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Caldwell University Ranked Among Best Colleges in New Jersey

Caldwell, N.J.  August 25, 2017

Caldwell University has been ranked among the 10 Best Colleges in New Jersey for 2017.

The ranking from College Choice, a leading authority in college and university rankings and resources, put Caldwell University at number nine for Best Colleges in New Jersey. The full ranking is available here.

“We are very happy to be recognized as a Best College by College Choice. We are committed to making sure our students have an educational experience that is cost-effective and high quality and enables our graduates to make a difference in the world,” said Senior Vice President Dr. Joseph Posillico. “This good news follows the other distinctions we have received including being named to the prestigious MONEY Magazine’s Best Colleges list earlier this summer.”

was also named as a 2017-2018 College of Distinction, a Catholic College of Distinction,  a New Jersey College of Distinction.  The university was recognized for offering one of the best learning environments in New Jersey for 2017 by LearnHowToBecome.org.

According to College Choice, their ranking is based on graduation rate, institutional reputation, student-to-faculty ratio, endowment size, tuition costs, average student indebtedness after graduation and graduates expected early career salary. The data from their ranking comes from the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDS database, U.S. News & World Report, Payscale, and individual college websites.

In its description of Caldwell University, College Choice noted Caldwell’s commitment to community service. Throughout the academic year students engage in activities including volunteering for Midnight Runs to assist the homeless in New York City, repairing homes and schools on mission trips to Belize and Appalachia and taking part in the annual community service initiative Caldwell Day.


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Psychology Associate Dean Selected for Minority Serving Institutions Aspiring Leaders Forum

Caldwell, N.J., August 22, 2017 –Thomson Ling, Ph.D., associate dean of Caldwell University’s School of Psychology and Counseling, has been selected for the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) inaugural MSI Aspiring Leaders Forum to be held from Friday, Nov. 17 to Sunday, Nov.19.

The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions is part of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania.

MSI Aspiring Leaders is a three-day forum and mentoring program developed by CMSI that will create a space for prominent Minority Serving Institutions’ (MSI) leaders to engage with mid-career aspiring leaders from the education and non-profit sectors in an effort to prepare the next generation of MSI presidents.

“I was honored to be selected as a MSI Aspiring Leader and I am looking forward to the opportunity to gain the leadership tools needed to improve college success for underrepresented students,” said Ling.

The program is supported by $765,000 in grants from the ECMC Foundation. The forum will include discussions and workshops on topics such as the presidential nomination process, managing relationships with faculty, using data to make decisions, fiscal management, strategic fundraising, assessing student learning, and navigating the media.

Following the forum, mentors and their mentees will participate in a one-on-one relationship over two years. CMSI will facilitate these relationships and provide benchmarks to be completed at various points throughout the two years, with the hope that these relationships may be part of a future longitudinal study to measure the influence of such mentorship on mentees’ aspiring leaders’ career trajectories. The structure of the MSI Aspiring Leaders program aims to cultivate future MSI presidents by strengthening pathways to leadership and building connections between peers with similar aspirations and abilities.

Marybeth Gasman, Director of CMSI, shared, “This forum will celebrate the diversity of experiences from those in the nonprofit and education sectors and will cultivate collaborations that will build the next generation of MSI college presidents.”

In an effort to encourage attendance and minimize financial burden, MSI Aspiring Leaders is free of program fees to all invited participants. In addition, all meals and materials will be provided by CMSI. Participants will also receive travel stipends to offset the cost of their personal travel and lodging.

About the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions

The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions brings together researchers and practitioners from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American, Native American, and Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. CMSI’s goals include: elevating the educational contributions of MSIs; ensuring that they are a part of national conversations; bringing awareness to the vital role MSIs play in the nation’s economic development; increasing the rigorous scholarship of MSIs; connecting MSIs’ academic and administrative leadership to promote reform initiatives; and strengthening efforts to close educational achievement gaps among disadvantaged communities. The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions is part of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. For further information about CMSI, please visit http://www.gse.upenn.edu/cmsi.

