Eastern Jumps Seven Spots in U.S. News and World Report Rankings

US-News-and-World-Report-Flags-197x300Eastern Connecticut State University moved up seven places among regional universities in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 edition of “Best Colleges.” Eastern was also the 27th public university on the list. The annual rankings were released on Sept. 13.

Eastern was the highest ranked university among the four Connecticut state universities, and this year’s ranking was Eastern’s best ever.

Regional universities such as Eastern are ranked on the basis of 16 criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, admissions selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. The North Region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

US-News-and-World-Report-Residential-Halls-Exterior“I am gratified to see Eastern achieve its highest ranking ever in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 Best Colleges report,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “Our commitment to academic excellence, our focus on student engagement and the introduction of new majors have resulted in strong scores for such criteria as academic reputation, student selectivity, faculty resources and alumni giving. Students and their families turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help decide where to attend college.  These new rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a quality, affordable liberal arts education on our beautiful residential campus.”

US-News-and-World-Report-Campus-SceneThis year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of 1,374 schools nationwide and are available at www.usnews.com/colleges. They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2017 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands on Oct. 4.

Over the past two decades, the U.S. News and World Report rankings, which group colleges based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, have grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.

Eastern Students Arrive on Campus

move in-three womenOn Aug. 29, new and returning students started the fall 2016 semester. Prior to the beginning of classes, the Office of Housing and Residential Life welcomed more than 2,500 students to campus during the fall move-in days on Aug. 27 and 28.

move in 2-fanIn keeping with its commitment to being a predominantly residential campus for its undergraduate students, Eastern was able to accommodate all first-year and transfer students as well as all upperclassmen who desired on-campus housing. Additionally, Eastern now offers on-campus housing for any part-time or graduate student who wishes to be a part of the residential experience.

move in family of five“With the help of a welcome crew of more than 150 student volunteers, the move-in process went extremely well,” said Lamar Coleman, director of housing and residential life. “Administrators, faculty, staff and alumni were also on hand to help roll out the welcome mat for new and returning students and their families.”

move in family of threeEastern students come from 24 countries, 25 states, and 158 different municipalities throughout Connecticut. As such, the Eastern residential population is a diverse community of scholars who will benefit from the inclusive communities, active learning opportunities, and life skills development that Eastern’s residential campus provides.

Warrior Weekend Photos

student activities group shotImmediately following move-in, more than 500 students from the Class of 2020 gathered on Webb Lawn for a class photo and then participated in a variety of events, including evening activities, movies, crafts, pizza and academic meetings on majors, where new students were welcomed by academic deans and faculty.  Returning students who participate in on-campus clubs or work on campus assisted new students to adapt to life as college freshmen.

students activities high five“It was a beautiful weekend and all seemed to go smoothly,” said Candace DeAngelis, director of new student and family programs. “It takes the collaboration of many people on our campus to make an event as large as this a success.”

student activities BEST mascotThroughout the day, the campus was buzzing, while new students attended meetings on their academic majors and toured campus. Students also bought textbooks, used fitness facilities, visited Walmart and took a “food crawl” walking tour of popular Willimantic restaurants and shops while preparing for their first day of classes.

Democracy at Work: Election 2016

democracy at work ag jpg imageAs the 2016 election cycle moves into its post-Labor Day countdown, Eastern has created a series of education events and programs designed to highlight the issues surrounding this year’s elections.  The series is titled “Democracy at Work” and features more than 25 events and activities focused on various aspects of the campaign.

“Our faculty have worked hard to create a set of events that speak to different perspectives on our democratic process,” said Political Science Professor Nicole Krassas, who chaired the faculty planning committee.  “And while our students are always the focus of anything we do on Eastern’s campus, all these events are free and open to the public and we encourage people from the community to join us.”

The election series kicks off with a panel discussion of national media experts on Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. in Fine Arts 103.  Panelists include Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute; Tim Murphy from Mother Jones; and Fernando Pizarro of Univision.  The panel will be moderated by Lucy Nalpathanchil of WNPR.

On Oct. 5, “Events under Tents” will take place throughout the day on the Webb/Library Quad, and will include voter registration, campaign organization tables, poetry readings and historical games with prizes.  “Events under Tents” will be back all day on Oct. 6.

On Oct. 5 from 3-4 p.m., as part of Eastern’s “University Hour” series, students will conduct a mock presidential debate in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room in the J. Eugene Smith Library.

Later that day, from 5:30-6:45 p.m. in Fine Arts 115, a reception and discussion will take place on “Visual Democracy: Political Cartoons from the Election,” a visual exhibit of election-related political cartoons that will be on display from Oct. 4-Nov. 2.

