Interview with Sr Gerardine Mueller, O.P., Professor Emerita – Caldwell University Art Department
Caldwell, N.J., – Sept. 24, 2020 – Commencement is typically a time when graduates’ families travel from around the country and the world to Caldwell University to share in their loved ones’ memorable moments. Although this year’s pandemic prevented that, family members of Class of 2020 graduates or graduates themselves who could not travel to New Jersey, were thrilled to be able to view the ceremony via livestreaming.
Seven-hundred twenty-two unique viewers tuned in on Sunday, Sept. 20 from all over the United States and 22 other countries from as far away as Nigeria and Qatar. Most viewers from outside the U.S. were Italy, Nepal, Jamaica, Ecuador, and Peru.
Anamika Sharma Paudel ’20 was grateful that her family in Nepal could hear her name announced and watch her walk across the stage to receive her degree from President Matthew Whelan. Paudel’s parents had planned to travel to New Jersey but due to COVID restrictions could not. The stream was the next best thing. “My whole family was up at night because of the time difference and [they] were extremely happy.”
Her father told her, “We remember sending our little daughter, Anamika, at Nepal’s airport with heavy hearts. Watching you on stage as a confident woman completing your education with the highest honors in such a wonderful institution was one of the most beautiful moments of our lives. We weren’t there with you in person, but one hundred percent in spirit.”
Paudel, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration, is currently on staff at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where she is a care coordinator for patients with cancer and COVID-19. She said the ceremony, which had been delayed four months due to the pandemic, was “the most sought-after event for a long time!”
Huong Nguyen from Vietnam was on the phone with her mother and brother before and after the ceremony. They watched her walk via the livestream, recorded it on video, and shared it with friends and family. “My mom and my brother even went out for dinner and had some wine after the livestream to celebrate my graduation,” said Nguyen, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and Communication and Media Studies. She currently works at Audigent in Manhattan. “It was sad that my family could not be there with me at this meaningful moment but I feel very grateful that the school made it possible for my family and many other international students’ families to watch the graduation virtually.”
Caldwell, N.J., Sept. 21, 2020 – The Class of 2020 finally got their day in the sun. Caldwell University’s 78th annual commencement ceremonies took place Sunday, Sept. 20 on an athletics field in beautiful fall-like temperatures.
Four months after the originally scheduled event (delayed by the worldwide pandemic) the now proud alumni walked across the stage and were cheered on by their loved ones whether in-person or remotely. There were three separate ceremonies-two undergraduate and one graduate-to ensure social distancing. It had been a journey they never imagined and they were treasuring every minute of it.
“We displayed resiliency and persevered through the pandemic…we stand here today in celebration, better, stronger and wiser for it,” said Marisa Juliano, of Forked River, New Jersey, who gave the student commencement address at the graduate ceremony.
Juliano, who earned a Master of Art in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with Art Therapy specialization degree, said during their last months as students this year’s class was forced to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances. Juliano, who has an undergraduate degree in art and psychology from Caldwell, said her life’s journey into young adulthood was shaped by her time on the Caldwell University campus. “The experiences that I had here were a crucial part of my development.” During the pandemic, Juliano served COVID-19 patients and high-risk seniors providing art therapy services at a senior citizen community. “The Caldwell mission of giving back, lives within each of us,” said Juliano.
Dr. Matthew Whelan, who became Caldwell’s ninth president July 1, noted that if it were not for the pandemic, the graduates and he would not have crossed paths.
When ‘out of the ordinary things’ like this happen, he said, “I like to ask myself ‘what is this teaching me?’” said Dr. Whelan. He commended them for their hard work while juggling jobs, internships and other responsibilities. “You were met with unprecedented challenges. Your world was upended. And still, you made it.” Quoting Nelson Mandela, Dr. Whelan said, “‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ You sit here today, the very embodiment of that quote. You have taught me that when you carry the Caldwell University mission and the core values of respect, integrity, community and excellence…nothing is impossible. Class of 2020, you are an inspiration to us all.” Dr. Whelan told the graduates that he looked forward to continue to meet them on their journeys as alumni.