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Dr. Bennett Publishes Book on “Practices of Love: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life of the World”

Kyle David Bennett, Ph.D. is assistant professor of philosophy at Caldwell University.

His book, “Practices of Love: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life of the World,” has been published by Brazos Press.  

Dr. Bennett is also program director of The Spirituality and Leadership Institute, a summer program for high school students.

The Department of Theology/Philosophy will host a talk and book signing with Dr. Bennett from 11 a.m. to 12 noonMonday, Sept. 25 on the first floor of the Newman Center (in the former bookstore location) on Caldwell’s campus. The public is invited to attend.

Bennett gives Colette Liddy, director of media relations at Caldwell, a preview of his book. 

CL- Why did you write Practices of Love: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life of the World

KB- A number of years ago, I was reading some old monks, like John Cassian, on these disciplines and realized that the Christian’s attitude, goals, and the very manner in which we practice these disciplines was moons away from these monks. We practice them to get in touch with God. These monks discussed spiritual disciplines and practiced them in ways that were intentionally in response to the wellbeing of their neighbor. I must have missed church the day my Protestant pastors discussed this. (This is hardly a Protestant problem, though. I know several Catholic, Orthodox, Lutherans, and Mennonite believers that weren’t brought up to see them this way.) I wrote Practices of Love to retrieve this ancient view of spiritual disciplines and to help believers see it anew—in our context, with our circumstances, in light of our concerns.

CL- What is the aim of your book? 

KB- To get us thinking about how our relationship with God bears on our relationship with our neighbor. To show the inseparable link between spirituality and society. To narrow the gap between our private lives and our public ones. We were created to be a certain person and live a certain way. And God is instructing, forming, and liberating us to be that person and live that way. And as persons who are able to relate to others, and find ourselves as members of many communities (e.g., home, work, school, city), this inevitably has implications for life in shared spaces with others.

CL- How is Isaiah 58 significant to this book? 

KB – When I was writing my dissertation on fasting, I read this passage and was blown away. It could have been the first time I ever read this chapter, I don’t recall. But it was certainly the first time I ever asked myself how well I understood the connection between loving God and loving my neighbor. It’s possible to be wicked while worshipping. To harm others in trying to honor God. This chapter really opened my eyes to God’s desire for spiritual disciplines to be acts of love toward our neighbor.

CL – Explain what you mean by vertical and horizontal in your work? 

KB- By “vertical” I mean our relationship with God. By “horizontal” I mean our relationships with other creatures and living things (e.g., human beings, raccoons, flowers, etc.)

CL- You ask your readers to reflect on everyday activities such as how they think, eat, talk, own, work, and rest? 

KB- Yes, because spiritual disciplines aim to reform and renew these activities. We do basic human activities everyday. We do them the way everyone else does them. The way we were brought up to do them. But oftentimes we do them selfishly. We think ill of others. We horde our food. We interrupt. We intrude. We buy more than we need. We try to outshine others. We isolate ourselves. In the book I propose that we see how spiritual disciplines get us doing these activities correctly—the way God intended us to do them. In ways that are healthy for us and lead us into deeper harmony with others.

CL- What do you hope readers living a fast-paced, stressed out life walk away with after reading this? 

KB  – I hope it inspires them to practice these disciplines in a way that works within their schedule and routine. Or for those already practicing them, I hope it edifies them as they try to rework their lives. Or for those who have never even heard of spiritual disciplines, I hope it prompts them to pursue a more examined, integrated, and healthy lifestyle. There are things that we can and must do to bring liberation, renewal, tranquility, and comfort to our lives and those around us. And we don’t have to go far in looking for them. It’s the itty-bitty stuff that we do everyday that makes or breaks the world. Above all, I hope Practices of Love makes this clear.

Read a review of Dr. Bennett’s book in Christianity Today.

