Independent Public Mission Schools

Monmouth University Computer Science Hosts ‘Hack’ Session for Young Girls, Local Nonprofits

The Monmouth University Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, in conjunction with Random Hacks of Kindness Junior (RHoKJr), hosted its first Random Hacks of Kindness Junior: Kids Coding for A Cause event this fall in the School of Science atrium.

Nearly 50 female students in grades four through eight participated in the daylong event. Students were divided into 13 teams, with each team working on behalf of a local nonprofit organization, guided by a computer science and software engineering student and/or an alumna mentor.

Once the teams were devised, the nonprofit representative assigned to each group described their organization and assisted the participants in understanding how it helps people. Working together, they brainstormed ideas for an app that could support the organization or its stakeholders. The students were guided by their Monmouth mentor to follow an identified process for developing requirements and a design, and students pitched their ideas to the nonprofit.

Using an open source coding tool, MIT App Inventor, the students learned the basics of app design and the idea creation and brainstorming processes required to build a successful prototype mobile application.

While designing, creating and testing the apps, the attendees were able to interact with their fellow student collaborators and their computing mentor while learning more about local humanitarian efforts.

“Random Hacks of Kindness Junior’s mission of combining social need with computer programming makes a lasting impression on young girls,” said Patrice Gans, founder and executive director of RoHKJr. “Together, RHoKJr and the dedicated professors and computer science majors from Monmouth University, were able to bring coding to these girls and provide them with the opportunity to see themselves as programmers and agents of change.”

The nonprofit representatives were pleased with the application ideas that the participants had created for them. Parents and students both were astonished by what the children were able to create during the course of a single day.

“Inviting Random Hacks of Kindness Junior to run their ‘coding for a cause’ event at Monmouth University was a huge step toward building an ‘I can code!’ confidence in these young women, something essential given the current inequality in the computing workforce,” said Jamie Kretsch, chair of the department of computer science and software engineering.

Kretsch said she believes it is essential for Monmouth to encourage young female students to explore this field. “I consider it our responsibility to help make students aware of opportunities that they might not otherwise learn about. We also know firsthand that there is an imbalance in female technologists and that positive change must begin with young girls and their families. This event, I believe, helped educate the families as much as the youngsters.”

According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, 1.1 million U.S. computing-related job openings are expected by the year 2024 and, as of 2016, women held only 26 percent of professional computing occupations.

“The products, experiences, entertainment — really, everything we use today — revolve around technology and are not gender-specific. That makes it even more essential that design and development be shared by representatives of all segments of the population, regardless of gender. By offering programs like this, we can help contribute to the solution,” Kretsch said.

Monmouth University offers a variety of computer science and software engineering degrees, including bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a minor in Computer Science, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Software Engineering, and an M.S. in Information Systems.

Local nonprofits that participated in this event included STEAMpark, Coastal Communities Family Success Center, Redeem-Her, Family Resource Associates, Inc., CPC Behavioral Healthcare, Lunch Break, 180 Turning Lives Around, The Seeing Eye, Inc., Mary’s Place by the Sea.

For more information on Monmouth University Computer Science and Software Engineering, visit

For more information on Random Hacks of Kindness Junior, visit

The Friends of Bruce Springsteen Special Collection, Inc. Donates Thousands of Items to Monmouth University

When Monmouth University announced plans for its collaborative partnership to establish The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music earlier this year, global interest in the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection skyrocketed.

Much of the collection, comprised of Springsteen’s written works, photographs, periodicals, and artifacts, had been on loan to the university for the past six years, and now has been formally gifted to the university for inclusion in the Archives by The Friends of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection, Inc., a not-for-profit organization for people interested in helping to preserve the history of Bruce Springsteen and his music.

“When Bob Crane and I started this collection more than 15 years ago, we imagined something big: something impressive, permanent, and unique, an unparalleled resource of use to fans, students, and scholars around the world,” said Christopher Phillips, publisher and editor of Backstreets and president of the Friends of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection. “Given the importance of Bruce Springsteen’s work in our own lives, we wanted to preserve and consolidate all this material before it faded away. But I don’t think either of us imagined how much the collection would grow — thanks to the dedication, labor, and generosity of fans worldwide — and that we’d eventually find such a perfect home. As a founder, I couldn’t be more pleased to have discovered a partner in Monmouth University to preserve and expand the collection for future generations. And to be able to augment Bruce Springsteen’s personal archive is literally a dream come true.”

The Bruce Springsteen Special Collection originated in the summer of 2001 when the Springsteen fanzine, Backstreets Magazine, organized a fan-to-fan campaign to collect and organize essential documents from each phase of Springsteen’s career, ensuring that the historic record would be publicly accessible to all who have a serious interest in Bruce Springsteen’s life and music. Originally held in the Asbury Park Public Library, the university acquired the collection on loan in 2011. At that time, the Asbury Park Public Library also donated its own collection to the university. The collection offers Springsteen fans the chance to explore various aspects of his career. Students, scholars, and journalists continue to benefit from the enhanced access to the diverse holdings. The collection has continued to grow with the addition of recordings, photographs, oral histories, film footage, and other documents, totaling nearly 35,000 items from 47 countries, all of which will be housed in The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University.

