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April 2014 Archives

President Núñez Receives NEBHE's Lifetime Achievement Award

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On March 7, the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) presented Eastern President Elsa Núñez with the Eleanor M. McMahon Award for Lifetime Achievement at the NEBHE 2014 Excellence Awards Banquet held at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel.
 
More than 350 higher education leaders in New England were in attendance; the audience also included members of Eastern's administration as well as Dr. Núñez's parents, husband, children and grandchildren.

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"I am grateful for this award," said Núñez, "and am honored to have worked with so many of you over the years.  I have always believed that the social and economic mobility that we provide through higher education is the best way we have to protect our great American democracy."
 
Eleanor McMahon was the first commissioner of higher education in Rhode Island (1982-1989), past president of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and past chair of the New England Board Higher Education.  During her career, she was a schoolteacher, a professor at Salve Regina University, the provost at Rhode Island College and a visiting professor at Brown University.
 
Presenting the award were Connecticut State Rep. Roberta Willis; NEBHE President/CEO Michael Thomas; Mark Herzog, NEBHE chair; and Emily Cain, the incoming NEBHE chair and a Maine state senator.

Eastern Concert Chorale Performs at Carnegie Hall

ConcertChorale-belles.jpgOn March 17, Eastern's Concert Chorale performed at Carnegie Hall. The chorale is composed of students, faculty and community members. This was the fifth time that the group has sung at Carnegie Hall.

David Belles, associate professor of music and conductor of the Concert Chorale and Chamber Singers, served as conductor for the concert. The chorale performed John Rutter's "Requiem" as part of a choral ensemble with choirs from Connecticut, Arizona, California and Kentucky. "It's not every day that we get the opportunity to sing in such a renowned place as Carnegie Hall," said Concert Chorale member and music major Renae St. John. "I was happy to perform Rutter's works, which I personally enjoy. They're composed in such a way that they are easily accessible to all kinds of choirs, regardless of skill level or membership."

Eastern Presents MLK Distinguished Service Awards

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                                      Above, left to right, Alycia Bright-Holland, Rose Marie
                                      Hernández and Yollaine Kaja with Eastern 
                                      President Elsa Núñez.

Biology major Yollaine Kaja; Theatre Lecturer Alycia Bright-Holland; and Rose Marie Hernández, family liaison at Windham Middle School and coordinator of the Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future program, received Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Awards on Feb. 19. The awards recognize members of the campus community and community-at-large whose actions demonstrate distinguished service in promoting the ideals of King, and to further the goals of diversity and social equality.

Eastern alumnus Ryan Davis '03 delivered the keynote address at the awards ceremony, held in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library. Davis is the senior program manager for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, which is designed to increase the number of students of color who earn postsecondary degrees.

Kaja '16, biology major with a double minor in Peace and Human Rights and French, comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and speaks five languages. She is involved with various groups on campus including the Center for Community Engagement, the Peace and Human Rights Club and UNICEF. Kaja plans to be a doctor and spent six weeks this past summer at Yale in a program for students considering medical/dental careers.

Bright-Holland teaches classes for the First-Year Experience, the Theatre Program and the dance curriculum. She directed and choreographed "Once on This Island," a Caribbean musical play inspired by Haiti's history and spirituality. She has also contributed to several programs for the University Hour Series.

Hernández is the director of Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future, a tutoring and youth mentoring program at Windham Middle School (WMS) and at the Windham High School (WHS). She has worked in collaboration with the Center for Community Engagement and Windham Public Schools for three years to make the program a great success.

Senator Williams Salute's Eastern's Early Childhood Program

williams.jpgSen. Donald Williams Jr., President Pro Tempore of the Connecticut State Senate, held a press conference on Feb. 24 at Eastern's Child and Family Development Resource Center to call for an expansion of access to high quality pre-kindergarten programs, and to highlight Eastern's research and work in training early childhood education teachers.

"Eastern Child and Development Resource Center's innovative research plays a critical role in expanding our understanding of how children learn, and provides train and support for future teachers and early education professionals," said Williams.

Julia DeLapp, coordinator for Eastern's Center for Early Childhood Education, said, "Governor Malloy and Senator Williams understand the importance of expanding access to high quality preschool The leadership they have shown in supporting the creation of the Office of Early Childhood, and in planning for more that 4,000 new pre-K slots sets Connecticut apart from many other states."