Also on the evening of Oct. 5 is “The Immigrant Project: A Multi-Media, Oral Story-Telling Performance” in the Studio Theater of the Fine Arts Instructional Center, beginning at 7 p.m. A second performance will take place on Oct. 6 at 3 p.m.

On Oct. 6, the Connecticut League of Women Voters will host “Election Media: Debates, News Coverage and Social Media” in the Student Center Theater, from 11 a.m. to noon.

Throughout the day on Oct. 5-7, Eastern faculty will be conducting “Open Classrooms” on a variety of topics; the public is invited to attend.  Topics include political advertising, the use of social media in election campaigns, gender and civil rights in politics, protest music, gerrymandering, and much more.

For a complete listing of open classrooms and other “Democracy at Work” events, visit http://www.easternct.edu/democracyatwork

The Campus Welcomes New Faces at University Meeting

University Meeting Nunez speaksOn Aug. 23, Eastern President Núñez welcomed 24 new faculty and staff, telling the audience that Eastern is a reputable public institution grounded in the liberal arts, which she said “serves as the engine for social equity and economic mobility for everyone in our country, not just the privileged. Eastern is meeting the challenge of preparing students for professional careers and giving them the tools to manage the technological changes that are part of our daily lives.”

University Meeting Great Place ScreenNúñez cited numerous university achievements over the past year, including Eastern being named a “Great College to Work For” for the seventh year and recognized as one of only 42 schools in the nation to be named to the “Great Colleges Honor Roll.” Other accomplishments included enhancing academic  excellence by launching a new criminology major and three new minors in insurance, environmental health and bioinformatics; expanding the work hub on campus from CIGNA, the first Work Hub partner, to new partners in Neighborhood Bridges, Camp Horizons, and this fall, Jackson Laboratories; students contributing 6,000 hours of community service to the Willimantic-based Jumpstart early literacy program; and Eastern athletes winning the Little East Conference’s President’s Cup the second straight year and the third time in the cup’s existence, just to name a few.

She said that working as a team, Eastern will successfully respond to the challenges of enrollment growth, retention, assessment and fiscal management, noting that despite continuous reductions in state funding, “we are blessed to be able to begin the new fiscal year with a balanced budget without an impact on our staffing.”

During the University Meeting, several individuals were recognized for their years of service to the University. Presented with awards for 10 years of service were Jennifer Brown and Jeffrey Calissi, associate professors of economics and performing arts, respectively; Nicholas Delisle, user support specialist in Institutional Advancement; Roxanne Deojay, collection manager in the Art Gallery; Dale Dubina, secretary in the First-Year Program, Psychology and World Languages and Cultures Department; Christine Hutchinson, head coach of women’s field hockey and lacrosse; Gregory Kane and Terry Lennox, associate professors of kinesiology and physical education  and art and art history, respectively; Christine McCarthy, associate director of health services; Shellena Pitterson, architectural drafter; Angelo Simoni, director of judicial affairs; Patricia Szczys, associate professor biology; and President Núñez!

Awards for 20 years of service were presented to Edmond Chibeau, associate professor communication; Psychology Professor Luis Cordon; Business Administration Professor Jeffrey Schaller and Education Professor Sudha Swaminathan. Computer Science Professor Jianhua Lin was honored with a 25-year award.

Gregory Ashford, student development specialist, and counselor in financial aid and academic services center; Irene Cretella, secretary in Student Affairs, Center for Community Engagement and coordinator of Eastern’s Red Cross blood drives; Sue Kennedy, fiscal affairs supervisor; and Carol Reichardt, associate librarian, were honored as they retired from the University. —-

President’s Picnic and Student Activities Fair

picnic wideOn Sept. 9, more than 2,500 Eastern students, faculty and staff converged on Webb Lawn for the annual President’s Picnic and Student Activities Fair, catered by Chartwells.

picnic mediumStudent representatives from Eastern’s clubs and organizations staffed more than 100 tables to recruit prospective members.

picnic Nunez

Given the option of more than 100 clubs, organizations and service opportunities, there was something for every student at the fair.

Willimantic Service Projects

Blaine Fisher, Mead Hall director; Dajoun Jones and Goy Volodate from the Center for Community Engagement and resident assistants at Camp Horizons

Blaine Fisher, Mead Hall director; Dajoun Jones and Goy Volodate from the Center for Community Engagement and resident assistants at Camp Horizons

Before students moved into the resident halls, on Aug. 24, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and the Office of Housing and Residential Life spread out across Windham with service projects at a variety of sites, including the Covenant Soup Kitchen, GROW Windham Community Gardens, CLiCK, Willimantic Whitewater Partnership and more.

