheading this important program.

The Kean Wellness Center also established Health Week to focus on students’ overall wellness. From November 30 to December 4, the Center will host a series of sessions focused on health eating, sleep, exercise and other topics. Visit CougarLink for details and expect to see many more events planned in the Spring semester. The University is also launching Wellness Wednesdays in the Spring that will allow students and faculty to take a day away from school work and focus instead on mental and physical health. Everyone will be encouraged to take a walk, participate in virtual yoga, meditate or otherwise destress and recharge. We’re renovating the East Campus gymnasium to host additional programming and also planning a campuswide virtual 5K fundraising event to get all of us moving — and enjoying a little healthy competition!  Stay tuned for details.

Kean employees are also strongly encouraged to participate in the NJWELL program in 2021, which provides live wellness events, fitness challenges, and online wellness platforms and other programs for anyone enrolled in the state’s health benefits program. Participants can even earn $250 in rewards based on their participation, including simple things like regular check-ups and eye exams. Visit the state’s NJWELL website or Kean’s Human Resources website for more information.

Finally, I want to share with you two important virtual events in which I participated this morning. The first was the New Jersey Big Data Alliance Annual Symposium, which was hosted by Kean and focused on using COVID-19 data ethically amid the pandemic. Thanks to George Avirappattu, Ph.D., for chairing this important event. Afterward, I had the chance to speak with students as part of our 1st Generation Student Series that ran throughout the week. As many of you know, I’m a first generation college student and the chance to speak about the many ways we support our first generation students as well as the ways they contribute to our campus community was very meaningful to me. I thank the Office of Student Success and Retention as well as those in our EEO/EOF program who helped organize the week’s activities.

Enjoy the weekend.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - November 6, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

I’m sure many of you are closely following the coverage of the presidential vote tally. As we follow the tight counts in Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada, it’s important to remember that we’re watching democracy in action. That’s a good thing, even if it is stressful to watch. Every vote counts, and we must give the legitimate, transparent tallying process the time it needs to guarantee that all votes are counted. It’s critical for the legitimacy of our election process and our country’s future.

While the election results unfold nationwide, I’ve been working closely with our University leaders this week to chart the course for Kean’s future. I began a series of one-on-one meetings with the deans of each college to discuss their goals and priorities for this academic year and beyond. These conversations are critical to ensure that the University is meeting students’ needs in the classroom, whether virtual or in-person, and preparing them for successful careers. I’m also working with the leadership in units across the University to prepare for the upcoming budget cycle. It’s well known that COVID-19 disrupted the financial landscape for higher education across the country. At Kean, we’ve been working hard to make sure the University maintains a strong financial position amid these challenges and will continue to do so for years to come.

As I begin my fifth month as president, I want to take a moment to thank our new deputy chiefs of staff, T. Itunu Balogun and Katherine Gallagher, for their assistance with the transition process and working on our Climb Higher Restart Plan. They came to Kean with me from the New Jersey Department of Education, and I’m grateful for their hard work these past few months. I also want to thank Maris Henson, my executive assistant, and Michelle Freestone, executive assistant to the Board of Trustees and Chief of Staff, for their work supporting these important efforts. In the coming weeks, I’m going to hold a virtual Town Hall for students so I can hear directly from their perspective about what has gone well during this Fall semester and what we can improve upon for Spring. All topics related to our COVID response, including residential housing and academics, are on the table. Look for more details coming soon about how students can participate.

As we experience a new wave of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey and across the country, I remind you to remain vigilant in protecting your own health and the health of those around you. The presidential election has consumed a lot of the news cycle in recent weeks, but the headlines about COVID-19 show record numbers of cases that we cannot ignore even if we are tired of this pandemic. Remember that the simple actions of wearing a mask, washing your hands and keeping your distance from others could save your life or the life of someone you love.

Enjoy this beautiful fall weekend.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - October 30, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

We’ve made it to the final days of the 2020 election season. While I know many of us look forward to learning the outcome of the presidential race, we know that the winner may not be clear on Tuesday or in the days that immediately follow because of the time it takes to tally mail-in ballots and other potential issues. I urge all of you to keep your faith in our democracy as we wait to learn the outcome of this historic election and to support one another as we process the results and what they mean for our country.

Throughout history, our nation has thrived on the free exchange of ideas, particularly during political contests. The rhetoric and tone of this year's presidential race have been polarizing, but that should not stop us from engaging in civil dialogue with people of different political opinions. Remember, the candidate who receives the popular vote may not be the ultimate winner based on the number of electors assigned to each state under our Electoral College system. Regardless of the outcome — of the popular vote and the Electoral College tally — the sharing of ideas must continue for our nation to move forward.

I am tremendously proud of the effort to register voters on campus. Students from the Kean chapters of the National Council for Negro Women and the United Nations Association, the Center for Leadership and Service and the Voting Squad, worked together to help every eligible member of the campus community register to vote in this election. In fact, Kean was named the Conference Two winner of NJ Ballot Bowl 2020, a friendly voter registration competition for New Jersey colleges and universities run by the New Jersey Secretary of State’s office. Kean’s students registered more than 1,000 new voters during the competition period. Congratulations to all of the students, especially Student Trustee Jason Pleitez, who led the efforts to reach out to unregistered eligible voters virtually.

