College Board of Trustees Chair Victor M. Richel Receives Prestigious Leadership Award

CRANFORD – Union County College is pleased to announce that Board of Trustees Chair Victor M. Richel will receive the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) 2021 Northeast Regional Award for Trustee Leadership. Mr. Richel will formally accept the award in October at the Regional Awards Presentation during the 52nd Annual ACCT Leadership Congress in San Diego.

Mr. Richel is a community leader, philanthropist, and businessman. Mr. Richel was a Vice President for Elizabethtown Gas and it was under his leadership that the company gifted its building in Elizabeth to Union County College. He has been a member of the Union County College Board of Trustees for almost 40 years and has served as Chair for almost 30 years. Mr. Richel also serves as Chairman of the Board of Trinitas Health and Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth.

In 2018, Mr. Richel received the New Jersey Hospital Association Hospital and Healthcare System Trustee of the Year award for his service to Trinitas Regional Medical Center. In 2017, Mr. Richel was recognized by the YWCA of Union County for Advancing Education & Economic Empowerment for Girls and Women. In 2016, he was honored by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges with the Ronald D. Winthers Community College Trustee Leadership Award. Each year, this award is bestowed upon a single New Jersey community college trustee who exemplifies visionary trustee leadership at the local, state, and national levels.

It is a testament to Mr. Richel’s leadership and commitment to improving outcomes that Union County College was named one of the top 150 community colleges in 2021 by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. Only the top 15 percent of community colleges nationwide are recognized.

Mr. Richel was born in Elizabeth and resides in Berkeley Heights with his wife Andrea. In addition to his many civic and business accolades, he is a beloved father and grandfather.

“We are honored and thrilled by ACCT’s recognition of our devoted Board Chair Mr. Richel. He has given many years of dedicated service to our College’s Board. We are indebted to him for the invaluable and steadfast leadership he has provided to the College. He loves our students, our community, and our College,” stated Union President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.

The ACCT represents more than 6500 elected and appointed trustees who govern more than 1100 community colleges throughout the United States. The ACCT annually recognizes trustees and other community college leaders in each of its five regions for their contributions.

For more information about Union County College, go to www.ucc.edu.

Foundation’s Annual Close the Gap Reception Raised Over $50,000

CRANFORD – The Union County College Foundation raised over $50,000 at their 6th Annual Close the Gap Reception on July 14. Held in a virtual environment, this event is a strategic initiative to increase graduation rates among African American students. This year, the Foundation honored the brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Omicron Chi Chapter for their years of service as avid supporters and mentors of the College’s Project Achievement Program.

Since 2015, the Close the Gap campaign has raised nearly $300,000 which has been invested in scholarships, grant and program support, and has provided emergency funding to students who are on track to graduate. Since that time, the College’s graduation rate for African American male students has more than quintupled.

Otis Livingston, of WCBS TV, served as the Master of Ceremonies. Entertainment was provided by well-known jazz pianist Isaiah J. Thompson. Union’s Coordinator of Student Success Initiatives Dr. Lavon Williams shared his experience from working with our African American male students and the joy and excitement felt by the Project Achievement team and our students on graduation day. Finally, student speaker Ricard Charles shared the impact that the program has had on him and his fellow classmates.

The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Omicron Chi Chapter is from Plainfield, New Jersey. The Chapter was established in 1955 and is being honored for its commitment to building the next generation of leaders. They achieve this through their Omega Leadership Institute High School and Community College mentoring programs, essay contests, and scholarships. The Omicron Chi Chapter has been a dedicated supporter of the Union County College Foundation and was one of the first advocates of the Close the Gap Campaign.

“The Foundation is so thankful that the support of the Close the Gap event continues to grow each year,” stated Union County College Foundation Executive Director Doug Rouse. “This allows the College to continue to raise the graduation rate for our young male African American students.”

If you are interested in donating to the Close the Gap Campaign, or would like to learn more about how you can provide financial assistance for students at Union County College, please call (908) 709-7505, email foundation@ucc.edu, or visit www.uccfoundation.org.

Susan Hairston, Deborah Enix-Ross and Sandra Rice, Co-Chairs of the Close the Gap Campaign, celebrate another tremendous night in support of student success.

