Recently in Academic Affairs Category
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."
Written by Gabrielle Little
Willimantic, CT - Nearly 112 students with a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or higher, and an additional 20 students who have demonstrated exemplary co-curricular engagement across campus were recognized at Eastern's first Annual Inclusive Excellence Student Award Ceremony. The award ceremony recognized the academic, campus-wide, and personal success of African, Latino/a, Asian and Native American (ALANA) students at Eastern.
"Saluting the academic achievements of more than 100 students of color today, and the contributions they and other students are making to enrich the cultural diversity of this campus is not only a way to congratulate the students receiving this recognition, but it is a message to everyone on our campus and beyond--we are proud of the achievements and contributions of today's awardees, because they deserve it, and because it reminds us of our core value of inclusion," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez as she acknowledged the recipients.
"All of you are receiving this award represent the realization of the value of academic excellence, inclusion and empowerment," said Rhona Free, vice president of academic affairs. "You have given yourselves access to a set of careers and opportunities that are only available to those who have demonstrated that they set and meet high standards, that they have exceptional analytical skills and that they are highly motivated. Your futures are bright."
"This event presents an amazing opportunity to share the accomplishments of more than 130 ALANA students with the campus community," said Amilcah Gomes, student development specialist and organizer of the event. "I am thankful to be part of this event's unique role in highlighting ALANA student success at Eastern."
Latoya Smith '06, Eastern alumnus and producer of multimedia content for Black Enterprise magazine delivered the keynote address. "Going to college for me wasn't just about putting the letters B.A and B.S. and then M.S. on my resume and defining myself by a piece of paper," said Smith. "The experience meant so much more to me. I thought about the sacrifices my mother had made so that my brother and I could get an education. Or the sacrifices of our grandparents and great grandparents, who marched, sat in and fought for justice so that we could have an education. That kept me feeling humbled and never entitled." Smith graduated magna cum laude from Eastern with a Bachelor of Science in Communication and a Bachelor of Arts in History. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Print Journalism from Boston University.
Awards at the event ranged from Academic Achievements and Athletic Excellence recognition to Career Development and Global Partnership recognition.
Written by Gabrielle Little
Willimantic, Conn. - Bonnie Red Basket will present at Eastern Connecticut State University's University Hour Series from 3-4 p.m. on April 10 in the Student Center Theatre. The public is invited. Admission is free.
Red Basket's presentation will discuss how to overcome trauma and restore one's sense of self, emotionally and spiritually, through restoration, healing and hope.
Red Basket has hosted workshops at the Pine Grove Spiritualist Church in Niantic, CT, and will soon be opening a wellness center.
Written by Gabrielle Little
Willimantic, Conn. - Marilyn Alverio, an urban markets strategist, will present during Eastern Connecticut State University's University Hour Series from 3-4 p.m. on April 3 in the Student Center Theatre. The public is invited. Admission is free.
Alverio will speak on what women can do to succeed in leadership roles. She is an expert on developing strategic approaches to marketing and communicating in a multicultural environment.
Alverio serves on the executive committee for the board of directors of the Connecticut Health Foundation, and is most noted for her work as the former national director of ethnic marketing and Latino market manager for Aetna Financial Services; also known as ING.
Written by Dwight Bachman
Willimantic, CT - Eastern Connecticut State University has been honored by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the U.S. Department of Education as one of the nation's colleges and universities that are leading the way in bettering their communities through community service and service learning.
Eastern was one of 609 institutions of higher learning acknowledged on President Obama's "Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll" earlier this month, recognized for their work in serving local communities through volunteer programs and other activities.
"Community service has been a hallmark at Eastern since our earliest days in the 1890s as the Willimantic State Normal School," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Today, our Center for Community Engagement works closely with our faculty to ensure that the service that our students perform in local communities aligns with their academic programs. In providing thousands of hours a year of service to dozens of social agencies and nonprofits, Eastern students are demonstrating their social responsibility while learning valuable professional and organizational skills.
To be recognized by President Obama as a university that exemplifies such service is something that everyone on our campus should be proud of." To better coordinate student service projects in the community, Eastern's Center for Community Engagement (CCE) was launched in September 2009. A full-time director, assistant director, a shared administrative assistant, an AmeriCorps VISTA member and a part-time university assistant staff the center. The center also provides leadership opportunities through federal work-study employment for students.
