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Written by Ed Osborn
Willimantic, Conn. - Jeff Benedict, bestselling author, award-winning features writer for Sports Illustrated and Eastern Connecticut State University alumnus, will join Eastern's faculty this summer to teach an upper-level communication course. The prolific writer, teacher and public speaker--and 1991 Eastern graduate--will lead COM 460, "Non-Fiction Writing from Idea to Publication," a three-credit course being held on Saturdays from June 28 to Aug. 9.
"We are proud of Jeff and his distinguished career in journalism, and happy to have him back on campus," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "His work is value-centered and focuses on critical issues of society. Jeff is a role model for young people aspiring to be writers."
COM 460 will cover the stages of non-fiction writing from idea conception to publication. Using Sports Illustrated stories and his own books, Benedict will teach students how to develop story ideas, conduct interviews, structure a story, develop sound writing habits and promote a story. Benedict will use his own story drafts and interview transcripts in his lesson plans; students will also engage in role playing and question-and-answer sessions.
"We are delighted that Jeff will be teaching on our campus this summer," said Eastern Provost Rhona Free. "The students in his course are in for a real treat. They will be learning from a seasoned pro, one whose straight-forward, engaging writing style has gained critical acclaim and an expanding national readership." Jeff Benecict Jabari Coach K cover.pdf
Benedict will use one of his latest projects, a Sports Illustrated cover story about the relationship between Duke's head basketball coach Mike Kryzyewski and freshman Jabari Parker. The story has been featured on CBS News, Fox News Channel and ESPN radio.
"Sound writing is a key that has unlocked doors to a rich life of experiences and priceless relationships," Benedict said. "As a student at Eastern I never imagined I'd make a career out of telling stories. I am eager to share what I've learned with the students at my alma mater."
Students interested in signing up for Benedict's course should visit www1.easternct.edu/ce/jeffbenedict.
Benedict has authored 12 books, including his most recent book, the New York Times bestseller "The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football." His writings have also appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and SI.com, and have been the basis of programming on 60 Minutes, 20/20, Good Morning America, The Early Show, Dateline and the Discovery Channel.
Benedict is a nationally recognized authority on athletes and crime, Indian gaming, eminent domain, and leadership and ethics in business. He is also a distinguished professor of English at Southern Virginia University.
Written by Jordan Sakal
Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University will be holding eight University Hour events during the spring 2014 semester. The University Hour series includes events held by campus offices or clubs to build awareness on campus of ongoing issues in society. The events are held from 3 to 4 p.m on Wednesdays. at various locations on campus.
The first event is a seminar on women and wealth set to occur Jan. 22 at 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre. Hosted by the Women's Center, the event will help women plan for a healthy financial future.
The semester's second event will occur Feb. 19 at 3 p.m., also in the Student Center Theatre. Sponsored by the Intercultural Center, the event "Half of Me" discusses diversity issues on campus focused on the LGBTQ community.
The semester's third event is "A Conversation with Maurice Clarett." Hosted by the Office of Equity and Diversity in the Student Center Theatre, the former Ohio State University football star discusses his rise to stardom playing college football and the lifestyle he chose that resulted in four years in prison.
Eastern Connecticut State University's Pride Room, Women's Center, Intercultural Center and Office of Equity and Diversity will host Division 1 basketball player Kye Allums on March 5 in the Student Center Theatre. Allums, is the first transgender Division I NCAA athlete. He will discuss the challenges and triumphs of coming out as a transgender individual with his coaches, teammates and family.
March 12 brings the Girl Rising Project to Eastern, as the Women's Center hosts a groundbreaking feature film in the Student Center Theatre that spotlights the stories of nine unforgettable girls born into unforgiving circumstances. The film captures their dreams, their voices and their remarkable lives.
On March 26, Chief Justice Chase Rogers of the Connecticut Supreme Court visits Eastern to discuss women and access to justice. The event is hosted by the Women's Center in the Student Center Theatre and seeks to empower women and teach them about their legal rights and responsibilities.
Interpersonal violence affects everyone in society. On April 9 in the Student Center Theatre, Eastern remembers those who survived, faced or lost their lives to intimate partner and sexual violence. Join the Women's Center for a discussion on current issues relating to interpersonal violence and a community response that empowers all to use their voice, their influence and their actions to become a part of the solution to interpersonal violence.
April 23 is the semester's final University Hour and will cover "The Economic Argument for Ethnic Studies" with host Jim Estrada. The event seeks to enrich professionals so that they become culturally aware of the changing world around them as business becomes increasingly more diverse, multinational and multiethnic.
