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Eastern Hires New Dean of Education and Professional Studies

Written by Michael Rouleau

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eastern 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.

 

Chibeau Works to be Presented in Windsor

Written by Dwight Bachman

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Willimantic, Conn: -- The Windsor Art Center will present the performance writings of Edmond Chibeau, professor of communication at Eastern Connecticut State University, from May 10 to June 21. The exhibition, "Edmond Chibeau, Performance Scripts: The Babbletive & Scribbletive Arts," can be viewed on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.; and Sundays from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. The public is invited. Admission is free.

At Eastern, Chibeau teaches "Scriptwriting" and "History of Communication." As a performance writer, Chibeau does not write novels or short stories, but writes for others to perform.  He writes performance art, which has been presented in art galleries, museums, on stage, on screen and clubs. The show at the Windsor Art Center will have videos, concrete performance written in different media such wood, stone and glass, and performance objects as script and a form of graphic script called "Wordworks."  A series of performances will accompany the show.
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 "Edmond writes about solitude, loneliness, mystical ecstasy," said Amanda Pawlik, director of the Windsor Art Center. "His work is very concerned with interpretation, with performing a written text and the problems of communicating. His video comes from his writing.  It is more about structure than narrative, more process than product, more about intent than result. His work is often abstract.  He believes we are Microchip Aboriginals, living in the Ur Civilization of the Digital Age."

"The quantum space between the zeros and ones of the binary number system creates a new system of communication," Pawlik continued. "In other words, the phonetic alphabet texts us. He says that he is interested in creating what nature creates, not describing what nature has created. As a result, the story is sometimes confusing, but he claims the purpose of his writing is to create world peace."
Chibeau says he is fascinated with the idea that someone else might perform his writing rather than read it quietly in their head.  He enlists the reader not merely to appreciate, but to enact what he writes.  "In my writing for performance, the narrative is often elusive, the structure recombinant.  Since I touch very sensitive places, I try to touch them very gently."
   
Chibeau has been associated with the Rivington Street School and the Fluxus movement through his work with Alison Knowles and John Cage.  His work has been performed at RealArtWays, Lincoln Center in Bruno Walter Hall, The Alternative Museum, Experimental Intermedia Foundation, The Knitting Factory, NoSeNo and The Ear Inn.  He has worked with Kenneth Rexroth, Allen Ginsberg, and Charles Bernstein among others.

The Windsor Art Center is located at 40 Mechanic St. in Windsor. For more information on the exhibition, call (860) 688-2528 or contact  Edmund Chibeau at chibeaue@easternct.edu or Pawlik at amanda@windsorartcenter.org.

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 kucharski@easternct.edu.

Eastern Student Selected for Competitive Internship

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University student Evan Walsh, a junior communication major, was offered a summer internship with The Ohio State University's Mentorship Initiative for Student Life (MISL) Program. Walsh is one of only eight students nationwide selected for the MISL Program, which is intended for aspiring student affairs professionals.

The MISL Program is an eight-week immersion experience during which paid interns will on campus as a cohort and participate in a number of academic and professional responsibilities.

"A reason I love the college setting so much is that there are so many ideas and people," said Walsh, who is also a resident assistant of Nutmeg Hall. "College is an exciting place; that's why I want to make a career in higher education." Walsh will spend 25 hours per week working with OSU's Office of Student Life. Outside of those 25 hours, Walsh will participate in reflection and cohort meetings, GRE preparation, professional development sessions, portfolio completion and other tasks. The main event of the internship is the Capstone Experience, which will bring MISL interns to Atlanta, GA, to explore cultural and higher education opportunities.

 In order to be considered for the MISL Program, Walsh had to first be accepted into the National Undergraduate Fellows Program (NUFP), which only accepts 150 new members nationwide per year--an achievement in itself.


