Freshman Studies Office



In addition to their assigned Peer Adviser, students meet their assigned Mentor from the Freshman Studies program at Pirate Adventure orientation. The Mentor is a professional adviser who serves as a professor in the University Life course, as a resource for many questions about the curriculum, and as a counselor to help freshmen plan their course of study. The Mentor helps students clarify personal, academic and career goals. Together, the Mentor and the student examine these goals and use them to shape an academic plan and semester coursework. Our program's goal is to assist students in fulfilling their potential while making realistic choices when choosing their major. The students' choices should always reflect both their interests and abilities.

As a student's academic and perhaps personal issues arise, Mentors are available to counsel the students. Students are made aware of and encouraged to take advantage of the many Seton Hall University resources available on campus, such as the Academic Resource Center, the Career Center, Health Services and Counseling Services, and the Campus Ministry, to make the first year of college a great success.

Meet our Mentors

Annmarie VenturaAnnmarie Ventura
Annmarie Ventura graduated from Alfred University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Art and English. She is currently pursuing her love of art and art history by working towards a Master’s degree in Museum Professions at Seton Hall University. Annmarie is from Olean, NY, and is very excited to be a Freshman Studies Mentor. While attending Alfred University, Annmarie played soccer, studied abroad at Winchester University in England, back-packed through Spain, Italy and France and attended every on-campus event she possibly could. During her free time she draws, paints, runs and reads avidly. She was fortunate to have a professor share with her, “It’s ok not to have all the answers. Just wake up every day willing to find them.” She believes this statement is relevant to the freshman experience, and would encourage every freshman to do just that. Annmarie can be reached via e-mail or by phone (973) 275-2351.

Brandon Larmore
Brandon LarmoreHaving earned both his B.A. & M.A. in Psychology from Seton Hall University, Brandon Larmore treasures the experiences a Pirate education provided. Working as a Freshman, General Studies, and Transfer advisor, he values the work he does with students of all levels and abilities. Knowing how much Seton Hall gave to him, he works to ensure all students feel equally valued. Besides having a passion for film and TV criticism, community service is a major component of "Prof. L's" life. Since his undergraduate days, he remains heavily involved in the SHU chapter of Habitat for Humanity advising the yearly Collegiate Challenge Spring Break trips. Believing that it is not only what you can do but what you will do, he seeks to empower students to engage their Seton Hall career by taking advantage of the numerous opportunities available to them. To help all incoming students prepare for the journey ahead, Prof. Larmore borrows wisdom from Lao Tzu reminding students "the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step." Professor Larmore can be reached at (973) 275-2160 or by e-mail at

Denise WilliamsDenise A. Williams
Denise A. Williams graduated from Teacher's College, Columbia University with an Ed.D. in Adult Learning and Leadership. She has worked in a range of industries developing learning programs for different organizations. Most recently Dr. Williams has worked as an adjunct teaching Organizational Behavior. It is in teaching, advising, and counseling her students that she experiences greatest joy. As a result, Dr. Williams is delighted to be a member of Freshman Studies since it gives her the chance to help mentor and motivate students to achieve their goals here at Seton Hall University.

Dr. Williams is often heard rousing her students to say "YES" in class. Saying "yes" is a way of opening oneself to all sorts of opportunities. It is a way of motivating oneself to push past obstacles and persevere. Saying "yes" also tells your professors, your mentors, and even your future employers that you are driven, determined, and willing to try… even if you feel scared. When you couple it with the Seton Hall mission, saying "YES" can be your way forward.

Dennis O’Connell
Dennis O’ConnellDennis O’Connell graduated from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey with a B.A. in Literary studies and Creative writing. Dennis is currently working towards an M.A. in English at Seton Hall University. As an undergrad, Dennis also took advantage of the different programs his school had to offer, such as studying abroad in Ireland. He always encourages his students to do the same by seeking out the endless opportunities Seton Hall has to offer. When he isn’t studying Dennis enjoys kayaking and traveling. Dennis can be reached at or (973) 275-2743.

