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December 2012 Archives

Victoria Leigh Soto '08: We Will Never Forget You

Thumbnail image for victoria soto graduates.jpgOn Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, Eastern Connecticut State University alumna Victoria Leigh Soto '08 lost her life protecting the children in her first-grade classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, from an assailant who shot and killed 20 children and six teachers at the school that day. 

Victoria Soto was a dean's list student while she attended Eastern and graduated with high honors as an elementary education and history double major. "Our faculty remembers Vicki as a joy to be with, an exemplary student who was committed to nurturing young lives," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Her dream job was to teach children in the primary grades. She died protecting those children. She is being hailed throughout the world as a hero. We will never forget her."

In honor of Soto and her heroism, the University has announced the creation of the Victoria Leigh Soto Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund to support Eastern students studying to be teachers who have unmet financial need.  For information, visit www.easternct.edu/advancement/victoria_soto.html



Donations may be directed to:
Victoria Leigh Soto Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund
ECSU Foundation, Inc.
Eastern Connecticut State University
83 Windham Street
Willimantic, CT  06226
ATTN: Kenneth J. DeLisa
Vice President for Institutional Advancement

To contribute online, visit https://eweb.easternct.edu/wfbprod/bwakngft.P_Make_A_Donation2. After filling out the first screen, you will be directed to a second screen to select a designation for their gift.  On the dropdown menu, choose "Victoria Leigh Soto Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund."

Thumbnail image for sotto vigil- candles.jpgOn Dec. 17, several hundred students, faculty and staff joined President Elsa Núñez for a candlelight vigil at the Foster Clock Tower to honor Victoria Soto.

Executive Vice President Pernal Retires

pernal1.JPGStudents, faculty, staff and friends packed the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room in the J. Eugene Smith Library on Dec. 6 to say farewell to Executive Vice President Michael Pernal. Pernal is retiring on Feb.1, 2013, after more than 43 years of distinguished and dedicated service to Eastern.  Eastern President Elsa Núñez hosted the retirement reception.  "Few of us have the opportunity to make an impact on an organization or institution the way Dr. Pernal has," said Núñez. "Mike Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for pernal2.JPGhas made a lasting contribution to the growth and success of our University. Through his expertise, patience, fairness, and integrity, Mike has brought stability and innovation to our campus and state.  His loyalty to Eastern and his colleagues, his professionalism, and his character have served Eastern well." 

"Dr. Pernal, you have left an indelible imprint on this University. You are a big part of why Eastern is where we are today.  You will never be forgotten by your friends and colleagues."

Yale Medical School Visits Eastern

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for cherisse.JPGRepresentatives from Yale School of Medicine's Office of Multicultural Affairs visited campus on Nov. 29 to speak with more than 30 Eastern students about the process for applying to Yale's School of Medicine. The well-earned reputation of Eastern's Biology Department over the years and the success of Eastern students who have enrolled in Yale's Medical School precipitated the visit. While the majority of Eastern student present were biology majors, there were also majors present from the psychology, health and physical education and business departments.

Charisse Mandimika and Dionne Rudison, two fourth-year Yale Medical School (YMS) students explained the admissions process, which includes use of the common graduate school application and an intensive on-campus interview for selected applicants. In any Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for dionne.JPGgiven year, YMS receives approximately 4,000 applications and grants interviews to approximately 800 students. Of that, 150 are accepted and the final entering class is capped at 100. Mandimika was on last year's Admissions Committee; Rudison is on this year's committee. YMS is unique in that students on the admissions committee have full voting rights. The application process has a 16-month window; students wishing to enter in fall 2014 should apply Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for mrs jackson.JPGby May 2013. The program is four years in length, but students routinely interrupt their studies to perform community service and other activities, resulting in a typical five-year completion cycle. "I just encourage anyone applying to be themselves, be passionate about wanting to be a doctor, and find a way to point out your uniqueness in your application," said Mandimika.

Linda Jackson, program coordinator for Yale School of Medicine's Office of Multicultural Affairs, described the school's summer programs, which include the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program. Yale School of Medicine is one of 12 sites of the program, a national program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Approximately 80 college students and graduates who want to attend medical school students attend the Yale program each summer, gaining exposure over a six-week period to science, clinical medicine, and career counseling. This year's program runs June 8-July 19, 2013.

