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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.

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."

"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.

John O'Donnell to Exhibit "STILLLIFE" at Schumacher Gallery

Written by Akaya McElveen


Willimantic, Conn. - John O'Donnell, visual arts lecturer at Eastern Connecticut State University, will have an exhibit titled "STILLLIFE" on display at the Westover School's Schumacher Gallery in Middlebury, CT. The exhibit runs March 18-28. A public reception with the artist will take place on March 22 from 4-6 p.m. Located in Westover's Louise B. Dillingham Performing Arts Center, the gallery is open Monday through Friday from noon until 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 1-5 p.m.
"STILLLIFE" is a title that refers to the category of painting as well as to a calm reflection on life and time. O'Donnell's process and materials are inspired by the history of painting and contemporary abstraction. In the studio he paints directly onto found objects and then attempts to replicate them on a burlap canvas with gesso and acrylic paint. Sometimes he uses oil paint and spray paint to reference different historical and contemporary processes.

  The exhibition also includes a video piece created by O'Donnell, who was inspired by a musical composition written and produced by Seattle-based musician Jean Chalant.

Design Students to Exhibit at Kerri Art Studio and Gallery

Written by Akaya McElveenKeri Art-Kristin Palka.jpgWillimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's graphic design program will be collaborating with Thread City Development, Inc., the Willimantic Screen Project, the Willimantic Brewing Company and the Kerri Art Studio & Gallery to illuminate the Kerri Gallery on Main Street as part of the Green Valley's fourth annual Green Lights initiative.

The Kerri Gallery will host an opening reception for Green Lights from 6-8 p.m. on Feb. 27. The reception is free and open to the public. The gallery will glow each night from February 27 to March 5 with a series of publicly visible, inventively imagined, green light images created by Eastern design students with the assistance of Eastern Professor of Art June Bisantz.

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Eastern students involved in the project are Kara Berglund, Melissa Blazejak, Christina Broccoli, Laura Cardeno, Joshua Cranmer, Braden Herrick, Lauren Hodkinson, Cynthia Kapp, Solinda Keth, Colleen King, Hannah Lewis, Cassandra Marion, Chris McMenamey, Seth Myers, Kristin Palka, Joseph Perez, Robert Picone, Mark Raleigh, Alyssa Reilly, Alexa Senia, Chelsea Taylor, Tyler Scott and Julie Vega.

"The Last Green Valley" is a 35-town National Heritage Corridor in eastern Connecticut and south-central Massachusetts. The organization works locally to celebrate heritage, preserve natural resources and respect working lands. Each year, Green Lights encourages residents of the  region to show support for the National Heritage Corridor by displaying green lights in any way they can imagine between Feb. 15 and March 17. More information can be found at

Smart Painting

Written by Akaya McElveen

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John O'Donnell, lecturer of studio and digital art, is curating and organizing, "Smart Painting," a show of paintings by artists who respond to the institution of contemporary abstraction. The show runs Feb. 7- March 22 in New Haven's Artspace Gallery.  An opening reception was held on Feb. 7.

"These painting are sharp, quick, bright, amusing, elegant and are aware of their own limitations and forge on, in the familiar but ambiguous territory of abstraction," said O'Donnell. "Confidently defining space through the use of line and structure these paintings challenge traditional notions of abstraction through rational constructions that examine concepts of composition and depth."

Featured artists include Blake Shirley, Sharon Butler, Deborah Dancy, Zachary Keeting, Ben Piwowar, Jenn Dierdorf, Rob D. Campbell, Derek Leka, Clare Grill, Tatiana Berg.

O'Donnell is a multidisciplinary artist and has created performance pieces for the Museum of New Art in Detroit, Proof Gallery in Boston, Flux Space in Philadelphia, and SOHO20 Gallery in New York.  His videos have been exhibited at the Chelsea Art Museum in New York and at film festivals in Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Moscow and Saint Petersburg, Russia.

In addition to teaching at Eastern, O'Donnell serves as an adjunct professor of studio and digital arts at the University of Connecticut and Gateway Community College.

"Beneath the Raw Skin"

Written by Akaya McElveen

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Afarin Rahmanifar, assistant professor of painting and drawing, is curating "Beneath the Raw Skin," an exhibition at the Art Space Gallery located at 480 Main St. in Willimantic. The exhibition runs through Feb. 28.

An opening reception took place on Feb. 6, featuring "Ancestral Cornea," a video produced by Alycia Bright Holland, lecturer of acting and movement, and a dance performance by WUMALA, a group of Eastern student dancers.

The exhibition features the work of artists Richard Cutrona, Robert Gerhardt, Sunil Gupta, Leeah Joo, Ben Ni Neal Parks, Thuan Vu and Rahmanifar. "The exhibit showcases these New York-based, transnational and local artists who question cultural identity and establish their own unique vocabulary through a variety of mediums," said Rahmanifar.

Art Space Gallery hours are 2-5 p.m. on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call Rahmanifar at (860) 465-0197 or email her at

Windham Artist J. Alden Weir Multifaceted Project

Written by Akaya McEleveen

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Willimantic, Conn. - Anne Dawson, chair of the Visual Arts Department and professor of art history at Eastern Connecticut State University, is working on a multifaceted project on J. Alden Weir, the world-famous artist who lived and painted in Windham from 1882 until his death in 1919. Dawson's project will include two art exhibitions, a book, speaking appearances and an expansion of the project's website. Dawson's research began in the fall of 2009 and is expected to be complete in 2016.

Eastern's Akus Gallery will present a Weir-related art exhibition from February to March 2016 to celebrate the opening of Eastern's new fine arts instructional facility. The exhibit will feature artwork from a contemporary artist that interprets Windham settings from today's perspective, and to highlight the role Windham played in inspiring Weir during his life from 1882 to 1919. The Akus show will include projections of Weir paintings and computer monitors displaying the project's website, By subtly referencing its historic past, the contemporary artist exhibition will celebrate Windham's sense of place, both past and present. There will also be a viewing of a "Weir in Windham" documentary created by Communication Professor Denise Matthews' documentary class.

The Akus exhibition is planned as a prelude to the historical exhibition, "Love at First Sight: J. Alden Weir and American Impressionism in Eastern Connecticut, 1882-1919," that will be on view at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London from March to September 2016. It will include major paintings by Weir and others as well as historical photography that documents Weir's life in eastern Connecticut.
Aside from presenting the two art exhibitions at the Akus Gallery and the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, Dawson is in search of a publisher for a new book titled "Love at First Sight: J. Alden Weir and American Impressionism in Eastern Connecticut, 1882-1919." The book is a compilation of interdisciplinary essays focusing on Weir, Windham at the turn of the century, and Connecticut's role in the country life movement and is edited by Dawson.

Dawson hopes the project will make people aware of the importance of the Windham/Willimantic area at the turn of the 20th century in terms of art, industry and culture generally. "The point of the project is to celebrate an artist that lived in the area," says Dawson. "It's to complete a neglected area of scholarship on Weir and encourage pride in Windham."

More information on Dawson's project can be found at

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