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June 2014 Archives

Eastern Hires New Dean of Education and Professional Studies

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, CT -- Jacob Easley II will join Eastern Connecticut State University on June 27 when he assumes his new job as the Dean of Education and Professional Studies. Easley will be leaving the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, where he served as chair of the Education Division since 2011.

What does the new dean like about Eastern?  "What stood out was the campus commitment to the University's values, including a commitment to the local community.  I was also impressed with your commitment to sustainability."

Easley received his PhD in Educational Leadership, Curriculum and Supervision from Pennsylvania State University, his MA in Applied Linguistics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and his BA in Spanish from Morehouse College.

"I see the School of Education and Professional Studies as being the University's finger on the pulse of the academic needs of the state and the workforce needs of the business community," said Easley during a phone interview prior to his arrival on campus.

Over the course of the past 20 years, Easley has served in a variety of positions in higher education, holding such positions as professor, teacher and supervisor. Easley has also served on various boards and committees, conducted research, published writings and presented extensively across the United States and abroad.

 Some of Easley's research interests include education policy and politics; contextualized leadership; schools as organizations; understanding the factors that affect urban schools and shape the formal processes of schooling; and 21st Century intercultural and international perspectives in educational leadership.

 When discussing projects he has in mind for his new role at Eastern, Easley said, "In collaboration with the Center for Community Engagement, something we might consider is creating summer institutes for students at the K-12 level that teach kids how the higher education system works. I am also interested in strengthening partnerships with business and industry, as well as enhancing quality internships and providing opportunities for gaining international business perspectives."

 Easley is the author of "The Audacity to Teach!: The Impact of Leadership, School Reform, and the Urban Context on Educational Innovations." His research has also been published in the Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching, and Research; The Educational Forum; Race Ethnicity and Education; The Professional Educator; and Educational Studies.

Eastern Students Take Field Excursion throughout Arizona

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Eastern Connecticut State University EES students with Professor Dickson Cunningham on a cinder cone volcano amongst the San Francisco peaks of northern Arizona. Photo taken by Professor Drew Hyatt.Back row: Chelsea Roston, Kevin McCormick, Samantha Boyle, Kurt Stefancyk, Carly Burgess, Haley Celotti, Sean Kellarson, Professor Dickson Cunningham. Front Row: Michael Doyle, Olivia Spiller, Rachael Dern, Stephanie Rogers, Lindsey Belliveau, Mackenzie Fannon, Michael Manzi, Daniel Grondin, Matt Gonsalves

Willimantic, Conn. - In May 2014, 16 environmental earth science (EES) students of Eastern Connecticut State University took a 12-day field excursion throughout Arizona. The excursion, a three-credit summer course, brought the students to a number of national parks and geological wonders for an up-close look at the region's geology, geomorphology, natural resources, environmental science and Native American heritage.

"The trip was a great experience in which we were able to apply our knowledge from the classroom to further understand and learn about the beautiful geology of Arizona," said Stephanie Rogers, a senior EES major from East Hartford.
Some of the destinations included the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Salt River Canyon, Saguaro National Park, the Santa Catalina Mountains, Montezuma Castle National Monument and more.

"Despite climbing into the Grand Canyon, no one actually fell in," remarked EES Professor Dickson Cunningham, one of the trip's faculty advisors. "The dormant volcanoes that we scrambled up also remained asleep!" 

The trip's workload involved hands-on learning, student projects, presentations and educational hikes throughout the Grand Canyon State, not to mention the preliminary classroom sessions that occurred on Eastern's campus prior to the trip.

"It was an amazing experience that entailed many fields of study including geology, sustainable energy, desert ecology and anthropology," said Daniel Grondin, a senior from East Hartford. "We learned to approach and understand the topic at hand and to hone our field skills."

Cunningham concluded with, "Our field excursion was action-packed, great fun and an excellent educational experience for all of us!"

Eastern Student and Parent Orientation this June and July

Written by Michael Rouleau

Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's premier orientation program for incoming freshmen will take place this June and July. The Student Orientation, Advising and Registration Program (SOAR) consists of six, two-day sessions during which new students and their parents get an informational tour of Eastern's campus and learn about various student resources and services. Incoming freshmen will also get a taste of college life when they spend the night in a residence hall, meet other incoming students and participate in a number of informational and social activities. The first session runs from June 23-24.
A parent orientation program will occur at the start of each two-day session as well. The dates for the parent orientations are June 23, 26 and 30, and July 2, 7 and 10 -- activities will start at 10:30 a.m. on each of these days.

