New & Noteworthy

Campus updates, philanthropic highlights, key hires, and more from the previous year
light pole with Monmouth flag

Inside Higher Ed Praises Monmouth’s Strong Fiscal Health


recent top story on the website of Inside Higher Ed, one of the industry’s leading news publications, proclaimed Monmouth “The Rare Debt-Free College,” lauding the University’s track record of enhancing infrastructure and increasing student aid while incurring minimal debt.

“While most financially healthy higher ed institutions tend to carry some level of debt, Monmouth is unusual in resisting the urge to borrow even as it continues to develop its campus and invest in student aid,” the article notes. “Monmouth counts only $1.3 million in debt, which officials said is part of a state loan subsidy program. Otherwise, the balance sheet is clear, which leaders say has long been a strategic priority.”

The article goes on to explain that Monmouth’s disciplined financial approach and “steadfast commitment to operating with little to no debt on the balance sheet” has been made possible by “the development of a healthy capital reserve fund” and a “focus on self-financing projects and leveraging internal funds, grants and gifts to fund development.” It also highlights a similar news report by North Jersey Media Group in 2022 that ranked Monmouth second, behind only Princeton University, in an independent financial assessment of New Jersey’s private colleges and universities.

Speaking with Inside Higher Ed for the article, Jeff Spear, the founder of CFO Colleague, a financial and operational advisory firm specializing in higher education, had high praise for Monmouth’s fiscal approach.

“They are just well managed and have a solid donor pipeline,” Spear told the publication.

aerial view of Monmouth common area

Nagy Common: A Vibrant Legacy Fostered by Stafford’s Six-Figure Donation

A substantial gift from President Emerita Rebecca Stafford ’03HN will enhance and beautify a popular spot on campus while honoring the dedicated service of Stafford’s friend and former colleague, Mary Anne Nagy ’91M, ’01M, who retired in June after 37 years of service to Monmouth.

Stafford’s donation will transform the central outdoor common area adjacent to the eastern side of the Rebecca Stafford Student Center into a vibrant and inviting space. The multipurpose area, which will be renamed Nagy Common, will provide a modern gathering place for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends to socialize and hold events, helping to foster an even greater sense of community on campus. At the same time, renaming the space in Nagy’s honor will ensure that her legacy of providing all students with an equitable student life experience will endure on campus for generations.

Stafford, who served as president from 1993 to 2003, contributed to the University’s growth and elevated educational quality during her tenure. Nagy’s journey at Monmouth began in 1986, and her talent, dedication to students, and leadership skills led Stafford to promote her to vice president for student services in 1994.

Now, thanks to Stafford’s continued support of Monmouth, all who enter the east side of the Rebecca Stafford Student Center will pass through Nagy Common, forever connecting two notable female leaders at the University.

$1 Million-Plus in Funding Fuels Center for Entrepreneurship’s Growth

Monmouth’s efforts to reinvent the Center for Entrepreneurship received a significant boost this year thanks to a generous donation that will help create a dynamic space and public funding that will provide educational opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs from underserved communities.
Monmouth speaker giving a presentation
HawkTank 2023
The donation, a $500,000 gift from The Jules L. Plangere Jr. Family Foundation Inc., will facilitate the renovation and outfitting of 1,500 square feet of space in Bey Hall, creating a cutting-edge new home for the Center. When complete, the space will include a multipurpose incubator lab outfitted with interactive technologies that will help foster interaction between students, mentors, industry experts, and community members. It will also boast a video conference room, enabling students and entrepreneurs from the community to pitch concepts to investors around the world, as well as lecture, meeting, and office spaces.
The $640,000 in public funding, which was secured with support from U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, will assist the center in nurturing aspiring entrepreneurs from underserved communities in central New Jersey, particularly Asbury Park and Long Branch. The center will use the funds to provide essential educational opportunities, including a hands-on summer boot camp for local high school students and an accelerator-style program for existing entrepreneurs.

