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December 2012 Archives

Eastern to Air Television Series on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


mlk 1968.jpgHad he lived, the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 84 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. 21, 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. 22. A link to the streaming video can be found at:                                                                                                                                         

Eastern Professor of Theatre Ellen Brodie has described the series 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. The series cites Christian clergymen who said King was a Communist troublemaker who belonged in jail, and also reveals how he reacted to the many threats on his life; his extraordinary ability to articulate an idea; and his response to liberals who said he was moving too fast. The night King died in Memphis, TN, 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.'

"While honoring Dr. King's commitment to the principles of nonviolent civil disobedience, for which the civil rights leader won the Nobel Prize for Peace, Mr. Bachman has done a masterful job of focusing on King's goals of ending segregation, injustice, racism and discrimination," said Edward Osborn, Eastern's director of university relations. "Dr. King's leadership put economic and social justice at the forefront of the American consciousness, and this series ensures that those goals and Dr. King's vision will never be forgotten. Eastern is privileged to be able to air this series each year as part of our celebration of Dr. King's birthday."


dwight bachman.jpg

Dwight Bachman

The 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, former multimedia production technician at Eastern, recreated the series for the Eastern Connecticut State University television broadcast.


Rebecca Holdridge Wins Eastern's Campo Scholarship

Written by Dwight Bachman

English Night-Campo Award winner holdridge and McNeil.jpg

Campo Scholarship winner Rebecca Holdridge with Kenneth McNeil, chairperson of the English Department

Willimantic, Conn: -- Rebecca Holdridge '13, a senior from Groton majoring in English at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been named the recipient of the University's Constance Campo Scholarship. Holdridge was presented the award on Dec. 5 during the English Department's "English Night."

Holdridge maintains a GPA of 3.98 and is vice president of the Sigma Tau Delta, the national English honor society, and also serves as secretary of Eastern's Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society.
The Constance Campo Scholarship was established in memory of Constance Campo, a longtime member of the English Department staff.  The scholarship is presented to a non-traditional student who has demonstrated excellence in his or her studies, and is awarded to someone who has shown sensitivity to gender and diversity issues, as did Campo.

Holdridge is a teaching assistant to English Professor Reginald Flood in his African American Literature class, and is enrolled in the Immigrant American Literature class for her senior seminar. During the spring 2012 semester, she interned with English Professor Jian-Zhong Lin, working on "The Connecticut Review," a literary journal published by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities.

"Rebecca Holdridge has excelled both in the classroom and in the university community," said Flood. "Besides doing outstanding academic work that cemented her reputation as an outstanding writer, Rebecca was always generous with her classmates, making her one of those rare students that helps a professor build a sense of community in the classroom.  Perhaps the clearest evidence of the gifts she brings to the classroom is the fact she has twice been asked to be an intern in different capacities for the English Department."

Lin agreed. "Rebecca Holdridge has demonstrated intellectual curiosity, academic preparedness and A strong work ethic as a student in the three classes I teach and as an intern at Connecticut Review. She participated in a study abroad program in London in fall 2011, and is serving as a public relations writer in Eastern's Office of University Relations, which demonstrates her commitment to the study of English and her ability to put classroom learning to real-world practice. Her GPA of 3.98 is a testimonial to her excellence. Connie Campo would have been proud of Rebecca."

Holdridge studied at the University of Central Lancashire  (UCLAN) in Preston, Lancashire, England, a small town in the Northern England. "I wanted to study abroad in England, because as an English major, I wanted to see the culture that is behind so many classic pieces of literature. I wanted to experience life in a different part of the world, and I wanted to travel."

Holdridge studied with several professors while in England, but considered Professor Robin Purves the most influential. All English majors were required to take a theory class, which Purves taught, and it was deemed the most intense but useful class. "He really pushed us to dig deeper into everything we read, from classic novels, to modern literature, to poetry. In England, they take their final exams after their Christmas break, and I spent weeks preparing for his final. In the end, it was the most difficult class I have taken as an English major, but also the most rewarding."

Outside of class, Holdridge had an wonderful time traveling and becoming a close friend with Anna, a German girl also studying abroad. "It was amazing that two students from two very different countries could share so many interests. My most memorable times with Anna were exploring England and other countries. Together, we went to Dublin, Ireland; Rome, Italy; and Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland. We just pointed our finger at a map of England and picked random towns to travel to for the day. We ended up in Liverpool, Manchester and Bolton just to name a few towns. In Manchester, we even saw a Manchester United soccer match."

