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July 2009 Archives

Start Your Eastern Bachelor's Degree at MCC

Written by Dwight Bachman


Eastern Commencement at XL Center.JPG         Willimantic, CT -- Graduates of Manchester Community College (MCC) and other persons with an associate degree who are interested in the field of social services have a unique opportunity to pursue a bachelor's degree from Eastern Connecticut State University.  Starting this fall, Eastern's School of Continuing Education will offer courses on a "Fast Track" to a Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) degree on the MCC campus.  Other courses leading to the degree can be taken online or at Eastern's other off-campus locations.  Students attend classes on Saturday only, with courses scheduled in convenient seven-week modules.  "With this scheduling format, students who are employed full time can work on their bachelor's degree by taking just one course at a time on Saturdays," said Carol Williams, associate dean of continuing education at Eastern.  "This Saturday Fast Track schedule has been especially popular with individuals who already work in the social services but who never completed a baccalaureate degree."Students who pursue the BGS degree and complete the program will graduate with a Concentration in Human Services.   Job opportunities in community and social service occupations are expected to be excellent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook.   Eastern's program is designed for individuals who desire to enter or advance within the field of social and human services.  Graduates of the program, especially those already working in the field, may be eligible to continue toward a Master's in Social Work.

         Eastern has always had close ties with Manchester Community College.  According to Kim Crone, director of admissions at Eastern, "MCC is consistently one of our primary feeder community colleges and was the community college from which Eastern received the most transfer applications and enrolled students in 2008."

         According to Joanne Russell, MCC's dean of academic affairs, "Current research shows that the longer students stay at MCC the more they thrive at their transfer institutions. By encouraging students to complete an additional year of study toward their bachelor's degree while still at MCC, we hope to provide them with an environment and resources that will ensure their success."

         Students of any age who possess the desire to pursue higher education are welcome at Manchester Community College. MCC is proud of its academic excellence, new facilities, flexible schedules, small classes, low tuition and faculty with both academic and "real world" credentials. The college offers more than 75 degrees and certificates, transfer options, financial aid and scholarships, as well as access to baccalaureate degrees through guaranteed admissions programs with several universities. MCC is situated on a park-like campus and is easily accessible from I-84.

         Eastern's School of Continuing Education has been offering courses in the Manchester/Vernon area for more than 25 years and currently maintains a site in downtown Rockville.  "We are especially pleased to be on the Manchester campus," said Dean Shelly Gimenez of Eastern.  "There are many graduates of MCC for whom this program would be especially appealing.  The MCC campus is convenient and familiar to them.  Convenience and flexibility are important for this population. We feel that by having classes at MCC, complemented by classes in downtown Rockville and online, students should be able to finish their degree in a timely fashion. The location should add to the program's popularity." Two advanced social work courses will be offered at MCC this fall.  A similar program is ongoing at Capital Community College in downtown Hartford.

         More information is available at or by calling (860) 465-5125 to speak with an advisor.


Eastern Employees Honored for Years of Service

Written by Jack Meltzer


Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University recently paid tribute to several members of its faculty and staff for their years of service.

Custodians Paula Goyette, Nelida Malave and Richard Sherwood, along with library technical assistant Georgia Shoffstall, were honored for 10 years of service. 

Lisa Dudley, secretary for health and physical education, was honored for 20 years of service, while 25 -year service awards were given to Frances Champney, secretary in the Education Department; Ivan Maldonado, skilled maintainer in facilities management and planning; and Kathryn Veneziano, united supervisor in fiscal affairs.


Faculty Excellence Awards at Eastern

Written Jack Meltzer


Willimantic, Conn. - Seven Eastern Connecticut State University faculty members were named recipients of Excellence Awards for their outstanding involvement with the University.

Edmond Chibeau, professor of communication was presented the award for excellence in teaching; Diane O'Brien, lecturer in the Department of Business Administration, was presented the excellence award for part-time teaching.  Hari Koirala, professor of education, won the award for creative/scholarly activity.

