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Celebrating Caldwell’s First-Generation Students

Caldwell university student photo with nancy blattner.

Caldwell, N.J., Nov. 8, 2019 – Caldwell University joined other colleges and universities in celebrating its first-generation university students on Nov. 8.

Speaking to the students, President Nancy Blattner shared how she was the first in her family to go to college. Her parents did not attend high school but encouraged their daughter to pursue education. “There are no limits to what you can do with an education. No one can take that away from you,” said President Blattner. And with that education they can help other family members, she said. Dr. Blattner assured the students that the university staff and faculty are there to help them succeed. “You are not alone as first-generation.”

First-generation freshman Hanirah Mitchner said Dr. Blattner’s comments made her feel appreciated.  Leonela Martinez, another first-generation freshman, was happy to hear President Blattner’s “inspiring success story … if she can do it, we can do it too.”

The aim of Caldwell’s event was to celebrate the success of the students and to remind them of the supports available on campus to help them achieve their dreams and goals. It was  held in the university’s new Eileen Jones Multicultural Center, named for the university’s first African-American student.

Celebrating first-generation students

In high school Ashley Williams never thought much about college and her teachers encouraged her to go to a community college, but she was accepted into the EOF program at Caldwell and never looked back. It is a “home away from home. I’m so blessed and happy,” said Williams, of Old Bridge, New Jersey. “I’m a name, not a number” said Williams, who is majoring in history and is busy working in the campus bookstore. She is grateful to faculty and staff members like history professor Dr. Marie Mullaney, her advisor, who Williams says has been “one of the best people—who helped me get to where I want to be.” As first generation in her family she wants to be a role model for her two nieces and hopes other high school students who think college is out of reach realize that “if you put the effort and time into it, it will happen.”

Headshot photo of rodriguez.

Alicia Rodriguez

Senior Alicia Rodriguez says her parents are so excited about her  graduation from college that they are already planning a huge party. “The only thing we talk about is my graduation.” Rodriguez, a resident of Union, New Jersey, says her parents—“the two smartest people I know”—did not go to college and have encouraged their daughter to keep pushing toward her goal of earning a university degree. The first-generation student is majoring in sport management and with a minor in pre-law and a long-term goal of becoming a sports attorney. During her undergraduate years when times were stressful, Melissa Cooke, her advisor in the School of Business and Computer Science, was always supportive and would give her good advice and “a huge push.” A member of the women’s lacrosse team, Rodriguez is also grateful to the Athletics Department, her coaches and teammates for their influence. The skills she learned on the field, like “being devoted and practicing more,” apply to academics and life in general. “Whatever I use in athletics, I use in my day-to-day life,” she said.

Head Shot photo of Kasey Cox.

Kasey Cox

Sophomore Kasey Cox was raised by her grandparents and will be the first in her family to earn a college degree. “My family is proud of me,” said Cox, who grew up in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. Sometimes being first generation presents challenges, like having to navigate financial aid processes, but she said the staff at Caldwell University has been super helpful. A psychology major with a criminal justice minor, Cox said EOF is her “saving grace.” She belongs to the sorority Delta Phi Epsilon and to the Psychology Club and is an EOF class representative. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she hopes to join the military and then become a school counselor. Cox encouraged other students who do not have family members who have gone to college, saying that with the support EOF, “It is easier than you think.”

Head shot photo of Ruth Jimenez.

Ruth Jimenez

Senior Ruth Jimenez appreciates that EOF holds students accountable for their grades. The staff in the office provides a great support system and helps with resources, but having someone monitoring your grades adds a “sense of accountability,” she said. Jimenez, who came to the United States from the Dominican Republic when she was seven, attended Becton Regional High School in East Rutherford. She is majoring in health care administration and hopes to go on for her master’s and eventually work in administration in a health care setting. Along with her studies, she works hard—on campus in the library and as a substitute teacher. Her parents always supported education and her mother graduated from college in her country, but Ruth will be the first in her family to receive a degree in the United States. That comes with “a big responsibility” since she is setting an example for her 10-year-old brother, who is already talking about going to college. “It was drilled into us,” said Jimenez.

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English Professor’s Poetry Anthology is Selected for National Book Club List

Professor of English Mary Ann Miller, Ph.D. has received national recognition as her anthology “St. Peter’s B-list: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints”  (Ave Maria Presss) has been selected for America Magazine’s, The Catholic Book Club list.

The anthology is listed in the fall books special literary issue. The Catholic Book Club features book reviews and literary discussion from America Media.

Mary Ann Miller

“I am so happy for the opportunity to extend the visibility of the wonderful poets in this collection and to spread the word that Catholicism is fertile ground for contemporary poetry,” said Miller.