Holdridge also traveled a great deal on her own, staying in Iceland for a few days on her way to England; with a French family in Paris; and in London for a weekend. She also visited Stonehenge. "Words cannot describe how amazing this experience was. I wish all students were able to study abroad because living in a country for a few months is completely different than staying in a hotel for a week or two. I was able to experience the culture firsthand, and made friends from many different countries."

Eastern Announces Victoria Soto Endowed Scholarship Fund

Written by Ed Osborn

victoria soto BEST.jpgOn Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, Eastern Connecticut State University alumna Victoria Leigh Soto '08 lost her life protecting the children in her first-grade classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, from an assailant who shot and killed 20 children and seven adults that day. 

Victoria Soto was a dean's list student while she attended Eastern as an elementary education and history double major. "Our faculty remembers Vicki as a joy to be with, an exemplary student who was committed to nurturing young lives," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Her dream job was to teach children in the primary grades. She died protecting those children. She is being hailed throughout the world as a hero. We will never forget her."

In honor of Soto and her heroism, the University has announced the creation of the Victoria Leigh Soto Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund to support Eastern students studying to be teachers who have unmet financial need.  For information, visit

Donations may be directed to:
Victoria Leigh Soto Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund
ECSU Foundation, Inc.
Eastern Connecticut State University
83 Windham Street
Willimantic, CT  06226
ATTN: Kenneth J. DeLisa
Vice President for Institutional Advancement

To contribute online, donors can visit After filling out the first screen, they will be directed to a second screen to select a designation for their gift.  On the dropdown menu, they should choose "Victoria Leigh Soto Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund."


Eastern Students Participate in Shack-a-Thon

Written by Christopher J. Herman

shackathon 3.jpgWillimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Habitat for Humanity campus chapter held its annual "Shack-a-Thon" fundraiser over a 24-hour period from Nov. 13-14 in front of Webb Hall. The fundraiser was held to increase awareness of substandard housing in the Willimantic community.

Participating Eastern students were asked to live in cardboard box structures for the full 24 hours. Students were able to attend classes and extracurricular activities, but they had to return to the cardboard shelter during the fundraising period.  Students were encouraged to give up electronic devices including cell phones, laptops and iPods to fully appreciate someone living in a substandard home.

shackathon 2.jpg 
Students participating in the fundraiser included Emily Cameron, Avery Schena, Rachael Skinner, Alex Cavacas, Morgan Epler, Valerie Lewis, Jennifer DuBois, Karolina Chrzanowska, Kim Mines, Sarah Bojorques, Angelique Clark, Krystin Marien and Melissa Trimbell.


Math Professors Shine While Abroad

Written by Elizabeth Kavanaghe

aidoo vertical.jpgProfessors from Eastern Connecticut State University's Departments of Mathematics and Computer Science and Education recently presented papers at conferences and conducted research around the globe.

Anthony Aidoo, professor of math and computer science, traveled to Valencia, Spain, to the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Conference on Applied Linear Algebra, where he presented the paper,  "A Solution to the Inverse Eigenvalue Problem for Certain Singular Hermitian Matrices."

Mathematics Professors Marsha Davis and Sita Koirala, and Education Professor Hari Koirala traveled to the International Conference on Mathematics Education (ICME-12) in Seoul, South Korea. Davis and Hari Koirala presented the paper, "Secondary Teacher Candidates' Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching as Demonstrated in Their Portfolios," which included Pete Johnson, associate professor of math and computer science, as one of the authors.  In addition, Davis, Sita Koirala and Hari Koirala presented the poster, "Students' Achievement in Introductory and Intermediate College Algebra," which included Kim Ward, associate professor of math and computer science, as one of the authors. 

Bonsu Osei, associate professor of math and computer science, traveled to Greece to deliver the paper, "Evolutionary Algorithms and Eco-informatics: A Myth or Reality." The paper was rated number one in its field this past year. Osei also hosted a session on "Education and Development of Ghana."

Christian Yankov, associate professor of math and computer science, traveled to the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he conducted joint research with members of the Institute's Analysis, Geometry and Topology Department.


Eastern to Present Percussion Ensemble

Written by Nana Owusu-Agyemang

percussion ensemble.JPGWillimantic, Conn. ¬¬- Eastern Connecticut State University's Department of Performing Arts will present a performance of the Percussion Ensemble on Dec. 8 at 2:30 p.m. in Shafer Hall. The public is invited. Admission is free. Shafer Hall is located at Valley and High Streets in Willimantic Auditorium. The ensemble is conducted by Jeffrey Calissi, professor of music.

