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April 2013 Archives

Eastern Honors Recipients of Annual Ella T. Grasso Award

grasso awards image.jpgEastern hosted its fifth annual Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Award reception on March 20 in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library. Senior Isaiah Roby; Ann Higginbotham, professor and chair of the History Department; and Ruth Washington, former professor of the University of Connecticut's Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, were named award recipients. The Grasso Award Program recognizes leaders who have made contributions towards advancing women's rights and issues of gender equality in memory of former Connecticut Gov. Ella T. Grasso.

"We are an institution built on values. Among those are the values of inclusion, empowerment and integrity," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "I believe that protecting women's rights and recognizing those who are taking the lead in working for gender equality is fundamental to upholding the values of our institution, so, tonight is not simply a celebration; it is an affirmation. To our awardees this evening, thank you and congratulations. Through your leadership and service, our campus is a better place to learn; our community is a better place to live, and our state is stronger."

Roby '13, a senior with a double major in psychology and women and gender studies, is carrying a 3.71 GPA. He serves as president of the student organization "Pride Alliance," and is a student representative to Eastern's Diversity and Social Justice Council. Roby also serves as a volunteer at St Paul's Church, helping church members beautify Willimantic, plant trees and raise money for the Covenant Soup Kitchen. Roby also interns in the Women's Center, which promotes the advancement of women's rights and gender equity.

Higginbotham serves on the Committee for the Status of Women of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and is a member of the Connecticut/Rhode Island Conference of Women's Studies Directors/Faculty. She is also a senator on Eastern's University Senate. Higginbotham received Eastern's Distinguished Professor Award in 2004 for her teaching and mentoring, and has led the History Department in developing courses on family and women's history and family in Western society.

Washington is a founding member of Know Your Value: Women of Color Alliance, a new not-for-profit organization created to examine the wealth gap between women of color and other groups of women. Washington also started Forward Education and Consulting LLC, which provides comprehensive services specializing in diversity in higher education, especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

(Above left, Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of the Womens Center and right, Eastern President Elsa Núñez, with winners of Eastern's 2013 Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Award: Ann Higginbotham, professor and chair of the History Department; Ruth Washington, former professor of the University of Connecticut's Department of Molecular and Cell Biology; and Eastern student Isaiah Roby.)

The Latino Migration Exhibit

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Eastern Connecticut State University and the Windham Textile and History Museum are presenting "The Latino Migration Exhibit," running through Dec. 8 at the textile museum, located at 411 Main St. in Willimantic. Museum hours are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for latino exhibit - chiken farm Hartford Times PR 1 (4).jpgThe exhibition is a multi-media documentation of the cultural, religious, political and economic life of Latinos in Willimantic, the result of almost two years of collaboration between the museum's board of directors and Eastern faculty and staff. The exhibit acknowledges and celebrates the significant contributions that immigrants from Europe, Canada and Latin America have made to the development and growth of the region since the 19th century.

On April 13, a public reception took place in the textile museum as part of the exhibit, and on April 19 at 7 p.m., Norma Boujouen, manager of Title V programs for the Department of Health in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and author of "The Puerto Rican Experience in Willimantic," gave the keynote address on Latino migration to Willimantic.

"While the emphasis is mostly on Puerto Ricans because they still constitute the largest Latino sub-group in the town, this multi-media presentation also illustrates the recent history of immigration from Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and the Dominican Republic," said Ricardo Pérez, associate professor of anthropology at Eastern and guest curator. "We wanted to create a better representation of the changing landscape of Latino immigration to the town, which mirrors current trends in Latino immigration to other parts of the United States."

"The history of Latinos in this town is compelling, educational and informative," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "This exhibit is a source of pride and well-deserved respect for the Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Dominicans, Guatemalans and other Latinos who call Willimantic home. I hope it gives you a sense of the life of Latinos in Willimantic, a life of struggle and challenge, but also one of joy, hope and triumph. I am very pleased that our faculty and staff are part of this wonderful exhibit featuring the life of Latinos in Willimantic, and we are proud of the faculty members who have curated the exhibit. I encourage our entire community to visit the exhibit over the coming months."

