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Alumna Uses Design Talents to Prepare Church for Bishop’s Ordination

Alumna Meg Poltorak Keyes used her talents to prepare for the ordination and installation of Bishop James F. Checchio as the fifth bishop in the Diocese of Metuchen.

For more than 30 years Poltorak Keyes has been designing liturgical environments. Shortly after graduating from Caldwell as the first person to receive the bachelor’s in fine arts, she heard a request for parishioners to donate their “time, talent, and treasure.” Knowing her time and finances were limited, she realized she could use her talents. “I raised by hand to help with the flowers,” she says. As an interior designer she has done quite a bit of church renovation and restoration. She is a member of the Art and Environment Committee through the Office of Divine Worship for the Archdiocese of Newark. She also sits on the Liturgical Commission for the Diocese of Metuchen.

She credits her former art professor, artist Sister Gerardine Mueller, O.P. for her inspiration. “I would not being doing half as much if it were not for her example.”

The below Diocese of Metuch Catholic Spirit article, “Designer recreates Vatican Gardens to honor bishop’s time in Rome”, highlights Poltorak Keyes work.

Designer recreates Vatican Gardens to honor bishop’s time in Rome

By Tracy Liston

SOUTH PLAINFIELD — Design consultant Meg Poltorak Keyes was hard at work with her small team preparing the Church of the Sacred Heart two nights before the ordination and installation of Bishop James F. Checchio.

May12TheCatholicSpirit“It is very exciting to be a part of this, and it all happened rather quickly,” said Poltorak Keyes. “This is a huge honor to be selected to design the liturgical environments. I am doing this as much for Bishop Paul [G. Bootkoski] as I am for Bishop James,” she said, noting that she has worked with Bishop Bootkoski since the beginning of his 14 years in the diocese. For the celebration of Evening Prayer, held the night before Bishop Checchio’s ordination, Poltorak Keyes said she chose a white decorating theme to adorn the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in Metuchen “to which was the Memorial of Saint Athanasius, who was a bishop and doctor of the Church.”

However, for the installation and ordination, which fell on the feast of St. Philip and St. James, who were apostles and martyrs, the liturgical color is red, and Poltorak Keyes said she did not want to focus on that particular color.

Instead she chose “to use the architectural elements of the church to reflect and capitalize on the colors that were already here.” Hence her color scheme of butterscotch, pale yellows, and persimmon came to life and accentuated the buff, sand, beige, bronze and oak tones so prominent at Sacred Heart.

“There will be many international visitors here for the ordination and the people will also bring their own colors to the ceremony,” she added.

flowersTo honor the nearly 13 years Bishop Checchio spent in Rome at the Pontifical North American College, Poltorak Keyes decided to research the Vatican Gardens and learn what flowers and shrubs grow there. “A lot of thought went into this,” she said. “I wanted to recreate what would be typical at the Vatican Gardens.”

The Stephanotis, Oleander, Jasmine and Confederate Jasmine that Poltorak Keyes special ordered were all carefully placed in pots by design team members, Anne Poltorak, her sister, and Pru Cadena.

After the festivities, the flowers were delivered to the new bishop “so he can plant them at either his private residence or around the Cathedral to remind him of Rome.”

A designer of liturgical environments for more than 30 years, Poltorak Keyes does regular work for St. Joseph Parish, North Plainfield, where she is a member, and Mount Saint Mary Chapel, Watchung. She also worships at St. Charles Borromeo Church, Montgomery Township.

A member of the diocesan Liturgical Commission, she also specializes in church renovation and restoration. Designer recreates Vatican Gardens to honor bishop’s time in Rome In the background above are some of the creations Meg Poltorak Keyes designed for the Mass of Ordination and Installation of Bishop James F. Checchio at the Church of the Sacred Heart, South Plainfield. At left is one of the arrangements assembled by Poltorak Keyes and design team members Anne Poltorak, her sister, and Pru Cadena. Poltorak Keyes has been designing liturgical environments for more than 30 years.

– Mike Ehrmann photos

Featured News, News

Athletics Head Mark Corino is Guest on One-on-One with Steve Adubato

Mark Corino, assistant vice president and director of athletics at Caldwell University, is a guest on One-on-One with Steve Adubato to talk about the benefits of Division II athletics. Corino, who built the Caldwell University Athletics Department some 30 years ago, is also the head men’s basketball coach and one of the winningest coaches in New Jersey with 530+ wins. Corino talked about the differences between Division I and Division II programs. He explained the benefits for students who play in a Division II program including a well-rounded emphasis on academics, community engagement, and athletics. He shared how the Caldwell Athletics Department received a community service award last year for its project focusing on domestic violence. He described the leadership skills that he and his staff try to instill in student-athletes to help them become successfully no matter what profession or direction in life they choose.