The Percussion Ensemble encompasses a broad spectrum of musical styles, from original and transcribed works in the percussion and marimba ensemble repertoire, to traditional West African hand drumming. Since it's inception in 2006, the ensemble has played host to several guest artists and clinicians such as Nathan Daughtrey, Tomm Roland and Arthur Lipner.

percussion ensemble-2 (2).jpgIn addition to performing a concert at the conclusion of each semester, the Percussion Ensemble also performs at various campus events, recruiting concerts at local and regional high schools, and the Percussive Arts Society Connecticut Chapter Day of Percussion.

For more information, contact Jeffrey Calissi on (860)-465-5504 or at

Gospel Choir to Present Concert

Written by Nana OwusuAgyemang 

Willimantic, Conn. ­­- Eastern Connecticut State University will present the United Voices of Praise Gospel Choir for a winter concert on Dec. 9 at 5 p.m. in the Shafer Hall Auditorium. The public is invited. Admission is $5; tickets will be sold at the door. Shafer Hall is located at Valley and High Streets in Willimantic. Doors open at 4:30 p.m.

Directed by Paul Cameron, the concert will include performances by Gospel recording artist Yvette Early, the Watson Family, Vessels of Praise, and Eastern's very own United Voices of Praise.

The University Gospel Choir is a large, non-auditioned ensemble with an emphasis on singing and understanding gospel music. The ensemble is open to all Eastern faculty, staff and students, as well as members of the community. The choir performs on and off campus, and students are given the opportunity to sign up at the beginning of the semester, for 1 course credit.

For more information about the Gospel Choir concert, please contact Paul Cameron on (860) 465-5709, (860) 728-9263 or


Nunez Wins Willard M. McRae Community Diversity Award

Written by Dwight Bachman

NUNEZ LIBERTY AWARD-1.jpg Elsa M. Núñez accepts the Willard M. McRae Community Diversity Award.  Left to right:  Mark Gingras, Chairman of Liberty Bank;  Willard McRae; Elsa Núñez; Chandler Howard, President and CEO of Liberty Bank

Willimantic, Conn: --Liberty Bank officials presented Eastern President Elsa M. Núñez with the 2012 Willard M. McRae Community Diversity Award at a gala reception on Nov. 15 in the Betty R. Tipton Room  attended by more than 300 friends, family members, students, faculty, Eastern staff, bank officers and community leaders.

"In choosing the recipient of the award, we look not just for people who have given their time in service to community organizations, but for those who have made it their mission to make opportunities available to all," said Chandler Howard, president and CEO of Liberty Bank.  "There is not a shadow of a doubt that Elsa Núñez is such a person." 

Introduced in 2001 as the Liberty Bank Community Diversity Award, the award was renamed in 2009 in honor of Willard M. McRae, past chairman and board member of Liberty Bank.  The award is designed to recognize an individual from the communities served by Liberty Bank who has been a leader in connecting people who are different -- whether those differences are of religion, race, ethnicity, economic status, age, or any other aspect of diversity. 

As this year's award recipient, Núñez was able to direct a $5,000 charitable donation from the Liberty Bank Foundation to the nonprofit organization of her choice.  She selected the Eastern Connecticut State University scholarship fund to receive the donation. 

In accepting the award, Núñez spoke passionately about the need to address the educational achievement gap:  "The conditions for every American in our society are not what you and I consider fair.  When we see that the college graduation rate for African American students is 20 percent lower than that of white students - and that Latinos are half as likely to finish college - we realize that we have to create change in our communities and our universities." 

Since her arrival at Eastern Connecticut State University in 2006, Núñez has worked tirelessly not only to make higher education accessible to underrepresented students, but also to support their success once they enter college.  One of her innovations at Eastern is the award-winning Dual College Enrollment Initiative, now in its fifth year, which recruits inner-city high school graduates to take four remedial courses at Quinebaug Valley Community College in the first semester of college, while living on Eastern's campus and taking one course there.  Students receive extensive mentoring, support services, on-campus employment and full integration into campus life.  Núñez also established the Academic Services Center, which provides tutoring, advising and other services to all students, with a focus on underrepresented populations.  Because of programs like these, a recent national study of 391 institutions of higher education ranked Eastern number one among public institutions in improving of the graduation rate of its Latino students -- an increase from 20 percent in 2004 to 58 percent in 2010.

Under Núñez's leadership, Eastern has built numerous partnerships with organizations in the Windham community, including the Windham Public Schools, where more than 1,000 Eastern students tutor or perform other volunteer service.  In 2009, she created the on-campus Center for Community Engagement to coordinate Eastern volunteers in the community.  Núñez was also instrumental in developing a  partnership with the Caribe League of Bridgeport and the Spanish American Merchants Association in Willimantic. 

