Office of the President

Fall 2012 Welcome Message

September 19, 2012
by A. Gabriel Esteban, Ph.D.

President Dr. A Gabriel Esteban Welcome to the 2012-13 academic year, one that will surely be a milestone for Seton Hall, the oldest Catholic diocesan university in the United States. This traditional greeting coincides with the enrollment of one of the largest freshman classes ever and as the University welcomes to our community new members of the distinguished professional corps of faculty, administrators and staff who make this a true home for the mind, heart and spirit.

The quieter days of summer ended dramatically with Move-In Day on August 23 and the Pirate Adventure weekend, when the first-year students began their immersion into the 156-year-old tradition that is Seton Hall. Integral to easing the transition for our new Pirates were the many "old hands" who volunteered on Move-In Day and attended the student convocation, along with many parents and new members of our community. Thank you to all the volunteers and everyone who made Move-In Day such a success.

The Mass of the Holy Spirit, held on September 12, marked the year’s opening with a beautiful, worship-filled liturgy that was attended by students, seminarians, faculty, administrators, staff and clergy of our 44-member priest community.

The class — over 1,450 strong – is the largest in 32 years and their average SAT scores exceeded the previous year’s by more than 25 points. Over 400 of them qualified for the Public Tuition Rate awarded those with combined SAT scores of 1200 and who graduated in the top 10% of their high school classes. Also, 372 undergraduate transfer students have registered for the Fall semester. Congratulations to our enrollment management team under the leadership of Dr. Alyssa McCloud, as well as our faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and students who have been very active in recruiting our incoming class.

While the record enrollment can positively impact us over the next three years, cautious optimism is in order. After the previous record in 2010, the size of last year’s small freshman class will continue to be a factor in our planning over the next few years.

Initiatives and Achievements

So much excellence has been on display in recent months, particularly at the close of the 156th academic year, when the University awarded a record 2,678 diplomas: 1,231 baccalaureate and 1,447 graduate and professional degrees.

Sixteen graduates of the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology were ordained to the priesthood this year and 15 were ordained to the transitional diaconate.

Prominent in the Class of 2012 was Rachel Rosenstrock, the 12th Seton Hall student to win a Fulbright Scholarship. After graduating with majors in diplomacy and international relations and modern languages, she is now in Taiwan. Joshua Meyer, a liberal arts major, was selected as an alternate for a position in the Kyrgyz Republic; Kholood "Koko" Qumei, a diplomacy and international relations major, was selected as an alternate for a position in Morocco; and Lejla Radoncic, another diplomacy and international relations major, was named as an alternate in Turkey.

Among our faculty, there have been exciting advances in student engagement and enhancing the mosaic of a University that is diverse and vibrant – yet focused on academic excellence and intellectual curiosity. Some highlights:

  • The College of Education and Human Services continues to promote innovative teaching practices for students. Lauren McFadden, Ph.D., winner of a Faculty Innovation Grant, along with two students, completed work on the use of iPads in the classroom, and presented their findings at an international conference. The K-12 doctoral program now proudly boasts of two current state commissioners of education (Iowa and Louisiana), and more than 70 superintendents in the state of New Jersey among its alumni.

  • Poised to celebrate its 75th anniversary this year with more than 8,000 alumni, enrollment in the College of Nursing is at a record high with more than 1,000 students enrolled in the College. With nearly 800 students enrolled, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing continues to be the largest major in the University.

  • Two of our faculty, Jose Lopez, Ph.D. of the Department of Physics, and Yanzhong Huang, Ph.D., director of Global Health Studies, in the Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, were listed by Inside Jersey among the "20 Biggest Brains in New Jersey." Gita Das Bender, Ph.D., faculty associate in the Department of English, and Ines Murzaku, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Catholic Studies and Professor of Religion, wonFulbright Specialist Scholars awards for this year. My congratulations to the winners these of most prestigious awards!

  • William Connell, Ph.D., professor of history and the La Motta Chair of Italian Studies, presented an Academic Minute on Niccolo Machiavelli which was voted number one according to a Listener’s Choice Facebook Poll. James Hanson, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was also a nominee for the Listener’s Choice Award. Daniel Ladik, Ph.D., and Kurt Rotthoff, Ph.D., from the Stillman School of Business, also participated in the Academic Minute.