All University Hour events are free of charge and open to the public.
Written by Ed Osborn
Willimantic, Conn. -The Connecticut premiere of the film, "Ocean Frontiers II: A New England Story for Sustaining the Sea," will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 30, from 7-8:30 p.m. in Webb Hall Room 110 on the Eastern Connecticut State University campus.
"Ocean Frontiers II" brings audiences face-to-face with those now embarking on the nation's first multi-state ocean plan. The film prominently features Rhode Island and is an inspiring story of citizens coming together to promote healthier economies and healthier seas across New England.
"Ocean Frontiers II" is the second of an award-winning film series produced by Green Fire Productions. After the film there will be a Q & A discussion with the filmmaker and ocean experts. The event is free and open to the public.
"The people of New England impressed us with the passionate effort that has gone into ocean planning in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island," said Karen Meyer, Green Fire Productions executive director and producer of "Ocean Frontiers II. "This work is an ideal example to share with New England and the rest of the country as ocean planning across the region gets underway."
"Ocean Frontiers II" highlights the historic and emerging ocean uses of New England waters and introduces viewers to people working on the Northeast regional ocean planning initiative. In a region steeped in old maritime tradition, we see a modern wave of big ships, energy industries and a changing climate now testing the limits of an already crowded sea. But in a pioneering trial of far-sighted planning--pushed by blueprints for offshore wind energy--old residents and new are coming together to keep their ocean and livelihoods alive.
A spotlight on Rhode Island reveals how collaborative planning reduces conflicts over ocean resources and puts us on a new path of ocean stewardship. Fishermen, coastal planners, Native American tribal leaders, environmental advocates, scientists and wind energy executives are featured in the film.
The premiere of "Ocean Frontiers II" is presented by Eastern Connecticut State University, The Department of Environmental Earth Science, The College of Arts and Sciences and Green Fire Productions.
To screen the "Ocean Frontiers II" film trailer visit www.ocean-frontiers.org/trailer. Press images are at www.ocean-frontiers.org/press. Visit www.facebook.com/OceanFrontiers or twitter@Ocean_Frontiers.
Written by Akaya McElveen
Willimantic, Conn. - Bernard Lafayette Jr., a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement, spoke on "Reaching Beyond Your Grasp" on Oct. 9 in the Student Center Theatre at Eastern Connecticut State University. His presentation was part of Eastern's University Hour Series.
More than 200 Eastern students, faculty and staff heard Lafayette say he was "glad" and "shocked" that he is still alive today, in response to a question asked by a student. Lafayette's life has been threatened on many occasions, including a night when white men came to his house to kill him.
More than 200 Eastern students, faculty and staff heard Lafayette describe how resolute the Freedom Riders were while facing terrifying mobs.
Being the target of many death threats, Lafayette had expected his life to have ended already. In fact, he said he that he and his peers, realizing the dangerous journey they were about to begin, created a will before taking part in the Freedom Riders, who were African American and white college students. "No one can take your life if you've already given it," said Lafayette. He said the Freedom Rides of the 1960s provided the momentum for the Civil Rights Movement, and provided an in-depth, personal look at what life was like for the Freedom Riders.
Left to right, Stacey Close, Eastern's associate vice president for equity and diversity; Prudence Allen, former administrative assistant to the late Coretta Scott King; Lafayette, Sociology Professors Dennis Canterbury and James Russell pose for a photograph.
Lafayette played a riveting clip from a documentary on the Freedom Rides, which showed scenes of white mobs as they burned and bombed the Freedom Riders' buses and beat them with crow bars, baseball bats and any other weapon they could pick up. Law enforcement and city officials had made a deal; the mob of people was given 15 minutes to do whatever it wanted to the Freedom Riders and they would not get punished for it. Once the 15 minutes were up, Lafayette said the officers announced, "Alright, you've had your fun," and told the mob, "Not one soul will ever be arrested."
Lafayette shakes hands with Akaya McElveen'14, an English major from Waterbury.
There was a moment in the film when a black woman went to a police officer to explain that her husband was being attacked, only to be knocked to the ground by that same officer.
Lafayette said media exposure of the mob violence and city officials' sanction of it played a leading role raising public awareness. News of the mob and police brutality was heard around the world, with America's European allies making it clear to President Kennedy that they were embarrassed by the violence.