Four awards were presented for excellence in service to the University. They include Environmental Earth Science Professor Peter Dszewiecki; Admissions and Enrollment Management Director Kimberly Cone; Academic Advisement Center Director Susan Heyward; and Irene Cretella administrative assistant in the office of student affairs and center for community engagement.


Hyatt Eastern's 2009 Distinguished Faculty Member

Written by Jack Meltzer



                       Environmental Earth Science Professor James "Drew" Hyatt  


            Willimantic, Conn. -James Andrew Hyatt, professor of Environmental Earth Science at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been named recipient of the University's 2009 annual Distinguished Faculty Member Award.  The Distinguished Faculty Member Award is considered Eastern's most prestigious in that the winner is chosen by his or her peers.

            Hyatt, of Andover, has been teaching more than 16 years, and the last 11 at Eastern.  He teaches courses ranging from the general requirements to the most advanced environmental earth science courses offered at Eastern.  In addition to teaching, Hyatt has served on many University Senate committees such as the Promotions and Tenure, Organizations, and Budget and Resource Allocation committees.  He also previously served on University-wide search committees for the dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and vice president for academic affairs, the University Honors and Commencement committees, and the organizing committee of the School of Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition.  He recently accepted an administrative assignment to help improve undergraduate research at Eastern.

            Hyatt is best known for his services as a mentor and advisor both in and out of the classroom.  He insists on developing meaningful relationships with each of his students, which has resulted in record enrollment in his introductory courses in the Environmental Earth Science major. 

"In terms of teaching, he is among the most dedicated educators at Eastern," wrote Charles Wynn, chair of the Distinguished Professor Committee, in nominating Hyatt for the award.  "He always strives to provide his students with high quality lectures as well as meaningful writing assignments and quantitative computer-based exercises."

            In addition to quality lectures, Hyatt provides students with research projects that closely resemble research what they may encounter in graduate school.  Student presentations at local and national meetings have helped to make Eastern's Environmental Earth Science Department a major contributor at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting. 

 "This year's awardee clearly represents the faculty ideal at Eastern," Wynn continued. "He truly exemplifies what a professor at a public liberal arts institute should be, and thereby serves as a role model for all of us."

             Hyatt's research interests fall into two main categories: geomorphologic research and multimedia research and development. His work has positively affected the local community.  By supplying lake sediment data to the Andover Lake Watershed Committee, he has helped the overall management and performance of that lake.

             This  past year Hyatt collaborated with William Jones, professor of visual arts, to contribute to the First -Year program by developing an "Art Rocks" cluster; a project that has segued into landscape analysis research. 

            Hyatt earned his bachelor's degree from McCaster University in Canada in Geography and his doctrine in Physical Geography from Queen's University in Canada.


Movie Star Eduardo Verástegui to Lecture at Eastern

Written by Jack Meltzer



Willimantic, Conn. - Eduardo Verástegui, star of the movie "bella," will speak at Eastern Connecticut State University about issues of modern morality on Aug. 11.  The lecture, which begins at 7 p.m., takes place in the Betty R. Tipton Room in the Student Center.  The public is invited and admission is free.  The event is sponsored by The Sisters of Charity of Our Lady Mother of the Church, which has a convent in Willimantic.  For more information, contact Sister Gabriela at (860) 423-5122 or email

Eastern Awarded $1.5 Million Federal Education Grant


Written by Ed Osborn


The U.S. Department of Education announced on July 2, 2009, that Eastern Connecticut State University will receive a $1.5 million Title III grant over five years through the department's "Strengthening Institutions" program. Eastern will use the funds to improve student achievement through their academic studies in the University's Student Success Center so that more students complete their studies in four years. 

"As a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, I know how vital it is for institutions of higher education to have the resources they need to continue to improve academic support services for their students," stated Congressman Joe Courtney, who serves Connecticut's Second Congressional District in which Eastern is located. "I want to congratulate Dr. Nunez and the faculty at Eastern for being awarded this grant and for their efforts to improve the academic success of students at Eastern."

