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Crystal Lopez: Guiding Students in the “Res Life” Classroom  

Residence Life Director Crystal Lopez 3rd from left with students Lamar Chang, Joshua Santana, Justice Baskin, Aida Osmeni, and Anamika Sharma Paudel.

Residence Life Director Crystal Lopez 3rd from left with students Lamar Chang, Joshua Santana, Justice Baskin, Aida Osmeni, and Anamika Sharma Paudel.

When Crystal Lopez helps students fix their academic regalia at graduation, she is celebrating more than their degrees. Many see commencement as a chance to pay tribute to student academics, says the residence life director, and she and her staff share in that, but they are also reveling in how the students have grown in their life skills. “We teach outside the classroom; that’s what student affairs is.” That education can include anything from conflict resolution to understanding cultural differences to how to work out a roommate disagreement or learning to do laundry properly. “Yes, I have had some students walk around with pink attire” (from dye bleeds), she says.

College is a time to learn responsibility, independence and how to become a global citizen. “By instilling the core values that we teach at Caldwell,” respect, integrity, community and excellence, students are building skills that will benefit them in their jobs, in their communities and within their families, says Lopez. “I think that is what is different about working at a Catholic higher education institution—being able to instill those kind of ideas, morals and values.”

With 600 beds in three residence halls, Lopez oversees a residence life program that encompasses four areas: residential education, including programming, student policy, training and development; conduct, including examining and adjudicating violations; operations, including maintenance and preventive measures; and security, including emergency response.

Lopez began her career as a resident assistant while studying criminal justice as an undergraduate at Rutgers University-Newark. By the time she was a senior, she was an assistant area director. “I was running a 385-person freshman hall, and it was an awesome experience.” Planning to become a lawyer, she applied to graduate school and received a fellowship to study for a master’s in criminal justice and a graduate assistantship to work in residence life. As she became more immersed in residence life, Lopez realized she wanted to pursue a career in student affairs rather than in law. Early on when she had to work through feelings of apprehension because of being in a leadership position at a young age, she would remind herself that God had a bigger plan for her. “Those were things that I had to get over because it was about my students.”

After receiving her graduate degree, Lopez worked in residence life at Georgian Court University and then at St. Peter’s University where she was the assistant director of housing operations.

With a “nontraditional” academic route, as she describes it, her criminal justice background has given her a unique perspective since much of her work focuses on safety and security for students. “It allows me to be vigilant and at the same time compassionate while working to ensure that students get due process. I am understanding and knowledgeable about a system and how it works, which allows me to teach my students.”

Lopez deals with many issues “rooted in conduct,” providing her with teachable moments to engage with students and to help them mature in their decision-making.

Sister Kathleen Tuite, vice president of student life, says one of Lopez’s strengths is her desire to educate students in how they make choices. “She has a genuine, compassionate heart and wants to see students succeed.” In addition, says Sister Kathleen, “she has a great strategic mind” and works well with parents.

Lopez is passionate about sharing best practices with her colleagues at other institutions and has served on national boards. She was the youngest president in the history of the Mid-Atlantic Association of College and University Housing Officers and is still on the organization’s board.

In October, she traveled to the University of the Andes in Bogota, Colombia, where she was a representative for the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International and presented on a panel at the first international congress of student affairs led by the National Association of Student Personnel–Latin American Caribbean Commission (NASPA-LAC). She joined others on
a panel including NASPA President Dr. Kevin Kruger on “High Impact Practices: Strategies for Student Success,” focusing on retention issues. The topic was “second nature” for her since she sits on Caldwell’s retention strategic planning committees and has been involved in the sophomore retention program. She spoke about Caldwell’s special-interest housing, which includes the service wing in Rosary Hall where students regularly participate in volunteer projects.

The workshops in Colombia provided professional development. The trip was a welcome spiritual experience too; she deeply appreciated the country’s Catholicism and had the chance to visit the famous Montserrate, a church in the mountains, with a shrine to El Señor Caido (the Fallen Lord), built in the 1600s.