Lafayette, left, with former vice president for equity and diversity at Eastern,and administrative assistants Carmen Diaz and Kathy Escobar.
The speaker also said there is a misconception that the Freedom Rides were about integrating the buses: "The demonstrations were really about bus stations and the right to be treated equally in them." Lafayette also talked about the importance of community engagement, saying that all colleges and universities should be involved in the community. "You've got to bring young people together and organize them. If you don't use your rights, you will lose your rights." As an example, he said students could initiate a voter registration drive by hosting a public birthday party for eighteen-year-olds, where the cost of admission would be showing their voter registration cards.
Lafayette with Hope Fitz, professor of philosophy and a scholar on nonviolence.
Lafayette said that he is genuinely interested in what the next generation will contribute to the Civil Rights Movement. "Maybe the movement never really stopped; it's continuous." He said young people should never surrender to violence and injustice. "If you do, the psychological wounds will run deep and may never end." He encouraged the audience to keep the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream alive, quoting the late Civil Rights leader, "We must live together as sisters and brothers or die separately as fools."
Lafayette ended his presentation by entertaining the audience with a country song about the struggle of poor white Americans.
Written by Danielle Couture
Willimantic, Conn. - American poet Baron Wormser will present "Thoreau's Legacy" at 3 p.m. on Oct. 23 in Science 301 as part of Eastern Connecticut State University's University Hour series.
For more than 23 years, Baron Wormser lived "off the grid" with his family in the Maine woods. Like Thoreau, Wormser sought to "live deliberately" and "confront the essential facts of life." In an age that increasingly defines itself by technological progress, Thoreau's legacy emphasizes the gifts of inwardness, simple living and connection to the natural world.
Wormser will speak to his experiences in the Maine woods and read from his memoir "The Road Washes Out in Spring: A Poet's Memoir of Living Off-the-Grid" and from his poetry collections.
Written by Danielle Couture
Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Performing Arts Department will hold a Brown Bag Concert on Oct.11 at noon in the Shafer Hall Auditorium. The public is invited. Admission is free. Shafer Hall is located at Valley and High Streets in Willimantic.
The Brown Bag Concert series is an opportunity for students who are studying applied music to demonstrate their skills on a regular basis in a relaxed environment. This opportunity is outside the normal setting of large concerts that occur regularly on campus, and serves as a way for individuals to perform solo material.
The concerts are an hour in length and are held on the second Friday of every month. They are performed in a friendly, inviting setting, and the audience is encouraged to bring lunch and enjoy the music.
This is the first of the Brown Bag Concert series for the fall 2013 semester.
Written by Dwight Bachman
Willimantic, Conn -- Eastern President Elsa Núñez, along with more than 100 students, faculty and staff, greeted Connecticut State Universities and Colleges (ConnSCU) Board of Regents President Gregory Gray to campus on Sept. 18. The new president of Connecticut's Board of Regents for Higher Educatonis in the midst of touring the 17 schools that make up the state's public higher education system. Gray took over as president on July . He oversees the Board of Regents, which governs 12 community colleges, four state universities, and Charter Oak College, the state's on-line institution.
Nunez praised Gray for his vision; his goal of restoring integrity to the system and for finding opportunities for more collaboration between community colleges and the four-year universities.
Gray, noting that Eastern students were already fortunate to have a beautiful, physical setting, said, "Pristine is all around you here. Knowing that you were so dedicated to having such a beautiful campus tells me this same dedication must be taking place in the classroom as well." He said his primary goal is to improve the learning environment on campuses, "making it go from very good to great."
Gray said he believes that by working together with faculty members who have a deep-rooted passion for excellence, ConnSCU will become a world-class system of higher education. To achieve this long-range goal, Gray wants to (1) restore trust and integrity to the system; (2) make the system more efficient and productive; (3) develop a plan to benefit current and future students.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we have to get it right. I want to develop a plan that will positively impact student 25 years from now." He said online education courses; a unified calendar for all system colleges and universities; and seamless transfer of credits will better serve students. "Saving money is important, but that is not the primary goal. We want to provide access and focus on what we should focus on a student's purpose for being here, which is to learn. We then, want tell the world about it."
Gray said he wants board meetings to focus on student presentations about their achievements, and to see more scholarship celebrated on campus through academic fairs showcasing faculty books and student-published articles. He believes his plan will identify areas of efficiency, producing a more clearly-defined niche for each university.