I’m also pleased with all of the respectful conversations and debates taking place in our campus community about issues of racial equity, the pandemic and other items that play a critical role in this election. I encourage all of you to look for additional ways to engage at Kean and within your own communities to continue these conversations. Visit CougarLink to see how you can participate in post-election programming beginning next week. I know you’ll join me in making sure those conversations remain courteous and thoughtful no matter the outcome of the election. We don’t always have to agree, but we learn and grow when we hear others’ perspectives with open minds.

This election, held amid a global pandemic and a national movement for social justice, has been all consuming for many people. It’s important for all of us, including me, to step back and remember that we’ve elected 45 presidents in our nation’s 244-year history. Many of them were elected during pivotal moments in history, and our democracy has carried on.

At times like this, I remind myself that not everyone looks like me or thinks like me, and that’s ok. In fact, it’s what makes our democracy succeed. So turn off the TV, log out of Twitter, and take a few moments to be grateful to be part of our democratic country, where we are guided by the immortal opening words of the U.S. Constitution and aspire to “form a more perfect Union.” 

And, for goodness sake, make sure you vote if you haven’t already done so. #CougarsVote

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

Important Update to the Spring 2021 Academic Calendar - October 23, 2020

President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., today announced that the University is extending remote and hybrid learning for the Spring 2021 semester, ensuring students continue to receive a robust education while balancing health and safety needs amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Spring 2021 semester will begin as scheduled on Tuesday, January 19, and all classes will be delivered remotely through Blackboard for the first four weeks of the semester. 

On Tuesday, February 16, the University will enter a face-to-face and hybrid phase that will add on-campus instruction to approximately 20 percent of courses for the duration of the semester.

The University will not have a Spring Break in 2021; classes will continue uninterrupted until the semester ends on Wednesday, May 5, a week earlier than previously scheduled.

Face-to-face courses will be delivered mostly on campus with some resources augmented by Blackboard. Hybrid courses will alternate between face-to-face meetings and online sessions.

Students will be able to view the instructional delivery method of each course section during the registration period, which begins on Monday, November 2. Information on registration can be found here.

The add/drop deadline will fall within the initial four-week remote period of learning, which means students will have the chance to assess which courses they feel comfortable – or uncomfortable – pursuing in a remote environment before finalizing their schedules.

Following the approach in the Fall 2020 semester, face-to-face and hybrid options will be available in some General Education courses for our first-year students. In addition, select senior level courses will be offered in hybrid and face-to-face modalities to provide soon-to-be-graduates with opportunities to return to the campus learning environment.

Students will continue to have the option of registering for all remote courses regardless of their major. Kean Online courses will continue to run as scheduled and will not be impacted by the new calendar.

Winter session courses will be offered through Kean Online. Students preparing to graduate in 2021 may benefit from taking an online winter class. Students who want to retake a class for grade recalculation may also benefit from an online winter class.

Like the Fall, the remote period for the Spring semester will not impact plans for residential students. Students can live on campus throughout the entire Spring semester. For more information about living on campus, visit the Residential Student Services website.

For information about accessing University resources throughout the COVID-19 response period, visit the Return to Campus website. Questions related to course registration should be directed to the University One Stop at regme@kean.edu.

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - Remote and Hybrid Learning Extended

Dear Kean Community, 

This week I met with two important leadership groups at Kean and was delighted to find a shared sense of purpose and commitment to moving our University forward for the benefit of our students. In a meeting with the Executive Committee of the University Senate, we engaged in a productive dialogue about the steps we will take together to achieve research status under the Carnegie Classification system. As the University establishes its Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, we also discussed how to diversify tenure track faculty and ensure equity for all. I thank Senate Chair Craig Donovan, Ph.D., for inviting me to the session and I look forward to meeting with the full University Senate to discuss these and other topics next week.

I also joined a meeting with more than 80 faculty, staff, students and alumni who are part of our Middle States Self-Study working groups. Over the eighteen months, these individuals will study nearly every facet of this University and work together to compile our Middle States self-study report. This type of analysis is not only necessary as part of our accreditation, but also extremely valuable for building our path forward and showing the world the value of a Kean University education. People from all units of the Kean University community are involved with this important initiative. And, if it’s true that an organization is only as good as its people, I am confident the final product will be both excellent and professional.

On Opening Day, I told this community that I would focus on the three pillars of safety, equity and academic excellence this year. With that in mind, I want to announce that Kean will extend remote and hybrid learning for the Spring 2021 semester to ensure our students continue to receive a world-class education in the safest environment possible. Later today, we will release more information about the academic calendar for the Spring semester, which will begin on Tuesday, January 19. Please review the information carefully and continue to be vigilant in the fight against COVID-19. No one knows when the safety restrictions will end, but until they do, we must continue to protect everyone in the campus community. You deserve it. We all do.

On a final note, we are 10 days away from one of the most important elections of our time. I encourage all of you to make sure your voices are heard — not just by voting in the presidential election but by doing your research and voting in all of the other federal, state and local elections that will shape our communities for years to come. Remember, #CougarsVote.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - October 16, 2020

October 16, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

This week, Kean saw the return of live entertainment on campus with the Premiere Stages opening of Fannie Lou Hamer, Speak On It!, in an outdoor tent at Liberty Hall Museum. The new play focuses on 1960s civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer and the fight for voting and racial equality, two issues that are so important to our University and our nation. It has gotten rave reviews, for the show itself and for Premiere Stages’ efforts to revive live theater in New Jersey. I congratulate Producing Artistic Director John Wooten, the cast and crew on a great show and give a special thanks to everyone who worked hard to make sure our guests could enjoy live theater in a safe environment.

