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Students Engage in Global Energy Summit

Written by Laurel Kohl

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Eastern students participating in the North American Student Energy Summit held at Columbia University include, left to right, Trevor Warbin, Business Administration; Ying Chen, Accounting; Stephanie Rogers, Environmental Earth Science; Dustin Munson, Environmental Earth Studies; and Kyle Ellsworth, General Studies. The students were accompanied by Adam St.Denis, university assistant. 

Willimantic, Conn: -- Six students from Eastern Connecticut State University traveled to New York City in late June to spend two days with fellow students and energy experts from across North America.  The North American Student Energy Summit challenged college and university students to question and understand critical regional energy issues and the future of global energy dynamics.  The event was held on June 19-20 at the United Nations and Columbia University, and was linked with four other Regional Student Energy Summits, held simultaneously across the world in Latin America, Africa and Europe.
Eastern's President Elsa Núñez said of the event, "This was a great opportunity for our students to engage with like-minded people, looking to solve our future energy needs, and bringing that knowledge back to Eastern to make an impact on our campus." 

Three hundred undergraduate and graduate students from 75 institutions throughout the United States and Canada participated in the summit.  Twenty-seven experts from industry and government gave presentations, and participated in live interactive sessions with the students, engaging in discussions on the future of fossil fuels, financing alternative energy, technology innovation and carbon management.  The roster of distinguished speakers included Melanie Kenderdine, energy counselor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy; Ray Dempsey, vice president of British Petroleum, America; and Daniel Gross, managing director at Oak Tree Capital.  The Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Eastern was an Institutional Partner for the summit.

The Eastern participants, all student interns working at the ISE, gained valuable insight into current global and domestic energy trends, problems and solutions.  Senior Kyle Ellsworth was inspired by the event, saying, "The energy problems of the world seem like a giant jigsaw puzzle, but seeing the level of intelligence, and the commitment to a better future by the students and presenters, it feels good to know we are all working towards a more sustainable future together." 
The International Student Energy Summit, held every other year, will be in Bali, Indonesia, in 2015.  The events are organized by Student Energy, a global not-for-profit focused on creating the next generation of energy leaders committed to transitioning the world to a sustainable future.

Students Take a Global Field Course to Zurich and London

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - From May 17-28, eight students from Eastern Connecticut State University traveled to Zurich, Switzerland, and London, England, on a global field course to learn about the cities' business practices, marketing approaches and cultural history.

"This was my first trip taking students abroad, and I can say with certainty that everyone enjoyed themselves immensely," said faculty advisor Katalin Eibel-Spanyi, professor of marketing. "We visited several organizations, studied the history of the cities, experienced different cultures and toured major attractions."

"The scenic views of the Limmat River, Lake Zurich and the Swiss Alps are something that will stay with me forever," said Carissa Riccio, an accounting major from North Haven. "I enjoyed the walking tour on the first day, learning about the city's history and getting an idea of where everything is."

Along with visiting cultural sites such as the National Museum of Zurich and the Globe Theatre in London, students toured several businesses, including Roche Diagnostics, London Metal Exchange, Chelsea Football Club and the BBC. "Our first company visit in Zurich was Credit Suisse. I felt I learned the most at this visit," said Devin Quinn, a business administration major from New Fairfield. "We learned about their marketing strategies and the reasons why they create certain advertisements."

The course was split into three parts: preliminary classroom sessions prior to the trip; the trip itself; and a series of recapping and reflection exercises. "What I liked most about both countries is that they have modern design elements throughout their cities, but also have kept a lot of their traditional roots and ceremonies," said Matt Kostyk, a business administration major from Tolland.

Todd Henderson, a business administration major from Colchester, said, "The fountains, people and scenery were breath-taking. I remember the cool crisp air made me feel energized and healthy. The Swiss people were relaxed and enjoy the simple things, seemingly without a worry in the world or sense of emergency."

"I am so thankful that I decided to go on this trip," said Kelsey Falcone, a business administration major from Somers. "I think it changed me and it let me see things that I never imagined that I would be able to go see."

Eastern Graduates 1,227 at XL Center

Written by Ed Osborn

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Willimantic, Conn. - More than 12,000 family members and friends filled the XL Center in Hartford on Tuesday, May 13, to cheer on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,162 undergraduates and 65 graduate students received their diplomas at Eastern Connecticut State University's 124th Commencement exercises.

