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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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‘A Christian Theology of Work’, Sister Maura lecture, Nov. 21

Caldwell, N.J., Nov. 14, 2019 – “ A Christian Theology of Work” presented by Dr. Julie V. Burkey, adjunct professor at Seton Hall University, will be the topic of a lecture at Caldwell University, 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, in the Alumni Theatre on campus. It is free and open to the public.

Work! For many works is, at best, something to be endured—worse still, it is the proverbial rat-race—but such attitudes are at odds with Christian teaching about work. Dr. Burkey’s lecture will ask us to re-imagine work as a spiritual practice. Her discussion will address the biblical, historical, and theological warrants for a Theology of Work in the Catholic/Christian tradition, and spirituality to be lived in daily life.

Dr. Burkey is an adjunct professor of pastoral theology at Seton Hall’s Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology and in the Seton Hall Department of Catholic Studies.

She authored and currently teaches courses on Catholic Evangelization and Theology/Spirituality of Work. She served as director of the Workplace Spirituality and Evangelization Initiatives at the seminary for over ten years. Dr. Burkey holds a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from the seminary School of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from The Catholic University of America.

Dr. Burkey has presented talks, workshops, and retreats on a variety of topics, including evangelization, the spirituality of work, leadership and virtue, and the Blessed Mother and many of the saints. Her earlier work experience includes serving as a pastoral associate for stewardship and evangelization at a parish in the Archdiocese of Newark.

The lecture is being presented by Caldwell University’s Department of Theology and Philosophy as part of its Sister Maura Campbell lecture series. Sister Maura was a Sister of St. Dominic of Caldwell, a theologian, philosopher, professor, researcher and national leader in education whose scholarship and teaching spanned 50 years.
For further information, call 973-618-3931.

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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




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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.”  






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Junior Nursing Students Receive White Coats for Start of Clinicals

Caldwell, N.J., Sept. 11, 2019 – Sixty Caldwell University nursing students in their junior year received their white coats and Humanism in Medicine pins honoring the start of their clinical work in hospitals and health care centers.   

The 5th annual Gold Foundation-Arnold P. Gold Foundation ceremony was held on Sept. 11.  Caldwell University President Nancy Blattner, Associate Dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health Donna Naturale, Director of Undergraduate Nursing Students Kathleen Kelley,  School of Nursing and Public Health faculty, and Assistant Director of the Gold Humanism Honor Society Louisa Tvito, as well as family and friends gathered to celebrate this milestone with the students.

Four of the students shared their experiences in the nursing program.  

Elysee Fearon 

Cedar Grove, NJ

How does it feel to receive your white coat?
It is an amazing feeling to be here today… it signifies our first step to becoming nurses.

Why did you decide to study nursing?
I decided that I wanted to be a nurse after I experienced a tragedy in my life. My father was diagnosed with an aggressive and malignant brain tumor when I was Elysee Fearon16 years old. He was a fighter, but during his last few months, he needed help with his daily activities, such as eating and brushing his teeth. I helped him every day until his last. It was then that I realized I wanted to do this for the rest of my life, helping people in their most difficult times and being able to keep their dignity. I hope that one day I can be that person for someone else. 

What has been most rewarding about Caldwell University’s nursing program?
The most rewarding part of Caldwell’s nursing program is knowing that one day with all of the skills and knowledge I am gaining at Caldwell. I will one day be able to help those who need it most. 

 What area of nursing do you think you would like to pursue?
One day I would love to be a nurse in an ICU unit or possibly an oncology nurse. 

 Your advice to incoming nursing students?
My advice for incoming nursing students is to put your heart into nursing. You will pick up the skills and the knowledge throughout the years, but it is most important to love what you do and be truly passionate about wanting to help others. The rest will fall into place (with hard work and studying, of course)!

Killian Gesicki

I grew up in Parsippany, New Jersey and moved to Montville, New Jersey six years ago. 