The exhibit was installed by Roxanne Deojay, collections manager for the Akus Gallery at Eastern, and Art Professor Imna Arroyo, whose work critically explores issues about culture and identity. The exhibition showcases Latino artifacts, music, festivals, lectures, traditions, paintings, printmaking, sculpture and video kiosks, with images reproduced electronically. For more information, visit http://www.easternct.edu/mt-static/press_releases/2013/03/latino-migration-exhibit-at-the-windham-textile-museum.html

Eastern Named to President Obama's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

community servic e honor roll health and wellness college students.jpgEastern has been honored by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the U.S. Department of Education as one of the nation's colleges and universities that are leading the way in bettering their communities through community service and service learning.

Eastern was one of 609 institutions of higher learning on President Obama's "Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll" that were recognized for their work in serving local communities through volunteer programs and Thumbnail image for community service bridge to the future - orange dancers-good shot.jpgother activities.  

"Community service has been a hallmark at Eastern since our earliest days in the 1890s as the Willimantic State Normal School," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Today, our Center for Community Engagement works closely with our faculty to ensure that the service that our students perform in local communities aligns with their academic programs.  In providing thousands of hours a year of service to dozens of social agencies and nonprofits, Eastern students are demonstrating their social responsibility while learning valuable professional and organizational skills. To be recognized by President Obama as a university that exemplifies such service is something that everyone on our campus should be proud of."

Eastern students are also engaged in local schools outside of the classroom. Four hundred and forty-nine Eastern students volunteered 5,180 hours in long-term volunteering programs in Windham schools through the CCE and student clubs. Including students who participated in academic service learning, more than 1,000 students contributed more than 60,000 volunteer hours in area schools.

Also, students in the Business Administration Department provide database and website services to area nonprofits, assisting them in providing more effective services. Nonprofits also benefit from students engaged in the Community Grant Service Corps, supported by the Office of Academic Affairs. Students learn how to assist nonprofits with grant research through use of the University's "Work Hub," an on-campus worksite dedicated to community-campus collaborations.

In all, Eastern students, faculty and staff donated more than 106,000 hours of time in 2011-12 to local communities, a value of $2.3 million. "Congratulations to Eastern Connecticut State University," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS. "Through its work, it is helping improve the local community and create a new generation of leaders by challenging students to go beyond the traditional college experience and solve local challenges."

Eastern Presents "Mother Goddess" Exhibition

mother goddess.jpgThe Visual Arts Department and Akus Gallery at Eastern are presenting the exhibition, "From Motherhood to Mother Goddess," from March 14 to April 25. The opening reception on March 14 featured English Professor and storyteller Raouf Mama; Tenzin Wangchuk who performed Tibetan chants; and performance artist Karen Dolmanisth.

"The more than 50 artworks in this exhibition are an attempt to analyze the process of transcendence from motherhood to Mother Goddess," said Neeta Omprakash Naique, curator and Nehru Fulbright scholar.  "The artists have expressed their views and queries in visual language, bringing together iconic as well as anthropomorphic forms of Mother Goddesses from Tibet, India, Africa and America's Marilyn Monroe!"

A related symposium, "From Motherhood to Mother Goddess: Transcendence from Self to Absolute," took place on April 3 in Shafer Auditorium with scholars from various disciplines and cultural backgrounds. Panelists included Gail Gelburd, professor and chair of the Visual Arts Department; Reynold Kerr, art critic and curator of African Art; Vladimir Merchenkov, professor of aesthetics and theory of Ohio University; Robert Newman, author and academic scholar; and Neeta Omprakash, Nehru-Fulbright Scholar.

"The 16 participants of this exhibition are first-and second-generation transnational artists from India, Africa, Cuba and Puerto Rico who question the tradition of worship, and juxtapose it with contemporary reality," said Gelburd. "They further make an attempt to connect with personal experience and give it a universal connotation, and in turn, propel one to question the very concept of the Mother Goddess. In doing so, they invariably search for the one (Mother Goddess) from their contemporary society."

Norwich Gallery Features Gail Gelburd's Photos of India

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Thumbnail image for holy mother of India sm.jpgThe Reliance House Gallery in downtown Norwich hosted its First Friday event on April 5, featuring artist Gail Gelburd, professor and chair of the Visual Arts Department. Gelburd's exhibit, "India: Between People and their Prayers," is on view in gallery at 40 Broadway. Gelburd has travelled extensively in Cuba, Japan, China, Tibet and India in search of an understanding of these complex and diverse cultures. Through her writings, curatorial work and photography, she seeks to capture the key elements that define those cultures. Gelburd has a doctorate in contemporary art and teaches Asian, contemporary and African American art at Eastern.

