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February 2014 Archives

Eastern Celebrates 125th Anniversary

Thumbnail image for 125 anniversary logo.jpgEastern Connecticut State University is celebrating its 125h Anniversary this year with a series of special events, displays, multi-media production, and other activities to highlight Eastern's 125-year journey since its beginnings in 1889 as the Willimantic State Normal School.

To provide the campus community and visitors with a better sense of Eastern's past, a 30-foot timeline of the University's 125-year history will be displayed on the wall next to the Student Center Theatre, with a 25-year span being installed each month between January-May, 2014. The display will include what was going on in Willimantic; Connecticut; and the United States during each time segment, in addition to what was happening on campus. In addition, a special anniversary edition of EASTERN Magazine will be published in early June to share the celebration with alumni and friends.

In late September, the University will dedicate a time capsule that will eventually be installed in the Fine Arts Instructional Center, to be opened in 2039 during Eastern's 150th Anniversary. Displays are also being installed in the J. Eugene Smith Library to coincide with the major events mentioned earlier; Education is the theme for January 2014; The Arts is the focus for February; Athletics will be featured in March; The Sciences are the topic for April; and Community Engagement is theme for May. A major event each month from January to May will focus on the same themes showcased in the Library display. 


On Jan. 28, 150 students, faculty and staff joined Eastern President Elsa Núñez in the Betty R. Tipton Room for "Education at Eastern: Past, Present and Future." The event included an informative set of presentations, including panel discussions, a video and visuals--all of which highlighted how teacher education has been a central part of Eastern's mission since our beginnings in 1889. 

IMG_4687.JPGOn Feb. 20, 2014, "The Roaring Twenties and then Some!" was the focus, as more than 125 faculty, staff and students filled the Betty R. Tipton Room to celebrate the arts at Eastern. Over a luncheon of deviled eggs, crudité, tea sandwiches, scones, cookies, and assorted teas, the assembly was treated to music, art, and theatrical performances from 1914-1939, including a slideshow of art pieces created by visual arts students Solinda Keth and Cassandra Marion, under the direction of Professors Anne Dawson and June Bisantz.

The program continued with music selections from students, including Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" was on the piano by Sean Hanrahan; "Just My Bill" from the 1927 theatrical production of "Show Boat," performed by Moriah Perrett, and "Mack the Knife" sung by Renae St. John. Kyle Girard and Alexis Kurtz sang Gershwin's "Who Cares?" and Melinda DeDominicis performed "Someone to Watch Over Me," also written by George Gershwin.  Eric Ouellette accompanied the singers on piano. Lucy Shea, Michael Siddell, Derwin Hill and Jessica McDonald performed the first scene from the upcoming play, "Prelude to a Kiss," which will run from Feb. 27 to March 2, and again on March 4-5. In addition, Ta Anh, Moriah Perrett and Alexis Kurtz sang Paul Stookey's "There Is Love" from the play. The students are directed by lecturer Gloria Trombley.


"Athletics at Eastern" will be featured on March 10, with a visual presentation, alumni and student testimonials, and a display of athletic apparel and equipment. On April 10, "Science Day" will showcase scientific demonstrations and experiments.  May 1 is "Community Engagement Day," with a series of activities on campus, including the annual Service Expo, the Puentes al Futuro event and Eastern's annual Community Service Awards.

Eastern Students Excel at Theatre Festival

IMG_20140130_172141.jpgThree Eastern students returned to campus with top awards from this year's Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (Region I), a yearly event where more than 1,000 students and faculty from colleges across the Northeast participate. Twenty-one students and five faculty members attended the festival, held this year in Hyannis, MA.


Joseph Staffa's projection design work for "Once on this Island," directed and choreographed by theatre lecturer Alycia Bright-Holland, won first place for Scenic Design Excellence at the conference and a one-week trip to the KCACTF national conference in Washington D.C.  This is the second year in a row that one of Performing Arts Assistant Professor Kristen Morgan's students has won a first-place national KCACTF award for their projection design.