How does it feel to receive your white coat?
I’m relieved and excited. Killain Gesicki

Why did you decide to study nursing?
I decided to pursue nursing because of the impact I can have on others and caring for those who cannot fully take care of themselves. I also enjoy learning new topics and the different fields in nursing you can work in. Before our first day of nursing school, I was very nervous but after the first week my nerves calmed down. 

What has been most rewarding about Caldwell University’s nursing program?
Caldwell’s nursing program is very rewarding because of all the professors I have. They want you to succeed and be an amazing nurse and work to your full potential. Knowing that they are always there when I need them,  have a question or don’t understand a topic makes this program one of a kind. They set you up for success!

What area of nursing do you think you would like to pursue?
Once I am done with nursing school and pass my NCLEX I would love to work as a critical care nurse and specialize in neonatal intensive care. My brother and sister were two months premature and spent the beginning stages of their newborn life in the NICU. The nurses in the NICU were very knowledgeable and took amazing care of my brother and sister and I want to be that kind of nurse. I want to be that nurse who the parents will remember that took care of their newborn baby. I will have the strength and knowledge to take care of them because of this program. 

Your advice to incoming nursing students?
My advice to any incoming nursing student would be to study, read ahead, organize yourself, get a whiteboard, and breath because ‘you got this’! Nursing is a hard major but it is a very rewarding career. Just remember, you made it this far and got into a nursing program which is a huge accomplishment in itself.                    

Peter Toscak

Linden, New Jersey.

 How did it feel to receive your white coat?
It feels like the true accumulation of all my past successes for the work I put in. 

Why did you decide to study nursing?
The decision to pursue nursing was a decision that took a very long time to Peter Topscakmake. I initially began working at a hospital at 18 years old assisting doctors of physical therapy in providing post-surgical/ burn rehabilitation therapy to patients. My initial dream was to care for people and I believed that rehabilitating patients was my way of doing it. While working at the hospital, I slowly lost interest due to the monotonous repetition that was my everyday work life. There was barely any time to build rapport with my patients and often times the real hands-on care was delivered by the nurses. This discovery of the nursing profession allowed me to examine just how amazing nurses are, as well as how much good a competent nurse can bring to the world.

 What has been most rewarding about Caldwell University’s nursing program?
The nursing program here at Caldwell has been extremely rewarding because it has allowed me to connect with amazing individuals and learn from the best nurses in the country. Additionally, the first time I donned my stethoscope around my neck; wearing it proudly, it was very symbolic to me of the journey I am embarking on.

 What area of nursing do you think you would like to pursue?
I am hoping for the opportunity to be commissioned into the military and practice my nursing while also serving my country. Regardless of this opportunity coming to fruition or not, I want to specialize in critical care. Specifically, I would like to be working in an emergency department or an intensive care unit.

 Your advice to incoming nursing students?
The school work comes quick, so don’t let yourself fall behind for even just a second. You’ll want to practice your nursing at a high degree of competency, and since every class counts towards that, you need to build a strong foundation. This, in turn, will allow you to practice with great autonomy, making you stand out amongst your peers, and eventually amongst your colleagues.

Tricia Florexil

Irvington, New Jersey  

How does it feel to receive your white coat?
It is a great experience because it means I’m stepping into the real nursing world.

Why did you decide to study nursing?
I’ve always had an interest in the health/medical field and I found that nursing was more flexible with the specialties and it provides an opportunity to build a Tricia Florexil connection with patients.

What has been most rewarding about Caldwell University’s nursing program?
I like the close-knit community and easy access (and open) help from the professors.

What area of nursing do you think you would like to pursue?
I’m currently focused on the labor and delivery unit and hope to advance to becoming a midwife. 

  Your advice to incoming nursing students?
My advice to incoming freshmen is to not be afraid of feeling nervous because everyone is. Really be open and have a great experience as a college student for the first two years because once you start your nursing courses, you really have to devote the majority of your time to nursing. 

