College Gears Up For 2016-2017 School Year

Dominican College administrators, faculty, and staff are ready to welcome students for the 2016-2017 school year.  Christine Dilts, Assistant Dean of Students, said that freshmen will be busy with activities during a three-day Orientation from Thursday, August 25  through Saturday, August 28.  “Our objectives for Orientation are that the students coming in feel welcome and they feel like they belong, which means that they are going to make friends and become a part of the Dominican family.  We also want them to be familiar with their surroundings so that they know where to go for class on Monday morning.  And we want them to have a sense of the resources that are available to them,” said Dilts. 

Student leaders have been trained as Orientation Leaders and will be helping freshman with the transition to college. During Orientation, freshmen attend a number of activities and informational sessions to help them make friends and become comfortable at Dominican College. Freshmen students who are living on campus will move into the Residence Halls on Thursday, August 26. 

For a complete schedule of Orientation activities, please click here.


Alumnus Invention Wins $1.125 Million Grant

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John Damiao demonstrates how his indieGo invention converts a typical wheelchair into a power wheelchair.

Alumnus and Adjunct Professor John Damiao ’09 calls his invention which turns an ordinary wheelchair into a power wheelchair for about $1,000 a “game-changer”  It’s called indieGo and has awarded  Damiao and his team at the Center for Discovery with a $1.125 million grant to develop it and get it on the market.  Damiao is an Adjunct Professor at Dominican College teaching Kinesiology. 

The indieGo is a small, lightweight device that you can roll any wheelchair on to in order to convert it to a power wheelchair. Damiao is an occupational therapist who works with individuals with Cerebral Palsy who are unable to control their own wheelchair.  His team in Hurleyville, NY, at the Center for Discovery is experimenting with a variety of controls, from joysticks to touch buttons to allow any patient with impaired mobility to drive.  Typical wheelchairs for these individuals can cost $10,000 to $15,000.

Damiao said it was nice that Google recognized the tremendous impact that this device can have and was not looking only at funding high-tech or flashy projects. “We felt great and excited that Google recognized the importance of trying to bring mobility to as many people as possible.  They are this big tech giant company and this device is very basic and simple,” he said. 

Google awarded 29 grantees with $20 million in grants to help address accessibility challenges all over the world and is helping bring the projects to life.



Four County Executives Answer Questions at Dominican College

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Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Rockland County Executive Ed Day, and Bergen County Executive James Tedesco III (shown left to right) participated in the County Executives Forum at Dominican College on June 7, 2016.

The County leaders from Rockland, Westchester, Orange, and Bergen Counties were at Dominican College on Tuesday, June 7, 2016, to take part in the annual County Executive’s Forum sponsored by the Palisades Institute.

Rockland County Executive Ed Day said New York State’s system for public assistance is a “recipe for fraud,” but said Rockland has a very aggressive Front End Detection System to root out fraud.  He also announced that Rockland County just reached a new milestone with more than 100,000 people on public assistance. “This is supposed to be a relatively wealthy suburban County,” he said. “Almost one third of our County is on public assistance.  It’s unsustainable.”

Bergen County Executive James Tedesco III talked about the upcoming referendum in New Jersey on gambling in northern Jersey and stressed that a full casino is being considered – not simply slot machines. “The way the law is being written, there has to be a $1 billion investment by the person that brings gaming to Bergen County or the Meadowlands,” he said.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus also fielded questions from business leaders in attendance at the forum, which took place in the Lawrence Room of Rosary Hall.   

The aim of the Palisades Institute of Dominican College is to encourage leaders in business, government, and not-for-profit agencies to integrate the concepts of Leadership, Quality, and Ethics to achieve long-term success. 


A Capella Group to Perform National Anthem at Mets Game


Dominican College’s a capella group Pitches and Cream will sing the National Anthem at the Mets game on September 3, 2016.

Dominican College’s a cappella group Pitches and Cream will be singing the National Anthem at the Mets Game at Cit Field on Saturday, September 3, 2016. The group auditioned back in March and was featured on Channel 2 News.

Musical Director of Pitches and Cream Lydia Maynard, Ph.D. said this will be the largest audience Pitches and Cream has ever performed for – by far. “The stadium capacity is about 45,000 people and it’s Labor Day Weekend and the game is against the Nationals,” she said. “We are excited about it.”

Pitches and Cream was formed three years ago by Maynard, who is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Dominican College. “When I first interviewed here, I asked if they had an a capella group and they said ‘no’ so I knew I wanted to start one when I started working here.”  Maynard minored in music in college and has always enjoyed performing. 