College Welcomes New Dean of Students

CRANFORD – Union County College welcomes Dr. Takeem L. Dean as the new Dean of Students. Dr. Dean comes to Union after having served as Dean of Students at Johnson C. Smith University, a historically black university, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Dean is not new to the Garden State. Prior to relocating to North Carolina, he served two New Jersey colleges: Passaic County Community College and Montclair State University.

In his time as Dean of Students at Johnson C. Smith University, Dr. Dean provided leadership to student life. He supervised student leadership and engagement, Greek life, student conduct, intramurals, counseling services, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and educational enhancement services. He was also responsible for residence life and admissions.

As the Dean of Students at Union, Dr. Dean will oversee the CARE Team, a multidisciplinary team that works to assist students in need of personal and/or academic resources, which includes the Assistant Dean of Students, the College’s social workers, and our Coordinator of Disability Services. He will serve as the chief disciplinary officer; he will develop and implement student code of conduct; he will oversee Title IX compliance for student cases; he will serve as liaison between students and campus community; and he will develop DEI training programs for students.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Dean to Union with his extensive knowledge and experience in student affairs. He will lead the team that will assist our students beyond the classroom experience, to meet their needs as individuals, and to provide them with the tools and support to complete their degrees,” stated Union President Margaret M. McMenamin.

Dr. Dean has served on various national organizations such as the Association for College Professional Administrators (ACPA) for which he was the co-chairperson of the PAN Mentoring Foundation and Awards Committee. He is also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and locally he served as a chapter Chaplin, chairperson of service projects, and co-chair for the MLK Ceremony and an oratorical contest. He also served as the New Jersey Association of Alpha Phi Alpha Chapters Chaplin and the Eastern Region Assistant Director of Communications.

Dr. Dean earned his doctorate in Community College Leadership from Wingate University. He holds a Master of Arts degree in educational leadership with a concentration in adult and organizational leadership and higher education and a Bachelor of Science degree in business education, both from Montclair State University.

Union County College Receives $10,000 Grant to Establish NJCAA Men’s Volleyball Program

CRANFORD – Union County College recently received a $10,000 grant from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and First Point Volleyball Foundation to establish a men’s volleyball team for spring 2022.

“Thank you to the NJCAA Foundation and the First Point Volleyball Foundation for providing the opportunity to expand the sports programs offered at Union,” stated Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin, Union President. “With the addition of a men’s volleyball team at Union, we are able to engage more students in athletics while they earn a high-quality education.”

The addition of men’s volleyball to Union’s athletic department brings the total number of sports offered to 17.

“I am excited to start recruiting for this new team and to help prepare them for competition in the spring 2022 semester,” stated Tammy Smith, Union’s Dean of College Life/Director of Athletics. “I look forward to meeting those who will become the members of our inaugural men’s volleyball team. It’s a great opportunity to get involved on campus and build bonds with fellow student-athletes.”

In May, the NJCAA in collaboration with First Point Volleyball Foundation announced a $200,000 grant to support the growth of men’s volleyball as an emerging sport within the Association. Grants were awarded to 15 member colleges, including Union, to support the initiative towards men’s volleyball becoming a full NJCAA championship sport.

 

“The ability to create more opportunities for student-athletes to compete in college and take part in a growing sport is one of the ultimate wins the NJCAA Foundation can achieve,” said Brian Luckett, NJCAA Foundation Executive Director. “We are appreciative of the First Point Volleyball Foundation for making this possible and the NJCAA member colleges who have stepped up to make history by bringing back men’s volleyball to the association.”

First Point Volleyball Foundation continues to spread influence to help men’s volleyball grow exponentially and has awarded $2.2 million in grants thus far.

“As one of 19 First Point Foundation board members, I can say we are so proud to be able to support the NJCAA and these 15 institutions starting men’s volleyball,” said Mick Haley, First Point Volleyball Foundation volunteer board member and AVCA Hall of Famer. A former men’s volleyball coach at Kellogg Community College (MI), Haley led the program to four NJCAA national championships, back when the sport was sponsored, before stints as head women’s coach at the University of Texas, University of Southern California, and the 2000 US Women’s Olympic Team in Sydney. “Two-year colleges present the most affordable opportunity for young people to play college volleyball during a time when students want to stay closer to home,” Haley continued. “Our hope at First Point is to see 35 or 40 more two-year colleges follow these 15 and sponsor men’s volleyball.”

The addition of men’s volleyball at these select NJCAA member colleges is another step towards supporting the growth and educational opportunities of two-year college athletics.