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Science Students Learn New Research Skills in Internships

Caldwell, N.J., Sep. 9, 2019- Several students from Caldwell University’s Department of Natural Sciences participated in summer research internships taking them all across the United States. The internships challenged the students academically and gave them clarity or confirmation for their future endeavors.

For the second summer, Marina Schlaepfer, a junior majoring in biology and Marina Schlaepfer during her internshipminoring in chemistry, returned to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus to participate in the Gates Summer Internship Program. Over the course of 11 weeks, interning with 20 other students, Schlaepfer explored cardiology under Lori Walker, Ph.D.

“Specifically, I researched unlocking the plasticity of cardiac myocytes to harness the regenerative potential of the heart,” Schlaepfer explained. “I was able to identify unique cellular signaling pathways and factors from cardiac fibroblasts that can contribute to cardiac myocytes being more proliferative and fetal-like [or dedifferentiated].”

When a person suffers a heart attack, the muscle cells of the heart, cardiac myocytes, usually die instead of regenerating, but according to Schlaepfer, Walker’s lab had found that some other mature heart cells can become less mature and then turn into myocytes, allowing the heart to replace the damaged muscle cells.

Completing the internship confirmed to her that she wants to pursue cardiology.

“I have always known I loved cardiology, and this just made me realize how much I truly love it,” she said. “The heart is so fascinating to me, as it’s such a hardworking machine.”

Schlaepfer is considering taking an M.D.-Ph.D. route so she can become a clinician-scientist or a physician who also conducts research.

In addition to Dr. Lori, Schlaepfer said she was thankful to senior research assistant Yanmei Du for providing guidance on her project.

Kofi Mireku, a senior, also conducted his research at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus as part of the cancer research summer fellowship program at the campus’s Cancer Center.Kofi Mireku during his internship

Under the supervision of Dr. Medhi Fini, a doctor-researcher and assistant professor at the Anschutz Medical Campus Center of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Diseases, Mireku conducted his research in the field of breast cancer.

“We began a pilot study on xanthine oxidoreductase and ROS [reactive oxygen species]   tolerance on E0771 breast cancer cells,” Mireku said.

Before this experience, Mireku had never worked with animals or on in vivo techniques. Inoculating the mammary glands of premenopausal and postmenopausal mice with the E0771 breast cancer cells, Mireku measured for tumor growth in both groups.

While collecting data, however, he and Fini accidentally found that the genes that code for XOR—an enzyme that generates ROS, a molecule believed to encourage cancer growth—appeared to have been removed from the tumor growth in postmenopausal mice.

This led Fini and Mireku to hypothesize that XOR plays a significant role in controlling the function of fibroblasts found in the breast.

Though the research is ongoing, Mireku said he finished the first phase and shared his data with the academic community in a poster presentation on campus.

Thanks to this internship, Mireku said he fulfilled his goal of understanding the dynamics of being both a medical professional and a researcher, which cemented his conviction to pursue a career in medicine. He was also able to network with other professionals, which led him to another opportunity over the summer that exposed him to clinical experiences.

Aarion Romany, an international student from  Trinidad and Tobago,  a senior majoring in chemistry and minoring in marketing, found it challenging to find a research program that would accept an international student. After applying to several programs, Romany was accepted for the summer undergraduate research fellowship program offered by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.Aarion Romany during his internship

“There I was assigned a mentor who was a funded principal investigator,” Romany said. “The lab I joined studies a protein called human DNA helicase B (HELB). It is a protein that is involved in repairing our DNA as it’s damaged.”

Although this was his second internship, Romany said it was the first time he had conducted research at an R01 institution, one that receives large research grants from the National Institutes of Health. Romany said that the internship “was a wonderful experience” and that he plans to go to graduate school.

Romany advised other international students who are looking for research internships not to give up or to “limit the scope of where you look for research opportunities.” He encouraged exploring possibilities throughout the United States because that’s what led him to Arkansas, but he said the best place to start is at Caldwell University’s independent undergraduate research program. “Through this program I was prepared for conducting research, troubleshooting, thinking, and even giving presentations,” he said.

