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November 2012 Archives

Eastern Hosts COPLAC Conference

COPLAC logo.jpgFifteen Eastern students and alumni were among more than 140 presenters at the Third Annual Northeast Regional Undergraduate Research Conference, held on Oct. 26 in the Betty R. Tipton Room. The conference was sponsored by the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC).

Eastern President Elsa Núñez greeted the conference participants, telling the young scholars, "I see a sea of explorers all on a quest," adding that undergraduate research benefits both students and faculty, "whether it is because it allows faculty to have research support that they otherwise might not have; whether it is that students provide perspectives and an intellectual context that pushes faculty to strengthen their research; or whether it is that faculty are inspired and motivated by working with young, curious, intelligent minds. At the end of the day, everyone benefits from having faculty work closely with their students on their research and creative activity."

Eastern students and alumni participating in the COPLAC conference included Eric Conn, a biology major from Moriches, NY; MacKenzie Robert, a biology major from Stonington; Thomas Farnsworth, a psychology major from Northford; Eric Lindquist '08, an environmental earth science major interning with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; Rosie Manzo '12, of Hudson, MA, who majored in sociology and minored in Spanish and Renewable Energy; Charles Hooper, a non-traditional student from Coventry majoring in business information systems (BIS); Nels Frantzen, a political science major from Colchester; Raena Beetham, a psychology major from Oakdale; David Stein, a biology major from Easton, PA; Ariel Levesque, an early childhood education and psychology major from South Kent; Erin Murphy, an early childhood education and psychology major from Marlborough; and Suzanne Slater, an early childhood education and psychology major from Brooklyn, CT; Margaret Pallis an English major from Tolland; Vincent Aloia '12, from Marlborough majoring in visual arts; and Carolina Galvez of Manchester, majoring in visual arts.

Faculty mentors included Biology Professor Patricia Szczys; Psychology Professor James Diller; Fred Loxsom, retired chair of sustainable energy studies; Sociology Professor Kimberly Dugan; BIS Professor Don Petkov; Philosophy Professor Hope Fitz; Psychology Professor Alita Cousins; Education Professor Sudha Swaminathan; English Professor Maureen McDonnell; and Biology Professor Joshua Idjadi.

Founded in 1988, COPLAC has 25 members. Institutions participating in the conference included Keene State College, The State University of New York at Geneseo, University of Maine-Farmington, Massachusetts College of the Liberal Arts, Ramapo College of New Jersey and Eastern.

President Núñez Presented "Transforming Lives Award"


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(left to right) Candida Flores, Family Life Education's executive director, presents the Transforming Lives Award to Eastern President Elsa Núñez.

On Nov. 3, Eastern President Elsa Núñez received the 2012 Transforming Lives Award from Hartford-based Family Life Education during its 25th anniversary gala at the Connecticut Convention Center.

In accepting the award, Núñez talked about the challenges and struggles that Latinos have faced in Connecticut and the impact that education can have on a person's life. "When someone in a Puerto Rican family, an African American family, or an inner-city student from a low-income family is the first family member to attend college, it not only transforms one life," she said. "Graduating from college tells a student, 'Yes you can.'  It tells his or her family, 'We are strong.'  It tells an entire neighborhood, 'We can succeed.'  It is like a pebble tossed into still water -- it ripples and ripples, until it reaches all shores."

 "President Núñez is a powerful example of career achievement for Family Life Education clients, especially the girls and women who are served by our organization," said Candida Flores, Family Life Education's executive director. "She has devoted her entire career to the field of education, with special attention to supporting communities of color obtain access to higher learning, including the development of a program identifying Hartford students who have the capacity to succeed academically."

Eastern's Chorale Presents Alumni Reunion Concert


belles chorale.jpgOn Oct. 27, Eastern's choral program celebrated its 10th anniversary with a special concert featuring the Eastern Concert Chorale and Chamber Singers. The "Alumni Reunion Concert" included approximately 40 former Chorale singers as well as the world premiere of Nicholas White's "Te Deum," which was commissioned especially for the occasion.

"What an outstanding day filled with terrific music," said David Belles, professor of music and director of vocal studies. "It was great to have so many former singers return to share the stage with us, and to commemorate the occasion with the world premiere of a composition written specifically for the Eastern Concert Chorale was a thrill.  It was a great time to reflect on the tremendous growth of the choral program during the past 10 years. To celebrate a decade of making music with so many outstanding people was humbling indeed."

