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March 2011 Archives

Homegrown: Celebrating 30 Years of Artistic Community

Written by Tim Talley

Akus 1 Genesis.JPG

Genesis, 2000, Frances Kornbluth, collage on handmade paper, 20"x20"

Willimantic, Conn. - The Julian Akus Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University is presenting the juried exhibition, "Homegrown: Celebrating 30 Years of Artistic Community," from March 24 through May 5.  An opening reception and awards ceremony takes place on Thursday, April 7 in the gallery from 5 to 7 p.m.

"Homegrown" celebrates the 30th anniversary of the gallery's opening and also commemorates its namesake, the late Julian Akus, who taught visual art at Eastern for nearly three decades until his passing in 1981.  The work of 60 artists was chosen by a panel of three jurors: Michael Cochran, artist and adjunct professor at Rhode Island College and former instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD); Joy Pepe, professor emerita of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, lecturer and former curator at Yale Center for British Art; and Julia Courtney, curator of art at the Springfield Art Museum.


Akus 2 Blue Tanker.JPG

                  Blue, 2011, Cynthia Guild, oil on panel, 36"x 48"

The more than 70 works now on view in "Homegrown" were created by artists throughout the Northeast, and includes residents from Willimantic and neighboring towns such as Lebanon, Coventry and Ashford.  Residents across the region were encouraged to enter their work, and students, faculty and staff from regional universities also submitted pieces for consideration.

Some of the work selected by the esteemed panel of jurors is created by students from Eastern, the University of Connecticut and Manchester Community College, along with artists who are well-established and artists who are just starting promising careers. Artists range in age from 18 to 90.  This show includes traditional media such as oil on canvas, steel, lithography and pastel, as well as non-traditional media such as painting in leaves and moss-covered sculpture.

Akus 3 Self in Leaves.JPG

 Self in Leaves, 2010, Clint Slowik, leaves on posterboard, 40"x60"

Show organizers include local artists George Jacobi and Pat Miller; Eastern Visual Arts major Christopher Cox; and Elizabeth Peterson, director of the Akus Gallery.  "This is our first juried show at Akus Gallery, and highlights work of several outstanding artists of the region including some of our own talented undergraduates," said Peterson. "The response was overwhelmingly positive and not surprisingly, the caliber of work submitted was high.  Since the days when the great American impressionist J. Alden Weir lived in Windham and painted the Willimantic Mills, this region has been and continues to be extraordinarily culturally rich."

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.  The public is invited.  Admission is free.  For more information regarding this and other exhibitions at Akus Gallery, please call (860) 465-4659 or visit on the web at  


Poet Gray Jacobik to Read at Eastern

Written by Kate Harner

GrayJacobik.jpgWillimantic, Conn. - Award-winning poet Gray Jacobik, professor emeritus at Eastern Connecticut State University, will read from her book, "Little Boy Blue: A Memoir in Verse," at 3:30 p.m. on April 12 in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room in the J. Eugene Smith Library. Light refreshments and a book signing will follow the reading. The public is invited. Admission is free.

            Jacobik is the author of "Brave Disguises," "Sandpainting," "Paradise Poems," "Jane's Song," "The Double Task" and "The Surface of Last Scattering." She has received numerous awards for her writing, including the AWP Poetry Series Award, the X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, the Emily Dickinson Prize, the Yeats Prize and the Juniper Prize. She has also received more than 20 nominations for the Pushcart Prize. Jacobik has served as the Robert Frost poet-in-residence at the Frost Place. Her work has appeared in many anthologies and journals, such as "Best American Poetry," "The Kenyon Review," "Connecticut Review" and "Ploughshares," among others. She received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Writing and an Artist's Fellowship from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. Jacobik served as a professor of literature at Eastern from 1991 to 2004.