Keith Kyewalabye, a junior majoring in biology and minoring in music, who is an international student hailing from Uganda, also had difficulty finding research opportunities.

Over two summers, Kyewalabye applied to more than 40 programs and finally was accepted to two for the summer. He chose the summer undergraduate research program held at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.Keith during his internship

“I was doing cancer research. More specifically, the project I was working on was helping to understand this gene called ATM,” he said. “I was studying the effects of a mutation on this gene [and] its expression.”

ATM, or ataxia telangiectasia-mutated, plays an important role in fixing damaged DNA by releasing a protein to repair mutations. However, Kyewalabye explained that some cancers might mutate the gene, causing it to release a “defunct protein” that cannot repair DNA well. The Food and Drug Administration, he noted, has approved drugs that target the mutated ATM, shutting down its ability to repair cancerous DNA, thus causing the cancer to die.

Kyewalabye said some people who have the mutated ATM gene, and who are expected to respond well to the medication, do not respond as anticipated, because not all mutated ATM genes produce a defunct protein.

“I was trying to understand what types of mutations result in defunct proteins and what types of mutations leave proteins working.”

Kyewalabye found his internship experience insightful, and he realized that one can work in a clinical setting and in research. He hopes to become a neurosurgeon and is considering applying to M.D.-Ph.D. programs.

Right across the street from where Kyewalabye was conducting his research, Ngima Sherpa, a biology and chemistry major who is set to graduate in December 2019, was conducting her research as part of the summer biomedical research internship or SMART program at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston.

“I did not know her before, but a mutual friend of ours told me she was in Houston as well, working in a hospital across the street from me, and we eventually got into contact and connected over the summer,” Kyewalabye said.

“We bonded quickly,” Sherpa said. “It was really nice to meet someone from home in a new town.”

During her nine weeks at BCM, Sherpa worked at the Center for Drug Discovery in the lab of Dr. Dr. Nihan Ucisik and Dr. Martin Matzuk.Ngima Sherpa presenting her research project

“I was new to the lab’s research area of drug repurposing through computational chemistry, given my previous background in biological research, but my mentors were very instrumental in helping me learn the concepts of computational chemistry and different cheminformatic techniques,” Sherpa said.

BCM “is an incredible hub for cutting-edge scientific research, providing the perfect environment for thriving young scientists,” she said. Because of her research experience, Sherpa decided to pursue a Ph.D. She will be giving a presentation on her research in Hawaii this fall.

Fellow senior Shreyoshi Hossain, a biology major minoring in chemistry and business, participated in a summer internship at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island where she worked on a computational biology project.

“I was quite nervous for a couple of reasons, firstly because this was the first time I would be working with a programming language and second because I would be working in the institution ranked number one in academic research worldwide by the scientific journal Nature,” Hossain said.

Luckily, with the support of her mentor, Dr. Hannah Meyer, Hossain was encouraged to learn through trial and error, and by the end of her internship she had mastered a new programming language called R, written a 20-page paper titled “Literature Mining for Human Pathogens” and presented her research to experienced scientists.Shreyoshi during her internship

“Although it was an intense few weeks, I am so grateful for the experience,” Hossain said.

In addition to conducting research during their internships, students attended seminars where they met professional researchers and learned about their fields. In some cases, they had an opportunity to shadow physicians.

Among the other students doing research this summer were Amelia Biswas, who worked at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and Prasad Gyawali, who interned at the Henry E. Riggs School of Applied Life Sciences at the Keck Graduate Institute in California as part of the Bioprocessing Summer Undergraduate Internship Training and Education Program.