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Music Department Offering Summer Orff-Schulwerk Workshop for Teachers

Caldwell, NJ, May 31, 2016 – Caldwell University will offer a Level I Orff-Schulwerk Teacher Education Workshop Program from July 25 through August 5, 2016 on the university’s beautiful campus.

The American Orff-Schulwerk Association approved program is a creative approach to teaching and learning music through speaking, singing, playing instruments and moving. It is an intensive 10-day workshop for music professionals who wish to make music education a joyful, creative experience for teachers and students through the Orff-Schulwerk process. All New Jersey music educators who complete the entire workshop will qualify for 60 hours of professional development credit.

Two certified AOSA instructors, Drue M. Bullington and Kristine Wolfe, will guide participants through an understanding of basic Orff pedagogy, soprano recorder, movement and other special topics.

For more information contact Mr. Thomas Charsky (Tcharsky@caldwell.edu). Additional information and a registration form can be found on the Music Department website: https://www.caldwell.edu/academics/academic-departments/music.

Featured News, News

University faculty and staff honored with media awards

 Studio Manager Nick Amabile and Professor Bob Mann at the 2016 Garden State Journalists Association Memorial Awards.

Studio Manager Nick Amabile and Professor Bob Mann at the 2016 Garden State Journalists Association Memorial Awards.

Bob Mann, chair of the Communications and Media Studies Department, and host of the SiriusXM Satellite Radio program “Let’s Consider the Source,” and Nick Amabile, studio manager for the university, and co-producer/technical supervisor for the program, received a 2016 Garden State Journalists Association Memorial Award for their show on 9/11. They accepted the honor at an award ceremony on May 25 along with other outstanding producers, journalists and communications professionals from New Jersey.

Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America received a Bronze Stevie® Award for their AQUOS BOARD Interactive Displays on Campus, Caldwell University video, in the 14th annual American Business awards. The video featured Caldwell University staff, faculty, and students including Chief Information Officer Don O’Hagan, Communications and Media Studies Professor Bob Mann, and Learning Commons Librarian Heather Cooke.

Linda Maher and Graphic Imagery won a number of Higher Ed Marketing Educational Advertising Awards for Caldwell University promotions in 2015. They took golds for the Graduate Catalog, Undergraduate Infographic, and 20th Concert Series special promotions. They received merit awards for Total Fund Raising / Development Annual Fund Campaign, Total Advertising Campaign for Caldwell University, and the Special Promotions 800 Year Dominican Celebration.

The university’s magazine staff received a Garden State Journalists Association Award for the Winter/Spring 2015 edition of the university’s magazine.

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Students, Staff and Employers Emphasize the Importance of Internships

Each year employers gather at the Spring Career Fair sponsored by Caldwell University’s Career Planning and Development Office. They meet with students to discuss full and part time positions and internships.

The Career Planning and Development Office holds a Part Time Job and Internship Fair each fall and the Spring Career Fair. Caldwell University students actively participate in these events and related programming to define their career paths, network with company representatives, and jump-start their job and internship searches.

Mark your calendar for the 2016-2017 events. The Part Time Job and Internship Fair is scheduled for Sept. 14, 2016 and the Spring Career Fair is on tap for March 8, 2017.

For additional information on how your organization can connect with Caldwell University students, contact the Career Planning and Development Office at 973-618-3290.

In this video, employers, students, and staff explain how you can make the most out of your Caldwell University Career Fair experience!

Featured News, News

President Blattner is guest on Caucus: New Jersey to discuss women’s business delegation trip to India


President Nancy Blattner (far right) was a guest on “Caucus: New Jersey” with Steve Adubato to discuss the Friends of India business trip. Joining her on the panel were Linda Bowden, New Jersey regional president of PNC Bank (far left), and Daryl Harrison Rand, founder of Friends of India and president and CEO of Harrison Rand Advertising (2nd from left).

President Nancy Blattner was a guest on Caucus: New Jersey with Steve Adubato to discuss the Friends of India business trip she attended in the fall of 2015. Joining her on the panel were: Daryl Harrison Rand, Founder of Friends of India and President and CEO of Harrison Rand Advertising, and Linda Bowden, New Jersey Regional President, PNC Bank.

Rand explained how she founded the organization and has led a number of delegations to India with American women business and educational leaders.

The guests talked about their experiences on the excursion including the valuable networking connections they made amongst each and with businesswomen in India. They expressed their desire to help make a difference by playing a role in the lives of young women from India who would not otherwise have opportunities due to the poverty in their nation.

Other issues they discussed included: women’s empowerment, the importance of education, creating jobs, global citizenship, and the exploration of short term educational immersion experiences in India for American students.

The broadcast schedule is as follows:

Sunday June 12 on NJTV – 8:30 a.m.

Tuesday June 14 on NJTV – 5:30 a.m.

Tuesday June 14 on WHYY – 5:30 p.m.