A native of Bloomfield, New Jersey, Lopez is a second-generation Hispanic. “I’m super proud of my heritage, being a Latina woman, and understanding what that means and what that beautiful culture brings to America.” She has found it heart-wrenching to talk with her relatives in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic who are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. She has been collecting coupons to put together care packages to send to her aunts, uncles and cousins on the islands. “It’s difficult to hear about your family not having access to everyday things. I’m blessed to be in a situation where I can help them significantly.” Her “couponing” started out as a fun project to buy things for her apartment but became a mission to purchase items for those in need. “When I talked to my aunt in Puerto Rico, she told me the pop tart I sent in the care package was the best-tasting food she had in a
long time.”

Lopez is excited to be a part of CU 2500, the university’s initiative to reach an enrollment of 2,500 by the fall of 2022. Serving in leadership has enabled her to work effectively on Caldwell’s plans. “I understand the process of decision-making at a cabinet-like level and therefore find it easy to implement changes expressed to me by my supervisor, Sister Kathleen.”

Even when she faces challenges, Lopez knows God is at the center of her work. “He often guides me when I have to make tough decisions since most of them don’t just affect one person but an entire community.” On tough days, her students and her faith keep her going. “God is a constant reminder to me of why I do my job every day.” He has a plan, she says, for her to lead and serve students and guide them through their development as young adults. “I am humbled and grateful for the calling.”

Music News, News

7th Annual Summer Intensive Percussion Camp and Caldwell Rocks Rhythm Section Workshop

Feb. 13, 2018 – Caldwell University will hold its 7th annual Summer Intensive Percussion Camp July 16-21 and Caldwell Rocks, a one-day rhythm section workshop Sat. July 14.

The percussion camp is open to students ages 13 and up.  The students are immersed in the percussion world and have the opportunity to participate in ensembles and clinics, interact with music professionals, and take a trip to New York City to see a show.  The week culminates with a concert on Sat. July 21 for family and friends.

Over the years, world renowned drummers and percussionists who have performed on Broadway and toured nationally, have presented a variety of percussion styles at the camp.  They include Grammy winners Andres Forero (Hamilton) and Mark Guiliana (David Bowie) as well as Tommy Igoe (Performer, Author, Educator) Joe Bergamini (Broadway) Chuck Burgi (Billy Joel) Dom Famularo (The Global Drum Ambassador) Rolando Morales-Matos (Lion King, Ron Carter) and Dennis DeLucia (DCI Hall of Fame).

Daily activities include drumset, world drumming, classical percussion, percussion ensemble, ensemble rehearsals and master and technique classes. No formal audition is required for the camp. Early registration is recommended. The camp runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

The one-day Caldwell Rocks workshop is open to all guitar and bass players, keyboardists and drummers.  Students will learn from and perform with a professional rhythm section.

The combination package tuition for the percussion camp week and the Caldwell Rocks workshop is $850.  The percussion camp only tuition is $699, which includes lunches, snacks and transportation and a ticket to a New York City event.  There is a 10% discount for the combination package or the camp only, if tuition is paid in full by June 1.   The residential option tuition for those who would like to stay on campus is $1,275 which includes all meals and housing. There is a $75.00 discount for the residential option available with a 20% deposit made by May 1.  The Caldwell Rocks workshop is $179, which includes lunch and snacks.

Download the brochure and application form on the Music Department page.

For additional information contact Dr. Nan Childress Orchard at Nchildress@caldwell.edu or 973-618-3587.

Featured News, News

“What Good Can Come from Bayonne? Reflections on the Amazing Life of Sister Maura Campbell” March 8

Sister Barbara Krug, O.P. will present on “What Good Can Come from Bayonne? Reflections on the Amazing Life of Sister Maura Campbell.”

Caldwell, N.J. – “What Good Can Come from Bayonne? Reflections on the Amazing Life of Sister Maura Campbell, O.P.” will be presented by Sister Barbara C. Krug, O.P., professor emerita of Theology, 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 8, 2018, in the Alumni Theatre on Caldwell University’s campus. The program is free and open to the public.

Sister Maura’s scholarship, teaching and dynamic charisma spanned 50 years in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. She was a theologian, a philosopher, a professor, a researcher, and an international leader in education who served on committees at the United Nations. Her favorite position was that of teacher; many alumni fondly remember her as a woman who reflected, studied, and practiced what she taught and preached.