–          Deborah Balthazar ’17




Caldwell University President Blattner to Step Down June 2020

Caldwell University Beginning an Immediate Search 

President Nancy BlattnerCaldwell, N.J., Sept. 9, 2019 – Caldwell University President Nancy Blattner has informed the Caldwell University Board of Trustees that she will conclude her presidency at the end of this academic year, in June 2020, coinciding with the terms of her current contract. Dr. Blattner has been appointed the next president at Fontbonne University in her home state of Missouri and will assume that new role on July 1, 2020. 

Caldwell’s Board of Trustees will begin an immediate search for the university’s next president.

Laurita Warner, Chair of the Caldwell University Board of Trustees, said the university is grateful to Dr. Blattner for her leadership over the last 10 years.  “With Dr. Blattner’s energy and initiative, the university has achieved many significant milestones and Caldwell students have flourished because of her care, understanding, and belief in them.”  

Dr. Blattner said she is grateful for having had the chance to be a part of the Caldwell family.  “From the moment Tim and I first stepped foot on the Caldwell campus during the interview process, we felt a sense of community and an appreciation for the institution’s Catholic Dominican mission. When we moved to New Jersey more than 10 years ago, we left behind family and friends as we immersed ourselves in a new tradition, and now, it is time in our personal lives to return to those who remained in Missouri. I am grateful for the people who welcomed us, for the experiences we’ve shared with the campus community, for outstanding colleagues on the leadership team, and for the opportunity to lead a vibrant campus that lives out its mission and puts students at the center of its existence.”

Dr. Blattner is the university’s first lay president. Her many accomplishments at Caldwell have included: 

  • Achieving university status.
  • Boosting undergraduate enrollment in welcoming Caldwell University’s largest freshman classes in 2017, 2018 and 2019. 
  • Leading in advancing Caldwell University’s rankings on the U.S. News &  World Report Best Colleges lists. 
  • Overseeing the creation of state-of-the-art nursing labs and the new Eileen Jones Multicultural Center.
  • Overseeing the implementation of new academic programs and athletic sports including sprint football and men’s lacrosse. 
  • Innovatively repurposing building space in many areas on campus.
  • Relocating and overseeing the construction for the campus chapel in a central location for students, faculty, staff and visitors.  
  • Starting the mission trips to Belize, the annual community service Caldwell Day to give back to the borough of Caldwell and the State of New Jersey, the study-abroad course in Rome and the Dominican Formation Program for faculty and staff.
  • Advancing Caldwell University and higher education in her service on state and national higher education organizations and in establishing relationships with donors and alumni and in the community. 


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Caldwell University Ranked NJ’s Best-Value School for Regional Universities by U.S. News & World Report

US News and World Report - Best Colleges - Regional Universities 2020 US News and World Report - Best Colleges - Best Value 2020 US News and World Report - Best Colleges - Social Mobility 2020

Caldwell, N.J., Sept. 9, 2019 – Caldwell University is the Best Value school in New Jersey and number 18 overall in the “Best Value Schools” in the Regional Universities North category, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Best Colleges list. Caldwell moved up seven spots on the Best Value Schools list from the 2019 rankings.

Caldwell University was also noted in the rankings of Regional Universities in the North as a top performer for Social Mobility, Ethnic Diversity and Most International Students. Additionally Caldwell is ranked among the top 75 regional universities in the North.

Stephen Quinn, acting vice president of enrollment management and communications, said this year’s rankings are some of the best for Caldwell University. “We are thrilled that the U.S. News & World Report shows us as the best value in New Jersey and among the top 20 for best value schools in the Regional Universities North category. We are reaching those milestones by offering a cost-effective, strong academic education with a focus on each individual student’s aspirations and goals.”

As explained by U.S. News & World Report, the Best Value calculation “takes into account a school’s academic quality, as indicated by its 2020 U.S. News Best Colleges ranking, and the 2017-2018 net cost of attendance for a student who received the average level of need-based financial aid. The higher the quality of the program and the lower the cost, the better the deal.”

This fall Caldwell welcomed its second-largest freshman class in its history with students hailing from 13 states and 14 countries and with 67 percent identifying as students of color.