Eastern's Music Program Entertains the Community

Chorale-wide shot.jpgEastern's Concert Chorale, Chamber Singers, Concert Band and Percussion Ensemble all recently performed to appreciative audiences on campus and in Willimantic. The Chorale and Chamber Singers, accompanied by several members of the Concert Band, performed a Winter Concert at St. Joseph's Church in Willimantic on Dec. 4. Music highlights included pieces dating from the 16th century to the present; music for antiphonal choirs with a brass ensemble from Eastern Concert Band; renaissance motets; and contemporary spirituals, all conducted by Music Professor David Belles. The concert was a blend of choral/orchestral masterworks presented by the chorale ensemble, chamber music from more than four centuries sung by the chamber singers, and classic band literature and challenging works from contemporary composers contributed by members of the Concert Band.

percussion ensemble-wide shot.jpgEastern's Percussion Ensemble performed on Dec. 8 in Shafer Hall. The ensemble, conducted by Jeffrey Calissi, professor of music, encompasses a broad spectrum of musical styles, from original and transcribed works in the percussion and marimba ensemble repertoire, to traditional West African hand drumming. Above, right to left, Ensemble performers pictured above are Clint Gosselin, Brittany Gould, Michael French, Arnold Fraccaroli, Chelsea Dauphinais, Alex Owen, Lindsey Martel and Paul Kamenitsky. Not pictured is Chelsea Dauphinai.

Concert band-BEST BEST wide shot.jpgOn Dec. 5, the Eastern Concert Band, directed by Professor Kathryn Niemasik, presented a concert in Shafer Auditorium.  The repertoire consisted of seasonal compositions by well-known composers such as Gustav Holst, Leroy Anderson, Claude T. Smith and P.I. Tchaikovsky, among others.  A highlight of the evening was the presentation of "Dance of the Reed Pipes," featuring student flutists Elise Couillard, Morgan Falcone, Mellisa Melaragno, Sarah Rand and Judy Reid.  Eastern Concert Band is almost 90 musicians strong and continues to welcome new students. Don't miss the Spring concert on April 24, 2013.

English Department Hosts English Night

English Night-Campo Award winner holdridge and McNeil.jpgRebecca Holdridge '13, a senior majoring in English, was named recipient of the Constance Campo Scholarship on Dec. 5 during "English Night" in the Paul E. Johnson Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library.  Holdridge maintains a GPA of 3.98 and is the vice president of the Eastern chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the national English honor society, and also serves as secretary of Eastern's chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society.

The Constance Campo Scholarship was established in memory of Constance Campo, a longtime member of the English Department staff.  The scholarship is presented to a non-traditional student who has demonstrated excellence in his or her studies, and is awarded to someone who has shown sensitivity to gender and diversity issues, as did Campo. Holdridge currently is a teacher's assistant to English Professor Reginald Flood in his African American Literature class, and is enrolled in the Immigrant American Literature class for her senior seminar. During the spring 2012 semester, she held an internship with English Professor Jian-Zhong Lin, where she worked on "The Connecticut Review," a literary journal published by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities.

English Night- sigma tau delta inductees.jpgTodd Mitnick won the department's First Year Writing Award for his work "Unforeseen Faith." Honorable Mention went to Kyle Marrotte for her work, "A Call for the Immediate Repeal of Copyright." Shelbie Greene presented, "Structural Conceptual Metaphors Illustrate the Futility and Immorality of Capitalism in Keep the Aspidistra Flying." Lisa Petropoulos presented, "A Testimony to the Trauma of the Cambodian Genocide: Silence and 'Talking Back' in Loung Ung's Memoir First They Killed My Father." Adam Phelps presented, "Conceptual Metaphor in M.T. Anderson's Feed ." Above, "Constance Campo Scholarship" winner Rebecca Holdridge with English Department chair Kenneth McNeil, and inductees into the Sigma Tau Delta English honor society pose for a photograph. Inductees included Adam Phelps, Rebecca Holdridge, Angela DiLella, Emily Story, Anna Sobanski, Eric Alan, Nathan Babinski, Kaylin Brennan, Nicole Bruno, Alyssa Clark, Caitlin Emerson, Shelbie Greene, Kevin Jacobsen, Kaitlyn Kennedy, Megan Kennett, Ashley Kus, Katie Levis, Tricia Murray, Anna Sobanski and Kristen Wheeler.

Theatre Students Present "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot"

DSC_5742.jpgEastern's Theatre Program and Drama Society presented "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" by Stephen Adly Guirgis, in the Harry Hope Theatre in Shafer Hall. The play, directed by Professor David Pellegrini, was performed Nov. 29-Dec. 1 and Dec. 2, 4 and 5. New York Times critic Ben Brantley said, "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" ". . . is nothing less than the conflict between divine mercy and human free will."

