Welcome to the 2019 Fall Semester, 8/28/19


Welcome to the 2019 Fall Semester, 8/28/19

Dear Members of the Drew Community,

For those of you who have already been part of our community, welcome to the new semester! I hope that you were able to experience some time of relaxation and renewal during the summer. For those of you who are new to the Drew community, we are thankful that you’ve joined us and we are looking forward to learning about your talents and interests, and seeing Drew benefit from your contributions.

Before I share a list of new members of our community and other happenings at Drew, I’ll begin with some good news!

Drew University has moved up a whopping 36 places in one year in the Washington Monthly rankings, from 121 to 85, placing the University solidly in the Top 100!

I am personally very pleased with our movement forward in these rankings, because unlike some other rankings, which reward wealth, spending, and standardized test scores, Washington Monthly focuses on characteristics that are in line with our mission—public service, social mobility for students with limited economic means when they begin college, and other worthy outcomes. We are in good company on this list: Skidmore, for instance is ranked at 83. Along with our recent designation by the Fiske Guide as one of the Top 10 Best Values in Private Higher Education in the Country, the Washington Monthly rankings boost is an indication that our hard work to make Drew shine is garnering some national recognition. We will share more about this ranking on social media and on our Accolades page on the website.

Also wonderful for Drew and for our home town of Madison, is that

Madison Borough was recently named the The Best Place to Live in New Jersey by New Jersey Monthly Magazine! 

The story describes Drew, and especially notes that our presence and programming contributes to cultural diversity in the community.

Who’s joining us?

Please join me in welcoming new students to the Drew Community:

  • 408 first year College of Liberal Arts (CLA) students, Class of 2023
  • 57 CLA students transferring from other colleges, now members of the Classes of 2021 and 2022
  • 52 INTO International Pathways students who have earned admission as fully-matriculated Drew students with upper-class standing in the Classes of 2021 and 2022
  • 132 Theological School (THEO) students, including those who started in spring and summer 2019
  • 80 Caspersen School of Graduate Studies (CSGS) students, including those who started in spring and summer 2019

Among these students we welcome 204 international students, comprising 28% of our new student population: 84 in CLA, 33 in THEO, 14 in CSGS, 41 in INTO International Pathways, 21 in INTO English Language Learning and 11 in INTO Graduate Pathways. Our international students are a diverse group, hailing from 62 countries.

The word is getting out around the world that Drew is a welcoming place that offers an unparalleled education for undergraduate and graduate students alike, and for students who seek to perfect their English during the first part of their degree program. In all, from our three schools and INTO International Pathways, we have 424 international students attending Drew in academic year 2019-2020. This represents 19% of our total student population.

Drew University is ranked 15th nationally among baccalaureate colleges for the number of international students enrolled.

Last week Drew welcomed several new faculty members. Through an excellent orientation program we introduced them to all aspects of life at Drew. Please join me in welcoming new faculty members to the Drew Community:

  • Ferdi Eruysal (Data Analytics)
  • Adijat Mustapha (Psychology)
  • Gerard Pinto (Finance)
  • Jason Roberts (Anthropology)
  • Ellie Small (Math and Computer Science)
  • Phoebe Tang (Political Science & International Relations)
  • Merel Visse (Medical Humanities)
  • Andrea Woodka (Chemistry, starting Spring 2020)
  • Though not new to our community, I’m very pleased to share that Courtney Zoffness is now a tenure track faculty member in English and Creative Writing.

Please also join me in welcoming several new additions to our staff. Some have joined us to fill the roles of long serving members of our community who left upon their retirements or to further develop their careers. Other new staff members have joined us in newly created positions designed to strengthen Drew’s operations. Many of these positions were the result of consolidating other positions within the University in our effort to be more efficient while maintaining a focus on student outcomes. We will formally welcome all new staff members at the September meeting of the Drew Staff Association, but for now I will name a few:

  • Bret Silver, formerly of Barnard College, joined us as Vice President for University Advancement
  • Bob Herr, formerly of Wagner College, joined us as Vice President for Enrollment and Financial Aid
  • Kristen Daily Williams C‘98, formerly Senior Project Manager in Communications at Drew, after a restructuring of the division, is now serving as Interim Executive Director of Communications, the senior communications officer at Drew
  • Dr. Sari Pascoe, formerly of Cornell University, joined us as the Director of our new Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Louise Hood, also formerly of Barnard College, joined us as Assistant Vice President of Institutional Advancement
  • Greg Townsend C‘05, formerly of the Office of the Commissioner of Labor of New Jersey, after an interim stint in my office as Chief of Staff, joined us as Director of the Center for Internships and Career Development
  • Gloria Alisyed-Lewis, formerly of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, joined us just this week as Assistant Vice President for University Budgeting and Financial Planning
  • Stephanie Caldwell, formerly of Northeastern University, joined us as Registrar
  • Megan McHugh, formerly of Rowan University, joined us as Director of Student Activities in Campus Life and Student Affairs

We are welcoming and diverse

As we embrace all of these new members of our Community, I also reflect with pride that Drew University is a diverse, open, and welcoming place:

  • 38 percent of our CLA students are American students of color
  • 84 percent of our THEO students are of color
  • 41 percent of our CLA students come from outside of New Jersey
  • 25 percent of our CLA degree-seeking students are first generation

Based on surveys of students at every college it studies, Princeton Review ranks Drew University Top 10 in the country for Race and Class Interaction. 