  • During this past year, the Immaculate Conception Seminary celebrated the closing of its sesquicentennial commemoration. The Center for Diaconal Formation became fully operational, offering a four-year, graduate-level academic formation program for 65 students in permanent diaconate programs from the dioceses of Paterson and Metuchen, as well as our own archdiocese.

  • Our graduates last May were the first class to complete the full University Core program. This year we enhanced our efforts to effectively teach the core classes by hiring Core Fellows, full-time appointments in the Interdisciplinary Department of the Core. Faculty continue to identify and develop courses that promote the core proficiencies. The Department of Catholic Studies was created this year under the Interdisciplinary Institute of the Core to accentuate the prominence of this program and enhance its fundraising capabilities.

  • With Susan Nolan, Ph.D., chairing our Middle States Accreditation efforts, and the creation of the various self-study teams, we mark the next stage of our accreditation process. As we continue to assess and evaluate our programmatic offerings, policies and business practices, we will seek input on ways to improve our institutional culture. The extensive examination required by this review will be guided by our implementation of From Strength to Strength and devoted to learning about "how we learn."

New Faces

The academic leadership team is now in place. After a series of national searches and much deliberation, I am pleased to welcome a slate of new deans and cabinet members who are eager to engage with their faculty, administrators, staff and students in implementing the strategic plan:

  • John E. Buschman, D.L.S., the new dean of University Libraries, comes to Seton Hall from Georgetown University where, since 2007, he was associate university librarian for scholarly resources and services.

  • Reverend Monsignor Robert F. Coleman, J.C.D. has been named associate vice provost for international programs and development. He will assume the post next July following the sabbatical he was awarded at the conclusion of his 12 years as dean and rector of Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology.

  • Joan Guetti, Ph.D. is the new senior associate provost who will be assisting Provost Larry A. Robinson with the administration of academic programs and management of the Division of Academic Affairs. She joined the University in 1983 as an assistant professor of mathematics.

  • Grace Mest May, Ph.D., is the new Dean of the College of Education and Human Services.She had been serving as acting dean and joined the University in 1989 as an assistant professor.

  • Reverend Mark FrancisO'Malley ’91/M.Div. ’95, Hist.Eccl.D., an assistant professor of church history in the School of Theology, is the new rector of the College Seminary. He will also be a member of the Board of Trustees.

  • Reverend Monsignor Joseph Reilly ’87, S.T.L., Ph.D., is the new rector of Immaculate Conception Seminary and dean of the graduate School of Theology after serving 10 years as rector of the College Seminary.

  • Joyce A. Strawser, Ph.D., who joined the faculty in 1995 as an associate professor of accounting, is the new dean of the Stillman School of Business.

  • Michael S. Zavada, Ph.D., from East Tennessee State University, is the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

  • David J. Bohan, M.B.A., joined the University in February as vice president for University Advancement. Mr. Bohan came to us from Carnegie Mellon University, where he held the position as associate vice president of University Advancement.

  • Stephen A. Graham, M.B.A., was appointed chief financial officer of the University in June after six years at Pace University, where his last position was vice president for budget and planning.

In addition, we welcome 24 new faculty members.

We are pleased to welcome to new Board of Trustees members Father Mark O’Malley and Frank Hager. We look forward to working with Father O’Malley and Mr. Hager, who also serves on the Board of Regents. We thank Monsignor Robert Coleman for his many years of exemplary service.

We welcome new Board of Regents members Mary Ann Christopher (M.S.N. ’82), Adrian Griffin (B.A. ’96), Helen Lerner (B.S. ’76) and Bob Ley (B.A. ’76).

We are excited to work with our new Regents as we continue to implement the University Strategic Plan. We are grateful to Archbishop William Skurla, Dr. Jerry Buccino (B.S. ’63), Pat Cahill, Ed Quinn (B.S. ’58/M.S. ’61), Pat Randazzo and Joe Torcivia (J.D. ’85) for their many years of leadership and service on the Board. We also welcome back Ed Quinn as a new Regent Emeritus.