Alicia McKenzie, hall director in High Rise; Jasmine Carvalho from CCE, resident assistants and Leigh Duffy, executive director of the Windham No Freeze Project

Alicia McKenzie, hall director in High Rise; Jasmine Carvalho from CCE, resident assistants and Leigh Duffy, executive director of the Windham No Freeze Project

Residential Life staff learned about the many opportunities for service in our community and CCE student leaders got some early practice in running community service events.

Left to right are resident assistants Tess Candler, Kiliana Lugo and Sierra Colon, along with unidentified area resident, helping to clean up Willimantic

Left to right are resident assistants Tess Candler, Kiliana Lugo and Sierra Colon, along with unidentified area resident, helping to clean up Willimantic

Eastern Students Present Research at an International Conference

Eastern students Elizabeth Schoell (’16), Katherine Burgos (Dec. ’16) and Elizabeth Del Buono (’17) each presented posters on their independent study research projects at the 75th Annual Society for Developmental Biology Meeting, August 4-8th in Boston, MA.

Eastern students Elizabeth Schoell (’16), Katherine Burgos (Dec. ’16) and Elizabeth Del Buono (’17) each presented posters on their independent study research projects at the 75th Annual Society for Developmental Biology Meeting, August 4-8th in Boston, MA.

Three Eastern students presented posters on their independent study research at an international meeting this summer in Boston. Elizabeth Del Buono ’17, Elizabeth Schoell ’16 and Katherine Burgos ’17 were among more than 500 presenters at the 75th Annual Society for Developmental Biology Meeting on Aug. 4-8. Gabriella Scoca ’16, the second author for one of the posters, was unable to attend the meeting.

Eastern graduate Elizabeth Schoell (’16) presented her research, “Redundancy of pax family genes in Caenorhabditis elegans development,” at the 75th Annual Society for Developmental Biology Meeting, Aug. 4-8th in Boston, MA.

Eastern graduate Elizabeth Schoell (’16) presented her research, “Redundancy of pax family genes in Caenorhabditis elegans development,” at the 75th Annual Society for Developmental Biology Meeting, Aug. 4-8th in Boston, MA.

Del Buono presented her research, “An Investigation of Odd-Skipped Homologs in C. elegans.” Scoca assisted on this research project. Schoell’s research was titled “Redundancy of Pax Family Genes in Caenorhabditis elegans Development.” Burgos presented research on “The Effect of Simulated Microgravity on Neuronal Function and Development in C. elegans.”

Eastern senior Elizabeth Del Buono (’17) presented her research, “An investigation of odd-skipped homologs in C. elegans,” at the 75th Annual Society for Developmental Biology Meeting, Aug. 4-8th in Boston, MA.

Eastern senior Elizabeth Del Buono (’17) presented her research, “An investigation of odd-skipped homologs in C. elegans,” at the 75th Annual Society for Developmental Biology Meeting, Aug. 4-8th in Boston, MA.

Del Buono and Schoell received Jean Thoresen scholarships and funding from the Biology Department to attend. Burgos received a $1,000 travel grant from the Connecticut Space Grant Consortium. Schoell is working for Protein Simple, a Wallingford, CT-based biotechnology company.

Eastern senior Katherine Burgos (Dec. ‘16) presented her research, “The effect of simulated microgravity on neuronal function and development in C. elegans,” at the 75th Annual Society for Developmental Biology Meeting, Aug. 4-8th in Boston, MA.

Eastern senior Katherine Burgos (Dec. ‘16) presented her research, “The effect of simulated microgravity on neuronal function and development in C. elegans,” at the 75th Annual Society for Developmental Biology Meeting, Aug. 4-8th in Boston, MA.

“We were all extremely grateful for the funding support,” said Amy Groth, assistant professor of biology. “The students had a great time, learned a lot and gained a lot of confidence and experience.  It was a terrific experience for them, and it was so great for me to get to see them presenting what they’ve worked so hard on for a year or more.”

Barbara Murdoch, assistant professor of biology, also presented two posters, one in education titled “The Mystery Mouse: Can Your Undergraduates Solve the Mystery and Identify Their Transgenic Mouse,” and one in research, “Regeneration in the Nervous System: Insights from Chicken Embryos.”