Monmouth recently embarked on a significant reinvention of its Center for Entrepreneurship as part of the University’s five-year strategic plan, Excellence. Access. Ambition., with the aim of transforming the center into a hub that fosters entrepreneurism, innovation, and creativity for all members of the University community as well as the surrounding state and regional communities. As part of those efforts, the University hired a new director, Alison Gilbert, who brought nearly two decades of experience coaching early-stage entrepreneurs to the role, and relaunched HawkTank, an annual business pitch competition that connects budding student entrepreneurs with successful business leaders and investors.

Golf Outing Raises Over $200,000 in Support of Student-Athletes

The 2023 Monmouth University Golf Outing, held at the pristine Metedeconk National Golf Club in June, raised more than $200,000—including $61,000 through the online auction, an all-time high.

The money raised will support the Athletic Director’s Excellence Fund, which directly benefits the more than 600 student-athletes competing in Monmouth’s 24 Division I teams. The fund plays a vital role in enabling these student-athletes to realize their full potential, both academically and on the playing field. In recent years, the fund has supported student-athlete networking opportunities and professional development seminars, heart rate monitors that enable players to reach peak performance levels, and other important initiatives.

With Monmouth’s recent move into the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA), Hawk student-athletes are competing at a higher level against some of the nation’s strongest mid-major programs. This support from the hundreds of golfers, auction donors and bidders, and sponsors, including the event’s title sponsor, DefinedLogic, will be instrumental in ensuring Monmouth’s student-athletes continue to excel on the field and in the classroom.

Golf course

Inaugural Gala Raises $500,000 to Support Student Scholarships

The University’s first-ever Gala at the Great Hall, held on Dec. 3, 2022, was a resounding success, raising half a million dollars in support of the Access Fund. This important fund provides scholarships for deserving students facing financial challenges, ensuring they have the opportunity to pursue their dreams of a Monmouth education.

Amidst the grandeur of Monmouth’s beloved historic building, the more than 350 alumni and friends in attendance enjoyed high-end action stations, craft cocktails, live music, and a brief but powerful program that featured a student speaker and vocal artists.

As part of the celebration, President Patrick F. Leahy paid tribute to Trudy and Charlie Parton ’01HN, recipients of the 2022 President’s Medal, which is the highest honor Monmouth can bestow on individuals who have dedicated exemplary time and philanthropy to the University. For nearly 40 years, the Partons have been loyal to advancing Monmouth’s educational mission through philanthropic initiatives and extensive involvement in the campus community.

This year’s Gala at the Great Hall is scheduled for Dec. 2. More information is available at

folks sitting at their table at the Inaugural Gala
Senior Maria Monzon with President’s Medal recipients Charlie ’01HN and Trudy Parton
Senior Maria Monzon, who spoke at the gala, with President’s Medal recipients Charlie ’01HN and Trudy Parton

Bernice King Brings Message of Peace to Campus

Bernice King, CEO of The King Center, the official memorial to the life, work, and legacy of her father, Martin Luther King Jr., was the featured speaker for a moderated discussion titled “Building the Beloved Community” in October 2022. The event was cosponsored by Monmouth’s Social Justice Academy, which is generously funded by the Grunin Foundation, and the Intercultural Center and was part of the Academy’s Combating Racial Injustice through Education Professional Development Series.

The “beloved community” is a term popularized by her father and her mother, Coretta Scott King, and refers to “a love-centered community where the humanity of everyone is honored and respected … [and where] every individual is able to thrive and live out their purpose in this life,” Bernice King said. “There’s a commitment inside the beloved community to work to rid it of injustices, in particular my father’s triple evils of racism, militarism, and poverty.”

King referenced her father’s visit to Monmouth’s campus 56 years ago. During his speech “The Future of Integration,” the late King remarked, “We have come a long, long way; but … we must honestly face the fact that we still have a long, long way to go before the problem of racial injustice is solved.”

“What daddy said back then is very true today,” King said last fall.