Nicholas Lawson, director of field human resources for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa during the Commencement Exercises, and offered remarks following presentation of his honorary degree.

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Lawson has worked with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for the past 17 years, a group he proudly describes as the "preeminent emergency medical humanitarian organization in the world." As Director of Field Human Resources for MSF since 2007, Lawson is responsible for the oversight of 35,000 staff across the globe, and leads the development and implementation of MSF's vision as a member of the MSF Executive Management team. Over the years, he has traveled to and coordinated humanitarian and medical relief efforts in Uganda, Pakistan, Burundi, East Timor, South Sudan and Afghanistan.

Lawson spoke of the organization's core principles of service, independence, impartiality, neutrality, ethics and engagement, and described his early years with MSF, when he faced the challenge of bringing medical supplies to civilians in Afghanistan caught in the crossfire of that nation's civil war.  In the end, he said MSF's focus was simple: to "alleviate the suffering of vulnerable people in crisis."

His charge to Eastern's 2014 graduating class was equally simple:  "What place does service and engagement in the public realm have in the careers we dream for ourselves? Is that activism? Is it volunteerism? Is it civics? Will it be a lifelong professional choice? . . . You will be richer than you can possibly imagine if you do actually make that choice."

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                                             Eastern President Elsa Nunez

Other speakers at the Commencement Exercises included Eastern President Elsa Nunez; Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, who represented the Board of Regents for Higher Education; Senior Class President Zachary Yeager; and Brittany Lane '14, who delivered the Senior Class Address. Other members of the platform party included Gregory Gray, president of the Board of Regents; Willimantic Mayor Ernie Eldridge; and other Eastern officials.

Nunez gave her traditional charge to the graduates, telling them, "I hope you look forward to the next chapter in your lives with optimism and expectation, knowing that the faculty and staff on our campus have done their utmost to prepare you for this day."
Nunez cited examples of applied learning experiences ranging from internships at ESPN and Cigna to study abroad trips to Costa Rica and Switzerland, to undergraduate research into genetics and emotional health among senior citizens, to working in South Carolina on anti-hunger efforts, as examples of the hands-on experiences that Eastern students receive in applying their liberal arts education.

 "Never be satisfied with a half-hearted effort, never assume that the way things have been done is the way we should do things in the future. Intellectual curiosity and a moral commitment to a better life for all people are hallmarks of a liberal arts university in our democracy. The best way to honor Eastern and our faculty is to remain true to what you have learned here."

 Nunez closed her remarks with a quote from the 19th-century Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda:  "Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life -- think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success."

More than 40 percent of the graduates were the first in their families to earn a bachelor's degree. As Connecticut's only public liberal arts university, Eastern draws students from 164 of the state's 169 towns. Approximately 90 percent of graduates stay in Connecticut to launch their careers, contribute to their communities and raise their families.

Senior Class President Zachary Yeager presented the Senior Class Gift to President Nunez--an annual Class of 2014 scholarship--and said, "College has been the time to make mistakes and learn from them, a time to challenge ourselves, and a time to step out of our comfort zone . . . We will carry the memories that we have made in the past few years at Eastern with us for a lifetime."

Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, offered remarks on behalf of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.  "I want you to know how deeply moved and excited we are about the great work you have done to earn your degree tonight," said Smith. "This is a significant milestone, and you should be very proud. The journey isn't easy, and there are no shortcuts to earning an undergraduate degree, but the benefits are enormous. Eastern has prepared you well for all the challenges you will face as the 21st century-economy continues to change. Pursue your career with the same dedication that has brought you to this fabulous day."
In her Senior Class Address, Brittany Lane urged the graduates to "pack your bags" and get ready for a new journey. She listed five items to include on the trip. First on the list: a belief that "every day is a great day to be alive," something she learned from one of her professors, Dan Switchenko. Second on her list was a commitment to helping others. "Volunteer; give back to your community; give back to your school. It is far more rewarding than a paycheck." 

  The third item on her list was to live life with kindness. "You never know the impact that your kind words could have on someone's day or even their life. Make your mark." Lane told her peers to also "remember to take the memories you have made at Eastern with you . . .  These are the moments that stand the test of time."