Keri Smart, mentored and supervised by Anya Sokolovskaya, won a one-week scholarship at the prestigious Stage Craft Institute of Las Vegas for her costume design of Eastern's production of "The Birds." Smart may be remembered for her highly creative use of feathers in her costume design for last February's production, directed by Professor Ellen Faith Brodie.  Her award includes an experience with Las Vegas' famous Jubilee costume design and run crew. The cast of last year's production of "Once on this Island," directed and choreographed by Bright-Holland, won a regional Merit Award for Excellent use of African and Caribbean dance and performance.

As in year's past, Eastern students have been very active in the conference's events, workshops and competitions. Due to their excellent performances in theatre productions during spring and fall 2013, four student actors -- Stephanie Madden, Kinde Queenan, Dan Fernandez and Kelsey Guggenheim -- were nominated to participate in the event's Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition. Emily Rieser, Mya Ta, Chad Dominique and Alexis Kurtz were their scene partners in the competition.

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Due to their high quality work at Eastern, four Design/Tech/Management students -- Amanda Conkey, Joe Staffa, Matt Pryke and  Keri Smart -- were nominated to participate in the conference's Design/Tech/and Management Exhibition. Three of these students -- Staffa, Pryke and Smart --were selected as three of 15 finalists in this competitive event. 

For her performance in Eastern's musical "Once on this Island," Conkey was selected to compete in the final night's Malty Musical Theatre performance. Zach LaSala auditioned for, and received a part in, the conference's One Act Play competition.

Abby Weston was one of four students from throughout the Northeast to be selected to be an administrative intern for this event.  Maggie Casto, Megan Velasquez, Stephanie Madden, Alexis Kurtz, Emily Rieser and Liz Pelletier made up of more than half of the participants in the festival's Play Slam performances.  Guggenheim and Fernandez participated in the festival's New Play Project initiative.

College Goal Sunday

College_Goal_Sunday logo.jpgOn Jan. 26, Eastern served as one of 14 sites in the state to host College Goal Sunday. Students and their parents received one-on-one expert advice in learning about financial aid and planning for college. The event took place in Room 410 of Webb Hall. Students and their families were able to talk with financial aid counselors and college staff in person to become familiar with college entrance requirements; learn about planning for college; and obtain on-site assistance in filling out financial aid applications.

In addition to receiving assistance with their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), participants received general information about state and federal financial aid programs. Participants got assistance in completing the FAFSA online. Most grants and scholarships require a completed FAFSA form, which does not obligate applicants to attend college, but is required for most sources of financial aid.       

College Goal Sunday is funded and sponsored by the Lumina Foundation for Education, the Connecticut Association of Professional Financial Aid Administrators (CAPFAA), and the Connecticut Association for Educational Opportunity Programs (CAEOP).  

Professor Russell Publishes a "Top 10"

russell book cover.jpgOn April 29, Beacon Press will publish "Social Insecurity: 401(k)s and the Retirement Crisis," a new book by Professor of Sociology James Russell. The book has been named by "Publishers Weekly" as a top 10 book in Business and Economics for spring 2014.

The book is already receiving critical acclaim. "James Russell is a formidable crusader with a gift for rendering an obtuse topic accessible," said Nomi Prins, author of "All the Presidents' Bankers" and "It Takes a Pillage."

Charles R. Morris, author of "The Trillion Dollar Meltdown" and "The Tycoons," writes, "Forget the TV ads of gray-haired retired couples on bicycle trips. If you're an average American, you won't have enough to retire on. The shift from old-fashioned pensions to 401(k)s has enriched Wall Street and jeopardized your future. Essential reading for anyone who works for a living--from millennials to boomers--James Russell's 'Social Insecurity' explains what you lost and who benefited from it."

In addition to "Social Insecurity: 401(k)s and the Retirement Crisis," Russell has authored seven other books over the past two decades, including his most recent, "Escape from Texas: A Novel of Slavery and the Texas War of Independence" (Sloan Publishing, 2012).

Kirchmann Documents Polish-American Life

Kirchmann---book.jpgHistory Professor Anna Kirchmann's latest book, "Letters from Readers in the Polish American Press, 1902-1969: A Corner for Everybody," has just been published by Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield. The book is a unique collection of close to 500 letters from Polish American readers that were published in Ameryka-Echo between 1902 and 1969. In these letters, Polish immigrants speak in their own words about their American experience, and vigorously debate religion, organization of their community, ethnic identity, American politics and society, and ties to the homeland. The translated letters are annotated and divided into thematic chapters with informative introductions. The Ameryka-Echo letters are a rich source of information on the history of Polish Americans, which can serve as primary sources for students and scholars. 