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Record Number of Caldwell Students Participate at National Psychology Conference


Caldwell, N.J., August 17, 2017 –

A record number of Caldwell University students attended and presented at the American Psychological Association Conference in Washington D.C. in August.

Graduate and undergraduate students from programs including psychology, mental health counseling and art therapy participated at the conference under the guidance Dr. Thomson J. Ling , associate dean of Caldwell’s School of Psychology and Counseling.

Jessica Hauck, a graduate student in art therapy program, and Kristy Percario, an undergraduate student in psychology, were part of team, along with Dr. Ling, that presented research on the campus crisis hotline. Entitled “1-800-Externship: The Use of Hotlines as a Training Modality for Future Psychologists,” the qualitative study examined the benefits, obstacles, ethical issues, and pitfalls in hotlines on college campuses, explained Hauck.

“Going to the conference was like going to Disney Land for me,” said Percario.  “It was such an incredible experience to be able to be a part of such a large scale event with my peers and other professionals in the field (that) I hope to enter.”

Maxine Alonso received a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Caldwell and will enter the master’s in mental health counseling program this fall. She presented a version of her undergraduate honor’s thesis “Reaching into the Good Gook: A Method of Reducing Stigma of Psychological Disorders with Religion.”

“It was my goal to find a way to use religion positively to reduce stigma towards individuals with psychological disorders. I created a metaphor between the Christian concept of hell and those who suffer from psychological disorders as a way to increase empathy and compassion for this group of individuals,” said Alonso.

Hauck said she is passionate about research. “Being a member of the Caldwell Counseling Research Lab has provided me with the opportunity to learn more about how the process works, while also conducting research in areas I am interested in.”   Through her work on the research team, she was able to present at two other national conferences last year and have her work published.

The students agreed that they left the conference with more confidence. “I learned what it was like to speak in a professional academic setting. Each individual who asked me questions added to my experience and knowledge during the presentations,” said Alsonso. “I am incredibly grateful to Dr. Ling for giving me the opportunity to be on the research team, and for mentoring me as I grow into my professional role,” said Hauck.

The other students who participated were: Melanie Peters, Elizabeth Kocis, Emily Holland, Tiffany Henawi, Elizabeth Rebeiro, Allison Osorio, Schyler Lamattina, Nadia Sabeh, Caitlin Doyle, Felicia Apito and Cinthya Castro.

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Biology student interns at Johns Hopkins

Veronica Guirguis and Dr.  Barbara Detrick, Caldwell alumna and a professor of pathology at the JH University School of Medicine.
Caldwell Biology student Veronica Guirguis with John Hopkins Diversity Summer Internship Program director Jessica Harrington.
Caldwell Biology student Veronica Guirguis (2nd from left) at her internship poster presentation at Johns Hopkins.  She is pictured with her mentors and colleagues.

Biology student Veronica Guirguis spent the summer interning at the world-renowned teaching and biomedical hospital, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

Guirguis, a sophomore, was grateful to have the chance to work with “brilliant people” including Dr. Christopher Heaney, associate professor in the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins, and Dr.  Barbara Detrick, a professor of pathology at the JH University School of Medicine, and a Caldwell University alumna.  Guirguis also appreciated the introduction to virology provided by John Hooks, Ph.D. of the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Guirguis was on a team that researched “Detection of IL-6 in Hepatitis E Virus Infection.”   “We found that IL-6 is upregulated in HEV infection which participates in inflammation,” she said.

Caldwell University’s Natural and Physical Sciences Department prepared her well for the internship.  When she started working with petri dishes at JH she said, “I”ve got this.  I’ve been prepared for this,” recalling how she had learned about plate pouring techniques in Caldwell Science Professor Agnes Berki’s labs.

The internship, she said, gave her a “confidence boost” and she appreciated being able to network with professionals. She says she has a clearer vision of the steps she will need to take to pursue immunology studies as part of a combined M.D. /Ph.D. program.