            For more information on the reading, which is sponsored by Eastern's Department of English and Women's Studies Program, contact Miranda Lau at (860) 465-4570 or


Poets Present Reading at Eastern

Written by Kate Harner

Geraldine Mills.jpgWillimantic, Conn. - Award-winning poets Geraldine Mills and Lisa Taylor, part-time professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University, will present a reading of their newly released international collaborative collection, "The Other Side of Longing," at 7 p.m. on April 4 in the Student Center Theatre. Light refreshments and a book signing will follow the reading. The public is invited. Admission is free.

            Mills, who resides in Ireland, has published two collections of short fiction, "Lick of the Lizard" and "The Weight of Feathers," and four collections of poetry, including "Toil the Dark Harvest," "Unearthing Your Own" and "An Urgency of Stars." She has won the OKI Award, the Moore Medallion, the North Tipperary Award, the South Tipperary Award, a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship and the Aspire Short Story Competition. Mills was named the Millenium winner of the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune New Irish Writer Award.

LisaCTaylor.jpg            Taylor is the author of three collections of poetry, including "Falling Open" and "Talking to Trees." Her work has been featured in anthologies, literary magazines and journals such as "Cape Rock," "Healing Muse," "Midwest Review," "Pegasus," "Birmingham Poetry Review" and "Connecticut River Review." Taylor's poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In 2009, Taylor was awarded a Surdna Arts Teaching Fellowship to travel to Ireland to explore its landscape and culture with Mills. Afterward, Mills traveled to Connecticut. "The Other Side of Longing" describes both authors' experiences in these different cultures.

            For more information on the reading, which is sponsored by Eastern's Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English, contact Miranda Lau at (860) 465-4570 or


Guarnieri Honored for Excellence in Advising

Written by Tim Talley:

Charlie L. Nutt NACADA executive director presents the Advising Excellence Award to Guarnieri.JPGCharlie Nutt, NACADA executive director, presents the Advising Excellence Award to Guarnieri.


Willimantic, Conn. - Christine Guarnieri '03, student development specialist in the Academic Services Center at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been named the recipient of the National Academic Advising Association's (NACADA) Advising Excellence Award. Guarnieri was presented the award at the NACADA's Region One meeting in Burlington, VT, on March 10. The awards are presented to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding academic advising of students and who have served as advisors for a period of three or fewer years.

             "Guarnieri has had a tremendously positive impact on advising countless individual students here at Eastern, as well as enhancing initiatives that have and are dramatically improving the quality of advising and overall student experiences of all Eastern students," said Alex Citurs, assistant professor in the department of Business Administration, in his nomination letter.

Christine Guarnieri is congratulated by Advising Center Director Susan Heyward after winning advising excellence award.jpg

Guarnieri is congratulated by Advising Center Director Susan Heyward after winning Advising Excellence Award.


            "Guarnieri is a committed alumnus of Eastern and I am pleased that she has been recognized for her advising services," said Susan Heyward, director of Eastern's Advising Center.  "Many students, faculty and staff are responsible for the effective implementation of the University's Four-Stage Advising Program, which is an initiative of our Strategic Plan. Her honor reflects on the quality of advising and support services offered to our students through the Advising Center. The University benefits from this regional recognition."  

Dual Enrollment Program Wins the Robert J. McKenna Award

Written by Julianne Bass

Willimantic, CT -- The Dual Enrollment Program at Eastern Connecticut State University, a collaboration with Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC), was presented the Robert J. McKenna Award for Program Achievement on March 11 at The New England Board of Higher Education's annual Higher Education Excellence Awards Dinner at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel. This program is a partnership between Eastern, QVCC and Hartford Public High School to help inner city students attend college.

Now in its third year of operation, the Dual Enrollment Program has been able to successfully guide sixteen of the 19 students who enrolled in the program's first two years through their college experience so far, who are now sophomores and juniors.

Eastern and QVCC co-enroll 10 Hartford Public High School graduates each fall, students who have the determination and potential to succeed, but who had not planned to attend college. The students take nine credits of remedial instruction at QVCC in their first semester, while also taking one course at Eastern, living in Eastern's residence halls and fully involving themselves in campus life. 

