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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 Jordan Sakal
Willimantic, Conn. -
Richard "Ricky" Magner, a senior studying mathematics at Eastern Connecticut State University, is the University's first Undergraduate Research Fellow. The research fellowship program provides undergraduate students with a stipend and the opportunity to research with experienced professionals in their field. During his freshman year, Magner met Professor Mizan Khan of the Mathematics Department and was invited to take part in the research that Khan was undertaking in the field of Number Theory.
"The interesting part of the experience was that the original question we started out with wasn't answered in the end," said Magner. "We realized that it was not the most successful question to ask, so we had to modify things as we went along." The research in the field of Number Theory is about phenomena known as modular hyperbolas, which are sets of points in a plane. The original goal of the research, according to Magner, was to show when three or more points passed through a line, which proved to be unsuccessful.
Magner and Khan modified their experiment to test for only two points passing through a line and that proved to be a more successful operation. "The research is pretty much self-contained and probably won't change anyone's lives except for mine," said Magner, "but it is good practice and résumé building experience for the future." Magner also spoke to the nature of math research. "It is not too uncommon in math research to go for a long time and not get anything and then have it all come tumbling out in a great realization."
Khan was Magner's research supervisor and mentor throughout the process and helped introduce him to the topic more than 18 months ago. Magner presented his research at two research conferences this past summer. The first was at the "Combinatorial and Additive Number Theory 2013" at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY); the second was the 2013 Young Mathematicians Conference at Ohio State University (OSU), which was funded by the National Science Foundation. Only a third of the abstracts were accepted at the OSU event.
The research has culminated in two manuscripts. The first, "Two combinatorial geometric problems involving modular hyperbola," (http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.6943v2) has been submitted to a research journal. The authors are M. Khan, R. Magner, A. Winterhof and S. Senger. The second, "An application of modular hyperbolas to quadratic residues," co-authored by Khan and Magner, has been accepted for publication in the American Mathematical Monthly, the flagship journal of the Mathematics Association of America and will be published in late 2014. The Monthly accepts less than 10 percent of submissions, and publication of the research represents a major milestone for Magner. He believes being a research fellow will serve him well when he applies to a prestigious doctoral program in mathematics.
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."
Written by Dwight Bachman
Willimantic, Conn: -- Eastern Connecticut State University's School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division will hold its 13th Annual Excellence Expo on Wednesday, April 24, 2013, from 2--4 p.m. in the Student Center. The public is invited. Admission is free.
More than 150 students, supported by 11 faculty mentors, will present research projects and posters showcasing the five departments in the School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division.
Presentations include communication, marketing and advertising campaigns; projects from the economics senior seminar; and a gallery photography exhibit of framed prints and color slides, just to name a few. Poster research includes topics on communication law and ethics; sport and leisure management; early childhood education; technologies, societies and communities; and systems analysis.
For more information on the Excellence Expo, contact Pat Kucharski at (860) 465-5264 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Nana Owusuagyemang
Willimantic, Conn. - The Theatre Program and Drama Society at Eastern Connecticut State University will present the Walter Kerr rendition of Aristophanes' play, "The Birds." The play will be performed on Feb. 21-23 at 7:30 p.m. with mid-day matinées on Feb. 21-22 at 11 a.m., and Feb. 24 at 4 p.m. All productions are the in Harry Hope Theatre located on the ground floor of Shafer Hall at the corner of High and Valley Streets, Willimantic, CT.
The public is invited. Admission is $5 for students and groups of 10 or more; $10 for Eastern faculty, staff and senior citizens; and $12 for the general public.
"Walter Kerr's updated version of Aristophanes' classical Greek comedy, "The Birds," will take the audience to a magical world where humans seek to become like their feathered friends in order to establish Cloud Cuckoo land -- a kingdom high in the sky -- where they can live like and rule as the 'Gods,'" said Theatre Professor Ellen Faith Brodie. Described as a "fantastical, classical comedy for families, "The Birds" is set within a topsy-turvy world in which wildly comic archetypes, gender, power and politics are humorously presented through banter, song and dance," said Brodie.
"The Birds" is the first of the Harry Hope Theatre's season of shows for the spring 2013 semester. For more information call the Box Office at (860) 465-5123 or email Ellen Brodie at email@example.com.
Written by Rebecca Holdridge
Willimantic, Conn. George O'Krepkie, president of Bonds.com Group, Inc. and a member of the firm's board of directors, will speak at 11 a.m. on Oct. 25 in the Paul E. Johnson Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library. The public is invited. Admission is free.
O'Krepkie will discuss "Trading Fixed Income Securities." Before joining Bonds.com Group, Inc., he was the head of dealer relationship management at MarketAxess Inc. He also served as the director of Fixed Income, BTIG. O'Krepkie began his focus in electronic trading at Trading Edge, which merged into MarketAxess.
O'Krepkie began his career at Kidder Peabody & Company, and later moved to Lehman and Merrill Lynch, where he assumed roles of increasing responsibility in sales. Eastern's Business Administration Professor Chiaku Chukwuogor sponsored his visit to campus.