During a question and answer period, Gray told students who want to be assured their voices are heard to "speak up, but get your facts straight. I assure you I will do all I can to support the integration of teaching, learning and service to our students. I say let's improve the overall efficiency of the system; improve the learning environment; give the governor and the legislature a good plan; and get it funded."
Written by Dwight Bachman
Willimantic, Conn: Eastern Connecticut State University has been included in the latest edition of the "Public Colleges of Distinction" guidebook. Eastern is the only public college from Connecticut listed in the guidebook. The guide says the colleges and universities listed excel in four distinctions --Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Communities and Successful Outcomes.
"Engaged students" learn the skills they need to succeed in life -- the ability to think flexibly and address problems hands-on -- not just being able to memorize facts and follow orders. Instead, Eastern students learn to communicate, think critically, and solve problems as they explore the world through study abroad, internships, community service projects and undergraduate research.
"Great teaching" occurs in an atmosphere where feedback and encouragement are the norm. Faculty interaction is crucial to learning. "Colleges of distinction" encourage an atmosphere of exciting thought and action, led by professors who care about helping students learn to think for themselves. Academic innovation goes hand-in-hand with personalized learning.
"Vibrant communities" are campus communities that offer activities and events that help students learn even after the books are closed, creating social opportunities for students to develop friendships, and providing students a wide range of intellectually, thought-provoking speakers, seminars, unique films and artistic events.
"Successful outcomes" describes schools that produce students who can think, write, speak and reason, get a job, and most importantly, are also good citizens who can work together with diverse groups of people.
Colleges of Distinction are considered "hidden gems" of higher education, according to the panel of academicians, guidance counselors and parents that made the selection, officials said.
The guidebook describes a College of Distinction as being:
• nationally recognized by education professionals and honored for the excellence of its programs;
• strongly focused on teaching undergraduates, where students are taught by real professors, not by graduate students or teaching assistants, in vibrant classrooms where the faculty keep their students challenged and interested;
• home to a wide variety of innovative learning experiences, from study abroad and scientific research to service learning and internships;
• an active campus with many opportunities for personal development. Whatever their passion, students find plenty of encouragement to help them pursue it; and
• highly valued by graduate schools and employers for its outstanding preparation.
The Public Colleges of Distinction are currently featured on the newly redesigned Colleges of Distinction website and will be featured in the Public Colleges of Distinction eGuidebook available this fall.
Written by Christopher J. Herman
Willimantic, Conn. - For the fifth year in a row, Eastern Connecticut State University has been named as one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, according to a new survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The results, released yesterday in The Chronicle's sixth annual report on The Academic Workplace, are based on a survey of more than 45,000 employees at 300 colleges and universities.
In all, only 97 institutions achieved "Great College to Work For" recognition for specific best practices and policies. Eastern won honors in three categories this year: "Collaborative Governance;" "Compensation and Benefits;" "Facilities, Workspaces and Security."
Eastern was one of only three Connecticut institutions to make the list and the only public university among the three; Quinnipiac University and Middlesex Community College were the other two.
"We are honored to be included in 'Great Colleges to Work For'," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Receiving this national recognition once again from the Chronicle of Higher Education is very gratifying, especially given our high ranking in three important areas of campus operations. The spirit of collaboration that exists on our campus is a strength that helps us better serve our students and the state of Connecticut."
The Chronicle is one of the nation's most important sources of news about colleges and universities. The survey results are based on a two-part assessment process: an institutional audit that captured demographics and workplace policies from each institution, and a survey administered to faculty, administrators and professional support staff. The primary factor in deciding whether an institution receives recognition is employee feedback.
To administer the survey and analyze the results, The Chronicle worked with ModernThinkLLC, a strategic human capital consulting firm that has conducted numerous "Best Places to Work" programs, surveying hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide. Great Colleges to Work For is one of the largest and most respected workplace-recognition programs in the country.
For more information and to view all the results of the survey, visit The Chronicle's web site at Meet 2013's Great Colleges to Work For.
Written by Dwight Bachman and Ed Osborn
Willimantic, Conn. -- 1,256 undergraduates and 41 graduate students heard the roars and cheers of thousands of their family members and friends as they celebrated their achievements at Eastern Connecticut State University's 123nd Commencement exercises at the XL Center in Hartford on May 14.
Carlotta Walls LaNier, the youngest member of the "Little Rock Nine," gave the Commencement Address, telling the graduates "This is your moment, a time you have been looking forward to and working toward since you first arrived at Eastern. Celebrate the moment; seize it. Step out into your future bravely and boldly." LaNier noted that the graduates were bound to encounter challenges. Those experiences will be "the greatest teacher in the grand classroom of life. Those challenges will show you who you really are."
