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Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University held its 14th Annual Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition (ASRCE) on April 12. The event featured oral and visual presentations of student-led scientific research and artwork. More than 50 presentations were delivered by students from a range of academic departments. 

 Mike Manzi, a junior majoring in environmental earth science (EES), presented on shoreline erosion due to weathering along Block Island. "I have enjoyed being a part of every step of the scientific process," said Manzi. "The best part is knowing that the information from my project can be used in the future by others doing research in this field."

 "Students studying environmental earth science have the opportunity to carry out exciting field-based research," said EES Professor William Cunningham. "Last summer undergraduates carried out original and important research in Idaho, Spain and various localities around southern New England. Their findings were presented at Saturday's event."

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At the ASRCE, Mathematics Professor Mizan Khan won the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Mentor Award. He was nominated by one of his students, Richard Magner, who has conducted extensive "number theory" research with Khan. 
 "Students who are interested doing research should ask a faculty member about opportunities in their area of interest," said Psychology Professor Madeleine Fugere. "I am always impressed by the quality of the research presented at this event."

Laura Markley, a junior majoring in EES, presented on population, natural resources and sea level rising in Bangladesh. "My research experience at Eastern has provided me with invaluable hands-on field experience," said Markley. "I'm lucky to be able to present on topics that interest me and address real-world problems."

"This event gives students the chance to experience the 'next step' in the research process: presentation," said Peter Bachiochi, psychology professor and faculty mentor. "It is very motivating for them."

"As a faculty mentor it is very rewarding to see your students present. It represents the culmination of a lot of hard work," said Fugere. "The ASRCE is one of the best academic events all year."

Eastern Hosts 2014 Research and Exhibition Conference

Written by Jordan Sakal

Willimantic, Conn. -  Eastern Connecticut State University will host its annual Arts and Sciences Research Conference & Exhibition on April 12 from 8:30 to 1:30 p.m. This annual event highlights student creative activity undertaken within the 11 departments and 13 majors in the School of Arts and Sciences.

 The conference is a forum for Arts & Sciences students to give oral and poster presentations of research they have conducted while at Eastern.  Students will also be reading poetry, discussing interpretations of literature, and displaying artwork. This exhibition will be the first ever to feature an award presented to faculty mentors for services to their student researchers.
 The award is student-nominated, and draws attention to the fact that Eastern students and faculty contribute to scholarly fields of inquiry beyond the classroom. The opening ceremonies of the conference will begin at 9 a.m. in room 104 of the Science Building. There will brief introductory remarks by Professor Nick Parsons, Dean Martin Levin of the School of Arts and Sciences, President Elsa Núñez and Provost Rhona Free.

Eastern Offers New Fashion and Costume Design Minor

Written by Danielle Couture


Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University will be offering a new Fashion and Costume Design minor this coming fall through the Theatre and Visual Arts departments. Students will be able to register for classes for the 2014 fall semester.

The interdisciplinary minor is designed for students interested in developing skills and abilities in the areas of costume and fashion design. Core courses cover aesthetics, technology and basic skills development in costume and fashion design, including one practical applications experience. Elective courses cover more specialized areas related to costume and fashion history, textiles and pattern-making techniques.

Students minoring in Costume and Fashion Design will develop cutting-edge skills to prepare for careers and further study in the fashion, costume, retail and entertainment industries. Students will apply basic techniques of design and illustration by hand and computer-assisted technology related to the production of garments and accessories.

For information about the minor, contact June Bisantz in the Visual Arts Department at (860) 465-5174 or, or Kristen Morgan in the Theatre Department at (860) 465-5058 or

Eastern to Present "The Laramie Project"

Written by Danielle Couture


Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Theatre Program and Drama Society will present "The Laramie Project," written by Moisés Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project, in the Harry Hope Theatre in Shafer Hall. The play, directed by senior theatre major Kelsey Guggenheim, will run from April 24-27 at 7:30 p.m., with a Friday showing at 11 a.m. and a Sunday showing at 4 p.m.

The play follows the true story of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming who was kidnapped, severely beaten, tied to a fence in the middle of a prairie outside Laramie, WY in 1998 and left to die. He was a victim of this brutal murder just because he was gay.

Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project made six trips to Laramie over the course of a year and a half in the aftermath of the beating and during the trial of the two young men accused of killing Shepard. They conducted more than 200 interviews with the people of the town. Some people interviewed were directly connected to the case, and others were citizens of Laramie. Kaufman and Tectonic Theater members constructed a deeply moving theatrical experience from these interviews and their own experiences.