Niloufar Rezai, director of the CFDRC, said, "Increasing access to high quality School Readiness programs will reduce the achievement gap and help all of Connecticut's children become life-long learners."

Jeff Benedict, Prolific Author, to Teach at Eastern this Summer

jeff Benedict the system (3).jpgJeff Benedict '91, best-selling author, award-winning features writer for Sports Illustrated and Eastern alumnus, will join Eastern's faculty this summer to teach COM 460, "Non-Fiction Writing from Idea to Publication," a three-credit course being held on Saturdays from June 28 to Aug. 9, with no class on July 5.

 "We are proud of Jeff and his distinguished career in journalism, and happy to have him back on campus," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "His work is value-centered and focuses on critical issues of society. Jeff is a role model for young people aspiring to be writers."

COM 460 will cover the stages of non-fiction writing from idea conception to publication. Using Sports Illustrated stories and his own books, Benedict will teach students how to develop story ideas, conduct interviews, structure a story, develop sound writing habits and promote a story.

"Sound writing is a key that has unlocked doors to a rich life of experiences and priceless relationships," Benedict said.  "As a student at Eastern I never imagined I'd make a career out of telling stories.  I am eager to share what I've learned with the students at my alma mater."

Students interested in Benedict's course should visit www1.easternct.edu/ce/jeffbenedict.

Eastern Students Help with Special Olympics Swim Meet

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The 35th Annual Windham Invitational Special Olympics Swim Meet was held on March 8 at Windham High School. Approximately 350 volunteers assisted the more than 200 athletes with intellectual disabilities on 12 teams from Connecticut and Massachusetts. In addition to the swimming competition, the meet offered sports clinics, aerobics, and arts and crafts activities.

In addition to dozens of student volunteers from Eastern, Chemistry Professor Charles Wynn celebrated his 20th straight year as meet director.  Connecticut Special Olympics President Beau Doherty called Wynn a "legend" in New England Special Olympics circles for his two decades of leadership and dedication to the local meet and the young adults and children that it serves.

Eastern student volunteers worked one-to-one with the Special Olympians, getting them to their registered events, cheering them on, and helping them with a range of activities when they were not swimming. Members of the rugby team helped set up the facility on Friday night, served as volunteers during the day, and took down the event staging after the games were over on Saturday.

Tom Burns, head coach of the Enfield Stars swim team, which competed in the Windham Special Olympics Invitational Swim Meet, singled out Ruth Ronalter for special recognition. "She was teamed with one of our most physically challenged athletes, who is non-verbal and has difficulty walking," said Burns.  "Ruth spent the whole day with Bobby, having fun in the gym, doing arts and crafts and having lunch together. Ruth was there to cheer on Bobby during his events, and also when he received his award medals. Ruth was a great help to us, and certainly made it a rewarding day for Bobby! Thanks again to Ruth and the many other ECSU volunteers for giving your time and sharing the day with us."

Professor Boskovic Authors New Book

Thumbnail image for Boskovic book cover.jpgMichèle Bošković, professor of French in the World Languages and Cultures Department, has authored her fourth book titled "Paroles d'auteurs jeunesse: Autour du multiculturalisme et des minorities visibles en France" (In Youth Authors' Words: Multiculturalism and Visible Minorities in France), published by Rodopi Publishers, based in the United States and the Netherlands. The book is a collection of interviews with 12 children's literature writers and one illustrator. It explores multiculturalism in France through the work of children's literature.

Bošković wrote the book to show a realistic reflection of what French society really is; to change the way society looks at diversity; and to bridge together different communities. Bošković purposefully chose writers of diverse backgrounds to include in her book. She began the process in 2007, and began her interviews while on sabbatical in 2008. "In the field of literature, children's literature is not generally recognized as literature," says Bošković.  Visit www.rodopi.nl/ntalpha.asp?BookId=FPPH+14&type=coming&letter for more information.

Former Football Star Visits Eastern

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Clarett wide.jpgArguably one of the greatest freshmen to ever play college football, Maurice Clarett visited Eastern on Feb. 26 to speak to students about the rise and fall of his football career, and his life choices about drugs, alcohol and partying. Clarett's constant refrain, "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future," reminded students that friends can lead you to great things or down the wrong path, as was the case for Clarett.

His story began with memories of his youth and incarceration for stealing vehicles and breaking and entering. After his third incarceration, he was taken under the wing of Roland Smith, a juvenile corrections officer who agreed to mentor Clarett and be the father the teen so desperately needed. From this positive reinforcement, Clarett became a football star, graduated early from high school, and attended college at The Ohio State University, where he became the first freshman to start for the Buckeyes in 48 years and set rushing records as a freshman.