 Parent orientations will include a presentation on parent involvement for student success; information on academic support services, advising and policies; lunch on campus; question and answer sessions with various Eastern departments; financial aid, student activities, housing and public safety sessions; and an optional campus tour. The parent orientation will conclude at 3 p.m.

 SOAR two-day sessions are June 23-24, June 26-27, June 30-July 1, July 2-3, July 7-8 and July 10-11. SOAR student check-out will be at 4:30 p.m. on the second day at Constitution Hall. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Orientation staff at (860) 465-0032.

Universities Collaborate to "Green" Connecticut K12 Schools

Written by Ed Osborngreen LEAF logo.JPGSpring is the time when leaves pop out, and inter-university collaboration is fueling this year's crop of "spring greenery." The "Connecticut Green LEAF Schools" project has provided a bridge that is linking a variety of stakeholders across the four Connecticut State Universities in the interest of greening our K-12 schools. The program started in 2011, with interest from four state offices, five universities, and many education and environmental groups. A representative steering committee created the Green LEAF program, which stands for "Leading, Educating, Achieving and Fostering" healthy green schools for all.  LEAF encourages, recognizes and celebrates the greening of Connecticut's public and private K-12 schools.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program announced its first honorees.  The program's goals are to teach about sustainability and the environment, to support the health and well-being of both students and staff, and to conserve resources used in our schools.

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Connecticut tailored its program to echo those goals, recognizing schools that were already green and supporting and developing a sustainability ethic in all schools. Connecticut's state universities have been active from the beginning of this process in leading and nurturing the Green LEAF cause.
Laurel Kohl, energy education specialist at Eastern Connecticut State University's Institute for Sustainable Energy, is co-chair of the initiative, along with Jeff Greig from the Connecticut State Department of Education. Suzanne Huminski of Southern Connecticut State University's Office of Sustainability, and Charles Button of Central Connecticut State University's Geography Department, are also active on the committee. Yale University and the University of Connecticut are likewise represented on the Green LEAF team.

Since its inception, Connecticut Green LEAF has enrolled 62 schools. Principals sign on with a letter of commitment, followed by the school's green team completing a comprehensive self-assessment. When a school shows strength in all three of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon goal areas, it may be eligible for national honors. To date five Connecticut schools have received national recognition. School districts can also seek recognition, as can colleges and universities, starting in 2015.

Schools are supported in growing greener through connections to programs offered by partners of Green LEAF. Connecticut's Department of Public Health (DPH) is one of the founding partners. "Creating healthy school environments, improving nutrition and expanding exercise opportunities are important public health priorities and goals the Green LEAF Schools program strives to achieve," said DPH Commissioner Jewel Mullen. "DPH is pleased to be a partner in this statewide collaborative initiative to encourage Connecticut schools to take a more holistic approach to 'going green' by linking health, the environment and education."
Connecticut Departments of Education, Energy and Environmental Protection, and Administrative Services are also program partners. Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor shared his vision of why sustainability is a key element in today's schools: "Green building standards and strategies create school environments which enhance students' learning experience and teach them the importance of building a sustainable future.  Incorporating environmental and sustainable concepts into the curriculum have the potential to increase student engagement, especially in STEM fields." More than 35 other educational or environmental organizations are also Green LEAF partners.

To assist participating schools in growing greener, the Green LEAF committee sought and was awarded a $166,000 grant for professional development through the Connecticut Office of Higher Education. Teacher Quality Partnership funding will support the summer 2014 Connecticut Green LEAF Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) Project. The Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University will administer the project, which will utilize a broad collaboration of academic staff from Eastern, Central and Southern, (two Schools of Education, three of Arts and Sciences, and one of Manufacturing Sciences) along with a strong team of environmental educators from across the state. Fifty K-12 classroom teachers and administrators will learn to integrate Common Core Mathematics and Language Arts practices along with Next Generation Science skills and strategies into their curricula via environmental education. The goal is to help educators use their school grounds and facilities as learning laboratories.

PLCs -- smaller groups drawn from the 50 participants -- will include teams of teachers from 13 K-12 schools that are committed to the Connecticut Green LEAF Schools program. Individuals will learn throughout the program, supported by teacher-education faculty from the four state universities, working alongside the state's best environmental educators. Participants have a choice of exploring School Yards, School Gardens or School Resources in the Curriculum, in a program of 64+ contact hours from summer 2014 to summer 2015.