“The Archives represent a learning opportunity for our students that will resound for decades to come,” said Kenneth Womack, dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Monmouth University. “We owe a great debt to the Friends for establishing the collection and for working with Monmouth University to expand the holdings and seek out new ways for sharing music education across our local communities and beyond.”

The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music will preserve and promote the legacy of Bruce Springsteen and his role in American music, while honoring and celebrating icons of American music like Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, Frank Sinatra, and others. The expanded partnership will help to more deeply integrate the history and inspiration of American music into the curriculum and research experience at Monmouth. It will also serve to bolster an already highly successful music industry program at the university, one of only 14 university affiliates of the GRAMMY Museum.

Rumson and Monmouth University Announce Partnership to Build Marine Field Station on Navesink River

Monmouth University and the Borough of Rumson unveiled plans recently to develop a new Monmouth Marine and Environmental Field Station on municipal property located on the banks of the Navesink River. The facility will provide unique opportunities for scientific research and educational collaboration between the professionals and students of the university and local schools.

Several borough and university officials were on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the site of the future field station. Tentative plans call for the addition of classroom, laboratory and meeting space above an existing sewer pump station on Avenue of the Two Rivers, behind the municipal building. The facility is located adjacent to the public boat ramp on the Navesink River, which will provide convenient access to the water for the university’s research vessels.

“This partnership is a win-win for Monmouth University and for our residents, especially students from our local schools, who have an interest and a thirst for science,” Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl said. “Our students will be able to take part and assist with hands-on research and class activities related to the waterways surrounding the borough, which will be led by some of the most respected experts in their field.”

“As the region’s leading private coastal university with our main campus just a mile from the ocean, Monmouth University has an important role to play in exploring the Jersey Shore’s marine environments and sharing that knowledge with our neighboring communities,” Monmouth University President Grey Dimenna said. “We are excited about the distinctive research opportunities at the field station for our students and faculty and thank our partners in Rumson for making this possible.”

Faculty from the University’s School of Science and Urban Coast Institute (UCI) have long used the boat ramp as a launch point for research in area water bodies such as the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers, the Sandy Hook and Raritan bays, New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. The university has already been granted access to the property to store vessels and other scientific equipment.

“This facility will help us build a better understanding of the scientific challenges facing the Navesink and Shrewsbury watersheds, from water quality issues to the rise of invasive species,” School of Science Dean Dr. Steven Bachrach said. “It will also be a great asset for the School of Science’s continued growth as one of the East Coast’s premiere marine and environmental biology programs.”

“The field station will allow our students to conduct hands-on, cutting-edge research projects that make a difference in the Two River communities,” UCI Director Tony MacDonald said. “These activities will prepare our students for their careers and perhaps attract a new generation of scientists.”

Rumson and the university will continue to collaborate on a site plan, a timetable, and fundraising to support the field station project. For more information, contact Karl Vilacoba at (732) 571-3688 or

Former Governor, Richard J. Codey, to Serve as Monmouth University’s 2017-2018 Public Servant-in-Residence

Monmouth University is pleased to announce that former New Jersey Governor Richard J. Codey will be the 2017-2018 Public Servant-in-Residence. Codey will give select lectures on the importance of public service and mental health policy while participating in public events on campus during the fall and spring semesters. Former New Jersey Governors James Florio, Christine Todd Whitman and Brendan T. Byrne all previously served in the role as Public Servant-in-Residence with the University.

“Governor Codey’s long distinguished career in the Legislature as well as the Governor’s office brings a unique perspective that not many have experienced, and his commitment to public service and mental health issues is respected and admired,” said Monmouth University President Grey J. Dimenna. “Our students and faculty will receive a tremendous benefit from interacting with him on campus throughout the academic year.”

Codey served as New Jersey’s 53rd Governor from 2004 to 2006. As Governor, Codey championed a bill to ban smoking from indoor spaces in the State, more money for stem cell research, and increased funding for mental health. He also created a task force to recommend ways to end steroid abuse in high school and college sports in the state. The task force established drug testing for high school athletes on teams that play in the championships, with the state paying for the drug testing program. He also successfully negotiated for MetLife Stadium, which was constructed jointly by the New York Giants and New York Jets.

In addition to his service as Governor, Codey is also the longest-serving state legislator in New Jersey history, having served in the New Jersey Legislature continuously since January 8, 1974 when he was sworn into the Assembly at age 27. He has served in the New Jersey Senate since 1982 and served as the President of the Senate from 2002 to 2010. In his years in the legislature, he has become one of New Jersey’s fiercest mental health advocates, spearheading countless improvements that have led to better mental health care throughout the state of New Jersey. He also recently sponsored the law increasing the age to purchase tobacco to 21.

Governor Codey received a bachelor’s degree in education from Fairleigh Dickinson University. A licensed funeral director and insurance broker, Codey also headed an insurance company.

The Public Servant-in-Residence program is coordinated by the Office of the President as well as the Department of Political Science and Sociology. The program was created in 2000 to provide a venue for public officials to share their expertise with students and the campus community at Monmouth University.