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Students Engage in Global Energy Summit

Written by Laurel Kohl

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Eastern students participating in the North American Student Energy Summit held at Columbia University include, left to right, Trevor Warbin, Business Administration; Ying Chen, Accounting; Stephanie Rogers, Environmental Earth Science; Dustin Munson, Environmental Earth Studies; and Kyle Ellsworth, General Studies. The students were accompanied by Adam St.Denis, university assistant. 


Willimantic, Conn: -- Six students from Eastern Connecticut State University traveled to New York City in late June to spend two days with fellow students and energy experts from across North America.  The North American Student Energy Summit challenged college and university students to question and understand critical regional energy issues and the future of global energy dynamics.  The event was held on June 19-20 at the United Nations and Columbia University, and was linked with four other Regional Student Energy Summits, held simultaneously across the world in Latin America, Africa and Europe.
 
Eastern's President Elsa Núñez said of the event, "This was a great opportunity for our students to engage with like-minded people, looking to solve our future energy needs, and bringing that knowledge back to Eastern to make an impact on our campus." 

Three hundred undergraduate and graduate students from 75 institutions throughout the United States and Canada participated in the summit.  Twenty-seven experts from industry and government gave presentations, and participated in live interactive sessions with the students, engaging in discussions on the future of fossil fuels, financing alternative energy, technology innovation and carbon management.  The roster of distinguished speakers included Melanie Kenderdine, energy counselor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy; Ray Dempsey, vice president of British Petroleum, America; and Daniel Gross, managing director at Oak Tree Capital.  The Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Eastern was an Institutional Partner for the summit.

The Eastern participants, all student interns working at the ISE, gained valuable insight into current global and domestic energy trends, problems and solutions.  Senior Kyle Ellsworth was inspired by the event, saying, "The energy problems of the world seem like a giant jigsaw puzzle, but seeing the level of intelligence, and the commitment to a better future by the students and presenters, it feels good to know we are all working towards a more sustainable future together." 
The International Student Energy Summit, held every other year, will be in Bali, Indonesia, in 2015.  The events are organized by Student Energy, a global not-for-profit focused on creating the next generation of energy leaders committed to transitioning the world to a sustainable future.

Universities Collaborate to "Green" Connecticut K12 Schools

Written by Ed Osborngreen LEAF logo.JPGSpring is the time when leaves pop out, and inter-university collaboration is fueling this year's crop of "spring greenery." The "Connecticut Green LEAF Schools" project has provided a bridge that is linking a variety of stakeholders across the four Connecticut State Universities in the interest of greening our K-12 schools. The program started in 2011, with interest from four state offices, five universities, and many education and environmental groups. A representative steering committee created the Green LEAF program, which stands for "Leading, Educating, Achieving and Fostering" healthy green schools for all.  LEAF encourages, recognizes and celebrates the greening of Connecticut's public and private K-12 schools.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program announced its first honorees.  The program's goals are to teach about sustainability and the environment, to support the health and well-being of both students and staff, and to conserve resources used in our schools.

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Connecticut tailored its program to echo those goals, recognizing schools that were already green and supporting and developing a sustainability ethic in all schools. Connecticut's state universities have been active from the beginning of this process in leading and nurturing the Green LEAF cause.
Laurel Kohl, energy education specialist at Eastern Connecticut State University's Institute for Sustainable Energy, is co-chair of the initiative, along with Jeff Greig from the Connecticut State Department of Education. Suzanne Huminski of Southern Connecticut State University's Office of Sustainability, and Charles Button of Central Connecticut State University's Geography Department, are also active on the committee. Yale University and the University of Connecticut are likewise represented on the Green LEAF team.

Since its inception, Connecticut Green LEAF has enrolled 62 schools. Principals sign on with a letter of commitment, followed by the school's green team completing a comprehensive self-assessment. When a school shows strength in all three of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon goal areas, it may be eligible for national honors. To date five Connecticut schools have received national recognition. School districts can also seek recognition, as can colleges and universities, starting in 2015.