Jews, Christians and Muslims Together

christians, jews and muslims together- wagner lspoint stoloff.jpgEastern's Campus Ministry and the Hoboken, NJ-based Peace Islands Institute hosted a panel discussion on Nov. 28 in the Science Building that addressed the traditional faith tradition of Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Muslims. Titled "Beginning to Talk: Jews, Christians and Muslims Together," the panel featured the Campus Ministry's Rev. Laurence LaPointe;  David Stoloff, professor of education and director of Eastern's Center for Educational Excellence; Rev. Walter Wagner, adjunct professor of church history, New Testament, and world religions at Moravian Theological Seminary, Moravian College, and the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia; and Neset Ulusa, who is in the Islamic Chaplaincy Graduate Certificate Program of the Hartford Seminary, and is the Muslim Chaplain intern at Eastern.  

The discussion used a tool for interfaith dialogue, "Dialogue Decalogue," designed by Leonard Swidler, professor of Catholic Thought and Interreligious Dialogue at Temple University and founder/president of the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church.  "Dialogue Decalogue" sets out 10 commandments to use to foster understanding between people of differing religious faiths as well as other philosophical beliefs.  Commandment One is "the primary purpose is to learn something about yourself and the others with whom you are talking."  In that spirit, each panelist spoke about their own tradition and how their religion, or how they personally, approach ways to find understanding. 

Two English Professors Recognized

flood.jpgReginald Flood, associate professor of English and coordinator of the African American Studies Program at Eastern, has been named the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Announced on Nov. 27, the fellowship brings with it a cash award of $25,000.

Competition for the grant is rigorous. Of 1,173 applications, only 40 received grants.

"This award is a testament to the quality of Professor Flood's work and his commitment to his scholarship," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "His dedication to his students is a further reminder of why we are so fortunate to have him at Eastern."

NEA fellowships enable recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel and general career advancement.  Flood says he is thrilled. "I feel this award is validation for a writing project of mine that pushes some boundaries." Flood's first book, "Coffle," was published in March 2012. A collection of poems written in traditional forms that complement canonical slave narratives, "Coffle" is the first in what Flood hopes will be a trilogy. "I did not know how poems about Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass or Mary Prince would be received; it is gratifying to know some careful readers found they had value." Flood said he plans to use the fellowship to extend his sabbatical into the summer, and will travel to conduct research for the second collection of poetry in his trilogy, "There is Still War in the World."

"There is Still War in the World" focuses on slave narratives recorded during the Great Depression as part of the Works Progress Administration Federal Writer's Project (WPA). "The fellowship will give me the financial ability to retrace the journey many of the former slaves made from Mississippi to Arkansas as slaves before they were freed," said Flood.

Thumbnail image for kmc.jpgKenneth McNeil, professor of English and chair of the English Department, has published a chapter in a new book on Sir Walter Scott. "The Edinburgh Companion to Sir Walter Scott," published by Edinburgh University Press. The publisher says the book, edited by Fiona Robertson, is considered to "the most concentrated and wide-ranging study of Walter Scott's work available; the first collection of its kind devoted to Scott's work. It draws on the innovative research which has revitalized the study of Scott's exceptionally diverse writing in recent years."

Barbara McClintock Speaks

mcClintock wide shot.jpgElementary education students, parents of children enrolled in Eastern's Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC), faculty and community members gathered at  the CFDRC on Nov. 28 to hear award-winning children's illustrator Barbara McClintock give a book talk and book signing in the CFDRC's Joinery.  McClintock discussed how she got into the children's book industry; described the lengthy process of doing an illustration for a book; and explained the genesis for her latest book, "Leave Your Sleep," which is a collaborative project with singer Natalie Merchant. The book of classic children's poems includes a CD with the poems set to music by Merchant.

Athletes Gather PJs and Toys for Local Children

pajama drive- softball and track  (2).JPGFrom Dec. 3-7, 56 members of Eastern's softball and track teams collected 75 pairs of pajamas and $450 in donations to present to the local chapter of the local pajama program. "We held this all week and the campus community was very generous," said head softball coach Diana Pepin. "The athletes enjoyed being part of something bigger."

On Nov. 27, members of Eastern's field hockey and women's lacrosse teams organized a toy drive, asking the campus community to bring at least one unwrapped toy to the men's and women's basketball games on Nov. 27. The Eastern family responded, dropping off toys at the Sports Center right up through Dec. 7. Both basketball teams and their Toy Drive 2.jpgfamilies donated toys, as did the teams and families of the field hockey and women's lacrosse teams. "We also had numerous toys donated from the faculty and staff at Eastern," said Christine Hutchison, head field hockey and women's lacrosse coach. "We collected 73 new toys, not just beanie babies or match box cars, but a Lego set, Play Doh pizza maker, Lazer Tag, action cars, Melissa & Doug dolls, and more. We donated the toys to the Holy Family Home and Shelter on Jackson Street in Willimantic. Any toys they do not use will go to Windham Area Interfaith Ministries (WAIM)."