Sister Barbara C. Krug, O.P., was professor of Theology from 1992 to 2016. She served with distinction as department chair from 2000 to 2006 and from 2013 to 2016. Sister Barbara taught almost every course in the department’s catalog and created several courses. She is currently a theology adjunct professor working with Theology majors.

The presentation is part of the Sister Maura Campbell lecture series, which features leading theologians and academics. The Department of Theology and Philosophy hosts the talks throughout the academic year. For further information, call 973-618-3931.

Featured News, News

Faculty Feature: Kendall Baker: Educator, Artist, Gallery Director

Art Professor Kendall Baker with art major Natalia Gonzalez.

Art Professor Kendall Baker with art major Natalia Gonzalez.

For Professor Kendall Baker, the new Mueller Art Gallery is an affirmation of the university’s mission. The centrally located space, named for Sister Gerardine Mueller, O.P., artist and professor emerita, “underscores the university’s commitment to arts and culture” and increases the type and quality of artwork Caldwell can now share with the community, he says. “Some people may not be aware that the word ‘aesthetic’ is one of the core parts of the school’s mission,” says Baker.

This past fall, shortly after the unveiling, the gallery hosted an art exhibition by recent alumni, featuring the work of many of Baker’s students. “It’s a tremendous pleasure to have been a part of their education and then, as gallery director, invite them back to celebrate their accomplishments as independent artists.” Baker is ebullient about the creation of the Mueller Gallery and about the opportunities it now has to bring in the works of well-known artists due to the increased security provided by a door. “Museums and galleries that would previously not have loaned us artworks will now do so,” he says.

The expansion, made possible by the New Jersey higher education state bond, includes an administrative suite and two new classrooms for the art therapy program, a dedicated printmaking and photography studio and studio spaces for seniors majoring in art. These changes will allow for accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, which is beneficial for graduates competing for employment and “communicates to prospective students considering Caldwell that its already rigorous programs meet or exceed the national standards,” says Baker.

The Art Department is dedicating the first solo show to the work of colleague and art professor Judith Croce, who passed away unexpectedly last summer. “She was an amazing painter and had such a sensitive eye for color,” says Baker. Croce had initiated the push for an improved gallery as a cultural centerpiece for the school, which makes it appropriate and poignant that the first solo exhibition is dedicated to her artwork. Earlier in the semester, Baker worked with his colleagues, Croce’s friends and family members to create a “life celebration.” “It was an honor,” Baker said, “to be engaged in an occasion that recognized a colleague’s life in teaching and shaping the Art Department.”

Baker is an accomplished artist himself—a sculptor and photographer—who has had his work on display in galleries from New York to Berlin. A recent work, “Broken Line,” uses site-specific installation to invite the viewer on a journey. “Broken Line” is installed at I-Park in East Haddam, Connecticut, where Baker transformed several acres of woodland with plywood panels fastened to dozens of trees along a sloping path. The panels are shaped according to the angle and thickness of each tree and, when intuited, form a horizontal plane when the viewer “connects the dots.” “It’s a work that brings the viewer into an awareness of place and space while walking through it,” explains Baker.

Learning how environments condition visual experience is a theme Baker has reflected on quite a bit after having spent considerable time outside the United States. As a child, he lived in Italy and Czechoslovakia due to his father’s State Department career. The direct experience of what he could touch and engage with his hands laid the groundwork for his art. “I was always making things, but it wasn’t art until I was much older.”

His grandmothers had a formative influence on him; one was an amateur artist and the other was a published poet, author and United Nations women’s representative. He became interested in literature and art, which led him to take courses in those disciplines, including mythology, modernist writers and sculpture, as an undergrad at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

After two years at Clark, Baker took time off to hitchhike, work odd jobs and visit museums while traveling in Europe. Following a year of working and traveling, he enrolled in art and art history classes in Florence, studied wood carving with an instrument-maker and learned mold-making and casting at a plaster fabrication facility that duplicated works such as Michelangelo’s “David” at full scale.

