The e-newsletter of Eastern Connecticut State University
July 2013 Archives
On July 8, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal visited Eastern to discuss student loan interest hikes that took place on July 1. Rates on subsidized Stafford student loans doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent after Congress was unable to reach agreement on extending the existing lower rate. Eastern students, faculty and staff listened as the Senator explained how the new interest rates could affect them. More than seven million students from across the country could face an additional $1,000 in student loan debt if the rates are not rolled back.
Blumenthal wants Congress to retroactively prevent the rate increase. He's also participating in a social media campaign against the rate hike. Democratic senators and White House officials say they expect a deal on bringing the rates back down to be reached before students return to campus.
Blumenthal is a cosponsor on the Bank on Student Loans Fairness Act, which would apply the same low interest rates to federal student loans as banks get -- about 0.75 percent.
On June 14, President Núñez joined other members of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, other educators, legislators, and guests to welcome Dr. Gregory w. Gray, new president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education. Dr. Núñez is shown here introducing Dr. Gray (left) to Mark E. Scheinberg, president of Goodwin College.
From June 2-July 12, Eastern hosted the Health and Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Program involving six other Connecticut colleges.
The Health and Life Science Career Initiative, funded by a $12 million grant from the Department of Labor, involves Capitol Community College, Charter Oak State College, Eastern Connecticut State University, Gateway Community College, Manchester Community College, Middlesex Community College and Norwalk Community College.
The summer research component of the initiative, housed in Eastern's state-of-the-art Science Building, provided research experience to students interested in biological, biochemistry, biotech, public health, and related health sciences areas. It also allowed them to expand knowledge in their areas of study, while also gaining exposure to new areas of interest.
Labor experts predict that 11,000 jobs will open up in health and sciences over the next eight years. "This is the biggest think we have ever done in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for any summer research program," said Carmen Cid, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. "And it's right in line with the State of Connecticut's interest in workforce development in health and life sciences."
"This program has helped students gain the necessary research skills and techniques they need as they continue to grow as researchers," said Star Jackson, program coordinator for the grant. "Students came in with many different backgrounds and levels of experience, and we wanted to make sure that everyone was able to take something away from this. From learning how to run DNA gels, how to isolate and count bacteria and using GIS, students will leave this program with a wide range of skills."
"My experience so far has been very positive," said Manan Bhatt, a junior majoring in biology at Eastern with a minor in biochemistry, who is a teaching assistant for Assistant Professor of Biology Barbara Murdoch. "The teachers all care and do their best to condense large amounts of complex material into one week in a way that the students can follow. Students don't complain about the amount of work, and eventually, they grasp the importance of what they learned during the week."
"Even as a person with disabilities, this program encouraged me to continue my education in biological sciences," said Brittany Bard, a student at Manchester Community College. "I hope that I will be able to become a biology teacher and biological scientist. One day I hope to be able to take part in this program as a staff member."
"The classes and labs have been great and the content was easy to understand," said Kelly Glynn, an Eastern student participating in the program who has previously taken courses at Southern Connecticut State University and Gateway Community College. "It's great that Eastern is working with other Connecticut community colleges to help students get experience in their chosen scientific field."
This summer, each of the tenured/tenured track faculty in the Department of Environmental Earth Science (EES), using varied equipment at diverse field sites, engaged EES majors in a wide range of undergraduate research projects. Research projects included utilizing geographic information systems to study groundwater conditions (Professor Metcalf); studying local metamorphic rocks to unravel their tectonic significance as well as investigating volcanic rocks at sites in Idaho (Professor Cunningham); mapping the erosive effects of Storm Sandy on Block Island (Professor Oakley); sampling and analyzing of geologic materials in Connecticut and Massachusetts to assess their influence on geothermal energy resources (Professor Nathan); analyzing water quality for a Windham water supply site (Professor Carlson); conducting research on rocks in the Pyrenees Mountains in Spain to understand conditions of interest to the oil industry (Professor Drzewiecki); and mapping dinosaur track ways in Rocky Hill (Professor Hyatt). Above, is a view of Block Island's coastal damage wrought by Storm Sandy and an image from a field sites in Idaho.