We also welcomed more than 100 families to our first virtual Kean Family Day. Parents and siblings of our students got the chance to participate in virtual workshops, tours and games to showcase what the University has to offer. Kudos to College of Liberal Arts Acting Dean Jonathan Mercantini Ph.D., Neva Lozada, Ed.D., director of institutional effectiveness, Gillian Scott from the Office of Student Success and Retention and many others for finding creative ways to transition this event to be delivered virtually. It is yet another example of how the University is finding ways to deliver world-class programming amid the pandemic.

As we wrap up our seventh week of instruction this semester, I know many of our faculty and students alike are preparing for midterms. I wish you all good luck. I know this semester has posed challenges unlike any before, but we have nearly made it to the midpoint, and I want to step back and congratulate everyone on reaching this important milestone.

Each week brings another reason to celebrate the research and scholarship going on at Kean, something that brings great pride to the University. This week, I congratulate two School of Computer Science and Technology students who took first prize at the 32nd annual Great Minds in STEM national research conference, held last week for academics and industry professionals. Fariha Pia took top honors in the Research Poster category for her work demonstrating how flashcards can be used with virtual assistants; and Xavier Doh came out on top in the Conceptual Research category for his work visualizing traffic patterns in New York City pre-COVID, during the COVID lockdown and as the city reopens. I say well done to them and their professor, Daehan Kwak, Ph.D.

This weekend I hope to see many of our undergraduate students at our virtual Graduate Open House. This important event provides prospective graduate students the chance to learn about more than 70 graduate programs offered at Kean—programs that can further define the path toward a successful and rewarding career. Register here.

Best regards,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - October 9, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

When I think about the first 100 days of my presidency here at Kean—and yes, it is hard to believe 100 days already have passed—I feel confident that the goals I set for the University in conjunction with the Board of Trustees are both achievable and inspiring for our students, our faculty and our community.

Already, the community is rallying around the three pillars of our academic year: safety, equity and academic excellence. We’ve done an excellent job so far minimizing the spread of COVID-19 on campus, and I urge all of you to continue to be vigilant in following all safety guidelines as we head into cold and flu season. Our new Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is up and running, and work teams already are focused on initiatives that will ensure all prospective students, current students and employees are treated fairly. On the academic front, our students continue to impress. At Michael Graves College, undergraduate architecture student Erick Soriano received an AIA Newark & Suburban Architects award, and two students in the master’s program were recognized with honorable mentions. At MGC’s Robert Busch School of Design, five advertising and graphic design students won coveted mentorships with top U.S. and Canadian advertising agencies through the prestigious One Club. Congratulations to them and all of our students who are climbing higher.

It was my great pleasure this week to stand side by side with officials from the County of Union and City of Elizabeth at the ribbon-cutting for a new nature trail in Phil Rizzuto Park, which is just across the street from NAAB at the corner of Morris and North Avenues. It was particularly exciting because our students in the School of Environmental and Sustainability Sciences helped develop the ¼-mile trail. Congratulations to Daniela Shebitz, Ph.D., executive director of SESS, and her students for putting their classroom knowledge to work in our community.

Kean is in full gear this election season. Our Human Rights Institute’s virtual conference, VOTE: Human Rights in Action, launched this week. I encourage you to take part and hear from the experts about the threats to our voting rights and how to protect them. The Liberty Hall Academic Center is also hosting a Voting Moments of Change exhibit that offers a history of how voting rights were given and reminds all of us that our voices matter.

At Kean, we are doing all we can to get out the vote. Our Voting Squad is registering voters, and next week outside of Wilkins Theatre, a ballot drop-off box will be installed so that Union County residents can conveniently make sure their voice is heard on Election Day. 

Enjoy the weekend,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - October 2, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

The Kean network continues to expand and fulfill its mission of access and excellence. Yesterday, I had the privilege of co-hosting a virtual signing ceremony with the president of County College of Morris, Dr. Anthony J. Iacono, to welcome CCM into the Pathway to Kean program. This initiative improves the way we engage with applicants who do not yet meet Kean admissions standards. Instead of telling these eager students “no,” we say “not yet,” and provide clear direction on how to achieve their higher education dreams. We connect these students with their local community college for an associate degree, then support their transition to a bachelor’s degree program at Kean.

This is equity in action. As you know, equity is one of my three pillars for Kean, and I am proud of this program and the doors that it opens for students in Morris County and across New Jersey. Look for more county colleges to join the program in coming months.

We are halfway through Hispanic Heritage Month, and I hope all of you have celebrated with us in some way. I thank Student Organization, Student Affairs and Residential Student Services for the wonderful events they have scheduled to illustrate the significant impact Hispanic culture has in the U.S. and throughout the world. I acknowledge the enormous contributions of our Hispanic faculty, staff and students. They help make Kean a beacon of diversity and pluralistic perspectives.