 Finally, Lane reminded her classmates that "there is no place like home. For your duration of time spent here at Eastern, it has become a second home . . . a close community of students from different walks of life coming together to live and learn in harmony . . . No matter where your journey takes you after today, no matter how many bumps in the road you may hit, always remember that we all have a place here at Eastern. You are all important. You will all accomplish incredible things; and our journey starts today." 
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, this year's graduation ceremonies again reflected the University's Commencement traditions of dignity and grace. University Senate President Gregory Kane presided over the commencement exercises; seniors Emily Chuber, Rachel Jung and Emma Kuehnle sang "America the Beautiful"; Senior Mame Fatou Diop gave the invocation; and History Professor Anna Kirchmann was recognized as the 2014 Distinguished Professor Award recipient.


"ALANA" Students Recognized for Academic Excellence

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Recipients of the Diversity Scholars and Inclusive Excellence Awards. Back row, left to right, are Shaleah Richards, Gregory Riley, Njeri Dodson, Destiny Hartmann, Amilcah Gomes, Briana Tucker, Tyler Hernandez, Kayla Enwerem. Front row, left to right, are Jonathan Correa, James Chadic.

Willimantic, Conn. - The 2014 Inclusive Excellence Student Awards Ceremony was held May 2 at Eastern Connecticut State University. The event, sponsored by the Advising Center, celebrated the academic achievements of Eastern's "ALANA" students--African-American, Latino, Asian and Native American students. A total of 143 students were recognized.

            "Across the country, minority students are underrepresented on college campuses and graduate at lower rates," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Here at Eastern we are committed to reversing that trend by fostering a community of inclusion, diversity awareness and academic excellence."

            The event's keynote speaker, Carmen Cid, a Latina from Cuba with nearly 30 years' experience as a college professor and administrator, and a distinguished scientist in the field of ecology, spoke on the topic of "finding your inner voice."

            "You have diverse backgrounds and broad educations; you can do more than one thing," said Cid, currently the interim president of Quinebaug Valley Community College and long-time dean of Eastern's School of Arts and Sciences. "Finding your inner voice takes time and practice." She also spoke of the benefits of diversity: "In ecology, the more diverse an ecosystem, the healthier it is. This is true for a college campus, too, and for society."

            Among the 143 students recognized were the Diversity Scholars Award recipients: Jonathan Correa, a sophomore biology major from Trumbull; Njeri Dodson, a freshman biology major from Bridgeport; Destiny Hartmann, a freshman accounting major from Stonington; Tyler Hernandez, a sophomore education major from Waterbury; Kayla Enwerem, a freshman from Waterbury; and Briana Tucker, a freshman social work major from Glastonbury.

Also notable were the recipients of the Inclusive Excellence Awards: James Chadic, a senior mathematics major from Norwich; Vanessa Cioe, a senior sports and leisure management major from Fall River, MA; Shaleah Richards, a senior psychology major from Hartford; and Gregory Riley, a junior biology major from West Haven.

20th Annual Accounting Banquet a Success

Michael Rouleau

Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's 20th Annual Accounting Banquet occurred April 21st in the Student Center's Betty R. Tipton Room. The event hosted nearly 200 students, alumni, emeriti professors and current faculty for an evening of reflection and recognition of Eastern's Accounting Program.

 The banquet opened with welcoming remarks from Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "While our students typically outperform all other accounting students in the state on the annual Connecticut CPA exam," said Núñez, "here at Eastern we don't produce 'accountants'; we produce liberally educated people who happen to be accountants.  Beyond your talents and skills, the foundation of your career is your character."

 Guest speaker and alumna Kristin Hustus '04, audit manager with CohnReznick, spoke on the topic of emotional intelligence in the workplace. "Emotions help you to engage and connect with people," said Hustus. "Interaction is part of the job, so reach out and build relationships." Hustus concluded with a few bits of advice: "Be confident but also humble. Know that you can be replaced, so put forth the effort and show that you care."

 Current accounting majors also reflected on their experiences. "The faculty connect with you on a personal level and assist with finding internship and job opportunities," said Tim Galipeau, a graduating senior. "I'm finishing an internship with BlumShapiro, the largest regional accounting firm in New England, and hope to work there upon graduating."