Nonetheless, things began to fall apart for Clarett at Ohio State. He ran into his old friends from the street and began to make poor decisions, delving into the world of drinking, partying and crime. As a result, he was kicked off the football team in the summer of 2003.

The loss of football led Clarett into a tailspin of depression. "I substituted drugs, women and the party lifestyle because I still craved the attention of the thousands of screaming fans that football provided me but that I no longer had access to." In 2005-06, Clarett was given a second chance when the Denver Broncos of the National Football League drafted him. Even that second chance could not help Clarett; the drugs, partying and depression continued. "Drugs had me so far in their control, party all day, party all night and it destroyed me."

After his release by the Broncos, Clarett's life spun further out of control, as he succumbed to the street life. On Aug. 9, 2006, Clarett was put in jail after his arrest for weapons possession and speeding. He spent the next four years in jail, saying of the experience, "Prison can either humble you or turn you into an animal. I became a humble man."

Cultural Events Bring New Perspectives to Campus

codell.jpgNoted children's literature specialist and schoolteacher Esmé Raji Codell spoke on Feb. 12 in the Betty R. Tipton Room. The event, supported by the ECSU Foundation, Inc., was part of Eastern's spring 2014 Cultural Celebration Series, and was sponsored by Eastern's History and Political Science, Philosophy and Geography Departments. Codell is best known for her book "Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher's First Year." The book deals with how children and teachers dealt with racism and economic difficulties and problems with funding in inner-city schools. It documents her attempts as a young, white female teacher in Chicago to bring about changes despite the obstacles in the school system.

IMG_1381.jpgEastern's English Department hosted a panel discussion of Eastern alumni titled "English at Work" in Room 301 of the Science Building on Feb. 26. The discussion was part of the Department's ongoing visiting alumni series to help build support networks between alumni and current students. Panelists included Starsheemar Byrum, Jessica Fontaine, Kileen Gilroy and Matthew Ryan. Byrum '07 received her Bachelor of Arts in English, minoring in women's studies. Following graduation, she completed her master's degree in Women's Studies at Southern Connecticut State University. Byrum previously oversaw the Intercultural Center and today coordinates all operations of the Women's Center as well as the Sexual Assault Response Team. Fontaine '08 graduated from Eastern with her bachelor's degree in English. After receiving a master's degree in children's literature from Hollins University, Fontaine is currently the librarian at Tolland High School and taking classes to become a certified school library media specialist. Gilroy received her bachelor's degree in Secondary Education English, as well as a minor concentration in writing. She currently teaches English at Lincoln High School in Rhode Island while applying for graduate school and writing a full poetry manuscript. Ryan graduated from Eastern in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in English, and is employed at Union Savings Bank in New Milford as a supervisor and branch operations specialist.

IMG_6779.jpgEastern's Women's Center presented the Girl Rising Project as part of the University Hour Series on March 12 in the Student Center Theatre. Girl Rising is a groundbreaking feature film that captures the dreams, voices and remarkable lives of nine unforgettable girls born into unforgiving circumstances.

IMG_5400.JPGEastern's Theatre Program and Drama Society presented "Prelude to a Kiss" in the Harry Hope Theatre in Shafer Hall from Feb. 27-March 2 and March 4-5. The play was written by Craig Lucas and directed by Gloria Trombley, lecturer of theatre. "This magical story of lustful, youthful, romantic love required the audience to take an imaginary leap into a bewitching fantasy," said Trombley. "The audience, along with the characters, took an extraordinary journey of wild twists and turns that carried us along an emotional roller coaster and challenges and transforms our sensibility about the power of love."

AKUS-printmakers invitational.jpgEastern's Akus Gallery is presenting the Third Annual Connecticut Printmakers Invitational Exhibition. The exhibition, which opened on March 6, runs through April 17.

"This is a most compelling exhibition as it brings together a group of distinguished artists working in a wide variety of print media," said Emeritus Gus Mazzocca, curator of the exhibition and printmaking professor at the University of Connecticut. "The show emphatically reflects the strength and variety of artists within the state who elect to work with printmaking as an ever-expanding and viable form of visual expression." Artists include Imna Arroyo, Robert Cottingham, Pamela Marks, Timothy McDowell, Robert Andrew Parker, James Reed, Ronnie Rysz, Rachel Siporin, Laurie Sloan and Mark Williams. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu/akusgallery.