Kean is proudly designated as a federal Hispanic-Serving Institution, and we take it seriously. Kean was the first university in the state of New Jersey with a Spanish-speaking program to support our students who are English Language Learners. That program was established in 1972, so you can safely say that Kean was ahead of the curve when it came to recognizing and supporting the Hispanic community. Now part of the new Division of Student Success and Retention, led by Vice President Barbara Harmon-Francis and Associate Vice President Carlos Rodriguez, this Spanish-speaking program and its participants are on their own pathway to success. With Barbara in charge, the sky's the limit!

The fitness buffs in our community will be happy to learn that Kean’s athletic facilities and workout rooms will soon be reopening in accordance with the guidelines of Governor Murphy’s executive order. What that means is a limit of 25% capacity, and reservations must be made online. We are following all state health and safety protocols in our athletics spaces, as we are throughout campus. I continue to thank each of you for doing your part to keep the Kean community safe.

Before I sign off, there is one more thing that you can do to remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19. The State of New Jersey launched a free COVID Alert NJ exposure notification app this week. Download it, and use it to stay informed. To find out more, click here

Enjoy your weekend.

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - September 25, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

I was delighted to walk around campus this week and welcome back both students and faculty engaging in face-to-face teaching and learning. I stopped into an architecture class and saw for myself the campus community’s adaptability and resilience in action. Some students were learning in person, and others were learning virtually from faculty who are right here on campus. Regardless of the instruction method, both students and faculty showed a dedication to education that I was thrilled to see.

As I walked the campus, I also observed all that has been done to keep our campus safe. Signage is everywhere, with clear instructions on social distancing, face covering requirements and other health and safety protocols. Even better than seeing the signs was watching students across the campus follow those rules.

Our weekly COVID-19 testing program for residential students and related employees is in place. This week, we received our first round of results for 796 tests and found that less than 1% of students and staff tested positive, which is far below the rate of transmission in New Jersey. While these numbers are encouraging, we must never let our guard down. We must remain vigilant for the safety of all.

In an effort to fully inform the community about COVID-19 transmission at Kean, we are launching a new dashboard today that will be updated weekly with confirmed cases among students and staff who are on campus as well as those who are remote. We take this step in the interest of transparency and in recognition of the anxiety that many are experiencing in this pandemic.

This week I also got the chance to meet with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and the AFT’s state leaders, Donna Chiera and Tim Haresign. I thank them for visiting our campus this week and meeting with me. It was an important meeting, a restart for all of us as I began my work on labor management relations.

I also thank Kean Federation of Teachers President James Castiglione, Ph.D., and Kean University Adjunct Faculty Federation Local 6024 President Marie Krupinski for arranging the meeting. I look forward to working with them in a spirit of cooperation built on a foundation of high expectations and fairness.

Finally, congratulations to Jennifer Chen, Ed.D., associate professor in the College of Education, for being recognized nationally for her “meritorious leadership and professionalism in early childhood teacher education.” She received a 2020 NAECTE (National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators) Foundation Award and will conduct research investigating how remote instruction has influenced the teaching practices of beginning early childhood teachers in New Jersey.  I have said that I plan to make Kean the next great research university in the state, and Professor Chen is helping to make that happen.

Have a terrific early autumn weekend. 

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

The Passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg - September 19, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

The passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a legal and cultural icon who fought for equal rights for women throughout her career, is leaving a profound sense of loss for our nation and in our hearts.

Justice Ginsburg and other civil rights and social justice advocates like the late Congressman John Lewis collectively helped tear down barriers to the ballot box, to equal rights, and to full inclusion in society. 

Their work made this nation better for it. And the lessons from it are clear: When you work toward equity for all, you improve the quality of life for everyone.

As we consider our own response and role in the social justice movement for equality in America today, we must look to people like Justice Ginsburg to show us the way. She used her brilliant legal mind to advocate for justice until the very end of her life because she believed in equal protection in every sense.

We must all ask ourselves what we believe in, and how we’re going to advocate for it.

The first step often begins with voting. This Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day. Students from our Kean Voting Squad will be working on campus and remotely throughout the week with one goal in mind - to register every eligible voter in the University community so they can cast their ballot in November.

Don’t miss a chance to make your voice heard. I can think of no better way to honor RBG and all the civil rights crusaders who have gone before her. #CougarsVote #RBG

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.

President

A Message from Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - September 18, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

Next week, the University will begin welcoming many of you back to campus for in-person and hybrid instruction. It’s been six long months since Kean students were learning inside our classrooms. In that time, the world around us has changed, but the mission of this institution has not: We are committed to providing all of our students with a world-class education in a safe environment. To accomplish this, everyone must do their part.

The University has prepared a list of Tips for a Successful Fall 2020 Semester. I encourage all of you, including our faculty and staff, to read the list and follow the guidance. Most importantly, remember to download the #CampusClear app to report your health status every day you are on campus. I complete it every morning, and I follow the guidance. It takes just a few seconds to help protect the entire community.

Before you return to campus, also make sure you complete and sign off on the University’s Return to Campus training. When you get here, wear a mask and practice social distancing. I personally encourage you to make time to get tested at the Union County COVID testing site on campus. It’s a free service available to the entire Kean community.

