Alumni Newsletter

Keeping our Alumni informed of Atlantic Cape activities

Blueprint 2020: A New Vision for ACCC

With enrollment at ACCC surging in recent years, the College is steadily addressing the needs of the expanding student body by adding new locations and adapting to shifts in workforce development.

The construction of a new building in Cape May Court House and extensive renovations to the facility in Atlantic City raised both locations to branch campus status in 2005 and 2006 respectively. The Cape May County Campus is geographically convenient to residents, making it easier for students to access higher education. Upgrades to the Charles D. Worthington Atlantic City Campus, including the addition of a Health Professions Institute in 2008, answered the call for more trained health care professionals in and around the resort, said Dr. Richard Perniciaro, Dean of Facilities, Planning and Research.

“For the last few years, we addressed the needs in Cape May County and Atlantic City. Now we’re turning our attention to the Mays Landing Campus,” he said.

The last major renovations in Mays Landing were in 1991, when the Academy of Culinary Arts building was added. Since then, enrollments have doubled and technology and science have evolved, creating a need for modernized science and technology labs, Perniciaro said.

In 2005, ACCC President Dr. Peter Mora and other leaders at the College began working on an ambitious master plan called Blueprint 2020, a comprehensive series of ongoing renovation projects to take place, mostly at the Mays Landing Campus, through the year 2020.

“In my view, it was vital for the College to create a master planning model that would allow us to link future academic and student development needs to the types of facilities required to support them,” Mora said.

During the fiscal year 2007-2008, the College also launched a $36 million funding campaign and got the planning ball rolling for three prioritized projects: the construction of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) building; a proposed new student center; and improvements to the Mays Landing Campus roadways, including a new entrance and loop road.

In addition, the College secured state and county funding for the design of the STEM building. This new facility, to be located next to D building, is the focal point of Blueprint 2020.

The STEM building will be mostly lab space. The existing labs in A building will then be renovated to modern classroom space. The timeline for this project calls for completion in 2012.

Other major projects included in the plan are renovations to the Mays Landing Campus library to create an Information Commons that will integrate computers into the library space, similar to what the Atlantic City and Cape May County campuses have. That work takes place this summer.

In addition, the gymnasium will be renovated this summer to add new locker rooms and a fitness center.

The projects were long overdue. “This campus was only built for 3,500 students. We now enroll 7,000,” Perniciaro said. “With Blueprint 2020, we’re really trying to recognize the needs of the students, many of whom spend a lot of time here.”

Already, the College upgraded and added exterior lighting and is renovating restrooms across campus. These were the top two issues students said needed attention during a facilities study in 2007.

Learn more about Atlantic Cape’s upcoming construction projects.

ACA Grad on New 'Top Chef Masters'

Chef Michael Schlow, a 1987 Academy of Culinary Arts graduate, is one of 24 contestants competing this summer on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters.”

The new television series pits world-renowned chefs against each other following the format of the network’s popular “Top Chef” series.

Chef Michael Schlow

Schlow received his professional training at the Academy and began his career with New York restaurateur Pino Luongo. He went on to become chef de cuisine at several Manhattan hot spots, eventually moving to Boston in 1995. Since then, he’s opened several critically acclaimed restaurants, including Radius, Via Matta and Great Bay. He has garnered a slew of culinary honors and is a contributor to the CBS Early Show.

He returned to ACCC in 2005 when he was honored as an outstanding alum at the College’s annual Restaurant Gala.

The series premieres at 10 p.m., Wednesday, June 10, on Bravo. In the first six episodes, four chefs compete against each other to name one winner. These six winners meet up the final weeks when one chef is eliminated each episode until a winner is crowned. The winning chef each week receives money for their designated charity, with the final winner’s charity receiving $100,000.

Some of Schlow’s competition includes Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill in Chicago, John Best of Restaurant August in New Orleans and Wylie Dufresne of wd~50 in New York City.

Food Network’s McCargo Speaks at ACA Ceremony

Chef Aaron McCargo, host of the Food Network’s “Big Daddy’s House,” was the guest speaker at the May 15 Academy of Culinary Arts Awards Ceremony.

McCargo of Camden began his culinary training at the Academy in 1989. He was named the “The Next Food Network Star” in July 2008. He shared his experience and advice with the graduating students and received an honorary ACA diploma from Chef Kelly McClay, Dean of the Academy.

Chef Aaron McCargo

McCargo first discovered his passion for cooking at age 4, by baking cakes in his sister’s Easy Bake Oven. As a teenager, he parlayed his budding culinary talents and innate entrepreneurial spirit into launching a cake business, selling his homemade concoctions to his high school classmates. “The Academy of Culinary Arts gave me a great foundation that catapulted me into my career as a chef,” he said. “The knowledge and support from my instructors was beneficial because, even now, I can recall the information they gave me back then.”