Experts Discuss Careers in Business Information Systems and Computer Science

IMG_0419.JPGOn March 21, nearly 80 students majoring in Business Information Systems (BIS) and Computer Science heard an expert group of panelists from Aetna, Inc. discuss "The Future of Information Technology Careers" in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library. The panel, organized and led by James Kidd '86, chief information officer of International Businesses, Aetna International, included Mark Coderre, head of information security architecture at Aetna; Jackie Czaplinski, Aetna's head of IT leadership development; Dawn R. Shane '07, Aetna's manager of information data governance; and Matthew Thibeault '11 and Katie Kirby, leadership development specialists at Aetna. Joseph Tolisano, Eastern's chief information officer, welcomed the guests.

"Having on-campus guests from a leading health insurance provider is important given the fact that our Healthcare Informatics minor was the first program in this field in Connecticut when launched two years ago," said Doncho Petkov, professor of business information systems. 

"The panelists stressed the value of integrating a range of business, information systems, technical computer science skills and experiences into one's educational and experience portfolio. They discussed the importance of showing initiative and getting involved in meaningful volunteer, course and internship projects," said Alex Citurs, professor of business information systems. "The students learned that to be considered by a large information technology employer like Aetna, they need to demonstrate creativity, motivation and a desire to learn." Shane and Thibeault discussed how their careers evolved, allowing them to apply in practice their BIS skills. The event was a result of the cooperation between Aetna and Information Technology programs at Eastern, and was supported by the Office of Institutional Advancement.

Otis Elevator Donates Check to Eastern

otis elevator check.jpgIn September 2012, as part of Otis Elevator's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Eastern President Elsa Núñez spoke about the achievement gap and Eastern's Dual College Enrollment Program (DCEP) at the annual United Technologies Corporation (UTC) Diversity Council fundraising gala for Otis Elevator and other UTC employees.  The DCEP received half of the proceeds from the event. Above, Adriana Bacellar and Janice Claudio-Morales from Otis Elevator, presented President Núñez with a check for $3,700.

Police Training on Underage Drinking and Controlled Party Dispersal

IMG_0542.JPGForty-one law enforcement officers from across the state converged on campus in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library on March 27 to learn about underage drinking and how to disperse college drinking parties. The training session, led by Connecticut State Police Sergeant Christopher Bartolotta, was sponsored through the Community Life Improvement Project grant. The Community Life Improvement Project is the first-ever collaborative effort between Eastern and the surrounding community to prevent student alcohol abuse.

Bartolotta discussed underage drinking and the role of law enforcement in preventing underage drinking parties and safely dispersing them when they do occur. He said age matters. "Youth who drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence, and two and a half times more likely to become alcohol abusers than those who wait until age 21. College students spend $5.5 billion a year on alcohol, some $466 per student each year. Underage drinking kills 6.5 times more youth than all illicit drugs combined."

Bartolotta said today that alcohol options have changed, adding that Alco pops, iced-beers with higher concentration of alcohol and energy additives "not only encourage greater consumption, but create confusion about what is a drink."

The law enforcement officers were also taught proactive approaches to underage drinking parties that can help to prevent them before they start, and  minimize the potential for tragedy and exposure to liability.

Eastern Students Attend Geological Society of America Conference

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Above, students and faculty members gather in front of Mt. Washington at the conference. Front row, left to right, Lindsey Belliveau, Laura Markley, assistant professor Meredith Metcalf, Mackenzie Fannon, Rachel Dern. Back row, left to right, Drew Hyatt, Christopher Lorentson, Jeff Outland, Assistant Professor Lea Gilbertson, Associate Professor Dickson Cunningham, Professor Peter Drzewiecki, Assistant Professor Bryan Oakley and Jonathan Burdacki. Also, Lindsey Belliveau stands next to her poster that was exhibited at the conference.

Six Eastern students and six faculty members attended the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America (NEGSA) conference in Bretton Woods, NH, from March 18-20, to attend presentations on a wide range of geological topics. Students attending the trip included Christopher Lorentson, Jon Burdacki, Laura Markley, Rachel Dern, Mackenzie Fannon and Lindsey Belliveau.

