Independent Public Mission Schools

Fairleigh Dickinson University’s 8th President Inaugurated

Patrick Zenner, chair of the Board of Trustees, and Christopher Capuano. In the background is Board Vice Chair Anthony Vespa.

Fairleigh Dickinson University opened for classes on September 16, 1942. Seventy-five years and eleven days later, the University community gathered at the Florham Campus to officially inaugurate its 8th president, Christopher Capuano.

The ceremony took place under a tent on the Library Lawn, before a crowd of more than 500 people, including former FDU presidents Sheldon Drucker and Francis Mertz, higher education dignitaries and other college presidents.

Board Chair Patrick Zenner formally invested Capuano as president, praising him for his “keen intellect, his incredible work ethic, his unrelenting drive and, most of all, his tremendous passion for this University and for our students.”

Acknowledging Capuano’s work in his first year as president, he said, “With this installation today, we officially recognize and commemorate your leadership. We charge you with the responsibility of guiding the institution and confer upon you the authority necessary for the task.”

Zenner bestowed upon Capuano the presidential medallion. “We expect much from you,” he told the president. “In return, we pledge our complete cooperation and support.”

To read more stories about Fairleigh Dickinson, scroll down:

FDU Creates Pathways for High School Students to Excel in STEM Majors
FDU Launches Summer Pre-College Program for High School Students
FDU Students Conduct Research in Novo Nordisk Program
FDU’s International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Achieves ACPHA Accreditation

The inaugural address

In his keynote address, “Celebrating Our Past, Building Our Future”, Capuano said he was “deeply humbled and honored” by the community’s “faith and confidence in me. I promise to do all that I can to meet your expectations and to support you in your efforts.” But, he stressed, leadership is just one element of success — and — that FDU has always advanced best through the efforts of a community united together. “It is our collective will and effort that will carry the day. The true measure of our success will be what we do together.”

Capuano talked about his father — who was there in the audience for the inauguration — an Italian immigrant who came to the United States with nearly nothing. His father worked hard, ultimately earning a college degree and enjoying an accomplished career. Capuano says what he most learned from his family is, “The best things in life are not the things that are given to you, but rather those things that you work hard for and earn.”

Discussing the grand tradition of the University, Capuano praised those who built the foundation and instilled core values that have propelled the University to great heights. “These values include an unwavering commitment to developing world citizens, to innovation and adaptation, to access and opportunity for diverse populations, and to rapid responsiveness to real-world concerns and society’s changing needs.”

Moving to the present, he said, “What we are doing today is going to make possible an even better and brighter future.” But, he cautioned, “There are winds of change blowing all around us.” Among the challenges he mentioned were an increasingly crowded marketplace, a declining number of high school graduates, higher costs and climbing student debt, lower graduation and job placement rates and too few students from underrepresented populations going to college.

Citing the track record of innovative programs at FDU and the recent success of major initiatives like the Vancouver Campus and the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Capuano said the current strategic plan provides a roadmap that will establish more centers of excellence and further elevate the University’s reputation.

Among the exciting developments underway or about to happen, he said, are the strengthening of the University’s programs in health sciences and business, the expansion of the International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management to Canada and England, the new School of Public and Global Affairs and the forthcoming School of the Arts. In addition, he said, the University is finalizing an agreement with a major hotel company to construct new facilities, including a hotel, on the Metropolitan Campus.

He also announced that the University’s most ambitious capital campaign in history, currently in the quiet phase, is off to a great start with commitments totaling more than $30 million.

But, he emphasized, “We cannot rest on our laurels. Change will continue to come. We must stay true to our values, adapt when necessary and always do what’s in the best interests of our students … We will honor our past, while building a brighter future.”

One leader to another

Vincent Forlenza, chairman and chief executive officer of BD, attended the event as an honored guest and delivered congratulatory remarks for the occasion.

“Grounded in the traditions and guiding principles of the University’s past, energized by its strengths and accomplishments, [Chris Capuano] knows, too, that what differentiates FDU from other institutions of higher learning are its people — faculty, staff, alumni, students, parents and friends — who will come together like never before to write the next great chapter of this incredible University.”

He praised the long history of cooperation, collaboration and partnership between the medical technology company and the University — both of which would not exist without namesake Colonel Fairleigh S. Dickinson. Together with his business partner, Maxwell Becton, Dickinson founded BD in 1897. Decades later, he matched the seed money needed to found FDU.

