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August 2010 Archives

Maulik Pancholy Opens Eastern's Art/Lecture Series

Written by Tim Talley

Maulik (2).JPGWillimantic, Conn. - Rising star Maulik Pancholy will open Eastern Connecticut State University's 10th Annual Arts and Lecture Series at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 in the Betty R. Tipton Room in Eastern's Student Center.

            Pancholy is among a handful of Indian-American actors changing the character and face of Hollywood. He stars in two of TV's most critically-acclaimed shows -- the showtime hit "Weeds" and the Emmy-award-winning "30 Rock." Taking on smart, select roles, he is helping, in his own way, to broaden the cultural and racial diversity on film and in television.

            Pancholy is a classically trained actor with a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama. According to movie critics, he has carved out a career that spans the stage, the small and big screen, where he invests whatever project he's working on -- from movies like "Hitch" to plays like "Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom."  

            Pancholy has received a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for "30 Rock," along with two additional nominations -- one each -- for "30 Rock" and "Weeds." He played the lead role in "India Awakening" at the Samuel Beckett Theater, for which The New York Times praised his " and funny" performance. He also voices the character Baljeet on the top-rated Disney show "Phineas and Ferb." His other credits include guest spots on "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" and "The Sopranos."

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            The Arts and Lecture series will continue at 7 p.m. on March 16, 2011, with the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, led by founder Mark Harvey, helping Eastern celebrate African American and Women's History Months. The orchestra will honor the musical legacy of the late Mary Lou Williams, an African American who rose to prominence in the pre-Civil Rights/pre-Women's Rights era. The performance will take place in Shafer Auditorium in Shafer Hall, located at the corner of Windham and Valley Streets in Willimantic.

             Dubbed the "First Lady of Jazz," Williams composed and arranged songs for hundred of bands, most notably Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. She gave the premiere of her masterwork, the 12-movement "Zodiac Suite," in Carnegie Hall.  Following a spiritual crisis in the 1950s, Williams became a Roman Catholic in 1957 and began to compose sacred music, including "Black Christ of the Andes," in honor of St. Martin de Porres. She composed three complete masses, the most famous being "Mary Lou's Mass," performed at the Vatican, and later staged as "Music for Peace" by the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

            The orchestra, in its 38th season, will showcase such Williams' masterpieces as the swing-era classic "Roll 'Em" and the rarely-heard "Scorpio" movement from "Zodiac Suite." Eastern's Concert Chorale, led by David Belles, will join the orchestra in a rendition of the "Gloria" from "Mary Lou's Mass." Harvey will present his own tributes to Williams, including "Blues for Mary Lou" and the premiere of "Soul on Soul," a new piece written for the occasion.

            The Aardvark Orchestra has won various awards, including one for Best Jazz song, "Scamology," at the 2000 Independent Music Awards, and has released at least eight albums since 1993. 


Mycoskie (2).JPG            Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS Shoes, Inc., will wrap up the 2010-11 Arts and Lecture Series when he speaks at 7 p.m. on April 12, 2011, in the Betty R. Tipton Room. Mycoskie helped revolutionize the way consumers shop by giving a new pair of shoes to less fortunate children around the world with every pair sold. Within three years, the one-for-one business model has encouraged conscientious consumers to purchase and donate more than 140,000 pairs of new shoes to children in need.

            Mycoskie is an entrepreneur who has created five businesses since college. His first was a successful national campus laundry service. His second start-up, Mycoskie Media, caught the attention of Clear Channel Media, which later bought out the company. Between business ventures, Mycoskie competed in the CBS primetime series, "The Amazing Race," with his sister, Paige.

            In 2009, at the Clinton Global Initiative University plenary session, former President Clinton introduced Mycoskie to the audience as "one of the most interesting entrepreneurs (I've) ever met." People magazine featured Mycoskie in its "Heroes Among Us" section, and TOMS Shoes was highlighted in the Time magazine article, "How to Fix Capitalism."