The Gift of Life: The Eastern American Red Cross Blood Drive

blood drive-carson and kwakye'14 7078.jpgEastern held its second Red Cross Blood Drive of the academic year on Dec. 4 and 5 in the Betty R. Tipton Room, with 150 students, faculty, staff and area residents donating 125 productive pints. In addition, 39 volunteers worked 55 hours helping with donor recruitment, check-ins and the popular canteen. "I am consistently impressed with the students' willingness to give blood," said Irene Cretella, administrative assistant in Student Affairs and blood drive coordinator. "I am very impressed with both the number of students who donate, but also with the students themselves when I talk to them after their donations. I would also like to encourage all donors to spread the word about the importance of donating and how good they feel about doing it."

For more information on future Red Cross blood drives at Eastern, visit www.redcrossblood.org  (code Eastern) or contact Cretella at (860) 465-0090 or cretellai@easternct.edu.

Bone Marrow Drive Continues

sports- soccer player - group2_8x10_300dpi_9006.jpgCampers and clinicians gathered at the conclusion of the free soccer clinic staged on Dec. 10 at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium by the Eastern men's soccer program and Major League Soccer's FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz (at center in back in above photo) A bone marrow donor, Seitz joined the Eastern community for its second bone marrow drive in two months to support Eastern senior soccer player Jon DeCasanova, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia this past summer. Seitz spent the day at Eastern after flying in from Dallas. He assisted in the organization of the clinic and signed autographs for the 50 youngsters in attendance. Anyone wishing to help defray the costs of Jon DeCasanova's treatment should contact Eastern head men's soccer coach Greg DeVito at (860) 465-4334.

Day of Giving

                  day of giving volunteers grup shot.jpg     day of giving pepin and cowles-lacy.jpg

On Nov. 21, Eastern hosted its sixth annual "Day of Giving" Thanksgiving dinner for community members who are patrons of local soup kitchens, senior centers and other social service agencies. More than 500 local residents enjoyed the Thanksgiving meal, which took place in Hurley Hall. In addition, $2,653 was raised towards food contributions to local food pantries, and more than 4,500 canned goods were collected. 

                 day of giving two boys.jpg     day of giving howarth pernal gomez.jpg

Even though the meal didn't begin until noon, people were arriving at 10 a.m., and when the doors opened early at 11:30 a.m., the line was out the front door to Hurley Hall.  More than 50 student, faculty, staff and alumni volunteered to serve more than 450 pounds of turkey, 20 gallons of gravy, 200 pounds of potatoes and vegetables and 400 pieces of pie, along with other traditional Thanksgiving fixings.

"This is such a special day," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez.  "It feels like Christmas, doesn't it? You can just feel so much joy in the room, and it seems like the crowd gets bigger every year. It's truly become a celebration for our entire town to enjoy. One thing we tend to forget is that by serving this meal today, the staff at the Covenant Soup Kitchen gets the day off from their normal lunch preparations. They can take a breather as they get ready for Thanksgiving Day tomorrow."

                 day of giving howarth.jpg     day of giving-Edith prague Volunteering at Day of Giving Nov. 21, 2012.jpg

The Day of Giving was started by Jason Budahazy '09 in 2007. This year, students Elise Davis, a senior from Warwick, RI; Elliott Woolworth, a junior from Bristol; Max Goto, a senior from Hamden; and Yollaine Kaja, a freshman from Naugatuck, helped coordinate the event. They enlisted community-wide support from the Windham school system, the Windham Housing Authority, and area nonprofits to get the word out to local residents. In addition to the Thanksgiving meal, a large-scale food drive took place in the local community as well as on the Eastern campus. Students from clubs and residence halls spent the past five weekends collecting donations at participating grocery stores including Ted's IGA, the Willimantic Food Co-Op, Highland Park of Coventry, Willimantic's Stop & Shop, the East Brook Mall, Main Street Café, the Lebanon Green Market, Wal-Mart and Bob's IGA. All food items were donated to the Northeast Food Collaborative, which consists of local food charities such as the Covenant Soup Kitchen, Access Agency, Catholic Charities and others.

"This has really become a community event," said Kim Silcox, director of the Center for Community Engagement. "This year, for instance, we had four people who had participated in the Day of Giving in the past as homeless clients in recovery programs return to us as volunteers, healthier and ready to give back to the community."