In addition to the studies, there was time to discover the city of Baltimore, it’s “beauty and history”, she said, and enjoy dinner one evening on the famous Inner Harbor with the other students and faculty.  “Everyone was so nice. They made you fall in love with the campus and Baltimore.”

It was the third year that Caldwell students were selected to participate in the JH Bloomberg School of Public Health Diversity Summer Internship Program. Dr.  Detrick formed the partnership between Caldwell and Johns Hopkins.

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Faculty Experience Summer Study in France for Dominican Institutions


Music Department Chair and Professor Nan Childress Orchard and her husband Music adjunct faculty member Joseph Orchard joined faculty, staff and students from other American Dominican universities and colleges in June for the annual Summer Study in France program.

They attended seminars and experienced the historic sites in the south of France and Paris focusing on St. Dominic and the Order of Preachers.   The workshops included topics such as Dominican values, St. Dominic’s travels and the history of the Dominicans.

They explored the historic village of Fanjeaux, where Dominic arrived in 1206 and took on a mission of itinerant preaching of the Gospels, and where he founded the women’s monastery of Prouille, which became the cradle of the Order of Preachers.

The group visited Carcassone, the location of the Basilica of St. Nazaire where St. Dominic preached; the ruins of Montesegur, which was a formidable base for the (rebel) Cathars or Albigensians; the Basilica of St. Sernin and the Couvent des Jacobins in Toulouse, where the Dominicans were made the guardians of the Catholic faith, and the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Cécile in Albi, built almost entirely of brick.

Nan and Joe appreciated the tour and remarks in Toulouse by Father Renaud Silly, O.P., provincial promoter of Dominican Holy Places and a biblical scholar, and having the opportunity in Les Jacobins to stand in front of the tomb of the great Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Joe, who teaches the Music and Contemplation course at Caldwell, was interested to learn how “Dominic’s way was fundamentally catechetical” in instructing the Cathars about their misguided beliefs about Jesus Christ. “They needed to be led back to the truth about God and about themselves.”

Nan was inspired to look more closely at how the Dominican charisms of study and contemplation could inform her in engaging students to be more focused on having a “servant attitude”, even if they are not religious.  “How can I encourage Dominican values for my students to help them play more of a role in service?”

Dominic engaged people in dialogue, said Nan.  That is an example for faculty today.  “How can I engage my students in dialogue when they don’t expect it?”

The cohort stayed at Notre Dame del Abbaye in Carcassone, an abbey that was converted to a guest house run by Ursuline sisters. They enjoyed the group’s company and “a sense of humor was always welcome,” said Joe.

In Paris, they visited Versailles and went to Notre-Dame de Paris and the gothic royal Sainte Chapelle, with its display of stain-glass windows.

Nan and Joe attended Mass and Vespers at the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Notre Dame and enjoyed a lovely concert by the Cathedral’s children’s choir.

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Fritzner Philemon – Earning a degree means giving 200 percent

College is never about giving 100 percent; it is always about giving 200, says Fritzner Philemon.  He should know. The last several years the criminal justice major has walked a hard road on the journey to completing his college education. The class of 2017 graduate is the first in his family to earn a college education—not just in his immediate family but among his “cousins and cousins’ cousins” too.

Growing up in a tough neighborhood in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Philemon saw violence, gangs and drugs wherever he looked. “I always wanted to save people from being victims of senseless crimes. I feel as if law enforcement is the only way I can make this goal come true.”

He was moved to apply to Caldwell after a recruiter came to his high school and talked about the family atmosphere and the opportunities through the Educational Opportunity Fund. He began his freshman year with hopeful anticipation, not knowing he would face life-changing obstacles along the way.

At the end of his freshman year, his parents’ apartment burned down and they lost everything. Not wanting to live in a rundown motel, Philemon found himself homeless, so he lived out of his car. With the university’s help, he lived in the residence hall for a time. He got a job at the Citibank corporate office in Warren, New Jersey and eventually was able to find an apartment for $600 a month, something he could afford only by working overtime—more than 40 hours a week. He commuted across the state to take his college courses. By the time he left the bank, he was a supervisor.