According to the book's abstract, "Polish Americans formed one of the largest European immigrant groups in the United States and their community developed a vibrant Polish-language press, which tied together networks of readers in the entire Polish immigrant Diaspora.

"Newspaper editors encouraged their readers to write to the press and provided them with public space to exchange their views and opinions. Ameryka-Echo, a weekly published from Toledo, OH, was one of the most popular and long-lasting newspapers with international circulation. For seven decades, Ameryka-Echo sustained a number of sections based on readers' correspondence, but the most popular of them was a 'Corner for Everybody,' which featured thousands of letters on a variety of topics."

Gloria Trombley, Guest Director of "Prelude To A Kiss"

Prelude_to_a_Kiss_Poster_Hi.jpgConnecticut native Gloria Trombley is back teaching as an adjunct professor at Eastern after 25 years living and working in California and the New York/New Jersey area. 

Trombley is guest director of "Prelude To a Kiss," which runs Feb. 27-March 5 in the Harry Hope Theatre (Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 4 p.m.; and Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.). Tickets are $5 for students and groups of 10 or more; $10 for Eastern faculty, staff, alumni, and senior citizens; $12 for the general public. For reservations, call the box office at 860-465-5123.

"This magical story of lustful, youthful, romantic love requires the audience to take an imaginary leap into a bewitching fantasy," says Trombley. "The audience, along with the characters, takes an extraordinary journey of wild twists and turns that carries us along an emotional roller coaster that challenges and transforms our sensibility about the power of love."

Born and raised in Connecticut, Trombley did her graduate work in theatre and dance at Wesleyan University. She has been producing, directing, choreographing and teaching theatre in various universities, performing arts programs, as well as regional and community theatres since the early 1980s. Her last production of 'Will Rogers Follies' was nominated by the San Francisco Bay Area Circle Theatre Critics for awards as Best Director and Best Production in the large Musical Theatre category.  She is the founding producer of 'Mountain Days - the John Muir Musical,' an original musical that runs each summer in the Bay area.

SUOAF Presents Check to WAIM

IMG_0471.jpgHealth Services Director Robert Jennette, a new member of the board of directors at the Windham Area Interfaith Ministries (WAIM), thanks everyone in the Eastern family for their exceptional spirit of giving at the SUOAF holiday party on Dec. 18. SUOAF members generously donated $460 which, when matched by the SUOAF chapter, meant that WAIM was the recipient of nearly $1,000. "That is truly remarkable from one relatively small gathering," said  Jennette.  "Speaking for WAIM Director Victoria Nimirowski and the WAIM board, if I may, we are extremely grateful that you were so willing to share your good fortune with those less well off."

Student Brown Bag Recital

brown bag wide shot.jpgOn Jan. 31, the Music Program presented its first of five student Brown Bag Recitals this semester in Shafer Auditorium. Each Brown Bag features performances by student musicians enrolled in private lessons at Eastern.  The Jan. 31 recital included performances by Morgan Brown, guitar; Kelsey Fuller, piano; Melinda DeDominicis, soprano; Judy Reid, mezzo-soprano; Moriah Perrett, mezzo-soprano; Renae St. John, mezzo-soprano; and Kyle Girard, tenor. 

The remaining recitals are scheduled for March 14, April 11 and April 25.  All programs start at noon in Shafer Auditorium and audience members are encouraged to bring their lunch. All recitals begin at noon and generally last 45-50 minutes.

Global Field Course to Hungary and Poland

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Eastern's Communication and History Departments are conducting a multi-credit global field course titled "The Nazi Aftermath in Central Europe: History, Media and the Holocaust," from May 15-June 1.

The course is being offered as a one-credit course in the summer for COM 471; a one-credit course in the spring for HIS 470; and a three-credit course in the summer for HIS 471. The cost per student will be a maximum of $3,600 based on a class of 10-20 students.

Students will investigate how the Holocaust is represented by the present-day Polish and Hungarian media; meet with major media, embassy officials, and historians; and visit historical and cultural sites, including the Warsaw Ghetto, Auschwitz-Birchenau Concentration Camp, Krakow's Kazimierz Jewish Quarter and Budapest's Dohany Synagogue.