"Our clients look forward to this event each year," said Paul Doyle, executive director of the Covenant Soup Kitchen. "They have been asking about it since September. Of course, we see many of them each day for lunch, but this is a special meal just for them, a chance for them to celebrate a holiday with others.  They are treated so well--it's a truly special day for them."  Doyle also explained that the canned-goods drive helps the soup kitchen and other beneficiaries "get through the holidays and well into the spring. It really sets us up for the year." Doyle also thanked the Eastern students who volunteer at the soup kitchen on a regular basis -- 150 to 200 a month.  "We could not provide the services we do without them."
Jacqui de Cormier is an Americorps VISTA staffed for the year to Eastern's Center for Community Engagement. Her job is to facilitate community service projects for Eastern students.  A native of Bolton and a Stonehill College graduate, she plans to begin a master's in social work program in the Boston area next fall. "One women came up to me just to give me a hug and a 'thank you,'" said de Cormier. "I don't even know who she was. This event is another way Eastern is creating bridges between the students and the community. For me, it's a unique opportunity to help Eastern build relationships, and I am so proud of all the hard work our volunteers are putting into the program."

Iraqi Treasure Revealed

IMG_8591.JPGAn audience of 350 people enjoyed a history lesson on the "Cradle of Civilization" from U.S. Marine Colonel Matthew Bogdanos on Nov. 15 in the Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. Bogdanos, a district attorney in New York City and a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, recounted his work as the lead investigator into the looting of the Iraq National Museum in April 2003.

In a slide show based on his book, "Thieves of Baghdad: One Marine's Passion to Recover the World'sIMG_8592.JPG Greatest Stolen Treasures," Bogdanos detailed the historical significance of the Mesopotamian region, which included the civilizations of Babylon, Assyria, Sumer and others spanning more than 6,000 years.

Recalling the words of the Greek playwright Sophocles, "He who neglects the arts when he is young has lost the past and is dead to the future," Bogdanos said that the antiquities housed in the Iraq National Museum were perhaps the greatest collection of historical artifacts in the world, and constituted part of our own cultural history. Looters -- amateurs, professionals and insiders -- took thousands of priceless antiquities from the museum during a three-day period in April 2003.  Due to the diligence and investigative skill of Bogdanos and his international team, more than 6,000 of the museum's treasures were recovered from 19 countries over a five-year period. While much of the recovery took place in Iraq, Bogdanos uncovered an elaborate international market run by professionals, with multi-million dollar bids by private collectors. He also determined that stolen antiquities' trafficking was helping to fund terrorist operations.

The museum, called "Saddam's Gift Shop" by the Iraqi people, had been closed to the public by Saddam Hussein in 1980. When Hussein lost power in the spring of 2003, the wrath of the Iraqi people resulted in violence against anything connected to his regime. Two of the most significant items taken and later recovered were the Mask of Warka and the Bassetki Statue. The Mask of Warka is 5,000 years old and is one of the first naturalist depictions of the human face; the Bassetki Statue is one of the first copper castings using the lost-wax method.

The key to recovering the museum treasures was the granting of amnesty to anyone who returned them, as well as the support of religious and community leaders in Iraq, who understood the historic value of the stolen treasures. Bogdanos received a National Humanities Medal from President George W. Bush for his leadership in the recovery operation.

Eastern Observes Veterans Day

smallerIMG_0009.jpgStudents, faculty and staff filled the Student Center Atrium on Nov. 9 to observe Veterans Day. Veterans Center Coordinator Lawrence Schmitz hosted the fifth annual  observance ceremony. Eastern President Elsa Núñez; Executive Vice President Michael Pernal; Kenneth Bedini, vice president for student affairs; and Edmund Burke, district military and veteran's affairs representative for U.S. Representative Joseph Courtney, also spoke at the ceremony.
President Núñez acknowledged veteran Caleb Diebolt '10, who was instrumental in establishing the first Veterans Day observance at Eastern in 2008. She also cited the service of her brother, a Vietnam War veteran, and her father, a native of Puerto Rico, who also served in the U.S. Army.  "We must never forget the sacrifices that our veterans have made, not only in wartime, but being separated from their families and friends. People from all over the Unites States serve in our military services for us, and there is a major adjustment they have to make when they return to civilian life."

Pernal described his tour of duty in the Navy in Italy in the late 1960s at the height of the Vietnam War, when anti-war sentiments in our country cast a shadow over the bravery and service of those who had enlisted or been drafted into the military. "When we came home, we were warned not to wear our military uniforms and to stare straight ahead at the airport, regardless of what kind of reception we might get. So I will never forget the feeling I had when the customs official at JFK greeted me with a salute and a 'Welcome home, sailor.' It meant a lot to me."

