Skip to main content

CARES ACT – Update and FAQs

Dear Students:

Since the beginning of this global health crisis, one question has motivated our actions – that is, how do we best support our students during this unprecedented situation? With that in mind, the University took decisive action to prioritize the safety and well-being of our campus community, and looked for ways to help ease the financial burden the pandemic placed on our students. We quickly launched the President’s Relief Fund to provide emergency financial assistance to students experiencing pandemic-related financial hardships, distributing more than $267,000 to over 700 students, granting approximately 75 percent of the requests. We were among the first to announce refunds for unused housing, parking, and meal plan fees, and the first to get the funds back into the hands of our students. Throughout the spring semester, we also continued to fund all on-campus jobs, regardless of students’ ability to complete the necessary work. And, most recently, we distributed relief funds through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to all qualifying students. Some questions have been raised about the distribution of these funds, so I’d like to share some additional detail about the University’s methodology.

The federal CARES Act is the $2 trillion federal relief bill, aimed at supporting citizens most affected by the pandemic. Monmouth University received nearly $4,935,299, half of which the University will use to offset expenses incurred by the pandemic, and half of which was distributed to students enrolled at the University this spring, with some held in reserve to continue to assist students this fall. The Department of Education provided institutions with significant discretion for the distribution of the CARES Act grants to students, allowing each institution to develop its own system and process for determining how to allocate these funds. We chose to direct these funds, as equitably as possible, to our students who demonstrated the most need. Our CARES Act grant team developed a methodology to determine which students had the greatest need through an unmet need calculation. Using this formula, all students with any unmet need, a total of 2,516 students, including 1,020 Pell grant recipients, received a grant in the initial distribution. After the first distribution, we received messages from students who felt that they had been left out – Pell grant recipients who were not picked up in the original calculation because they showed no unmet financial need. We amended our distribution criteria to include these additional students and consequently issued a second round of grants to 272 undergraduate Pell grant recipients who did not have unmet need, as well as four additional graduate students with a “Pell-like” financial profile who did not have unmet need.

As of today, $2.14 million of federal CARES Act money has been distributed to all Pell-eligible undergraduate students and all students who demonstrated financial need through the unmet need calculation, including graduate students with a “Pell-like” financial profile.

Below are some frequently asked questions related to the distribution process.

We will continue to be motivated by the mission to support students during this challenging time. If you have questions about these FAQs, please feel free to contact members of our CARES ACT Team by emailing Or, of course, you are always welcome to reach out to me directly at Thank you.  


Dr. Patrick Leahy

What criteria did the university use to determine eligibility for CARES Act grants?

The Department of Education provided institutions with significant discretion for the distribution of the CARES Act grants to students, allowing each institution to develop its own system and process for determining how to allocate these funds. This might include distributing the funds to all students or only to students who demonstrate significant need, but its guidance did stipulate that the grants be directed to students with the most significant financial needs arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

The University initially awarded CARES Act grants to undergraduate and graduate students who were enrolled at the time of the campus closure, who had made satisfactory academic progress, and whose financial need had not already been met by some combination of federal, state, and institutional funding.  Unmet institutional need is defined as direct cost (tuition, fees, room, and board for resident students or tuition and fees for commuting students) minus Expected Family Contribution or EFC (derived from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA) minus all grant, scholarship, subsidized loan, federal work study, and graduate assistantship financial aid awards. On June 3, 2020, the university amended its CARES Act grant eligibility criteria to include all Pell grant recipients who had made satisfactory academic progress, regardless of unmet need.

The university awarded CARES Act grants to all eligible students demonstrating any unmet financial need, including graduate students with a “Pell-like” financial profile, and all undergraduate students with Pell grant eligibility. (Note: Graduate students are not eligible for Pell grants.)

The Department of Education based 75 percent of it calculation of the amount of CARES Act funding that Monmouth received on the number of enrolled Pell-eligible students, so why weren’t all Pell grant recipients included in the first distribution of funds?