The criteria for winning the McKenna Award included programs that exemplified excellence leadership, innovation, diversity, partnerships/collaborations or educational opportunity. Eastern's Dual Enrollment Program was selected for its innovative approach to providing educational access to underserved populations and for the collaborative nature of the program.

The Dual Enrollment Initiative has received financial support from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the Wal-Mart Foundation, the U.S. Department of Justice and from private sources. The program also was named the recipient of the College Board's CollegeKeys Compact Innovation Award in 2010.


Eastern to Host Storytelling Slam

Written by Kate Harner

storytellinglogo-ray.JPGWillimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's English Department and the Connecticut Storytelling Center will present a Storytelling Slam from 7 to 10 p.m. on March 29 in Charles R. Webb Hall Room 110. The public is invited. Admission is free.

            Participants will tell five-minute stories. The theme of this year's contest is humor. A panel of judges from the English and Education departments at Eastern and outside of the university as well, will score the participants, who will include students, faculty, staff and members of the public.

            The top two finishers will proceed to the finals on April 28 at Connecticut College. All finalists will receive a prize pack and a ticket to the Connecticut Storytelling Festival Concert on April 30 at Connecticut College, which will feature renowned concert performer and author Tim Tingle. Following the Tim Tingle concert, the overall winner and two runner-ups will return for a non-competitive showcase and open microphone on April 30. Seven other storytellers' names will be drawn from a hat that evening to round out the performance.

            The event is part of the Connecticut Storytelling Center's 2011 Campus Story Slammer, which is taking place at Eastern, Connecticut College, Trinity College, the University of Hartford, Western Connecticut State University, the University of Connecticut and Wesleyan University.

            For more information, contact Raouf Mama, professor of English, at or (860) 465-4549.


Nevada Teacher Makes Difference, Shares at Eastern

Written by Tim Talley

cahill.jpgWillimantic, Conn. - Tierney Cahill, a mother of three and a sixth-grade teacher, will discuss how her students responded in 2000 when she decided to run for office and prove to them that any normal person could do so. Cahill's presentation, which is part of Eastern Connecticut State University's University Hour, will be held at 3 p.m. on March 30 in Eastern's Student Center Theatre. The public is invited. Admission is free. Cahill will also be the keynote speaker at the Ella T. Grasso Awards that evening at 6 p.m. in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library

            In a civics lesson, Cahill told her students in Reno, NV that anyone can run for political office. They disagreed, claiming that "normal" Americans did not have a role in government. Determined to prove them wrong, Cahill dedicated herself to running for the Second District Congressional seat even though she didn't have a great deal of money or name recognition.

            In her election bid, Cahill's campaign composed such issues as education, mental health and nuclear waste. Though Cahill lost the campaign, she received 34 percent of the vote and proved to her students that an average American can run for office and make a difference.

            Cahill's memoir, "Ms. Cahill for Congress," tells of her experience running for office and was released in 2008. The story of her courage and dedication is the subject of the upcoming film, "Class Act," starring Halle Berry.

            For more information on Cahill's presentation, contact Starsheemar Byrum, Eastern's coordinator of the Women's Center at (860) 465-4313 or at


Eastern to Perform "Dog Sees God"

Written by Kate Harner

dogseesgod.jpgEastern to Perform "Dog Sees God"

Willimantic, CT -- Students in Eastern Connecticut State University's Theatre Program will perform "Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead" at 8 p.m. on March 18 and 19 in Shafer Auditorium. The public is invited. Tickets are $3 for Eastern students and $5 for the general public.

In "Dog Sees God," the main character, C.B., questions the existence of an afterlife after his dog dies from rabies. Since his friends do not provide any comfort or solace for his loss, C.B. turns to another peer whom his friends used to bully. Their new friendship pushes teen angst to its limits as the play provides a perspective on pressing social issues today, such as teen violence and drug use.

