New Ramapo President Jebb roots herself on-campus

Photo courtesy of Ramapo College, Flickr 

Dr. Cindy R. Jebb began her first academic year as Ramapo’s fifth college president this September, although her position has been official since July 6, after she retired from the U.S. Military with the rank of Brigadier General after 39 years.

President Jebb has made great strides in introducing herself to students and faculty alike. Jebb, who will give her first state of the college address on Wednesday, has also taken initiative in her role to set goals for the college during such a pivotal transition to hybrid learning, which is paramount in expanding resource accessibility.

“Over the past three months, I have benefitted from discussions with our students, alumni, faculty, trustees, staff, retirees, legislators, and donors. I even got to arch with members of our incoming class and experience scholastic discussion at Opening Convocation alongside our students and faculty,” Jebb said in an email to the Ramapo News. “With the guidance of the Board of Trustees and through thoughtful partnership with our students, faculty, staff, and others, we can continue to steward this College's upward trajectory.”   

It also became apparent in an email sent to students on Sept. 1 that Jebb has been working alongside student leaders, notably Anjali Patel, president of Ramapo’s Student Government Association. Embedded in the email is a video of the two standing side by side, explaining the importance of community and collaboration as life during the pandemic continues to be navigated.

Patel said she feels particularly appreciative of Jebb’s presence on campus, especially since direct communication between them is vital to the success of the community.

In my meetings with her, I have let her know what I would like to see more of on campus or some internal goals for the SGA itself, and President Jebb was receptive and showed a genuine interest to learn more and how she can step in to help,” Patel said.

Assistant Vice President of Student Success Joseph Connell described interactions with Jebb, and her overall demeanor, as personable, which he stressed were strong qualities for a leader.

“She included moments of silence in our New Student Assembly and Convocation to honor those who had recently passed in Afghanistan and one of our first year students,” he said. “In personal interactions, she demonstrates humility and expresses appreciation for the work of our Ramapo team.”

Jebb is emphasizing community engagement as she continues to make accommodations and practice inclusivity for students at home and on campus. Dean of Contemporary Arts Peter Campbell toured the school’s facilities as well as the Berrie Center with Jebb, discussing the importance of Ramapo’s arts programs. 

“I am excited about the potential to continue to grow the presence of the arts on our campus, and to make sure that all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the larger community know about our great programs, from our student theater productions and music performances to our professional art gallery shows and performances presented by the Berrie Center,” Campbell said. 

As the Contemporary Arts school continues to expand culturally and academically, the voices of students are essential to its growth. Campbell said that he believes Jebb’s open-mindedness will allow student ideas to be actualized and well-reflected during her term.

Yet, this sense of respect also extends to Jebb’s interactions with students as well. Peer facilitator Emily Melvin helped operate Welcome Week alongside other peers, and mentioned that Jebb was active throughout the week-long event. “She seemed happy to be here and, overall, very positive,” Melvin noted.

In entering both the semester and her newly established position with drive and passion, Jebb seems more than prepared to lead Ramapo in the right direction.

“In the years to come, how we approach matters of public health, conflict, learning, sustainability, and work (to name just a few topics) must push us to understand more deeply and to problem-solve more innovatively," she said. "Ramapo College should lead in this space, and I believe we can."