The initial distribution of grants included 1,020 undergraduate students with Pell grant eligibility.  Several Pell-eligible students contacted the CARES Act Grant team to ask why they were not eligible for a CARES Act grant.  Moreover, a colleague contacted the team and asked us to look more carefully at why some high-need students received grants and others did not.  After looking again at the appeal emails as well as additional financial aid data, we determined that the 272 Pell-eligible students who did not have unmet need should also be awarded. The university amended its CARES Act grant criteria to include all Pell grant recipients and issued a second round of grants to 272 Pell grant recipients with no unmet need. The university also awarded CARES Act grants to four additional graduate students with a “Pell-like” financial profile who did not have unmet need.

How many CARES Act grants has the university awarded and how many of those grants went to Pell-eligible students?

As of June 8, 2020, the University has distributed 2,792 Emergency Financial Aid Grants to 2,179 undergraduate students (2,146 full-time and 33 part-time) and 613 graduate students (371 full-time and 242 part-time). Of the 2,792 grants awarded, 2,516 were awarded to students who had unmet need, including 1,020 Pell grant recipients. An additional 272 CARES Act grants were awarded to Pell grant recipients with no unmet need. All students with Pell grant eligibility, a total of 1,292 students, have received a CARES Act grant. Additionally, although graduate students are not eligible for Pell grants, we did award CARES Act grants to graduate students with a “Pell-like” financial profile.

When did Monmouth receive its CARES Act grant award and when were students notified of their eligibility?

The U.S. Department of Education notified the university on Saturday, May 23, that its CARES Act grant application had been approved for funding. The university notified the first round of students on Tuesday, May 26. A second round of students were notified of their eligibility on June 3, after the criteria were amended to include all Pell-eligible students, regardless of unmet need.

What pandemic-related expenses is the University incurring?

As of June 1, 2020, the university’s pandemic-related expenses total approximately $10 million, including the cost of refunding unused housing, meal plans, and parking; technology expenses associated with a rapid transition to online learning and instruction; increased costs for sanitation and disinfection on campus; the loss of the university’s NCAA revenue distribution; and lost revenue from programs, activities, and events that were cancelled.

How does Monmouth plan to use the $2.5 million institutional allocation of CARES Act funds that are not restricted for direct student aid?

The university’s CARES Act distribution will be used to offset the $10 million in pandemic-related expenses we have incurred thus far.

Whom may I contact with additional questions about the CARES Act funding?

You may reach members of the CARES Act Grant team at

Coronavirus Update #3 – Spring Break Travel

To the Members of the Monmouth University Community:

As you are aware from our previous updates, as well as from the abundance of information being shared publicly, the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread. We continue to monitor this situation and take guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), and local county health officials.

University Sponsored Travel

Following the March 2, 2020 guidance from the NJDOH advising universities to postpone or cancel study abroad programs that could expose students and staff to the potential community spread of COVID-19, I have made the decision to suspend all University-sponsored spring break study abroad travel, effective immediately. The university is working with the students and faculty to examine the ramifications of the suspensions, including financial penalties. At the moment, only the travel portion of the courses are suspended, which means that faculty will be working on alternate protocols to deliver other units and course content.  I’ve asked faculty members to communicate directly with their students.  As of now, this suspension applies to international trips and travel only. All domestic trips, conference travel, and other travel on university business during the next few weeks, including spring break travel, remain unaffected by this suspension. Please stay tuned for periodic updates as we continue to monitor the situation and comply with CDC and other government issued guidelines.

As for upcoming trips in the summer, we will continue to monitor the situation and provide ongoing guidelines.

Given the rapidly evolving situation, I feel it is important that we take all available precautions to support the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. While this means that some students and faculty must forgo opportunities for global learning and service at this time, we will continue to monitor the situation for future planning purposes and will assist affected students who have concerns related to academic progress and recouping costs from our travel partners.

Personal Travel

Since the situation is changing daily and will likely continue to do so in the coming weeks, we encourage you to monitor the CDC and the U.S. Department of State websites regarding your personal travel plans, and consider postponing personal international travel until the CDC lifts its travel warnings and feels that COVID-19 is under control.

