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January 2011 Archives

Eastern Students Make a Global Difference

Written by Kate Harner


IMG_0727.JPG            Eastern Connecticut State University seniors Jordan Lorrius, Matthew Grosjean and Ryan Henowitz are using experiences gained while on a trip to Serbia to spread a message of hope and humanity.

            Lorrius, a communication major from Stamford who is of Haitian descent, was in Serbia in January 2010, when he heard about the devastating earthquake in Haiti. "When I heard about the earthquake from an ocean away, I immediately picked up my guitar and wrote a song for Haiti titled 'Ayiti Kanpe'," said Lorrius.

            A few days later, Lorrius played "Ayiti Kanpe" in the Belgrade airport while waiting for his plane home. The general manager of MTV Adria, which covers nations bordering the Adriatic Sea, and executive director of the MTV Europe Foundation, the independent charitable foundation of MTV Networks Europe, heard the song and expressed his interest.

"I didn't know who he was at first," Lorrius explained. "I ended up sitting next to him on the plane, and when I asked who he was, he only told me that he was a music lover. He handed me his card, but I didn't look at it at first. It was only a few weeks later after he contacted me again that I found out who he was.  I sent him a recording of my work, and he told me he wanted to shoot a music video."

            In March 2010, Lorrius returned to Serbia and performed in the music video for his song, "Listen," which was inspired by "Ayiti Kanpe."

            In July, 2010, Grosjean, a political science and economics major from Ellington, joined Lorrius to attend the International Student Week in Belgrade, Serbia, as the only Americans invited to the activism conference. The one-week student festival focused on the question, "Do we tolerate intolerance?", and hosted workshops ranging from human rights to marketing, youth activism and environmental protection. To kick off the week's activities, conference coordinators asked Lorrius and Grosjean to perform at Belgrade's City Hall.

            After their once-in-a-lifetime performance, the two Eastern students spent the week attending the conference's workshops. "We learned how ethics are applied in the workplace and marketplace as a whole and learned how our choices each day affect others," said Lorrius. "We learned how the decisions we make may affect people that are of different race, religion, ethnicity and socio-economic standing."  

During the conference, Lorrius and Grosjean performed at an MTV concert attended by more than 15,000 people. "Jordan and I played the Red Hot Chili Peppers' song, 'Under the Bridge,' before we left the stage," said Grosjean. "The band that followed -- KKN -- dedicated one of their songs to us, saying, 'Here in Belgrade, we were all kids under the bridge,' referring to the NATO bombings in 1999. It was a really special moment."

            Lorrius and Grosjean also attended the Third Age Olympiad, an exhibition of health and wellness and the arts that took place Sept. 29-Oct. 3 in Soko Banja. Ryan Henowitz '11, a political science major from Uncasville, helped them document and research the Olympiad. People they interviewed included retired professional basketball player Vlade Divac, prominent humanitarian and president of the Serbian Olympic Committee. 

            "We took photos and interviewed participants at the Olympiad," said Henowitz. "We wrote a report concerning the event's goals and used it to gain sponsorship and participation from other nations. Matt used his education in economics to analyze the local government and determine how the Olympiad raises funds for the community."

            After reporting on the Olympiad, the Eastern students decided they wanted to conduct further research into life in Serbia. "We are creating a documentary based on my independent study with my political science professor, Adriana Buliga-Stoian," explained Henowitz. "My work focused on the different political scenarios in Serbia with their ethnic wars, political instability and the people's feelings toward each government they have been under since the breakup of Yugoslavia."

            Since returning to Eastern, Lorrius and Grosjean have continued their activism efforts through their band, The Phantoms, which they formed over the summer with several other friends.  "Our songs carry messages ranging from love and relationships to society and how it makes people do what they do," said Grosjean.

The United Nations will feature The Phantoms in its Arts for Peace initiative in early 2011. This initiative, which involves open-source technology so that musicians from around the world can play together over the Internet in real time, hosts salons in which different musicians perform to promote a culture of peace and to support the arts. The Phantoms also will collaborate with the United Nations in January by traveling to Haiti to help with relief efforts. The Arts for Peace initiative will dedicate its Jan. 29 salon to The Phantoms and the band members' music, youth initiative and their research in Serbia and Haiti.