Our new programs

I’ll stretch my theme of welcoming just a little bit further, and share with you the many new programs we’ve welcomed to our offerings either this semester or recently.


  • Environmental Science Major (in addition to our strong major in Environmental Studies and Sustainability)
  • Engineering Physics Major
  • Communications and Media Major
  • Public Health Major
  • Software Engineering (combined degree with Stevens Institute of Technology)
  • Nursing and Nutrition (combined degree with Drexel University)
  • Engineering (combined degree with Washington University in St. Louis)
  • Arts Administration for Performing Arts Minor
  • Museum Studies and Cultural Management Minor
  • Bachelor of Science (now offered in several disciplines in addition to the BA)


  • Four vocational tracks in the Master of Divinity: (1) Ministerial Leadership; (2) United Methodist Ministry; (3) Social Justice Advocacy; and (4) Chaplaincy
  • Three new Doctor of Ministry cohorts: (1) Courageous Leadership in Changing Contexts; (2) Public Theology; and (3) Bible and Theology in Korean Contexts
  • Two new Doctor of Ministry cohorts will be launched in 2020-2021: (1) Women’s Religious Leadership and (2) Spirituality and Pilgrimage
  • Five new graduate certificates: (1) United Methodist Studies; (2) Graduate Theological Studies; (3) Anglican Studies; (4) Restorative Justice and Prison Ministries; and (5) Interfaith Peacebuilding


  • MS in Data Analytics
  • MS in Finance
  • MEd in Education (joining the MAT)

You should expect to see more new programs over the next few years as we expand Drew’s offerings in an effort to grow, both in size and responsiveness to a changing world. The reality is that there are many “tectonic shifts” impacting higher education today. Drew must remain nimble and ready to meet the needs of students looking to attend college for the first time and the needs of those returning to further their education.

What are the other great things happening in The Forest?

I turn now to a sampling of recent accomplishments of our community members and a taste of some of the great things happening at Drew. We can’t even begin to encompass the extraordinary scholarly and creative work of our faculty, so here I share only a few of their accomplishments:

Drew students have been equally successful in their academic and co-curricular endeavors. This is just a sampling of our students’ remarkable achievements, and some of the successes they had collectively.

  • Biochemistry majors Malek Elsayyid C’19 and Zarina Akbary C’19 were ranked in the top 3 in scientific research at the state level at a symposium of the Independent College Fund of New Jersey
  • Our Theater students’ production of Heathers: The Musical was nominated for Best College Student Production from BroadwayWorld
  • Ida Behreini C’19 who has been twice-honored in the Governor’s STEM scholars program
  • Mason Scher C’20 won a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship
  • Extremely impressive this spring was the showcase of academic achievements by more than 120 students during Drew’s annual Day of Scholars celebration
  • TEDx Drew University produced their second highly successful conference, The Nature of Being
  • Our new eSports team won the inaugural Landmark Conference League of Legends eSports Championship
  • Our students honored Dr. Martin Luther King though a day of service, contemplation, and celebration
  • The New York City Semester Theater Students produced their own work in collaboration with Tectonic Theater in New York, with performances in Manhattan and at Drew
  • Women’s Golf, in only their second year of varsity play, won the Landmark Conference Title
  • Men’s basketball had a record-setting year ending in the ECAC semi-finals
  • One of our student a cappella groups, All of the Above, celebrated 25 years

Launch, well, …launches!

The moment we have all been waiting for has arrived. The entering CLA Class of 2023 will forever be associated with this new educational framework that—only at Drew—ensures that every student graduates connected, cultivated, and capable for today’s workplace. Drew recognizes that personal networks, community engagement, transferable skills, and relevant experiences are just as essential to college as they are to career. Recent research backs us up: Networking leads to 85% of jobs. Transferable skills—like critical thinking and interpersonal communication—are among the competencies most valued by employers and graduate school. And candidates with meaningful experiences are the preferred hires of 94% of employers and are more successful graduate and professional school applicants. And since our worlds are diverse, so our community connections are diverse. Launch ensures that every student has an opportunity to grow and explore a comprehensive set of career and affinity communities, to participate in meaningful and robust real-world learning experiences, and to not only benefit from a network of mentors inside and outside of Drew, but to be mentors themselves.

Launch Communities Expo, October 11, 11 AM to 6 PM 

Launch and its components will be systematically rolled out beginning this semester. One very important event is the Launch Communities Expo on Friday, October 11, where the entire community will be introduced to Launch. It’s a must attend event, and I’m eager to see you there. Stay tuned for more information.

In closing

Welcome again to all new members of our community and welcome back to those who were off campus for the summer. Thank you to each and every faculty and staff member for all you do for Drew and for our students, and for the extraordinary efforts you make to ensure Drew’s future. I wish you all the best for a wonderful semester in The Forest.

Warm regards,

MaryAnn Baenninger