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Student Chorale Members Interview Sisters of St. Dominic

A picture of Sister Joan Doyle, O.P.

Sister Joanne Beirne

The Dominican Magnificat and Dominican Blessing are songs the chorale sings at Masses and special functions. The pieces express the faith and Catholic Dominican history that are at the core of Caldwell University and its founders, the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell. Often the students who sing those scores do not know the rich heritage behind the music, explained Dr. Laura Greenwald, director of the chorale and music professor, who has been at the university for over 30 years. “I have worked with so many of these brilliant women, and I know their dedication to education and the order’s charism. But now there are only a few sisters working in person at the university, even though many live nearby. I wanted the students to meet and connect personally with at least one Dominican Sister to add to their understanding of the music we are singing.”

Greenwald knew she had to start the fall semester differently due to the pandemic.  Along with rehearsing both inside and outside, wearing masks, and practicing social distancing, she wanted the students to feel connected to others at a time when many people feel isolated.    

She assigned the students the task of interviewing a Sister of St. Dominic of Caldwell via Zoom or the phone about her involvement in education and her feelings about the Dominican Magnificat and the Blessing. 

An image of Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann ’22, a music education major, interviewed Professor Emerita Sister Mary John Kearney, O.P. It was “a refreshing start” to the year for Mann, and she was excited to have the chance to meet others outside the department. She learned about Sister Mary John’s background as an elementary school teacher, principal of three Catholic elementary schools, and a college professor of educationa “teacher of future teachers,” as Sister Mary John explained it.  

Mann listened to Sister Mary John describe her vocation as a Dominican Sister and her devotion to Mary, the patroness of the Dominican Order. She spoke of her family’s devotion to Mary, which was fostered by her parents, and her schooling from kindergarten through high school, which was nurtured by the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell. Mann said Sister felt a strong connection to God in those two songs. Of the Magnificat, Mann quoted Sister as saying,  “… I was so touched by its musical composition, and it so moved me spiritually, aesthetically and joyfully. I found myself graced with not only the words but [also] the meaning it brought out in me.” Mann was excited to learn that Sister Mary John was a soprano “like myself” and that she believes in the old adage “She who sings once, prays twice.” 


Noreen Abedrabbo

Noreen Abedrabbo ’24 interviewed Sister Joanne Beirne, O.P.,  who works in the Academic Success Center at the university. The conversation with Sister Joanne, a former nurse, was “a very fun project” and led Abedrabbo to understand the songs more and “sing them with more emotion.” Abedrabbo recounted some of the memorable moments for Sister with the music including when she and other Sisters sang the Dominican Blessing at the summer drive-by outside the health care facility, St. Catherine’s. The Sisters were thanking the essential workers for their courage and commitment during the pandemic. Sister holds in her heart the memories of when the Magnificat was sung at her 50th-anniversary jubilee celebration and at a university baccalaureate Mass. “I went to public school and did not sing these kinds of pieces,” said Abedrabbo, but after her conversation with Sister Joanne, she knows the songs are beautiful messages of hope that can help her lift her voice. “I can use that when I sing to make them stronger.” 

PHoto of Katherine Arena

Katherine Arena

Katherine Arena ’22, a psychology major,  had the pleasure of interviewing Sister Joan Doyle, O.P., a former educator, principal, and prioress of the Sisters of St. Dominic.  She was moved to hear Sister Joan share her vocation storyhow she stepped out in faith at 18 years old to pursue her vocation and has cherished every minute of her life as a sister.

Sister Joan

Sister Joan Doyle, O.P

The Dominican Magnificat always brings Sister to “a place of joy,” said Arena. “She said it is a song of praise but also of resilience.” Arena learned that “it was Mary’s first prayer and that it shows God’s great value for women.”

She was moved by Sister Joan’s “humble, joyful heart” and how she believes strongly that one can continue to serve in every stage of life. Arena thinks it is a great piece of advicethat no matter your background or age, “you can always help someone.” 

Prior to the assignment, whenever Arena would sing the Dominican Magnificat she could see the emotion of those in the congregation but never knew why. Now she understands. “It is not just a song.”  

Several other students interviewed other Sisters who shared their experiences with the richness of the Dominican songs.