The performance is directed by Shane Kegler, a senior theatre major from Mansfield Center. Keri Dumka, a junior theatre major from Burlington, is the assistant director. The cast includes Shannon Delahanty, a junior English major from Wallingford; Hilary Osborn, a junior theatre major from Columbia; Max Loignon, a senior theatre major from Cheshire; Kerri Panciera '10, a theatre major from Killingworth; Joey Dias '10, a theatre major from Colchester; and Scott Kegler '06, a fine arts major from Mansfield Center.

For reservations, call the Box Office at (860) 465-5123.


Professor Displays Art at United Nations

Written by Kate Harner

Willimantic, Conn. - "Ancestral Memories," an art exhibition by Imna Arroyo, professor of art at Eastern Connecticut State University, will be displayed at the United Nations' International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The exhibit opening will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on March 22 at the Main Gallery in the Visitors' Lobby of the United Nations, located at First Avenue at 46th Street in New York City.

            The United Nations event commemorates the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, which forced 25 to 30 million Africans away from their homes to endure the torture of slavery in the Americas and the Caribbean. Arroyo's exhibition will feature the African Orishas guarding their ancestors during the transatlantic passage. The evening will also include a mystical recreation of the Middle Passage and a collection of artifacts and historic documents from the Freeman Institute. African and Caribbean cuisine and cultural performances will follow. Traditional attire is requested.

            For more information and to RSVP, contact the United Nations at or (212) 963-0089.


Eastern Documentary Wins Top Honor

Written by Julianne Bass

            A team of Eastern Connecticut State University students have been named winners of the Best Student Documentary Short in the national Broadcast Educators Association Annual Media Festival Awards for 2011. The awards will be presented in Las Vegas in April.

            Dan Young, Michelle Jarvis, Jason Wadecki and Estelle Crews worked on the film, "The Child Left Behind," during their Documentary Production class in fall 2009, with producer Katelyn Forster completing the project during her spring 2010 internship under the supervision of Communication Professor Denise Matthews. Education Professor Maureen Ruby inspired the idea for "The Child Left Behind" after she shared her story with the students.

            Of the experience, production team member Jarvis said, "I was so surprised and excited that we had won. A lot of time was put into this project.  It was such a rewarding experience.  It really made me aware of the obstacles children with learning disabilities have to face." 

            The documentary tells the story of Putnam, CT, parents of middle school children with special needs who protested that their child had not been taught to read. This parental advocacy led the Putnam School District to hire Ruby, a reading specialist. "Not providing data-driven, evidence-based and differentiated instruction to children with disabilities may leave these students behind when it comes to reading skills," said Ruby. "This is particularly true for students with cognitive deficits." Ruby provided training to veteran Putnam middle school teacher Fran Bousquet, with remarkable results.

             "The Broadcast Education Association's Media Festival is a very important production competition in our field," said Professor Matthews. "This is a great validation of the quality of our production program by national standards. We have good equipment; a solid curriculum taught by Andrew Utterback and myself; technical support from Media Service's Paul Melmer; strong administrative support from Jamie Gómez Dean of Eastern's School of Arts and Sciences; and Rhona Free, vice president of academic affairs; and great students. We should all be very proud."


Eastern to Host Danit Brown

Written by Kate Harner

danit_brown.jpgWillimantic, Conn. - Award-winning author Danit Brown will read selections from her latest book, "Ask for a Convertible," at Eastern Connecticut State University on March 14 at 7 p.m. in Room 104 of the Science Building. The public is invited. Admission is free.

            "Ask for a Convertible" is a book of several stories revolving around Osnat Greenberg, an 11-year-old who moves to Michigan with her parents from Tel Aviv, Israel.  The stories are told over a period of 15 years, during which time Osnat struggles to decide whether to move back to Israel or to stay in America.

            Brown is a resident writer of fiction at Albion University in Michigan. She received the 2009 American Book Award, as well as the Washington Post Best Book of 2008. Many of her stories have appeared in literary journals such as "Glimmer Train," "One Story," "StoryQuarterly" and "Story."