Dr. Nancy Blattner, former university president, who could not attend due to travel restrictions, sent her remarks virtually from St. Louis, Missouri where she is now president of Fontbonne University.
Dr. Blattner told the graduates that she was among many people “who are not able to be physically present but nonetheless are cheering for you and want you to know how proud they are of all you have accomplished during your time at Caldwell University.”
In addition to their work force and job readiness skills that they gained at Caldwell, Dr. Blattner said it is her hope that the graduates had been inspired to take with them special values to live a full life- “the desire to do good and be a source of goodness to others…nurture an adventuresome spirit…discover your passion…take time every day for the rest of your life to be grateful.” Choose to do good, she said, “when you are not rewarded, when you are too tired or when people question why you take time to do so. That is when your goodness is needed most.” Be attuned “to those things about which you feel passionate and look for ways to express that interest in your family, in your workplace and in your communities.”
Lamar-Shea Chang gave the student commencement address at the undergraduate ceremonies. Chang, who received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems and Biology with a minor in Chemistry, said Caldwell gave the students “the perfect gift for a lifetime.”
”We all received a great education which will have ripple effects in all our individual communities. A great gift from Caldwell, a great take away.” He pointed out that beyond the excellent academics, many other aspects of their university life formed that perfect gift. The opportunities to exercise personal passions, the chances to build communities within the dorms and lasting friendships, the inspiration for fundraisers and “the Catholic Dominican way,” which “in it’s essence means to act out of love,” said Chang.
“We are leaving with arsenals of tools and a calibrated compass needed to have an impact on the lives of billions… for generations to come. It is true, a mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions,” said Chang who grew up on the island of Jamaica in Portmore, St. Catherine.
It was “surreal” to be attending the ceremony, said Stefani Konboz, who received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and is now pursuing a master’s in occupational therapy. “We finally get to see everyone again and celebrate our accomplishments.”
Curdel McFarlane-Pierce was “ecstatic” to reach the milestone of receiving her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, something she had “wanted for a very long time.” She was a licensed practical nurse for many years before joining Caldwell’s program. The commencement ceremony was “the self-actualization…this did it,” she said.
The Mistress of Ceremonies was Sister Kathleen Tuite, O.P., vice president for student life; the invocation was given by Colleen O’Brien, campus minister. Communication and Media Studies Professor Bob Mann presented the candidates and degrees. Dr. Whelan gave the benediction.
The grand marshals were:
Graduate ceremony-Joanne Jasmine,Professor of Education, Coordinator, M.A. Curriculum and Instruction, Co-Coordinator, Ed.D./Ph.D. Educational Leadership.
Undergraduate Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Science in Nursing ceremony –
Kathleen Kelley, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Nursing Education
School of Nursing and Public Health.
Undergraduate Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts Ceremony – Yang Cai, Professor of Sociology.
Caldwell, N.J., Sept. 16, 2020 – Each fall the Caldwell University community gathers for the Mass of the Holy Spirit for the start of the academic year. This year students, faculty, and staff did the same on Sept. 16, just a little differently, outside, in the sunshine and COVID-safe but with everyone happy to be together thanking God for his blessings and asking for his guidance.
Father James Manos, the pastor of St. Luke’s Church in Ho Ho Kus, New Jersey, and a master’s alumnus of the university, was the celebrant. “We have all been going through a difficult time,” Father said, but “we still must continue the mission God has entrusted to us…the Holy Spirit empowers us in ways we never thought possible.”
“You put your hand in God’s hand [and], He leads you,” said Father. “Rely on the Spirit. Trust in the Spirit. That’s what carries us through.”