After leaving the ACA, he spent the next decade working in various South Jersey restaurants. In 2003, he opened McCargo’s Creative Cuisine eatery in Camden, which closed in 2006. He then landed the position of executive catering chef at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, which he left after beating out 7,000 contestants for the title of Next Food Network Star. “Big Daddy’s House” airs at 1:30 p.m. Sundays on the Food Network.

News Briefs

ACCC Lands $1.25 Million GIS Job Training Grant

ACCC received a $1.25 million Community-Based Job Training grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in spring 2009. The grant is for the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Workforce Education Project of Southern New Jersey, a partnership between ACCC and various area schools, community employers and organizations.

GIS is a computer-based mapping tool that takes information from a database about locations such as streets, buildings, water features and terrain, and turns it into visual layers. The power supplies directed to homes, the patrol cars and fire trucks that keep neighborhoods safe, and the delivery trucks on the road are more efficient because of GIS.

ACCC will create a GIS Workforce Education model that is relevant to the labor market in the southern New Jersey coastal region, train GIS users for geospatial industry certifications, integrate GIS education into multiple academic disciplines, and establish a pipeline for GIS education for students transitioning from high school to community college to four-year colleges and universities.

College Sets Record Spring Enrollment

Enrollments at Atlantic Cape are continuing an upward trend, with the highest spring semester enrollment ever.

According to enrollment records, credits taken for spring 2009 totaled 69,616, an increase of 6.67 percent over spring 2008. A total of 6,908 students are registered this spring, compared to 6,574 last spring—a 5.08 percent increase.

ACA’s Tedeschi Named ACF Chapter Chef Educator of the Year

Chef Educator Vincent Tedeschi was named Educator of the Year by the Professional Chefs Association of South Jersey, a chapter of the American Culinary Federation. Tedeschi was honored at the organization’s 36th Annual President’s Scholarship Ball in February.

The award is presented to an educator whose knowledge, skills and expertise have enhanced the image of the professional chef. The recipient should also demonstrate the ability to help students define and develop their careers by using their skills and abilities to provide a strong foundation for their future success.

Tedeschi is a Certified Culinary Educator and Certified Chef de Cuisine. He has an associate degree in Culinary Arts from ACCC and has been teaching at the Academy since 1999. His professional experience includes working as sous chef at Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point, sauté chef at Cousins’ Country House in Egg Harbor Township, and as chef/owner of his catering business “Fiddler’s Well Catering.”

Students Pick Coulter as Faculty Member of the Year

Atlantic Cape students chose Assistant Professor of Social Science Carolyn Coulter Faculty Member of the Year. The Somers Point resident joined ACCC in January 2007. She teaches Introduction to Cultural Geography, Principles of Sociology, World Geography and Contemporary Social Problems.

Coulter previously was an adjunct instructor at Reading Area Community College, Drexel University and Temple University. She earned an associate degree from Montgomery County Community College and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in anthropology from Temple University. She is pursuing a Ph.D. at Temple.

Nursing Grads Score High on National Exam

More than 94 percent of ACCC’s 2008 nursing graduates recently passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), well above the average national passing rate of 86.2 percent. Sixty-seven of the 71 ACCC students who took the exam passed and will receive their R.N. license.

ACCC’s two-year nursing degree program prepares students for first-level positions as registered nurses. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates receive an Associate in Applied Science degree and have the educational requirements necessary to take the NCLEX for R.N. licensure.

College Promotes ‘Green’ Initiative

Atlantic Cape embarked on a Green Campus Initiative in 2008, moving the College toward environmental stewardship based on the efficient, responsible and sustainable use of resources.

Some steps include an Energy Master Plan that addresses and implements concepts that support the NJ Energy Master Plan in reducing greenhouse emissions statewide. ACCC also participates in such programs as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Lights and Energy Star Buildings, New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability and New Jersey Smart Start, which has yielded more than $100,000 in rebates and incentives.

ACCC is investigating roof-top mounted photovoltaic solar panels on existing buildings at all three campuses to promote solar energy. In addition, Atlantic Cape is studying the possibility of installing ground mounted solar arrays over some of the parking lot areas. In January 2009, the College received approval from New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program for a rebate of $1.57 million for this work.

College to Expand Athletics Programs

ACCC is placing a new focus on athletics to meet the demand of the increasingly younger student body.

The first change is the addition of an athletics and fitness center manager in spring 2009 who will oversee the implementation of new sports and the new fitness center.

During the 2009-2010 school year, the College will add women’s softball and men’s soccer teams to its intercollegiate offerings. They join men’s and women’s basketball and co-ed archery. Gym renovations and a fitness center will be completed by spring 2010. These changes were recommended by an athletics consultant who evaluated ACCC’s programs.