Literally hundreds of faculty and staff members have helped prepare the campus for Monday—too many to single them out. Under the guidance of our President’s Task Force, Kean employees have stepped up to strategize and execute our Restart Plan from top to bottom, so let me express my gratitude to all of you. Let me also give credit to our ABM partners, who are doing their part to keep the campus beautiful, clean and welcoming.

On other fronts, we’ve begun a new initiative aimed at further enhancing our internship and career services programs. Students, please take a moment to share your thoughts through the campus survey available here.

As I told the Board of Trustees on Monday, the University received some excellent recognition from U.S. News & World Report this week. For the second year in a row, Kean was named as one of the top universities in the northern United States for social mobility. The publication also named Kean among the most ethnically diverse universities in the region. I don’t think either of those accolades surprise those of us who know Kean so well, but it’s always good for others to see and hear about us.

As a Hispanic-Serving institution, Kean has already started to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month that launched this week. I was fortunate to participate in a virtual event with our students and look forward to more as the month progresses. 

Shanah tovah to all in the Kean community who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah.

Sincerely,  

 

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - September 11, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

As I write to you today, I must first take a moment to remember the loss suffered on this date 19 years ago. We will #neverforget. We should reflect on the many acts of courage shown that day, as well as our resilience and unity in such a time of great uncertainty. The same strength will carry us through the challenges we face today. God bless those we lost and their families.

With remote classes underway, we are preparing for the next phase of our reopening. I am buoyed by the success of the move-in for residential students, and I thank Matthew Caruso and Maximina Rivera in Student Affairs for developing and executing a plan that put the safety of our students first. These residential students are settling in on campus, following the rules, and most importantly (and like all of our students), getting busy learning. A special thanks to Robin Mansfield in Student Health Services as well for providing the health and wellness resources students need to navigate living on campus.

So many of our faculty and employees help bring distinction and honor to our University. This week, I thank Denise Wujciak, the head athletic trainer and senior women’s administrator for Kean Athletics, for doing her part to move Kean along the path from great to elite. Denise was chosen to represent the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) in biweekly teleconferences with the NCAA COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group. This puts Kean at the table with top medical experts from across the country for high-level discussions on the most up-to-date COVID-related information.

This week on campus many faculty and staff in the College of Business and Public Management made their move into the incredible new Hynes Hall academic building. Despite a global pandemic bringing much of life to a standstill earlier this year, Adam Varava and Tracie Feldman from Campus Planning worked tirelessly to deliver the building and its offices, lecture halls, study spaces and Bloomberg room on time for faculty and students alike. My hat’s off to both of them.

Finally, I invite all of you to join me virtually at my first Board of Trustees meeting as Kean’s president on Monday, September 14 at 4 p.m. You may know that I served on the Board for seven years. I am excited to share with Board members and the public all of the important work we’ve undertaken in my first 60+ days as president, as well as a few new initiatives I mentioned in my Opening Day Address. Together with the Board and the entire Kean community, we will chart and execute strategies that lead to an even brighter future for Kean.

You can access the virtual meeting here. See you then. 

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - September 4, 2020

Happy New Year!

Yes, I mean it. The past few months have been rough on everyone, but now it is time to take a moment and celebrate the start of the new academic year at Kean. This one looks different from all that came before, but it nevertheless presents all the promise, excitement and opportunity that back-to-school affords.

We began the week with my Opening Day Address, and I thank all of you who tuned in to watch. It was a great opportunity to introduce myself to the Kean community, and share my vision for moving the University forward. I have no doubt we will make it through this pandemic; in fact, I believe we will come out stronger. I encourage all of us to focus on the three pillars I laid out in my address: safety, academic excellence and equity. By doing so, we will move Kean further down the path of great to elite.

This week, I also want to give thanks for all of our Kean students, many of whom started classes Tuesday, and especially the ones living in our residence halls. At a difficult time when many students and parents had to make tough choices about college plans, Kean held its own. We welcomed a freshman class of more than 1,660 eager students, and are providing safe housing for more than 800 of our students.

While steps were taken to reduce density and enhance safety in every corner of campus, it is still exciting to see students—all wearing face coverings!—strolling down Cougar Walk, studying under the new gazebos and walking to nearby Chipotle and Panera for a bite to eat.

With each student I met this week, I learned more about their optimism, their strength and their resilience. Our Office of Student Government, including Student Org President Lindsey Gonzalez, did its part to celebrate the start of the new academic year by hosting an outdoor movie for residential students on the lawn by the Miron Student Center. About 75 students, all socially distanced, come out to watch Bad Boys for Life (uh-oh!) and enjoy the fresh air. I wasn’t able to join the showing, but I did send over individual pizzas for all. I’m told they were a hit!

Students—your strength and resilience are the pillars that support the phrase Cougars Climb Higher. You are making lemonade out of the lemons you’ve been handed. I encourage you to keep following the new health protocols, to put your safety and the safety of your fellow classmates first, and to remember that your actions will determine if we can continue to welcome students back to campus later this month. Together, we’ve got this!

I look forward to seeing more of you as the semester progresses. Oh, one more thing: next time, I get to pick the movie. 