President Matthew Whelan, Ed.D. read the blessings for the university choir, Student Government Association officers, resident assistants, and fall athletes asking God to “be with all members of the Caldwell University community as we begin a new academic year.”
Through their masks, the university choir led by Dr. Laura Greenwald sang the Dominican Blessing.
Gabriel Johnson ‘23, Marcellus Ross ‘23, Ana Gonzalez Martin ‘21, and Paula Dits ‘22 were some of the student-athletes who attended and were very appreciative of the blessings and the chance to gather and pray. With “everything going on in the world,” it was a welcome message, said Ross, a member of the men’s basketball team. “Much needed,” said Johnson, also a basketball player.
“It was a good opportunity to connect with God and with each other in this special circumstance where we need each other’s faith and support,” said Dits, a member of the women’s basketball team.
It was “so beautiful to come together,” said Martin. She “loved how the priest shared his own experiences of being young” and learning that he had to cooperate with God’s spirit.
Director of Campus Ministry Colleen O’Brien was the lector.
Traditionally, the Mass of the Holy Spirit marks the beginning of the academic year at a Catholic university.
Constitution Day commemorates the signing of the United States Constitution by the Founding Fathers on September 17, 1787. It is also known as Citizenship Day, recognizing all who have become U.S. citizens by birth or naturalization.
Celebrate Constitution Day by checking out our guide to learn more about the U.S. Constitution! https://libguides.caldwell.edu/constitutionday
Caldwell, N.J., Sept. 14, 2020 – Caldwell University is one of the region’s best-value schools in the North according to the U.S. News & World Report 2021 college rankings.
Caldwell moved up to 14th place in the category of the best-value regional universities in the North from last year’s No. 18. The university is also among the top 75 regional universities in the North overall, ascending eight spots from last year to No. 67. Caldwell came in eighth for most international students and 19th as a top performer on social mobility.
“While no single ranking tells the story of any institution, it is gratifying to know we have been recognized for our outstanding value,” said Dr. Matthew Whelan, Caldwell University’s president. “Our nationally and internationally accredited programs in applied behavior analysis, our incredibly high pass rates on tests such as the National Council Licensure Examination for nursing, and the availability of unique programs in art therapy and esports management are complemented by the generous financial aid and very affordable out-of-pocket tuition our students pay. As a Hispanic Serving Institution, as designated by the United States Department of Education, we look forward to reaching out and ensuring that all students, especially those underrepresented in higher education, are offered the opportunity to move forward with us. All of this is backed by the promise of our core values of Respect, Integrity, Community and Excellence and our deeply held Dominican mission to graduate students who will pursue truth and contribute to a just society. I can think of no greater value than that.”
Caldwell University was also recently named to Money’s 2020 Best Colleges list.
This fall the campus has been transformed to be COVID-safe. Students are learning both in person or remotely in classrooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology. In particular, the Student Center gym was reconfigured for nursing students with safe in-person seating, large screens and new technology connecting students who chose to attend synchronously by a remote option.
For the new academic year Caldwell welcomed over 520 incoming students, including 446 freshman representing 14 states and 10 countries. It was a record-breaking year with 4,976 freshman applications and 3,750 acceptances. Caldwell continues to enroll a diverse population of students with 68% of the incoming freshman identifying as students of color.
Earlier this year Caldwell University was formally recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education reflecting the growth in enrollment of Hispanic students at the university and the welcoming environment Caldwell has created for the students.
About Caldwell University
Caldwell University is a private, Catholic coed four-year university with a strong liberal arts core curriculum that enhances critical thinking and analytical reasoning. Caldwell offers 31 undergraduate and 31 graduate programs, including doctoral, master’s, certificate and certification programs, as well as online and distance learning options that prepare students for today’s global marketplace. The university has 15 NCAA Division II intercollegiate sports programs and a football program that is a member of the Collegiate Sprint Football League.