A picture of Sister Mary John

Sister Mary John Kearney

More about the Magnificat: The Magnificat refers to the Canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which starts with the line “Magnificat anima mea Dominum,” meaning “My soul does magnify the Lord.” Mary, the Mother of God, first spoke the phrase when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth after the Angel Gabriel had appeared to Mary and told her that she would conceive and bear a son, Jesus and that He would be great and called the Son of the Most High. The Magnificat comes from Luke 1:46-56.

The Dominican Magnificat was inspired by the biblical “Magnificat”.  It was composed by Feargal King in 1990 for the 150th-anniversary celebration of a Catholic Church in Ireland. King had attended a summer camp run by a Dominican priest to teach young people church music. The verses highlight the Dominican values “to bless, to praise, and to preach.”

The German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, killed by the Nazis for his resistance, wrote of the Magnificat, “This song of Mary is the oldest Advent hymn. It is the most passionate, most vehement, one might almost say, most revolutionary Advent hymn ever sung. It is not the gentle, sweet, dreamy Mary that we so often see portrayed in pictures, but the passionate, powerful, proud, enthusiastic Mary, who speaks here.”




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Celebrating Her Heritage: Elizabeth Chalas Berman ’84

National Hispanic Heritage Month is a tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans whose work and lives have enriched the United States in countless ways. This level of recognition resonates deeply with Caldwell alumna and trustee, Elizabeth Chalas Berman.

Berman, of Dominican-Cuban heritage, is a staunchly proud advocate for the Hispanic community, with an unwavering belief in that community’s power as a positive influencer in business, entrepreneurship, education and the arts. “More Latinas and Latinos are expanding the status quo in all sectors. We have increased representation – and that’s a good thing. We are being counted,” she says. Despite the pandemic, Hispanic-owned small businesses continue to provide economic stability while creating new opportunities, says Berman.

Liz Berman ’84, far left, and mission trip volunteers with local children in the Dominican Republic.

After graduating from Caldwell with a degree in education, Berman was a public school English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher for 15 years before joining her family’s business, Continental Food and Beverage Inc., in 1998.  The company is an authorized bottler for Inca Kola, a soft drink brand that originated in Peru and was acquired by the Coca-Cola Company. In the area of corporate responsibility, Berman’s role is to help support mission-driven local, national and international organizations. Her company supports the Friends of Lead-Free Children, an organization focusing on environmental and health issues in the Dominican Republic.

Berman’s company and her family helped organize volunteers to remediate one of the worst lead contamination sites in Haina, Dominican Republic and support ongoing efforts to minimize risks to pregnant women and children through education and locally-supervised support. She and her family continue to participate in humanitarian aid missions in that country and have helped create a network of temporary nursing clinics, staffed by nursing students, that provide health assessments in poor communities.

Berman’s outreach and work on behalf of the Hispanic community extend to leadership positions with the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Corporate Board of Advisors of the New York State Federation of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and the Executive Board of the Centro Civico Cultural Dominicano, Inc.

She is enthusiastic about Caldwell’s recent designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education, which will increase access to higher education in New Jersey. “It is a wonderful achievement,” she says, adding, “The core philosophy of Caldwell aligns with the values of the majority of Hispanic families. Caldwell, a choice for education based on Catholic values, represents the future for Hispanic students in New Jersey and beyond.”


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Elizabeth Elices: A Heritage of Hard Work

Elizabeth Elices, or Liz, is known as a hardworking professional who takes on her job of handling legal and compliance matters for Caldwell University with expert precision. On a given day, she might spend most of her time in meetings and discussions with university staff. Or she might be focused on reviewing policies, learning about legal and regulatory changes that impact Caldwell, or planning training programs. On another day, an unexpected concern or issue might crop up and take over her calendar. She can’t afford to demand a consistent routine, and that’s okay with her. In fact, her ability to problem solve and adapt to the needs around her is something she traces back to her Hispanic heritage.

“I think that having a connection to more than one culture has made me more adaptable and open minded,” the daughter of Cuban immigrants shares. “I’m used to thinking about things from more than one perspective, which is an advantage in many ways.”




I don’t take any opportunity for granted. I am very aware of the sacrifices made by my family that made it possible for me to be where I am today.”




It is no accident then, that Elices is celebrated for her work ethic. She credits her attitude to a feeling of gratitude towards her family. She is very conscious of how much easier it is for her to access opportunities as the first person from her family born in the United States.

“I don’t take any opportunity for granted. I am very aware of the sacrifices made by my family that made it possible for me to be where I am today.”