 "Data we have seen suggests that the longer students take to complete college, the lower their chance of success," said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. "Our own figures tell us that every year a student delays graduation will cost them more than $50,000, including the cost of attending Eastern and delaying gainful employment an extra year. This grant will go a long way towards helping our students finish their studies on time."

The University's new Student Success Center consolidates and centralizes such academic support services as tutoring, academic advising, skill assessment, and math and writing instruction. 

Career exploration and experiential learning were also key components of Eastern's Title III proposal.  Providing more students with pre-professional experiences such as undergraduate research, internships, and cooperative education opportunities is fundamental to the University's student success model, which was developed as part of Eastern's new Strategic Plan. 

The federal Title III grant will pay for approximately 22 percent of the costs of operating the Student Success Center; another 14 percent comes from non-government sources.

 "This is the first time a public four-year college or university in Connecticut has received a federal Title III grant," said Carmen Cid, dean of the school of arts and sciences. "We are proud of that fact and pleased that we will have this financial support on an extended basis. With these Title III funds, we can have a dramatic impact on our students' ability to define their career goals and graduate in four years." 

Cid described earlier intervention for academically at risk students and the Student Success Center's "one-stop-shop" approach as keys to improving graduation rates. "We also are developing a data collection and analysis model that will help us become much more sophisticated in our ability to identify students who need special assistance and our strategies for improving specific areas of our academic and student support operations. While about half our students are the first in their families to attend college, we know that all our students can benefit from the success center.  The Title III grant can have a campus-wide impact on our student body."




Eastern to Host Police Explorers Academy 2009

Written by Emily Bonoyer

            Willimantic, CT - Beginning July 26 and running through Aug. 1, more than 300 trainees from police departments across the state will participate in this year's Police Explorers Academy at Eastern Connecticut State University.  The program offers participants valuable insight on what it takes to become a police officer.

Participants will encounter a broad range of police training methods, such as learning to drive police cars and taking biking classes. A dispatch facility will communicate with the students in the field to simulate genuine crime-fighting situations. The physically demanding camp will also include classes on criminal theory and legal aspects of law enforcement.

"The academy is important training for those who are interested in a career in law enforcement," said Lt. Derrick McBride of Eastern's Campus Police Department.  "The training they receive will no doubt put them ahead of an average candidate. Afterward, they will be prepared to pursue competitive jobs in the law enforcement profession."

During their training, participants of the academy will live on campus in Mead and Niejadlik Halls.  For more information on the Police Explorers Academy or for eligibility questions, contact Dirk Smith at (860) 289-6669 ext. 269.




Written by Ed Osborn


Great College to Work For.JPGWillimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University has made the list of "Great Colleges to Work For," according to a survey done for The Chronicle of Higher Education. ModernThink LLC, an independent research company, surveyed 247 colleges and universities and more than 41,000 employees at those institutions to develop its findings. The program is the second largest workplace recognition program in the country, after Fortune Magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For" program. 

            Between 400 and 600 employees were surveyed at each college or university and each institution was also asked to fill out an organizational questionnaire. In addition to being recognized as a "Great College to Work For," Eastern ranked highly in two of the 26 subcategories in the survey, placing in the top 10 among medium-sized colleges for "Collaborative Governance" and "Post-Retirement Benefits." 

            "It is an honor to be included in 'Great Colleges to Work For,'" said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. "Being recognized by The Chronicle of Higher Education as a quality workplace in the world of higher education is very gratifying. While we conduct our own internal climate research on a periodic basis, seeing how we compare with other institutions our size across America is very helpful. Given that "Great Colleges to Work For" is essentially a report on how our faculty and staff feel about the University, I am especially pleased to see that we ranked in the top 10 for having a collaborative governance process at Eastern. We believe in operating as a team on our campus, and this report tells me that our faculty and staff believe the process is working."