 MISL Interns will work in Office of Student Life departments of their choice. "I am intrigued by student residential life, Greek Life and community engagement," said Walsh. "My prospective departments are the Center for the Study of Student Life; The Ohio Union, Student Activities and Greek Life; and Buckeye Civic Engagement Connection."

As a student at Eastern, Walsh has been involved in and out of the classroom. "So many departments I've worked with, particularly the Department of Housing and Residential Life, have provided me with immense support, networks and mentorship in my pursuit in student affairs," said Walsh. "For that I am extremely fortunate and grateful."

Chief Justice Rogers and Judge Kahn to Speak at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Two high-level Connecticut court officials will speak at Eastern Connecticut State University on March 26 for Eastern's University Hour series. At 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and Superior Court Judge Maria Kahn will speak with the Eastern community about justice and the judicial system in today's world. 

Born and raised in Angola, Africa, Kahn was appointed a Superior Court Judge in 2006 and currently is assigned to hear criminal matters in the Fairfield Judicial District Courthouse. She moved to the United States at 10 years of age, is fluent in three languages and serves on a number state and national Bars. 

Rogers, a Connecticut native, was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2007--the second woman ever to reach this designation in Connecticut. She was also appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the State Justice Institute's Board of Directors. In addition to serving on a number of prestigious Bars and committees, Rogers is also an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

"The event is open to the public and will be organized in a question-and-answer format," said Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of the Women's Center. "Arrive early at the Student Center Theatre to ensure a good seat."

Beltran Attends Anniversary of Hungarian Holocaust Exhibition

Written by Michael Rouleau

 

Beltran- Woman at Holocaust exhibit3.jpgent of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights acation Professor Cesar Beltran; on the right is Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human

Adjunct Professor of Communication Cesar Beltran recently represented Eastern Connecticut State University at "Holocaust in Hungary" at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The exhibition was in observance of the 70th anniversary of the deportation and extermination of the Hungarian Jews.

The exhibition reflected on the political and social events that led to the Hungarian Holocaust, the various atrocities committed against Hungarian Jews, and the acts of courage by those who resisted the status quo and safeguarded Jews. "The event was solemn and dignified and attended by some 120 invitees," said Beltran. Above, Beltran talks with Katrina Lantos Swett of the Lantos Foundation.

"Eastern in 4," Eastern's Revamped Academic Plan

Written by Michael Rouleau


Willimantic, Conn. - As part of Eastern Connecticut State University's 2013-18 Strategic Plan, "Eastern in 4" is now a requirement for current students and incoming freshmen. The goal of "Eastern in 4" is to lay out a tight and comprehensive plan--including academic and career goals--that will lead students to their bachelor's degrees in four years.

"Eastern in 4" has existed as an informal objective for several years now, but recent data supporting the need for college-career planning has caused the University to revamp and mandate the program. "There are so many options and requirements in a college setting," said Alison Garewski, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students unknowingly taking courses they don't need--costing them more money and prolonging their time in college--is an issue nationwide."

With nearly 1,000 freshman at Eastern this year, approximately 650 have completed their academic plans. Though the plans are designed in group sessions of five to 20 students, each four-year plan is individualized according to a student's degree requirements and preferences--taking into consideration which liberal arts courses to take, internships and study abroad opportunities.

"Every semester when registering for classes I use my four-year plan to aid in my selection," said Christina Harmon, a sophomore majoring in psychology. "'Eastern in 4' was a great way for me to learn what classes I need to take and how to stay on track in order to graduate on time."

While "Eastern in 4" is available to all students and majors, it is especially useful to transfer students, continuing education students and those switching majors. "This program is ideal at Eastern because we're a liberal arts school," said Chris Drewry, a professional advisor with the Advising Center. "Students are required and encouraged to take courses outside of their major, so having this direction is really helpful."

"Before making my 'Eastern in 4' plan, I had no idea if I could fit a double major's worth of classes into my schedule," said Thomas Hacker, a freshman with a double major. "Now I have a roadmap to double major in music and communication in four years."

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