Elices has found in Caldwell a community where employees are dedicated to their roles in running the university, and that made it a natural fit for her. She loves seeing the environment that culture of dedication creates for students and said that “it makes working here especially rewarding.” 

Now that her work life has shifted with COVID-19, Elices is thankful for the commitment shown by everyone working with and around her at Caldwell, even if she isn’t interacting with those people in person. “I think it has been really interesting to see how quickly people have adapted to working and interacting through a camera,” she says. She’s conscious that such a change isn’t easy. “It’s a huge shift, and the fact that we’re able to keep things running, and we’re able to get our jobs done, is impressive.”

With her reputation for hard work and adaptability, it is no surprise that Elices hasn’t missed a beat even while working from home. But she has been impressed by the Caldwell staff around her as well . “It’s worth stepping back and looking at that, and saying ‘Wow, we’re pulling this off.’”

-Nicole Burrell  ‘09 

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“Keep it up. We’ll beat this thing” – A Message from Dr. Whelan and Sister Kathleen


In a video message to the Caldwell University community, President Matthew Whelan and Sister Kathleen Tuite, vice president for student life, thank the members of the university community for their efforts to remain compliant to stem the tide of COVID-19.  They remind everyone to “keep it up” and focus on their academics, their physical well-being, and staying safe from COVID-19 by washing their hands, wearing their masks, and staying socially distant.  “And we’ll beat this thing,” said Dr. Whelan. “CU Strong!” said Sister Kathleen. 

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Caldwell Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Caldwell University is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Throughout the month, we will highlight some of the many Hispanic members of our community who positively influence our university and society.  

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.   


Jeremy Colon ’23


Jeremy Colon ’23

Jeremy Colon fell in love with Caldwell University the first time he visited the campus. His head football coach at Union City High School told him about the university and that there was a chance to play sprint football. Colon seized the opportunity.

From the time he was young Colon knew that football could be an avenue for his education and future dreams. The game has taught him quite a bit, like “Every failure is a lesson learned,” he said. “Anytime I fail I try to make myself better and just move on from it,” said Colon, who is majoring in communication and media studies. That attitude of looking at what can be learned from challenges extends to the pandemic, which has taught him that you “Don’t take anything for granted. You have to adapt and move on.”

Attention is what makes Caldwell special, said Colon, the attention students receive from the staff, faculty members, coaches and other students.

Colon grew up in Union City, the son of a couple from the Dominican Republic. His culture is important to him, and he enjoys Hispanic Heritage Month with family, “good bonding time” and good food, like his favorite dish of mangu, salami and fried cheese.

Colon is the first in his family to go to college, and his goals are to graduate, “make my family proud and get a stable job.”

His sprint football coach, James Kelly, said Colon’s has the drive to reach those goals. “His energy and enthusiasm to strive for perfection are admired by our staff and student body in our learning community.” Colon leads by example and “epitomizes the ability to meet challenges the student-athlete faces with a rigorous curriculum and athletic competition,” said Kelly. “Jeremy Colon will leave our campus leaving his standard to overcome adversity for future Cougars to follow.”


Viviana Zeballos ’22

Photo of Viviana

Viviana Zeballos ’22

Viviana Zeballos is grateful that she grew up in a bilingual household. Being fluent in Spanish has given her opportunities to assist others. “You feel great when you can give a helping hand,” said Zeballos, who comes from a close-knit family with a Bolivian heritage. She has traveled to the South American country to visit her grandmother, and that has given her a broader world view. “I love learning about people’s cultures.” 

This fall semester Zeballos is learning remotely at Caldwell University. Even before the pandemic hit, it was a format she preferred. “I work better by myself.” A marketing major, she picked up a second major, psychology. “It will help me understand people better for business,” she said.   

At a recent meeting of the university’s Academic Affairs Committee, Zeballos shared her preference for remote learning. “It was great to be able to give our opinions,” the new committee member said. One of the benefits of online learning at Caldwell is that faculty have small classes and that gives them the opportunity to reach out to the students taking “the first step” in communications, said Zeballos. Then students are not afraid to speak up and ask for help, she explained. Although virtual learning is her preferred format, she is still connected. “I have a lot of activities that give me people interaction.”  