Schools are supported in growing greener through connections to programs offered by partners of Green LEAF. Connecticut's Department of Public Health (DPH) is one of the founding partners. "Creating healthy school environments, improving nutrition and expanding exercise opportunities are important public health priorities and goals the Green LEAF Schools program strives to achieve," said DPH Commissioner Jewel Mullen. "DPH is pleased to be a partner in this statewide collaborative initiative to encourage Connecticut schools to take a more holistic approach to 'going green' by linking health, the environment and education."
Connecticut Departments of Education, Energy and Environmental Protection, and Administrative Services are also program partners. Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor shared his vision of why sustainability is a key element in today's schools: "Green building standards and strategies create school environments which enhance students' learning experience and teach them the importance of building a sustainable future.  Incorporating environmental and sustainable concepts into the curriculum have the potential to increase student engagement, especially in STEM fields." More than 35 other educational or environmental organizations are also Green LEAF partners.

To assist participating schools in growing greener, the Green LEAF committee sought and was awarded a $166,000 grant for professional development through the Connecticut Office of Higher Education. Teacher Quality Partnership funding will support the summer 2014 Connecticut Green LEAF Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) Project. The Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University will administer the project, which will utilize a broad collaboration of academic staff from Eastern, Central and Southern, (two Schools of Education, three of Arts and Sciences, and one of Manufacturing Sciences) along with a strong team of environmental educators from across the state. Fifty K-12 classroom teachers and administrators will learn to integrate Common Core Mathematics and Language Arts practices along with Next Generation Science skills and strategies into their curricula via environmental education. The goal is to help educators use their school grounds and facilities as learning laboratories.

PLCs -- smaller groups drawn from the 50 participants -- will include teams of teachers from 13 K-12 schools that are committed to the Connecticut Green LEAF Schools program. Individuals will learn throughout the program, supported by teacher-education faculty from the four state universities, working alongside the state's best environmental educators. Participants have a choice of exploring School Yards, School Gardens or School Resources in the Curriculum, in a program of 64+ contact hours from summer 2014 to summer 2015.

The state universities have partnered to create a dynamic learning experience for the participants. To complement the interdisciplinary sessions taught by faculty members, Eastern's Media Department will be filming many of the workshops. The program will create a YouTube library of the topic discussions that can be used for review, shared with participants or used to enrich the resources available to all educators in the state. The teachers will be enrolled as non-credit students through Central, and their PLC groups will communicate through Blackboard, the industry standard for online course support, to continue learning and collaborating throughout the project. PLCs will develop an open archive of Common Core and Next Generation skills-based lesson support materials for environmental education curricula, and as well as case studies featuring replicable sustainability practices from Connecticut schools. The archives will be created with the help of several state university student interns, and will be accessible to the public via the www.ctgreenschools.org website hosted by Eastern's Institute for Sustainable Energy.

Summer 2014 will be very "green" for state university faculty and staff working on the Green LEAF program. Faculty, staff and K-12 teachers will all be learning and sharing their knowledge and experiences. Green LEAF hopes to grow this program in the future, branching out to other topics such as nutrition and environmental quality issues. We all will benefit from this sustainable harvest!

Eastern's Institute for Sustainable Energy Wins Statewide Award

Written by Ed Osborn

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Willimantic, CT -- The Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Eastern Connecticut State University received the prestigious Power of Change Award for "State Difference Maker Leadership" at the Connecticut State Capitol on June 17.


The 2014 Power of Change Awards celebrate the energy efficiency achievements of more than 20 Connecticut state agencies and municipalities. The winners received awards for their innovative initiatives and approaches to reducing energy spending and protecting the environment -- efforts which benefit all Connecticut residents.
Rob Klee, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, addressed the gathering of more than 100 awardees, legislators and other guests with a message that reinforced the importance of energy efficiency, both as a cost-saving measure, and as a key strategy in reducing carbon emissions. "The cheapest and cleanest energy is the energy you don't use," he noted.

ISE Director Lynn Stoddard received the award on behalf of the institute. The First Honors was awarded in the Difference Maker Leadership State category for the work that ISE has done for energy efficiency in Connecticut, through benchmarking of state buildings, training of facility managers in efficient operations and maintenance practices, sustainability partnerships with state colleges and universities, initiation of energy conservation retrofit projects in state buildings, and coordination with green programs at K-12 schools. Ms. Stoddard was also honored with an individual Leadership Award for her work on the state's Lead by Example program.

"We are very proud of this achievement by the Institute for Sustainable Energy," said Elsa   Núñez, president of Eastern Connecticut State University. "As a university that is committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship, Eastern has benefitted greatly over the years by the presence of the institute on campus. It is wonderful to see this recognition for not only the work the ISE has done at Eastern, but for the difference it has made across the state of Connecticut."