Lindsey Belliveau, who was named this year's outstanding EES student, was one of four students named recipients of this year's Angelo Tagliacozzo Memorial Scholarship Awards, presented by the Northeast Section of the American Institute of Professional Geologists (NE-AIPG).
The award carries with it a $4,000 scholarship, a new individual high for the NE-AIPG. The NE-AIPG received 11 applications from undergraduate students, majoring in geology/geosciences, from nine different colleges and universities throughout the eight northeastern states -- (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and New York). All the candidates demonstrated excellent academic qualifications and financial need. After careful review of all applications, Belliveau won one of the four scholarships.
Eastern's Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) has been presented two distinguished awards for its service to the cause of a cleaner environment. On March 14, the ISE, along with the collaborative team for the Connecticut Green LEAF Schools, was named as one of 10 national honorees to receive U.S. Green Building Council's Best of 2012 Green Schools awards, at a ceremony in Hartford.
The Connecticut Green LEAF Schools Program -- www.ctgreenleaf.org -- encourages K-12 schools to create and improve their environmental and sustainability education; enhance the health and wellness of students and staff; and reduce the environmental impact of their buildings. Guided by co-chairs Laurel Kohl from the ISE and Jeff Greig from the Connecticut Department of Education, a strong base of collaborators actively share their resources and programs, striving to include all of Connecticut's schools in the wealth of information that is available.
The ISE also received the 2013 Green Building Advocate Award from the Connecticut Green Building Council (GBC) on June 20 at its annual recognition ceremony at Gateway Community College in New Haven.
On June 6, the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, including Eastern student athletes, faculty and staff, took off at 8:06 a.m. from the police department parking lot at the corner of High Street and Charter Oak Road. The run made its way through campus, past the Foster Clock Tower and then, the streets of Willimantic. A crowd of onlookers supported the runners along the Eastern campus route.
Police officers from Derby, Milford, Norwich, the University of Vermont and the Connecticut State Police converged on campus in May, June and July to learn how to effectively ride a bike while on patrol. Eastern police officers Jim Salvatore and Jene Comstock were among those participating in the class.
Lt. Thomas Madera, operations commander for Eastern's Police Department, served as lead instructor for the class. Madera taught police officers how to maneuver through tight spaces; climb curbs and stairs; how to ride in traffic; learn proper use of gears; effectively use their brakes; defensive tactics; and how to balance at slow speeds.
"Riding a bicycle may seem easy," said Madera. "After all, most everyone has ridden a bike before, and fallen off many times. Police officers whose primary duty is to ensure public safety have a heightened sense of duty and responsibility to hone the skill of bike riding, as they often find themselves in crisis situations. The bike also enables officers to more easily engage in community policing -- interacting more closely with individuals; gaining their trust; and letting them know we are their friends and caretakers, there to ensure public comfort and safety as much as possible."
Each summer before the school year starts, Eastern's Division of Student Affairs, through its Student Orientation, Advisement and Registration (SOAR) program, brings groups of new freshmen, many accompanied by their parents, to campus to help them transition to college. The goal of SOAR is to provide opportunities for new students to learn how to succeed academically and socially at Eastern. The program is mandatory for all new first-year students.
During SOAR, which took place in June and July, students stayed overnight in Constitution Hall, a first-year residence hall, to give them an opportunity to experience life on campus. The program, designed to make first-year students aware of the resources available to them, consisted of six two-day sessions, where approximately 170 incoming students per session attended informational meetings, interactive presentations and social events.
SOAR allows incoming students to meet other new students, current student leaders; members of the Academic Affairs and Student Affairs staff; and with faculty and advisers on course requirements and schedules. Entering students also will participate in Warrior Welcome, Eastern's fall orientation program on Aug. 26 and 27. Classes begin on Aug. 28.
Eastern's Department of Education hosted its 16th Annual Connecticut Future Teachers Conference on May 16. More than 300 middle and high school students and their mentor teachers attended the conference from across the state. This year, students hailed from Bristol, East Hartford, Glastonbury, Groton, Ledyard, Middletown, Montville, New Britain, New London, Mystic, Norwich, South Windsor, Thomaston, Waterbury, Waterford and West artford.