Shari Aaron to Speak

Written by Kate Harner

Shari Aaron.JPGWillimantic, Conn. - Shari Aaron, author of "Climb the Green Ladder," will present a lecture at Eastern Connecticut State University on making the workplace more energy-efficient and sustainable at 3 p.m. on Feb. 2 in the Student Center Theatre. The presentation is part of the Eastern's University Hour series. The public is invited. Admission is free.

            In "Climb the Green Ladder," Aaron collaborated with co-author Amy Fetzer to teach companies and organizations ways to save money and boost profits through sustainable work habits. Aaron and Fetzer interviewed more than 75 sustainability specialists who have changed their workplaces in order to reduce environmental damage and create more successful businesses. The book offers real-life case studies that range from small steps such as persuading colleagues to recycle to larger changes that transform entire companies. 

            Aaron is a business leader in market research and sustainability. She is a former partner at Yankelovich; supervisor of account planning at Ogilvy & Mather; and founder of Fresh Marketing. Aaron has worked with clients including, Hasbro, Kraft, Liz Claiborne, Ogilvy & Mather, StartingBloc, P&G, The Princeton Review, The Toy Industry Association, Red Cross, UNICEF and Uncommon Schools.


Going Green Author to Speak at Eastern on Feb. 3

Written by Dwight Bachman

seth Leitman web image.jpgWillimantic, Conn.  -  Seth Leitman, affectionately known as "The Green Living Guy," will be the keynote speaker on Feb. 3 (new date) from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre (new location)  during a "Neighbor to Neighbor"  initiative on "living green." The initiative is co-sponsored by Eastern's Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) and "Neighbor to Neighbor" and involves the Towns of  Mansfield, Windham and Lebanon. The public is invited. Admission is free.

          Leitman, known as "the guy that answers questions people are afraid to ask about Going Green," is the author of "Green Lighting," "Build Your Own Electric Vehicle," and "Build Your Own Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle," and is the green lighting and series editor for McGraw-Hill's "The Green Guru Guides."  These guides focus on implementing environmentally friendly technologies and making them work for you.  Leitman's blog can be found at His book, "Green Lighting," is highlighted at

                             Energy Savings Forum on Jan. 27

As a follow up to Leitman's presentation, the ISE will host a Windham "Neighbor to Neighbor" organizational meeting on Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. at its office at 182 High Street in Willimantic.

"Neighbor to Neighbor" is a community energy program designed to engage communities to work together to reduce energy waste, save money and preserve the environment for future generations. Fourteen communities are participating  in the challenge, including Lebanon, Mansfield and Windham.

For more information about the organizational meeting, contact Laurel Kohl, the ISE's energy education specialist, at or call her at (860) 465-0256. For additional information about the challenge, visit or contact Madeline Priest at  or (860) 232-6232.

Directions to Eastern Connecticut State University can be found on our university map. 


Nominations Sought for Ella Grasso Award

Written by Dwight Bachman

grasso_for_blog.JPGWillimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University is accepting nominations for the annual Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Awards.  Nominees may be part of the University community or from the community.  Nominations will be accepted through Feb. 25.

The Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Award recognizes members of the campus and local community whose actions demonstrate distinguished service in promoting Grasso's ideals to advance women's rights and gender equality.

Awards will be given to a member of the community; a member of the Eastern faculty/staff; and a member of the Eastern student body.

The awards recognize leaders in programs that support the needs of women by organizing and empowering women, advocating on behalf of women's rights, or supporting outreach services to women; and leaders who have demonstrated initiative in planning and implementing programs to broaden the representation of women at various levels of society, including socioeconomic, political, medical/health sectors, and the fine arts and social sciences.

The award will be presented at a ceremony at 6 p.m. on March 30 in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library. 

To request a nomination form, please contact Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of Eastern's Women Center, by calling (860) 465-4313, or emailing        


Eastern to Participate in "College Goal Sunday"

Written by Dwight Bachman

Wiilimantic, CT - Eastern Connecticut State University will participate in "College Goal Sunday," an event taking place at 13 locations statewide, on Jan. 30. "College Goal Sunday" is an event for parents and college-bound high school seniors to learn about college entrance requirements and obtain assistance in filling out financial aid application forms. They will also get assistance in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (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.

