Ramapo College Expands Interdisciplinary Offering to Push Intellectual Boundaries

Adler Center for Nursing Excellence scheduled to open in 2015

In its 45th year, Ramapo College of New Jersey, nestled in the foothills of the Ramapo Mountains along the New York-New Jersey border, is noted for its rigorous academic programs, small class sizes and beautiful campus.

Created in 1969 as New Jersey’s liberal arts college, the College’s interdisciplinary approach to education prepares students across disciplines to become successful leaders in an ever-changing and interconnected world.

A New Era

A $54 million renovation of the College’s science complex and completion of the Adler Center for Nursing Excellence in 2015 will usher in another new chapter in Ramapo’s history. Funded in part by a $2 million gift from long-time benefactors Myron and Elaine Adler, the Center will transform the experience of nursing and biology students (two of the top majors) on campus.  Funds from the 2012 Building Our Future Bond referendum are also helping to create the new state-of-the art facility. The Adler Center will greatly expand classroom, research and laboratory space in nursing and biology. Renovations taking place to the science complex at the same time will provide expanded classroom and research space for students in the sciences.

“We feel blessed to be able to help Ramapo College graduate well-educated nursing professionals who will be at the forefront of challenges facing society,” said Elaine Adler at the topping-off ceremony last year for the new structure.

It is the latest in an extensive building program over the last several years which added the Anisfield School of Business, the Bill Bradley Sports and Recreation Center, two new resident halls and an apartment complex, the Angelica and Russ Berrie Center for Performing and Visual Arts, the Sharp Sustainability Center and the Salemeno Spirituality Center.

“The labs provide the students with the tools to enhance and to practice their learning,” said Dr. Edward Saiff, dean of the School of Theoretical and Applied Science at Ramapo College.

“Students are not just a number here. Faculty know students by name and they form strong relationships that become an important part of the entire educational process. That is one of our keys to success.”

Ramapo College has three major academic tracks in its Nursing Programs: the traditional undergraduate program in nursing, the RN to BSN track for nurses returning to school for the BSN degree and the MSN (Master’s) track to prepare future nurse educators

Ramapo’s undergraduate Nursing program has seen significant increases in enrollment and a Master of Science in Nursing Education was added in 2002. According to Dr. Kathleen Burke, assistant dean for nursing, approximately 550 students are currently enrolled in both programs.

Preparing for Practice

The Adler Center will provide four times more simulation laboratory space, said Dr. Burke, adding that the simulation labs are where students learn how to assess patients and determine the appropriate course of treatment. This process often takes place in the most stressful circumstances, where time is of the essence in patient outcomes.

In the simulation rooms, students will learn to address emergencies with computer-simulated patients. Nursing faculty positioned in a control room will recreate medical scenarios that occur every day in hospitals. Students are videotaped and, in a debriefing room, receive invaluable feedback from their instructors on how to improve their skills and reaction times.

In a Nursing Skills lab, students learn the necessary basics of the profession, including physical assessment of patients. The Adler Center will also feature an Anatomy and Physiology lab, computer labs and general purpose classrooms. The 36,000 square foot Center will be connected by an overhead walkway to the science complex which is currently undergoing a complete renovation.

“According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, simulation capability is a critical experience for nursing students who will be expected to be much more prepared as they enter the profession,” said Dr. Burke. By 2020, the demand will be for nurses to be baccalaureate-prepared nurses, she added.

Ramapo’s nursing students are also preparing for what Dr. Burke referred to as one of the biggest challenges facing the profession today.

“How we move into the community is playing a big role in how we prepare our students,” she said, explaining that Ramapo has forged partnerships with several local towns. For instance, there is a partnership with the City of Garfield, New Jersey, to present educational programs on subjects such as childhood obesity. “Students experience a wide range of ‘womb-to-tomb’ scenarios,” Dr. Burke said.

Growth & Deserved Accolades

Ramapo’s results are reflected by an increasing enrollment, a strong growth strategy in academic offerings and numerous accolades from various ranking publications.