The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, AR, in 1957. Due to the segregation policies of Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus and the mob atmosphere in Little Rock at the time, President Dwight Eisenhower ordered 1,000 members of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division to Arkansas to provide protection and escort the nine students to class throughout the 1957-58 school year.
Despite the daily military escort, LaNier and her friends were kicked, hit with rocks, threatened, and shunned. Her own home was firebombed. As the onslaught continued, "the more determined I became to get my diploma." Today, she has "made peace with my past."
LaNier turned to the Class of 2013 and encouraged them to have the same commitment: "Finish whatever goals you have set for yourself. Find the strength, fortitude and determination to see it through. When you see injustice, how will you respond? I hope you take the heroic stand." LaNier was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa at the Commencement Exercises.
Eastern President Elsa M. Nunez told the graduates, "There is no other country in the world that places its future so firmly in the hands of the people. You are now the next generation of citizen leaders in our state and in our nation. . . . The world needs your energy, your enthusiasm, and your skills . . . There is a challenge out there ready for you to conquer, whether it's helping out at your church or synagogue, volunteering at the local senior center, or inventing a new surgical procedure. There is a team somewhere that needs you to complete its mission."
As an example of the contributions Eastern students are making in the world, Nunez cited more than 100,000 hours of volunteer work performed by Eastern students, faculty, and staff each year in local communities, noting that President Barack Obama's had named Eastern to his National Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the third time in four years that past March.At the same time, President Nunez told the graduates to "be yourself and do what makes you happy," and quoted New England bard Henry Thoreau, who wrote: "Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still."
From the Governor's Foot Guard Color Guard in attendance, to the plaintive sound of the bagpipes of the St. Patrick's Pipe Band and the pre-event music of the Thread City Brass Quintet, Eastern's graduation ceremonies were marked by dignity, grace and elegance. Senior Jessica Johnson sang "America the Beautiful," and Senior Class President Thomas Balestracci presented President Núñez with the class gift, a scholarship funded by more than 200 donations from the graduating class. Balestracci encouraged his classmates to continue donating so that the scholarship would grow. "We have all benefited from our experiences here at Eastern. These experiences are the ones that we will keep with us forever as we move on. They will be the ones we will look back upon and realize that they have helped us become who we are today. We lived up each day like it was our last at Eastern, and now, it really is our last day. We have turned our dreams into reality during our time at this University and we made memories that will last a lifetime."
Yvette Melendez, vice president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, the governing body for the 17 Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, brought greetings on behalf of the Board of Regents. "Congratulations to each and every one of you for reaching this incredible milestone. This is one of those moments that will forever be embedded in your memory. You are at the beginning of a future you have just begun to mold. You took the first step in that journey by enrolling at Eastern. You have much to be proud of." Meléndez urged the graduates to make their contribution to society "in the way that Eastern has taught you. You have worked exceedingly hard . . . you have learned that regardless of major, you are part of a community."
Nana Owusu-Agyemang of Ghana, West Africa, delivered the Senior Class Address. She thanked the faculty for their support, saying, "During my time here at Eastern, I have met professors that I simply cannot forget -- professors who really care for their students. It will forever strike me how much time professors at Eastern are willing to spend with each student...how much of themselves they give. It's not just the professors who make Eastern what it is. At Eastern it's not just about imparting knowledge, it's about joining hands to mold each student into a richer person academically and mentally, as well." Owusu-Agyemang closed by quoting the late philosopher Alan Watts, who once said, "The attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be."
"May our truth be a good truth," said Owusu-Agyemang. "May our world be a good world. May our mark be a good mark."
Carlotta Walls LaNier made history at age 14 when she enrolled at Central High School as a sophomore. On the first day of school she was surrounded by an angry mob that prevented the nine African American students from entering the building. After two weeks of protests and violence, President Dwight Eisenhower sent U.S. Army troops to Little Rock to protect the "Little Rock Nine" by escorting them to class for a year. Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus closed Little Rock schools for the 1958-59 school year, forcing LaNier to take correspondence courses. In June 1960, she became the first African American female student to graduate from Central High School.
LaNier has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the prestigious Spingarn Medal from the NAACP in 1958, and the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian award, which was bestowed upon the Little Rock Nine in 1999 by President Bill Clinton. She is also the author of "A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice of Little Rock Central High School."