Update from RVCC President Michael McDonough (Nov 16)

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen an increase in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19. While we’ve been able to identify their very limited movements and campus and while we’ve been able to transition those courses to an online modality, it is now time to enact a more comprehensive and campus-wide approach.

Therefore, I’m announcing a series of steps that I hope will limit the number of people on campus and that will lessen the likelihood of an outbreak on campus:

First, I’m supporting the provost’s request that all face-to-face courses begin to end on-campus instruction as soon as possible. The goal is that all face-to-face (remote ready) courses will function remotely after Thanksgiving.

Second, I’m suspending all athletic activities and events until the spring semester.

Third, all on-campus services, including computer labs, library services, and a wide array of student service offices, will continue to function. We are not shutting down the campus.

Fourth, all planned on-campus activities for after Thanksgiving should be rescheduled.

Fifth, the childcare center will remain open.

Finally, any courses that will meet after Thanksgiving, any final exams planned for on-campus, and any on-campus workforce programs will require the approval of the divisional dean or director.

If you can, please try to remain off campus until the new year. When on campus, please follow all safety protocols.

During the fall semester, students, staff, and visitors alike have been wonderful – you’ve observed all safety guidelines and you’ve kept the campus not only functioning but safe and secure. I applaud your behavior, your good will, and your concern for the health and safety of those around you. The fall semester has been a success because of you – and I cannot thank you enough.

Our actions today are designed to keep us safe, to promote continued teaching and learning, and to sustain the institution.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Update from RVCC President Michael McDonough (Aug 31)

Good morning. I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend. As we prepare for the first day of class in our new academic year, some updates for the campus community:

  • I’ve attached a document from the New Jersey Council of County Colleges that collects a statement from all the community college presidents in the state. Each president addresses Governor Murphy’s proposed FY21 budget and his decision to cut operating aid to the state’s community colleges. K-12 and the four-year colleges were not cut.
  • Last week, RVCC submitted its application for the CRF allocation. RVCC has been awarded an allocation of $1.1 million, but there are significant restrictions on what expenses and losses can be submitted for the allocation.
  • The RVCC COVID-19 Testing Site served 124 residents last Thursday. The site is now operational in Lot 5 and the County plans to continue the site for each Thursday in September. The County will evaluate any future plans at the end of September.
  • For the week ending August 22, 1.49 million New Jerseyans had filed unemployment claims. In Somerset County, there were 43,582 filings since the pandemic first surfaced and 15,105 filings in Hunterdon County.
  • We continue to monitor our enrollment numbers, seeing significant increases in concurrent enrollments and in new student enrollments. Initially, we had projected a decline in enrollment of 4%; however, our latest data suggests a decline of 10%.
  • I’ve attached the latest edition of RVCC Heroes. Thanks again to our inspiring RVCC community of frontline workers and to our communications staff.
  • For a very engaging and very insightful conversation about RVCC’s reopening guidelines, please go to https://rvcc.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=b592f262-eea8-4610-b1a2-ac2401216aaa
  • The second round of the CARES Act Federal Student Grants application is now available.  The online application  must be received by Thursday, September 17, 2020. Students should make sure they have completed a FASFA before they apply.  FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). All grant checks will be mailed to the address in RVCC’s student information system. If you need to update your mailing address, please complete the Address Verification form. If you have already received a CARES Act Federal Student Grant you will not be eligible for another. For complete eligibility requirements and general CARES Act Student Grant information, visit https://www.raritanval.edu/cares-act.  
  • For those not eligible to apply for the CARES Act Federal Student Grants, the RVCC Foundation has reserved some limited funds for which students may qualify. Those interested should complete the RVCC Foundation application at Foundation Application.

Please continue to stay safe. I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful beginning to our new year. If you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Update from RVCC President Michael McDonough (Aug 24)

Good morning. I hope everyone is in good health and that, like me, you’re counting the days until the start of the fall semester – a much needed and familiar ritual.

Some campus updates:

  • Our admissions team will host two “registration Days” this week. On Tuesday, beginning at 10:0 am, we will host current students. The event will be held at the front of the campus. We ask that all participants follow safety guidelines. The second event will take place on Wednesday, beginning at 10:00 am, and will help new students in any issue connected with registration and enrollment.
  • Last Thursday, RVCC’s COVID-19 Testing Site served 132 residents. As the College begins to reopen, the testing site will confine its operations to Parking Lot 5 only. The site will next operate on Thursday 27th of August.
  • On Thursday, we will host our first ever virtual All College Day. From 9:15 – 10:30 am, we will offer a series of presentations, including updates from the Forum, the Middle States Committees, and Human resources. At 11:00 am, we will host an hour-long panel discussion focusing on questions related to RVCC’s reopening guidelines and processes.
  • Once again, Wallet Hub has ranked RVCC as New Jersey’s #1 Community college. This link will take you to the most recent rankings: https://wallethub.com/edu/e/best-worst-community-colleges/15076/
  • I’ve attached the latest edition of RVCC Heroes.