            For more information, contact the English Club, sponsors of the event, at


Nominations Sought for Latin American Awards

Written by Julianne Bass

Willimantic, CT -- Eastern Connecticut State University is seeking nominations of students, staff/faculty and community members for its annual Latin American Distinguished Service Awards Program. Nominations must be sent in no later than March 28 to Michelle Delaney at  

The Latin American Distinguished Service awards are given to individuals in the surrounding community who have gone above and beyond their obligations to demonstrate a personal commitment to positive Latino youth development; provide leadership in serving the needs of the Latino community; and promote and advance the Latino community.

Three recipients will be chosen, one from each category -- student, faculty or staff member, and community member. The ceremony honoring the awardees will be held at 6 p.m. on April 20 in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library. For additional information regarding the program and nominations, call Michelle Delaney at (860) 465-0105 or e-mail


Students Perform Phoenix New Play Series

Written by Tim Talley

Willimantic, Conn. - Students from Eastern Connecticut State University's Performing Arts Department will perform Shorts from the Phoenix New Play Series on March 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre. The public is invited. Admission is free.

            This year's new play consists of three short plays. The cast includes Ben Donnel, a senior theatre major from Groton; Craig Harlow, a senior theatre major from East Haven; Sarah Dillon, a junior theatre major from Putnam; Gia Kilbrith, a senior psychology major from Cold Spring Harbor, NY; Kate Harner, an junior English major from Oxford; Matthew Pryke, a sophomore from East Lyme; Kelsey Guggenheim, a freshman theatre major from Stratford; and Katrina Clark, a senior biology major from Willimantic.

            The first play, "Deck Chairs," is written by Bill Arnold and directed by Eastern alumnus Scott Kegler '06. The play is an absurdist comedy that takes place on the Titanic as it is sinking.

            The second play, "Anti-First Amendment Misinterpretation Collaboration League," is written by Alison Schiller and directed by Kegler. This play is about a young man trying to court a woman from a very religious family. He goes to dinner to try to impress her parents and win her over, but the night has disastrous results.

            The third play, "A/B Conversation," is written by Nicole Panteleakos and directed by Luke Reinwald, a senior theatre major from Branford. The play focuses on two women talking about their relationship, and one of them is more in love with the other, who is sarcastic and talks down to her lover.

            The Phoenix New Play Series are rehearsed readings of new plays. Ellen Brodie, professor/director of theatre, has organized this year's series with the help of Shane Kegler, a senior theatre major from Mansfield Center and president of Eastern's Drama Society.

            For more information, contact Lana Raymond at (860) 465-5325 or


National Gambling Awareness Semester

Written by Tim Talley


Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University President Elsa M. Núñez has declared Spring Semester 2011 as National Gambling Awareness Semester at Eastern. In her proclamation, Núñez encouraged all members of the campus community to help educate themselves about the risks of gambling, social gambling, responsible gambling and problem gambling.

            "Problem gambling is a public health issue affecting millions of Americans of all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds in all communities at a significant societal and economic cost," said Núñez. "Problem gambling is treatable and treatment is effective in minimizing the harm to both individuals and society as a whole."

            "Our University as well as the University's Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, Office of Wellness Promotion and the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling invite all members of the Eastern campus community to participate in National Gambling Awareness Semester," continued Núñez.

            Tom Broffman, assistant professor of sociology at Eastern, welcomed Núñez's proclamation. "We're doing an online survey of Eastern students," said Broffman. "Based on previous research elsewhere, the rate of problem gambling among college students is twice that of adult population, as gambling is a socially acceptable, readily available and legal recreational activity."

            According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), 70 percent of adults gambled at least once in the past year, and 15 percent at least once in the past week. Over the past year, the industry acquired $95 billion in gaming revenues from states and companies. Forty-eight states and two-thirds of federally-recognized Native American tribes have legalized gambling. Ohio is the latest state to withdraw from its previously rigid stance on casino gambling as it plans on opening four casinos within the state within the over two of years.
            "Gambling addiction is a serious issue," said Broffman. "The social cost of problem gambling, including addiction, bankruptcy and crime, was almost $7 billion last year. This is a trap our community needs not to fall in."