            In addition to free admission to Eastern faculty, staff, and students, admission to the Arts and Lecture Series events is free to all middle school, high school and college students, who are encouraged to attend. Admission for the general public is $10 per ticket; tickets can be reserved by calling (860) 465-0036 or sending an email to For information on the 2010-11 Arts and Lecture Series, visit


Presidential Appointee to Speak at Eastern

Written by Tim Talley

DianeFarrell.JPGWillimantic, Conn. - Diane Farrell, presidential appointee to the board of directors of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, will present a lecture at Eastern Connecticut State University on Oct. 4. The presentation is part of the David T. Chase Free Enterprise Institute's Distinguished Lecture Series, and begins at 11 a.m. in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room. The public is invited. Admission is free.   

            Farrell was appointed by former President George W. Bush as a member of the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which promotes the nation's export trade among smaller and medium sized businesses. As a member of the board of directors, Farrell is responsible for voting on Export-Import Bank transactions in excess of $10 million as well as on significant matters affecting bank policy. Farrell serves as chair of the bank's audit committee. She represents and promotes the interests of small-business exporters while making frequent presentations to national and regional groups.

            Farrell helped develop and foster the Indian Financial Institution and is working to develop a similar facility with key member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

            Farrell has had more than 25 years of professional experience in the private and public sectors in financial management, maintaining fiscal integrity and managing budgets. Her work has included the political, not-for-profit, governmental, advertising, planning and educational arenas -- at the state, national and international levels.

            Farrell, a graduate of Wheaton College with a B.A. in American Government, served as First Selectwoman in Westport from 1997 to 2005.


Students Experience "Green Collar" Jobs at Eastern

Written by Tim Talley

Green Collar Jobs at Eastern.JPG

Left to right, local High School students:   Enmanuel Almonte, Cruz Rodriguez, Kayla Fortier and Jason Diaz at work at the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University.


Willimantic, CT - On July 21, five local high school students joined the staff of the Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Eastern Connecticut State University to experience what is was like to have a green collar job. The project was a partnership between Eastern and Columbia, CT--based EastConn, one of the state's Regional Education Centers.

            The summer youth employment training program engaged five Windham residents-- juniors and seniors at Windham High School and Windham Technical School--who were selected due to their interest in careers in science and technology. The students were exposed to careers in sustainability and energy, which included an introduction to green collar jobs; taking a green campus tour of Eastern; and attending lectures on sustainability and Connecticut energy issues. 

The students learned to measure their ecological footprint; determine a building's efficiency using Energy Star Benchmarking software; and conduct an on-site energy audit. They also explored green collar job opportunities and took a Myers-Briggs test to help them compare their likes and dislikes to jobs in the market.

The ISE is a participating worksite provider for EastConn's Summer Youth Employment Training Program, which is administered through grant funding. Students received job skills, training, support and wages for their time. Prior to joining ISE, the students also completed workshops and classes at Three Rivers Community College in sustainability, work skills, lasers and holograms and other science-related topics.

Four students -- Cruz Rodriguez, Kayla Fortier, Jason Diaz, and Enmanuel Almonte -- continued to work at the institute through July and early August. They joined Eastern student interns at ISE and EastConn's Facility Manager Michael Akana to conduct an energy audit at EastConn's Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) high school in Willimantic. Data collected, along with energy bills from nine EastConn facilities, will be used to create a benchmarking report that will help EastConn better understand the relative energy efficiency of its buildings. ISE's students taught the EastConn students to use the Environmental Protection Agency's Portfolio Manager benchmarking tool, and shared their experiences on how ISE helps communities throughout Connecticut evaluate and manage their energy use.

U.S. Representative Joe Courtney joined the EastConn and Eastern students at EastConn's Hampton Conference Center, where the students explained how they collect data for benchmarking and conduct preliminary energy audits. They also gave a presentation on their experiences in green collar jobs at Eastern.