After that, Philemon got a full-time job at a pharmaceutical company, closer to school, where he worked two weekday nights from midnight to 8 a.m. and weekends from 4 p.m. to midnight. On school days, he would get off from work, eat and head right to class.

He is grateful to have been taught by faculty with extensive hands-on experience in the field. “I know more than what is in the book. I know the dangers and the realities in the field.” Philemon plans to apply that knowledge to graduate school studies in criminal justice, to the police academy or to taking the Secret Service exam. “I want all my life to be about helping people and making a difference in a positive way.”

He is grateful to the staff in Caldwell’s Educational Opportunity Fund Office. “They always motivated me. If it wasn’t for EOF, I would have given up.”

If there is a silver lining—and Philemon would probably tell you there are several—it is that he has solid work experience, much more than many 22-year-old students have when they graduate. “My résumé looks really good.”

He is not wasting any of the struggles but is using them to give advice to other students who hit roadblocks. “You can make it through. Think about the end goal and why you are here.” And always give 200 percent.

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Biology students selected for summer premedical program

Biology students Shanice Edwards and Roksana Korbi were selected for the Premedical Urban Leaders Summer Enrichment Program.
Biology major Shanice Edwards and Director of Caldwell’s Educational Opportunity Fund Andrei St. Felix. Edwards is showing her research project for the Premedical Urban Leaders Summer Enrichment Program.

Biology students Shanice Edwards and Roksana Korbi learned about urban health through the Premedical Urban Leaders Summer Enrichment Program at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.

PULSE gives undergraduate students interested in healthcare exposure to the medical professions. The six-week forum provided academic, clinical, research and service learning opportunities.  “I was honored and privileged to be accepted into such a rigorous and prestigious program,” said Edwards.

“My favorite workshop was the suturing workshop and the simulation labs where we pretended to be doctors,” said Korbi.

Edwards said it was especially rewarding to learn about Camden and help the city through volunteering at the non-profit organization Ronald McDonald House where she did activities with children ages 16 and under.

Korbi volunteered at The Neighborhood Center, a non-profit organization aimed at helping  families get out of poverty.  She and her group did research on the urban farm located at the back of the center.  “Our goal was to increase awareness so people could go and get free fresh food from the farm and live  healthier lives,” said Korbi.

The program culminated with a symposium where students highlighted their research for family, friends and guests.

Korbi and Edwards found that PULSE provided them with good information on the steps they would need to take to plan for medical school.

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Healthcare Foundation Grant Supports Art Therapy Center and Internships

Caldwell University has received a grant from The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey to expand its graduate programming in art therapy. The $95,600 grant will support the expansion and modernization of art therapy program space on campus and establish new supervisory fellowships at mental health agency internship sites in the Newark, New Jersey area.

A new dedicated Art Therapy Center will feature a dynamic learning environment with workshop and classroom spaces equipped with state of the art technology, such as digital smartboards, tablets and iMac© personal computers and collaborative office and art display areas.

Graduate student interns will work with vulnerable children at sites like the Youth Consultation Service and The Essex County Mental Health Center and with seniors at the Jewish Community Housing Corporation of Metropolitan New Jersey and Daughters of Israel.

Annette Vaccaro, Caldwell University associate professor of counseling and clinical coordinator, points out that Caldwell student interns provide over 9,500 hours annually at sites ranging from physical rehabilitation to pediatric units to schools and programs that serve those facing mental health problems.  “This grant will allow us to reach more sites and the most vulnerable populations who may not have the language to express themselves in words but can accept an offer to make art for self-expression and healing.”

Marsha Atkind, executive director/CEO of the Healthcare Foundation added, “We at the Foundation are keenly aware of the positive impact that art therapy can have on people suffering with various mental health challenges – people who often cannot express themselves adequately in other ways.  We are proud to have been able to support this important work.”