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - August 21, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

This week, I had the great pleasure of welcoming to campus the first cohort of about 30 freshman students in our new Bridge to Success program. This accelerated version of Transition to Kean gives students from our PASSPORT program a first taste of life and academics at Kean. Outside in Kean’s Learning Plaza, these students attended academic skills workshops and team-building seminars, and learned about the various support services and resources Kean provides. I thank Neva Lozada, Ed.D., director of the Office of Student Success and Retention, and her team for working so hard to deliver a comprehensive and safe program for these students. I can’t wait to see them hit the ground running when classes begin on September 1.

We have also started welcoming our residential students back to campus. Some of them have already arrived and others will move in this week in a staggered schedule designed to maintain social distancing. These students will notice that things look a little different on campus. Signs are posted reminding all of us to wear masks. There are “cougar paw” markers to help us all maintain social distancing on campus, in classrooms, and on the trolleys and buses. These measures are necessary to protect our campus community. I thank Assistant Vice President for Residential Student Services Maximina Rivera and Director of Student Health Services Robin Mansfield, APN, for helping to coordinate a safe move-in process.

As a reminder, on September 1, all classes will begin remotely until September 21 when approximately 22% of classes will switch to face-to-face or hybrid instruction. All classes will resume remote instruction after Thanksgiving.

Kean will certainly not be the first university to return to campus. You may have seen news reports nationwide of COVID-19 outbreaks on other campuses attributed to large gatherings of students. I am confident that Kean students will not engage in such activities and endanger the community-at-large. Remember, we all share a responsibility to do our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Kean’s tradition of community service and social responsibility is what has helped define us in the past, and is what will guide us through this pandemic.

Lastly, I am also pleased to announce that the annual Opening Day Address — my first — will be held virtually on August 31. Look for updates next week with instructions on how to view it. I look forward to offering my vision for the University in the upcoming academic year and laying the groundwork for future growth. Together, we will take Kean University to even greater heights.

Enjoy the final week of summer. 

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - August 14, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

Governor Murphy this week provided our University, and others across the state, with the flexibility needed to launch a successful Fall semester while keeping the safety and security of our students, faculty and employees the top priority. By allowing in-person instruction on campuses, and allowing access to libraries and computer labs, the Governor helped ensure that Kean students, particularly freshmen beginning their academic journey, can pursue their studies in a setting most conducive to their learning needs.

This decision means Kean’s Climb Higher restart plan can continue as I outlined earlier this summer. All coursework will be remote for the first three weeks of the semester; about 30% of courses will then move to hybrid or face-to-face; and all courses will return to remote learning from Thanksgiving through the end of our semester. The governor’s recent decision also provides Kean with the opportunity to expand the number of in-person courses available to students while continuing to follow all state and CDC safety protocols.

Those safety protocols will be further enhanced by our expanding partnership with the County of Union. The county is welcoming our employees for free testing at their drive-thru testing center in the Vaughn-Eames parking lot, and many of us have taken advantage of this important service. Now, we are utilizing these services for Kean’s residential students, who are required to be tested prior to arriving on campus and who will continue to be tested on a regular basis throughout the Fall semester.

Having personally been tested twice so far at the county site, I can share that the process is both simple and easy. I encourage everyone who will be on campus this fall to take advantage of the health and wellness resources available to you, wear a mask and get tested. All Kean faculty, staff and students can make an appointment to be tested at the county site regardless of whether they live in Union County. It is important that we all do our part to ensure the health and safety of the entire campus community.

Our partnership with the county will also yield tremendous academic benefits as well as internship and employment opportunities for our students starting this fall, as the organization begins to mobilize an expansive network of contact tracers, data analysts and healthcare providers needed to support its work. Look for details on how to apply for these internships and positions, as well as how to incorporate academic research and experiential learning into your courses, in the coming weeks.

We also are working on an exciting and unique testing/research initiative with the County of Union’s COVID-19 testing team to enhance public health and safety here in Union County and across New Jersey. As this initiative develops, I will share the details.

Before I sign off, I want to thank Steve Remotti, our associate vice president for facilities and campus planning, and his entire team for the fantastic work they did in cleaning up our campuses after Tropical Storm Isaias and for their ongoing work to ensure that all health and safety protocols for COVID-19 are in place prior to our fall return. The beauty of our campus is undeniable; I thank this team for making sure it stays that way.

I hope everyone is making time for some summer fun, knowing that the Fall semester is just a few weeks away. I am already excited to welcome you back! 

Enjoy the weekend,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - August 7, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

Another challenging week draws to a close with all of us, I hope, having made it safely through Tropical Storm Isaias and with the campus suffering just minor damage with downed trees and power lines. There are hazards that we must prepare for as best we can and respond to with strength and determination. I see so much of that strength in the Kean community, that “climb higher” spirit, and I am determined to support it.

Our Restart Plan for Fall now reflects the input of seven working groups that included representatives from every area of campus. I participated in many of the working group sessions, and they gave me time to reflect on aspects of our plan that require attention, specifically the social and emotional well-being of our faculty, students and staff as well as conditions for learning.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to create stress and anxiety for all of us. We are constantly confronted with choices that can affect the health and well-being of ourselves, our family members and our communities. Do I send my children to school or keep them home? Is my child safe away at college? Should I go to the store? Can I visit my parents?

In the Contact Tracing/Testing work group, I heard professors Maria del Carmen Rodriguez, Ph.D. and Norma Bowe, Ph.D., both emphasize a need for the University to provide additional resources for the health and well-being of both students and employees, including faculty. I heard similar concerns in other work groups, and more from our student leaders in a recent Zoom meeting.