By the time he returned to Clark, he had enough courses to qualify for a bachelor in fine arts degree. After receiving the BFA, he began preparing a portfolio to apply for the master’s program in sculpture at Yale University. In his second year, Baker came upon a book in the Yale Library on Indian cave-temple architecture and it inspired him to apply for a Fulbright scholarship to study this art form and Eastern ways of seeing. He enrolled at MS University of Baroda in India and spent the year visiting cave-temple sites and producing a series of large sculptures made of cast paper, clay and tapioca, from a recipe taught to him by a maker of toys and life-size deities. “The encounter with cultural and philosophical frameworks so different from my own was an extraordinary experience and one I urge my students to reach for.”

Back in the United States, as a young artist, he hadn’t planned on a career in teaching. He was supporting himself in New York City as a freelance interior construction specialist, so he could take three or four weeks off at a time to work on his art. By chance, a friend recommended him and he was hired by then-chair Croce.

In his 20-plus years at Caldwell, Baker has contributed greatly to the expansion of the department and has served on numerous campus committees. Next year he will take on the role of chair, a position he has held in the past.

Today, Caldwell’s Art Department has roughly 80 majors, making it one of the larger departments at Caldwell. It offers a bachelor of arts, a bachelor of fine arts, programs in graphic design and studio art, and double majors in art and education and art and psychology, a major that feeds the rapidly expanding graduate program in counseling/art therapy. Baker is working with his colleagues to expand the program to include new media courses in interactive multimedia platforms, 3-D modeling and animation to prepare students for new opportunities in the marketplace.

Sean Puzzo ’17, an alumnus of the graphic design program, collaborated with Baker to create the exhibition “Belize: Beyond the Blue Skies and Clear Waters: A Reflection on Short Term Service Trips.” “Professor Baker is a breath of knowledge,” says Puzzo. “His way of thinking pushes you outside of the box and outside of your comfort zone.”

Baker also finds it gratifying to teach those not majoring in art who take his classes, helping them see art’s relevance in their lives. He recently took his drawing class to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. “I’d say 80 percent of them had not been there before, and their eyes were wide with delight from the experience.”

He encourages his students to “see” beyond what they “think.” Despite his love of literature, he says reliance on verbal language often obscures direct experience. “Once they step back from verbal language to look at the ways in which visual experience is conditioned, students begin to recognize a very different world.”

There is a thread between his life as a sculptor, teacher and gallery director that stitches together the way “seeing” is understood. He suspects his perspective stems from feeling like a bit of an “outsider” while growing up in other countries. As an educator, that has given him insights into his students’ outsider view of art, “because art is a foreign country in many ways, even if a student is interested in it.”

Baker feels privileged to work with talented and committed faculty members in the Art Department who share the goal of expanding the understanding of art. And as for his work as gallery director, he adds, “To whatever extent visitors and students are able to make connections due to the ideas, new relationships and content presented in the exhibitions, I’m very grateful to be an agent for discovery.”  n

Library, News

Jennings Library Welcomes a New Librarian!

Kim Reamer, MLIS, recently joined the Jennings Library as the new Reference Services/Archives Librarian. In addition to maintaining the University Archives, she will also be the new liaison to History, Political Science, Music, Art, and Religion and Philosophy.

Kim received her MLIS from Rutgers University, and a BA in History and Visual Arts from SUNY New Paltz. She has worked in both archives and reference positions in academic libraries. Kim’s favorite part of being an archivist is being able to discover unique pieces of institutional history and share them with the public, while also preserving them for years to come.

Her hobbies include reading fantasy and mythology books, baking, and spending time with her dog Zelda.

Featured News, News

Discovering true joy in an impoverished Belize village

Marissa Haynes, associate director of student engagement, helping in building infrastructure.
Caldwell University Student playing with the school kids of Belize Village.
Belize Village student trying to see their pictures on the camera.
Caldwell University student playing with the kids from the Belize village.
The Lyndhurst, New Jersey, resident and six other Caldwell students on the annual volunteerism trip to the Central American country
Caldwell Student photographer showing photos to the school kids.
Caldwell University students on the annual volunteerism trip to the Central American country.
Marissa Haynes, associate director of student engagement helping in building the infrastructure.
Caldwell University student on the annual volunteerism trip to the Central American country

For senior Daniela Sirio, the most important thing about her recent mission trip to Belize is what she and the other students do with the experience now that they are back home. “In trying to talk to friends and family about it, I try to pick out specific pictures,” ones that tell the stories of the local people, the children, and the lifestyle in the impoverished communities where people have little materially but are rich in joy.