Akus Gallery Celebrates American Artists

Written by Tim Talley

BRIGHT Jenny (2).JPGWillimantic, Conn. - The Julian Akus Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University will present the art of Sheila Pree Bright, Dave Cole and Amin Swessi in the exhibition, "A Candid World:  American Visions," from Aug. 26 through Oct. 7.  Each artist incorporates imagery of the American flag into their work as a contemporary commentary on American culture. 

A University Hour talk on the presentation will take place on Sept. 15 at 3 p.m. in Shafer Auditorium, followed by a reception in Akus Gallery from 4 to 7 p.m.  As part of the Year of the Arts celebration at Eastern, organized jointly by the Departments of Performing Arts and Visual Arts, all Akus Gallery exhibitions for 2010-11 will celebrate American artists. The public is invited.  Admission is free.  

Bright's "Young Americans" is a series of large-format, chromogenic prints of people aged 18 to 25, each holding the American flag in some manner reflective of their sense of identity in the United States.  Cole, who is known for his massive site-specific, knitted installations, carefully takes apart and reconstructs his American flag imagery, using wildly diverse media such as toy soldiers, flags, or bullet casings, literally piecing together elements to recreate the American flag to its regulation size and color.


COLE Flags of The World (Study _1 14 scale).JPGSwessi has created a "barcode flag" emblematic of American consumer culture. This design, which began as a graduate school project, has evolved into a mass-produced image sold through Urban Outfitters.

 "This work is edgy and progressive in its commentary on American politics, consumerism, warfare, immigration and youth culture," says Akus Gallery director Elizabeth Peterson. "However, I was keenly aware in my selection of pieces that we have a balance between artistic interpretation and national pride.  I endeavored to focus on this balance and the resulting tension to generate a positive dialogue on a highly charged topic--what it means to be an American citizen."    

COLE American Flag (Toy Soldiers).JPG

Akus Gallery is honored to host a kiosk for Eastern's VETS Center during the run of this show, which will include information regarding the program Cell Phones for Soldiers; Warriors for Warriors bracelets available for purchase; and other information regarding services for veterans.  All proceeds for sales of items at the VETS Center kiosk will go to the Eastern Veterans Scholarship Fund.

The Akus Gallery is located in the lower level of Shafer at the corner of Windham and Valley Streets in Willimantic.  Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 1 to 7 p.m. on Thursday and 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information regarding this and other exhibitions at Akus Gallery, call (860) 465-4659 or visit on the web at



Math Mania Comes to Willimantic

Written by Tim Talley

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      Robyn Cashmore, left, an education graduate student, assists middle school student Edalesia Perez. Amanda Ericson '11 looks on.


Willimantic, Conn. - From July 6 to Aug. 18, approximately 20 Windham Middle School students participated in Math Mania, a summer math tutoring program hosted by Eastern Connecticut State University. Students participating in Willimantic's Weed and Seed Drug Free Zone Camp came to Eastern twice a week to practice math skills in a fun and interactive tutoring and mentoring program with Eastern students.

            Eastern's Center for Community Engagement coordinated the program. Former Eastern Community Service Coordinator Beth Zambrano served as curriculum specialist for the program, and Eastern alumnus Luke Boyd served as the program coordinator, with nine Eastern students working as tutors. Each week's program included a math lesson followed by one-on-one tutoring.

          math tutoring close up.JPG 

          The end of the week provided students with opportunities to apply what they learned through recreational activities that reinforced what they learned earlier in the week. Nanette Tummers, associate professor of health and physical education, and Marsha Davis, professor of math and computer science, provided expertise to the program, and offered engaging activities, including health and wellness calculations and use of motion detection instruments. 

            Math Mania gave students the chance to forge ahead in developing their mathematics skills by providing them with activities that demonstrated how math can be used in everyday life. The students also built positive relationships with their college student mentors and learned the value of the college experience.

           math tutoring close up 2.JPG 

           The Center for Community Engagement and the Windham Drug Free Zone program are collaborating to expand the math tutoring program after school. Parents interested in having their students participate in these programs should contact Ray Ortiz, Windham Drug Free Communities coordinator, at (860) 455-3585.