Continue to follow the guidelines, especially if you visit campus. I wish you the best for the fall semester and welcome your questions, comments, or concerns.

Update from RVCC President Michael McDonough (Aug 17)

Good morning. Today marks the first day in the gradual reopening of RVCC. Select staff have returned to campus and we continue to prepare the campus for the first day of class – a little over two weeks away.

Some updates:

  • Late last Friday, Governor Murphy announced that he would allocate $22.25 million to the community college sector for COVID-19 relief. RVCC’s allocation totals $1,105,014 and we have begun to review how to apply for our funds. We are very grateful to the Governor for this allocation, certain that we will be able to recover some of the potential costs for FY21 operations.
  • Last week, the Governor also announced the reinstatement of the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act, a capital initiative designed to support K-12 and college-level workforce programs. RVCC will apply for these funds in order to expand the College’s workforce footprint and to offer new workforce training programs. The economic crisis prompted by the pandemic makes RVCC a leading force in any recovery efforts.
  • Last week, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order #175. Essentially, the order allows both K-12 and New Jersey’s postsecondary sector to reopen for face-to-face instruction. (This order rescinds the Governor’ early Executive Order #155.) At the same time, the Governor issued Administrative Order #2020-17, allowing colleges and universities to reopen computer labs.RVCC will not change its plans for the fall semester, limiting the number of courses offered on campus. As the semester progresses and as we better understand the science of the pandemic, we may add to the number of spring courses being offered on campus. In addition, we may continue to expand the services that are available on campus.
  • Important news from our admissions staff. RVCC will hold two Registration Days on campus. The first on August 25th will be for current students; the second on August 26th will be for new students. Both events will run from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and will be hosted in tents in front of the College in the Visitors Parking Lot.

I hope you can enjoy this glorious late summer day and that you are preparing for the beginning of our fall semester. Please continue to be careful, to stay safe, and to enjoy the amazing musical catalog of The Rolling Stones.

Update from RVCC President Michael McDonough (Aug 10)

Good morning. Congratulations to Max Verstappen and to Colin Morikawa. At 22 and 23 respectively, they are poised to become the dominant new generation in their sport.

Some campus updates:

  • On August 6th, the RVCC COVID-19 Testing Site served 155 residents. The site will be open this Thursday at 10:00 am (August 13th).
  • A reminder for all faculty and staff to complete the online training modules related to COVID-19. The state is requiring all employees to complete some form of COVID-19 training before a return to work. The modules will require no more than twenty minutes of your time and provide valuable information about safe practices and some of the essential characteristics of the virus.
  • Both Princeton and The College of New Jersey has announced plans to move all fall instruction to remote modalities. Princeton had intended to open campus in the fall to a limited number of students but announced a change in their strategy late last week.
  • I’ve attached the latest edition of RVCC Heroes.
  • Some sobering numbers highlighting unemployment in New Jersey. Since March 21, 2020, 1,406,938 residents have filed for unemployment. In Somerset County, that total is 41,167 and for Hunterdon County it is 14,382.
  • New Jersey transmission rate has increased from 0.7 to 1.48 and the state remains in Stage 2 of the reopening framework.
  • The National Policy Agenda for Community Colleges is asking for our help. They would like as many RVCC staff members and students as possible to complete a survey that will help shape national policy on social justice and equity issues. The survey can be found by clicking on the following link https://forms.gle/SvvVoXh2mu1jLG5x9.
  • The New Jersey Department of Health has launched a testing and contact tracing public awareness campaign with the slogan “For Each Other. For Us All.” The goal is to increase knowledge of what contact tracing is and to address issues regarding privacy, with a particular focus on educating individuals under the age of 30, who are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases. I’ve attached the Department’s marketing material regarding this program.

I hope you are all managing to stay well. For our students, please make sure you are registered for the fall semester and that you stay focused on completing your certificate and degree programs.

Update from RVCC President Michael McDonough (Aug 3)

Because of some campus network problems, a tardy morning message. Apologies. Great to see F1 return to Silverstone and appropriate for an English driver to win (excitement in the last lap as Hamilton lost his left front tyre and limped home ahead of Max Verstappen).