“I want to emphasize how proud we are at BD to have been here from the beginning — 75 years ago — and to partner in the University’s mission and growth. Since the days of Colonel Dickinson and Maxwell Becton’s involvement, BD has built on its tradition of investing in FDU and its students,” Forlenza said.

Throughout the years, BD has invested in Henry P. Becton School of Nursing and Allied Health, and specifically the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, and the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. The company continually funds scholarships for nursing students.

Forlenza also offered tips from one president to another: don’t insist on being called Mr. President, surround yourself with the smartest and best leaders, and always do the right thing — even if it’s not the most expedient, cost effective or popular choice.

He concluded: “FDU and BD are united by our common ideals and aspirations, and we at BD are excited about the future of the University.”

The trusted adviser

By Capuano’s side, helping set the academic tone for that very future, is Gillian Small, University provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. She lauded Capuano’s efforts over the last year — most related to initiatives outlined in the strategic plan — and previous contributions during his well-established career with FDU.

“With his bold ideas, Chris has helped set this trajectory and, now as president, he will continue to lead and support this ambitious agenda,” she said.

“There are various qualities needed to be a great university president — in addition to having sound ideas and being able to carry them through, you need to be able to listen to others — be flexible and think outside the box, be forward thinking, collaborative and, perhaps most important, have a good sense of humor. In the brief time I have been at the University, I have witnessed many of these qualities already in Chris.”

The student perspective

The three Student Government Association presidents, who represent student populations at the Metropolitan, Florham and Vancouver campuses, were members of the platform party.

In his remarks, Akshay Patel noted that he and his counterparts, Sean Mehr and Nuttanit Boonprasert look forward to engaging with Capuano on behalf of the entire student body.

“The strategic plan focuses most directly on our students. It emphasizes student-centered learning and campus unity. As a representative of all students of the University, I encourage all of us to become active learners and form a solidified, unified student body,” said Patel.

Following the ceremony, the student presidents presented Capuano with a proclamation.

The decree reads, in part, “We salute President Capuano and congratulate him on earning this prestigious appointment … With cooperation and solidarity for the vision he aspires toward, we the student body pledge to support President Capuano’s efforts, to continue to advocate for the interests of the academic community and the growth of student life and to help build a new era of excellence at Fairleigh Dickinson University.”

The FDU community

Faculty, staff and alumni representatives also officially welcomed, praised and congratulated the 8th president of FDU during the inaugural ceremony.

“President Capuano’s long and successful history of academic leadership at FDU places him in a unique position to exercise leadership and stewardship in both responding to the challenges and opportunities facing Fairleigh Dickinson University, while guarding the core values of our University,” said David Rosen, professor of anthropology and president of the FDU Faculty Senate. “We are confident that he has the skills and dedication to lead us as we work together to realize this vision.

Sarah Azavedo, director of student life and president of the Professional Administrative Senate, said: “Although the road ahead may present a few detours and challenges along the way, know that you have a highly skilled and dedicated professional staff eager to work toward the betterment of FDU as we prepare and support the next generation of scholars.”

“What gives us alumni great confidence is that your shoes have walked many, many miles at FDU, and you are ready to lead this University into its next chapter as higher education continues to evolve rapidly,” said Stephen Bozer, MBA’06, president of the Alumni Association Board of Governors.

Reflecting on the day, Capuano expressed his deep gratitude for all involved in the ceremony and planning, the well-wishes from the community and the pledges to work together to better FDU. “My heart is full of pride today, and I’m so very excited for what our collective future holds. We’ve celebrated the past and future today, and here in the present, we’re transforming this University into the best it can be. I can’t wait for what comes next for our students.”

Giselle Pena

FDU Creates Pathways for High School Students to Excel in STEM Majors

A lawyer. That’s what Giselle Pena, a graduate of Union City High School, imagined herself becoming as she thought about her future career and college choice. But when Pena participated in the Technical Enrichment and Outreach Program (TEOP) – offered by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Gildart Haase School of Computer Sciences and Engineering – during her freshman year of high school, she found she loved civil engineering. She soon realized it could be a career path that combines her passion for math and public speaking.

With this newly ignited interest, Pena started taking classes in architecture and civil engineering at her high school. “It is because of TEOP that I knew I wanted to go to a university that specializes in engineering and research, and that allowed my public speaking skills to flourish,” says Pena.