At the conference, students attended sessions and participated in a follow-up question and answer session. Four faculty members gave oral presentations and Belliveau joined Drew Hyatt, chair of the Environmental Earth Science Department, to speak about meltwater erosion marks in bedrock at Bailey's Ravine in Connecticut.

"The Geological Society of America conference allowed me to present my research, learn exciting new things and network with professionals in the field who have given me invaluable advice," says Belliveau. "NEGSA has allowed me to feel prepared for the exciting future that is ahead of me."

Students also attended a graduate student fair where they spoke with representatives from a variety of out-of-state universities about programs in earth science. "I intend to go to graduate school after completing my degree at Eastern, so listening to what professionals had to say about the specifics of their programs taught me some more about what to expect from education at the next level," said Lorentson, president of Eastern's Environmental Club.

Alternative Spring Break Trips

Alternative Spring Break.jpgFor the second year in a row, Eastern's Center for Community Engagement (CCE) sponsored two groups of students participating in Alternative Spring Break trips on March 22 and 23. For this year's trips, students worked on environmental projects and Hurricane Sandy disaster relief.

The environmental trip group remained in Connecticut, building log and lumber bridges based on the theories and understanding of nature of Henry Thoreau and Gifford Pinchot. They also participated in a panel discussion with conservation and environmental experts about environmental sustainability. In addition, they performed trail work on a portion of the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut. Calvin Underwood was the student trip leader.

The second group, led by students Brielle Heinl, Christina Mazzatti and Rebecca Ingoglia, went to New Jersey to engage in Hurricane Sandy disaster relief work. The students and their advisors, Anthony Aidoo, professor of mathematics, and Hall Director Emma Blandford, worked on volunteer projects in Ocean and Atlantic Counties. Specifically, they worked in Tom's River, Seaside Heights, Manahawkin, Atlantic City, Brigantine and several other communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. Their projects removed sand from buildings and homes; rebuilt dunes; improved trails and parks; worked in after-school programs; painted projects; and worked in a community food bank. 

Math Department Wins the College Bowl

IMG_0154.JPGAt the 36th Annual College Bowl on March 18 in the Student Center Theatre, students majoring in Mathematics defeated the team from the Biology Department. The match, moderated by Physical Sciences Professor Timothy Swanson, was very close, with the lead exchanging hands several times during the match, and not decided until the final question, a question about U.S. presidents.

The Mathematics Department now has the travelling plaque, and a poster featuring the winning team is in a display case on the fourth floor of the Science Building. Both will remain displayed there until a new team earns the championship next year. The plaque was made by a member of the first winning team in 1977, and has been presented to winning teams for the past 35 years.

The College Bowl is a single elimination competition that consists of teams representing various academic majors on campus. In the semi-final matches, the Biology team beat the History Department Team, and the Mathematics team beat the team of Biochemistry majors.

Cooper, White of Eastern are LEC Weekly Award Winners

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                   Arielle Cooper                                                Alyssa White

One Eastern softball veteran and one rookie were recognized by the Little East Conference in its weekly awards program, through games of March 24.

Senior All-America third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) was recognized with a weekly award for the fourth time in her career when she was selected LEC Player-of-the-Week after batting .682 through the first six games of the season at the National Training Center in Clermont, FL. In the second weekly report of the season, freshman Alyssa White (Colchester) was named LEC Rookie-of-the-Week after batting .429 (6-for-14) with eight RBI and two runs scored.

A two-time Player-of-the-Week as a junior and one-time Rookie-of-the-Week as a freshman, Cooper is 15-for-22 with nine RBI and nine runs scored for the Warriors, who are 3-3. Cooper, alternating as leadoff and No. 3 hitter in the order, has four doubles, a triple and two home runs with a 1.227 slugging percentage and a .680 on-base percentage. She has had at least two hits in every game and at least one RBI in every game. Against Union College and SUNY New Paltz Saturday, she homered in each game - her 25th and 26th career home runs, which pulled her to within two of tying the career record.

A starter at in all five games in which she has appeared, the left-handed hitting White tied the program's 35-year-old record with seven RBI, four coming on a walk-off grand slam with two out in the bottom of the seventh of a 12-8 win over Fontbonne University. Having batted in the No. 5 through 8 spots in the order thus far, White added another RBI in the second game of the day in an 8-4 loss to Middlebury College. In addition to six hits, White has walked twice and reached on a hit-by-pitch. She has a .529 on-base percentage and .714 slugging percentage.


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