St. Peter’s B-list was published in 2014 and features over 100 contemporary American poems, written by 70 poets from across the United States, that contain references to canonized saints.

The voices in these poems are not the saints themselves, speaking from distant times and places.  They are very contemporary voices, both male and female, from a wide range of social, regional, and occupational circumstances, who remember a saint, often despite a pervasive sense of doubt, in the midst of the spiritual struggles of daily life.

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“The Saint John’s Bible: From the Middle Ages to the 21st Century” Lecture

Photo of Marie Mullaney“The Saint John’s Bible: From the Middle Ages to the 21st Century” will be presented by Marie Mullaney, Ph.D., professor of history at Caldwell, 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14 in the Alumni Theatre. This lecture will explain how an understanding of medieval history can lead to a deeper appreciation of The Saint John’s Bible since its production is so intimately linked to the values, techniques, and lifestyles of the time.

Caldwell University is celebrating its Year with The Saint John’s Bible with events featuring music, poetry and history.

The Saint John’s Bible is the first illuminated, handwritten Bible of monumental size to be created in more than 500 years. It was commissioned by Benedictine Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota and the creative director was Donald Jackson, senior scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office. Caldwell is hosting the Heritage Edition of the Gospels and Acts volume of the Bible until the end of the calendar year.

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Caldwell Athletics Receives CAANJ DII Cup For Third Straight Year

SOMERSET, N.J.- The Caldwell University Athletics Department earned the Collegiate Athletic Administrators of New Jersey (CAANJ) Division II Cup for a third straight year for their outstanding athletic accomplishments during the 2018-19 year.

Caldwell Athletics as a department had another outstanding year on the field and in the classroom in 2018-19. The Cougars won two conference championships in women’s soccer and bowling, earning both programs a trip to their respective national tournaments. For women’s soccer, the 2018 conference title was their second in three seasons and their third in the last six seasons, while the bowling team captured their first conference championship in only their fifth year as a varsity program at Caldwell.

The Cougars earned two major award winners last season as bowling’s Jenna Rapach (Hazleton, Pa.) was selected as the East Coast Conference Rookie of the Year and later earned ECC Tournament Most Outstanding Bowler honors. The department featured eight all-region players, including the first women’s lacrosse player in program history to be recognized. Caldwell earned a total of 18 all-conference honorees, including 17 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference All-League players with seven being named to the first team. The department also featured a combined totaled 37 all-academic honorees between the CACC and ECC as well as one CoSIDA Google Cloud Third Team Academic All-American.

The Caldwell Athletics Department was honored at the annual CAANJ Awards Luncheon on Thursday, October 24 at the FairBridge Hotel in Somerset, New Jersey.

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New Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach and Recreation Director

CALDWELL, N.J- Caldwell University Assistant Vice President/Director of Athletics Mark A. Corino has named Caitlyn McGinley to lead the women’s lacrosse program and also serve as the department’s recreation director. McGinley was a standout player at Fairleigh Dickinson University and was an assistant coach at FDU for the past four seasons.
Caitlyn Mccginley
“I am honored to be selected and accept the position of the head women’s lacrosse coach at Caldwell University,” said McGinley. “I would like to thank Mark Corino for allowing me this great opportunity. I am excited to work with this group of athletes to continue and improve the success of this program. I would like to thank the student-athletes at Fairleigh Dickinson and most importantly Adriennne Carr for shaping me into the coach I am today.”

McGinley comes to Caldwell after having served as an assistant coach for the FDU-Madison since 2015. She developed practice plans as well as assist in recruiting and operations for the Devils women’s lacrosse program. McGinley was part of three MAC Freedom Championship squads from 2016-18 and three NCAA Division III Championships appearances.

“We are very pleased to have Caitlyn McGinley joining our staff as the women’s lacrosse head coach,” said Corino. “She has an extensive background coaching lacrosse and we expect her to continue to build on the foundation of the program.”

McGinley was a four-year defender and midfielder for FDU for four seasons from 2012-15, earning Middle Atlantic Freedom Conference Rookie of the Year in 2012. During her Devils career, she was named to the First Team All-MAC Freedom in each of her four seasons. McGinley helped lead the Devils to three conference titles along with one trip to the NCAA DIII Tournament. She was named as a team captain during her senior season. McGinley ended her playing career with 53 goals, six assists, 98 ground balls, 63 draw controls, and 91 caused turnovers.

McGinley graduated from FDU-Madison in 2015 with a degree in psychology with a minor in childhood studies.

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The Saint John’s Bible events to feature poetry, music, the Middle Ages 

Baptism of Jesus, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Baptism of Jesus, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Caldwell University continues its Year with The Saint John’s Bible with events featuring music, poetry and history. The events are free and open to the public.