TEOP introduces participants to different branches of engineering every week, from aeronautical to mechanical. During civil engineering week, Pena showcased her interest in working with her hands by building one of the strongest bridges for the bridge competition, ultimately winning the bronze medal. “From that day forward I knew I wanted to be a civil engineer,” says Pena.

Four years later, her TEOP experience led her to college. Her interest in civil engineering motivated Pena to apply to Columbia University – she was accepted and just started her first semester this fall. “TEOP is the stepping stone that lead me to what I love,” says Pena.

TEOP promotes computer science, engineering, mathematics and engineering technology to public high schools with large populations of under-represented minority and/or financially disadvantaged students. Students attend introductory engineering lectures and take part in guided, hands-on, technology-centric projects, and computer activities for 10 Saturdays per semester at the Gildart Haase School of Computer Sciences and Engineering at FDU’s Metropolitan Campus.

Englewood Academies student Evan Lopez works on a robot as part of the Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class. (Photo by Sai Sankar)

FDU Launches Summer Pre-College Program for High School Students

Fairleigh Dickinson University launched its first pre-college program for high school students this summer. In the innovative program, developed and managed by FDU’s Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies, 50 high school students enrolled. Students took courses ranging from artificial intelligence to animation and cybersecurity, and were awarded college credit for completing the courses.

The program ran from July 10 through August 3. The program is designed to offer high school students hands-on courses in cutting-edge professional technology and design fields, while giving them their first college campus experience. Cybersecurity instructor Michael Divito says “This program gave students the opportunity to see what courses were offered by the University and also receive first-hand experiences in classes that piqued their interest.”

Students enrolled in the program also enjoyed the college experience. “I took away a very good understanding of robotics, though I went into the program with no prior experience,” says Ariana Alatis, a junior at Avenues: The World School in New York City. Student enthusiasm also seemed to inspire instructors like Rudy Agresta, an adjunct professor, who says, “I thoroughly enjoyed working with the students who were enrolled in my classes. They showed great interest and were quite engaged with the assignments I prepared for them.”

FDU plans to expand its pre-college course offerings next year to ensure even more students have a broad selection of courses to choose.

“This was a fun experience for the kids and a great program for Petrocelli College to create for the University. We look forward to building upon this success by creating an even better program for area high school students next summer,” says Lisa Braverman, dean of Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies.

Rebecca Wodzinski is a junior in the five-year chemistry program with a concentration in pharmaceutical chemistry. Also studying for a minor in physics, Wodzinski did her project on DNA, and hopes to one day work in pharmaceutical drug development research.

FDU Students Conduct Research in Novo Nordisk Program

For the sixth straight year, Becton College’s Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Science hosted the Novo Nordisk Undergraduate Research Program. The program hosts six Fairleigh Dickinson University students and their faculty mentors for 10 weeks of intensive, mentored research on a publishable topic. At the end of the 10-week program, students present their research to Novo Nordisk, a pharmaceutical company, on campus.

Three students who participated this year share their experience:

Participating in the Novo Nordisk Scholars Program has provided me with a number of educational and experiential opportunities. Through the generous financial support of Novo Nordisk, I was able to dedicate the summer to intensive research work. The ability to continue the work I started during the previous academic year has been invaluable in furthering my progress in both my research, as well as in my chemical education. I have greatly expanded my laboratory and research skills during my summer experience.

Furthermore, time spent in the lab during the summer is immensely more productive than during the hectic school semester. During the academic year, I am not always able to dedicate as much time and energy to my research project as I would like to. Summertime, therefore, is the ideal time to conduct research, unhindered by the usual time and scheduling constraints. Additionally, it is extremely helpful to be able to do this work at a time when my faculty mentor, Mohammed Elshaer, assistant professor of biochemistry, is also more available to perform research.

Over the course of the 10-week program, we were able to carry out several longer-term reactions, explore alternative reaction routes, optimize reaction conditions, and characterize our products. I was extremely pleased to be able to present such quantifiable progress and findings at the end of this program; this wonderful opportunity to present my work to an audience is excellent career preparation in and of itself. I am also extremely excited to present our findings at outside research symposia and conferences.