Eastern in Top 100 Colleges and Universities

Written by Ed Osborn 

Eastern Joins Top 100 in U.S. News and World Report Rankings

usnewscover2010.jpgWillimantic, CT - Eastern Connecticut State University is ranked in the top 100 regional universities in the North in U.S. News and World Report's 2011 edition of Best Colleges. Eastern was the 28th top public institution on the list and was also the highest ranked university among the four Connecticut state universities.

"I was delighted to learn that Eastern Connecticut State University is ranked in the top 100 regional universities in the North by U.S. News and World Report," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez.  "The news that we are now ranked in Tier One is a tribute to our entire campus community.  Tier One institutions are subject to a rigorous assessment and are ranked based on criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.  To be included in the U.S. News rankings means our faculty and staff are making great strides in improving our academic reputation as they develop strategies to improve retention and graduation rates and other important assessment measures.  Students are declaring their majors earlier; seeking out tutoring and other academic support services; becoming more involved on campus; and more clearly understanding the connections between their classroom and co-curricular learning.  This is a very proud day for our faculty, staff, students, and alumni."


The U.S. News and World Report rankings include reviews of more than 1,400 schools nationwide and are available at They will also be published in the September issue of U.S. News & World Report, on newsstands starting Aug. 31.  The North region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

Over the past two decades, the U.S. News and World Report rankings, which group colleges based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, have grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.

The 2011 Best Colleges program provides the most thorough examination of how more than 1,400 accredited four-year schools compare on a set of 16 widely accepted indicators of excellence. Among the many factors used to determine the rankings are peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.


Jamaican Commencement Held at Eastern

Written by Tim Talley


jamaica group shot BEST.JPG Jamaican educators pose for a photograph at the conclusion of their graduation.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Anese Lawrence -second from right - from Hanover - and Friends Celebrate.JPGWillimantic, Conn. - "Success isn't determined by your position or pay scale, but by what you do best. Maximize the value of your education and engage it with your passion. You can make a difference!" That's what keynote speaker Charlene Russell-Tucker, associate commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Education, told 45 educators from Jamaica who graduated on Aug. 4 from Eastern Connecticut State University with bachelor's degrees in sociology.

            The ceremony was held at Eastern for the first time since its inception in 2000. Previous Commencement ceremonies were held in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

            Russell urged the graduates to find their voice. "As educators who have completed another phase, you have been called into service as agents of change," Russell-Tucker said.


Thumbnail image for Jamaica Pernal Gift.JPGAs a token of their appreciation, the students presented two paintings of Jamaican scenery to Eastern Executive Vice President Michael Pernal, which he accepted on behalf of the University. The paintings will be installed in the Julian Akus gallery and become part of the University Collection.           

       In giving his charge to the graduates, Michael Pernal, Eastern's executive vice president, thanked the students for their diligence and reminded them never to lose their thirst for knowledge. "This degree is a gift that can be turned around and used as another gift," said Pernal. "Give it to your community and your countrymen, and your education will have value not only for you, but whomever you touch in the future as well."

           Jamaica Charlene Russell Tucker Keynote Speaker.JPG Russell urged the graduates to find their voice. "As educators who have completed another phase, you have been called into service as agents of change,"

           The program for the Jamaican educators allows them to complete courses in their home country as well as on Eastern's campus in Willimantic. The program is offered through Eastern's School of Continuing Education in collaboration with the Hanover Education Foundation in Jamaica. This year's graduates are the program's third cohort of students.

            The goal of the program is to provide a bachelor's degree completion option to teachers who have gone to teachers college in Jamaica, which is equivalent to a two-year associate's degree in the United States. Regulations implemented by Jamaica's Ministry of Education now require that all Jamaican teachers have a bachelor's degree.