This year, the Power of Change Awards added new categories to recognize individuals, state agencies and municipalities, not only for specific energy efficiency projects, but also for leadership and innovation in making a sustainable and systemic difference in the state's approach to reducing energy use. State facility managers, town leaders, boards of education and stakeholders entered energy efficiency projects in five award categories: Top Building, Innovation, Difference Maker, Performance Contracting and Breaking Ground.
The sponsors of the Power of Change Award (the Common Sense Fund, Hampshire Foundation and the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation) brought together a panel of energy and environment experts from government, business, academia and advocacy organizations to judge the 2014 entries. The judges included John Rathgeber, President of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA); Jessica Boehland of the Kresge Foundation; and Bryan Garcia of the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, Connecticut's green bank.

In her remarks, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation President Michelle Knapik noted, "As these award winners have shown, investments in energy efficiency, energy infrastructure, best practices and behavior provide immediate, multiple and long-term benefits. These town and state leaders are demonstrating what is possible to achieve in the built environment, and they are setting an example for public leaders nationwide. Their efforts put Connecticut on the leading edge of transforming our relationship with energy -- this is a path toward a brighter, cleaner energy future."


About Eastern Connecticut State University and the Institute for Sustainable Energy
Eastern Connecticut State University is the state's public liberal arts university and serves approximately 5,400 students each year on its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. The Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern works to support energy efficiency and sustainability in Connecticut through education, research and technical support.  The institute's dedicated team of staff and student interns collaborates with state agencies, municipalities, colleges, universities, K-12 schools, public and private companies, and others on practical applications of energy efficiency, sustainability and resilience. The Institute believes that a sustainable world is possible, and works to help make that possibility a reality.

About the Power of Change Award
The Power of Change Award was created to honor the best achievements and innovations in energy efficiency across Connecticut's state and municipal buildings. The award is sponsored by three Connecticut-based foundations - the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, Hampshire Foundation and the Common Sense Fund. More information is available by visiting www.powerofchangeaward.org.

Eastern Graduates 1,227 at XL Center

Written by Ed Osborn

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Willimantic, Conn. - More than 12,000 family members and friends filled the XL Center in Hartford on Tuesday, May 13, to cheer on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,162 undergraduates and 65 graduate students received their diplomas at Eastern Connecticut State University's 124th Commencement exercises.

Nicholas Lawson, director of field human resources for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa during the Commencement Exercises, and offered remarks following presentation of his honorary degree.

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Lawson has worked with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for the past 17 years, a group he proudly describes as the "preeminent emergency medical humanitarian organization in the world." As Director of Field Human Resources for MSF since 2007, Lawson is responsible for the oversight of 35,000 staff across the globe, and leads the development and implementation of MSF's vision as a member of the MSF Executive Management team. Over the years, he has traveled to and coordinated humanitarian and medical relief efforts in Uganda, Pakistan, Burundi, East Timor, South Sudan and Afghanistan.

Lawson spoke of the organization's core principles of service, independence, impartiality, neutrality, ethics and engagement, and described his early years with MSF, when he faced the challenge of bringing medical supplies to civilians in Afghanistan caught in the crossfire of that nation's civil war.  In the end, he said MSF's focus was simple: to "alleviate the suffering of vulnerable people in crisis."

His charge to Eastern's 2014 graduating class was equally simple:  "What place does service and engagement in the public realm have in the careers we dream for ourselves? Is that activism? Is it volunteerism? Is it civics? Will it be a lifelong professional choice? . . . You will be richer than you can possibly imagine if you do actually make that choice."

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                                             Eastern President Elsa Nunez

Other speakers at the Commencement Exercises included Eastern President Elsa Nunez; Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, who represented the Board of Regents for Higher Education; Senior Class President Zachary Yeager; and Brittany Lane '14, who delivered the Senior Class Address. Other members of the platform party included Gregory Gray, president of the Board of Regents; Willimantic Mayor Ernie Eldridge; and other Eastern officials.

Nunez gave her traditional charge to the graduates, telling them, "I hope you look forward to the next chapter in your lives with optimism and expectation, knowing that the faculty and staff on our campus have done their utmost to prepare you for this day."
 
Nunez cited examples of applied learning experiences ranging from internships at ESPN and Cigna to study abroad trips to Costa Rica and Switzerland, to undergraduate research into genetics and emotional health among senior citizens, to working in South Carolina on anti-hunger efforts, as examples of the hands-on experiences that Eastern students receive in applying their liberal arts education.