Caldwell offers numerous clubs, fraternities, sororities and activities. It is located on a beautiful 70-acre campus in suburban Caldwell, New Jersey. Caldwell was founded by the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell. Its core values of respect, integrity, community and excellence influence academic and campus life. For more information about Caldwell University, visit caldwell.edu.
We have to learn from the past so we can shape the future, said Caldwell University President Matthew Whelan on “Steve Adubato’s Lessons in Leadership” with Adubato and co-host Mary Gamba
Dr. Whelan joined Adubato and Gamba on Sept. 13 to talk about the importance of modeling behavior as a leader (including wearing masks during the pandemic), the changes facing higher education and how to build a strong team.
They discuss being strategically agile and the importance of commanding and evaluating situations. “You have a goal. You know what the long term goal is but you also have to have the agility and the nimbleness, and the people around you who can help you deal with what the distractions are but also keep going towards the goal,” said Dr. Whelan. They talked about leadership books on different topics including emotional intelligence. “I grew up in a bookstore,” said President Whelan who from a young age was drawn to reading and history. In college he started thinking about how leaders in different areas—colleges and universities, medical systems, politicians, elected officials—shape the future. “And that is when I really began to become interested in leadership as a vocation,” said Dr. Whelan.
Asked by Adubato what the number 1 leadership lesson is that he has learned during this challenging and difficult time, Dr. Whelan responded, “Trust your team. You have to be able to build and trust your team and create a team that can be nimble.” No one does it alone, he said. “We have to be able to build a team, trust the team and move forward, keep them—as we drive the bus—headed towards the goal.”
This year will be my 7th year teaching. I am currently a special education teacher at Parsippany High School and an advisor for their Key Club, a service club under Kiwanis International. I am also a member of the Dominican Young Adults Caldwell chapter & a Eucharistic Minister at my parish St. Peter the Apostle in Parsippany.
Thank you for supporting Caldwell University. What inspired your gift?
I was so blessed to have amazing teachers and incredibly supportive school communities at every level of my education who never hesitated to make sure my needs were taken care of when my family faced challenging times. Now that I am in a position to give back, I want to continue the tradition of unconditionally giving and serving that was so generously shown to me and my family. Additionally, as a first-generation college student, I am immensely grateful for my time at Caldwell and want to help ensure other young adults who may be in the same position have the resources and opportunities they need to successfully complete their degree.
Do you have a favorite or meaningful experience from your time at Caldwell? Tell us!
There are so many, it’s hard to choose! I would have to say my top two are: my senior History Outcomes class with Dr. Marie Mullaney and going on the college’s first service trip to Belize in 2013.
Caldwell, N.J., Sept. 3, 2020 -Caldwell University students are excited to have begun the new semester, no matter which form of classes they have selected.
Whether they are taking classes in person or remotely, students say they are happy to be “back to school” and ready to get into a routine and connect with their friends and professors.
Molly Heller was excited to be in her first class for the final year of her five-year combined bachelor’s and master’s education program. “Even though it was virtual, it felt good to be back in class…I missed school.”
Miley Trang Duong ‘21, a psychology major, was sitting at a table under one of the tents set up for dining and studying on the Newman Center plaza. “I’m happy to see people. It is great that school has opened.”
Anton Mejia ‘22, a business sports management major, is taking all his classes remotely. It is good “to interact and see faces” and if “you knew them previously” that’s a plus–”you can text on the side.”
“Being back on campus has ignited the scholar inside me,” said Yaman Thapa ‘22, a biology and chemistry major. “I am so excited to learn new things. For me, in-person classes provide a space that allows for active discussions and collaboration.” She feels “more alert, motivated and eager” to pursue her academic goals. “Being around people provides a sense of social security despite the social distancing. I am thrilled to be back in school.”