“As we work to prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games, all of us at USA Volleyball are excited by this awesome news of 15 newly announced men’s collegiate volleyball programs at two-year colleges,” stated John Speraw, First Point Volleyball Foundation Founder and volunteer Chairman and head coach of the US Men’s National Team and UCLA Men’s Volleyball. “I suspect it won’t be long before an NJCAA athlete will play for Team USA,” Speraw added. “I want to personally thank all the donors to First Point Volleyball Foundation, past and future, for making these grants possible.”

For more information about the athletic programs offered at Union County College, please visit www.unionowls.com.

About First Point Volleyball Foundation 

Founded in 2016 by John Speraw, head coach of the USA Men’s National Team and UCLA Men’s Volleyball and Wade Garard, First Point Volleyball Foundation exists to provide opportunities for young people to mature and develop through volleyball. Specifically focused on growing boys’ and men’s volleyball in the United States, First Point Volleyball Foundation initiates and celebrates FIRST POINTS whether that is a first point of a new collegiate team, or a new high school team, or a first point of competitive volleyball for a 12-year-old. The Foundation has three strategic initiatives: (1) Growing collegiate opportunities; (2) Growing high school boys’ opportunities; and (3) the Extending Reach Diversity Initiative – expanding volleyball opportunities to boys and men of color.  

About NJCAA Foundation 

The mission of the NJCAA Foundation is to enhance the NJCAA national organization, student-athletes, member colleges and local communities through financial support, scholarships, program initiatives and community service. 

 

Summit Foundation Helps Union Students Graduate with Generous Donation

CRANFORD – The Union County College Foundation recently received a generous donation of $9,500 from the Summit Foundation to support the Foundation’s Operation Graduation Fund. This campaign is the Foundation’s oldest student success campaign and was created in 2015 to financially support the College’s first-ever strategic initiative to raise graduation rates each year. This is the second time the Summit Foundation has contributed to the fund and supported the Foundation’s mission of accelerating the pace of student success.

Since the start of the campaign six years ago, the College’s graduation rates have continued to climb, now exceeding both the state and national average for community colleges. The Operation Graduation team works with faculty and staff to identify students who may need extra support, both academically and financially, to graduate on time.

“The Union County College Foundation is thankful for the financial support provided by the Summit Foundation. Their investment in the Operation Graduation campaign will help more students complete their degrees in the upcoming academic year,” stated Union County College Executive Director Doug Rouse.

The Summit Foundation’s mission is to foster philanthropy by identifying local needs and offering donors flexible ways to make a difference in the lives of their neighbors. The funds they distribute support valuable and life-enhancing work of nonprofit agencies in Summit and nearby communities.

If you are interested in providing financial assistance to a fund with the Union County College Foundation, or would like to learn more about how you can establish a scholarship for Union students, please call (908) 709-7505, email foundation@ucc.edu or visit the Foundation’s website at www.uccfoundation.org.

College to Offer Free COVID-19 Vaccines on June 30 featuring raffles and giveaways

CRANFORD – Union County College is hosting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Wednesday, June 30 from 10am-4pm on the College’s Cranford campus. The clinic will offer Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen single dose vaccine. The vaccine is free, but those who have insurance are encouraged to bring their insurance card. This event is open to all who are age 18 and over. Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are welcome. Individuals may sign up via the website here: https://stopandshopsched.rxtouch.com/rbssched/program/SS9882/Patient/Advisory.

The event will feature raffles for gift cards and even laptops and free tuition for students as well as giveaway items, including buttons, t-shirts, and cool summer treats. As of June 21, 2021, over half (56.98%) of Union County residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We strongly encourage all members of our community to get their COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinations against COVID-19 will continue to facilitate our return to a new normal. We can only do this if we as a community listen to the science and all do our part by getting vaccinated,” said Union President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.

The vaccine clinic will be held in the Richel Student Commons on the College’s Cranford campus located at 1033 Springfield Avenue.

Foundation Welcomes Six New Trustees to its Board

CRANFORD – At the May board meeting of the Union County College Foundation, six community members were elected as new trustees to the board. They are: Rev. Dr. Selina D. Carter of Plainfield, Rev. Dr. Francis A. Hubbard of Berkeley Heights, Ken Orchard of Little Silver, Colleen Shea of Cranford, Steven St. Pierre Fernandez of Rahway, and Darielle Walsh of Westfield. All six members are strong supporters of the mission of the Foundation and believe that education is one of the most important factors to economic mobility.