 "Never be satisfied with a half-hearted effort, never assume that the way things have been done is the way we should do things in the future. Intellectual curiosity and a moral commitment to a better life for all people are hallmarks of a liberal arts university in our democracy. The best way to honor Eastern and our faculty is to remain true to what you have learned here."

 Nunez closed her remarks with a quote from the 19th-century Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda:  "Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life -- think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success."

More than 40 percent of the graduates were the first in their families to earn a bachelor's degree. As Connecticut's only public liberal arts university, Eastern draws students from 164 of the state's 169 towns. Approximately 90 percent of graduates stay in Connecticut to launch their careers, contribute to their communities and raise their families.

Senior Class President Zachary Yeager presented the Senior Class Gift to President Nunez--an annual Class of 2014 scholarship--and said, "College has been the time to make mistakes and learn from them, a time to challenge ourselves, and a time to step out of our comfort zone . . . We will carry the memories that we have made in the past few years at Eastern with us for a lifetime."

Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, offered remarks on behalf of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.  "I want you to know how deeply moved and excited we are about the great work you have done to earn your degree tonight," said Smith. "This is a significant milestone, and you should be very proud. The journey isn't easy, and there are no shortcuts to earning an undergraduate degree, but the benefits are enormous. Eastern has prepared you well for all the challenges you will face as the 21st century-economy continues to change. Pursue your career with the same dedication that has brought you to this fabulous day."
 
In her Senior Class Address, Brittany Lane urged the graduates to "pack your bags" and get ready for a new journey. She listed five items to include on the trip. First on the list: a belief that "every day is a great day to be alive," something she learned from one of her professors, Dan Switchenko. Second on her list was a commitment to helping others. "Volunteer; give back to your community; give back to your school. It is far more rewarding than a paycheck." 

  The third item on her list was to live life with kindness. "You never know the impact that your kind words could have on someone's day or even their life. Make your mark." Lane told her peers to also "remember to take the memories you have made at Eastern with you . . .  These are the moments that stand the test of time."

 Finally, Lane reminded her classmates that "there is no place like home. For your duration of time spent here at Eastern, it has become a second home . . . a close community of students from different walks of life coming together to live and learn in harmony . . . No matter where your journey takes you after today, no matter how many bumps in the road you may hit, always remember that we all have a place here at Eastern. You are all important. You will all accomplish incredible things; and our journey starts today." 
 
From 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, this year's graduation ceremonies again reflected the University's Commencement traditions of dignity and grace. University Senate President Gregory Kane presided over the commencement exercises; seniors Emily Chuber, Rachel Jung and Emma Kuehnle sang "America the Beautiful"; Senior Mame Fatou Diop gave the invocation; and History Professor Anna Kirchmann was recognized as the 2014 Distinguished Professor Award recipient.

 

Connecticut Campuses Connect at Statewide Sustainability Conference

Written by Ed Osborn

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More than 130 students, staff, faculty, and administrators from colleges and universities throughout Connecticut are sharing best practices today on how to make Connecticut campuses more sustainable.  The statewide conference is a collaborative effort spearheaded by the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University and hosted by Middlesex Community College, with more than 20 presentations from campus representatives sharing the details of their sustainability initiatives, successes, and challenges.  The presenters and participants in the conference include a broad range of public and private universities, colleges, and community colleges.  The conference and many of the energy initiatives of the campuses are supported by EnergizeCT and the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund.

"The idea for this conference arose from the desire to have an event where students, faculty, staff and administrators from public and private colleges and universities across the state could come together to discuss campus sustainability from a variety of different perspectives," said Laura Worthington, conference organizer and energy technical specialist for the Institute for Sustainable Energy.  "This type of collaboration is vital to the sharing of best practices and trading of ideas that will continue to move us forward and keep Connecticut on the map as one of the greenest states in the nation."

During the conference Eastern Connecticut State University and Yale University announced that they will co-chair a new "Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability" that will serve as an ongoing statewide network to facilitate greater coordination and cooperation on sustainability among public and private institutions of higher education. The primary purpose of this collaboration is to share information as peers, foster partnerships and develop system-wide strategies to address climate change and adaptation, local and regional resiliency, stormwater and water management, land use, and other sustainability-related issues.

Elsa Nunez, president of Eastern Connecticut State University, said, "We are thrilled to partner with Yale University in leading the Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability.  Together we look forward to engaging our public and private peer institutions to model environmental stewardship in our buildings, our classrooms, and our communities."