This week, I signed off on the University’s award of approximately $4.8 million in state GEER funds. I immediately directed our finance office to dedicate $1 million of those funds toward the expansion of health and wellness counseling services for students as well as mental health services for our faculty and staff. Social and emotional well-being is a priority; our success as a community depends on it.

The University Planning Council (UPC) also welcomed me to its summer session this week, and I asked the membership of this universitywide strategic body to work as part of my transition team in the weeks and months ahead. Specifically, I tasked the group with identifying five areas where the University should focus on making improvements, and to report back to me on both the rationale for these selections and strategies to accomplish these goals. I look forward to hearing these ideas and strategies. I also told members of the UPC that the University would be undertaking a series of climate surveys aimed at gauging perceptions of the educational and work environment here at Kean. 

For many, August brings vacation days and the chance to slow down a bit. Not so here at Kean this year. Instead, we are moving into high gear as we prepare to launch the Fall semester with a mix of enhanced online learning and face-to-face instruction. I am excited by the energy and passion I encounter with each new initiative, meeting and event.

We are Kean strong!

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - July 31, 2020

Dear Kean Community,

Welcome to the end of an eventful week at Kean University, having celebrated the Class of 2020 as they proudly take their place in the history of our Kean community.

As hundreds of graduates crossed the stage in Alumni Stadium under a blazing sun, I was reminded of the sacrifices our students make to earn their degrees and the promise they show for our future. Well done, graduates. The combination of intellect and resilience you demonstrated will take you far in this world. But remember, wherever you go, your Kean family always has your back.

I want to thank the many volunteers and staff who organized our seven commencement ceremonies, particularly Valerie Winslow and the Conference and Event Services team, John Wooten and the Kean Stage team, Chris Rustick and all of OCIS, and Karen Smith and her team in University Relations. It was no easy undertaking. From following health and safety protocols to registering graduates, the work was complex and thorough. Our graduates and their families had a great experience, and I appreciate the effort that went into it. We were committed to giving our students an in-person ceremony, and we made it happen — safely and beautifully.

The University also moved forward with the important work of executing our Climb Higher Restart Plan for Fall. Under the direction of Felice Vazquez, senior vice president and special counsel, and Suzanne Bousquet, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs, the President’s Task Force continues to review all aspects of campus life to formulate the best practices that will guide our efforts.

Eight working groups composed of faculty, staff and students met all week long to provide feedback on the plan to date and offer new ideas on how to make our Fall strategy even more successful. Together, with input from all members of the campus community, we will finalize a Fall plan that balances safety and security with access and academic excellence. We continue to receive valuable feedback from the University community regarding our plan via our campus survey. If you haven’t completed it yet, I encourage you to do so.

The end of the week also brings a decision related to concerns raised by some of our students. While many students are returning to campus this Fall, others will continue to learn remotely as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As a result, I have directed the finance department to suspend the University Center fee for the upcoming academic year for all students. This suspension will save our students about $1.6 million this academic year, which amounts to about $150 per student.

This savings, in combination with the Board of Trustees' decision to freeze tuition and fees for the new academic year at last year’s rates, should reduce some of the burden on our students as they and their families try to manage their way through this COVID-19 crisis. Kean now offers the lowest tuition and fees of all comprehensive universities in New Jersey. We will continue to take steps to support students whose families have been impacted by COVID-19, including offering assistance through the federal CARES Act grant program and waiving payment plan fees.

We are committed to supporting our students through this pandemic and beyond. Together, we will climb higher.

Enjoy the weekend! 

Sincerely,

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
President

A Message from Kean University President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. - July 24, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

We continue our preparations for the fall semester at a time like no other: in the midst of a global pandemic and against the backdrop of protests across our nation calling out for justice. This is an extraordinary time; we face challenges that were unimaginable just a few months ago. Such an extraordinary time requires each of us to reflect on how to bring forth the best within us. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented acts of leadership and humanity.

We need look no further for inspiration than the legacy of the late U.S. Representative John Lewis, a legendary civil rights leader and towering figure in the fight for justice. Time and again, Congressman Lewis modeled unprecedented acts of leadership, such as marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma 55 years ago for a legendary showdown with Alabama state troopers; and unprecedented acts of humanity, such as imploring us to "release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge" even as he bore the lifelong scars of a skull fracture from that protest in Selma. The legacies of Congressman Lewis and the Reverend C.T. Vivian, another civil rights legend laid to rest just yesterday, serve as exemplars of an unwavering, lifelong commitment to equity and justice. Through word and deed, both Lewis and Vivian fought daily for justice because black lives matter.

As we face the unprecedented challenges before us, my decision-making is guided by three pillars: safety, equity and academic excellence. The safety of our students, faculty, staff and entire Kean community must remain paramount and will continue to guide every single decision we make as our public health landscape evolves in response to COVID-19. In the interest of equity, we must consider the impact of our decisions on every member of our diverse campus community and ensure that everyone, without exception, is afforded the opportunity to learn and grow. Finally, we must find a way to maintain and bolster academic excellence regardless of whether instruction and learning happens in a lecture hall, in the virtual realm, or a hybrid approach combining both options.