Business News, Featured News, News

Financial economics grad excelled in the classroom and on the court


Caldwell, N.J. – Brian Kenny, of Howell, New Jersey, was recently inducted into the New Jersey Collegiate Business Administration Association Honor Society, which recognizes students who rank in the top 1 percent in their business programs. He was honored at a ceremony in the State House in Trenton in April along with other top-ranking business students from the Garden State.

He graduated from Caldwell University May 15 with a bachelor’s degree in financial economics.

A four-year starter for the Caldwell University Cougars men’s basketball team, Kenny appreciates the many opportunities he had in athletics and in the Business Division.

He is grateful to the Business Division faculty for helping him grow professionally.

Professor Lori Harris Ransom “prepares you to think like you would in the real world,” Kenny says, and  Dr. Tom Keen “makes you prepare for future presentations.”  Dr. Anatoly Kandel helps with analytical thinking, “putting the pieces together and making sense of every little thing.” Kenny was accepted into the Caldwell Scholars Program, a nationally recognized program that provides intellectual enrichment and scholarships for top honor students. His final scholars project focused on the analytics of basketball.

When he thinks back over his four years, the highlights include “number one, Notre Dame,” which the Division II Caldwell basketball team visited to play one of the top-ranked Division I teams in an exhibition game, and “number two, San Francisco,” where the team played his sophomore year. “(It) became my favorite city,” he says. He is grateful to Coach Mark Corino and all the other coaches for giving him the opportunity and to President Nancy Blattner “for everything.”

As he prepares to start a new job in accounting at the Wakefern Corporation, he will take with him memories of Caldwell University, remembering it as “a tight-knit community, a family atmosphere,” where he found great joy in the simple things of university life like “being in the cafeteria, seeing sports events all the time.”


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From Camden to Caldwell: Grad says caring educators helped him earn degree, love Shakespeare


Chabwera Phillips is leaving the Caldwell University English Department with a passion for literature and a thirst for bringing that zeal to middle school and high school students. His advisor, Dr. Trish Verrone, showed him masterpieces of Western literature. Dr. Mary Lindroth made Shakespeare come alive. “Nothing can replace the experiences I had in class. Now I read Shakespeare for enjoyment,” he says.

During his college career, faculty in the Education Division also gave him support and guidance. “Dr. Chernobilsky, Dr. Moriarty, Dr. Jasmine, and Dr. Rosado have served as mentors for me. When I struggled and almost gave up, they helped me regain focus. They helped me remember that failure was not an option. Words cannot explain how much these people mean to me.”

Phillips knows the difference a good teacher can make in a student’s life. He grew up in New Jersey’s poorest city, Camden, but two teachers helped him believe in himself and created opportunities for him to grow. Danielle Montague, his fifth-grade teacher, and Josephine Parr, his high school English teacher, have always been there for him whether it was taking him to visit colleges or picking up the phone when he needed answers. On May 15 at Caldwell’s graduation, when he walked across the stage to receive his bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education from President Nancy Blattner, Montague and Parr were there to witness it. “I would not be graduating without them,” he says.

Montague and Parr knew what it took for Phillips to get there. At 17, he was kicked out of his house by his mother and had no male role model to show him how he could reach further in life. Despite many obstacles he achieved his dream of earning a college degree and received the Leadership in Ministry Award at Caldwell’s honors convocation.

Phillips worked all through college in off-campus and on-campus jobs. One of those positions was as a resident assistant in the community service wing of Rosary Hall where he led students in ministry projects including one that hit close to home. They collected school supplies for the fifth-grade class at Holy Name Catholic School in Camden. Unless you are from Camden you can’t understand how much that means, he explains.  “In Camden, everyone is struggling.” Giving back has always been a part of his life. Graduating from MetEast High School, a magnet school in Camden, he had “something like 150 community service hours … my grandma used to say, ‘No point in making it to the top if you’re alone.’”

As a resident assistant, Phillips says, he was able to help students through rough times. And the Caldwell community was there for him sophomore year when tragedy hit—he learned a lifelong friend from Camden had been shot and killed.  He was sitting at the desk at Dominican Hall when the call came in. “Many people came to support me and check on my well-being.”

The experience changed his views on life. Phillips started appreciating every day and every moment. “You can be pulled away from life any day … it taught me to take advantage of any opportunity,” he says.

And some of those opportunities begin this fall when he starts his teaching career at Essex County Technical School in West Caldwell and begins working toward his master’s in special education at Caldwell. He wants to work with inner-city middle school or high school students to show them that they can do great things—whether pursuing a career, falling in love with literature  or becoming a great writer. “We have to start caring about our neighbors. I made it out. I did not have a male role model … I want them to realize their true potential.”