A Saint John’s Bible Poetry Reading with Sister Eva Mary Hooker, CSC will be held at noon, Wednesday, Oct. 30 in the Westervelt Lecture Hall in Werner Hall.  Sister Eva will read nine of her own original poems that are based upon images from The Saint John’s Bible which she will project in a powerpoint. She will also read from her full-length collection, Godwit (Three: A Taos Press, 2016).    Sister Eva is professor of English and writer-in-residence at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame.  3 Taos Press published her first full-length book of poetry, Godwit, in 2016. Chapiteau Press published two chapbooks, The Winter Keeper (finalist for the Minnesota Book Award in poetry) and Notes for Survival in the Wilderness.  Her poems have been published in journals such as Agni, Salmagundi, Notre Dame Review, Terrain, Witness, Memorious and Salamander.    The reading is sponsored by the Saint  John’s Bible committee and Caldwell University Dr. Mary Ann Miller’s Catholic Writers (of literature) class.

“Illuminations: A Concert of Music Inspired by The Saint John’s Bible” will premiere at 3 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 10 in the university Alumni Theatre.  Music faculty member Nan Childress Orchard has commissioned two original works from New Jersey composers Caroline H. Newman and Rob Middleton to celebrate Caldwell University’s Year with The Saint John’s Bible.  Performers include Childress Orchard, piano; Music Department faculty members Rebecca Vega, flute, and Rob Middleton, clarinet; and Jacqueline Stern, violoncello.

“The Saint John’s Bible: From the Middle Ages to the 21st Century” will be presented by  Marie Mullaney, Ph.D., professor of history at Caldwell, 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14.   This lecture will explain how an understanding of medieval history can lead to a deeper appreciation of The Saint John’s Bible since its production is so intimately linked to the values, techniques, and lifestyles of the time.

The Saint John’s Bible is the first illuminated, handwritten Bible of monumental size to be created in more than 500 years. It  was commissioned by Benedictine Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota and the creative director was Donald Jackson, senior scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s Crown Office.  Caldwell is hosting the Heritage Edition of the Gospels and Acts volume of the Bible until the end of the calendar year.

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Campus Community Puts Dominican Pillar of Service into Action at Caldwell Day


Caldwell, N.J., Sept. 30, 2019 –  Some 200 students, faculty and staff headed out to nonprofits to volunteer for the 11th annual Caldwell Day 2019 on Friday, Sept. 27.

Each year, classes are canceled and the campus community puts into action the Catholic Dominic pillar of service.  The university partnered with 18 service sites to help with their needs.

This theme of the day focused on celebrating the life of Saint Martin de Porres  a Dominican lay brother known for his charity, humility and voluntary poverty in serving those on the margins.

We talked with some students about their experiences living out the pillar of service.

Aashutosh Khatiwada ‘23 

Major: Computer Information Systems

Where did you volunteer and what did you do? I volunteered at the Community Foodbank of New Jersey where our group packed up a total of 525 boxes of food.

Aashutosh Khatiwada ' 23 volunteered at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey

Aashutosh Khatiwada ‘ 23 volunteered at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey

What were the life lessons that came from your experience?  It made me think of the people who need the food and that we take food for granted.  I was shocked to learn that the food was going to working families who have one or two jobs but still struggle to make ends meet.  It helps put things into perspective and makes us aware of different problems in the world. After volunteering today at the foodbank, it gave me a sense of self-satisfaction, that someone somewhere feels the effect of our work. Someone does not have to stay hungry today. Someone can put food on their table.

Why is it important for the campus community to put community service into action?

Community service helps you build perspective and understand other human beings.  That is the only way we can live in a cohesive manner. Also, it helps students take a break. It was therapeutic; it gave me a chance to be there in the moment.  And you can ask yourself, “Is it all O.K.? Can you fix it? I can try my best.”

Aubrey Melville ‘20 volunteered visiting the elderly from St. Aloysius Parish.

Aubrey Melville ‘20 volunteered visiting the elderly from St. Aloysius Parish.

Aubrey Melville ‘20 

Major: Accounting

Where did you volunteer and what did you do? I volunteered visiting the elderly from St. Aloysius Parish in Caldwell with Sister Eleanor Uhl, O.P.

What was most rewarding about this experience? The elderly cheered us up. They made jokes and cracked us up and looked at us as their children or grandchildren.

Why is it important for the campus community to take time out to put community service into action? 

As an adult student, it is busy going to school. This experience brought me back to when I was a child and my mother would take us out to visit the elderly.  Whenever you go out to do something like this you believe you have a certain mission, and then it turns out to be a whole different reality.

De-Jane Grant  ‘22

Major: Business Administration and history

Where did you volunteer and what did you do?  I volunteered at the Op Shop Thrift Shop at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Essex Fells where we sorted donated items, put them on the shelves and added price tags and we redecorated some of the displays to make them appealing to customers.