At the conference, Future Teachers Clubs, the Education Club at Eastern, high school teachers, community educators and university faculty members offered presentations and workshops that focused on team building, making first impressions, storytelling, math magic, public speaking, sustainability, music and dance, chemistry, foreign language, college planning and educational philosophy.
The conference was designed to prepare students to be future teachers, as well as give them a way to experience life at Eastern. The conference was sponsored by the YES Clubs of the Capitol Region Educational Council (CREC), LEARN and Eastern, with assistance from the Connecticut State Department of Education.
From June 22-27, more than 200 high school juniors from across the state converged on campus to attend the 26th Annual American Legion Boys State. During Boys State, the students learned how state and municipal governments operate. They set up and ran mock town, city and state elections, and engaged in role-playing where towns are represented. Mayors lobbied, while representatives and senators debated and enacted legislation.
This year's guest speakers included former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz, who spoke on June 22. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal spoke on June 23.
From June 28-July 3, more than 200 high school students from around the state participated in the Laurel Girls State program on campus. Sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, Laurel Girls State prepares young women for careers in government through citizenship and democracy.
Program officials focused on patriotism by involving students in all aspects of government, and by enhancing pride in America. Students elected officials on a local and state level, who then carried out the duties of their offices. In mock settings, students also wrote bills and enacted legislation.
The Girls State program has provided students with hands-on citizenship experience and government participation for more than 65 years. Girls State officials hope the experience will result in lifelong participation in government.
In late May, more than 1,470 students in grades five through 12 gathered in the Betty R. Tipton Room in the Student Center at Eastern to participate in "College Knowledge Days." The students came from schools in Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Coventry, Bethel, Danbury, East Hartford, Ellington, Enfield, Vernon, Hartford, Manchester, Meriden, New Britain, New Haven, Norwalk, Sandy Hook, Stamford, West Hartford, Storrs, Pawcatuck, Union, Watertown, Wethersfield, Willimantic and Gales Ferry.
"College Knowledge Days are a great opportunity for students and educators to start the conversation about postsecondary options," said LaQuana Price, Eastern's assistant director of admissions, who coordinated the event. "The program allows students to start planning early for their future."
The visiting students participated in several lectures and group activities facilitated by Eastern staff. The presentation, "Preparing for the Future," instructed students on how to research and choose the college that is right for them. The presentation, "Financing My Future," focused on paying for a postsecondary education. Group discussions analyzed payment options such as federal student aid, grants, work-study and loans.
President Elsa Núñez and other family members were joined by Louis Rodriguez, assistant director of the Center for Community Engagement (CEE); CEE administrative assistant Irene Cretella; and student volunteers, as well as Windham Middle School students who are members of the Puentes al Futuro at the Annual Boom Box Parade, held on Main Street in Willimantic on July 4. Thousands of people come to see the parade, now in its 28th year. Facilities carpenter and maintenance supervisor John Pierre Godbout, who built the S.S Eastern float several years ago, hosted one of the Eastern Warrior banners, and John Wylie, drove the truck that tugged the boat down Main Street.
Staff, family and children at the Child and Family Resource Center (CFDRC) conducted their annual July 4th Boom Box parade on campus on July 3. The children, wearing red, white and blue, began their march to the Foster Clock Tower and continued along the route from the CFDRC, past Occum Hall, the Student Center and between the Alvin D. Wood Support Services Center and Goddard Hall.
Eastern senior All-America third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) has become the program's first ECAC New England Division III softball Player-of-the-Year in 21 years, and was joined as a first-team all-star by senior first baseman Kelly Paterson (Southington) and sophomore DP (Designated Player) Sam Rossetti (Shelton).
Cooper repeated first-team All-ECAC honors, while the ECAC honor was the first for Paterson and Rossetti. Cooper and Paterson were the only first-team selections at their positions, while Rossetti shared DP recognition with University of New England sophomore Adrienne Chase.
All three were earlier recognized as first-team selections to the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA) All-New England Region team, Cooper and Rossetti recognized with first-team honors and Paterson third-team accolades. All three were also cited earlier as first-team All-Little East Conference picks, Cooper gaining the honor as LEC Player-of-the-Year. Last month, Cooper become the first third baseman in program history to earn first-team All-America honors when she repeated national honors at that position by the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA).