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Eastern Inducts New Class of Alumni Fellows

Written by Danielle Couture

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           left to right: William Kelly, Eastern President Elsa Nunez and Robert Hacker

Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University inducted its sixth class of Alumni Fellows on March 26 in the Paul E. Johnson Community Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library.  Inductees included Robert Hacker '86, a dentist who runs a successful practice, and William Kelly '82, deputy director of securities lending for Bank New York Mellon.

 Hacker '86 earned his degree in biology at Eastern and went on to Tufts School of Dental Medicine where he earned his Doctor of Medical Dentistry Degree. Hacker practiced with other dentists for three years before buying a Branford practice from a retiring dentist. While running his own practice, he advanced his dental education at Americus Cosmetic Institute in New York City, which led to be one of the first practices in the area doing cosmetic dentistry.
  
 Hacker travels to Ecuador annually with his family to provide free dental work for poor children. He is also a member of the American Dental Association, the Connecticut State Dental Association and the Branford Chamber of Commerce. Kelly '82 double majored in Economics and Public Policy and Government at Eastern. Today he serves as deputy director of securities lending for Bank New York Mellon, a role in which he is responsible for more than $300 billion of business activity, and Global Head of Client Management, where he makes sure the bank's list of clients are satisfied with the services provided by the investment professionals he supervises. As part of his job, Kelly has traveled throughout the United States and to nearly 30 countries.

 Both Hacker and Kelly give credit to Eastern for getting them to where they are today. When Hacker went to graduate school at Tufts, he couldn't believe he was chosen to be in the same class as people from schools like Yale, Cornell and Harvard. "Seeing all these Ivy League schools and competitive universities made me nervous about who I was up against," he said, "but I quickly realized that Eastern had prepared me well. I had a solid knowledge of basic sciences and the team of teachers I had not only got me into one of the top dental schools, but allowed me to compete with other students from universities around the country and the world."

 Hacker talked about how having a liberal arts education contributed to the success of his career. He had to take a psychology class as part of the core curriculum, which helped him relate to his patients later on. "I would recommend taking the opportunity to get a well-rounded education and be creative when picking your classes, because you never know where skills from those classes will be needed later in your life," said Hacker.
 
 Kelly says he gained crucial skills from Eastern that helped land him his first job in the field. "I was chosen for a leadership position because of my ability to communicate effectively and my ability to demonstrate leadership experience that I learned from my foundation at Eastern," said Kelly.  He also explained how one opportunity in his work led to many more opportunities and experiences. He advised students to keep in touch with their networks whether it be through Eastern or through professional ranks. "Become associated, become active within your particular field and have that desire to reach out beyond your comfort zone," said Kelly. "It's easy to get settled in, but the opportunities that are afforded to us as young professionals are limitless."

The Eastern Fellows program was established in the 2008-09 academic year to recognize and engage distinguished Eastern alumni in the life of the University.  This program is a means of enriching the educational experience of current Eastern undergraduates by exposing them to alumni who are able to share their work experiences with students in realistic terms. The program is an exciting and stimulating way for our students and faculty to benefit from the knowledge of accomplished professionals.

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."

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 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.

Eastern Named a "2013 Great College to Work For"

Written by Christopher J. Herman

 

Willimantic, Conn. - For the fifth year in a row, Eastern Connecticut State University has been named as one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, according to a new survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The results, released yesterday in The Chronicle's sixth annual report on The Academic Workplace, are based on a survey of more than 45,000 employees at 300 colleges and universities.
        In all, only 97 institutions achieved "Great College to Work For" recognition for specific best practices and policies. Eastern won honors in three categories this year: "Collaborative Governance;" "Compensation and Benefits;" "Facilities, Workspaces and Security."
  
Eastern was one of only three Connecticut institutions to make the list and the only public university among the three; Quinnipiac University and Middlesex Community College were the other two.

"We are honored to be included in 'Great Colleges to Work For'," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "Receiving this national recognition once again from the Chronicle of Higher Education is very gratifying, especially given our high ranking in three important areas of campus operations. The spirit of collaboration that exists on our campus is a strength that helps us better serve our students and the state of Connecticut." 
     The Chronicle is one of the nation's most important sources of news about colleges and universities. The survey results are based on a two-part assessment process: an institutional audit that captured demographics and workplace policies from each institution, and a survey administered to faculty, administrators and professional support staff. The primary factor in deciding whether an institution receives recognition is employee feedback.    

To administer the survey and analyze the results, The Chronicle worked with ModernThinkLLC, a strategic human capital consulting firm that has conducted numerous "Best Places to Work" programs, surveying hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide. Great Colleges to Work For is one of the largest and most respected workplace-recognition programs in the country.

For more information and to view all the results of the survey, visit The Chronicle's web site at Meet 2013's Great Colleges to Work For.

Carlotta Walls LaNier Inspires Eastern Graduates

Written by Dwight Bachman and Ed Osborn


lanier speaking ok.jpgWillimantic, Conn. --  1,256 undergraduates and 41 graduate students heard the roars and cheers of thousands of their family members and friends as they celebrated their achievements at Eastern Connecticut State University's 123nd  Commencement exercises at the XL Center in Hartford on May 14. 

Carlotta Walls LaNier, the youngest member of the "Little Rock Nine," gave the Commencement Address, telling the graduates "This is your moment, a time you have been looking forward to and working toward since you first arrived at Eastern.  Celebrate the moment; seize it.  Step out into your future bravely and boldly."  LaNier noted that the graduates were bound to encounter challenges.  Those experiences will be "the greatest teacher in the grand classroom of life. Those challenges will show you who you really are."

The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African American students who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, AR, in 1957. Due to the segregation policies of Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus and the mob atmosphere in Little Rock at the time, President Dwight Eisenhower ordered 1,000 members of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division to Arkansas to provide protection and escort the nine students to class throughout the 1957-58 school year.

Despite the daily military escort, LaNier and her friends were kicked, hit with rocks, threatened, and shunned. Her own home was firebombed.  As the onslaught continued, "the more determined I became to get my diploma."  Today, she has "made peace with my past."
 
LaNier turned to the Class of 2013 and encouraged them to have the same commitment: "Finish whatever goals you have set for yourself.  Find the strength, fortitude and determination to see it through. When you see injustice, how will you respond?  I hope you take the heroic stand." LaNier was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa at the Commencement Exercises.
 
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Eastern President Elsa M. Nunez told the graduates, "There is no other country in the world that places its future so firmly in the hands of the people.  You are now the next generation of citizen leaders in our state and in our nation.  . . . The world needs your energy, your enthusiasm, and your skills . . . There is a challenge out there ready for you to conquer, whether it's helping out at your church or synagogue, volunteering at the local senior center, or inventing a new surgical procedure. There is a team somewhere that needs you to complete its mission."

 

commencement two grads.jpgAs an example of the contributions Eastern students are making in the world, Nunez cited more than 100,000 hours of volunteer work performed by Eastern students, faculty, and staff each year in local communities, noting that President Barack Obama's had named Eastern to his National Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the third time in four years that past March.At the same time, President Nunez told the graduates to "be yourself and do what makes you happy," and quoted New England bard Henry Thoreau, who wrote: "Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still."

 

commencement - happy grads.jpgFrom 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, Eastern's graduation ceremonies were marked by dignity, grace and elegance. Senior Jessica Johnson sang "America the Beautiful," and Senior Class President Thomas Balestracci presented President Núñez with the class gift, a scholarship funded by more than 200 donations from the graduating class. Balestracci encouraged his classmates to continue donating so that the scholarship would grow. "We have all benefited from our experiences here at Eastern. These experiences are the ones that we will keep with us forever as we move on. They will be the ones we will look back upon and realize that they have helped us become who we are today.  We lived up each day like it was our last at Eastern, and now, it really is our last day. We have turned our dreams into reality during our time at this University and we made memories that will last a lifetime."

commencement - melendez.jpgYvette Melendez, vice president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, the governing body for the 17 Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, brought greetings on behalf of the Board of Regents.  "Congratulations to each and every one of you for reaching this incredible milestone.  This is one of those moments that will forever be embedded in your memory.  You are at the beginning of a future you have just begun to mold.  You took the first step in that journey by enrolling at Eastern.  You have much to be proud of."  Meléndez urged the graduates to make their contribution to society "in the way that Eastern has taught you.  You have worked exceedingly hard . . . you have learned that regardless of major, you are part of a community."

 

nana speaking blog.jpgNana Owusu-Agyemang of Ghana, West Africa, delivered the Senior Class Address. She thanked the faculty for their support, saying, "During my time here at Eastern, I have met professors that I simply cannot forget -- professors who really care for their students. It will forever strike me how much time professors at Eastern are willing to spend with each student...how much of themselves they give.  It's not just the professors who make Eastern what it is. At Eastern it's not just about imparting knowledge, it's about joining hands to mold each student into a richer person academically and mentally, as well." Owusu-Agyemang closed by quoting the late philosopher Alan Watts, who once said, "The attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be."
"May our truth be a good truth," said Owusu-Agyemang. "May our world be a good world. May our mark be a good mark."

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Carlotta Walls LaNier made history at age 14 when she enrolled at Central High School as a sophomore. On the first day of school she was surrounded by an angry mob that prevented the nine African American students from entering the building. After two weeks of protests and violence, President Dwight Eisenhower sent U.S. Army troops to Little Rock to protect the "Little Rock Nine" by escorting them to class for a year. Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus closed Little Rock schools for the 1958-59 school year, forcing LaNier to take correspondence courses. In June 1960, she became the first African American female student to graduate from Central High School.
LaNier has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the prestigious Spingarn Medal from the NAACP in 1958, and the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian award, which was bestowed upon the Little Rock Nine in 1999 by President Bill Clinton. She is also the author of "A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice of Little Rock Central High School."

Eastern Honors Alumni and Donors

Written by Ed Osborn


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President Elsa Nùñez, secnd from right, with Presidential Leadership Award Winners, left to right, Stephen Kenton, Anna Alfiero and Steve Watts, right.

Willimantic, Conn: -- Eastern Connecticut State University recognized four people who have made exceptional contributions to Eastern, their local communities, the state of Connecticut and beyond at the President's Leadership Awards Luncheon on April 4.

Anna (Stankewich) Alfiero '62 received the Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes outstanding leadership or professional success by Eastern graduates. Alfiero had an exemplary 35-year career in the Waterford Public School system and was named to the inaugural class of inductees into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 1992 by President Bill Clinton.

Alfiero also serves as the organizer of the Willimantic State Teachers College Class of '62. Last year she chaired the committee to celebrate their 50th Reunion, and she is leading the effort to create a permanent, endowed scholarship that will honor the legacy of her classmates. "There were 60 in our graduating class," she said, "and we were the first class of schoolteachers who were required to take graduate credits and get our master's degree.  We were supported and encouraged by our teachers and fellow students, and we were committed to leaving the world a better place than we had found it. I cherish those times."
 
The Hermann Beckert Friends of the University Award was presented to Professor Emeritus Stephen Kenton. Following a teaching career at Eastern of 38 years, during which time he became known for creating an ever-expanding network of math and computer science alumni, Kenton helped start an endowed scholarship in his honor. Through his enthusiasm and hard work, the scholarship has raised $51,000 to support math and computer science students. Kenton described three different students, including his own daughter, who fell in love with Eastern and enrolled or transferred here as a result. "Our students really love it here," he said. "I feel privileged to have been part of this University."

Receiving the ECSU Foundation's Distinguished Donor Award was Steve Watts. In 2010, Watts established the LeClaire B. Watts Endowed Scholarship in memory of his wife, Lee, who taught Spanish at Eastern for many years before she passed away in 2009. "By creating this scholarship, I know that Lee would be happy that she can continue to serve Eastern and its students years after she is gone," he said. Watts also serves on the Board of Directors for the ECSU Foundation.

Eastern President Elsa Nùñez thanked the recipients for their professional, civic and philanthropic accomplishments, and applauded the donors present for their commitment to assisting students in paying for their educations.

 "I am here today especially to acknowledge the hundreds of Eastern students who, without your support, might not be walking our halls, sitting in our classrooms, and burning the midnight oil in the library to achieve their goals as scholars and budding professionals," she said. "We had nearly 3,000 donors this past year -- including a record-high 1,850 alumni donors, which is a positive validation of what we are doing here at Eastern."
 
Also receiving recognition was Sandy Roth, who is the recipient of the Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Award. In addition to receiving her master's degree at Eastern, Roth created a scholarship to support history majors in memory of her late husband, History Professor David Roth. She also serves on the ECSU Foundation Board as secretary. Roth was unable to attend the April 4 event and will receive her award at Eastern Celebrates in May.

Eastern Holds Open House for Prospective Students

Written by Rebecca Holdridge

Willimantic, Conn. Eastern Connecticut State University will hold an open house for prospective students from noon to 4 p.m. on Oct. 14. During the open house, potential students will learn about the benefits of Eastern's liberal arts education and can also tour the campus.
 
 From noon to 4 p.m. an academic, athletic and activities fair will be held in Geissler Gymnasium, where faculty, staff and coaches will discuss a wide range of opportunities for students who enroll at Eastern. At 1:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. in Room 104 of the Science Building, the Admissions Office will offer guidance on the admissions process. For Spanish-speaking students, a concurrent session will be held at 1:15 p.m. in Room 115 of the Student Center.

At 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre, Eastern's Housing Office will discuss what is expected of students who live on campus. At 12:30 p.m. in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center, Eastern President Elsa Núñez will share her vision for Eastern.

At 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. in Room 219 of the Student Center, Political Science Professor Bill Salka will discuss the University Honors Program. The Financial Aid Office will hold information sessions at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the Betty R. Tipton Room. At 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. in Room 110 of Webb Hall, the Department of Education faculty will discuss Eastern's Teacher Education Program, including how to apply and why the program is unique.

 Campus tours of the Child and Family Development Resource Center, the J. Eugene Smith Library, the Science Building, and other facilities will be provided throughout the afternoon.

Eastern Holds Open House for Prospective Students

Written by Rebecca Holdridge

aerial of south residential villageDSC_1651.JPGWillimantic, Conn. Eastern Connecticut State University will hold an open house for prospective students from noon to 4 p.m. on Oct. 14. During the open house, potential students will learn about the benefits of Eastern's liberal arts education and can also tour the campus.
 
 From noon to 4 p.m. an academic, athletic and activities fair will be held in Geissler Gymnasium, where faculty, staff and coaches will discuss a wide range of opportunities for students who enroll at Eastern. At 1:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. in Room 104 of the Science Building, the Admissions Office will offer guidance on the admissions process. For Spanish-speaking students, a concurrent session will be held at 1:15 p.m. in Room 115 of the Student Center.

At 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre, Eastern's Housing Office will discuss what is expected of students who live on campus. At 12:30 p.m. in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center, Eastern President Elsa Núñez will share her vision for Eastern.

At 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. in Room 219 of the Student Center, Political Science Professor Bill Salka will discuss the University Honors Program. The Financial Aid Office will hold information sessions at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the Betty R. Tipton Room. At 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. in Room 110 of Webb Hall, the Department of Education faculty will discuss Eastern's Teacher Education Program, including how to apply and why the program is unique.

 Campus tours of the Child and Family Development Resource Center, the J. Eugene Smith Library, the Science Building, and other facilities will be provided throughout the afternoon.

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