Eastern's commitment to service is exemplified by the comprehensive volunteer efforts in area schools by Eastern students. Programs to assist schools with student academic performance, behavior and motivation are widespread and effective in all six schools in the district, as well as in local preschool programs. From 2008-09 to 2011-12 Eastern's Center for Early Childhood Education partnered with two area early learning centers to address early literacy. Over the three-year period ending in the 2011-12 academic year, the project improved the language and early literacy skills of nearly 600 preschool-aged children by providing professional development and literacy coaching to 50 teachers and staff. Thirty-nine Eastern students were involved in this project through academic coursework.
Eastern students are also engaged in local schools outside of the classroom. Four hundred and forty-nine students volunteered 5,180 hours in long-term volunteering programs in Windham schools through the CCE and student clubs. Including students who participated in academic service-learning, more than 1,000 students contributed more than 60,000 volunteer hours in area schools. Students in the Business Administration Department provide database and website services to area nonprofits, assisting them in providing more effective services. Nonprofits also benefit from students engaged in the Community Grant Service Corps, supported by the Office of Academic Affairs. Students learn how to assist nonprofits with grant research, through use of the University's "Work Hub," an on-campus worksite dedicated to community-campus collaborations. In all, students provided more than 100,000 hours of service to the local community in 2011-12.
The Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future Mentoring Program demonstrates Eastern's commitment to community service. English Language Learners (ELL) in the Windham Public Schools struggle with assimilation into the school community both socially and academically. The Puentes al Futuro Program assisted ELL students at Windham Middle School (WMS) by integrating in-school tutoring and mentoring with afterschool and summer academic and cultural enrichment with the goal of encouraging students to excel academically and to attend college. The program is a collaborative effort between the Center for Community Engagement (CCE), WMS teachers, family liaisons, and afterschool program staff. WMS students have developed positive mentoring relationships with Eastern volunteers who have committed to continuing their mentoring relationship with the students as they transition to high school.
Students in the program showed very positive gains in math comprehension, from a mean of 17.8 on the pre-tests to a mean of 54.2 following the instruction. Comprehension remained high at the end of the six-week program, with a mean of 48.7. Students' language arts skills improved as they wrote poetry and performed before families. The project was supported by FWS, AmeriCorps VISTA and a state education grant.
The Collegiate Health Service Corps (CHSC) is a program coordinated by the Center for Community Engagement with a community partner, Eastern Area Health Education Center. The CHSC's mission is to expose undergraduate students to health careers through service learning experiences that promote culturally competent health and disease prevention education to medically underserved communities. Student volunteers participate in three program phases of 25 hours each.
In the past year, nine students contributed 234 hours of service at three elementary schools and one after-school program at a community center in Windham, CT, during the academic year. Students conducted a needs assessment to identify nutrition, public health and wellness topics of interest to the children in each of the programs. They then developed lesson plans with weekly objectives and site-specific activities; 80 lessons were provided at the four sites. Subject areas included nutrition, bullying, staying physically active, hygiene, emergency preparedness and stress and behavior management. Students also worked with a local community garden. Program coordinators at the 4 sites expressed great satisfaction with the program, indicating that the children learned a great deal and the program helped address critical public health issues in the Windham community, which has the highest obesity rate in the state. The AmeriCorps program supported this program.
Eastern's "Day of Giving," held on the day before Thanksgiving each year, has become one of the University's most highly acclaimed traditions. For six years in a row, more than 450 needy individuals and families have been served a Thanksgiving meal in the University's dining hall. This is a collaborative effort between students, faculty, administrators, contractors and service providers in the community to ensure that people who might otherwise go without a Thanksgiving meal are served with dignity and respect. More than 100 volunteers from across the campus, including student servers and staff from the University's food service provider, come together to cook, serve, clean up and provide transportation for anyone in the local community who would like to attend. In addition to the Thanksgiving meal, students work with local grocery stores to gather canned goods -- more than 5,000 items were delivered to soup kitchens and food pantries this past year.