The new alliance will tap into the many resources available to help campuses engage in actions that will reduce their environmental footprint, increase resiliency and save costs.  These include EnergizeCT programs administered by Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating, programs of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and national programs such as the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment and the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

For additional information on the Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability and the conference, contact the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Eastern's Energy Institute to Receive National Award

The Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Eastern Connecticut State University has been selected to receive a prestigious national award honoring its accomplishments in energy efficiency and sustainability. 

The 2014 Energy Star Partner of the Year Award, to be formally presented in Washington, D.C., on April 29 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy, recognizes the institute's work with Connecticut towns, state agencies, school buildings and college campuses to strategically and comprehensively manage energy use.

"We are honored to be recognized nationally for the contributions the Institute for Sustainable Energy has made to energy conservation and sustainability in Connecticut," said Elsa Nunez, President of Eastern Connecticut State University.  "In addition to being a leader in evaluating energy efficiency and supporting the adoption of practical energy solutions in municipalities and school systems across our state, the institute has provided dozens of Eastern student interns with the skills necessary to augment our state's clean energy workforce."

Established in 2001, the institute has performed Energy Star "benchmarking" on more than 40 percent of Connecticut's 1,000 public schools, 170 state facilities and more than 120 other municipal buildings.  The benchmarking empowers decision-makers with valuable information on a building's energy use, enabling them to save money and lower energy consumption.  The institute also connects towns and agencies with the many energy incentive programs available in Connecticut, accelerating the installation of energy efficient equipment. 

The ISE and Connecticut's energy incentive programs are supported by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board through funding from electric rate payers.  As Connecticut strives to become the most energy efficient state in the nation, the Energy Efficiency Board's 2013 initiatives resulted in more than $53 million of annual savings for Connecticut's businesses, residents and municipalities.

"The Institute for Sustainable Energy is an important partner in achieving a sustainable energy future for Connecticut," said Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Commissioner Robert Klee.  "Energy efficiency is a key component of Governor Malloy's Comprehensive Energy Strategy for Connecticut.  We applaud the institute for providing technical support and building strong relationships to help our communities and state agencies save energy, save money, and lead by example."

The Energy Star label applies to products, homes and buildings that prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. EPA. From the first Energy Star-qualified computer in 1992, the Energy Star label can now be found on products in more than 70 different categories, with more than 4.5 billion Energy Star units sold. More than 1.5 million new homes and 23,000 office buildings, schools and hospitals have earned the Energy Star label. Since the Energy Star program began, American families and businesses have saved $297 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions with help from Energy Star.

For more information, please contact Lynn Stoddard, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy, at (860) 465-2813.

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."

State Campus Sustainability Conference Planned

Written by Ed Osborn

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Willimantic, Conn. -The Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University is planning a statewide Campus Sustainability Conference to be hosted by Middlesex Community College (MXCC) on April 25, 2014.

This event is designed for personnel and students at Connecticut' public and private colleges and universities, and will bring together students, faculty, staff and others who are involved with campus sustainability efforts.  Conference workshops and discussion panels will focus on such topics as Campus and Community Engagement; Curriculum-Teaching & Research; and Campus Planning and Facilities Management. Presenters will address resource efficiency and sustainability, renewable energy, community outreach and campus resilience.
 
 "America's colleges and universities have tremendous potential to produce graduates capable of addressing global climate disruption from many different disciplines and perspectives," said Middlesex Community College President Anna Wasescha. "Through their campus operations, these academic institutions can be models for what to do at a local level to reduce carbon emissions. Sustainability is a strategic priority for Middlesex Community College and we are delighted to be hosting this conference during the same week that we celebrate the 44th anniversary of Earth Day."

The conference will feature keynote speaker David Hales, president of Second Nature and former president of the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, ME.  Second Nature was founded in 1993 and has since been transforming sustainability for higher education institutions utilizing its heir Education for Sustainability (EfS) vision. Hales will speak on the role of higher education in adapting to the impacts of changing climate -- the opportunity and imperative for resilience.
The conference will give participants opportunities to interact with sustainability and energy vendors from around the state and nationally recognized organizations as a means of providing solutions to energy and sustainability campus initiatives.

The event will be held at MXCC's Chapman Hall, on Friday April 25, 2014 from 9 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. For more information contact Laura Worthington at WorthingtonL@easternct.edu or (860) 465-0254.

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."

 

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