Rev. Dr. Selina D. Carter, of Plainfield, Union ‘03, has more than 40 years of experience in technology management and 15 years of experience in the non-profit sector. She is currently employed at AIG Technologies and is also the Founder and Executive Director of Spirit of Excellence-Leadership, Inc., a non-profit organization for adolescent girls and women. Dr. Carter not only has a track record of success in getting program initiatives off the ground but ensuring they flourish as well, which will assist the Foundation with cultivating potential donors.

Rev. Dr. Francis A. Hubbard, of Berkeley Heights, is now a “retired” Episcopal priest, serving as an occasional Sunday substitute. During his career, he led a congregation that tripled in size and became more diverse. He established regional church policies to increase support for the churches and clergy in economically poor areas. Dr. Hubbard has extensive experience in writing and public speaking to inspire and motivate others. He is committed to sharing the mission of the College and its opportunities to prospective students.

Ken Orchard, of Little Silver, Union ‘74, recently retired as President of TriState Capital Bank’s New Jersey operations. Prior to joining TriState Capital, Ken served as the New Jersey Division Manager for Capital One Bank where he led a team of 17 commercial real estate professionals. He also served as Senior Vice President, Division Manager for Wells Fargo Bank where he was responsible for a portfolio of approximately $2 billion in commercial real estate assets. A financial services leader with extensive experience in group organization and sales motivation, Mr. Orchard brings his 50 years of banking and financial experience to the board.

Colleen Shea, of Cranford, is the Vice President of Sales for Pen Company of America in Garwood. This family owned business has been manufacturing pens in the U.S. for more than four generations. She joined the company in 2003. In 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, they pivoted from manufacturing pens to making face shields for the healthcare industry. This change also kept their employees employed and their business open. From the sale of the face shields, Pen Company of America made a generous donation the Foundation and created the “Tomorrow’s Healthcare Heroes” scholarship.

Steven St. Pierre Fernandez, of Rahway, Union ‘08, is an attorney with O’Toole Scrivo, LLC. He has an active litigation practice, focusing on the areas of general liability defense, complex commercial litigation, and professional liability. He previously served as Project Specialist for U.S. Senator Cory Booker. In this position, he oversaw community projects with at-risk youth in Elizabeth. Mr. St. Pierre Fernandez has worked with various non-profits including the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless. He attributes his success today to the education, training, and leadership skills he attained while attending the College.

Darielle Walsh, of Westfield, has been active in the local community for more than 30 years as a community volunteer and non-profit consultant. She served 27 years on the Westfield Area YMCA Board of Directors, including as board president. Ms. Walsh has also served as an officer for the Westfield Board of Education, a member of the Westfield Municipal Planning Board, and is the current President of the Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. As a non-profit consultant, she specializes in non-profit board governance, leadership, and effectiveness.
“The Foundation welcomes these six community minded leaders as new trustees to our Board. With their help, we will continue to expand the Foundation’s mission in the community and share the opportunities available to students at Union County College,” said Doug Rouse, Foundation Executive Director.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can change the lives of Union students, e-mail Doug Rouse at douglas.rouse@ucc.edu or call (908) 709-7113. To learn more about the Union County College Foundation go to www.uccfoundation.org.

Grant from Investors Foundation to Support Union Students

CRANFORD – The Union County College Foundation recently received a $5,000 grant from Investors Foundation to support a scholarship for Union County College students. The grant will be used to continue to fund the Investors Bank “First in the Family” scholarship.

Developed in 2018, this scholarship provides vital support to our first-generation college students. Investors Bank has been an avid supporter of the mission of the Foundation, to accelerate the pace of student success, for many years. In the past three years, they have contributed more than $20,000 to this scholarship and has supported the Foundation’s fundraising events.

“Thanks to the continued support from the Investors Bank Foundation, first generation students are able to complete their associate degrees in a timely manner because they have the financial support needed,” stated Union County College Foundation Executive Director Doug Rouse. “This support allows them to focus on their studies and keeps them on path to graduation.”

If you are interested in establishing a scholarship with the Union County College Foundation, or would like to learn more about how you can provide financial assistance for students at Union County College, please call (908) 709-7505, email foundation@ucc.edu or visit the Foundation’s website at www.uccfoundation.org.