M'Bemba Bangoura Performs at Eastern

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m'memba bangoura dancers.jpgInternationally-renowned master drummer M'Bemba Bangoura led a class in West African Dance during Eastern's University Hour on Oct. 24 in the Betty R. Tipton Room. "Everyone had a positive, engaging and uplifting experience learning about and experiencing the culture of Guinea, West Africa," said Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of the Intercultural Center.


Faith vs. Science Compatable or in Conflict


faith vs science father larry and hope fitz.jpgOn Oct. 16, Eastern hosted a panel, "Faith vs. Science Combatable or in Conflict." The panelists, who included Campus Ministry Father Laurence LaPointe and Physical Science Professor Swanson, explored the topics of science and religion, and whether they are capable of co-existing with one another.


faith vs science two students.jpgEastern student Emily Hattestad, who organized the panel discussion, said it was designed "to foster a sense of communication on campus and provoke a stimulating, but civil conversation around faith versus science." Above, Father LaPointe makes a point, while students Todd Aviles and Andrew Joseph listen.

George O'Krepkie Discusses "Trading Fixed Income Securities"


okrepkie speaking.jpgStudents, faculty and staff packed the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room on Oct. 25 to hear George O'Krepkie, president of Bonds.com Group, Inc. and a member of the firm's board of directors, discuss "Trading Fixed Income Securities." Before joining Bonds.com Group, Inc., O'Krepkie was the head of dealer relationship management at MarketAxess Inc. He also served as the director of Fixed Income, BTIG. O'Krepkie began his focus in electronic trading at Trading Edge, which merged into MarketAxess. Business Administration Professor Chiaku Chukwuogor sponsored his visit to campus.

Eastern Helps Textile Museum Present "End of an Era" Exhibition


End of an Era-smokestackwreckingball (2).jpgOn Nov. 9 the Artspace Gallery in Willimantic hosted the opening reception of an exhibit by Visual Arts Professor June Bisantz and History Lecturer Jamie Eves, titled "End of an Era: Past Identity/Future Vision." The exhibition is being presented by the Windham Textile and History Museum at Artspace through Dec. 3.

The exhibition is supported by an AAUP-CSU Research Grant. Publicity materials were designed by Eastern digital art and design students. "End of an Era" features large photographs by Connecticut artist Harrison Judd depicting the American Thread Mill Smokestack as the last symbol of Willimantic's industrial past. The smokestack defined Willimantic's identity until fall 2011, when storm damage forced its demolition. The exhibition documents the demolition from the first hit of the wrecking ball to the last pile of bricks.


The exhibition's catalog features an essay by Eves, who is also the executive director of the Windham Textile and History Museum, along with a short essay by Maurice Sendak, recently deceased author and illustrator.  For more information on the exhibit, contact Eves, at (860) 456-2178 or via e-mail evesj@easternct.edu or themillmuseum@gmail.com.


Theatre Students Perform "Biloxi Blues"


biloxi blues.jpgThe Theatre Program at Eastern presented the Neil Simon autobiography, "Biloxi Blues," in Harry Hope Theatre on Oct. 18-21 and Oct. 23-24.


Written by Simon as the second in his autobiographical trilogy and directed by Theatre Professor Ellen Faith Brodie, "Biloxi Blues" was set during World War II, but presented young people in challenging situations similar to those experienced in today's world -- bigotry, sexual identity, one's readiness for combat in war and everyday life. Brodie says what excited her about directing this play was that the play reminded her "We also have the ability to transcend and forgive ourselves and others, and importantly, learn from the past to make a better future."


"Biloxi Blues" was the first of the Harry Hope Theatre's season of shows for the fall 2012 semester. Above, Stephanie Madden and Jesse Mercer during their first meeting at the USO dance during WWII in Neil Simon's "Biloxi Blues," directed by Ellen Faith Brodie.


Eastern Hosts Core Ensemble for "Tres Vidas" Performance

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Byron Sean on piano; Tahirah Whittington on cello; Almanzar; and Michael Parola on percussion perform in "Tres Vidas."

Eastern hosted the chamber music theatre group Core Ensemble for a theatrical performance of the production "Tres Vidas" (Three Lives) on Nov. 1 in Shafer Auditorium. "Tres Vidas," written by Chilean poet/writer Marjorie Agosin, celebrates the lives of three legendary Latin American women: Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Salvadoran peasant activist Rufina Amaya and Argentine poet Alfonsina Storni.

