By the time this issue of Monmouth magazine finds its way into your hands, we will be eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic on our campus.
Even in this relatively short period, we have changed our behaviors, modified our expectations, and started to envision the permanent changes that will emerge from the crisis. While some things have looked and felt markedly different on our campus this fall, our commitment to providing our students with an outstanding and highly personalized academic experience has remained steadfast.
I often tell my colleagues that, in the absence of a playbook on navigating a global pandemic, we have no choice but to fall back on our institutional values as we chart our path forward. Since arriving at Monmouth, I have asked our senior administrative team to make decisions with one fundamental question in mind: What is in the best interest of our students? This driving question has guided us well throughout the past year and has been at the center of our evolving response to the COVID-19 crisis. One such example of this commitment was Commencement. When the pandemic forced a move to remote teaching and learning last spring, we had little choice but to postpone graduation, but we pledged to do our very best to serve our graduating students with a meaningful commencement experience. I am proud to share, thanks to the collective efforts of my dedicated colleagues, that we were able to host a series of nine modified in-person commencement exercises for our Class of 2020 in late August. It was a Commencement Week that none of us will soon forget.
I often tell my colleagues that, in the absence of a playbook on navigating a global pandemic, we have no choice but to fall back on our institutional values as we chart our path forward.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Monmouth continues to be a university on the move. Our incoming first-year class is the most diverse and most academically prepared cohort in our history. This fall we obtained approval to launch our third doctoral program, in occupational therapy, and look forward to enrolling our first class this coming summer. And, we have also recently completed construction of a new nursing simulation lab at our graduate center in partnership with Monmouth Medical Center, a project aimed at serving our growing number of undergraduate and graduate nursing and health studies students.
I am proud that these efforts continue to be recognized by third parties. We are pleased to be included once again in Princeton Review’s “Best 386 Colleges” roster, in Money magazine’s “Best Value Colleges,” and in Washington Monthly’s annual college guide and rankings, a newer publication that ranks colleges and universities on what they do for our country. And, finally, Monmouth has also reached our highest ranking ever in the annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings—No. 23 among Regional Universities North. Even more gratifying to me is that only a few institutions in our category integrate excellence and access like we do, as measured by our strong rankings coupled with our commitment to first-generation students and Pell Grant recipients.
This is a challenging time for American higher education, and Monmouth University is not immune to these challenges. But, if we continue to focus on what is in the best interests of our students, we will emerge stronger and better positioned than ever before. I hope I can count on you for your continuing support.