What was most rewarding about this experience?

De-Jane Grant ‘22 and Cindy Herrera ‘22 volunteered at the Op Shop Thrift Shop.

De-Jane Grant ‘22 and Cindy Herrera ‘22 volunteered at the Op Shop Thrift Shop.

I came to a realization that just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s no longer good. Sorting through the various donated shoes, another student and I had to decide which shoes were still good to put on the shelves. When speaking to one of the employees she pointed to one shoe and she said that it may be old but it’s still clean and in good condition and to someone who can’t afford brand new shoes, this will be good and it’ll hold up for a little longer. It made me realize how I can take the brand new shoes that I have for granted.  After today, I realized that I need to appreciate all the clothes that I already have and how lucky I am to be able to have the things I do. Someone who can’t afford the things that I think are simple and inexpensive may not be able to imagine themselves owning these things.

Why is it important for the campus community to take time out to put community service into action?  It is inspiring. I had never volunteered before; I had always wanted to. It was eye-opening and now I want to do more.  I want to give back as much as I can.

Cindy Herrera ‘22 

Major: Criminal Justice major with a minor in Pre Law and Criminal Forensics

Where did you volunteer and what did you do?  I volunteered at the Op Shop Thrift Shop at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Essex Fells organizing and packing up the items that were donated.

What was most rewarding about this experience?  It was really nice to learn that after people donate the clothing, household items, etc. the shop sells them and they give the money to local charities.

Why is it important for the campus community to take time out to put community service into action? As students, we are focused on ourselves and our homework and we don’t take time to think of others; community service shows us there is a whole world out there and that one person can make a difference.

Jennifer Montejo ‘21

Major: Music education

Where did you volunteer and what did you do? I volunteered at the Arc of Essex County with children with Down Syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.   We helped the aides and played and interacted with the children.

Jennifer Montejo ‘21 volunteered at the Arc of Essex County.

Jennifer Montejo ‘21 volunteered at the Arc of Essex County.

What was most rewarding about this experience?  I love all children and it was wonderful to see how much care the staff members are giving the children to educate them and to help them grow according to their developmental abilities.

Why is it important for the campus community to take time out to put community service into action?  Everything you are studying comes together to help you help the next generation.  It is important to take advantage of this opportunity.  As an education major, it started me thinking about a special education certificate.

Caldwell Day is featured on Abc7’s Eyewitness News in its #BeKind campaign.

Watch it here

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Faculty Feature: Professor Rosa Sanchez

Rosa Sanchez, teaching students inside the caldwell university classroom.

Reading, Writing and Diversity

Professor Rosa Sanchez is standing in front of a cross with a group of students. That isn’t unusual, considering she teaches at a Catholic university. But this cross is not located on the university campus, and she and the students are nowhere near Caldwell. On this June day, they find themselves in the shadow of a 500-foot granite cross, embedded in the rocky mountains of Spain. They are there for a study-abroad program, and they are far from your average tourists.

When Sanchez arrived at Caldwell University, she was confident of several things. First, she believed studying abroad was a powerful experience for students. Second, she knew literature had the power to transform lives for the better. And she was confident that her role as assistant professor of Spanish language, literature and culture would allow her to show that diversity is a wonderful thing.

Sanchez was 10 years old when her family moved to New York City from the Dominican Republic. After high school, she attended Barnard College and majored in Latin American studies with the intention of becoming a successful businesswoman. But after pursuing the nine-to-five life through jobs in marketing and public relations, she realized she was on the wrong track. And this became clear at a book club, of all places. Sanchez had started a reading group with friends from college who were also living in New York City after graduation. The more time she spent with the book club, the more she realized she wanted to spend her life working in literature and culture. So she applied to graduate school and attended the University of Virginia to earn a master’s and a Ph.D. in literature.

Sanchez was working as an adjunct professor at St. Francis College in Brooklyn when she first heard about the study-abroad program she would eventually bring to Caldwell. An alumnus of the college was advertising a course of study that allowed students to travel to Segovia, Spain. The program turned out to be an amazing opportunity, and when Sanchez arrived at Caldwell University, she knew she wanted to introduce the program to her students. She traveled with her first group of students to Segovia in the summer of 2017.

Students stay with a host family for a month while they take two classes that revolve around the sites they will visit in Spain. They also have ample time to interact with locals, visiting cafés and parks during their leisure time.

“It’s been great,” said Sanchez. “I love seeing the students, the impact going to a foreign country has on them. A month is a nice chunk of time. You are more able to have the culture sink in.”