Social Work Students Lead Gambling Awareness Campaign

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Four Eastern junior social work students are leading a semester-long campaign for gambling awareness among the field of athletics. The students chose to target their campaign on the field of athletics--particularly student athletes and their coaches--because of the long history and relationship between sport and gambling.

"Data shows that athletes and coaches are more likely to gamble than the average person," said Wes Wilmoth, a junior social work major working on the campaign. "Betting has always accompanied competition, and the more people are aware of this, the better."

Eastern is a state leader when it comes to gambling awareness. The team of four and their supervisor, Thomas Broffman, assistant professor of Social Work, sat in on the Connecticut Council for Problem Gambling (CCPG) in March, where they met with legislators at the Capitol.

"Addiction is addiction," said Avery Schena, a junior social work major working on the campaign. "We don't want to be abrasive or 'expose' anybody. We just want to educate and let people know about the different resources available."

Eastern President Elsa Núñez issued a proclamation announcing the students' investigation to help break down barriers and enable the students on the campaign to more thoroughly interview staff and faculty. "Problem gambling is an issue often overlooked," said Desiree LaPorte, a junior social work major working on the campaign. "The more awareness raised, the more serious it will be taken."

If you or someone you know has a gambling issue, please call the CCPG at (888) 789-7777, or visit the website at www.problemgambling.org.

Bowl-a-thon Supports Mentoring in Local Schools

IMG_2857.jpgThanks to the generosity of the Eastern family, 27 pairs of Eastern mentors and Windham children were sponsored for the Bowlathon on March 1, said Kim Silcox, director of Eastern's Center for Community Engagement. The Eastern Men's Soccer team and CCE Student Leaders came out in force to serve as mentors to Windham children at this event. The students from Windham Middle School left the Bowlathon feeling engaged, welcomed and supported.

90 bowlers participated in the Bowlathon; Karen Collins, Bob Niderno, Mark Labbe, and Michelle Labbe -- the KC Lane Crashers -- was the winning team. The event generated $7,000 for the Center for Community Engagement and scholarships for Eastern students who have unmet financial need and attended area high schools.

Celebrating Athletics

IMG_6681.jpgEastern Connecticut State University's 125th Anniversary Celebration resumed Monday, March 10, for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," a tribute to athletics at Eastern. The lunchtime event held in the Betty R. Tipton Room featured a spread of hotdogs, baked beans, vegetarian chili, cupcakes decorated as baseballs and Cracker Jacks, as well as presentations about Eastern's athletic history, a panel discussion and a special cheerleading demonstration.

"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" kicked off with a short video about Eastern Hall of Fame Women's Basketball Coach Bob Miller, who lead the team from 1974-'93. Miller is among the most successful women's basketball coaches in New England, with 332 career victories, but is also noteworthy for his standards of integrity and excellence, and his support of women's rights and athletics in the Title IX era of the early '70s.

"Eastern was ahead of the curve when it came to the acceptance and involvement of women in athletics," said Beth Regan, 1979 graduate and basketball player under Coach Miller. "I am grateful to have had the opportunity to play basketball here."

Following was a slideshow recapping the history of Eastern athletics, from the early 1900s when there were just a few all-women's teams to now, with 17 NCAA intercollegiate teams. 
A panel discussion of past and present Eastern athletic affiliates batted third in the event. Don Beerworth, a 1961 graduate, reflected on his time on campus when much of Eastern's athletic success was due to the participation of veterans. "In the '50s and '60s a lot of veterans were making their way into college because of the GI Bill, and many were great athletes."

Panelists were asked to compare and contrast the expectations of student-athletes then and now. "When I was a student-athlete, there was not as much emphasis on community service or extracurricular activities," said Interim Athletic Director Cynthia Washburne ''85. "The NCAA and certain student-athlete requirements had not yet been established at Eastern."

Two current student-athletes were also on the panel. "A lot is expected of student-athletes nowadays," said Ashley Wolk, tri-captain of the women's lacrosse team and a senior majoring in communication. "In addition to hours of practice and games, we are expected to be involved in the community and campus, and of course to maintain good grades."
"Studies show, as do our own records, that student-athletes perform better in the classroom and are more involved," said President Elsa Núñez. "Athletics are an integral part of the Eastern experience."

For more Athletics news, visit http://gowarriorathletics.com/landing/index.

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