Guggenheim was given the opportunity to direct this full-length stage production through Pathways to Leadership. The program for students interested in directing includes a series of directing classes, stage management and assistant directing duties, and opportunities to direct staged readings, children's theatre, one-act plays, and on occasion, for the student with special skills, the opportunity to direct a full-length, fully-staged production as part of the Harry Hope Theatre season of shows.

Guggenheim has acted in nine Eastern productions including "The Skin of our Teeth," "The Birds" and The Gilded Age." She was stage manager for "Dancing at Lughnasa" and assistant stage manager for "Biloxi Blues." She directed "Sacrifices for the Sake of Art" as part of the Phoenix New Play Series, and was the assistant director of "Once on this Island." She was chosen as a Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Candidate for her work in "The Skin of Our Teeth" and is also the president of Drama Society.

The public is invited. Admission is $5 for students and groups of 10 or more; $10 for Eastern faculty, staff, alumni and senior citizens; and $12 for the general public.

For more information on "The Laramie Project," call the University Box Office at (860) 465-5123 or email Ellen Brodie at

Chief Justice Rogers and Judge Kahn to Speak at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

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."

Students Participate in Honors Singing Auditions

Written by Danielle Couture


Willimantic, Conn. - Four Eastern Connecticut State University students participated in honors auditions at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) on March 8 at Central Connecticut State University.

Students Melinda DeDominicis, Renae St. John, Moriah Perrett and Alexis Kurtz prepared and performed three to four selections in English, French, German and Italian for a panel of adjudicators.
St. John received an Honorable Mention for her performance in the Upper College Division. More than 35 students (freshman and sophomore class standing; junior and senior class standing) from private voice studios and universities across Connecticut were present.

"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."

Students Participate in Honors Singing Auditions

Written by Danielle Couture

Willimantic, Conn. - Four Eastern Connecticut State University students participated in honors auditions at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) on March 8 at Central Connecticut State University.

Students Melinda DeDominicis, Renae St. John, Moriah Perrett and Alexis Kurtz prepared and performed three to four selections in English, French, German and Italian for a panel of adjudicators.

St. John received an Honorable Mention for her performance in the Upper College Division. More than 35 students (freshman and sophomore class standing; junior and senior class standing) from private voice studios and universities across Connecticut were present.

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.

Students Excel at Kennedy Center Theatre Festival

Written Anne Pappalardo

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Willimantic, Conn. - A number of Eastern Connecticut State University students recently attended the Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). The festival, held this year in Hyannis, MA, is annual event attended by more than 1,000 students and faculty from colleges across the Northeast. The KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide that has served as a catalyst for improving the quality of college theatre in the United States.

The Eastern students were accompanied by Professor Ellen Brodie, Assistant Professor J.J. Cobb, Assistant Professor Kristen Morgan, Associate Professor Chase Rozelle, and Lecturer Alycia Bright-Holland.

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Eastern's students were active in the conference's events, workshops and competitions. Joseph Staffa's projection design work for "Once on this Island," directed and choreographed by Bright-Holland, won first place for Scenic Design Excellence at the conference. He was awarded a one-week trip to the KCACTF national conference in Washington, D.C. This is the second year in a row that one of Morgan's students has won a first-place national KCACTF award for their projection design.

Keri Smart, mentored and supervised by Assistant Professor Anya Sokolovskaya, won a one-week scholarship to the prestigious Stage Craft Institute of Las Vegas for her costume design of Eastern's production of "The Birds." Smart may be remembered for her highly creative use of feathers in her costume design for last February's production, directed by Brodie. The cast of last year's production of "Once on This Island," directed and choreographed by Bright-Holland, won a regional Merit Award for Excellent use of African and Caribbean dance and performance.

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Four student actors -- Stephanie Madden, Kinde Queenan, Dan Fernandez and Kelsey Guggenheim -- were nominated to participate in the event's Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition. Emily Rieser, Mya Ta, Chad Dominique and Alexis Kurtz were scene partners in the competition. Guggenheim and Fernandez also participated in the festival's New Play Project initiative.

Design/Tech/Management students Amanda Conkey, Joe Staffa, Matt Pryke and Keri Smart were nominated to participate in the conference's Design/Tech and Management Exhibition. Staffa, Pryke and Smart were also selected from among 15 finalists in this competitive event. In addition, Conkey was selected to compete in the Malty Musical Theatre performance on the final night of the event based on her performance in Eastern's musical, "Once on This Island."

Maggie Casto, Megan Velasquez, Stephanie Madden, Alexis Kurtz, Emily Rieser and Liz Pelletier made up of more than half of the participants in the festival's Play Slam performances. Zach LaSala auditioned for and received a part in the conference's One-Act Play competition. Abby Weston was one of four students from the Northeast region to be selected to be an administrative intern for the event.

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