New experiences give students a fresh perspective. Instances of culture shock may be as simple as the way people in Spain are careful to conserve water and electricity or as profound as realizing the stereotypes that exist about Americans in other countries. After enjoying the warmth of their host families, the slower pace of the culture and the rich traditions of the country, students often return with a passion for travel and for Spain specifically.

“They are more comfortable stepping out of their shells and just getting to know places,” Sanchez said.

During classes, students get a preview of the sites they will visit during their month abroad. Among these places is the Valley of the Fallen, where they encounter the 500-foot cross. The monument is stunning, but it is also tragic, having been built by a controversial leader using forced labor. Visits to such places allow students to consider buildings and monuments in light of history. Conversations about a monument in Spain have sparked thoughts about historical sites in our country and how students interact with them. This and the experience of living abroad prove to be very powerful for students.

Sanchez has played a large role in other immersive experiences at Caldwell.

In a previous teaching position, she attended a weeklong workshop at Saint John’s University. While there, she had the opportunity to see The Saint John’s Bible. This handwritten, hand-illuminated Bible was carefully produced, beginning in the late 1990s, to reflect a diversity of cultures and the faith of modern believers.

“I was just blown away,” Sanchez said. “It was so stunning to see it in person and to hear about the work it took and all the thought and research that went into it.”

When she heard Caldwell University would have the opportunity to host a portion of that Bible, Sanchez was overjoyed. She remembered her encounter with The Saint John’s Bible years earlier and quickly volunteered to train the docents who would share the Bible with visitors. Three students agreed to take part in the program for the semester, and Sanchez contributed her enthusiasm to the project. During weekly or biweekly meetings, she encouraged the students not only to share facts about the Bible but to invite those who saw it to reflect on the impact the work had on them. Sanchez will continue to train docents this fall while the Bible is on display at Caldwell.

“That has been beautiful, just to be part of that,” she said. “The Saint John’s Bible is so stunning.”

The personal application of The Saint John’s Bible is easy to see. The artists worked hard to incorporate cultural diversity, science and women in the illuminations paired with the text. And that same desire for diversity drives Sanchez every day as she teaches at Caldwell University. “That is at the core of my discipline,” Sanchez said.

Through her classes in the Spanish language, literature and culture program, Sanchez encourages students to listen to music and podcasts from different countries as they read Spanish texts. Students also have the opportunity to attend a play in Spanish in New York City. All of these mediums expose them to a variety of cultures, views and accents.

Sanchez shares her passion for Spanish culture and literature in a number of other ways. She serves as an advisor to the Spanish Club and to the honor society. She was also chosen to participate in the Ancient Greece in the Modern Classroom seminar on “The Ancient Greek Hero” at Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies campus in Washington, D.C. this past July.

She organizes a Spanish conversation hour for students every other week at Rock ‘n’ Joe in Caldwell, where students are treated to coffee as long as they commit to speaking Spanish for the entire hour. Thanks to Sanchez’s hard work and passion, whether students choose to study abroad or stay close to home, they have opportunities to think deeply about diversity and culture and about their place in it.

“I see myself at the center of the effort to teach about other cultures, to see students appreciate other cultures,” she said. “And my hope is that they develop a curiosity for other cultures. I tell them that whatever they learn about in my class is only a snippet of what is really out there.”

—Nicole M. Burrell ’09

Two of Professor Rosa Sanchez’s Favorite Books

One Hundred Years of Solitude

By Gabriel García Márquez

“I read it as an undergraduate on my own. After reading that book, it was the first time I ever felt that I really was going to miss the characters, so that book has a special part in my heart. It was such a long book, and it was really, then, the first time I felt alone afterwards because I had been in the company of those characters for so long.”

Don Quixote

By Miguel de Cervantes

“‘Don Quixote’ was impossible to read the first time I picked it up. But then it became one of my favorite books once I got acquainted with the style of the Golden Age, because it was published in the 1600s. That book also has a special place in my heart because I had a long-distance relationship while I was in Virginia for my Ph.D. To have something to talk about with my then-boyfriend, I would tell him what happened in whatever I was reading at the time. And I started doing that with ‘Don Quixote.’ I would bring it up with him to the point where in one of the weekends where I was in the city, he took me to see a play based on ‘Don Quixote,’ and that’s where he proposed. And here we are several years later, married, and with a precious three-year-old daughter who is already acquainted with a kiddie version of the Spanish classic!