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Graduate says ‘unmistakable magic’ of Caldwell University helped her receive a degree


When Mary Ann Albornoz of Fairfield, New Jersey received her diploma May 15 at Caldwell University’s commencement it meant much more to her than anyone could imagine. “Everything that diploma holds defines me,” she says. Born with cerebral palsy, Albornoz says she had always been told that she would “have to adapt and mold” and that she couldn’t be a productive member of society. “Caldwell didn’t tell me that … I found everything I was looking for here,” she says. “I knew in the deepest end of my soul I would find it here.”

Albornoz had overcome many obstacles by the time she earned her degree in psychology.

In 2011, after Hurricane Irene hit New Jersey, her family’s home in Fairfield was condemned, and she and her parents had to live in Central and South Jersey. The house’s foundation had cracked, and by the time her father had the home readapted for Albornoz’s needs, she had missed several months of school.

In 2013 her motorized wheelchair died. It took nine months of waiting for approvals, finding a way to pay and designing the chair before she received a new chair and could return to her college studies.

Albornoz aspires to use her experiences to become a life coach for others with disabilities and to show them “there’s a world to see, a life to live and we should be a part of it.” She wants people with disabilities to know that they can reach their goals. “It might take 20 years, but dreams do and can come true.”

She leaves college with gratitude for the friends she has made and to the faculty and staff, especially Dr. Stephen Maret in the Psychology Department, “the number-one person who greatly impacted my growth as a person,” she says.
The openness at Caldwell makes it a special place, she says. “They think with their hearts instead of our society’s values.”

Caldwell is a place where people think about what one can do instead of what one can’t do and they find a way to make those possibilities a reality. “That’s the unmistakable magic of Caldwell,” she says.

“If God gave me the opportunity to do this, it must be for a bigger reason. And I can’t wait to see what that reason is.”

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Caldwell University Celebrates 74th Commencement


Caldwell, N.J., May 15, 2016 – Caldwell University celebrated its 74th annual commencement Sunday, May 15.

Anabela Santos, of Newark, New Jersey, delivered the student address at the undergraduate commencement ceremony. “Caldwell University have shaped us into better thinkers and leaders, helped us discover our passions, and helped us realize potential that we may not have seen in ourselves on our own,” said Santos.

She quoted from the 1990s television sitcom “Boy Meets World” in which the history teacher, Mr. Feeney, advises his students to “believe in yourselves, dream, try, do good.” Santos said, “During this four-year journey, we have each met, in some way, our own version of Mr. Feeney who encouraged us to dream big, believe in ourselves, try our best, and taught us the importance of using our talents to do good. As we prepare to go out into the world, we should embrace and act upon Mr. Feeney’s advice.”

An honorary degree was presented to Dr. Ernani Sadural, director of Global Health for the RWJBarnabas Health System. A board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Sadural is co-founder and chief medical officer of the Life is Great Global Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing medical and non-medical volunteers to underserved populations throughout the world. He and his wife, Dr. Sarah Timmapuri, were inspired to start the organization following the suffering and deaths caused by the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Dr. Sadural has participated in or led over 50 medical missions across several countries including Haiti, Dominican Republic, India, Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Grenada, Peru, Nepal, and Honduras. He is a member of the Rotary Club of the Caldwells.

Dr. Sadural told the graduates,  “I applaud your hard work and academic achievements and I share your love of learning. But what I really admire about Caldwell University is your mission of service.” Each of us, he said, “has a role in creating a just and compassionate global community.” Quoting Einstein Dr. Sadural said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”

Sarah Schiffelbein, of Villas, New Jersey, delivered the student address at the graduate commencement ceremony.  She said that Caldwell has supported the students throughout their journey in numerous ways.  “Any time we felt defeated and discouraged, Caldwell was there to support us.  When we saw our theses and dissertations slowly taking form and becoming the final product, Caldwell was there supporting us.  Now, today, as we are walking on this stage to accept our degrees, Caldwell is here to support us.”

The university awarded 435 students with undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. President Nancy Blattner presented doctoral students with their Ph.D.s and graduate students with their Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration or Master of Science degrees. She presented undergraduates with their Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Fine Arts or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees.

Dr. Blattner said it was a day of great pride and joy for all of the family members and friends who supported the students during years of study. “And it is a day of celebration for the faculty, staff and administration of Caldwell University as we send forth our 74th class of graduates to make a positive impact on our world.” She encouraged the students to carry the university’s core values of Respect, Integrity, Community and Excellence into their communities and work places.

The grand marshal of the graduate ceremony was Dr. Tom Keen, professor in the Business Division, and the grand marshall for the undergraduate ceremony was Dr. Sally Jo Weber, professor in the Department of Modern Languages. Honored alumni from the 50th anniversary class of 1966 were recognized at the undergraduate ceremony.

Click here to view the full Undergraduate Commencement photos

Click here to view the full Graduate Commencement photos