Burke reminded the audience that only one percent of Americans have served in the military to protect the rest of us. "The people who have served and have volunteered their time and their effort to give to this country, sometimes ultimately, deserve everything that this nation will give them. And for all of you who are not veterans who chose to be here this morning to honor those veterans, thank you, because you are what we need; you are what we want to come home to."

IMG_0169.jpgLater, on Nov. 16, students and staff participated in the Veteran's Day Challenge, a grueling physical challenge designed to raise scholarship money for veterans. The routine involved demanding one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 air squats, followed by another one-mile run. Participants competed in the challenge as a team of four or individually, and could increase the number of points received by wearing a 10-or 20-pound weight vest. Prizes were awarded to lacrosse team members "Team Specie" Kevin Fechtmann, Johnny DiPietro and Keith Sardo.

Eastern Unveils the TIMPANI Toy for 2012

       TIMPANI DUPLO Bricks.jpg                    TIMPANI Rainbow People.jpg

Faculty and student researchers at Eastern have named DUPLO bricks, a toy made by the LEGO Group, as the 2012 TIMPANI Toy (Toys That Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination). Rainbow People, a toy made by Environments, Inc., received an honorable mention.  Eastern researchers announced the results of the 2012 TIMPANI Toy Study on Nov. 16 in the University's Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC).  The video is posted to Eastern's Center for Early Childhood Education website: http://www.easternct.edu/cece/timpani.html

This annual study, conducted through Eastern's Center for Early Childhood Education, examines how young children in natural settings play with a variety of toys. Nine toys were selected for this year's TIMPANI study, based on recommendations from parents, teachers and faculty. After the toys were chosen they were placed in the CFDRC's preschool classrooms and rated on three subscales: thinking and learning, cooperation and social interaction, and self-expression and imagination.

DUPLO bricks are colorful, plastic, interlocking building bricks.  Parents and teachers know them as a larger version of the popular LEGO bricks, sized for use by preschool-aged children.

"DUPLO bricks pose many problems for children to solve, so there's a lot of deep thought that goes into building," said Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, the Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education at Eastern and the study's principal researcher. "Construction toys have done well overall in our studies due to the fact that they don't suggest any one use. They can be used in many different ways, so children tend to interact more and negotiate what they want to build."

"Today's announcement of the top scoring toys in the third annual TIMPANI Toy Study demonstrates the quality of research that is occurring at our Center for Early Childhood Education," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "At the same time that we are identifying and testing toys that promote the intellectual, social and creative development of children, we are also helping our students prepare for careers as professional early childhood educators. I congratulate Professor Trawick-Smith and his students for this ground-breaking research. The investigative work they are doing to build strong learning environments for preschool children is being shared with early childhood educators throughout the country."

Rainbow People, a set of 30 wooden figures in a variety of colors, also scored highly. "Rainbow People prompted the children to be creative," said Jamie Vallarelli, an Eastern senior in early childhood education who was involved in the study. "They encouraged the children to create elaborate play scenarios, which developed their knowledge and vocabulary."

Liberty Bank Presents President Nunez Willard M. McRae Community Diversity Award

Nunez Liberty Award-Gingras Scanlon DeLisa Nunez McRae Howard.jpgOn Nov. 15, Liberty Bank officials presented Eastern President Elsa Núñez with the 2012 Willard M. McRae Community Diversity Award at a gala reception in the Betty R. Tipton Room  attended by more than 300 friends, family members, students, faculty, Eastern staff, bank officers and community leaders.

"In choosing the recipient of the award, we look not just for people who have given their time in service to community organizations, but for those who have made it their mission to make opportunities available to all," said Chandler Howard, president and CEO of Liberty Bank.  "There is not a shadow of a doubt that Elsa Núñez is such a person." 

Introduced in 2001 as the Liberty Bank Community Diversity Award, the award was renamed in 2009 in honor of Willard M. McRae, a past chairman and board member of Liberty Bank.  It is designed to recognize an individual from the communities served by Liberty Bank who has been a leader in connecting people who are different -- whether those differences are of religion, race, ethnicity, economic status, age, or any other aspect of diversity. 

As this year's award recipient, Núñez was able to direct a $5,000 charitable donation from the Liberty Bank Foundation to the nonprofit organizations of her choice.  She selected the Eastern Connecticut State University scholarship fund to receive the donation. 