All in all, I am grateful to everyone involved in the 2017 Novo Nordisk Scholars Program. I have thoroughly enjoyed the immersion into an atmosphere of innovation, discovery, and a true passion for science. Living and working alongside other undergraduate researchers has fostered a cooperative and supportive learning and working environment, which I am proud to be a part of. It has granted me a greater insight into the collaborative nature of science, and has better prepared me for a future career in chemical research.

Melissa Rock

The Novo Nordisk Undergraduate Summer Research program was a wonderful opportunity for me to gain valuable hands-on research experience. It allowed me to get a 10-week head start on a research project that I will be continuing in the upcoming year. I became familiar with techniques and routine processes in the lab, as I ran reactions, performed by previous research students in my group, as well as brand new reactions. Also, I became proficient at specific reactions and processes for my indazole (an organic compound) project.

I learned techniques, including purifying crude reaction mixtures and using syringes to add air sensitive reagents to my reaction mixtures. I learned how to perform the aqueous workup required for my research and work under certain conditions like an inert argon atmosphere. I gained experience using different analysis techniques like Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) and proton Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). Traditional organic chemistry lab classes do not always offer enough exposure on running these tests, which is why this program was so beneficial. I became familiar with performing the prep work necessary for taking a TLC analysis and I also used the software required for the NMR machine. My mentor provided me with insight and guidance throughout the process. This program showed me how to manage and oversee my reactions using these analyses. Additionally, presenting my findings helped me improve my presentation skills.

The Novo Nordisk program allowed me to develop skills that I know I will be using in the future. As a pharmacy major who wants to go into pharmaceutical research, specifically drug design and development, it is crucial for me to gain as much knowledge as possible about drugs and drug design. This research program gave me the opportunity to be exposed to this knowledge and environment. This summer was the first time I got the chance to do what I will be doing for the rest of my life and I enjoyed every minute of it. This Novo Nordisk summer program was a great opportunity for me and I am truly grateful that I was able to take part in it.

Alex Geczo

The Novo Nordisk program was an incredible opportunity and experience. It has given me a head start on continuing my research in the fall, as I work toward the ultimate goal of being a published author in a scientific journal.

Working in the laboratory helped me enhance my skills in precision and accuracy, and has given me the opportunity to use several laboratory instruments and processes to analyze my samples. The opportunity to work one on one with my mentor, Svetlana Bashkova, assistant professor of chemistry, was an amazing mentorship experience that helped improve my literature research and data analysis skills, as well as my presentation and scientific writing skills.

This program helped prepare me for the classes I will be taking as I go into my senior year and has ignited my passion for research. After graduating, I plan to pursue a career as a medicinal chemist.

FDU’s International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Achieves ACPHA Accreditation

Fairleigh Dickinson University’s International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management has been granted initial accreditation from the prestigious Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA) for a period of seven years. This is a celebrated achievement as ACPHA has accredited less than 70 programs in hospitality management.

The International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University is currently rated one of the top ten hospitality management programs in the country by The Best, as well as being rated by the Princeton Review’s Gourman Report as one of the top fifteen 4-year hospitality management programs in the United States.

“Achieving accreditation is a significant milestone for our BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management program. We are extremely proud of this accomplishment,” said Dr. Joseph Tormey, director of FDU’s International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. “As part of the University’s Strategic Plan and growth vision for the School, ACPHA accreditation is a key indicator of success and an important recognition of the strengths of our programs.”

Located in the center of the world’s largest hospitality and tourism market, the School has two main New Jersey campuses in Teaneck and Madison, and five off-site locations at Atlantic City, Jersey City, Mercer County, Ocean County, and Wyndham International in Parsippany. In addition to the New Jersey locations, FDU has two international campuses in Vancouver, British Columbia and Wroxton, UK.

“Enrollment and interest in our hospitality programs has grown year over year. As one of the most storied hospitality schools in the United States, it is quite fitting that FDU’s International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management should receive this acknowledgement of its excellence,” said Dr. Gillian Small, University Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. “In addition, we are pleased to announce the MS in Hospitality Management Studies will be offered at our campus in Wroxton, England beginning in Spring 2018, expanding the global reach of our outstanding program and furthering professional opportunities for our students.”

The School has produced thousands of graduates since its founding in 1942. Its alumni hold many notable domestic and international leadership and management positions in the hospitality industry both in the United States and around the world. Each year, the School receives over 700 intern and career track job opportunities for its students, both locally and internationally.