The informational sessions at Eastern, which will address questions about state and federal financial aid, will be held in Webb Hall, Room 410 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. 

A team of experts will be available to answer any questions about sources of financial aid. Parents are encouraged to attend and must register with their children prior to the event. Participating students will be entered into a scholarship competition.

Sponsors include the Lumina Foundation for Education, the National Association of Student Financial Aid and Administrators, the Connecticut Association of Educational Opportunity Programs and the Connecticut Association of Professional Financial Aid Administrators.

Visit  the college day website for a complete list of participants, online registration, information about what documents to bring to the session, and volunteer opportunities. For more information about "College Goal Sunday" at Eastern, call (860) 465-5205. For additional information, call (888) 277-2270.



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Cover- LibraryTower-.jpgWillimantic, CT --  To our friends in the media, we first hope this note finds you in good health and good spirits! And I personally want to wish each of you the most productive, prosperous and happiest New Year ever! 

Second, we want to assure you that we plan to continue sending you press releases about events and activities taking place at Eastern Connecticut State University, Connecticut's public liberal arts university on a timely basis. However, we want to raise the bar in getting Eastern news to you.

To that end, we invite you to subscribe to our newswire RSS (Really Simple Syndication) Feed.  Doing so will enable you to receive our press releases right into your email account or web browser, as they are posted to our website.  It's easy to subscribe to our RSS Feed.  Simply click on:

We are committed to serving you by bringing you our good news to share with your audience. While we seek your assistance in helping us tell our story, we also believe you will thoroughly enjoy what Eastern students, faculty and staff are doing to contribute to the intellectual and economic growth of the State of Connecticut. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at (860) 465-5114 or on my cell phone at (860) 428-6779.




Dwight Bachman

Public Relations Officer


TV Series on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Written by Brian Novack

MLKing March on Washington- King Waving to Crowd.JPGWillimantic, CT -- Had he lived, the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 82 years old this year.  As part of its celebration of King's birthday, Eastern Connecticut State University will present a 12-part series looking back on the life and times of the man, widely considered as the greatest civil rights leader of the past century.

The series, which contains a greeting by Eastern president Elsa M. Núñez, was researched, written and produced by Dwight Bachman, public relations officer at Eastern. The series will air all day on Jan. 17, the national celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on Channel 22, Eastern's cable channel. It will air on even hours all day beginning at midnight and ending 24 hours later on Jan. 18. A link to the streaming video can be found at:

MLK Jr Malcolm X 2.JPGThe series, which Eastern Professor of Theatre Ellen Brodie described as "an on-going beacon lighting the memory of Dr. King and a loving gift to future generations," begins with a look at the forces that brought this humble Baptist preacher out of his pulpit and pushed him into the forefront of the civil rights movement.  From there, it moves on to the role King played in desegregating the transit system of Montgomery, AL.  It also reveals how King reacted to the many threats on his life; his extraordinary ability to articulate an idea; his response to liberals who said he was moving too fast; and cites Christian clergymen who said he was a Communist troublemaker who belonged in jail.

MLK Jr March on Washington-Marching.JPG

 "Much emphasis is put on Dr. King's tactic of nonviolent civil disobedience, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Peace," said Bachman. "We often forget King's goals of achieving fairness for everyone and ending segregation, injustice, racism and discrimination. Dr. King did not die for non-violence; that was simply his tactic. The night he died in Memphis, Tennessee, he was fighting for fair pay and economic justice for sanitation workers in that city who, as he said, 'cannot eat three square meals a day.' We all should pay more attention to King's goals rather than his tactics."


MLK TV SNC Ancor Lynn Brown in 1983.jpgThe series originally aired in 1983 on the Stamford, CT-based Satellite News Channel (SNC), where Bachman was a news producer at the time.  Jose Grinan, SNC anchorman, narrates the series. Nick Messina, director of media services at Eastern, and Craig Naumec, multimedia production technician in Media Services, recreated the series for the Eastern Connecticut State University television broadcast.


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