            Eastern is a participant of the National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (March 2011). Along with numerous individuals, professionals and organizations have dedicated their efforts to educating the public about problem and responsible gambling and the availability and effectiveness of treatment.



Best of the East Dance Competition

Written by Kate Harner

ProjectD2.jpgWillimantic, CT -- Eastern Connecticut State University's student group, Men Achieving Leadership, Excellence and Success (M.A.L.E.S.) will host the Fourth Annual Best of the East Dance Competition on March 12 from 8 to 10 p.m. in the Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. Admission is free for Eastern students. Windham-area students will be charged $5 with student ID. Outside guests will be charged $7.

The dance competition, which is co-sponsored by Hip Hop International, will feature nine dance teams from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Vermont. Performers also include Ricky Tan, Phunk Phenomenon, Slap Bracelets, 8 Count, Disfunctional Soules, YNot Dance Crew, Academy of Phresh, Urban Dance Alliance, We Run This and Project D Dance Company. The winning dance crew will receive $2,000 in cash. The second prize is $500, and the third is $250.  


Music will be provided by WZMX's (Hot 93.7) DJ Bigg Man. G-Money Da Prince, host of a morning talk show on the station, will emcee the event, which was attended by 1,200 guests last year.

Proceeds from the event will go toward the M.A.L.E.S. Endowed Scholarship Fund, which benefits a Windham High School student.

"We were thrilled to have raised more than $5,000 in the first year of this competition in March 2008," said Michael Pina, a M.A.L.E.S. member. "The ultimate goal is to raise $10,000 every year to continue enhancing the scholarship funds and to award a deserving student with a scholarship on an annual basis."

"Not only do we intend to provide Eastern students, Windham residents and other guests with an eventful and memorable night, but our main goal is and always will be to give a deserving high school graduate the opportunity to attend college," said Omar Rodriguez, president of M.A.L.E.S.



Impact of Asteroids and Comets

Written by Tim Talley

planetarium1.jpgWillimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Department of Physical Sciences is having a show titled, "Asteroid and Comet Impacts on the Earth" at 5:30 p.m. on March 7 in the Robert K. Wickware Planetarium. The public is invited. Admission is free.

            Russell Sampson, associate professor of physical sciences and assistant director of the Planetarium, feels that knowledge of astronomy is helpful for all people. "This star show will not only entertain our students with the wonders of the universe, but will also demonstrate how an interdisciplinary education is important in the development of a good citizen," Sampson said.  "Understanding a little astronomy is important in understanding how to protect our world and our civilization from asteroid and comet impacts.  To protect the world from such threats, it will cost money, and taxpayers will probably foot some of or the entire bill.  If it is our tax money, then we should be informed.


            "I hope our visitors will develop a better understanding of our place in the cosmos and how we are still at the mercy of the forces of nature," continued Sampson. "Asteroids and comets have impacted our planet in the past and will in the future.  There is mounting evidence that a comet or asteroid impact 65 million years ago was responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs. There are still many more comets and asteroids in the Solar System that could cause a mass extinction in the future.  We now have the ability to detect and monitor the objects that could pose the greatest threat.  However, the technology to protect the Earth from such an impact is still undeveloped."   

         For reservations or more information contact Zosia Carlquist at (860) 465-4317 or email her at or Russell Sampson at (860) 465-0188 or email him at Tickets are free and seating is very limited with 55 available seats. Eastern's Planetarium offers yearly public and private shows. Public star shows are intended for ages 10 and up.


Graduate Division Holds Open House

Written by Tim Talley

Willimantic, Conn. - The Graduate Division at Eastern Connecticut State University is hosting an open house from 1 to 3 p .m. on March 12 in the Student Center. The event is designed to share information with potential graduate students on Eastern's master's degree programs.