“The expansion of the intercollegiate program will give students the opportunity to be truly engaged and have a complete college experience,” Carmen Royal, Dean of Students, said. “We have a greater number of younger students now. They come from high schools with great facilities and they expect to come here and see similar facilities.”

ACCC Launches Facebook Page

ACCC has joined the millions of individuals and organizations with pages on the popular social networking site Facebook. ACCC quietly launched its page on April 8. Within a week it had 100 “fans” and has been growing steadily since.

The College Relations staff monitors the page and adds College news, photographs and events daily and initiates discussion threads. Find ACCC on Facebook to see what’s happening at the College!

Registration Under Way for Summer, Fall Classes

The College is accepting registrations for its five summer sessions and the fall semester. Normal in-person registration hours at all campuses are weekdays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., with extended hours to 7 p.m. May 26, June 29 and July 13.

Register online or view an updated schedule of courses. For a free schedule, call (609) 343-5000, 625-1111, ext. 5000, or 463-3958 in Cape May County.

Student Essay to Be Published in English Textbook

An essay written by student Diana Valtierra, 19, was chosen to appear in the next edition of a popular English textbook.

Assistant Professor of English Jay Peterson, who reviewed the upcoming 9th edition of the textbook “Evergreen” by Susan Fawcett, suggested Valtierra’s essay as a model for the book, which is the standard text for the College’s Reading/Writing I classes.

Valtierra’s essay “Quinceañera” is about the traditional coming-of-age celebration held for Hispanic girls when they turn 15. The first-year nursing major who lives in Pleasantville graduated from Atlantic City High School in 2008. Valtierra is a Mexican-American who was born in California.

Class Notes

Annie R. Smith ’73, was inducted in the Atlantic County Women’s Hall of Fame this spring. After graduating from ACCC, she completed undergraduate and graduate studies at then-Glassboro State College and took classes at Rutgers University. Before her retirement, she was an elementary teacher, guidance counselor and assistant principal. Smith was the first African-American woman to serve on Pleasantville City Council. She is a member of Union Baptist Temple Church in Atlantic City and belongs to many civic organizations, including the Atlantic City Business and Professional Negro Women’s Club, the Pleasantville/Mainland Branch NAACP and Phil Delta Kappa Sorority.

Chef Andrew Tuano ’86 ACA, was named executive chef for all food and beverage operations at the Wildwoods Convention Center. Chef Tuano brings years of experience to this multi-faceted position with Well Bread Catering in which he oversees all catering operations, banquets, weddings, parties, corporate functions and concessions for the 260,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art convention and entertainment facility. Chef Tuano most recently was the executive sous chef for Congress Hall Hotel.

Did you graduate from the Academy of Culinary Arts in Spring 1991? If so, a group of former classmates is planning a reunion and wants to hear from you. Contact Stephanie Eberling LaFrenier ’91 ACA at to be included.

ACA graduate Michael P. Williams ’92, was named in Atlantic City Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40. Williams is Executive Restaurant Chef and Culinary Recruiter for Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. After graduating from the ACA, he continued his studies at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and Alain Ducasse Formation in Argenteuil, France. He served as consulting chef for Air Force One and mentors the culinary apprentice and externship programs at Borgata. Williams holds more than 40 competitive medals including two gold medals won at the 2004 Le Salon Culinaire International de Londres in London and a gold medal from the 2008 World Culinary Olympics in Germany. He is active in charity events, fundraising and several advisory boards. He occasionally fills in as an adjunct chef educator at the Academy.

Congratulations to ACA grad Douglas Marandino ’93, of Vineland on his marriage to Andriana Dimitrova of Bulgaria on Oct. 20, 2008, at Isaac Smith Vineyard in Cape May. Both bride and groom are employed by the Washington Inn in Cape May.

ACCC grad Lou Mascioli Jr. ’01, and Cheryl Cowles exchanged wedding vows on Nov. 8, 2008, at St. Martin de Porres Church in Hammonton. A reception followed at The Flanders Hotel in Ocean City. After a honeymoon in the Fijian Islands, the couple is home in Hammonton. The groom is a graduate of Hammonton High School. He received an associate degree in Business Administration from ACCC. He is dispatcher for the New Jersey State Police Troop A headquarters in Buena.

Want to share your news? Send a Class Note to for inclusion in the quarterly electronic newsletter.

From Hammering to Heart Surgeon

When Don Crescenzo was in the seventh and eighth grades, he thought he wanted to be a doctor. But while attending Hammonton High School, from which he graduated in 1976, he became interested in pursuing a career as a carpenter.

“I changed my educational focus to a technical vocation and did not take any college prep courses,” he said. “I worked as a carpenter until 1979 and was doing well until the prime rate rose above 20 percent and the building industry became depressed. I started thinking about going to college to become a doctor, but I could not get into a four-year school due to my [poor] high school grades.”