Jamaica Students Enjoying the Ceremony.JPG                    Jamaican students enjoying the Commencementceremony           

"This day represents a new chapter in our lives and will bring forth new challenges," said graduate Veronica Samuels-Rhoden. "It is an opportunity to access new accomplishments and to achieve them as inventors of the future in both our personal and professional lives."

            The unique aspect of the Eastern program is a residency that requires the students to participate in a five-week summer program on Eastern's Willimantic campus, taking three courses for nine credits. "Participants are given an excellent opportunity to advance their education and career goals. In addition, the program makes it possible for them to excel in the classroom, community and in their own personal development," said Shelly Gimenez, dean of the School of Continuing Education.

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           Jamaican students enjoy reading the Commencement program.

The inspiration for the Jamaica program came from the late Reverend Collin Bennett '81. Bennett wanted to establish a mutually beneficial link between Eastern and Jamaica, so he encouraged Eastern to develop a relationship with the Hanover Education Foundation in Jamaica.  Beverley Anderson, former dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and a native of Jamaica, established contact with the Hanover Education Foundation, gained support on campus, and launched the program.

Jamaica Father Lynch of Lucea, Gives Invocation.JPG                     Father Lynch, of Lucea, gives invocation.                         

"I am humbled and grateful to work with a University like Eastern that understands the importance of education," said Reverend Father Percival Lynch, chair of the Hanover Education Foundation and one of the founders of the program. Lynch traveled from Jamaica to attend the ceremony.


Thumbnail image for Jamaica Gimenez Speaking good shot.JPG Shelly Gimenez, dean of School of Continuing Education, congratulates students.

"With Shelly Gimenez, the Bennett family and Eastern, we have seen the program grow tremendously. The cohort helps to provide more training for our educators who will use their experience at Eastern and bring them back to the island of Jamaica where everyone will prosper."

       Jamaica Chancellor Carter Close Up Speaking.JPG

                                         CSUS Chancellor David G. Carter


      David G. Carter, chancellor of the Connecticut State University System (CSUS), also spoke at the ceremony. "Always remember that the lives you have touched will touch children whose lives have yet to be born. You have made your rich Jamaican heritage very proud."    


Eastern Professor Displays Art in New York

Written by Tim Talley


Butler Image 1.jpgWillimantic, Conn. -   Sharon Butler, associate professor of visual arts at Eastern Connecticut State University, is being featured in an art exhibition titled, "On Display," which opens on Aug. 6 and runs through Aug. 26 at STOREFRONT in Brooklyn, NY. The opening reception is from 6-9 p.m.

            The exhibition is a three-person exhibit which features new perspectives on abstraction along with the similarities of key elements of visual arts portrayed by the artists. "ArtCat, The Opinionated Guide to New York Art," has selected the exhibition as a 'Top Pick' for the week.

          "Having my work included in an exhibition in the heart of the international art world is an honor for me, but more importantly, it speaks to the excellence of the entire Visual Arts Department," said Butler. "As part of Eastern's upcoming Year of the Arts, I'm looking forward to bringing the exhibition's curator and artists to campus to discuss their work and share their thoughts about maintaining a professional art practice with our students."

            Butler has received sever­al grants, residencies and awards, in­cluding a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, two Pocket Utopia artist resi­dencies, Connecticut Commission on Culture artist fellowship, Blue Moun­tain Center Artists' fellowship, and two Connecticut State University research grants. In addition, her work is includ­ed in private collections all over the world. She maintains an award-winning art blog, "Two Coats of Paint," blogs for The Huffington Post and is a contributing writer at The Brooklyn Rail.

            "For me painting is like dreaming," Butler says. "It's as if the paintings emerge from the subconscious and reveal something to me about myself, but I often don't realize what it is until years later ... there is a sense in the paintings of emotional and intel­lectual structures deconstructing. In that regard, my paintings allude to difficult, unrealized conversations."