The play involves music ranging from traditional Mexican folk and Argentine tango songs sung in Spanish to instrumental works by composers such as Astor Piazzolla and Osvaldo Golijov. Actress Roseanne Almanzar portrayed the three legendary Latinas while interacting with the onstage musical trio on cello, piano and percussion.

Eastern Presents "A Glimpse into Akus"

akus opening-visitors.jpg"A Glimpse into Akus," an exhibit with selections from the University's permanent collection, opened on Oct. 25 and runs through Dec. 18.  A reception was held on Nov. 1.


akus glimpse-Profiles with Bird.JPG "A Glimpse into Akus is a series of paintings, sculpture, mixed media and work on paper featuring the work of numerous artists," said Roxanne Deojay, Akus Gallery coordinator. Featured artists include Adam Baer, Guillaume Cornelis Van Beverloo, Colette Butterick, Michael Cipriano, Laura Fragua-Cota, Sue Fuller, Ceci Garcia, Serge Geffrard, John Gregoropoulos, Hugh Kelly, Robert Kiley, Jae-Im Kim, Norman Laliberte, Bonnie Lucas, Bridget Lynch, Bartolome Mayol, Augustus Mazzocca, Laurie Sloan, Estella Tedeschi, David Teft, Frank Trapp, Marie Wheeler, Hale Aspacio Woodruff, Nahum Tschacbasov and Irene Tsachcbasov Zevon. "It's a really fine representation of Eastern's collection, excluding the most recent acquisitions," said Deojay.

The Akus Gallery is located in the lower level of Shafer Hall at the corner of Windham and Valley Streets in Willimantic.  Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 1 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays, and 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call (860) 465-4659 or visit www.easternct.edu/akusgallery.

Self Defense Anyone?

martial arts-jessic oliverira and DiGuseppi.jpgOn Nov. 5, in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center, Eastern's Martial Arts Club provided students, faculty and staff with a Chinese martial arts demonstration. The event offered a variety of techniques in self-defense strategies and ways to combine physical health and fitness with mental and spiritual development. Presentations included a Wing Chun Kung Fu Master seminar, women's self-defense and cardio kickboxing and self-defense, offered by Eastern's Campus Police. Above, student Jessica Oliveira spars with instructor Andy DiGuseppi of the Connecticut Wing Chun Academy in Waterbury, while Eastern police officer Bruce Tyler demonstrates how to fall safely to students.

Eastern Unites or a Great Cause

bonemarrowbanner_4945.jpgOn Oct. 23, more than 700 Eastern students, faculty and staff, as well as alumni, friends and visitors from as far away as Bristol, Newington and towns in Massachusetts participated in a bone marrow drive coordinated by the Eastern men's soccer team and "Be The Match," a non-profit organization specializing in helping bone marrow transplant patients and their families.  The drive was held to increase awareness about the need for donors and specifically in response to the medical condition of Eastern student-athlete Jon DeCasanova.

DeCasanova is currently waiting for a bone marrow transplant due to a condition called aplastic anemia.  The life-threatening illness prevents the body from producing sufficient red and white blood cells as well as platelets. Bone marrow generates three types of blood cells: red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to all parts of the body; white blood cells, which protect the body from germs; and platelets needed for blood to clot. 

"Jon's condition has put everything in perspective for all of us," said Greg DeVito, head coach for Eastern's men's soccer team. "Jon's teammates are dealing with it the best that they can. For most of them, it's the first time they've seen anyone their age sick like this."

At the blood marrow drive, 624 new donors underwent a painless cheek swab to have their DNA added to the national registry.

All members of the men's soccer team and other student-athletes donated their time to help with set up, registration, promotion and monitoring of the testing.  "It was like a well-oiled machine," said DeVito.  "Student-athletes stood up in their classes to announce the drive; created a Facebook event; individually passed out thousands of flyers promoting the event; built attention in front of the Student Center with a bullhorn and air horn; put up posters in the dining hall, the Student Center, dormitories and academic buildings; and took turns greeting and registering potential donors and conducting the actual tests."

"It was touching to see how so many individuals helped as one," said student-athlete volunteer Chris Giustina. "Once we explained how important it was to register, people were really willing to help."  

"Jon feels that it's not about him," says DeVito of DeCasanonva, who has been a starter on Eastern's men's soccer team since being recruited prior to DeVito's third season. "Jon is hoping that maybe this can help someone else. He's thinking about others."


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