Tickets to the Mets game are available for $25 and transportation will be provided. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here. 



Graduates Urged To Embrace Future at Commencement

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Sr. Catherine Howard, O.P., Ph.D., delivered the Commencement Address on May 22, 2016.

The Class of 2016 was given a challenge during Commencement Exercises at the Westchester County Center on May 22, 2016. President of the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt Sr. Catherine Howard, O.P., Ph.D., delivered the Commencement Address and told the graduates that their Dominican education began – rather than ended that day.

“You see we are lifelong learners, lifelong pursuers of truth, extending compassion, and always committed to service,” Sr. Catherine said.  The students were asked to embrace the future with enthusiasm, confidence, imagination, and innovation.  “The world needs you.  The world needs the Dominican difference.  This is your moment.  You stand at the beginning of a new era,” she added.

Sr. Catherine Howard was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humanities during the ceremony for her courageous and inspiring outlook and for her generous use of her talents on behalf of all who have looked to her for wise leadership and judgment. Sr. Catherine is the Founding Director of the Paradise Housing Program, the first short term residential program for HIV infected, addicted, and homeless persons in New York City. She also served as Director of the Ryan White Services, to support HIV affected familics. 

There were 560 graduates who earned their degrees – 126 doctorates, 96 masters, 337 bachelors and 1 associate. 


Senior Gift of Wall Mural Unveiled

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Members of the Senior Gift Committee unveiled the new wall mural in Granito Center on May 21, 2016.

On the eve of graduation, the Class of 2016 presented the College with a wall mural in the Granito Center depicting student life since the College was founded in 1952. The Senior  Gift has become an annual tradition at Dominican College and is a way for graduating seniors to show their appreciation to the College. 

 “With the mural, the buzz words are ‘our history, our life, our legacy.’  This gift is their legacy,” said Senior Advancement Officer Sal Pennino, who advised the 15 student members of the Senior Gift Committee.

The mural is on the second floor walkway of the Granito Center above the stairwell and foyer and includes photos of students at the college from the 1950’s until today. One of the first photos is of nuns ice skating at the college.  One of the last photos is of graduating students taking a selfie.

A short description of each of the photos is included in separate wall panels installed at eye level on the first floor of Granito Center,  near the entrance.

The unveiling of the Senior Gift takes place the day before graduation, after the Graduation Mass and before the Baccalaureate Awards. This year, the student committee lifted a drape covering the mural to reveal the wall mural for the first time.

The Senior Gift is funded partially through donations from graduating seniors and others interested in giving back to the school. To make a donation to the Senior Class Gift, please click here.

Past senior gifts include the Charlie the Charger statue, the Hennessy Center flag pole, and the Alumni Book of Remembrance. 



Communications Professor Receives 2016 Faculty Award


Academic Dean Thomas Nowak presented AnnMarie DiSiena with the 2016 Dean’s Award for Faculty Service during a ceremony on May 18, 2016.

Coordinator of the Communication Studies Program AnnMarie DiSiena, Ed.D.,  received the 2016 Academic Dean’s Award for Faculty Service on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, during the annual Service Award Ceremony in the Granito Center.

In presenting the award, Academic Dean Thomas Nowak said students have described Dr. DiSiena’s teaching style as engaging, entertaining, and wonderfully stimulating. “On our evaluation forms, her courses are consistently rated excellent, averaging an extremely high 3.85 out of 4.  Students praise her for providing them with skills that are very helpful for future jobs and real life,” he said.

Outside of the classroom, Dr. DiSiena also has many administrative responsibilities. In addition to heading up the Communication Studies Program, she oversees special sessions – weekend and online courses. During the ceremony, it was announced that Dr. DiSiena is being promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor.




New Members Inducted into Alumni Hall of Achievement

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Edward Astorino, Melissa Lucido, and Clare Mc Clarnon Steward were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Achievement on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

Three new members were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Achievement on Saturday, May 7, 2016, during the Annual Alumni Reunion. Melissa Lucido, ’95, Edward Astorino, ’98, and Clare McClarnon Steward, ’99, were honored for Excellence, Leadership and Service after a cocktail reception on the Granito Center patio.  All of the honorees were active in the Aquin Players, Dominican College’s theater group, when they were students at the College. 

Melissa Lucido, for Excellence

Lucido said she was honored to be chosen for the award for Excellence. “I thank Dominican College for always giving me the opportunity to develop my leadership, to step out of the box, to learn what it means to make a difference in the world,” she said. 