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Community Gathers for Dedication of New Caldwell University Chapel, Located ‘at the Heart’ of Campus 

Community gathers for dedication and blessing Mass for the Sister Mary Dominic Tweedus Chapel.
Nancy Blattner, president of Caldwell University, speaking at the dedication and blessing Mass of the new chapel on campus.
Father Albert Berner, former chaplain at Caldwell University, was one of the concelebrants at the Mass.
Student Maria Lesniewski brings up the flowers for the preparation of the altar.
The university’s chorale was led by Music Department faculty member Dr. Laura Greenwald (left). Student Lauren Mann (right) was the cantor.
Alexander Giaquinto, Ph.D. Trustee Emeriti for Caldwell University, reading at Mass.
Alumnas Patricia Hannon '68 (right) and Nina Neglia ’89 (left) bring up candles for preparation of the altar.
The pianist for the dedication and blessing Mass was Warren Helms.
Alumna and primary benefactor for the chapel, Elaine Tweedus ’66 reading at Mass.
The liturgical designer and project manager Meg Poltorak Keyes '75 in front of the chapel.
 Dr. Nancy Blattner (right) and Elaine Tweedus ’66 (left) unveil the wall recognizing the chapel donors.
Altar servers, students Michael Angelos ‘23 and Anthony Del Debbio ’23 and celebrant Msgr. Robert Emery.
Board of Trustee member Mary Sellito-Curcio (left) and Elaine Kacmarik '60 (right) bring up the gifts.
Community Gathers for Dedication of New Caldwell University Chapel.

Caldwell, N.J., Sept. 20, 2019 – In a historic occasion for Caldwell University, alumni, benefactors, faculty, staff, students and other guests gathered for the dedication and blessing Mass for the new Sister Mary Dominic Tweedus Chapel on Sept. 20.

Located “at the heart of our campus,” said President Nancy Blattner, the chapel “provides more access to sacred space in a heavily traveled area of the campus” and serves as a daily reminder of Caldwell’s Catholic and Dominican heritage. Blattner pointed out that the site overlooks the cemetery of the Sisters of Saint Dominic, the founders of Caldwell University, and the burial place of Sister Mary Dominic Tweedus, O.P., the aunt of the new chapel’s primary benefactor.   Blattner noted that the institution had opened its doors 80 years earlier on Sept. 19.

The celebrant for the Mass was Msgr. Robert Emery, pastor of St. Aloysius  parish in Caldwell, New Jersey and  episcopal vicar for Essex County. “This chapel leads us to God,” Emery said. “It opens our minds to his truth and our hearts to his goodness. Above all, it speaks of his longing to dwell in our souls—if only we would come here and put ourselves in his presence.”  The doors of “this chapel will lead many people to Christ,” said Emery.  He noted that in the responsorial psalm those gathered heard the words, “‘If today you hear God’s voice.’ We pray that in the years to come, many people will hear God’s voice as they visit and pray in the chapel.”

Concelebrating were Father Albert Berner and Father Thomas Orians, S.A., who had served as  chaplains at the university, and Father Thomas Dente, pastor of Notre Dame parish in North Caldwell, New Jersey.

Student Jennifer Montejo, a junior and member of the chorale, was excited for the new chapel and to have a “loving space to be able to worship God freely.” Pointing out that in the homily Msgr. Emery said, many people will come to Christ through those doors, Montejo said, “I believe that.”

Students Anthony Del Debbio ’23 and Michael Angelos ’23 were altar servers at the Mass. Both were servers at their home parishes and they were very happy to be a part of the dedication mass. Being a server at university liturgies, Del Debbio said, is another step in his “faith relationship with God”.

The old chapel was decommissioned in 2018; it was not ADA accessible, had no air conditioning, little parking and was out of view. In designing the new chapel, careful consideration was given to preserve many of the distinctive features of the old chapel “so that there remains an unbroken bond between Caldwell’s past and its present, between its founding and its future,” said Blattner. “We are surrounded by the exquisite original stained glass windows and Stations of the Cross. The tabernacle and the main altar were constructed using materials from the high altar in the former chapel.” Six large stained glass windows from the old chapel depicting Dominican saints are now magnificent artwork located outside the chapel.

Sister Mary John Kearney, O.P., professor emerita of education, said the dedication was inspiring and poignant and she is grateful to be a part of a wonderful center of learning. “As I prayed with so many who work and minister here—our current students and all who call Caldwell University their alma mater—I was made aware of how blessed we are to come together in this new chapel in the center of the campus. Dr. Blattner’s reflection touched me deeply as she spoke to the past, the present and the future of this chapel in the lives of all who have and will find this sacred place a respite.”

The liturgical designer and project manager was Meg Poltorak Keyes ’75, the first student to receive a bachelor of fine arts from what was then Caldwell College for Women. She has been renovating and restoring churches for over two decades.  Her artistic and design expertise, said Blattner, “helped turn our vision into a reality far more beautiful than we could have imagined.” Sister Gerardine Mueller, O.P., professor emerita and the founder of the Art Department at Caldwell, did the numerals for the Stations of the Cross and the processional cross she created years ago is now in the new chapel.