With more than 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students in five schools, Ramapo College, located in Mahwah, New Jersey, is one of the premier regional liberal arts colleges in the State.

This year, Ramapo received the most applications in its history and welcomed its largest freshman class this fall. The Class of 2018 includes 980 students. The new class of Roadrunners arrived with exceptional academic credentials, including an average SAT score of 1162, a nine- point increase from the previous year. Ramapo also accepted 668 transfer students from institutions across the country — an impressive testament to Ramapo’s reputation.

Even as enrollment continues to increase, Ramapo has stayed true to its commitment of small class sizes. With an average student/faculty ratio of 17:1, students develop close ties with faculty who are first and foremost teachers and mentors.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Ramapo as “One of the Best Regional Universities North” category for public institutions. Kiplinger Personal Finance this year named Ramapo to its “100 Best Values in Public Colleges list.” Ramapo was also cited again as a “Military Friendly School” and was among schools and universities on EducationQuest.com’s Public Ivy 2014-2015 list.

The Princeton Review ranked Ramapo as one of the best in the Northeast among the 226 colleges and universities recommended in its PrincetonReview.com feature 2014 Best Colleges Region by Region (Best in the Northeast section).

The Princeton Review asks students to rate their own schools on several issues – from professors’ accessibility to quality of campus food – and answer questions about themselves, their fellow students and campus life.

In the surveys, Ramapo students praised the school for “having a small student to faculty ratio” which helps foster “a liberal arts education with individualized attention,” “the emphasis they place on outside learning and experience” and “professors that are aware of how to teach, motivate and inspire, instead of simply lecturing.” The business school and nursing program received overwhelming praise and were described as both “amazing” and “extraordinary.” Ramapo also received positive recognition for its “beautiful scenery,” “fabulous dorms” and for being a “small, unique, well organized and affordable school.”

Commerce Magazine recognized Ramapo College with one of its 2014 Best Practice Awards. Ramapo was the only public college to earn the distinction for its innovative Strategic Planning Incentive Fund (SPIF). SPIF ensures that key initiatives are funded in each budget cycle. The College devotes a percentage of its annual budget outside of regular departmental allocation to fund projects which advance the College’s objectives outlined in its strategic plan. Projects funded in recent years include marketing and outreach efforts to increase diversity, software to enhance the experience of the Anisfield School of Business Trading Floor, a Leaders in Service project aimed at promoting community service and leadership opportunities for incoming freshmen and market analysis to determine new program offerings.

In addition, despite a downgrade of New Jersey’s bond rating this year, Moody’s has reaffirmed Ramapo College’s A2 rating with a stable outlook.

These achievements speak volumes to the College’s commitment to excellence and prudent management practices.

Strong Foundations for Success

The College’s mission is focused on the four “pillars” of a Ramapo education: international, intercultural, interdisciplinary and experiential, all of which are incorporated throughout the academic curricula and in extracurricular programs.

Undergraduate students can choose to concentrate their studies in one of five schools with more than 539 course offerings and 36 academic programs. At the undergraduate level, Ramapo College offers degrees in the arts, business, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, in addition to professional studies, which include nursing and social work. Ramapo also offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels.

Success is measured in the numbers, with 87 percent of its alumni employed or in graduate school within one year of completing undergraduate course work.

Ramapo students also participate in study abroad and student exchange programs and gain valuable experience through internships, co-op and service learning initiatives. Students can choose to live and to learn in more than 60 countries. Approximately 12 percent of the graduating class each year participated in an international experience, such as studying abroad for a semester or an immersion program, during their time at Ramapo.

The College also offers seven graduate programs as well as articulated programs with Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New York Chiropractic College, New York University College of Dentistry, SUNY State College of Optometry and New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Ramapo newest graduate program, M.A. in Special Education, began this fall and has exceeded its enrollment goals. The College recently applied to the State for permission to launch a Master’s program in Social Work and hopes to enroll its first class in Fall 2015.

Visit www.ramapo.edu/tas/ to learn more about the School of Theoretical and Applied Sciences and the Nursing Program at Ramapo College. For general information on Ramapo College, visit www.ramapo.edu.

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