Ryan Rutano ‘22, a nursing major and resident life assistant, is glad to see his friends again and is “more focused than ever.” He is taking nursing classes in the Student Center gym which has been transformed to a newly-designed learning space and lecture hall. Crews had worked 12 hour plus days setting up desks to be socially distant, mounting brand-new large screens, drilling through two feet of concrete block and adding 30 feet of new electric and network lines. Donna Naturale, DNP, associate dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health, says they were thrilled with the reconfigured space where they are welcoming junior year nursing students for face-to-face lectures and labs and or via technology for remote learning.
Andrea Guietterz ‘22, a Spanish applied language major with a public policy concentration, liked her first virtual “Communications Skills” class with Professor Steve Cameron because he was vibrant and energetic and motivated the class to feel more engaged. That kept her “wanting to interact more” in the class and it made the course material easier to comprehend. She said it showed the care her professor has in making sure students are learning and engaged enough to want to learn more.
President Matthew Whelan says it is energizing to see students on campus and it gives meaning to the university slogan “Cougars Come Together.” “Even seeing them wearing masks and washing their hands and remaining socially distant is exciting as it reminds me that our students have the respect, integrity, and sense of community to show the world the excellence of Caldwell,” said Dr. Whelan referring to the university’s core values. He pointed out that there are only 90 days from the start of the semester to the end of in-person classes at Thanksgiving break. “I know we’ll get there by working together to keep everyone safe while they are here.”
Throughout the spring and summer, the Return to Campus Task Force and numerous other employees took on the herculean tasks of making the university COVID-ready. Now signage across the 70-acre campus reminds members of the community to stay six feet apart, wear masks, wash their hands, walk in and out of buildings in the proper directions and be considerate of others. Students, faculty and staff have been asked to commit to a community pledge to share responsibility and to recognize the special and vital role everyone plays in sustaining the health and well-being of themselves, others and the community. The dining hall has been arranged for socially-distant seating. The chapel in the Newman Center has been set-up in a socially distant manner for prayer and worship. Masses will resume on Sunday evenings starting Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.
The academic calendar has been restructured so that in-person classes are completed before Thanksgiving, followed by a last week of remote classes and another week of remote final exams.
Staff members are making sure that students receive the services they need in a safe manner. Robin Davenport, executive director of the Counseling Office, says they are implementing “Walk and Talk” therapy services. “Counselors will be offering students the option to meet outside to walk and talk in more secluded areas of campus for their therapy sessions,” Davenport says. The counselors have ordered portable camping chairs that can be placed in quieter locations on campus in a socially-distanced manner for those students who prefer to sit. There is an added bonus to being outdoors, “nature–a healing experience in its own right,” Davenport says. Counseling services are still being offered virtually as they have been throughout the pandemic.
President Whelan tells students “I will journey with you”
Aug. 31, 2020 – Caldwell University kicked off the fall semester celebrating its new students at a virtual convocation on Aug. 31.
President Matthew Whelan, the university’s new president, welcomed the students acknowledging the COVID-19 “detours” and the students’ accomplishments. “Never, ever forget this. You made it. You are here with us today because you made it… you made the decision to keep going.”
He noted that he shares a unique bond with the members of the Class of 2024. “I want you to know I am right there along with you. Like you, I’m new.”
The university is on a “90-day journey” to Thanksgiving, said Dr. Whelan, when in-person classes will finish up. He urged the community to adhere to safety guidelines including wearing masks, social distancing and sanitizing.
“I will journey with you,” said Dr. Whelan. “The world needs us at this moment. It needs you at this moment. It needs your individual and collective wisdom and energy and enthusiasm and creativity, and it needs it now more than ever during these times of uncertainties.” In such times, he said, “you can always look to the things of which you can be certain. Our faith. Our traditions. Our family. Today, you can be certain that you have joined the Caldwell University family. This family will be your guide.”