The Sister Mary Dominic Tweedus Chapel was made possible by a gift from alumna Elaine Tweedus and her late husband, Ed Lonyai, in honor of their beloved “Aunt Mary,” who taught in Catholic grammar schools in New Jersey and cared for the elderly Sisters.    Elaine, her brother Rob and his wife Linda attended the Mass.  Elaine said she wants the chapel to be used “for meditation, for prayer” and for people to “come and find peace here.”

Benefactors, including alumni, have seen the chapel as a living memorial to loved ones, sponsoring the crucifix, chairs, ambo, sacristy and entryway and fulfilling many other needs with their generosity. “Your name and the names of the loved ones you may have chosen to honor through one of these gifts will live forever in this special place of prayer and faith,” said Blattner.

Blattner  hopes the new house of worship will inspire the campus community, alumni and supporters to live out the institution’s mission “ever more vigorously as we look ahead to Caldwell University’s future.”

The university’s chorale, led by Music Department faculty member Dr. Laura Greenwald, provided the music.

Chapel donors

Lead Benefactors
Elaine Tweedus ’66 and Ed Lonyai

Entryway Doors Sponsor
Elaine Kacmarik ’60

Stained Glass Window Sponsors
Tim and Nancy H. Blattner
Rhonda Linnett Graber, Trustee

In memory of Arlene Linnett-Babb

Mary (Hanlan ’67) Hess
Robert and Mary (Coyle ’69) Hoyer
Lois H. (Perillo ’60) Mills
Gerard E. Toohey ’03 and Marie F. Ruane-Toohey
Mary Anne Willson ’62

In memory of Mary W. and Nicholas S. Willson

Crucifix Sponsors
Jon L. and Stephanie J. Hauge

In memory of Olaf and Gladys Hauge & Edward and Mary Jordan

Saint Joseph Statue Sponsor
Dr. Dorothy J. Cunningham ’49 

Virgin Mary Statue Sponsor
Friends of Caldwell University

Stations of the Cross Sponsors
Dr. Alexander and Liz Giaquinto
Patricia Ann Hannon ’68
Sharpell and I. Sharpell ’94
Michael and Mary (Sellitto ’83) Curcio, Trustee

Tabernacle Sponsors
Aedan B. and Carol (Anysz ’67) Dunphy

Ambo Sponsors
Kenneth F. Mullaney, Esq., and Marie Mullaney, Ph.D.

Sanctuary Appointments Sponsors
Meg Poltorak Keyes ’75 and Anne T. Poltorak ’78

Chalice Sponsors
Marguerite Kenney ’71 and Maureen Kenney ’77

In memory of Arthur and Lydia Kenney, and Madeline Kenney 73 

Ciborium Sponsor
Doris Krol ’69

In memory of Mary W. Krol

Chapel Chair Sponsors
Tim and Nancy H. Blattner
Kevin and Kerry Boyle
Barbara (Ziglear ’76) Buechner
Jack and Mary (Gaydos ’66) Bury

Caldwell University Alumni Shore Chapter
The Cicale and Manning Families
The Dassing Family
Linda Sue Galate, Ph.D. ’66
Patricia Gartland-Stewart ’85
Dennis Goldstein
Elaine Kacmarik ’60
Charlotte M. Kunst ’47
Florence (Yesville ’56) Maclearie
Nina Neglia ’89
The Ruane Family
The Thomas J. Sellitto Family
Jill Sheldon and Jessica Lynne Fedroff
James T. and Monica (Devlin’67) Larzelere Wixtead
John and Elaine (Bauer’73) Zabriskie




Featured News, News

Faculty Feature: Professor Kevin Barnes

Education: It is a Wonderful Life

On a recent visit to observe a graduate student in his classroom internship, Dr. Kevin Barnes turned on his way out and said, “Persevere. Get this done.” Barnes had listened to the student to explain the challenges he was having balancing work, academics, and family, and he understood. As associate dean of the School of Education and the graduate coordinator of the Educational Administration Leadership program, he wants students to know their professors are there to support them as they manage the responsibilities of Picture of Kevin Barnes going to school as adults. Barnes was once in that place himself, working and pursuing advanced degrees with a young family. He remembers the mentors who encouraged him to “persevere because, with these degrees, life becomes better and more opportunities are available to you,” and he wants to make sure the next generation has that encouragement too.

Barnes, who teaches aspiring principals and administrators, brings his master’s and doctoral students nearly four decades of educational insights from New Jersey K-12 schools.

He wants to pass on to his graduate students something of what he was given by his mentors when he was a physical education teacher and a football and track coach in districts including Hillside, Sayreville and Millburn and then in leadership positions in Ringwood, Park Ridge and Caldwell/West Caldwell. He normally stayed about five years in each district. “Always long enough to get tenure,” he explained. It was a strategy that David Paulis, his principal in Ringwood, had encouraged to help novice leaders grow.