In accepting the award, Núñez spoke passionately about the need to address the educational achievement gap:  "The conditions for every American in our society are not what you and I consider fair.  When we see that the college graduation rate for African American students is 20 percent lower than that of white students - and that Latinos are half as likely to finish college - we realize that we have to create change in our communities and our universities." 
State Representative Susan Johnson was on hand at the award ceremony to present Núñez with a citation in her honor from the state legislature.  Windham Mayor Ernest Eldridge presented best wishes from the town, recognizing Núñez's involvement in making educational opportunities available to local residents.

"Leadership is all about vision, and Dr. Núñez has a big vision," said Edward Osborn, director of university relations at Eastern, who nominated Núñez for the award.  "In her mind, the 'tent' -- whether it is this campus, this community, this state, this nation, or the entire world -- includes all of us.  Even with such a big vision, Dr. Núñez sees each person as the unique individual they are."

"There are five words that stick in my mind when I think of Elsa Núñez:  Learn.  Achieve.  Give back.  Repeat," said Chandler Howard in presenting the award. This is what this extraordinary woman has done with her own life--and what she encourages and enables every student, and indeed everyone around her, to do themselves,"

Professors Publish New Books and Exhibit Their Work

          Thumbnail image for CapitalAccumCANTERBURY.jpg               NewellBookcover.jpg

Sociology Professor Dennis Canterbury has authored a new book, "Capital Accumulation and Migration," published by Brill Publishers. Brill says the book "explores a topic that is remarkably absent in the voluminous literature spawned under neoliberal capitalism by the renewed interest in the development impact of migration."

Philosophy Professor William Newell has authored a book, "Desire in Rene Girard and Jesus," published by Lexington Books. Lexington said Newell's book "presents a comprehensive analysis of Rene Girard's work on the origins of culture and the depths of human desires. Newell challenges Girard's interpretation of Jesus's Passion as non-sacrificial, and offers a close reading of Girard's works on mimetic desire, scapegoating and sacrifice." Boston College Theology Professor Harvey Egan said Newell's book "is a must-read for anyone interested in this original thinker who has become increasingly important in psychological, philosophical and theological circles."

sharon butler's work.jpgOn Nov. 10, Two Coats of Paint Press released the artist's proof for "117 Grattan," a book of photographs that Sharon Butler, associate professor of visual arts, created for "Gone Wrong," her solo exhibition at Real Art Ways in Hartford.  The exhibition statement reads, "Visually, Butler's new work is rooted in the world nearby - specifically, the idiosyncratic HVAC structures, cement-mixing machines, jerry-built sheds, and improvised building additions that surround her Bushwick studio. A minimalist sensibility resists serial rigor and jettisons the notion that you can get everything right. For Butler, the most interesting stories are about things gone wrong." To see a preview of 117 Grattan or to buy an artist's proof, visit www.twocoatsofpaint.com

CSU Visual Arts Professor Imna Arroyo is one of 28 artists exhibiting their works in "Prints: Another Look From Modern to Contemporary," at the Bendheim Gallery in Greenwich. The exhibition began on Nov. 15 and runs through Jan. 10, 2013. The gallery is located at 299 Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, visit: www.greenwicharts.org.

Eastern Alumna Jamie Sydoriak Awarded White Fellowship

Sydoriak (2).jpgJamie Sydoriak '11, a Plymouth State University graduate student studying grassland bird communities, has been awarded the Joe and Gail White Fellowship for 2012-13. The White Fellowship was created by two Plymouth State graduates who care deeply about protecting New Hampshire's natural resources. Sydoriak received a bachelor of science in Biology with a minor in Environmental Earth Science from Eastern, and has previous field experience working with bird ecology.

A student in the Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy program in PSU's Center for the Environment (CFE), Sydoriak will use the White Fellowship Award to assist her thesis research on grassland bird conservation. Her focus is in maintaining or improving privately-owned grasslands with the goal of stabilizing bird populations in those environments.

Eastern's Sustainability Achieve STAR Silver Status

solar.jpgThe Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) awarded Eastern a Silver Rating after the university submitted its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) report to the organization.

In a letter to Nancy Tinker, director of facilities management and planning, the organization wrote, "AASHE commends Eastern Connecticut State University for demonstrating its sustainability commitment and leadership by participating in STARS." STARS is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Eastern is the only public institution in Connecticut to be rated.
"We are Silver," said Tinker. "This is an impressive achievement. The green campus committee contributed a great deal to this effort -- it took a lot of work to pull together the data.