            Eastern offers a number of Master of Science programs. The Master of Science in Organizational Management (MSOM) program develops a student's capacity to become managers and leaders by learning through practices that take them outside their comfort zone. Professional work experience is a pre-/co requisite for the program. The program focuses on individual behavior, group dynamics, organizational processes and structure, and the interactions of all of these within an organization.

            Stephen Nelson, a technical support specialist in Eastern's Information Technology Services, graduated from the MSOM program. "The immediate implementation of the classroom material to my career is what kept me interested and motivated," said Nelson. "I was able to apply many of the management practices and theories discussed in the classroom to my daily responsibility in my professional life. The Master of Science degree in Organizational Management has enhanced my professional life by positioning me to be able to provide leadership and management skill within my current career, and also provided me with the educational requirements needed to advance."

            Eastern also offers several Master's degrees in Education, including early childhood, elementary, and secondary education, as well as Educational Technology and Reading and Language Arts.

            Cat Carter, a graduate assistant in the Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC), appreciates the knowledge she has gained from her program. "My program gave me hands-on experiences and practical skills that I have been able to apply to my current positions, and can use as I market myself for the future," said Carter. "The program more than adequately prepared me for the next professional step in my life and gave me the necessary confidence to pursue my goals.

            "One of my favorite professors at Eastern was Leslie Ricklin, professor of Education," Carter continued.  "She saw potential in my work and recommended that I submit a project for publication. Not only was she incredibly supportive throughout the very stressful process involved with writing an article, but after it was accepted, the sincere joy and genuine happiness that she expressed for me felt more rewarding than the initial acceptance letter I received from the publisher. Her concern for student success is invaluable."

            Kelly Zimmermann, also a graduate assistant for the Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE), and a full-time graduate student in the Early Childhood Education Master's and Certification program, is pleased with how well the program enhanced her professional development. "I am able to work directly with my professors and gain first-hand insight and knowledge, understanding why and how the pedagogy being taught in my classes is directly applied within a classroom," said Zimmermann.  "My master's program has been a wonderful experience.  I have been encouraged and provided opportunities to challenge my own beliefs, learn new theories and practices, and have constructive in-depth discussions in all of my classes regarding the practical implementation of these constructs in the 'real-world.'  I will be a far more successful, understanding, and patient teacher because of my experiences in this program."

            Zimmermann is currently working on two grant projects, and is involved with using Eastern's advanced media technology in order to record video footage of the classrooms at the CDFRC. This footage is then edited and coded by Zimmermann and faculty and students.

            The Master of Science in Reading and Language Arts helps certified teachers to strengthen their knowledge about literature and reading. The literature program is designed to help students better understand children's literature and its use in the classroom.

            For more information on the Graduate Division's open house, call (860) 465-5292 or visit


Farai Chideya to Speak

Written by Tim Talley

FaraiChideya -b-w.JPGWillimantic, Conn. -Fari Chideya, a culture critic and correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR), will discuss the current state of race relations and the role of African American women in politics and culture on March 9 at Eastern Connecticut State University. Chideya's presentation, which is part of Eastern's University Hour series, will be held at 3 p.m. in Eastern's Student Center Theater. The public is invited. Admission is free.

            Chideya has served as a commentator on such television networks as, Black Entertainment Television (BET), CNN, MSNBC, ABC and FOX News. She also anchored the prime-time program, "Pure Oxygen," a TV magazine that focused on subjects such as parenting, business, health and entertainment.

            Chideya is the founder of the political website "Pop and Politics," which Chideya says is a blog with an unconventional take on politics for a younger and more diverse audience. As a result of the blog's success, Chideya has transformed her website into a journalism training program.


Winners of Eastern's MLK Awards

Written by Julianne Bass

mlk winners 2011.JPG

(left to right) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award winners: Yaw Nsiah, Carolyn Gamble-Rivers (accepting for her daughter, Maiyah), and Robert Fernandez, with Eastern President Elsa Núñez, second from left.

