As we begin a new year, I am pleased to report that Monmouth University continued its trajectory of success in 2014, with new programs, affiliations, facilities, and funding support. Many of these accomplishments are already making a significant impact on our students, while others are cornerstones that we will continue to build upon in 2015, and beyond.
Following the endorsement of our strategic plan by the Board of Trustees in October, implementation of the core objectives has begun under the leadership of Provost Laura Moriarty. Developing the plan was a comprehensive and dynamic process, and putting our vision into action also promises positive change across every area of campus in the year, and years, ahead.
The support of alumni, friends, and the entire Monmouth University community has been essential for defining our objectives and achieving the milestones of the past year, and will continue to be crucial as we advance on our path to excellence.
Broad-based support from individual and institutional donors helped us meet the aggressive goals set by the Urban Coast Institute Marine Science & Policy Challenge Grant. Terms of the challenge meant raising $2 million before December 31, 2104, to claim $3 million in additional funding from an anonymous benefactor.
We exceeded the goals of the initiative, raising more than $3 million in gifts and pledges. The infusion of these challenge grant funds will dramatically expand student research opportunities, help build
state-of-the-art facilities, and ensure the vital role of evidence-based public policy across our unique coastal region.
Our success with this initiative was an important contributor to the overall financial strength of Monmouth University in 2014. For only the second time in University history, gifts and pledges exceeded $10 million within a single calendar year. Final accounting is still underway, but the significant financial support from gifts and payments in 2014 are a clear vote of confidence in our mission to provide a highly personal transformative learning experience to our students at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Monmouth University is also the beneficiary of a major collection of art from Roosevelt-based polymath Robert Mueller. This significant addition to our permanent holdings, which is expected to appraise at more than $1 million, will be an important resource for our students majoring in art, and a distinctive collection we can bring to a wider audience.
Our academic programs made great strides in the first part of the 2014-15 academic year. Two faculty members, representing different academic disciplines - Dr. Pricilla Gac-Artigas, a professor of Spanish and Latin American Literature, and Dr. Mihaela Moscaliuc from the Department of English - earned prestigious Fulbright Scholarship awards.
Also from the English Department, our artist-in-residence, Alex Gilvarry who teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in creative writing, recently won recognition from the National Book Foundation as one of "5 under 35," writers selected from across the country.
Our first cohort of undergraduate students in the new pre-licensure Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, for students committed to a career in nursing, recently held their white coat ceremony in Wilson Hall. Our new graduate programs in the health sciences are underway at the Graduate Center at Monmouth Park Corporate Center campus, with our new Physician Assistant graduate program attracting an impressive pool of very well qualified students.
More broadly, the School of Science has also been putting scholarship into action with the recent Dean's Seminar and Urban Coast Institute Future of the Ocean Symposium. The Symposium brought Dr. Kathy Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space and current NOAA Administrator, and Wendy Schmidt, president of the Schmidt Family Foundation and founder of The 11th Hour Project and of Climate Central, to campus for an intimate conversation.
Other opportunities that allowed students to interact directly with thought leaders from around the world included hosting former governor Jim Florio as our Public Servant in Residence, and welcoming distinguished guests including former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Philip Murphy, the former president of Catholic University, Bishop David M. O'Connell, and noted author Joyce Carol Oates.
Collaborative synergy among several of our Centers of Distinction brought national attention to Monmouth University in September. NBC News Anchor Brian Williams referred to Monmouth University on the Nightly News on the occasion of Bruce Springsteen's birthday, thanks to coordinated efforts from the Monmouth University Polling Institute, Center for the Arts, the Department of Music and Theatre Arts, and the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection.
Our Center for the Arts hosted two events surrounding Bruce Springsteen's birthday-an academic symposium and a screening of rare footage from Thom Zimney, one of Springsteen's closest documentary collaborators. At the same time, polling on public reaction to Springsteen's 65th birthday resulted in greater reach and media coverage for programming and collections that are unique to Monmouth.
Many of these same areas were instrumental in cementing a partnership with the GRAMMY Museum, which we officially recognized in October when Monmouth became one of only four university affiliates in the country, and the only one on the East Coast.
With the agreement, our students will have access to the museum's extensive archives as well as internship opportunities in Los Angeles. As a designated educational affiliate, Monmouth will host unique GRAMMY-curated exhibitions on campus, drawing new visitors to our beautiful coastal campus, with an academic symposium on Frank Sinatra scheduled for May 9.
Our Center for the Arts also continues to expand in exciting new directions. We have added performances by the Bolshoi Ballet, broadcast in high definition, to our already robust public arts programming, which includes the Metropolitan Opera and performances from the National Theatre in London.
Like the arts, Athletics provides opportunities for members of our community to visit campus and engage with Monmouth. Thanks to a new partnership with ESPN3, this audience has increased exponentially. In addition to expanding the scope and reach of sports programming, Communication students are gaining valuable experience producing the broadcasts-a synergy that will benefit our student-athletes, our academic programs, and our university as a whole.
Improvements to athletic facilities have also taken shape in 2014, with completion of the Hesse Field on the Great Lawn, and the new Ciniello Family Bowling Center in the Boylan Gymnasium. While both of these additions benefit our Division I athletes, they have also opened up new opportunities for the entire student body.
While the members of our women's bowling team are the most obvious beneficiaries of the new bowling lanes donated by Patrick '67 and Alisa Ciniello, the area is now open as a new option for on-campus recreation. Similarly, before the generous gift from trustee Marianne Hesse to upgrade the soccer field only the men's and women's soccer teams could play on the lawn, and then only during a limited season. Now, Hesse Field on the Great Lawn is open to a variety of intramural programs for a much longer period of time.
Hesse Field on the Great Lawn has also been beneficial to our Division I soccer teams. The women's team claimed the regular season MAAC title, while the men's team won the MAAC Tournament. The men's soccer team advanced to the NCAA rounds for the fifth time in the last nine years. The field hockey team also won the MAAC Tournament in its second year in the conference, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
Significant renovations to the tennis house, made possible by Joan and Howard '89 Orlick and the DeAlessandro Foundation funding, were dedicated in honor of head women's tennis coach and Monmouth Athletics Hall of Famer Patrice Murray '82 '89M. New additions to the former horse farm barn include a lounge area, which is also used for an area for stringing and sports medicine, a changing room, equipment storage and offices. The facilities can equally be used by the women's and men's tennis teams.
The Monmouth Stadium project continues to be the top priority funding item for Athletics as nearly half of our student-athletes compete in the arena, including men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's track and field teams, and football, which completed its first year competing in the Big South conference in November. Final planning for construction of the stadium, including obtaining building approval from West Long Branch, will commence once the external funds are garnered to support the project.
Other elements of our ambitions agenda for campus improvements were completed or made significant progress in 2014. Our most recent student residence, "New Hall," opened on schedule, right on time to provide housing for second year students.
Pozycki Hall seems to have sprung up overnight, but that is often the case with construction projects where so much work goes into preparation that when the framework appears, it almost seems like magic.
Final plans and approvals are being secured for renovation of the School of Science buildings, and the reaching the Urban Coast Marine Science & Policy Challenge Grant, will contribute significantly to moving the project forward.
To achieve our goals for a stronger, vibrant, and evolving university, your support is more important than ever. I urge you to share our successes widely, and hope you will continue to act as an ambassador for Monmouth University.
Sharing the successes of our students, our faculty, and our alumni-the successes of our whole community-widely is just as important as many other concrete examples of the progress we have achieved in 2014.
Our future is bright, and with your help we are on a steady path to greater academic accomplishments, as a community of scholars and students committed to making a significant impact in our region, and far beyond.