For more information on the course, contact Communication Professor Cesar Beltran at (860) 465-4389 or beltranc@easternct.edu.

Beneath the Raw Skin

       rahmanifar 1 BentonPersepolisInstall14.jpg             raminanifar 2-BentonPersepolisInstall16.jpg

Afarin Rahmanifar, assistant professor of painting and drawing, is curating "Beneath the Raw Skin," an exhibition at the Art Space Gallery located at 480 Main St. in Willimantic. The exhibition runs through Feb. 28.

An opening reception took place on Feb. 6, featuring "Ancestral Cornea," a video produced by Alycia Bright Holland, lecturer of acting and movement, and a dance performance by WUMALA, a group of Eastern student dancers.

The exhibition features the work of artists Richard Cutrona, Robert Gerhardt, Sunil Gupta, Leeah Joo, Ben Ni Neal Parks, Thuan Vu and Rahmanifar. "The exhibit showcases these New York-based, transnational and local artists who question cultural identity and establish their own unique vocabulary through a variety of mediums," said Rahmanifar.

Art Space Gallery hours are 2-5 p.m. on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call Rahmanifar at (860) 465-0197 or email her at rahmanifara@easternct.edu.

Smart Painting


John O'Donnell, lecturer of studio and digital art, is curating and organizing, "Smart Painting," a show of paintings by artists who respond to the institution of contemporary abstraction. The show runs Feb. 7- March 22 in New Haven's Artspace Gallery.  An opening reception was held on Feb. 7.

"These painting are sharp, quick, bright, amusing, elegant and are aware of their own limitations and forge on, in the familiar but ambiguous territory of abstraction," said O'Donnell. "Confidently defining space through the use of line and structure these paintings challenge traditional notions of abstraction through rational constructions that examine concepts of composition and depth."

Featured artists include Blake Shirley, Sharon Butler, Deborah Dancy, Zachary Keeting, Ben Piwowar, Jenn Dierdorf, Rob D. Campbell, Derek Leka, Clare Grill, Tatiana Berg.

O'Donnell is a multidisciplinary artist and has created performance pieces for the Museum of New Art in Detroit, Proof Gallery in Boston, Flux Space in Philadelphia, and SOHO20 Gallery in New York.  His videos have been exhibited at the Chelsea Art Museum in New York and at film festivals in Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia.

In addition to teaching at Eastern, O'Donnell serves as an adjunct professor of studio and digital arts at the University of Connecticut and Gateway Community College.

Garrow is LEC Men's Basketball Player of the Year

Thumbnail image for sports garrow head shot.jpgOn March 4, senior forward Mike Garrow of Terryville was named Little East Conference Player-of-the-Year, the first Eastern Connecticut State University men's basketball player to be so honored; Garrow is one of five members of the program to be honored in the conference awards program.

The 6-foot-4 inch forward ranks among the conference leaders in in several individual statistical categories, including scoring (second, 17.6 ppg), minutes played (third, 33.8), rebounding (fifth, 7.9 rpg), assists (sixth, 3.1 apg) and free throw percentage (sixth, 81.7). An explosive scoring option, Garrow reached double figures in 27 of 28 appearances. He poured in at least 20 points in 10 contests, including a season-high 31 against UMass Dartmouth on Feb. 15, 2014. Garrow also has a nose for the ball, pulling in double digits in rebounds nine times. He produced nine double-doubles during the 2013-14 season, including 17 points and a season-best 17 boards at Nichols College on Nov. 20, 2013. Garrow handed out a season-high eight assists to lift Eastern past UMass Boston on Jan. 11, 2014. He was named the Little East Player of the Week twice this season.

The multi-talented Garrow and senior guard Brian Salzillo of North Haven were repeat first-team selections for Eastern, while sophomore point guard Trachone Preston of Enfield joined his teammates on the first team one year after garnering second-team and Rookie-of-the-Year accolades. The three rank 2-3-4 in the conference in scoring. It marks the first time that as many as three Eastern players were voted to the first team.

For more news of Eastern athletics, visit http://gowarriorathletics.com/landing/index.


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