Franck Nelson
Franck NelsonFranck Nelson graduated from Seton Hall University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in the Clinical Nurse Leader Nursing Program here at the hall as he prepares for a professional career in Nursing practice and teaching. During his time as an undergraduate student, Franck was a member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Leadership program and various other organizations. He embraced additional roles of being a Tutor-in-residence for Housing and Residence Life, a Teaching Assistant for the Department of Chemistry as well as a mentor for the Young Developers program which educates students about the creation of their own technological applications. His various experiences have provided him with the insights needed to facilitate the transition of incoming freshmen from high school to college.

During his spare time, he enjoys working out, watching the NY Giants and spending time with his friends and family. His advice to incoming freshmen is: “do not settle for the easy A and do not be afraid of challenges because you will never reach your full potential unless you are willing to go beyond your comfort zone. Remember that tough moments do not last forever but tough people do.” Franck Nelson can be contacted via e-mail: or telephone: 973-761-9407.

Forrest Pritchett
Forrest PritchettRev. Pritchett joined Seton Hall in 1978. During that time, he functioned as the following: Assistant Dean of the Black Studies Center; Faculty Mentor in Freshman Studies; Adjunct Professor in the departments of Africana, Interdisciplinary and Religious Studies; Program Director of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Program and the SHU Gospel Choir; and he currently serves, or did serve as an advisor to numerous student organizations.

Rev. Pritchett has been recognized several times for his contributions to the University. He was awarded the University McQuaid Medal in 2003, Employee of the Year in 2008, the University Faculty Pirate Pride Award in 1999-2000 and the University Human Relations Citation in 1997. Rev. Pritchett has been also been acknowledged for his involvement in the community. Rev. Pritchett was awarded by the New Jersey Association of Black Educators the "Black Educator of the Year Award," by the Association for the Study of Afro American Life and History the "Frederick Douglas-Sojourner Truth Award," by the Jersey City Library the "Paul Robeson Award," by the New Jersey Educational Opportunity Programs the "Educational Champion Award," and by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: New Jersey Convention the "Distinguished Educator Award."

Rev. Pritchett's personal philosophical paradigm is drawn from Holy Scripture and the following great observations:

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: Be wise as a serpent and gentile as a dove…” Matthew 10:16.

“If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself…” Confucius.

Rev. Pritchett can be reached at (973) 275-2760 or
Mc Quaid
Gospel Choir

Hezal Patel
Hezal PatelHezal Patel graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Psychology and from Teacher’s College, Columbia University with a M.A. in Counseling. Having joined the Seton Hall Community in 2001, Professor Patel is a Freshman Studies Mentor and the Director of the Academic Success and Transfer Student Center. With a background in Counseling, Professor Patel finds it most rewarding when students realize their dreams and the ability to achieve them. She really enjoys working with students and getting to know them beyond the classroom. Visitors are always welcome to her office, whether it’s for advice or just to chat and grab some candy. Her door is always open. Professor Patel’s advice to students is to always have a plan. “Planning is the key to success. As the old saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.” Students can contact Professor Patel by phone (973) 275-2761, e-mail, or stop by Mooney Hall 11.

Jacqueline DeBenedetto
Jacqueline DeBenedettoJacqueline DeBenedetto graduated from Seton Hall University with her B.S in Early Childhood, Elementary and Special Education, with a minor in Social Work. Over the past year, she worked in a Pre-k Disabilities class in the Princeton Regional School District. During her Undergraduate career, Jacqueline worked as a Peer Adviser for Freshman Studies and was a Brother of the Service Fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. She is now working towards earning her masters in Instructional Design and Technology with a concentration in Autism Studies, at Seton Hall. Aside from working, Jacqueline enjoys reading during leisure time and spending time with friends and family. The biggest advice she can give to freshman is to take advantage of every experience you encounter here at the hall. The time you spend here is short and will give you one of the greatest life experiences. Jacqueline DeBenedetto can be reached at

Joan Brennan
Joan BrennanAn employee since 1991, Joan Brennan joined the Freshman Studies Program in 1999. She earned both a Bachelor of Arts in Social & Behavioral Sciences and a Master’s in Public Administration degree from SHU. Joan has been appointed the university’s Pre-Major Adviser for undeclared students who have earned 30 or more credits. She also provides academic advisement to undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences who are enrolled in the Social & Behavior Program and the dual degree programs of SOBS in Athletic Training and Occupational Therapy. As a student advocate, Joan has frequent contact with other departments. What is Joan’s advice to incoming students? “Keep a full schedule – it forces you to practice good time management skills in order to get everything done. You'll avoid procrastinating.” Joan can be reached by phone (973) 275-2595 or e-mail at

Kelly Freeman
Kelly FreemanKelly Freeman graduated from Seton Hall University with a Bachelor of Science in International Relations and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. Over the past year she worked for a Forensic Economics Firm as a Junior Research Analyst. When Kelly was an undergraduate she worked for Freshman Studies as a Peer Adviser, was involved in the business newspaper the Stillman Exchange, and was a member of the Seton Hall Honors Program. After a year in the corporate world Kelly realized how much she missed working with students. She is now at Seton Hall University to pursue a Master's degree in College Student Personnel Administration. Kelly is excited to be a Mentor for Freshmen Studies and looks forward to helping her students as they transition from high school students to Seton Hall Pirates.

Outside of school, Kelly enjoys spending time with loved ones, painting, traveling, ice skating, and reading. Her advice to students is to enjoy and appreciate their time as an undergraduate, to make the most out of every opportunity and to approach everything with an open mind. Kelly can be reached through email at or by phone (973) 275-2541.

Lisa Robinson
Lisa RobinsonLisa Robinson earned her Bachelor's degree in Secondary Education from Oklahoma State University. She specialized in the areas of English and Social Studies and taught high school English for three years. Currently, Lisa is continuing her education by advancing toward her M.A. in Strategic Communication, as well as working as a Graduate Assistant Mentor in the Freshman Studies Department. Working and interacting with students has always been a passion of hers, and she really enjoys mentoring and advising Seton Hall's freshmen students. Lisa’s favorite quote is: “Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.” Lisa can be reached through e-mail at or her office phone at (973) 275-2763.

Maggie Hernandez
Maggie HernandezMaggie Hernandez graduated from Berkeley College in West Paterson, NJ where she majored in Business Management and Administration. She is a recent graduate of Seton Hall University where she earned a master's degree in College Student Personnel Administration. Maggie is the Operations Coordinator for Freshman Studies and has recently taken on advising responsibilities. She is so excited to make a difference in the lives of Seton Hall students. Maggie can be contacted at (973) 275-2286 or

Majid Whitney
Majid WhitneyProfessor Whitney is the Assistant Dean of Freshman Studies and the Director of the General Studies Program. Having earned a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.S.W. from Rutgers University, he is excited to be a part of the SHU community and embraces his role assisting Seton Hall students in navigating the course of their academic journeys. With a background in counseling, academic advisement, teaching, college admissions consulting and program management, Professor Whitney is most satisfied in his endeavors when students recognize that they have the power to change the world. He encourages every student to "make the most of the best years of their life" while at SHU and to remember that his door is always open. Professor Whitney can be reached through e-mail at or his office phone at (973) 313-6008.

Marisa Case
Marisa CaseAfter teaching Communication and Theatre classes as an Adjunct Professor for many years, Marisa Case is delighted to be a team member of the Department of Freshman Studies at Seton Hall University. She feels as if she has worked her whole life preparing to do this job. Professor Case earned her B.A. from Glassboro State College and her M.F.A. from the Catholic University of America. Professor Case would like to offer the following advice to her students, taken from WHAT WILL MATTER by Michael Josephson: “Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice. Choose to live a life that matters.” Make it count, folks! You can contact Professor Case at (973) 761-9614 or

