By Daniel Clarke
(TEANECK) – On Wednesday, a Town Hall meeting was held for Metropolitan Campus faculty and staff, in Wilson Auditorium, Dickinson Hall at 2 p.m. The meeting introduced the new University leadership team including President, Christopher Capuano, University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Gillian Small and Campus Provost Robert Vodde.
Vodde initiated the meeting with introductions. “During my very brief tenure of campus provost, I’ve acquired a much greater degree of knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the many individuals and units that contribute to the success of our university,” he said.
Before introducing Capuano, Small and Braverman, he named and acknowledged many different units, ranging from SGA President Melanie Arokiaswamy to Director of Public Safety Dave Miles.
Vodde singled out Athletic Director David Langford and his programs for praise. Beyond individual team achievements, Vodde said, “Our athletes are scholars first. This past year cumulative grade point average of all of our athletes was 3.4.”
Dean of Petrocelli School of Continuing Studies Dr. Lisa Braverman offered her praise for the existing college. “The college has a multi-decade legacy of extending educational access and programs to audiences who are diverse, nontraditional, and under served,” she said.
She outlined four goals she has for the college – growth, quality, excellence, and student centeredness – and she said she looks forward to working toward these goals with the rest of the university.
University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Gillian Small briefly described her path from her birthplace in Great Britain to where she is now and then spoke of her goals here.
“It seems to me it’s a university that can offer all things to all students,” Small said, “and I think FDU is well on the way to becoming an excellent university.
“We want to make sure that our graduates are competitive, and I would argue that that means more than offering them just a degree,” she said. “We need to offer them experiential opportunities and research opportunities.”
Small also emphasized the importance of research in keeping faculty abreast of developments in their field.
President Christopher Capuano presented the facility master plan that accompanies the strategic plan he presented to the board of trustees.
“It’s really one in a series of strategic plans that we will develop and execute,” he said. “And it will be necessary to achieve our ultimate goal to transform this university.
“One of the things this university is known for is that it’s the largest private University in New Jersey,” he said. “I don’t dispute that that’s a point of distinction, but to me it’s not a terribly important one.” He said he hoped that soon FDU would be referred to as “one of the better universities in New Jersey.”
Capuano outlined three areas that guide the plan and the way people see the campus: Unite, Define, and Inspire. With the majority of buildings constructed more than 50 years ago, he said the campus is overdue for a new image.
Uniting the two sides of campus on both Metro and Florham, defining the perimeter and path for moving people throughout the campus, and inspiring visitors with beautiful buildings and landscaping were among the topics discussed in the plan that will be released publicly.
Capuano is very committed to the effort and ready to take on the challenges.
“Almost 90 percent of my time is on this project – this project alone,” Capuano said. “It’s very important to me because I grew up on this campus,” he said. “It’s going to take time, but we need to stop talking about it and start doing it – that’s what this strategic plan is about.”