Some campus updates:

  • RVCC has completed its Institutional Plan for Restart and submitted the comprehensive document to the state. The state has fourteen days to respond, identifying any objections it has to the plan. If the plan is approved, then we will officially “reopen” our campus on August 17th. The RVCC Reopening Task Force has produced an exemplary report, balancing our health and safety with the effort to support teaching and learning. Thank you to all the members of this task force for their leadership and for their insights.
  • On Friday, I signed our GEER allocation agreement. You may remember that the state awarded RVCC about $647,000 in GEER funds (federal money). The final agreement is a little complicated and it appears that the institution has to submit a rather detailed budget form for reimbursement.
  • Last Thursday, the RVCC COVID-19 Testing Site served 139 residents. It will be in operation this Thursday (August 6th).
  • RVCC has purchased one hundred laptops to support student learning in the fall. I’m also asking that if you would like to donate a laptop, please bring it to the RVCC Security Office. Once delivered to Technology Services, it will be cleaned,  prepared, and sent to the RVCC Resource Center for distribution.
  • OSHE’s restart guidelines exempt community colleges from contact tracing (RVCC will collaborate with the appropriate County offices) and continue the prohibition on any face-to-face contact in library services.
  • A recently released state report documents the “confirmed” COVID-19 cases on NJ college campuses: Montclair – 63; Princeton – 43; Ramapo – 22; Rutgers – 10; Rider – 5; Monmouth – 1; William Paterson – 1.
  • A note for faculty and staff: as we approach the date for our traditional “All College Day,” we are exploring ways of holding this event in a remote modality. More details to follow.
  • And another wonderful attachment from our marketing and PR folks that highlights the inspiring work of our RVCC Heroes.

I hope you all continue to be well and to be safe. On Thursday, the first major of the year opens – the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, a public course you can play during the week for $180.

Update from RVCC President Michael McDonough (July 27)

Good morning. I hope you are all well and finding a way to stay cool during this burst of summer heat.
Some updates:

  • Somerset County will offer COVID-19 testing at RVCC on Thursday, July 30th. The site opens at 10:00 am and closes at 1:00 pm. If you are a Somerset County resident, the service is free of charge but you must schedule an appointment.
  • On Thursday, July 23rd, the RVCC COVID-19 Testing Site served 121 residents.
  • The New Jersey Council of County Colleges is a member of the National Student Success Centers Network. This membership allows all faculty (full-time, part-time, credit, non-credit) at New Jersey’s community colleges to access a professional development course from Jobs for the Future and the Online Learning Consortium from now until December 2020. This service is free. The course was created specifically for the Student Success Center Network to support and strengthen colleges’ efforts to provide exceptional, high quality remote education as institutions continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The attached document explains how to access this course.
  • Another shameless promotion of RV LIVES, our Foundation’s crucial campaign to raise $100,000 for students by the end of the year. To view the RV LIVES site, go to www.raritanval.edu/rvlives. And please share the link with friends and family – anyone you think can help RVCC and our students. You can also direct your questions to Mike Marion  (michael.marion@raritanval.edu), Janet Dunne (janet.dunne@raritanval.edu ) or Stephanie Smullen (stephanie.smullen@raritanval.edu).
  •  Congratulations to RVCC student, Elijah Perlman, a 2020 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholar. will Elijah will receive a $1,000 scholarship. The Leaders of Promise Scholarship, sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, recognizes 200 Phi Theta Kappa members with awards totaling $200,000.  Twenty-five of these scholarships are earmarked for Society members who are active personnel or veterans of the U.S. Military. This year’s recipients were selected by a panel of independent judges from nearly 700 applicants.  Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars are selected based on outstanding academic achievement and demonstrated leadership potential. The Leaders of Promise Scholarship Program was launched in 2001 to assist new Phi Theta Kappa members in obtaining an associate degree and encourage participation in Society programs.
  • Special thanks to part-time RVCC tutor Richa Gupta, the co-founder of Knit Crochet with Love (KCWL). This link provides a video narrative of the group’s effort to provide masks for front-line healthcare workers: https://www.facebook.com/1072848076/posts/10219888858106510/?d=n Or https://youtu.be/E7vP0RdZmCs
  • The RVCC Reopening Task Force has completed a draft of our reopening guidelines. The guidelines are comprehensive, thoughtful, and inclusive. The Task Force has created an exemplary document, a set of guidelines that reflect the intentional and robust work of this diverse group of RVCC staff.

I hope everyone continues to stay well. We are beginning the countdown to fall and to students once again pursuing their educational goals. RVCC will do everything possible to support teaching and learning, to support the inspiring journeys of all students.

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