If you are planning any personal travel to an international destination, we highly recommend that you inform yourself on the healthcare system status of your travel destination, and that you stay advised of potential disruptions to your re-entry to the United States and your ability to return successfully to the Monmouth University campus.

We may advise members of the University community who travel internationally to an area of concern to remain off campus for 14 days due to the incubation period for this virus.  If you feel ill during this time and/or have a fever, you should contact your health care provider or call the Monmouth University Health Center prior to being seen. You may call the Health Center for a telephone screening at 732-571-3464 so they may best direct your care.

General Practice

Whether you plan to travel or not, I urge you to be especially diligent in practicing behaviors that help prevent the spread of disease, including washing your hands, avoiding shaking hands, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available), and staying home if you are sick.

We will continue to update you as necessary through email and on our COVID-19 information webpage. The Crisis Management Team will continue to monitor this situation and lead the coordinated response for our campus.

Thank you for your cooperation as we work to keep our campus community healthy and safe.

Patrick F. Leahy

Health Update

To the Members of the University Community:

I am writing to follow up on Vice President Nagy’s February 7, 2020 communication regarding coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the University’s preparedness in this area.

As you know, the virus that causes COVID-19 has continued to spread beyond the initial outbreak in China and is now in many countries, including the United States, albeit a relatively small number of cases. Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization suggests that the virus may affect more people and it is prudent for all countries and organizations to prepare accordingly.

Please be assured that the University is doing so. University officials are monitoring the situation carefully and working with the appropriate local and state public health officials to stay abreast of this rapidly evolving situation. In addition, the University has activated the Crisis Management Team to lead our coordinated efforts on campus.

During the course of the past week, we have been in touch with all of our students studying abroad and our study abroad partners to discuss the situation and to ensure appropriate planning and precautions are in place. We currently have students studying in Australia, Germany, and England. There are no students studying in Italy at this time. We will continue to assess the situation as it may relate to study abroad and faculty-led programs for spring break, summer, and fall semester travel and make decisions regarding these programs in consultation with our partner institutions and appropriate University personnel.

All of us should be reminded that there are many preventive measures for us to follow to prevent the spread of the flu, the coronavirus, and other common viruses. Among them are:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick and avoid contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Place used tissues into a wastebasket and then wash your hands.

The recent global events can produce a wide and fluctuating range of emotional responses, which may vary from person to person. As always, Counseling and Psychological Services staff are available to consult with members of the campus community regarding any distress, and they can be contacted at 732.571.7517 or

Please stay tuned for regular updates as this situation unfolds.

Patrick F. Leahy

Organizational Changes

Dear Members of the Monmouth University Community:

I want to share with you two organizational changes which are important for you to know. 

The first change is that Dr. Zaneta Rago-Craft, Director of the Intercultural Center, will report directly to Dr. Rekha Datta, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President.  This change will allow the important work of the Center to be fully immersed in the life of the University supporting faculty, students, and staff.  I shared this with the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion and feel it is important to share with all of you, too. 

Secondly, Paul Dement, Director of Government and Community Relations, will return to the Office of University Advancement to coordinate all our external efforts in a more concentrated way. 

These changes will go into effect January 2020, and I am very grateful for everyone’s flexibility in this process.  Please feel free to send any questions directly to me.


Dr. Patrick Leahy

Strategic Plan Forums

Dear Members of the University Community:

One week ago on Wednesday, November 13th, we launched our Strategic Planning process with a fun community activity – the Strategic Plan-a-thon. As a result of that effort and a four-day electronic version of the event, over 1,000 ideas were shared with the Strategic Planning Steering Committee. Participation was wide spread among our students (343), faculty (258) and staff/administration (450) and we so appreciate your taking the time to come out to kick our process off.

The Steering Committee has begun reviewing these ideas and formulating from them common themes for further development.