The state universities have partnered to create a dynamic learning experience for the participants. To complement the interdisciplinary sessions taught by faculty members, Eastern's Media Department will be filming many of the workshops. The program will create a YouTube library of the topic discussions that can be used for review, shared with participants or used to enrich the resources available to all educators in the state. The teachers will be enrolled as non-credit students through Central, and their PLC groups will communicate through Blackboard, the industry standard for online course support, to continue learning and collaborating throughout the project. PLCs will develop an open archive of Common Core and Next Generation skills-based lesson support materials for environmental education curricula, and as well as case studies featuring replicable sustainability practices from Connecticut schools. The archives will be created with the help of several state university student interns, and will be accessible to the public via the website hosted by Eastern's Institute for Sustainable Energy.

Summer 2014 will be very "green" for state university faculty and staff working on the Green LEAF program. Faculty, staff and K-12 teachers will all be learning and sharing their knowledge and experiences. Green LEAF hopes to grow this program in the future, branching out to other topics such as nutrition and environmental quality issues. We all will benefit from this sustainable harvest!

Eastern's Institute for Sustainable Energy Wins Statewide Award

Written by Ed Osborn

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Willimantic, CT -- The Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Eastern Connecticut State University received the prestigious Power of Change Award for "State Difference Maker Leadership" at the Connecticut State Capitol on June 17.

The 2014 Power of Change Awards celebrate the energy efficiency achievements of more than 20 Connecticut state agencies and municipalities. The winners received awards for their innovative initiatives and approaches to reducing energy spending and protecting the environment -- efforts which benefit all Connecticut residents.
Rob Klee, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, addressed the gathering of more than 100 awardees, legislators and other guests with a message that reinforced the importance of energy efficiency, both as a cost-saving measure, and as a key strategy in reducing carbon emissions. "The cheapest and cleanest energy is the energy you don't use," he noted.

ISE Director Lynn Stoddard received the award on behalf of the institute. The First Honors was awarded in the Difference Maker Leadership State category for the work that ISE has done for energy efficiency in Connecticut, through benchmarking of state buildings, training of facility managers in efficient operations and maintenance practices, sustainability partnerships with state colleges and universities, initiation of energy conservation retrofit projects in state buildings, and coordination with green programs at K-12 schools. Ms. Stoddard was also honored with an individual Leadership Award for her work on the state's Lead by Example program.

"We are very proud of this achievement by the Institute for Sustainable Energy," said Elsa   Núñez, president of Eastern Connecticut State University. "As a university that is committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship, Eastern has benefitted greatly over the years by the presence of the institute on campus. It is wonderful to see this recognition for not only the work the ISE has done at Eastern, but for the difference it has made across the state of Connecticut."

This year, the Power of Change Awards added new categories to recognize individuals, state agencies and municipalities, not only for specific energy efficiency projects, but also for leadership and innovation in making a sustainable and systemic difference in the state's approach to reducing energy use. State facility managers, town leaders, boards of education and stakeholders entered energy efficiency projects in five award categories: Top Building, Innovation, Difference Maker, Performance Contracting and Breaking Ground.
The sponsors of the Power of Change Award (the Common Sense Fund, Hampshire Foundation and the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation) brought together a panel of energy and environment experts from government, business, academia and advocacy organizations to judge the 2014 entries. The judges included John Rathgeber, President of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA); Jessica Boehland of the Kresge Foundation; and Bryan Garcia of the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, Connecticut's green bank.

In her remarks, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation President Michelle Knapik noted, "As these award winners have shown, investments in energy efficiency, energy infrastructure, best practices and behavior provide immediate, multiple and long-term benefits. These town and state leaders are demonstrating what is possible to achieve in the built environment, and they are setting an example for public leaders nationwide. Their efforts put Connecticut on the leading edge of transforming our relationship with energy -- this is a path toward a brighter, cleaner energy future."

About Eastern Connecticut State University and the Institute for Sustainable Energy
Eastern Connecticut State University is the state's public liberal arts university and serves approximately 5,400 students each year on its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. The Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern works to support energy efficiency and sustainability in Connecticut through education, research and technical support.  The institute's dedicated team of staff and student interns collaborates with state agencies, municipalities, colleges, universities, K-12 schools, public and private companies, and others on practical applications of energy efficiency, sustainability and resilience. The Institute believes that a sustainable world is possible, and works to help make that possibility a reality.

About the Power of Change Award
The Power of Change Award was created to honor the best achievements and innovations in energy efficiency across Connecticut's state and municipal buildings. The award is sponsored by three Connecticut-based foundations - the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, Hampshire Foundation and the Common Sense Fund. More information is available by visiting

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