 Following dinner, awards and scholarships were given to exceptional graduating accounting students. Nicole Brooks of Hebron, CT was awarded the Connecticut Society of CPAs (CTCPA) Junior Award; Richard Gabriel of Uncasville, CT was awarded the CTCPA Merit Award; Melanie Krol of Wallingford, CT was awarded the BlumShapiro Award; Regene Abandula of Groton, CT was awarded the O'Connor Davies Award; and Fang Chen of Storrs, CT and Kelly Labanara of Chaplin, CT were awarded the Founders of Accounting Award.
Many accounting alumni also attended the event. "My education as an accounting major was a great first step," said Matthew Coit '12. "Currently I'm an auditor with a large firm. I was offered the position before I even graduated." 
"I'm impressed with the progress of the accounting program," said Joseph Lobe '03, an attorney with Mohegan Sun. "It has grown in size and status, as you can tell by the sheer number of people here tonight."

Throughout the evening, past and present students praised the department's faculty--not only for their expertise, but also their character. "All of my professors have been very helpful. They supplement bookwork with real-life examples," said Josibelk Aponte, a senior majoring in accounting, "and they stress the need to have integrity and be ethical."

Eastern Takes Two "Alternative Breaks" During Spring Recess

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Eastern students Lisa Forcellina (left) and Kim DePaolis (right) with Eastern's AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Max Goto (center) working in raised garden beds at the Generous Gardens Project in Greenville, SC, for their week-long spring break in March.

Willimantic, Conn. - This past spring recess, Eastern Connecticut State University students participated in two "alternative break" trips. Both trips lasted a week in March; one group volunteered with the Generous Gardens Project in Greenville, SC, and the other volunteered in the Natchaug State Forest in Eastford, CT.

 Seven students worked with the Generous Gardens Project, a nonprofit organization that grows and distributes fresh produce to anti-hunger efforts in South Carolina. "Generous Gardens taught us so much about gardening, how to be 'green' and the importance of giving back," said Cassandra Marion, a senior majoring in visual arts. "The amount of work we were able to achieve made coming back every night exhausted totally worth it."

The group learned about sustainability and urban gardening while planting seeds, harvesting vegetables, composting, working on raised garden beds and other agricultural tasks.
"Generous Gardens helped to reignite my passion for helping people by expanding my repertoire of skills and offering me a novel vehicle for service," said Kimberly DePaolis, a junior double majoring in early childhood education and psychology. "Being completely submerged in a self-sustaining farm for the purpose of helping those in need of food was incredible."

"On Wednesday we had the day off and went for a hike on Paris Mountain, and later got to explore the town," said Lily Egan, a junior majoring in communication. "I wouldn't have traded our trip for anything. I needed an escape from regular life in Connecticut. The work was hard but also relaxing; a real stress reliever."

Another group of seven students took day trips from Eastern to Natchaug State Forest throughout the week, where they built bridges and did trail work with the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. "The labor was tough, but not as difficult as I was expecting. I especially liked working with the power tools when we were building the bridge," said Anastasia Matos, a sophomore majoring in business administration. "I was out of my element, but everyone was so kind and helpful; I felt a real connection with everyone."

The Natchaug State Forest group enjoyed a hike through the forest and an education on forestry and conservation. "This trip was fun and rewarding, and, like all alternative break trips, a great way to learn new things, meet people and lend a helping hand," said Kurt Stefanscyk, a junior majoring in environmental earth science. "It feels good to give back."

The purpose of "alternative breaks" is to provide the opportunity for students to serve outside of their own communities in a drug-and-alcohol free environment. For information about Eastern's upcoming alternative break trips, contact the Center for Community Engagement.


University's 14th Annual Excellence Expo

Written by Akaya McElveen

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Willimantic, Conn. -Eastern Connecticut State University held its 14th Annual Excellence Expo sponsored by The School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division on April 15 in the Student Center.

The expo featured more than 100 students presenting their research presentations, business marketing plans, communication advertising campaigns, photography exhibits and poster displays. Provost Rhona Free said that the expo reflected Eastern's model of "integrative learning," where students apply the knowledge learned in class by conducting experiments, research and other creative activity, and then sharing that through presentations and publications, eventually applying their learning in the workplace after graduation. Others like Jaime Gómez, interim dean of education and professional studies/graduate division, believes that the Excellent Expo is a great way to prevent academic excellence in students from becoming "invisible." 

