President Jebb speaks about success in State of the College address

Alexander Hamilton, welcoming new faculty, celebrating the success of the Ramapo community and looking forward — these were just some of the main themes of President Cindy Jebb’s annual spring State of the College address.

Throughout the speech, Jebb consistently referred to a question posed by Hamilton — “It seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question: whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”

Jebb went on to explain how this relates to Ramapo College, using a quote from philosopher John Stuart Mill that “it takes a virtuous learning society to make good government… the most important point of excellence, which any form of government can possess, is to promote the virtue and intelligence of the people themselves.” 

“Many of you have four years to make the most of this transformative opportunity,” she said, calling for students to lean into this mindset. Jebb called the faculty and staff “lucky” to have the opportunity to work together with the students to create change. 

“We’re not going to throw away our shot,” she said. “The stakes are too high.”

Before Jebb continued with the address, she took time to honor the recent achievements of both students and faculty, inviting them to the podium and presenting them with a presidential coin. The first person to be honored was Professor Fariba Nosrati, who was recently awarded the Bright Idea Award by the Stillman School of Business.

Also honored on stage were Dean of Contemporary Arts Ken Goldstein and Professor Stephanie Sarabia, who were co-chairs for the creation of the comprehensive academic plan that is contributing to Ramapo’s Boldly Ascending Strategic Plan

Next up on stage were members of the Ramapo women’s volleyball team, who won the New Jersey Athletic Conference for the first time in program history. They were followed by freshman member of the track and field team, Dale Leonard, who has already set multiple school records in her first year running for the team.

Also among those honored were Dr. Jacob Ari Labendz for his work as director of the Gross Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, senior Jenna Vesey for winning the Joe Wong Poster Award at Stanford University, Assistant Director of the We Care Program and Community Service Dylan Heffernan for the acceptance of his $200,000 Hunger Free Campus grant, and Evan Kutzin for the development and installation of the Ramapo College Emergency Medical Services program.

Later in the speech, Jebb spoke about Ramapo’s success in their most recently accepted class, with it being their most diverse and second-largest class ever. This upcoming fall’s accepted class is expected to surpass that, with it being the first time in school history Ramapo has received over 8,000 applicants. 

When asked how Ramapo has been so successful when its sister institutions are struggling, Jebb said, “It’s not rocket science. It’s hard work with everyone growing in the same direction because the stakes are so huge.”

Throughout her speech, Jebb spoke about a number of global issues including the ongoing conflict in Gaza, Russia and Ukraine, the upcoming election season and more. 

“We have agency in this,” she said. “Our campus is rich with scholars, learners and diverse perspectives… Our work must continue.”

Jebb ended the address by telling attendees to “lean into Alexander Hamilton’s question together, that it is not by accident and force, but rather reflection and choice that we move forward. Let’s find both inspiration and solace in our public purpose.”


Featured photo by William Jackson