The Lyndhurst, New Jersey, resident and six other students, along with their chaperones, spent Jan. 7-15 on the annual volunteerism trip to the Central American country. They rebuilt a playground, painted a fence and played with the children in the village of Crique Sacro. “It made me appreciate more of what I have, the simple things, like family,” said Amber Raines, a sophomore from Millville, New Jersey.

When the Caldwell team finished the work on the playground, it was a gift to see the exuberance on the children’s faces as they whisked down the slide. “It was as if there was no greater joy in their lives at that moment,” said Colleen O’Brien, director of campus ministry at Caldwell, who led the group.

The members of the Caldwell group stayed at a guesthouse in Punta Gorda associated with the Jesuit-run St. Peter Claver parish, and each day they drove along bumpy dirt roads for two hours to get to their work locations. Many of the people they served in the village had never left their community. “They were very appreciative of the work we did and showed us a lot of kindness and compassion,” said Raines. Seeing the poverty and their way of life was “culture shock” for her. “People don’t understand until they are there.”

In the evenings the Caldwell group ate meals together and shared experiences. The students were mostly off the technology grid, “constantly talking to each other,” said Sirio. O’Brien led them in nightly reflections, something she had done on campus in the weeks prior to the trip. “It helped how Colleen led us through the whole experience,” said Sirio. She particularly liked the project O’Brien assigned of sending affirmation letters to their travel companions.

At the end of the week they were treated to a festive home-cooked meal made by the local parents.

They also made side trips, visiting  the Guatemala border, a national park and Mayan ruins and taking a boat to the cayes off the coast of Punta Gorda. Adding to the excitement was the “nail-biting” tsunami warning they received one night, said O’Brien. “We had to evacuate for a bit; thankfully it was just a warning.”

The other chaperones were Sister Marge Jaros, O.P.; Marissa Haynes, associate director of student engagement, and Marisa Juliano, a graduate student who attended for the second year in a row. The other undergraduates who attended were Kristal Cannici, Eva Kenfack, Shelagh Kerrisk, Theoniki Makras and Madison Perry.

The mission trip to Belize was started by Caldwell President Nancy Blattner and her husband, Tim. Dr. Blattner knew Jesuit Father Dick Perl who was stationed at St. Peter Claver in Punta Gorda, from her days at Fontbonne University where she and Tim ran a book drive for children in Belize. Through the help of a shipping company, they were able to have 30,000 books sent for distribution throughout 30 villages in Punta Gorda.  When she began her role as president of Caldwell, Blattner was determined to start a service trip to Belize, and she did. The first year of the mission trip, the Blattners traveled with the students and spent a week building a church; they reaped beautiful benefits including being able to attend Mass in that church at the end of the week.

Over the last several years the Caldwell University community has built relationships with the people in Belize with students often expressing how they want to go back for another service trip and how they feel blessed to be actively living out the Catholic Dominican pillar of service.

 

Library, News

Basics of Library Research Workshop 2/3 @ 3:15 p.m.

Come join us for The Basics of Library Research Workshop on Saturday 2/3 at 3:15 p.m. The workshop will be held in the library’s instruction lab.

Whether you just need a refresher or don’t know where to start – this workshop can help. We will be reviewing how to search for a book, how to search in a library database, as well as, how to use interlibrary loan.

Featured News, News

Nursing Blessing of Hands Ceremony

Director of Campus Ministry Colleen O’Brien giving a speech to the Caldwell University junior nursing students.
Director of Campus Ministry Colleen O’Brien giving a speech to the Caldwell University junior nursing students.
Director of Campus Ministry Colleen O’Brien giving a speech to the Caldwell University junior nursing students.
Director of Campus Ministry Colleen O’Brien giving a speech to the Caldwell University junior nursing students.
Caldwell University Nursing student having an interactive talk with a professor.
Caldwell University Nursing student engaging themselves in some interactive program during the program.
Caldwell University Nursing student participating in Nursing Blessing of Hands Ceremony.
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Caldwell University Nursing students participating in Nursing Blessing of Hands Ceremony.
Caldwell University Nursing students participating in Nursing Blessing of Hands Ceremony.

