By Tom Ballard
On Feb. 20, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to rename the TCNJ Library the R. Barbara Gitenstein Library and to grant Gitenstein the title of president emeritus.
Trustee Robert A. Altman, the chair of the Outgoing Transition Committee — which seeks to reflect and celebrate the impact Gitenstein has had on the College — read aloud the resolution which commended Gitenstein for the nearly 20 years of service that she dedicated to the College.
The resolution also notes some other advancements made under Gitenstein’s administration, such as an improved four-year graduation rate, comprehensive fundraising campaigns, an improved governance model and numerous construction projects.
“I think all of us could agree that the library is really the heart and soul of this campus,” said Trustee Jorge A. Caballero, chair of the board. “It is exceedingly fitting that we name the library after Dr. Gitenstein to commemorate 19 years of leadership.”
The Library was one of 12 new buildings constructed on campus during Gitenstein’s tenure as president.
Gitenstein’s official portrait will be unveiled at an event on March 17, and will then be hung in the library, according to Altman.
Gitenstein also gave her final report as president at the public meeting. During her report, she noted the achievements of fundraising projects that took place during the fall semester.
To date, the TCNJ Foundation has processed nearly 5,000 donations from 2,900 donors, totalling nearly four million dollars. During the fall semester, the Foundation distributed nearly two million dollars to directly support faculty, staff, students and athletics, Gitenstein said.
The 18.19.20 Initiative, a yearlong fundraising campaign named to honor Gitenstein’s two decades of service to the College, is also well on its way to its seven million dollar goal, having raised 5.6 million dollars so far, according to Gitenstein.
Gitenstein also remarked on the College’s commitment to graduating students within four years.
“Over the last several years I’ve focused a lot of attention in my public comment about graduation rate, and that’s important for the entire community but no community is more impressive, I don’t think at this particular point, than the graduation rate (for our Educational Opportunity Fund) students,” Gitenstein said. “We clearly have the best EOF program in the state, and these numbers will prove it. Right now we don’t have the final numbers, but if we’re looking at the projections of those who have filed for graduation … we are going to see a four-year graduation rate of 82.55 percent.”
While remarking on positive advancements that the College has made, Gitenstein also addressed growing number of Title IX and CARE reports made among students.
“With all these wonderful things we also have concerns about our students,” Gitenstein said. “In fact, we’ve seen significant growth in numbers of Title IX reports and an increase in the number of CARE reports. CARE reports are for students of concern.”
Gitenstein went on to say that an increase in reports does not necessarily correlate to an increase in problems among the student body.
“I think it’s really important to emphasize that just because the numbers have gone up, doesn’t mean a negative story,” Gitenstein said. “The numbers have gone up indicating that students are feeling comfortable coming forward and they’re feeling that they are going to be supported in the offices.”
While concluding her report, Gitenstein reflected on the first time she addressed the College community.
“In my first talk to the TCNJ community, I quoted Emily Dickinson’s wonderful poem about the transformation of a caterpillar into a chrysalis (and then) into a butterfly,” Gitenstein said, referring to Dickinson’s poem, “My Cocoon Tightens — Colors Tease.”
“In the last 19 years, TCNJ has proven both its capacity for wings and its aptitude for flight,” Gitenstein said. “Today as I look forward to my last four months as president of this exceptional (college), I see another transformation in the works. You stand on the brink of wonderful things to come. I will watch with great admiration from afar … and with considerable pride that what we have done in the last 19 years together has served as an important foundation for the even greater successes that are surely in your future.”
The board also approved two new graduate programs, including a new five-year Master of Arts in teaching program for urban secondary education.
According to the resolution, this new program comes upon the success of the College’s Bachelor of Science/Master of Arts in teaching program in elementary and early childhood urban education and will provide specialization for those who wish to teach at middle and high school levels in urban school districts.
The Board of Trustees also approved a master’s degree program of business administration, which will consist of a two-year “T” style program with initial in-depth study of a specialty area in year one, followed by breadth courses in year two, according to the resolution.
A number of capital project budgets set to improve the College’s infrastructural assets were approved, including a $4.5 million HVAC and roof replacement for Forcina Hall, $1.75 million for improving the elevators in the Towers, $749,072 for renovating the College president’s residence and $464,969 for renovating the president’s office.
Other trustees also made updates to the board. Trustee Eleanor V. Horne reported that the TCNJ Foundation, which collects private gifts for College improvements, now has assets totalling $49.4 million as of Dec. 31.
Trustee Rosie Hymerling reported that the Trenton State College Park, which will be located by Roscoe West Hall on Quimby’s Prairie, will be officially unveiled during Alumni Weekend this April. The College’s Alumni Association and numerous donors contributed to funding for the park, according to Hymerling.
In addition to honoring President Gitenstein for her service to the College, the board also passed a resolution honoring her husband, Donald B. Hart, for his support of the College community.
Following the meeting, the board held a reception to officially unveil the new signage for the R. Barbara Gitenstein Library.
The next public meeting of the College’s Board of Trustees, its annual tuition hearing, is slated for April 17.