Bernice King comes to campus
Bernice King

Alumna Journalist Honored at Commencement

Linda Deutsch ’65, ’23HN, a seasoned reporter who spent 50 years covering high-profile court cases for The Associated Press, delivered the Commencement address at Monmouth University’s graduate and doctoral Commencement exercises in May. She also spoke at the all-undergraduate class gathering and was honored with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

As one of the few female journalists in the Los Angeles bureau when she joined the AP, Deutsch rose through the ranks and earned the title of special correspondent, a designation bestowed on only 18 reporters since the AP’s inception in 1846. Throughout her remarkable career, she became a leading expert in celebrity trial coverage, reporting on cases involving Charles Manson, Patty Hearst, O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, and more. Monmouth’s Student Journalism Center is named in her honor.

This year marked the first time that the University held its spring Commencement exercises in the Dr. Marilyn A. McNeil Arena. In total, the University conferred 876 undergraduate, 435 graduate, and 15 doctoral degrees to the Class of 2023.

Linda Deutsch
Linda Deutsch
a new center court scoreboard
A new center court scoreboard, made possible by funding support from Bob and Myrna Raskin ’87M, ’95M, and side video boards, made possible by support from Raman Lakshmanan, Ph.D., specialist professor of computer science and software engineering, were installed in OceanFirst Bank Center in May prior to Commencement.

MLB Commissioner Praises Monmouth Pre-Law Students

Last year, Monmouth pre-law students jointly submitted an 80-page proposal to Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, appealing a blown call that robbed former Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga of a perfect game in 2010. Although Manfred denied the students’ appeal, he was so impressed with their work that he met with them this past February for a candid question-and-answer session, via Zoom, about the legal and social challenges confronting MLB. After fielding questions from students on topics ranging from the league’s policies on domestic violence and drug testing to the low numbers of women in front-office jobs, Manfred said, “Your … questions were absolutely outstanding. I wish when I did a press conference, I had such intelligent questions. That’s often not the case.”

Appointments & Accolades

  • President Patrick F. Leahy, Ed.D.; Robin Mama, Ph.D., dean of the School of Social Work; and Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth Polling Institute, were named to ROI-NJ’s ROI Influencers: Higher Education 2022 lists. Leahy was featured in the Top Presidents list while Murray and Mama were named in ROI’s Top Deans and Directors lists, respectively. Leahy and Murray were also named to the 2022 NJBIZ Education Power 50 list, and Murray was named to the NJBIZ Power 100 List.
  • Robyn Salvo, associate vice president for human resources, was elected to serve as chair-elect of the board of directors of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources for the 2023–24 fiscal year. She will then serve as chair of the board for the 2024–25 fiscal year.
  • Tony MacDonald, director of the Urban Coast Institute, received The Coastal Society’s Outstanding Service Award, presented for outstanding accomplishments in coastal management.
  • Monmouth University Trustees Tasha Youngblood Brown ’97, ’03M and Valerie Montecalvo were named to NJBIZ’s Best 50 Women in Business list for 2022.

Swannack Gateway Dedicated

Monmouth renamed the underpass that connects the residential and academic sides of the main campus in honor of Patricia L. Swannack ’02, who retired in 2021 after serving over 40 years at the University. As vice president of administrative services from 1994 to 2021, Swannack oversaw $325 million in construction and renovation projects that transformed the campus, including the construction of four residence halls and three academic buildings; the renovation and addition of the Edison Science Building; the renovation, restoration, and expansion of the Guggenheim Memorial Library; the restoration of the Great Hall at Shadow Lawn; and the University’s largest construction project, the OceanFirst Bank Center.
Patricia L. Swannack
Patricia L. Swannack

In a Class of Their Own

The incoming first-year class for Academic Year 2023–2024 had an average GPA of
the highest average of any incoming Monmouth class.

50 percent
of the class are first-generation and/or come from low-income households.

Additionally, more than
of the students came from outside New Jersey, representing

This marks the greatest geographic diversity in Monmouth’s history.

Monmouth Hosts Seventh Biennial Race Conference

Monmouth University’s Seventh Biennial Interdisciplinary Conference on Race, held in November 2022, brought together scholars from across the academic disciplines and from around the world to examine and discuss topics related to the theme “Public Spaces, Private Places: Constructing Race and Liberation.” The primarily virtual event included an in-person opening talk given by Dr. Amy Banks and Isaac Knapper, authors of Fighting Time, which details Knapper’s wrongful conviction for the murder of Banks’ father. Darnell Moore, an advocate and writer whose work centers on social justice issues, youth development, and promoting diversity initiatives, was the other marquee speaker for the event.

