President champions change at Monmouth University

Executive Editor

The new president of Monmouth University celebrated the 81st anniversary of the founding of the school by issuing “a call to arms” for dramatic changes at the West Long Branch campus and beyond.

“Strategic planning is a process that never ends, because the journey to excellence has no endpoint,” Monmouth University President Paul R. Brown said.

Brown urged faculty members and administrators to provide “a transformative education that allows students to succeed and adapt.” “We are preparing our students for life after Monmouth,” he said. Citing a 10-month strategic planning process underway at the university, Brown said the college would undergo changes that include more innovative student offerings, possible expansion of the Monmouth Park Corporate Center campus and continued emphasis on athletics.

“We are poised to become even greater,” said Henry D. Mercer III, chairman of the university’s board of trustees and a member of the Class of 1987.

The strategic plan that has been drafted during the past year is in its final stages this month, according to the university’s timeline.

Seeming to chide or cajole those reluctant to change, the university president said, “We must set our own course. Let us define this moment. Please let us not let this moment define us.”

Embracing change, Brown said, will allow university faculty and staff to “celebrate the success of students and break down silos.”

The Founders Day celebration on Oct. 7 marked Monmouth’s 20th anniversary as a university. Monmouth was founded in 1933 as a federal assistance program designed to provide opportunities for local students who could not afford to go to colleges out of the area during the Great Depression.

Originally a junior college, Monmouth became a four-year college in 1956. The university is on the grounds of the former Shadow Lawn estate.

Brown has been president of Monmouth since August 2013.

At the convocation, the university president honored student leaders such as Honors School students, Residential Life members, the Monmouth University Chamber Orchestra, and the Monmouth University Chamber and Concert choruses.

The celebration included a tribute to alumnus Thomas Gallagher, Class of 1962, who spoke about being gay before homosexuality was accepted in American society.

“If I gave the speech that I am about to give when I was a student here, I would have been expelled. My psychology professor at Monmouth taught me that homosexuality was a serious mental illness. Among the cures recommended by the American Psychiatric Association were electroconvulsive therapy and frontal lobotomy,” he said. “I later met that professor at a gay cruising area on the Asbury Park boardwalk. We pretended that we did not recognize one another.”

Gallagher entered the Peace Corps after graduation and then served in the U.S. State Department. He also spent several years in San Francisco running the largest public mental health clinic in the United States.

Gallagher, a Long Branch native, lives in Tinton Falls.