“Resonance” Opens fall 2016 Exhibition Season at Eastern’s Art Gallery

Resonance-generic-768x512“Resonance,” the first exhibition of the fall 2016 semester at Eastern, runs until to Oct. 13 in the Art Gallery of the Fine Arts Instructional Center. The exhibition showcases sculpture by three Eastern faculty members — assistant professor Robert Greene and adjunct professors Allie Elia and Belinda Gabryl.

The work of Eastern professors Belinda Gabryl, Robert Greene and Allison Elia is on display in “Resonance.”

The work of Eastern professors Belinda Gabryl, Robert Greene and Allison Elia is on display in “Resonance.”

“From rough-cut wood shards to smooth clay surfaces, these artists transform the gallery into a space that echoes with deliberations on the human condition,” said Anne Dawson, chair of the Art and Art History Department.  The event is free and open to the public. For hours of operation and additional information, visit www.easternct.edu/artgallery or call (860) 465-4647.

Professor Pakdil Co-authors new book on “Performance Leadership.”

Pakhik new bookFatma Pakdil, professor of business administration, has co-authored a new book titled “Performance Leadership.” Published by Business Expert Press, the book argues that employee performance evaluations are ineffective and counterproductive while promoting the concept of “performance leadership” — the idea of leading employee performance. “Traditionally, an employee’s performance is evaluated and appraised, not managed,” said Pakdil. “An employee’s performance should be guided toward meeting the organization’s goals, and led by managers, coaches and mentors.”

Preceding the project, Pakdil and her colleague/coauthor Karen Moustafa Leonarddiscovered there were no books on the market focusing on performance leadership practices. “This book was developed as a platform for us to share our knowledge and experience about performance leadership at the individual level.”

Eastern Professor Co-organizes Mathematics Conference

Mathematical ConferenceThis past August, Mathematics Professor Christian Yankov was one of the five organizers of an international conference, “Interactions in Geometry,” honoring the mathematical contributions of Professors Johann Davidov and Oleg Mushkarov, two prominent Bulgarian mathematicians.

The conference took place Aug. 15-17 and was hosted by the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia, Bulgaria.  More than 40 mathematicians from all over the world, including Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, attended the conference.

Talks highlighted the broad aspects of the two mathematicians’ scientific careers and their deep influence for the development of a Bulgarian school in complex geometry. Topics included differential geometry, algebraic geometry, complex analysis and mathematical physics.

Megan Cardarelli Named Sports Changes Life Victory Scholar

Megan Cardarelli is the second student on the right in the second row, wearing a green shirt.

Megan Cardarelli is the second student on the right in the second row, wearing a green shirt.

Megan Cardarelli ’16, a sport and leisure management major and former member of Eastern’s varsity basketball team, has been named a 2017 Sports Changes Life Victory Scholar by Sports Changes Life Foundation and the Rory Foundation. Cardarelli was honored at Nike Headquarters in New York on Aug. 22 as one of 23 Victory Scholars.

The event, highlighted by the participation of four-time major golf champion Rory McIlroy, launched a partnership between the two foundations to work in disadvantaged communities to help young people find a path to a brighter future while building life-long friendships with people in Ireland.

“My foundation and Sport Changes Life share so many ideals and objectives that giving support to their program was an obvious choice for me,” said McIlroy. “The Victory Scholar students are driven young athletes hoping to further develop their skills at Irish universities, while assisting local community outreach initiatives.”

Cardarelli is currently coaching training in Belfast, Ireland and will then, pursue a master of business in marketing and management strategy at the Limerick Institute of Technology in Limerick as a Victory Scholar.

Tom Valencis Named to USA Rugby Academic Honor Roll

Rugby MatchTom “Stork” Valencis ’17 has been selected for USA Rugby’s Academic Honor Roll for the 2015-16 academic year. Valencis was selected as one of 15 male rugby players in the country with a 3.9 or better GPA; recipients of the award have to be starters on their teams. Valencis plays the position of “lock” (second rower) and is president of the Eastern Connecticut Rugby Club. He has played rugby for Eastern since his freshman year.  Valencis and his teammates participated in the Rugby National Championships in Colorado this past spring, placing fourth in the nation.

At the 2016 Eastern Connecticut Rugby's "Plunge for Hunger" to benefit the Covenant Soup Kitchen, Tom “Stork” Valencis (wearing the blue jacket) and serving as club president, was first into the ice cold waters of the Willimantic River.

At the 2016 Eastern Connecticut Rugby’s “Plunge for Hunger” to benefit the Covenant Soup Kitchen, Tom “Stork” Valencis (wearing the blue jacket) and serving as club president, was first into the ice cold waters of the Willimantic River.