            For more information about the art exhibition, please contact Sharon Butler at (860) 465-4345 or email her at


Eastern Named "A Best in the Northeast" College

Written by Tim Talley


African American Biology Student.jpgWillimantic, Conn. -   Eastern Connecticut State University is one of the best colleges in the Northeast, according to the nationally known education services company, The Princeton Review.  Eastern is one of 218 institutions that The Princeton Review recommends in its "Best in the Northeast" section on

            "The University community is honored to be included in The Princeton Review's 'Best Colleges in the Northeast' for the second time in three years," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez.  "What is most gratifying is that much of this recognition can be attributed to the survey of our students that The Princeton Review conducted.  Our students seem to appreciate the residential, liberal arts experience that we offer -- small classes, personal attention from faculty, and a vibrant campus life.  The fact our students feel Eastern is affordable is also important to families in these challenging economic times."          

Bouley creating eclips.JPG             "We're pleased to recommend Eastern Connecticut State University to readers of our book and users of our site as one of the best schools to earn their undergraduate degree," says Robert Franek, Princeton Review's Senior VP/Publishing. "We chose it and the other terrific institutions we name as 'regional best' colleges mainly for their excellent academic programs.  From several hundred schools in each region, we winnowed our list based on institutional data we collected directly from the schools, our visits to schools over the years, and the opinions of our staff, college counselors and advisors whose recommendations we invite.  We also take into account what students at the schools reported to us about their campus experiences on our 80-question student survey.  Only schools that permit us to independently survey their students are eligible to be considered for our regional 'best' lists." 

            For this project, The Princeton Review asks students attending the schools to rate their own schools on several issues - from the accessibility of their professors to quality of the campus food - and answer questions about themselves, their fellow students and their campus life. Student comments on Eastern included "A smaller school with smaller classes;" Eastern's "thorough liberal arts curriculum" is conducted within a "comfortable learning environment;" and "I went to academic advising and I was amazed about how fast I was helped and it actually made a positive difference in my work."  The campus life was also highlighted: "There are always activities gong on such as movies, parties, crafts and comedians. You will never be bored at this school."


Eastern Featured in Access & Opportunity Guide

Written by Tim Talley


Generic Wide shot of Students at Commencement.JPGWillimantic, Conn. -   Eastern Connecticut State University has been recognized in the Center for Student Opportunity's (CSO) 2011 College Access & Opportunity Guide, a comprehensive college guidebook designed to help low-income, first-generation college-bound students make their college dreams a reality.

According to the College Board, high-achieving students from low-income families have about the same chance of enrolling in college as low-achieving students from wealthier families. However, those who do make it to college are not finding supportive college environments or graduating. A recent USA Today article notes that 89 percent of low-income, first-generation students leave college within six years without a degree.

            According to the U.S. Department of Education, eight out of 10 students expect to attain a bachelor's degree or higher. Despite these aspirations, low-income students and those who are the first in their families to pursue higher education are severely underrepresented on college campuses.


commencement for Blog.JPG            "One of our University's core values at Eastern is 'inclusion,'" said Eastern's President Elsa Núñez, "and we are fundamentally committed to ensuring that students from all walks of life have access to a college education. We are pleased to be included in the 2011 College Access and Opportunity Guide.  I know that the Information found in the guide will be very helpful to families and prospective students need when considering what college is best for them."

Published by Sourcebooks, a leader in college guides and study aids, the 2011 College Access & Opportunity Guide is significant breakthrough in arming students and their supporters with the necessary information to pursue and succeed in college.

            The Guide features:

·         284 colleges and universities highlighted for their outreach efforts, financial aid opportunities and student support services

·         A four-step plan to college developed by partners, KnowHow2GO

·         Articles and advice from college students and other experts

·         Valuable information for parents and mentors, including a new Spanish-language section

             "We want to show students and their supporters that the opportunity for college is there," said Matt Rubinoff, Executive Director of CSO. "The 2011 College Access & Opportunity Guide is a special resource that provides guidance through the college process and delivers important information on college programs aimed to serve low-income, first-generation college students."


For more information about the Center for Student Opportunity visit


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