Barnes’s passion for education began when he was growing up in Woodbridge, New Jersey, where he had the “very good fortune” to have phenomenal role models as teachers and as coaches. He remembers in high school having the thought that if he could influence people the way his teachers had, it “would be a wonderful life.” When he was playing football at Woodbridge High, college recruiters were coming to his school to pursue a standout player. His coach, Sam Lupo, also encouraged them to look at Barnes, a tight end who had played some outstanding games on a team that had enjoyed a successful season. Barnes ended up with good offers including a full scholarship to play football at the College of William & Mary, which he took. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education, health and driver’s education with a minor in classical studies, which included classes in Greek and Roman tragedy and comedy and archaeology.

The Monday after graduating from college, Barnes reported to training camp in Carlyle, Pennsylvania, to start work as a professional and collegiate scout for the Washington Redskins, a job he had gotten through a networking contact from a friend. Scouting had not been a career thought for Barnes, but he took on the adventure and visited five colleges in the Southeast each week, looking at potential pro football players and attending important games on the weekends. It was fun, but after one season he realized he wanted to be back home near his fiancée, his high school sweetheart, Karen.

His first teaching job was in elementary physical education in Hillside, New Jersey, where he also coached football, wrestling, and track; then it was on to Sayreville High School, followed by Millburn High. While at Millburn, a new career path opened up for Barnes when the superintendent, Dr. Paul Rossey, asked to meet with him. Seeing that Barnes had leadership skills, Rossey “did not ask me, [but] told me, that I would be enrolling in a graduate program in educational administration.” Barnes hedged a bit, mentioning all his teaching and coaching responsibilities, his two young kids at home and his summer work. Rossey responded, “Yes, we all do, and in September you will be enrolled in an educational administration program.”

Barnes chose Rutgers, completed his master’s and continued straight on into the doctoral program for which his advisor was internationally known education administration professor Wayne Hoy. He took a position as vice principal at Ryerson Middle School in Ringwood, working under the supervision of Paulis, who hired employees with “zero experience” in education administration so they would have no preconceived notions about what Kevin Barnes during his classadministration meant. At the end of five years, he encouraged his employees to take the ball and run elsewhere with it. Barnes did just that, becoming an elementary school principal at Park Ridge in Bergen County.

Again after five years, it was time to move. This time it was to the Caldwell/West Caldwell public school district, where he had principalships at Wilson Elementary School, Grover Cleveland Middle School, and James Caldwell High School. “The neat part,” he says, is that there was one cohort of students in the Caldwell-West Caldwell District that had him as their principal from kindergarten through senior year. “Every once in a while God calls your bluff,” Barnes says with a laugh.

His entry into college teaching began when he was still at James Caldwell and became an adjunct in a post-baccalaureate program in the Education Division. Barnes enjoyed the work, and after 38 years in public schools, he realized he was ready to retire from K-12 and to focus more on higher education. “If you went full circle, we went into education to teach. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to get back into teaching,” Barnes says.

Today, Barnes enjoys working with the master’s, doctoral and post-baccalaureate students “who show up on time 100 percent of the time because they are paying.”

He also teaches the undergraduate freshman seminar class, a population he is familiar with—“high school seniors three months removed.” Each fall, incoming freshmen in the seminar learn about the nuts and bolts of earning a bachelor’s degree, the different ways professors teach and how to deal with “freshman angst,” he says. They have told him it is comforting for them to hear from him, “You are not going through this alone.”

Barnes has been a first reader for two completed doctoral defenses and is “in the thick of it” with three others at different stages of doctoral preparation. He would meet with the two students who defended for as long as five hours to attempt to get them through the process, he says. It is refreshing to him to see students committed to an area of interest and eager to collect data, analyze it and put it in a “fluid formatted document.” He is grateful to be a part of the Caldwell team, at the “please-and-thank-you university,” as he describes it, where people hold doors for one another and genuinely care.

It is also heartening to teach students who come right out of the classroom and want to make a difference as great school administrators. “They say, ‘I’ve come to realize I can positively influence the lives of 20 to 25 children [in the classroom], but through administration, I might be able to positively influence the lives of ­­200 or 400 or 6,000.’ Those are the people that are doing it for the right reasons,” explains Barnes.

He and Karen are blessed to have three grandchildren and he looks forward to going to his “Tiny Beans” app for a daily feed of photos of the little ones’ adventures and triumphs. Barnes thinks back to that teenager at Woodbridge High School who had an inkling that working in education would be a “wonderful life.” The kid was right. “I would not have had it any other way,” Barnes says. He would do it all over again. “Just like Jimmy Stewart in the iconic Christmas movie said, ‘It’s (been) a wonderful life.”