To advance our goals, the University currently is undertaking an extensive project to expand our digital infrastructure. A $3 million investment in a comprehensive WiFi upgrade on the Union campus is currently underway. Additionally, I recently approved plans to upgrade and outfit a series of classrooms, and three major lecture halls, with state-of-the-art technology that will provide a fully immersive experience for students regardless of whether they are participating in-person or virtually. This technology also will be available in mobile formats for smaller classrooms at the request of the instructor.

President Barack Obama recently said that the crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others, sharpens our focus, reveals inequities, and unveils new leaders. "This is a time for real leadership in all walks of life,” he said. Let us all be leaders of the Kean community and stand together as we face unprecedented challenges. We must remain steadfast in our collective commitment to safety, equity and academic excellence. I challenge each of you with the immortal words of Congressman Lewis that are etched above a doorway in the Civil Rights Room of the Nashville Public Library: "If not us, then who? If not now, then when?"

President Repollet Outlines Strategy for Fall Semester - July 22, 2020

President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. today announced a Climb Higher plan for the Fall semester that is designed to provide students with full access to the courses and services they need to succeed as well as enhanced safety measures for students, faculty and staff.

The Fall semester will begin on September 1 as scheduled with remote learning through Blackboard for all students and continue that way for the first three weeks of the semester. On Monday, September 21, the University will enter a face-to-face and hybrid phase that will add on-campus instruction to approximately 30 percent of courses. When the University breaks for Thanksgiving on November 25, all courses will return entirely to remote learning until the end of the semester.

“We need to approach the Fall semester with three things top of mind: safety, equity and academic excellence,” Repollet said. “This staggered approach will allow both students and faculty to acclimate to our enhanced remote learning and prepare together to enter the hybrid and face-to-face phase of the semester in certain courses.”

In August, the University will identify the courses that will be offered in a face-to-face or hybrid formats as well as those that will remain entirely remote for the duration of the semester so students can review and complete their registration.

Face-to-face courses will be delivered mostly on campus with some resources augmented by Blackboard. Hybrid courses will alternate between face-to-face meetings and online sessions. Kean Online courses will not be impacted by these plans.

This holistic approach toward our course offerings respects the diversity of our learners and the unique circumstances of our faculty.

The add/drop deadline will fall within the initial three-week remote period of learning, which means students will have the chance to assess which courses they feel comfortable – or uncomfortable – pursuing in a remote environment before finalizing their schedules. The remote period will also allow faculty to directly interact with their students and identify strategies and protocols for the in-person instruction that begins for face-to-face and hybrid courses on September 21.

“This approach gives both faculty and students the time to prepare for returning to teaching and learning in the classroom,” said Suzanne Bousquet, Ph.D., vice president for Academic Affairs. “Not all courses will transition to in-person, but those that do can do so seamlessly.” 

At the President’s direction, the Office of Academic Affairs is prioritizing labs, studios, research and clinical courses for the face-to-face and hybrid structures.

Kean is committed to offering all first-year students the opportunity to register for face-to-face courses that introduce them to the college experience and student resources, including the Transition to Kean class and other entry-level general education courses. The University is also committed to ensuring that students who struggle to learn in the digital environment due to learning or access issues have the chance to register for face-to-face courses.

The three-week remote period will not impact move-in plans for residential students, who are scheduled to return to living on campus at the end of August.

The University is in the process of finalizing the next phase of its Return to Campus plan, which will include testing requirements for residential students and on-campus employees as well as an enhanced contact tracing initiative in coordination with Union County.

The president directed the chairs of the Presidential Task Force to create working groups this week to facilitate additional feedback on the University’s reopening plan that will be submitted to the state of New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. 

The Kean community is also invited to complete this Return to Campus Survey.

A Message from the President - July 1, 2020

Dear Kean University Community,

Today begins our journey, as a team, toward reopening our campus community. Phase 1 of our Campus Restart Plan prepares to bring our senior managers and academic administrators back to campus this summer, and subsequent plans are under development for faculty and students to return safely in some fashion this fall. While there is much work to do, we want to ensure that we create a strategic path forward for all of our campuses. Thank you to Dr. Dawood Farahi and the leadership of the University who began setting the foundation to reopen.

The past few months have presented challenges that none of us could have predicted. The global health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused grief and concern among members of our community and around this world. We also have endured racial injustices happening across the nation. We watched a man murdered as he pleaded for his life, propelling people across the country to protest against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The social and emotional well-being of our students and staff is important and we will continue to have dialogue around these issues and lead as agents for positive change.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” As we transition into the summer months, we will continue to involve members of the university community on the President’s Task Force to evaluate all aspects of campus life and position our University to be stronger moving forward. We will solicit feedback from all stakeholders on the Task Force’s recommendations throughout the summer to ensure the continuity of learning at Kean. 

Serving our students and faculty is paramount during these unprecedented times.  We will uphold the Student Bill of Rights outlined in New Jersey’s State Plan for Higher Education so that no student is deterred from pursuing the college experience. We will engage and collaborate with our faculty and staff to help develop academic and organizational supports to become an improved, transparent and inclusive organization. I genuinely believe that people are the greatest asset of any community and, with your help, Kean University will continue to provide a world-class education for our students and contribute to the global economic engine.

Together, we will position ourselves to emerge stronger than ever post COVID-19.  

In Partnership, 

Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.

President