The next step in the process will be a series of forums, targeted to specific groups and open sessions, to be held during the week of December 2, 2019. The following outlines the schedule for the forums:

           DATE       GROUP            TIME                LOCATION
Monday, December 2  Staff/Administration12:00 pm – 1:00 pm     Edison  E201  
Tuesday, December 3   Open  3:00 pm – 4:00 pmAffilito Conference Room, Stafford Center  
Wednesday, December 4Open1:30 pm – 2:30 pmBey Hall 229  
 Students3:30 pm – 4:30 pmAnacon A  
 Faculty4:30 pm – 5:30 pmWilson Auditorium  
Thursday, December 5Open10:30 am – 11:30 amClub 107-108  

We hope you will join us for one of these sessions as we work to develop our new Strategic Plan.


The Monmouth University Strategic Plan Steering Committee

Dr. Patrick Leahy, Co-ChairMary Anne Nagy, Co-Chair
Nina AndersonJennifer Lawlor
Demi ArdicDr. Tracey Mulvaney
Naser HaroonDr. Zaneta Rago-Craft
Dr. Christine HatchardBea Rogers
Dr. Christopher HirschlerDr. Robert H. Scott III
Amanda KlausDr. Nancy Uddin

Strategic Plan Kick Off Event

Dear Members of the Campus Community:

I am writing to invite your participation in a Strategic Plan Kick-Off event to be held on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Anacon Lobby of the Rebecca Stafford Student Center.  In addition, there will be a session available at the Graduate Center Lobby from 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

The “Strategic Plan-a-Thon” will be an opportunity for all members of our community – faculty, staff, and students – to share their thoughts focusing on three key words: Start, Stop, and Enhance through a post it note placed under each heading.

Members of the Steering Committee will be there throughout the day to assist you with what I hope will be a fun community exercise to kick off this important project. 

Light refreshments will be served.

Please take a few minutes out of your day to stop by to participate in this important endeavor. 


Dr. Patrick Leahy

Mary Anne Nagy
Vice President for Student Life and Leadership Engagement

Show your spirit: Blue – White Day Friday, November 8

Dear Colleagues:

I invite you to help me kick off our Family Weekend events by showing your school spirit.  This Friday, dress in Blue & White, or wear your Monmouth University imprinted clothing to celebrate a number of recent academic and athletic accomplishments.

Our undefeated #1 seed women’s soccer team will get an early start on the weekend when they host a MAAC Semifinal game against #6 Niagara at 5:00 p.m. Thursday on Hesse Field. 

On Friday, we will cheer on our nationally-ranked Field Hockey team as they open postseason play as the top-overall seed in the America East Championship, on Friday at 11 a.m. on So Sweet A Cat Field.

Our Blue & White Day will also celebrate the recent successes of our Debate Hawks, Model UN Team, and the winning members of our second Intercollegiate Real Estate Academic Competition, who bested teams from Baruch CUNY, Lehigh, Montclair, Rutgers and Villanova on November 1.  Earlier in October, the two pairs of Debate Hawks took first and second place at the Brad Smith Invitational Debate Tournament at the University of Rochester.  Both teams went undefeated with 6-0 records before heading into the playoff rounds, marking the first time the Debate Hawks took both a first and second place team award.  Other competing schools included NYU, West Point, Rochester, and the New School. 

At the end of October, members of our Model UN Team won four individual speaking awards at the prestigious Oxford University Model United Nations competition, besting Oxford, Cambridge, and the London School of Economics in the process. 

Our Family Weekend will also showcase a home game for our football team, who soundly defeated the #4 ranked team in the country – Kennesaw State last weekend and earned its highest national ranking in 27 years.

Let’s Go Hawks!

Patrick Leahy, Ed.D.

Strategic Plan Steering Committee

TO:  Members of the Campus Community  
FROM:  Dr. Patrick F. Leahy President  
RE:  Strategic Plan Steering Committee
DATE:  October 24, 2019


In my Convocation address on September 11, 2019, I announced that the University will undertake a strategic planning effort over the course of the next eight months that will provide direction for all of our initiatives as we work collectively to set a new path for Monmouth.

