“I knew I was going to be controversial, but not that controversial,” President Cole jokingly said to faculty and staff at the start of her annual Opening Day address as the fire alarm sounded from a steam pipe burst downstairs at Kasser Theater Tuesday, causing a 10 minute delay.
President Cole kicked off her speech explaining the history of Montclair State University from 1908 to 1998, which was her first year as President of the University. The University’s enrollment has grown from approximately 12,000 to 21,000 students throughout the years. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in new facilities, residential buildings, schools, research and more.
“On July 17, 2017, Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill establishing MSU as a public research university,” said Cole. According to North Jersey.com’s article on the subject, this will help Montclair State with more funding for tuition aid grants and scholarships, as well as increase partnerships for construction projects.
Cole mentioned the start of two new programs, the Discovery Program and STEM Pioneers. The Discovery Program is designed to guide incoming freshmen toward a selection of a major that meet their educational goals. Students in the program will choose one of five tracks aligned with their interests. These five tracks are education service and society, management and industry, arts culture and design, technology and innovation, and sciences and the environment. The other program, STEM Pioneers, focuses on incoming first generation college freshmen who are undeclared and think they may pursue a career in science. This is to increase science literacy.
“The incoming 2021 class is an academically prepared and diverse group,” said Cole. African American applicants came from 47 states, including Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and about two dozen foreign countries. More than 29% of students from the incoming class identify as hispanic while 22% of the incoming class identify as African American, a 6% increase since last year. The top choices of majors are psychology, business administration, family and child studies, teacher certifications and justice studies.
President Cole described the new Communication and Media building as more advanced than many professional production facilities. With a partnership with Sony Entertainment, there is a 4k Control Room and Studio, a Newsroom, a 150-Seat presentation room, a robotic room for remote camera control and more advanced technologies. Radio studios will include space for The Montclarion and The Center of Cooperative Media. The formal opening of the building will be on Sept. 26, and there will be a range of events held there throughout the fall semester. She said that there is great potential and that students should take advantage of the buildings resources.
Facilities has a busy agenda, with the goal to complete the expansion of Mallory Hall and the Dept. of Computer Sciences and Sciences/Mathematics by Fall of 2018. This will be the first time in the 109 year history of College Hall that it will undergo a makeover, which will take place over a 2-year span. It will allow expanding faculty to be ready for another century of service.
Cole focused on three events pertaining to the role of students and faculty at Montclair State: Protecting the safety of undocumented immigrants, assistance with Hurricane Harvey and the rallies at the University of Virginia.
“The University’s website holds a link on the main page for students needing guidance for documentation issues,” said Cole.
“We reached out to institutes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina,” said Cole. “MSU is now monitoring the status of institutes and needs of institutes impacted by [Hurricane Harvey]. If there are any ways that Montclair State can provide assistance, we will do that.”
“Speech is civilization itself,” she said. “It is not only our role to respond to those events, it is our role to seek to understand events and to impart that understanding to others. Then respond in ways that are appropriate to an educational and scholarly institution. It is certain that we will be engaged in the increase of public expressions, whether it would be discussions in classes or big loud events on campus.”
She said four aspects that concern the University are the safety of campus, the role of the University as a defender of free speech, the moral obligations of the University to the nation and the responsibility of the University to inform the discretion of students.
There are 35 new tenure track faculty and administration members, including Dr. Keith Strudler, the new director of the School of Communication and Media.
“It was exciting to see the School of Communication and Media highlighted in the presentation,” Strudler said. “It was great to hear President Cole’s excitement on the new facility. It was really interesting to be a part of that presentation. Beyond that, I was enthused and proud of the President’s bold statement on how the MSU community should treat each other. She set the perfect tone for how we will spend our time together throughout the year.”