            For complete survey results, visit


Eastern Host Seven Advanced Placement Workshops

 Written by Jack Meltzer


ap biology.jpg

 Melissa Dumas (East Hartford High School) and Stacy Savoyski (Danbury High School) analyze soap bubble "survival" as a biological model by counting seconds after the bubbles were blown during the AP Biology Workshop last year.



Willimantic, Conn. - For more than a decade, Eastern Connecticut State University has hosted annual Advanced Placement (AP) workshops each summer in biology and Spanish.  This summer, from July 6-July 10, Eastern will host seven AP workshops.  This summer, additional workshops will include Environmental Science, Calculus, Statistics, and English Literature and Composition. All workshop courses will be held in Eastern's new Science Building.

The AP workshops are a collaborative effort between Eastern, Hartford-based "Project Opening Doors," and the Willimantic-based "Project Access for All." "Project Opening Doors" is a national incentive program focusing on raising math and science Advanced Placement scores.  Both projects are funded by a grant from the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), in partnership with the Connecticut Business Industry Association, which runs the program.  Exxon Mobil provides NMSI funds for its program. 

 "Even though some workshop participants may not be teaching AP courses, they will be better teachers as a result of this experience," said Elizabeth Cowles, professor of biology and coordinator of the collaborative workshops at Eastern.  "The more AP courses added to high school curriculums, the more prepared students will be for college."

Camille Vautor, president of "Project Opening Doors" is very pleased, "The collaboration between Eastern and "Project Opening Doors" represents a unique opportunity for Advanced Placement teachers in the areas of math, science and English.  The paring of university professors with nationally known AP instructors will give participants both the content necessary to teach complex concepts and the perspective of college-level expectations for students.  Also, this healthy exchange of ideas will help university personnel better understand the challenges found by high school teachers on a daily basis."

Teachers from across Connecticut will participate in workshops, meeting colleagues in their field; gaining hands-on experience in a laboratory; and obtaining a better grasp of their specific curriculum.  Each workshop will have one instructor and consultant teaching each core curriculum.

The English Language and Composition workshop is designed for teachers who are new to the AP program, and will focus on the main components of AP language and composition and the strategies used for teaching certain texts.  Leslie Abbatiello, a certified trainer and College Board consultant with Area Cooperative Education Services(ACES) and  Daniel Donaghy, associate professor of English, will teach this workshop.

A related workshop, AP English Literature and Composition, focuses on helping students learn, read, and think more carefully and critically.  Ruben Rodriguez, an English teacher from Austin, TX, will teach this workshop, along with Miriam Chirico, associate professor of English.

Marion Dewane, who teaches AP Chemistry and Environmental Science at a high school in Boise, ID, and Fred Loxsom, chair of Eastern's Sustainable Energy Studies, will teach the AP Environmental Science workshop.  They will focus on many of the social issues regarding energy, hydropower, geothermal, solar, climate issues and pollution. 

Fred Djang, professor of mathematics at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, will teach the AP statistics workshop along with Pete Johnson, associate professor of mathematics.  Key themes to be discussed include exploring, obtaining and understanding data analysis, along with making the connection between sample statistics and population parameters. 

Cowles and Fred Brown, biology teacher at Windsor High School, will instruct the AP biology course.  This workshop will provide a complete overview of AP biology and is geared for biology teachers who have been in the program three years or less.  Topics include ecology, genetics, cell biology, chemistry, botany and physiology.

A synopsis of AP Calculus AB will be the theme for the AP calculus workshop.  This workshop is also geared towards new and inexperienced AP calculus AB teachers.  Participants will learn how to implement the curriculum and how to build a strong AP calculus AB program using supplementary materials.  Eliel Gonzalez, who teaches in East Longmeadow, MA, and Christian Yankov, associate professor of math and computer science, will teach this workshop.

For more information, contact Elizabeth Cowles at (860) 465-4385 or email her at  

CAPTION: Above, left, Melissa Dumas (East Hartford High School) and Stacy Savoyski (Danbury High School) analyze soap bubble "survival" as a biological model by counting seconds after the bubbles were blown during the AP Biology Workshop last year.




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