Caldwell, N.J., Jan.25, 2018 – Future nurses at Caldwell University reflected on the sacredness and importance of their hands at the Blessing of Hands Jan. 24.

The annual tradition was held in the Motherhouse on campus for junior nursing students who are beginning their second semester of clinicals when they will work in hospitals. Director of Campus Ministry Colleen O’Brien explained how the ceremony focuses on nursing students who will use their hands to heal the sick and suffering and “to bring forth the mission of Caldwell University and the Sisters of Saint Dominic in our world.”

In her opening remarks, Dr. Brenda Petersen, associate dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health, said it was important that the students always remember the healing nature of their hands. She said that “with each patient you encounter, as you wash your hands to prepare for the care you will render, may you always be blessed. As a nurse, your hands will heal others.”

Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Barbara Chesler shared how the university’s core values of respect, integrity, community and excellence will be with students as their hands interact with their patients, families and colleagues. “Your hands will bring healing to patients, for God’s hands work through your hands.”

The Nursing Department faculty members blessed the students’ hands.

Nursing Professor Dr. Kathleen Kelley offered the closing comments and prayer.  The blessing, she explained “celebrates the symbolism of hands as extensions of ourselves, appendages with which we can show love, and compassion, and [which we can] use to embrace those around us.”  She invited the nurses and nursing students to stand and look at their hands as she said:

“These are the hands of an advocate for the vulnerable, a soother of pain, a lifeline for the lonely or forgotten, a haven for the scared.  These are strong hands, empowered by the passion of our profession.  These are the hands that will cradle a newborn, steady the aged, calm the frightened and heal the troubled.And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrung out with exhaustion, wrinkled with age or frustrated from juggling too many tasks at once, will never be too preoccupied or too busy to reach out to our patients with unspoken tenderness that nurses can convey with just a touch.”

Junior Sarah Torres of Montville, New Jersey, appreciated how her teachers worked to make the ceremony exceptional for them. “It is a special connection to them and makes us feel closer to the nursing community and to God.”

The ceremony made junior Danielle Schiavone of Monroe Township, New Jersey, realize how fortunate she is to be able to help those in need the way a nurse does. “I’m now realizing how special it is that I have the capability of doing that.”

It was an empowering ceremony for the students as they take the next step in their fieldwork. ”It made me confident that I can go forward,” said Torres.

Featured News, News

Nursing faculty member elected to NJ State Nurses Association board

Mary Ellen Levine, adjunct faculty member in the School of Nursing & Public Health, has been elected as vice president of the board of directors for The New Jersey State Nurses Association.

Caldwell, N.J., Jan. 10, 2018 – Mary Ellen Levine, an adjunct faculty member in the School of Nursing & Public Health, has been elected as vice president of the board of directors for The New Jersey State Nurses Association.

Levine teaches Fundamentals Lab and the Community Health Nursing Clinical for Caldwell.

Brenda Petersen, Ph.D., associate dean and assistant professor in the School of Nursing & Public Health, congratulated Levine on “this well-deserved” elected role.  Peterson says they are grateful for Levine’s many contributions to the students and academics.   “Professor Levine is a shining example of nurse leadership and professionalism.”

Levine says she is blessed and honored to represent all nurses in New Jersey including the nurses at Caldwell University. “I appreciate the support and interest in my endeavors with NJSNA that I receive from the faculty, staff and administration at the university.”

She says it is her goal to promote NJSNA organization membership and professional involvement with regards to the direction of nursing practice and health care policy. “I look forward to serving during this exciting time and having an impact on all New Jersey nurses, the practice of nursing and patient care.”

Levine also serves as a hospice nurse at Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice in Sparta.

“We are looking forward to having our new officers with their fresh ideas and passion for nursing and the practice of nursing join the NJSNA Board,” said Benjamin Evans, DD, DNP, APN, president of New Jersey State Nurses Association.  

 To learn more about the New Jersey State Nurses Association, please visit njsna.org.