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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."

Ready to Climb

Written by Akaya McElveen

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Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University's Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) recently introduced two climbing walls for its preschool children; the wall are documented in the short film, "Ready to Climb: Bringing the Climbing Walls to the CFDRC."

"Ready to Climb" was produced by Eastern communication students Sarah Pierce, James Nixon, Dylan King and Attah Agyemang in their Documentary Production class taught by Denise Mathews, professor of communication. Students gained hands-on experience in directing, field shooting, conducting interviews, editing and other production skills. The video will be used to highlight to prospective families and students some of the experiences available to children at the CFDRC.

The indoor and outdoor climbing walls serve to support children's cognitive, social-emotional, creative and physical development, and provide critical experiential learning opportunities for Eastern students who hope to work with young children in their careers. Niloufar Rezai, director of the CFDRC and Darren Robert, professor of Health and Physical Education, detail the benefits of the addition of the climbing walls, citing risk-taking and peer motivation as a few. For instance, children in the center use the climbing walls to improve their hand-eye coordination, said Rezai.

Health and Physical Education students Teresa Rozycki, Mattie Brett and Josh Tamosaitis appear in the video as they work to support the children. Claudia Ahearn, CFDRC lead teacher, also appears in the video.  
The climbing walls were made possible through the support of the ECSU Foundation.

Written by Akaya McElveen

 

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The Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC), which serves children ages 18 months to 5 years, recently unveiled two climbing walls; one indoors and one outdoors.  The climbing walls will be used to carry out the CFDRC's mission to foster children's cognitive, social-emotional, creative, and physical development.  The climbing walls are expected to help preschoolers build confidence and gain a sense of accomplishment, socially and emotionally by having them work collaboratively and cooperatively.

Physically, the children will be able to develop upper body strength; increase eye-hand coordination; and develop a better sense of how to move their bodies in a space. Cognitively, the wall is expected to develop spatial awareness; allow for literacy/numeracy development through the use of magnetic letters and shapes; and expand children's oral language. Finally, the climbing wall will help children move their bodies in expressive ways fostering pretend and imaginative play.

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The CFDRC is also using this opportunity to provide experiential opportunities for Eastern students.  Under the guidance of Health and Physical Education Professor Darren Roberts, students in physical education will develop and implement lesson plans surrounding the climbing walls, affording valuable experiences in teaching, as well as individualizing based on children's needs. In addition, Communication Professor Denise Matthews is supervising students in the production of a documentary video featuring the climbing walls from their inception to their use with children and staff.

CECE's New Video

Written by Jordan Sakal

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The Center for Early Childhood Education (CECE) has announced the release of "Investigating Trees," a new video highlighting the work of teachers at the Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC).  Investigating Trees explores how teachers engaged toddlers and preschoolers in a variety of learning activities while studying trees and the animals that live in them.  The video features teachers Patty Gardner, Amy Tyler and Amie Theriault, as well as CFDRC Director Niloufar Rezai.

Investigating Trees is the fourth in the "Investigating" video series.  Each video in the series captures one topic of investigation in the CFDRC, and illustrates how teachers involved children in literacy, math, science, art and other activities through the three to four months of investigation.

Media production specialist Ken Measimer directed Investigating Trees. Communication student Sean Leser served as editor and videographer; Communication students Amy Dillon and Sarah Pierce served as production assistants. To watch the video, visit http://www.easternct.edu/cece/investigating_trees.html.

CFDRC Unveils New Rock Walls

Written by Jordan Sakal

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Willimantic, Conn. - The Child and Family Development Resource Center at Eastern Connecticut State University unveiled two new climbing walls for use by the center's preschoolers. One wall is located inside the facility and the other is in the main playground area.

According to Darren Robert, professor of health and physical education, "Over the past decade of professional physical education, I have noticed a low degree of upper body strength among preschool children."

The goal of the rock walls, according to Robert, is to increase the amount of outdoor playtime for the children so that they will have access to exercise activities that improve their upper body strength and overall physical conditioning. Rules and policies regarding the correct and safe use of the rock walls have been taught to all of the professionals on staff at the early childhood center and the children have been told the rules regarding the walls to keep both themselves and the faculty out of harm's way.

Students in Eastern's Education and Health and Physical Education programs work with the children of the center in order to provide educational experiences for both the children and themselves. Professional educators who teach preschool at the CFDRC and serve its 68 students will also make use of the new rock walls. Using the walls' magnetic surface, the teachers will be able to display numbers and letters as a fun way to interact with the students and use the new materials at their disposal.

The overall impact of the rock walls' on children's learning has yet to be measured but a bright future awaits the students of the CFDRC, as they have fun, develop cognitive skills and, strengthen their physical conditioning all at the same time.

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."

 

Students Volunteer at Early Childhood Block Party in Hartford

Written by Christopher J. Herman

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 Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University had several students and alumni volunteering at the Early Childhood Block Party at Bushnell Park in Hartford on Aug. 24. The event was organized by Connecticut's Office of Early Childhood Education, and was designed to provide both family-friendly activities and information and resources for parents.

Eastern Education Professor Sudha Swaminathan recruited students and alumni to staff an Eastern tent, where they engaged children and families in various early math and science activities. Volunteers included Swaminathan, Professor Ann Gruenberg, Jenny Wolff '13, Chamari Davis '14, Katie-Lynne Twarog '13, Stephanie Timek '13, Brittny Wieloch '13 and Patrick Donovan.

The event was also co-hosted by the Governor's Early Childhood Education Cabinet; The City of Hartford Department of Families, Children, Youth and Recreation; The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving; and the Connecticut Department of Education, with additional support from many community providers and other organizations throughout the state.

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.

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