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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.

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."

"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."

EES Defeats Political Science in College Bowl Competition

Written by Dwight Bachman


On March 12, the Eastern College Bowl completed its 37th consecutive season.  Held in the Student Center Theatre, the College Bowl is a competition for undergraduates representing various majors.

The championship match saw the lead exchanged several times, a match that was not decided until the final question. The team representing the Environmental Earth Science (EES) Department defeated the team from the Political Science Department. EES had won matches against Economics and Mathematics to reach the finals, while Political Science had won its previous matches over Biochemistry and Biology. The winning EES team included students Dustin Munson, Cody Lorentson, Daniel Grondin, and Mackensie Fannon. 

College Bowl questions asked come from many different academic and non-academic areas, often involving audio or visual clues. Questions in this year's championship match included ones involving Dante's "Inferno," Julius Caesar and his crossing the Rubicon, phobias, songs from Disney movies and one titled, "The Doors of Eastern," in which contestants were asked to identify buildings on campus after seeing photographs of their front doors.  The question that decided the winner of the 2014 College Bowl  involved the naming of Transuranium elements. 

The College Bowl is organized and run by Tim Swanson, associate professor of physical science, who originated the competition in 1978.  This year, he was assisted by Biology Professor Gloria Colurso and Marty Levin, interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Nanette Tummers Authors Stress Management Book

Written by Akaya McElveen

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Willimantic, Conn. - Nanette Tummers, professor of health and physical education at Eastern Connecticut State University, has authored a new book titled "Stress Management: A Wellness Approach."  The book, which is drawn from leading research and best practices from experts in the field of positive psychology, presents practical tools for managing stress in six dimensions: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual and environmental. In addition, Tummers' book, "Teaching Stress Management: Activities for Children and Young Adults," published in 2011, was recently translated into Chinese. Tummers has authored four books since 2009, including "Preparing Children and Teens for Healthy, Balanced Living" (2009) and "Teaching Stress Management to Children and Young Adults" (2011).

Tummers presents stress management from a holistic viewpoint in "Stress Management: A Wellness Approach." She considers not only the symptoms of stress but also challenges readers to look at all life circumstances including: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, financial, cultural and spiritual areas. "Stress Management" draws heavily from leading research and the best practices from experts in the field. The book includes resources for further exploration of issues in stress management.

"Stress Management helps us manage stress in today's fast-paced, ever-changing climate: social, culture, politics, economics, technology and media," says Tummers. "It explores key issues of stress and stress management and offers evidence-based research and practical tools for coping with changes and stress in healthy and positive ways."

Tummers has developed and taught traditional and online stress management courses at the university level since 2005. She has taught stress management courses to other populations as well, including high-risk populations, cancer patients and athletes.

Tummers also trains educators in providing stress management activities for K-12 students.  She remains active in conducting research in positive psychology, peer mentoring and stress management and has presented on these topics at the national conferences.

Coplac Students Shine at COPLAC Conference

Written by Anne Pappalardo

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                             Chris Lorentson with Professor Steve Nathan


Ten Eastern students presented at the Fourth Annual) Northeast Regional Undergraduate Research Conference at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in October. The conference was sponsored by the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), a national advocacy group that supports liberal arts education at public institutions. Participating campuses included Eastern, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Keene State College, the University of Maine-Farmington, SUNY-Geneseo and MCLA.

The two-day conference gave students the opportunity to showcase the results of their individual undergraduate research projects and artistic creativity, and to discuss their work with peers and faculty members. Eastern students displayed their artwork, gave talks and presented posters in disciplines ranging from the arts and humanities to the social and natural sciences. Outstanding projects are featured in COPLACs online research journal, "Metamorphosis."

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                              Professor Barbara Murdoch and Manan Bhatt 

Students who presented posters included Sean Duggan and Christina Browning, Visual Arts majors who presented "Sentimental Journey," a poster for an annual hospital gala; Environmental Earth Science major Lindsey Beliveau, who presented "An Examination of Water-Produced Erosion Forms in Bedrock using Terrestrial Laser Scanning"; Biology major Manan Bhatt, who presented "Identifying Cells Capable of Neurogenesis in the Olfactory Epithelium"; David Klein, a Business Information System major who presented "Systems Analysis for Improvement at the Sales Department at Hayward Turnstiles"; and Christopher Lorentson, majoring in Environmental Earth Science, who presented "Geospatial and Physical Assessment of Glacial Deposits in Connecticut to Better Site Ground-Source Heat Pumps."

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                     Professor Ari de Wilde, left, Andrew Burns and Joshua Tamosaitis

Students making oral presentations included Health and Physical Education majors Andrew Burns and Joshua Tamosaitis, who presented "Doping and Cycling in the Media: A Content Analysis of Sports Illustrated"; Psychology major Eric Cerino, who presented "Academic Motivation, Self-Efficacy and Academic Procrastination"; History major Zachary Marotte, who presented "The Struggle to Break with the Ancients: The English Army's Gradual Adoption of Modern Military Theory, 1660-1728"; Economics major Ted Straub, who presented "Can Behavioral Economics Help Consumers Save?"; and Nicholas Denegre, who presented "Validation of the Economics and Energy Savings for Advanced Commercial Rooftop Unit Control Strategies."

Eastern faculty serving as research mentors included James Hyatt, Barbara Murdoch, Don Petkov, Stephen Nathan, Ari de Wilde, Lyndsey Lanagan-Leitzel, June Bisantz, Jamel Ostwald, Dimitrios Pachis and Catherine Carlson.

(At right: Andrew Burns, Joshua Tamosaitis and Professor Ari de Wilde.)

 

Board of Regents President Gray Visits Eastern's Campus

Written by Dwight Bachman

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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.

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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."

 

Eastern's Poverty Awareness Marathon

Written by Christopher J. Herman


 Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University is hosting its fifth annual Poverty Awareness Marathon with a goal of collecting 462 nonperishable items (to represent the 46.2 million Americans living in poverty) which will be donated to the Covenant Soup Kitchen. The marathon will be held from 7 a.m. to noon on Sept. 20. Registration is on the day of the event. A monetary donation of at least $1 or a canned good is needed to register.
    Health and Physical Education Professor Charlie Chatterton, Eastern's men's lacrosse team, Eastern's women's soccer team, and numerous other Eastern organizations are participating in the marathon. Donors and supporters will have the opportunity to run, walk or cheer on the participants during the marathon.

 "Although we do intend to collect non-perishable food during this event, the overarching goal is to kick off this year's community service opportunities with a project that raises awareness of something that impacts both our local and our global communities," said Event Coordinator Maxwell Goto. "This event is a good way to raise awareness and promote service in our community that will help alleviate some of the stresses that poverty inflicts on an individual or family."

 Donations should be dropped off at the Sports Center or the Center for Community Engagement, located on the second floor of the Woods Support Services Center. For more information, call the Center for Community Engagement at (860) 465-0900.

Eastern Named Among 2013-14 Public Colleges of Distinction

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.

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