Mark Vitale
Mark VitaleMark Vitale graduated from Seton Hall University with a double major in Secondary Education and Spanish. He is currently working on his Master's Degree in School Counseling and hopes to be a Guidance Counselor in the future. Mark's career goals are dedicated to helping and counseling students, especially children and adolescents. His goals stemmed from his experiences as an undergraduate at Seton Hall. As an undergrad, Mark was a Freshman Studies Peer Adviser. In this role, Mark worked very closely with freshmen and transfer students and found a true passion for this position and the work it entailed. Mark was also a member of Greek Life and was very involved in the Greek Life community and appreciated the values and leadership skills Greek Life taught him. He was also very involved with community service and traveled to Haiti twice with DOVE. Mark enjoys spending time with family and friends, being outdoors, and traveling. One of his favorite quotes that Mark believes is very important for students to live by is, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Ralph Waldo Emerson. Mark encourages their students to take advantage of every opportunity Seton Hall has to offer them and to not be afraid to step outside their comfort zones, because those experiences are the most memorable. Mark can be reached at (973) 275-6458 or

Robin Cunningham
Dean CunninghamRobin Cunningham graduated from Seton Hall with a B.A. in English, a M.A. in Counseling and an Ed.S in Secondary Education. From 1984 to 2003, Dean Cunningham was the Director of Academic Support Services for student athletes at Seton Hall. In 2004, she moved over to Freshman Studies to work with the general freshman population. In 2006, Dean Cunningham became the Director of the Seton Summer Scholars program, in 2010 she was named Associate Dean of Freshman Studies and she is now the Associate Vice President of Freshman Studies. She enjoys working with students, and teaching is one of her great passions.

Dean Cunningham has been recognized numerous times for her service to the university with such honors as the retirement of her basketball jersey, her induction into the Seton Hall Athletics Hall of Fame, receiving the Alumni Association’s Many Are One Humanitarian Award and most recently receiving the university’s McQuaid Medal. Dean Cunningham’s favorite saying is: “It’s not where you start; it’s where you finish.” Dean Cunningham can be reached at (973) 275-2159 or

Ryan Westman
Ryan WestmanRyan Westman is extremely excited to join Seton Hall after spending much of his collegiate career at Rutgers. While at Rutgers, Ryan earned his B.A. in Psychology as well as his M.E. in Elementary Education while running with the Men’s Track and Field team. Upon completion of his Master’s degree, Ryan trained professionally in track and field for a year in Eugene, Oregon before returning home to pursue a Master’s in College Student Affairs which he recently completed in the spring of 2011. Besides working with Freshman Studies, Ryan is also extremely excited to be working in the office of Academic Support Services for student athletes.

Ryan’s advice to his students is to be proactive rather than reactive, and to make the most of the best four years of your life at Seton Hall! Ryan can be reached through his email, or his office phone 973-761-9159.

Telia Bennett
Telia BennettTelia Bennett earned her B.A. in Psychology and English from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. She then went on to work in Corporate Sales, and later Corporate Human Resources, while earning her M.B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Telia is currently working towards an M.A. in English at Seton Hall University. Telia's most recent positions have included team leadership, corporate facilitation, and managing leadership development and internship programs. She believes success is driven by the core principles of Jeff Olson's "Slight Edge". Success is imminent for individuals who act with integrity, have positive attitudes, are willing to make necessary sacrifices, and possess a burning desire to show up over a consistent period of time. Simple disciplines repeated over time can dramatically change the trajectory of a person's life. Telia can be reached at

Tracy Gottlieb
Dean GottliebTracy Gottlieb, Ph.D., served as Dean of Freshman Studies since 2001. She was named Vice President of Student Services in January of 2012. She began her academic career as a professor at Seton Hall in 1988, but it was a homecoming – she is a 1975 graduate of the university with a degree in Communication. After commencement, she worked as a reporter and editor at the Associated Press for five years. She moved to Brussels, Belgium, in 1980 and worked as editor of the monthly magazine, Commerce in Belgium. Dr. Gottlieb returned to the United States in 1984 and began graduate school at the University of Maryland. She graduated with her doctorate in Public Communication in 1992. She is an expert in journalism history, specifically the role of women in journalism. She is the author of several books and dozens of scholarly articles.

Dr. Gottlieb lives in West Orange, N.J., and is the mother of three. Her youngest graduated from Seton Hall in 2014. Dr. Gottlieb shares the absurdity of her parenting skills in a regular blog written for Seton Hall parents. Check out the Dean's blog »

Contact Us

Freshman Studies Office
(973) 761-9740
Mooney Hall

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