The art therapy graduate program prepares students to become licensed mental health counselors and registered art therapists. Caldwell offers three levels of training in art therapy. The undergraduate double major in art and psychology with art therapy concentration prepares students for entry into the M.A. in mental health counseling with art therapy specialization, the post-graduate M.A. in art therapy is designed for professionals who already hold a graduate degree in a related field but want to become art therapists, and the M.A. in mental health counseling with art therapy specialization. The Mental Health Counseling Degree with Art Therapy specialization program was the first program of its kind in the nation to become accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program, and the first and only graduate art therapy program in New Jersey.

About the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey

The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey is an independent, endowed grant-making organization dedicated to reducing disparities in the delivery of healthcare and improving access to quality healthcare for vulnerable populations in the greater Newark, NJ area and the Jewish community of MetroWest NJ. To this end, the Foundation has granted over $133 million in its 20 year history.

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High school students gather for Spirituality and Leadership Institute


Caldwell, N.J. – Thinking deeply about how you communicate, text and post might not be the way most teenagers would like to spend a week at summer camp, but  10 high school students found it was the best way they could imagine.

The students gathered on the campus of Caldwell University from July 15 to 21 for the Spirituality and Leadership Institute program.

“We probed questions like: ‘What does it look like for us to eat, drink, dress, shop, watch, play and love in ways that help and heal those around us and foster health and happiness in our own lives?’” explained Dr. Kyle Bennett, Ph.D., director of the institute and a Caldwell University assistant professor of philosophy.

“Mr. Bennett made us understand that nothing just is. There is always a further meaning,” said Rich Franklin, a rising senior at St. Mary of the Assumption High School in Elizabeth.

Now in its second year, the program is aimed at helping young people look at avenues for promoting public justice and seeking the common good. Mornings consisted of lectures and class; afternoons and evenings included free time and organized events. The students lived in the university’s residence hall.

“It was a new experience every day,” said Viv Zeballos, a rising senior at Millburn High School.

“I felt like I was actually in college,” said Franklin, who attended the institute for a second year.

Among the speakers was Meghan Ritchey, an events coordinator and curator in New York City, who gave career advice. She stressed the importance of “being mindful of serving others” and at the same time providing a quality product. Ritchey said that as a freelancer she must “rely on God because there is so much uncertainty.” She encouraged the students to choose good mentors and to find ways to work with teams, putting “experiences over events” and concentrating on “relationships more than work.” She said they should show God they are willing to take risks. “Anything you think you are bad at, you should do.”

Ritchey’s talk was “so motivating and inspiring,” said Zeballos, who works at a bakery and now feels empowered to take risks and to share her creative promotion ideas. For Noah Wickenheiser, a rising junior from Notre Dame High School in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Bennett’s talk on interacting with others was most valuable. It “made me think about how I act around others … and how I value others,” he said.

Other speakers included: actor Matt Lowe on thinking and creativity, business executive and Caldwell adjunct professor Barbara Davies on journaling and expression, and Assistant Professor of Theology Christopher Cimorelli, Ph.D., on working and the environment.

Getting to know students from different schools and locations was a broadening experience. “I’m basically a city kid” who found a “country friend,” said Franklin.

Activities included rope courses at the Turtle Back Zoo, a Jackals baseball game, an ice cream social, dodgeball, kickball and mini golf.

The program was well organized, said Wickenheiser. “They included everyone’s ideas.”

“I’d rate it as a really positive experience,” said Zeballos.

“A 10 out of 10,” agreed Wickenheiser.

The institute is made possible through a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc.

The other students who participated are:

Antonia Ippolito,  Pope John XXIII Regional High School

Nasir Jones and Jennifer Lawson from St. Mary of the Assumption High School

Daniel Cwynar from James Caldwell High School

Sophia Feijoo from St. Dominic Academy

Miles Smith from Union Catholic Regional High School

Sidney Lauredant from Oratory Preparatory School

An optional overnight weekend will be held October 6 to 9 at the Spruce Lake Retreat Center in Canadensis, Pennsylvania.