"Leap Into a Successful Career"

LEAP listeners.jpgNearly 100 students gathered in the Betty R. Tipton Room on Nov. 14 to hear six alumni talk to students about what it takes to successfully land a good job in today's economy. The presentation, "Leap into Leadership," featured Roger B. Boucher, Jr '95, pathologist assistant at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital organ and  tissue recovery specialist and resident anatomist, Lifenet Health, Inc.; Dannika Byrd '02, assistant director for student affairs and registrar for the Physician Associate Program at Yale School of Medicine; Bonnie Edmondson '87, education consultant for the Connecticut State Department of Education; Peter McDevitt III '88, parole officer with the Department of Correction; Kevin Reese '01, veteran radio personality with CBS Radio, and certified holistic health coach and detox specialist; and Victor Thomas '01, business development and marketing manager for the eGovernment Applications Division at PCC Technology.

"In March 2001, I sent my demo in about 28 times and finally got an interview with Victor Starr, program director," said Reece. "Victor asked me why I should be hired and I explained to him how hard I worked at Eastern in the TV and radio station.  He listened and said 'you are hired!'"  

Thomas is responsible for half of PCC Technology's $30 million business.  His advice: "Have a plan - even a three-month plan." He challenged students to ask themselves, "What motivates you?  What fires you up?  What are you passionate about? Ultimately do what you are passionate about; make some money; give back; and never forget where you came from."
Edmondson challenged students to "Dare to dream and set high expectations for yourself." The Leap into Leadership Series is sponsored by the Office of Student Activities, Center for Internships and the Office of Institutional Advancement.

LEAP Panelists.jpgAbove, left to right, left to right: Candace DeAngelis, associate director of student activities; Peter McDevitt III '88; Bonnie Edmondson '87; Roger Boucher, Jr '95; Victor Thomas '01  Dannika Byrd ' 02; Kevin Reese '01; Carmen Cid, dean of Eastern's School of Arts and Sciences.

Eastern Discusses Innovative Technology Startups in Mill Towns

better porto-potty--first place.JPGEastern hosted a panel discussion on innovative technology start-ups in Connecticut mill towns on Nov. 15 in the Paul E. Johnson Jr. Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library. The panel of Connecticut innovators and entrepreneurs discussed their strategies for launching and building successful technology firms in the state's historic mill towns, where fabric, thread and other products were produced for hundreds of years. 

In addition to the panel discussion, students from the four Connecticut state universities, Quinebaug Valley Community College and the University of Connecticut competed for prizes by presenting innovation proposal posters of their creative startup ideas and proposals. Later, during a reception, students networked with Connecticut entrepreneurs, innovators and business community members.  (Above, team member Nathan Rouisee explains his first-place poster dealing with facilities at mega outdoor and other large crowd events.)


Sports and Medical Science Academy Students Visit Eastern Connecticut State University

HPE Hartford Academy -2.jpgOn Nov. 6, nearly 100 students and 10 teachers from the Sport and Medical Sciences Academy (SMSA) in Hartford visited Eastern to get a taste of college life, courtesy of Eastern staff and students from the Department of Health and Physical Education (HPE). HPE Professor Jim Lavin and Emeritus Professor Robert Horrocks worked with Erik McKay, former HPE student and now a health and physical education teacher at SMSA who is responsible for helping students explore college choices and career options. 

HPE Hartford Academy-1.jpgThe students spent the morning in the gym and nearby areas, participating in a wide range of physical activities, including lacrosse, handball, rugby, soccer, basketball and martial arts.  They also took a health quiz.

After lunch in the Hurley Hall cafeteria, they gathered in the Student Centre Theatre, where LaQuana Price, an SMSA alumnus, offered advice on the importance of getting a college education. 

LEC Honors Robitaille

sports-robitaille_jersey300_2782.jpgSenior forward Chris Robitaille, of Canton, has been recognized with a weekly award by the Little East Conference in men's basketball for the first time in his career when he shared honors as Player-of-the-Week in the weekly award program's second week.

In the team's fifth win in as many years over Trinity College, the 6-foot-5 inch Robitaille led all players in the game with 15 points (7-for-14 from the floor) and 12 rebounds with a career-high five blocked shots in a 56-53 victory that gave Eastern its second victory of the season in three games.

Last year's LEC leader in field goal percentage, the four-year letter winner was 3-for-5 from the floor in the second half. In 90 seconds in the second half, he grabbed an offensive rebound and scored, then blocked a shot and scored inside to give Eastern its largest lead, 46-36, with nine minutes left.

On the season, Robitaille averages 11.7 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds with a team-high seven blocked shots. He shares the conference lead in blocks per game (2.3), is tied for third in offensive rebounds per game (3.0), tied for fourth in assists per game (3.3) and tied for seventh in rebounds per game.

Go, Warriors!

sports-the blue crew with dr nunez.jpgThese four Warrior fans demonstrate school spirit with President Elsa Núñez at the Nov. 14 Pep Rally in Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium.


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