I’m pleased to announce the members of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee that will oversee this process over the next three months.  The faculty members were elected by Faculty Council and FAMCO; students were appointed by the Student Government Association; and the administrators and staff members were identified by the newly formed Staff Council and other nominators.  The Strategic Plan Steering Committee members are as follows:

Dr. Patrick Leahy
Mary Anne Nagy

Faculty Members:
Dr. Christopher Hirschler
Dr. Christine Hatchard
Dr. Nancy Uddin
Dr. Robert H. Scott III

Demi Ardic
Naser Haroon

Nina Anderson
Amanda Klaus
Jennifer Lawlor
Dr. Tracey Mulvaney
Dr. Zaneta Rago-Craft
Bea Rogers

Our process will be comprehensive, inclusive, collaborative, and outcome-oriented. You should anticipate learning from the committee soon on how, as a community, we will proceed to ensure a successful strategic planning process.

Join me in thanking these individuals for their service to our community.

If you have any questions regarding the process, please contact Mary Anne Nagy or me directly. 

Thank you.

Sad News

Dear Colleagues:

With sadness I share the news that Professor Emeritus Robert Rechnitz passed away peacefully on Sunday, October 13.  Dr. Rechnitz’s influence on generations of students during his more than 30 years as a professor of English and American Literature, as well as his contributions to the entire University as a generous friend and benefactor, will never be forgotten.  

Dr. Rechnitz was named Professor Emeritus in 1996 and was recognized with the Maurice Pollak Award for Distinguished Community Service in 2001 at our Founders’ Day celebration and convocation. 

His legacy at Monmouth extends to almost every area of our University, including scholarship and internship opportunities for students, academic programming, and substantial investment in Monmouth University’s Center for the Arts and Urban Coast Institute.  Robert and Joan generously funded the showcase instructional arts center named in their honor and officially dedicated in 2013. They were also the lead benefactors of the successful $5 million Challenge Grant campaign to support the Urban Coast Institute’s Marine Science & Policy Initiative.  More recently, they established the endowed Rechnitz Family Urban Coast Institute Chair in Marine and Environmental Law & Policy.

His philanthropic commitment to the arts, healthcare, the environment, and civic improvement across our entire region enhanced the quality of life for many who were not fortunate enough to know him personally.

Our flag will remain lowered half-staff in his memory, and I will share details about additional memorial services planned as they are available.


Patrick F. Leahy

Staff Council

Dear colleagues:

At our Fall Convocation in September, I announced the creation of a Staff Council that will serve as an advisory body to gather feedback from staff constituents and advance ideas to share with the Cabinet and with me. 

The goals of the Staff Council are:  to consider issues and provide counsel on matters that impact the university and to foster greater communication to all members of the university community.  

In order to launch this initiative quickly, I asked senior administration for an initial slate of nominations of individuals for me to appoint to the Council.  It is my sincere hope that the members of the Council represent an active cross-section of staff members from across all divisions. 

I asked the individuals listed below to serve an initial term on the Staff Council for the 2019-2020 academic year, and am grateful that each has accepted this responsibility.  Going forward, immediate agenda items will include: designing standard procedures and developing a process to elect new members. 

The first meeting of the Council will be Thursday, October 3. At the meeting, members will be briefed on their role and responsibilities, and elect a Chair.

Al Acerra  Police Department
Karen Blaney      Information Support
Bill Byrne  Facilities
Mike CallahanVeteran Services
Jon Cascone  Rec, Fitness, Intramurals
Carolyn Ciervo University Advancement
Kathy DabneyStudent Activities
Liz GensemerUndergraduate Admission
Mary Kate Kane School of Education
Nancy Kusch Finance – Bursar’s office
Mark Mohrman Athletics – Communications
Karen MorrowOffice of the General Counsel
Rosaly RiveraHuman Resources

Please join me in thanking our colleagues for supporting this important initiative. I fully expect that you will be hearing more from the Staff Council in the near future. 


Dr. Patrick Leahy