Monday, Aug. 31, new Kean University president, Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., introduced himself to the Kean community at his first Opening Day Address. Livestreamed for the community, the address was an opportunity to hear Repollet speak to both the incoming new student class as well as returning students, staff and faculty alike.
The event opened in the Enlow Recital Hall with chair of the Kean Board of Trustees, Ada Morell, who welcomed the Kean community and acknowledged the latest hardships and her gratitudes to the Kean community for everything they are doing to make the 2020-2021 year healthy and successful. She then introduced President Repollet.
Within Repollet's address he outlines his three pillars or three guiding principles for moving the University forward. The first being safety. The president has put together a COVID-19 task force to help create guidelines and plans for the universities safe and promising return to campus and the new academic year.
"This diverse group of stake holders has been working to craft and operationalize a plan that allows us to feel some of the vibrance of campus life again while keeping us all safe," said Repollet.
The taskforce was able to use the results of the summer return to campus survey, which received more than 3000 responses, to conduct their decisions about the state of the fall 2020 semester. From this survey it is clear the Kean community is eager to return to the vibrance of campus life and in person interactions but there is still a great concern for well-being, health and safety. Repollet acknowledges all that COVID-19 has taken from us including Kean's own J. Barry Mascari, associate professor and chair of the counseling education program.
"I carry the weight of these trying times every single day and it guides all of my decisions. I know it is my job to ensure every member of our Kean community feels safe and secure as possible in the midst of this pandemic," said Repollet.
In an effort to assist students during this time, 1 million dollars of the emergency funds Kean has received from the state are being put toward social-emotional support for students, staff and faculty of Kean University. These funds go toward expanding mental health and counseling services to the community.
The next pillar discussed was academic excellence. Repollet took time to honor some of Kean's recent accomplishments in academic excellence including: the growth in enrollment in the College of Business and Public Management, Kean graduate Eric Cruz's recent appearance on Shark Tank and reception of a $200,000 deal for his business idea, and marketing major, Dhruva Patel's designation as a Forbes 30 under 30 Scholar. The College of Business and Public Management has also expanded its international outreach and connections.These are only a few of the excellent achievements Kean graduates and current Kean students, faculty and staff are achieving.
Repollet also went on to speak on the partnership between Union County's testing center to help expedite results, maintain safety and security, and work toward controlling and containing outbreaks.
The final pillar discussed was equity which was led with the statement, "No matter how a student enters the university, we are going to receive them where they are and take them where they want to be."
Repollet is looking to expand the One Stop Student Center to further ensure the university is meeting the needs of students, which now includes the new, Division of Student Success and Retention, to serve as a connecter to ensure the seamless of services and support to students.
As a part of his goals for the year, Repollet is looking to create a campus environment that welcomes and celebrates diverse groups of people. With a student-centered approach, Repollet and the Division of Student Success and Retention looks to create opportunities, shift mindsets from outputs to outcomes and focus on what students are experiencing.
All members of the Kean community can go back and watch the president's Opening Day Address, as it was recorded and posted online on the Kean website. There, members of the community can hear more about the topics discussed and get to know the approach and goals of President Repollet. Also, the community is encouraged to keep an eye on their respecive Kean email accounts as the president has been sending out announcements with updates for the university. You can see previous announcements on the Kean website.