One of those activities is the Educational Opportunity Fund program, which she appreciates for the opportunities to make connections with people and as a support system. “Knowing I can go to the office for help with anything is a resource I am so thankful for.” She is a member of the sorority Lambda Tau Mega and of the cross-country and track teams, which she joined during her sophomore year. With the COVID restrictions, she is grateful that her coach is keeping in contact with team members. “I run on my own and the coach sends out workouts, so it is great.” Running helps her manage stress and provides a sense of accomplishment. “You really have to count on yourself.” It is a “mental sport,” but pushing through despite fatigue and finishing a race is a great feeling. Just as she strives to do in her academic pursuits, “You really give it your all.” 

Emily Gomez Rodriguez ’22

Emily Gomez Rodriguez ’22

September is Emily Gomez Rodriguez’s favorite month. It is Hispanic Heritage Month and her birthday month. “I would not be the person I am today if it were not for my culture. I embrace and love my culture,” said the health sciences major, who has Colombian and Honduran heritage.

Caldwell’s diversity is one of the things Rodriguez appreciates about her university, and she encourages her peers to learn about their heritages: “Love your roots.”

Rodriguez grew up in Rahway and Elizabeth, New Jersey. She speaks Spanish fluently and is comfortable with Portuguese. Her mother is a middle school Spanish teacher. “I love that I can use different languages. I feel I have the power to express myself more.” She often uses her skills to translate for other people. The Latin she took in her freshman year of high school helps her with the Portuguese and with the Greek and Latin roots of words she is learning in her medical terminology class.

Rodriguez has always had an interest in medicine. Her father is a respiratory therapist. She learned how to do CPR when she was 8 years old because she wanted to learn “what people do in the movies.” She aspires to become a physician assistant in an underserved community. It is a career path she discovered during the lockdown after losing her grandfather and her aunt to COVID-19-related causes and learning the role PAs could play on the front lines of a disaster like a health care pandemic. “PAs get to improve and save the lives of others, and it is versatile and collaborative.”

A month after her family’s losses, Rodriguez applied to volunteer with her local emergency squad, and she has become a blood donor ambassador for the American Red Cross. She credits natural sciences professor Dr. Agnes Berki with inspiring her and educating her and other students about the virus. Early in the year when news about the coronavirus was breaking, Berki dedicated lectures to COVID-19 including information on proper mask-wearing and sanitizing. “It was a blessing,” said Rodriguez, who incorporated the information into her daily life and shared it with her family.

Rodriguez is studying remotely this semester, and Berki prepared her for that by helping students adapt to online learning during the lockdown. (This semester Berki is on sabbatical researching COVID-19 and infectious diseases.) “The support and guidance from last semester prepared me for this semester,” said Rodriguez.

Despite having had a challenging year, Rodriguez is grateful for being a part of the Caldwell University family and for a new academic year. “Caldwell has given me support, maturity, more intelligence, a sense of community, and caring.” She is also grateful to Dr. William Velhagen, associate dean of the School of Natural Sciences, for his advice.

As she ventures into her junior year, Rodriguez feels empowered by her experiences and the support she receives from her professors. “It [all] has taught me to keep on going no matter what.”


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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. 

Photo of Anamika Sharma

Anamika Sharma Paudel ‘20

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.”

Parents of Anamika

Anamika Sharma Paudel’s father and mother watching the livestream of graduation from Nepal and cheering on their daughter as she receives her undergraduate degree in healthcare administration, summa cum laude from President Whelan.

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 ’20 receives her Marketing and Communication and Media Studies degree from President Whelan.

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.”   

Huong Nguyen’s mother and brother in Vietnam watched the graduation livestream and recorded the video and shared it with friends and family.


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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. susan“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.


Watch the Graduate ceremony here.

Watch the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Science in Nursing ceremony here.

What the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts ceremony here.

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Mass of the Holy Spirit – Community is encouraged to “rely on the Spirit”

President Matthew Whelan, Ed.D. read the blessings for the university choir, Student Government Association officers, resident assistants, and fall athletes.
Fall athletes receiving a blessing for the start of the year.
Father James Manos was the celebrant for the Mass of the Holy Spirit.


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.

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Caldwell University is a U.S. News & World Report Best-Value School

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. 

Social Mobility 2021 US newsREGIONAL UNIVERSITIES BEST VALUE 2021 US newsUS news best colleges north LOGO

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

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President Whelan is a Guest on “Steve Adubato’s Lessons in Leadership”

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.”