17 Big Moments in 2017

collage of instagram shots
A collage of photos from 2017 shows the year that was at FDU. All images appear on the Fairleigh Dickinson University Instagram account. Follow us at @fduwhatsnew!

By Kenna Caprio

It’s been a year of momentous celebrations, inspiring achievements and all-around excitement at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Let’s look at 17 highlights from 2017!

  • The University celebrated its 75th anniversary. At Academic Convocation, keynote speaker Judith Kaufman, professor of psychology at the Metropolitan Campus, emphasized the priority FDU puts on “connections and caring.” She said, “FDU will ... thrive far beyond our 75!” FDU Magazine published a special edition to celebrate three-quarters of a century, alumni shared special memories and students recreated scenes from archival photos.
  • The Class of 2021 is HUGE! This year, a record 1,472 full-time first-year undergraduate students enrolled at the Florham and Metropolitan campuses. The Vancouver Campus welcomed 225 graduate and undergraduate students.
  • Rankings galore! FDU placed on “best” lists compiled by Money magazine, U.S. News and World Report, and The Princeton Review, among others.
  • On September 27, the University celebrated the inauguration of its 8th president, Christopher Capuano, at the Florham Campus. Board Chair Patrick Zenner formally invested Capuano as president, “With this installation today, we officially recognize and commemorate your leadership. We charge you with the responsibility of guiding the institution and confer upon you the authority necessary for the task.”
  • Since opening in 2010, the Vancouver Campus has graduated 1,560 students. In May, the Vancouver Campus threw a 10th birthday party. “Over the last 10 years we have welcomed students from 78 countries. We pride ourselves on being a shining jewel in the crown,” said Campus Provost Cecil Abrahams. The campus also added a colorful, diverse mural to its student lounge, which showcases the vibrant city.
  • Bon Jovi rocked Commencement! Students sent jubilant torrents of tweets, sharing their happiest college memories, and won a national contest held by MTVU. The prize? A Bon Jovi performance at graduation. The band played “Reunion,” from their album “This House is Not For Sale.” Jon Bon Jovi advised graduates, “Choose your words wisely — not only the ones you’ll say to others, but also the ones you say to yourself.”
  • Wroxton Abbey turned 800! Sadly, little of the original Wroxton Augustinian Priory, established 1217, remains today, save for the 13th century arch and 14th century moulded doorway found in the basement. The college held a special Medieval Day, with lectures, a hog roast, archery, a jester and a Punch & Judy show, in honor of the Abbey’s birthday.
  • FDU received a $1.2 million grant from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development to establish and oversee a new Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Talent Development Center. An advisory board is currently being formed.
  • Dear World, an interactive portrait and storytelling project, came to FDU’s Metropolitan Campus for a two-day whirlwind truth-telling adventure. “Sharing the photos with our community and with visitors provides a window into the heart of our University,” says Jessica O’Brien, associate dean of students for union and campus engagement. Her team brought Dear World to FDU to build a stronger sense of community spirit.
  • Campus improvements offer new academic spaces to students and faculty alike.
    • Becton Hall has become the hub for specialized labs on the Metropolitan Campus, with a total of 18 — eight new state-of-the-art facilities and 10 upgraded laboratories. These include an advanced manufacturing lab, a materials testing lab, a machine and wood shop, an electrical wiring lab, a 3-D printing lab, and a green energy lab.
    • The Ronald J. Doerfler Center for Innovation and Project-Based Learning was dedicated in memory of FDU Trustee Ronald J. Doerfler, BS’62, MBA’72 (Metro), who, together with his wife, Krys, made a generous gift to make its construction possible. The space encourages collaboration.
    • In the new veterans resource center, student vets can make use of a reception and study area, a break/copy room, a “flex” room and an office for Martha Garcia, MBA’92 (Ruth), director of veteran services for outreach, and Jeffrey Dunn, BA’10, MBA’13 (Flor), director of veterans services for operations.
  • Send Silence Packing, a traveling exhibit on mental health, came to the Florham Campus to start a conversation about suicide prevention. In the exhibit, backpacks represent college students who took their own lives. Approximately 1,000 lives are lost each year, nationwide. “I hope to increase the open discussion of mental illness and suicide to help students feel more comfortable in asking for help. It is OK to not be OK,” said Nicole Peluso, a psychological counselor.
  • Pri’sizhen, the step team at the Metropolitan Campus, competed in Step or Die 2017 at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa., winning first place. The team also took second place at a 1990s themed-competition, “All That and a Bag of Chips,” at St. Johns University in Jamaica, Queens, N.Y. A new 40-member student dance troupe at the Florham Campis is giving voice to social issues including bullying, body image, homelessness, police misconduct and sexual assault through movement. The group, featuring dancers at all levels, performs at campus events and recently hosted a dance showcase.
  • Students launched the Lady Knight, a 300-pound concrete canoe, into Cooks Pond in Denville, N.J., as part of the annual American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) student canoe competition. Competing against a number of universities, the FDU team participated in tests of flotation and endurance, several race heats, and presented a business plan. The FDU women competing in the 200-meter heat won their race.
  • The Vancouver National Model United Nations (NMUN) team scored a success outside of negotiations, winning a video contest hosted by the NMUN organization. The video details the NMUN experience in New York City and features interviews with student participants. Their $1,000 prize will be applied to the 2018 conference fee.
  • The Knights women’s soccer team hosted the Northeast Conference (NEC) championship tourney, defeating Bryant University in the semis and reaching the title game. The Devils football team did its part to make homecoming memorable, defeating Wilkes University 49-31, as senior Malik Pressley became the all-time leader in touchdown receptions.
  • An array of guest speakers visited the New Jersey campuses to pose questions, offer analysis, share insights and discuss pressing issues. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and screenwriter Richard Russo came to the Metropolitan Campus as part of the Gene Barnett Speaker Series. Actor and activist Sean Astin headlined WAMFest in October, and CNN legal analyst and author Jeffrey Toobin came to talk politics in November, both at Florham.
  • FDU gives back! Throughout the entire year, FDU students and organizations ran coat, toy and food drives, raising money for local and national nonprofits to benefit the needy, the homeless and natural disaster victims.