Ramapo College President Cindy Jebb took the floor in Friends Hall on Sept. 21 to the sounds of Jimmy Cliff’s “I Can See Clearly Now” for her third State of the College Address. Jebb reflected on her first full year at Ramapo College, suggesting that she can “see clearly now” as she enters her second school year with gratitude.
She opened by sharing that she and her husband had their 40th West Point reunion this past weekend, which was a time for the attendees to reflect on themselves and check in with their mental health. A classmate reminded her of how vulnerable general officers’ mental health issues are and spoke about a former, successful peer of theirs who took his life shortly after retiring.
“So my classmate asked about me, and he was truly concerned that I was okay with my transition,” Jebb said. “I shared with him that I landed in a community that really embraced me, where our values align, where we are unafraid to address challenges, where we’re open to change and really care.”
Jebb is grateful for Ramapo’s caring and supportive community, and she discussed the many similarities between here and West Point, including the campus and classroom sizes, “incredible student body,” “caring faculty and staff” and focus on leadership development. Just passing her first anniversary of officially being off active duty in the military, Jebb thanks the students for being one of the biggest reasons her transition from duty to the presidential office has been smooth and worthwhile.
“To be clear, I will never stop fighting for you,” Jebb said. “I cannot be more honored and humbled than to serve as your president. You inspire and you amaze me, and I deeply admire and respect how you have addressed these challenging times in the context of your own stories.”
Jebb told brief stories about highly successful and groundbreaking students, including recent graduates, upperclassmen and incoming freshmen. Their accomplishments represent Ramapo’s “transformational education grounded in the liberal arts.”
Experiential and interdisciplinary learning with international, intercultural understanding is what pushes Ramapo students to seek new challenges and exhibit strong leadership skills for life. It ensures that students will obtain core skills that allow them to broaden their worldview and make positive change with kindness.
“The transformative power of a Ramapo College education is a story we all have a hand in creating and telling,” she said. “Our institution, with our all hands on deck approach, must always model the behaviors we want in our graduates.”
Looking ahead, Jebb and the college are already working hard on improving enrollment rates. She shared that the spring 2022 higher education enrollment rate in the United States dropped by 4.1% from the previous year, as well as 7.4% since spring 2022. Ramapo has been strategically planning to improve the student experience and enrollment.
“Enrollment is an all hands on deck enterprise,” she said. “Everyone in this room ought to be asking, ‘am I doing enough to make our campus a place of belonging for everyone? Am I doing enough to make sure my peers and team members are well informed and equipped to serve our students?’”
“‘Am I doing enough to make sure our students’ experiences on campus are present and they’re set up for success? Am I meeting with prospective students at every possible moment? And what more can I do to continually advance our community?’” she continued.
Jebb closed by referring back to a line she said a year ago in her first Address: “We’re in the right place at the right time with the right people.” This is something she knows, even with the uncertainty of what’s around the corner.
“We can see clearly now. We are ascending as the destination for all who want to make a difference,” she concluded. “And we’re going to do it together, one student at a time, by being bold, by being kind and by being good teammates.”
A reflection conversation on the Address with President Jebb will be held on Sept. 29 from 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. in the Trustee’s Pavilion.