Giving Days 2023: A Record-Breaking Success

Monmouth’s third annual Giving Days, held over a 48-hour period in March, raised more than $225,000 in support of students—a 13% increase over last year’s total, making this the University’s most successful Giving Days event ever. More than 1,500 gifts came in from alumni and friends around the world, including Argentina, Germany, Mexico, and New Zealand, and domestically from 38 states. The funds will be used to enhance student access through scholarships, enrich classroom experiences, bolster resources for student-athletes, support cultural programs, fund student clubs and organizations, and more.

Alumna’s Six-Figure Pledge will Empower Students Pursuing Cultural Arts Degrees

Carol K. Garczynski ’70M, a retired educator and guidance counselor with a passion for the cultural arts, made a generous commitment, by way of a planned gift, to establish an endowed scholarship that will transform the lives of countless future students. The Carol K. Garczynski ’70M Distinguished Endowed Scholarship will support full-time undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need, with preference given to those pursuing degrees in music, dance, or theater within the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Recipients must maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

Seven-Figure Gift Will Advance Monmouth’s Commitment to Student Well-Being and Holistic Education

Monmouth University’s plan to construct a state-of-the-art Student Wellness Center received a substantial boost thanks to a generous seven-figure gift from Jack and Cathy (Herold ’87) Conover.

Currently in the design phase, the project envisions a visually stunning expansion to the north end of the OceanFirst Bank Center, overlooking Kessler Stadium and encircling the near turn of the Joe Compagni Outdoor Track.

The new Student Wellness Center will significantly upgrade facilities for Monmouth’s athletic training and sports medicine staff. It will also feature an expanded fitness center and wellness complex studios accessible to the entire campus community. Numerous studies emphasize the vital connection between physical and mental wellbeing, and this center will strengthen Monmouth’s ability to support this important link. It will also benefit students and faculty in the health and physical education department who use the fitness center for learning.

The Conovers have deep ties to Monmouth University. Cathy earned her bachelor’s degree in speech/communication/theatre from Monmouth and Jack serves as a member of the Board of Trustees. Their enduring support for the University includes the establishment of the Conover Family Distinguished Endowed Scholarship in Real Estate and the Conover Family Distinguished Endowed Scholarship in Nursing.

Monmouth Hawk statue

Six-Figure Sponsorship Enriches Learning for Student-Athletes, Spurs Athletics Facilities Upgrades

A game-changing gift from the parent of a current student is making life-changing experiences possible for Hawks student-athletes while providing critical resources to help the University compete in the Coastal Athletic Conference.

The six-figure gift from Lester Glenn Auto Group, which is owned and operated by current parent Adam Kraushaar, is supporting a variety of projects and priorities. It covered travel expenses for Monmouth’s Black Student Athlete Huddle members to attend the Black Student Athlete Summit in Los Angeles and supported the women’s basketball team’s visit to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. Among the facilities enhancements Kraushaar’s support made possible were the refurbishing of the varsity tennis courts and the addition of a spectator patio to the complex as well as the procurement of a removable dock for use by the women’s rowing program. The sponsorship also provided funds in support of operating expenses for the men’s and women’s basketball programs as well as the Athletic Director’s Excellence Fund, which benefits all student-athletes at Monmouth.

Kraushaar, who is president of Lester Glenn Auto Group, is an avid Hawks basketball fan and often attends games with his son Ryan, who is a junior in the Leon Hess Business School.

New Hires and Appointments

Portrait headshot photograph of Charlene Diana, Esq. smiling in a black blouse top

Charlene Diana, Esq., was appointed vice president and general counsel in July, a role she had filled in an acting capacity since September 2022. Diana oversees the Office of the General Counsel, protecting the University’s legal interests and managing the University’s legal affairs. She is also responsible for managing the Office of Equity and Diversity, the Office of Internal Audit, and the Office of Compliance.