Núñez's involvement in community organizations are many and varied, includes serving the board of directors of Hartford Health Care, the Connecticut Association for Human Services, the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, Camp Horizons, the Village for Families and Children, Girl Scouts of Connecticut and Covenant Soup Kitchen. 

 "Leadership is all about vision, and Dr. Núñez has a big vision," said Edward Osborn, director of university relations at Eastern, who nominated Núñez for the award.  "In her mind, the 'tent' -- whether it is this campus, this community, this state, this nation, or the entire world -- includes all of us.  Even with such a big vision, Dr. Núñez sees each person as the unique individual they are."

 "There are five words that stick in my mind when I think of Elsa Núñez:  Learn.  Achieve.  Give back.  Repeat.  This is what this extraordinary woman has done with her own life -- and what she encourages and enables every student, and indeed everyone around her, to do themselves," said Howard in presenting the award.

Eastern Revises Education Programs

Written by Rebecca Holdridge

cfdrc new resources - Sudha1.jpgWillimantic, Conn. The Education Department at Eastern Connecticut State University has changed its curriculum to fit new legislative and certification requirements mandated by the Connecticut State Department of Education.
There are many revisions to the program, but three changes according to Hari Koirala, Professor of Education and department chair, "will have a significant impact on the students' academic plan."

1. The elementary education major/certification and secondary certification programs are now four semesters long. Before they were only three semesters.
2. The application due date for the two programs is on Feb. 15 of each year. The application due date used to be Oct. 1.
3. Students can apply to these programs after completing 45 credits, usually in the second semester of their sophomore year.

There are many other changes to both the secondary and elementary programs that students should be aware of. All changes can be found on new advisement sheets, available to students through their advisors. Students can also read about the changes by visiting advisement.html.  "It is imperative for current education students and students applying into the program to be aware of how this affects their coursework," said Koirala.

Eastern's Flood Wins NEA Fellowship

Written by Rebecca Holdridge

flood imgejpg.jpgWillimantic, CT- Reginald Flood, associate professor of English and coordinator of the African American Studies Program at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been named the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Announced on Nov. 27, the fellowship brings with it a cash award of $25,000.
Competition for the grant is rigorous. Of 1,173 applications, only 40 received grants. In addition to his talent as a poet, Professor Flood's teaching on the Eastern campus is broad-reaching, ranging from teaching African American Literature -- the works of Langston Hughes, James Baldwin and others -- to supervising writing interns, to developing the writing skills of students through the developmental writing program.
"This award is a testament to the quality of Professor Flood's work and his commitment to his scholarship," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "His dedication to his students is a further reminder of why we are so fortunate to have him at Eastern."

NEA fellowships enable recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel and general career advancement.  Flood says he is thrilled, as the fellowship places him in elite company. "I have a great deal of admiration for some of the other poets in this year's class: Rickey Laurentiis, John Murillo and Shane McCrae are all poets whom I have read and admired. Also, I feel this award is validation for a writing project of mine that pushes some boundaries."

Flood's first book, "Coffle," was published in March 2012. A collection of poems written in traditional forms that complement canonical slave narratives, "Coffle" is the first in what Flood hopes will be a trilogy. "I did not know how poems about Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass or Mary Prince would be received; it is gratifying to know some careful readers found they had value." Flood said he plans to use the fellowship to extend his sabbatical into the summer, and will travel to conduct research for the second collection of poetry in his trilogy, "There is Still War in the World."

"There is Still War in the World" focuses on slave narratives recorded during the Great Depression as part of the Works Progress Administration Federal Writer's Project (WPA). "The fellowship will give me the financial ability to retrace the journey many of the former slaves made from Mississippi to Arkansas as slaves before they were freed," said Flood.

"Additionally, I will be able to travel to Washington, D.C., to examine the archives for narratives that are not yet digitized or available on the Internet. That will allow me to get a more in-depth perspective on the lives of the individuals I will be writing poems about."

The NEA Creative Writing Fellowship program has been in place since 1967. The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies and the philanthropic sector. For more information, visit


English Department to Host "English Night"

Written by Rebecca Holdridge

Willimantic, CT- The English Department of Eastern Connecticut State University will host "English Night," an event that recognizes the outstanding academic achievements of several students. The event which takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 5 in the Paul E. Johnson Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library will recognize recipients of the first year writing award, and the Constance Campo Scholarship. New members will also be inducted into the Alpha Epsilon Delta chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honors Society.

Students from the senior capstone experience for English majors from Associate Professor Susan DeRosa's "Memoir: Exploring the Private/Public 'I,'" and Professor Elena Tapia's "Conceptual Metaphor in Literature," will also present their research projects.

English faculty and students in selected classes are encouraged to attend, along with family and friends. Refreshments will be served.

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