About Investors Bank
Investors Bank, headquartered in Short Hills, New Jersey, is a full-service community bank that has been serving customers since 1926. With over $25 billion in assets and a network of more than 150 retail branches, Investors Bank delivers personalized services and products tailored to the needs of its customers. Investors Bank’s services include complete deposit, loan and cash management products for consumers and businesses. Investors Bank. Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender.

About the Investors Foundation
Investors Bank created the Investors Foundation in 2005 to support the communities Investors Bank serves. Investors Foundation supports initiatives in the arts, youth development, health and human services, education and affordable housing. The Investors Foundation works to improve the lives of its neighbors and communities across the bank’s footprint.

For more information, please visit: https://www.myinvestorsbank.com/Community/Investors-Foundation

Union County College Foundation to Host 6th Annual Close the Gap Cocktail Reception

CRANFORD – Join the Union County College Foundation on July 14, 2021 to celebrate their 6th Annual Close the Gap Cocktail Reception, in a virtual environment, to support the College’s strategic initiative to increase graduation rates among African American students. This year, the brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Omicron Chi Chapter will be honored for their years as avid supporters and mentors of the College’s Project Achievement Program.

Since 2015, the Close the Gap campaign has raised nearly $300,000 which has been invested in scholarships, grant and program support, and has provided emergency funding to students who are on track to graduate. Since that time, the College’s graduation rate for African American male students has more than quintupled.

The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Omicron Chi Chapter is from Plainfield, New Jersey. The Chapter was established in 1955 and is being honored for its commitment to building the next generation of leaders. They achieve this through their Omega Leadership Institute High School and Community College mentoring programs, essay contests, and scholarships. The members have served as mentors to the African American men in our Project Achievement program which uses intrusive advising techniques to keep our students on path for on-time graduation. The Omicron Chi Chapter has been a dedicated supporter of the Union County College Foundation and was one of the first advocates of the Close the Gap Campaign.

“The College is grateful for the time and commitment the men of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Omicron Chi Chapter have given to improve the lives of Union students,” stated Union County College President Margaret M. McMenamin. “These men serve as leaders and mentors to our African American students. They have inspired our students to complete their degree and continue on at a four-year institution where they can pursue their dreams.”

If you are interested in donating to the Close the Gap Campaign, or would like to learn more about how you can provide financial assistance for students at Union County College, please call (908) 709-7505, email foundation@ucc.edu or visit the Foundation’s website at www.ucc.edu/ctg2021.

The brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Omicron Chi Chapter met with Union students in the Project Achievement program.

College to Host NJCAA Division III Women’s Soccer National Championship June 2-5

CRANFORD – Union County College is proud to serve as host of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III Women’s Soccer National Championship from June 2-5, 2021. The tournament will include eight teams from across the country competing in a series of eight games held between June 2-3 with a final championship game on Saturday, June 5. All games will be played at Union County’s Oak Ridge Park in Clark, New Jersey.

The eight teams to compete in the tournament, in order by seed are: #1 Dallas College – Brookhaven (Texas), #2 Delta College (Michigan), #3 Mohawk Valley Community College (New York), #4 Rowan College of South Jersey Gloucester (New Jersey), #5 Herkimer County Community College (New York), #6 Union County College (New Jersey), #7 Elgin Community College (Illinois), and #8 Suffolk County Community College (New York). This is the Lady Owl’s second appearance at nationals. Union first competed in the national championship in 2018, also seeded sixth of the eight teams, and finished the season ranked third in the nation. The Lady Owls were also recognized with the National Tournament Sportsmanship Plaque for the team whose actions on and off the field have demonstrated fairness, respect, honesty, unselfishness, and responsibility.

The tournament games on June 2 and 3 are at 11am, 1:30pm, 4:30pm, and 7pm. The championship game will be on Saturday, June 5 at 1pm. Tickets for the day are $10 each. Tickets for access to the entire tournament are $20 each. Tickets will be sold at the entrance to the athletic field at Oak Ridge Park and will be cash only.

“We are proud to host the NJCAA Women’s Soccer Championship right here in Union County! It is an honor to showcase our region on the national stage. These student athletes have worked incredibly hard under very unusual circumstances to get to this tournament. We welcome them and wish them all the best of luck,” stated Union President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin.

For more information about Union’s soccer program, and all the NJCAA athletic offerings, please visit www.unionowls.com.