Don Crescenzo

His father suggested he attend ACC (now ACCC), which changed his life. “I spent two years as a biology major, which allowed me to get accepted into Loyola College in Baltimore,” he said. “I graduated in 1982 with a double major in biology and computer science. In 1984, I was accepted into Georgetown University School of Medicine and graduated in 1988. My high school guidance counselor is still in a state of shock.”

During the next seven years, Crescenzo trained in general surgery. He spent two of those years in the lab at the Food and Drug Administration/National Institute of Health facility in Bethesda, Md., as a National Academy of Science Fellow. He finished his general surgery instruction in 1995 and spent the next three years at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., training to become a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Crescenzo currently is in practice in Toledo, Ohio, as a cardiothoracic surgeon for the ProMedica Health System—the seventh largest integrated health system in the country. He is part of a three-person team, handling between 200 to 230 open heart cases and 130 lung cases per year. He owes it all to ACCC, which gave him a shot at the brass ring when no other school would.

“I will forever be indebted to ACCC for allowing me to realize my dream.”

ACCC Restaurant Gala Reaches $2 Million Milestone

The ACCC Restaurant Gala marked its 26th anniversary by surpassing the $2 million milestone for scholarships raised in the event’s history. The March 12 Gala included 40 of the best restaurants from the region and raised $200,000 for student scholarships.

culinary student

Bally’s Atlantic City hosted the annual fundraiser, which featured the island-inspired theme “A Taste of Paradise.” The event showcased the talents of the culinary students at the Academy of Culinary Arts, who prepared thousands of sumptuous hot and cold hors d’oeuvres served during cocktail hour. A dessert extravaganza capped off the evening.

The 27th annual Gala will be held March 11, 2010, at Bally’s Atlantic City. For more information on the Restaurant Gala, visit

Stay Connected and Make a Difference

It may have been several years, even decades, since you’ve been on campus or talked to former classmates, but the ACCC Foundation and Alumni Association offer numerous ways for graduates to stay involved with and give back to the College.


ACCC Seeks Alumni Success Stories

Atlantic Cape is always interested in hearing from its graduates. Alumni are encouraged to share personal and career highlights with the College by e-mailing or visiting Tell us what you’ve been up to!

Become an ACCC Alumni Association Member

Membership in the ACCC Alumni Association, which is open to all students who have received a degree or completed the culinary arts program, provides you discounts and benefits while keeping you informed about the people, programs and events at your alma mater.

Some benefits include:

  • A 20 percent discount to Carême’s, the gourmet student-run restaurant at the Mays Landing Campus.
  • A 10 percent discount at Follett campus bookstores, excluding textbooks and food items.
  • Free use of the ACCC Career Center and College libraries.
  • An electronic newsletter, e-mailed to you quarterly.

If you’re not already an Alumni Association member, call (609) 343-5616 to join, or visit for more membership information. Annual membership dues are $15; lifetime memberships are $150.

Consider a Gift to the Atlantic Cape Community College Foundation

As you probably remember, community college students are a hard-working bunch! At Atlantic Cape, more than 80 percent of students work full or part time while attending classes. ACCC students are more likely to be from lower-income families, be single parents or be the first in their family to attend college. More than 50 percent of Atlantic Cape students depend on some form of financial aid to afford our very reasonable tuition and fees. You can imagine that in these recessionary times, many of Atlantic Cape students are struggling to make ends meet.

You can make a difference in the lives of many, some, or even one student at Atlantic Cape through a gift of any size to the Atlantic Cape Community College Foundation. The ACCC Foundation is a separately incorporated 501(c)(3) public charity whose volunteer board members raise financial support in scholarships and grants-in-aid for needy Atlantic Cape students and for educational endeavors at the College. Gifts and donations are tax deductible, as allowed by law.

There are many ways to give. Here are a few options you might consider:

  • Give online. You can donate online at
  • Make a matching gift. Your employer may double or even triple your gift through its matching program. Ask your Human Resources representative if your company has such a program. Gifts and the matching gift application may be sent to the ACCC Foundation, 5100 Black Horse Pike, Mays Landing, NJ 08330.
  • Donate through the Public Employees Charitable Campaign (PECC). This fall, during the United Way campaign period, you can designate the ACCC Foundation to receive your gift through PECC. For donor number and more information, contact Jennifer Martucci at 609-463-4511 or

  • Remember ACCC in your will. If you’re thinking of updating your will or changing your estate plans, consider a gift to the ACCC Foundation. To learn more about the benefits of including the ACCC Foundation in your will, contact Maria Kellett at (609) 463-3670, or
  • Set up an endowed scholarship fund. If you’d like to honor a loved one or provide a permanent memorial for a family member or friend, consider an endowed scholarship gift. With a minimum of $10,000 you can be sure that every year a scholarship will be given to a deserving and qualified ACCC student in that person’s name. Contact Maria Kellett at (609) 463-3670, or to learn more.