Willimantic, CT --Eastern Connecticut State University student Maiyah Gambles-Rivers; Yaw Nsiah, professor of biology at Eastern; and Robert Fernandez, associate director of Quinebaug Valley Community College's Willimantic Center, were honored on Feb. 23 in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room as Eastern's 2011 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award recipients.

            In her welcoming remarks, Eastern President Elsa Nuñez said Dr. King was alive today in Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Bahrain, where young people are using the principles of nonviolent resistance articulated by Dr. King to bring about change. 

"Black History Month always reminds me to question my own moral commitment -- am I walking the talk?" said Nuñez. "Our three honorees tonight all demonstrate their own moral commitment.  With such leadership, we can build stronger communities and protect our great democracy."

            The cast of HerStory, a spoken-word performance first written and produced in 2005, gave the keynote for the night with the short performance piece "A Tribute to Martin Luther King."  Suzen Jenne Baraka, Tahani Salah, J. F. Seary and Helena D. Lewis used poetry and prose to share their experiences growing up, challenging stereotypes and struggling for equality.    

Before coming to Eastern, Maiyah Gamble-Rivers, who is studying in Italy this semester, served as an intern at Youth in Action in Providence, RI, coordinating academic mentoring programs and a nonviolence team that focused on helping young adults make positive choices. Working in collaboration with the Center for Community Engagement and other departments on Eastern's campus, Gamble-Rivers has coordinated numerous programs for the Women's Center. She has also helped to coordinate two benefit concerts for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti; supported the McSweeney Senior Center in Willimantic by interacting with seniors and providing transportation for student volunteers; and volunteered at the No Freeze Shelter.

            Yaw Nsiah, associate professor of biology, is dedicated to sharing knowledge about his field of public health and preventing the spread of curable diseases. He single-handedly created and has coordinated the Rural Health Project Africa in Ghana, West Africa since 2003, a program designed to promote health education and self-help practices in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Nsiah also spearheaded the development of a certificate and minor in public health studies and concentration of public health for the Bachelor of General Studies at Eastern. In addition, Nsiah is also recognized by his colleagues as the unofficial ambassador for Eastern's Jamaican teacher cohort program, which has awarded more than 160 Jamaican teachers with a bachelor's degree in sociology from Eastern.

            Robert Fernandez, associate director of Quinebaug Valley Community College's (QVCC) Willimantic Center, is an active member of the Willimantic community. He is a key collaborator in Eastern's Dual Enrollment Initiative, now in its third year of operation. This program gives graduates from Hartford Public High School an opportunity to enroll as students at QVCC while also taking one course at Eastern during their first semester of college, as they ease the transition to Eastern. Fernandez also has helped students in Windham High School's after-school program, working to secure funds to ensure students have access to extracurricular activities that can to help them pursue productive career paths. He is also a member on the Governor's Underage Drinking Taskforce, where he plays an integral role in educating young people across Connecticut about the consequences of underage drinking.


Bessy Reyna Women's Day Luncheon Speaker

Written by Julianne Bass

Bessy Reyna.jpgWillimantic, CT -- In honor of Women's History Month, the Women's Center at Eastern Connecticut State University will host an International Women's Day luncheon in the President's Dining Room in Hurley Hall on March 7. International Women's Day is a global event that marks the celebration of the historical achievements of women, past, present and future.

Acclaimed poet and author Bessy Reyna will share her views on gender roles and read from some of her works at the luncheon. In 2009, Reyna was named "Outstanding Latina in Literature and Publications" by the National Association of Hispanics in Higher Education.  In fall 2009, Reyna was also recognized by the State of Connecticut Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission as the "Latina Citizen of the Year."

Persons who are interested in attending this event must make reservations by March 4, as there are only 50 seats available. To reserve your seat for the International Women's Day Luncheon, please contact the Women's Center via email at


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