After deciding that she was better suited to a career in education, Lucido left her job in sales and marketing and went back to college to get her teaching certificate and later her Masters of Science in Education from Walden University. She now teaches kindergarten and first grade students at the Anne Blanche Smith School in Hillsdale, N.J.  Lucido was named 2016 Teacher of the Year in her school district and was nominated four times for the New Jersey State Teacher of the Year.  Since 2001, she has been coming back to Dominican College to serve as a co-director and choreographer of the College’s spring musical. 

Edward Astorino,  for Leadership

At Dominican College, Astorino served as Class President, president of the Student Government Association, and president of the Aquin Players. He was the recipient of four Leadership Awards as well.  Upon graduation, Astorino used those leadership skills to rise in business from a help desk support representative to an ITT Project Manager, running projects worth millions of dollars. 

Astorino has never forgotten his friends at Dominican College. “I’ve always been coming back.  Years have gone by where I haven’t been able to come back because of travel,” he said.  “But I know that I could always walk through that door and feel like I never left.” Recently, Astorino has been helping out as a production assistant with the Dominican College spring musical. 

Clare McClarnon Steward, for Service

Steward often volunteers her time playing the bagpipes, including at Dominican College’s graduation ceremony. She is an active member of two bagpipe bands, serves as a Cub Scout Den Leader and is involved in the choir and the religious education program at St. Margaret’s Church in Pearl River.  She is a past recipient of the Veritas Medal at Dominican College and has been honored by the Rockland County Ancient Order of the Hibernians and received a certificate of recognition from the Marine Corps League.  Steward said she is very humbled and honored by her induction into the Alumni Hall of Achievement.

“I’m not looking for an honor or a recognition of what I do. I just do what I do because it’s who I am.  It’s who Dominican has taught me to be,” she said.

A photo of the honorees will be placed in the Alumni Hall of Achievement in the lobby of Prusmack Center.


Dominican College Named a Top Workplace by The Journal News

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Shown here are some of our employees recognized in 2015 for their years of service to the College.

Dominican College has been selected as a Journal News Top Workplace in the Lower Hudson Valley for 2016. The honorees were chosen based upon the results of an employee feedback survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics, LLC, a research firm that specializes in organizational health and workplace improvement.

 “We are so pleased to have received this award, “ said College President Sr. Mary Eileen O’Brien, O.P., Ph.D.,  “Our mission stresses that we promote educational excellence, leadership, and service in an environment characterized by respect for the individual and concern for the community and its needs.  I believe that our respect for every employee is what makes Dominican College such a unique and rewarding place to work. Our employees often say that the Dominican College community is like family to them.  We help each other through difficult times and celebrate each other’s good news.  This is a particularly meaningful award to me, because it is based upon surveys completed by our employees.”

 Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics said, “The Top Workplaces award is not a popularity contest. And oftentimes, people assume it’s all about fancy perks and benefits. But to be a Top Workplace, organizations must meet our strict standards for organizational health. And who better to ask about work life than the people who live the culture every day—the employees. Time and time again, our research has proven that what’s most important to them is a strong belief in where the organization is headed, how it’s going to get there, and the feeling that everyone is in it together. Claffey adds, “Without this sense of connection, an organization doesn’t have a shot at being named a Top Workplace.”

According to a May 1, 2016, article in The Journal News, Dominican College employees surveyed said they were satisfied with their jobs because of great co-workers and managers, along with the ability to grow personally and professionally. 

WorkplaceDynamics is headquartered in Exton, PA.  This year alone, more than two million employees in over 6,000 organizations will participate in the Top Workplaces campaign — a program it conducts in partnership with more than 40 media partners across the United States.  Workplace Dynamics also provides consulting services to improve employee engagement and organizational health.


Liberal Arts Students Present Their Senior Research Projects

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Students, faculty, and administrators stopped by Lawrence Hall on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, to speak to seniors in the Liberal Arts program about their research projects.

More than 40 Liberal Arts students presented their Senior Research Projects on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in the Lawrence Room of Rosary Hall. The projects covered a wide variety of disciplines — including biology, communication studies, psychology and the social sciences.

The presentations come as seniors are wrapping up their capstone and senior seminar courses.  “Seniors who have been working on a particular research topic and subject have an opportunity to explain their research and their findings to the rest of the Dominican College community,” said Dr. Mark Meachem, Director of the Division of Arts and Sciences. 

This is the second year that all Liberal Arts students have presented their projects on the same day.  It’s a way to highlight Dominican College’s emphasis on the value of a Liberal Arts education, which provides students with a strong foundation in skills related to speaking, reading, writing, problem solving, analyzing, and interpreting information. 


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