Portrait headshot photograph of Kylee Flynn '21M smiling in a dark navy blue zipped up jacket

Kylee Flynn ’21M was named head women’s soccer coach in July 2022. Flynn had served as an assistant coach at Monmouth for 10 seasons prior, including six as associate head coach, during which time she was instrumental in the program winning eight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season titles and qualifying for six NCAA Tournaments since 2013.

Portrait headshot photograph of Alison Gilbert smiling in a black turtleneck blouse top

Alison Gilbert joined Monmouth as director of the Center for Entrepreneurship in July 2022. Gilbert has nearly two decades of experience consulting, coaching, and advising early-stage entrepreneurs on how to launch, build, and grow their businesses. She’s also an entrepreneur herself, having started and scaled multiple businesses.

Portrait headshot photograph of David Hamilton Golland, Ph.D. smiling in a light blue suit with red colored pattern tie plus white button-up dress shirt that has blue lines on it

David Hamilton Golland, Ph.D., joined Monmouth as dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences in July 2022. He most recently served as a professor of history and department chair at Governors State University in Illinois. An active scholar, Golland has received national acclaim for his media commentary and published works on civil rights, politics, and labor.

Portrait headshot photograph of Jay Odell grinning in a light denim blue button-up top

Jay Odell joined Monmouth University’s Urban Coast Institute as a fisheries and ocean conservation fellow in March 2023. In this role, Odell conducts policy research on climate change impacts to ocean ecosystems and fisheries management systems and engages government agencies and ocean-dependent user groups.

Portrait headshot photograph of Tim Orr smiling in a red button-up shirt top

Tim Orr was appointed executive director for campus planning and facilities management in July, a role he had filled in an acting capacity since September 2022. Orr oversees the Division of Campus Planning and Facilities Management, which is responsible for maintaining all buildings and grounds as well as planning, coordinating, and overseeing all construction and renovation work on campus.

Portrait headshot photograph of James Pillar, Ed.D smiling in a dark navy suit and light blue button-up dress shirt

James Pillar, Ed.D., was appointed vice president for student life in June. He oversees the areas of campus safety, counseling and prevention services, crisis management, fraternity and sorority life, health services, judicial affairs, off campus and commuter services, residential life, student activities and student operations, transitions and leadership programs, and veteran services. Pillar, who joined the University in 1995, previously served as associate vice president for student life.

Portrait headshot photograph of Gina Rivera-Paradiso smiling in a dark navy blue blouse top while wearing a circular necklace

Gina Rivera-Paradiso joined Monmouth as director of talent management in the Office of Human Resources in April 2023. She most recently served as director for employee resources and staff development at the Research Foundation of the City University of New York, where she was responsible for employee relations, learning and development, employee labor relations, talent acquisition, and policy guidance.

Portrait headshot photograph of Jennifer Ross smiling in a dark navy blue blazer suit with light blue button-up dress shirt

Jennifer Ross joined Monmouth as assistant dean of the Honors School in December 2022. She most recently served as an academic specialist for American Honors at Union County College where, as the program’s senior administrator, her responsibilities included serving as the primary academic advisor for Honors students. She also taught courses on Honors College Success and English composition.

Portrait headshot photograph of Robert Santelli '73, '14HN smiling in a black suit and white button-up dress shirt

Robert Santelli ’73, ’14HN was appointed executive director of the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music in October 2022. In this role, he creates programs, exhibits, and collaborations with music museums and universities around the country. A Grammy Award–winning music historian, producer, and educator, Santelli was the founding executive director of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and is the author of more than a dozen books on American music.

Portrait headshot photograph of Erin Vitale, DNP, MSN, RN grinning in a black dress top with a pearl necklace plus earrings

Erin Vitale, DNP, MSN, RN, was appointed director of the Linda Grunin Simulation Lab and Learning Center in May 2023, a role she had filled on an interim basis since October 2022. Vitale, who was a specialist professor in the Department of Nursing, oversees the daily operations of the center, which provides state-of-the-art training to students in various health care disciplines as well as practicing health care professionals from Monmouth Medical Center.