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As part of the opening ceremonies to the expo, Psychology Professor Carlos Escoto, coordinator of undergraduate research and creative activity, presented an Undergraduate Research Mentor Award to Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair of the Center for Early Childhood Education.
Trawick-Smith received the award for involving students in his research of children's play activities. "Students provide interesting fresh insights into our work, and ask questions I would never think to ask," he said. "It has been great fun working with students on this research." Trawick-Smith's student researchers have joined him in presenting their findings at national conferences and publishing their work in national early childhood education journals.

Student research was on display throughout the Student Center. While special research presentations from the Business Administration and Education Departments were conducted in rooms located on the first level of the Student Center, business marketing plans, communication advertising campaigns and photography exhibits were held in rooms located directly across from the Betty R. Tipton Room, where poster boards were on display.
Jordan LaRusso, who presented a poster on "Freedom of Speech in Schools," discussed the topic of verbal and written speech in our school systems in terms of the First Amendment. It was a project she started in her Ethics and Law class for Communication, and she felt that "conducting research and choosing my own topic is really what had drawn me to present here."

Similarly, Amanda Eckert, who presented a poster on the effects of social media on society titled "Do it for the Vine: and Other Excuses Social Media Gives Us," chose to present at the expo because she had the opportunity to present on a topic that she was genuinely interested in.
Judges included Gómez; George Hernandez, Windham Regional/ Small Business Specialist; Robert Jeannette, director of health services; Stephen Nelson, interim chief information officer; Edward Osborn, director of university relations; Michael Palumbo, technical support analysis; Peter Polomski, owner of The Lily Pad and Chase Rozelle III, associate professor in the Performing Arts Department. Members of the local community have been invited to judge the expo since 2004.
The 2014 Excellence Expo committee included Theresa Bouley, associate professor in the Education Department; Maryanne Clifford, economics professor; Doncho Petkov, business administration professor; Terri Toles-Patkin, communication professor and Nanette Tummers, health and physical education professor.

Annual Eastern Excellence Expo Set for April 15

Written by Dwight Bachman

Willimantic, Conn: -- Eastern Connecticut State University's School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division will hold its 14th Annual Excellence Expo on April 15, 2014, from 1-3p.m. in the Student Center.  The public is invited. Admission is free.

More than 110 students, supported by 10 faculty mentors, will present research projects and posters showcasing the five departments in the School of Education/Professional Studies and Graduate Division: Business Administration, Communication, Economics, Education, and Health and Physical Education.
Presentations include business marketing plans and communication advertising campaigns;  research presentations from business and education students; 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; health communication issues; and systems analysis.

For more information on the Excellence Expo, contact Pat Kucharski at (860) 465-5264 or email her at

The Workforce of the Future Panel Discussion

Akaya McElveen

Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Business Administration Department will host a networking and panel discussion event titled "The Workforce of the Future" from 5-8 p.m. on March 31 in the Betty R. Tipton Room as part of the University's 125th Anniversary celebration.

Business Administration students will display their creative work, and panel discussions will start at 7:15 p.m. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to attend.
Panelists include Judith Resnick (Executive Director, CBIA Education Foundation); Marty Levine (SPHR; 25+ years of experience in Hospital Management/HRM); Michael Christina (Eastern graduate, BS in I‐O Psychology; Aetna - HR Analytics function) and Peter Bachiochi (Eastern Professor of Industrial‐Organizational Psychology).

Eastern Offers New Finance Major

Written by Akaya McElveen

Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University will be offering a new Finance major this coming fall in the Business Administration Department. Students will be able to register for classes for the 2014 fall semester.
The Bachelor of Science degree in Finance will provide students with preparation to enter the financial services sector, work in a corporate setting and/or enroll in graduate school. With a broad foundation in the liberal arts, the Finance major includes related courses in business, economics, and core and elective courses in finance and economics. Courses include Business Finance, Financial Institutions and Markets, Money and Banking, Investment Analysis, Real Estate Finance, Bank Management, Financial Management, Personal Financial Planning, International Financial Management, Financial Derivatives, Management of Business Information and Business Law, and Business Ethics.

The Finance major is designed to develop students' intellectual skills for problem solving, communication, critical thinking, technical and quantitative analysis, understanding of ethical issues and knowledge of principles, and theories and regulations in finance. Requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree in Finance include completion of all University Liberal Arts Core requirements as well the required related business, finance and economic course requirements and electives.

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