The Caldwell family “will give you direction, will help you remain on course when you need to recalculate your route, and will do everything possible to make sure you get to your destination successfully,” said Dr. Whelan. The CU family “is firmly rooted in the Catholic Dominican traditions of the Sisters of Saint Dominic, a family ready to support you and to get to know you through our shared values of respect, integrity, community, and excellence.” He urged the students to take the time to learn about Caldwell’s mission and the Sisters of St. Dominic “who built this place into the university it is today, with much of that building taking place at a time when women weren’t valued as equal members of our society.” Yet, he said, “they kept on moving, taking small steps to help meet their goal.”
President Whelan told the students that joining Caldwell University is a critically important first step. “Do you see your goals when you close your eyes? Can you actually see where you want to be? I know what my goal is, what the goal of the Caldwell family is–to ensure that you graduate, with a degree in hand, and job prospects awaiting you, the life you want awaiting you.”
Quoting Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Whelan said, “If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk; if you can’t walk, then crawl, but by all means keep moving.”
The university is welcoming over 520 incoming students, including 445 freshmen representing 14 states and 10 countries. It was a record-breaking year with 4,969 freshmen applications and 3,750 acceptances. Caldwell continues to enroll a diverse population of students with 68% of the incoming freshman identifying as students of color.
Sister Kathleen Tuite, vice president for student life, explained that the students would be receiving a special pendant. The image on the pin represents the relationship between the founders of the university, the Sisters of St. Dominic and Caldwell University. “The red indicates the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the gold points to His kingship,”explained Sister Kathleen. The motto “Sapientia et Scientia,” which means wisdom and knowledge is derived from the Litany of the Sacred Heart, she explained.
“To all new students, may you display this coat of arms proudly throughout your relationship with Caldwell University.” The pendant “emphasizes the need for today’s student to be involved and to be a leader in today’s world,” said Sister Kathleen.
Also recognized were students who made the Dean’s List for two consecutive semesters in 2019-20. “One of the pillars of the Dominican community is study and you have shown that you have recognized and embrace this standard,”said Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Ellina Chernobilsky, Ph.D. She challenged the freshmen to live up to that ideal. “Make it your goal to be here next year to be recognized as being a Dean’s List scholar for both semesters.”
The invocation was given by Director of Campus Ministry Colleen O’Brien. Freshman Amanda Da Silva led the new students in the “Class of 2024 Prayer”.
Professor Rebecca Vega, Assisant Marching Band Director John Piepoli and students in the Drum Line provided the music.
MORE ABOUT THE PENDANT
As Sister Kathleen Tuite explained at the new student convocation, “Caldwell University was founded in 1939 by the Sisters of St. Dominic which the coat of arms reflects. The coat of arms captures the significance of a Caldwell University education in its colors, its motto, and its symbols. The red indicates the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the gold points to his Kingship. On the University Seal, the motto is imprinted on an open book which symbolizes Caldwell University as an institution of learning. The university motto, “Sapientia et Scientia,” which means wisdom and knowledge, is derived from the Litany of the Sacred Heart. The cross, which divides the whole into four parts, is taken from the coat of arms of the Order of Preachers (those who are the followers of St. Dominic) and it shows the relationship of the Sisters of St. Dominic as members of the Order of Preachers to Caldwell University. The golden sun which is found in the upper left corner, is the symbol of St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of all Catholic schools and particular patron of Caldwell University.
Invocation given by Campus Ministry Director Colleen O’Brien – “God, we ask for your blessing and guidance as we celebrate the beginning of the Class of 2024’s college careers. We give thanks to parents, families, friends, guardians, mentors, all who have helped make these great people who they are today. In the transition to Caldwell University, we ask that you bless the move with order and ease. And as we settle in, help us to open our hearts so that we might be ready to say “goodbye” to what was, and be open to what will be. We pray that we might be inspired by new places, new things, new people, new opportunities, new challenges. Grant us accepting hearts and open minds, and give us the courage to truly act as we are called to be in the world. We pray that the Class of 2024 will thrive academically, morally, and spiritually as they make the most of their Caldwell experience.” (adapted from Xavier University’s prayer resource page)