New Technology

The SHU mobile computing initiative was recently launched. In this next generation of mobile learning technology, freshmen in the honors program, sciences and business were provided with Samsung Slate PCs. Freshmen in other disciplines were provided with Samsung Series 5 UltraBooks. As part of our unique partnership with Microsoft, we were provided access to Windows 8. ( We are the only higher education institution allowed early access to the latest operating system from Microsoft before its worldwide release.

In addition, in partnership with Microsoft, AT&T and Nokia, all incoming freshmen were provided with Nokia Lumia 900 smartphones running on the Windows platform. This represents the first and only enterprise or higher education Windows platform ecosystem deployment in the world, placing Seton Hall at the forefront of mobile computing. ( Thanks to Dennis Garbini, the Department of Information Technology and the faculty for leading the initiative.

New Places

The new 24-hour Dunkin’ Donuts opened just before the semester began and is already proving to be a very popular destination – complete with a few alfresco café tables. But it is only one of a number of improvements the campus saw during the summer:

  • Bathrooms have been completely renovated in Xavier tower, Serra and Newman, where hallways and common areas of the dorms got a fresh coat of paint and new carpet.

  • The College of Arts and Sciences received new air conditioning, and faculty offices there were also carpeted and painted.

  • Other projects included new overhead projectors in 40 classrooms and the installation of search kiosks on the upper floors of Walsh Library to give students quick access to the University Libraries’ database without having to return to the reference area downstairs.

All these improvements contributed to whittling down a "to do" list originally planned to be completed in five years, but which now will be finished next summer—after only two years.

We are about to break ground on an addition to the Richie Regan Recreation and Athletic Center. A wall of glass facing Seton Drive will provide the field house with an eye-catching façade. The additional 14,000 square feet will double the fitness and work-out space now located in windowless rooms on the Rec’s lower level.

Athletics and Recreational Services

Three athletic teams saw post-season appearances:

  • Women’s Soccer advanced to the second round of Big East soccer;

  • Baseball played in the Big East Tournament; and

  • Men’s Basketball hosted two sold out NIT Games.

Academically, Seton Hall boasted 159 Big East Academic All Stars with 99 and 96 students, respectively, on the Fall and Spring dean’s lists. The cumulative GPA for student-athletes was 3.223.

Pirate Blue fundraising had a banner year with its highest totals to date as membership continues to grow.

Student Affairs

Twenty-two students participated in the Seton Summer Scholars program and 20 pre-nursing students jump-started their college experience in the new Pathway to Nursing program. The Educational Opportunity Program’s summer session welcomed 54 new students and the Pre-Med/Pre-Dent Plus program welcomed nine future physicians.

The new Academic Success and Transfer Student Center in Room 11 of Mooney Hall served as a place of welcome during the summer for the transfer students and will continue to serve as a base for tutoring programs. It is inspiring that Seton Hall’s Academic Success Coaching initiative is beginning its third year with 120 faculty and administrators who have volunteered to work one-on-one with at-risk students.

Meanwhile, Housing and Residence Life has created an activities calendar for the first seven weeks of the semester publicizing the many opportunities to relax and unwind. Included are whitewater rafting, a field trip to Baltimore to watch a Yankee game, a Mets game at Citi Field, a hike on the Appalachian Trail and a return visit by Groove Boston.

Student safety remains a priority. Seton Hall’s shuttle service, SHUFly, and our Safe Ride initiative have resumed. The two off-campus transportation alternatives provided more than 82,000 rides to and from campus in the last academic year. Students can access the shuttle services on their smart phones through or on their laptops at

Upcoming Events

  • Seton Hall Weekend – Friday-Sunday, October 12-14.

  • Christmas at the Hall begins with the lighting of the Christmas tree – Thursday, November 29, after the 5 p.m. Mass in the Chapel and the blessing of the crèche.

  • Ice Skating on the Green – Sunday, December 9.

These are exhilarating times – and times of hard work – at Seton Hall, which should compel us from time to time to pause and reflect on our blessings and call on God for guidance and support. The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, at the heart of our campus, is a beautiful retreat for those moments and where I offer my prayers of gratitude and for success for all of you every day.

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