In all, Eastern students, faculty and staff donate more than 106,000 hours of time annually to local communities, a value of $2.3 million annually. "Congratulations to Eastern Connecticut State University," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of CNCS. "Through its work, institutions of higher education are helping improve their local communities and create a new generation of leaders by challenging students to go beyond the traditional college experience and solve local challenges."
The CNCS oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service-learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school's commitment to long-term campus-community partnerships, and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.
Written by Gabrielle Little
Willimantic, CT - Eastern Connecticut State University will host the 36th annual College Bowl at 7 p. m. on March 18 in the Student Center Theatre. The public is invited. Admission is free. Timothy Swanson, associate professor of physics, will host the show.
The College Bowl is a single elimination competition that consists of teams representing various academic majors on campus. The Biology team and Mathematics team are this year's finalists. In the semi-final matches, The Biology team beat the History Department Team, and The Mathematics Team beat the team of Biochemistry majors.
The winning team will be presented with a "traveling plaque," for display by the winning department for one year. The plaque was made by a member of the first winning team in 1977 and has been presented to winning teams for the past 35 years.
For more information about the show, contact Zosia Carlquist at (860) 465-4317 or email@example.com, or Timothy Swanson at (860) 465-5217or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Gabrielle Little
Willimantic, CT - Artist and activist Arisa White will present a creative writing workshop at Eastern Connecticut State University on March 13 at 11 a.m. in Room 223 in the Student Center. White will also speak that same day during Eastern's University Hour Series from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre. The public is invited. Admission is free.
White's presentation will discuss mechanisms for healing; her role as an activist against domestic violence; and how to achieve social justice.
White is a Pushcart Prize nominee; received the Cave Canem Fellowship Award in 2011, and has been nominated for a 2013 NAACP Image Award for her book, "Hurrah's Nest." She is also the author of the poetry chapbooks, "Disposition for Shininess" and "Post Pardon." White received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
CAPTION: Artist and activist Arisa White
Written by Christopher J. Herman
Willimantic, Conn. - The Connecticut Young Writer's Trust has announced its 16th Annual Writing Competition, the state's longest running literary contest dedicated to encouraging youth literacy and creative expression. The organization encourages high school teachers from around the state to submit their students' prose and/or poetry to the annual writing competition through their online system.
Students need to be enrolled or in the equivalent of 9th through 12th grades in a public, private, parochial, Catholic, remedial or home school and all nominations must be made by a teacher. The annual awards ceremony will be held in June, where a team of published writers, journalists, and professors will announce the winners from a pool of finalists.
Finalists and two teachers will be rewarded for their hard work at the awards ceremony. The high school teachers who enter the most submissions in poetry and in prose respectively will receive $250 to the retailer of their choosing. The deadline for submissions is March 15. Enter all submissions at https://connecticutyoungwriterstrust.submittable.com/submit.
For more information, visit ctyoungwriterstrust.org, ctyoungwriterstrust.tumblr.com; or email Connecticut's Young Writer's Trust at email@example.com.
Written by Dwight Bachman
Willimantic, Conn: -- Eastern Connecticut State University will host a panel discussion on innovative technology start-ups in Connecticut mill towns on Nov. 15 from 3-6 p.m. in the Paul E. Johnson Jr. Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library. The panel of Connecticut innovators and entrepreneurs will discuss their strategies for launching and building successful technology firms in the state's historic mill towns, where fabric, thread and other products were produced for hundreds of years.
In addition to the panel discussion, students from the four Connecticut state universities, Quinebaug Valley Community College and the University of Connecticut will compete for prizes by presenting innovation proposal posters of their creative startup ideas and proposals. A reception will follow, when students will be able to network with Connecticut entrepreneurs, innovators and business community members.
Persons interested in registering for the event should call (860) 465-5265 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Gabrielle Little
Willimantic, CT - María Teresa Fernández (Mariposa), an award-winning poet, will present at Eastern Connecticut State University's University Hour Series from 3-4 p.m. on Oct. 17 in the Student Center Theatre. The public is invited. Admission is free.
Fernández's work has been featured in numerous journals and anthologies as well as
the HBO Latino series, "Habla Ya!"; the critically-acclaimed HBO documentary, "Americanos: Latino Life in the U.S."; Black Entertainment Television (BET); Lifetime; and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).