“Jazzin’ it Up at Eastern”

Eastern President Elsa Nunez welcomes the community to the first in a series of jazz concerts.

Eastern President Elsa Nunez welcomes the community to the first in a series of jazz concerts.

On. Oct. 22, in the 400-seat Concert Hall in Eastern’s brand-new Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC), the Mohegan Sun All-Stars, led by Connecticut music legend David Foster, opened a special series of four fundraising concerts designed to support The Kevin Crosbie Memorial Scholarship, established in honor of the late publisher of the Willimantic Chronicle.

jazz-audience wide shotFoster, rhythm and blues singer, legendary rock promoter and local philanthropist, is partnering with Eastern to present, “Jazzin’ it Up at Eastern,” a series of four world-class acts to support the scholarship fund for Windham High School graduates attending Eastern. “We are so pleased to partner with David Foster on this project,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “Giving Windham’s young people the financial support to attend Eastern will be a life-changing event for these students.”

Kevin Crosbie

Kevin Crosbie

The scholarship fund was created by David and Marilyn Foster, Kevin’s widow Pat Crosbie and Eileen Ossen of the Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation. “Kevin was a great friend and a tireless advocate for our local community,” said Foster. “The scholarship fund we created in Kevin’s memory is a way to keep his legacy alive. He would be pleased to know that we are helping local students achieve their dream of a college education.”

Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval

Pat Metheny. Photo Credit, John Peden

Pat Metheny. Photo Credit, John Peden



Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, performed on Nov. 5 as the second show in the series withrenowned guitarist Pat Metheny scheduled to appear on Jan. 13. Legendary jazz quintet Spyro Gyra will complete the series on May 20.

All shows begin at 8 p.m. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.easternct.edu/jazzinitup, call the Concert Hall Box Office at (860) 465-4979 or email concerts@easternct.edu.

Relay for Life a Huge Success!

Team Burr: Students from Burr Hall at the Relay

Team Burr: Students from Burr Hall at the Relay

More than 125 students from Eastern came out in force for the 20th year of the Greater Windham Relay for Life, held at Eastern’s Athletic Complex on Oct. 15 and 16. Eastern students walked alongside 44 community teams and 650 walkers, helping to raise more than $82,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Several residence halls used the event as their Day of Service, a new initiative of the Office of Housing and Residential Life that challenges residence halls to spearhead a community service event of their choice. Teams from Constitution, Burr, Niejadlik and Winthrop Halls supported Relay for Life. “We were thrilled to have so many students come to the Relay for Life,” said Kim Silcox, director of the Center for Community Engagement. “We hope to build on this effort for next year and have a big impact on the overall fundraising.”

Students Goy Voladate, Mariana Vega and Justin DeVellis pose during the late hours of the Relay.

Students Goy Voladate, Mariana Vega and Justin DeVellis pose during the late hours of the Relay.

Relay for Life is the signature fundraiser of the American Cancer Society. Staffed and coordinated by volunteers, it is a team event where team members take turns walking around a track or designated path. Each event is 6-24 hours in length and each team is asked to have a member on the track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps.

Mental Health Focus of “Fresh Check Day”

Students relax during a gong meditation session.

Students relax during a gong meditation session.

In an effort to raise suicide awareness and prevention, Eastern hosted Fresh Check Day on Oct. 13. A signature program of the Jordan Porco Foundation, Fresh Check Day involves students in interactive booths that deliver mental health and resource information in a fun and engaging way.

The Jordan Porco Foundation was founded in 2011 by Ernie and Marisa Porco after they lost their son, Jordan, to suicide when he was a freshman in college. “For students with emerging mental health problems, the transition from high school to college can cause a lot of stress and anxiety,” said Sandra Rose-Zak, Eastern’s wellness promotion coordinator. “This event is really about developing resiliency and coping strategies and recognizing that you are not in this alone, and that there are a lot of resources and support available.”

A student pets a therapy dog.

A student pets a therapy dog.

Fourteen student organizations — ranging from athletic teams to the Pride Alliance to the Student Government Association — staffed booths designed to inspire and educate those through tough times and about health resources. Preparation for Fresh Check Day began last year with the recruitment and training of student volunteers. “All our groups were versed in where the resources are on campus,” said Rose-Zak, “so if someone should say, ‘I have bulimia, is there a support group on campus?’ all of our groups know where to point that student.”

In 2012, Eastern was the first college campus to host Fresh Check Day, which has since expanded across the country.

Psychology Alumni Come Back to Campus

Daniel Heyanka ’04 is a clinical neuropsychologist at the Bay Pines Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System

Daniel Heyanka ’04 is a clinical neuropsychologist at the Bay Pines Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System

Eighteen successful Psychology alumni visited Eastern on Oct. 27 to network with current students. After a keynote address from neuropsychologist Daniel Heyanka ’04, students visited different Psychoulogy alumni in the Betty R. Tipton Room, hearing about a variety careers in the field of psychology.

Heyanka is a clinical neuropsychologist at the Bay Pines Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System in Florida. When he came to Eastern in 2000, he planned to become an elementary school psychologist.
“That’s the total opposite of what I do now,” said Heyanka, who works with military veterans, young and old, in the VA setting. “I work with patients who have brain damage. We test different regions of the brain to pinpoint deficits, to determine where damage may or may not be. These evaluations show us where the patient is and what they can expect moving forward.”

psych major BEST sitting networkingHeyanka told students that opportunities in the field of psychology are plentiful. “Forensic, teaching, research, hospitals, rehabilitation, private practice; there are so many avenues to go down. The more advanced your degree, the more flexibility you’ll have and the more you’ll be able to do. It’s a long, exhausting road, but worth it when you get there. At the end of the day, applications are a piece of paper. You need to set yourself apart from your peers.”

Nontraditional Student Wins Statewide Playwright Contest

Debbie Stauffer ’16 this past April at the eesmarts award ceremony in Hartford

Debbie Stauffer ’16,left, this past April at the eesmarts award ceremony in Hartford with Communication Professor Edmund Chibeau and Rep. Susan Johnson.

Debbie Stauffer ’16 has been named the first winner of the “Wright the World” playwright contest, a new category of the annual “eesmarts Student Contest.” Her play, “Earth Day Every Day,” is geared toward elementary schoolchildren and slated to tour Connecticut schools in spring 2017.
The “Wright the World” category challenges college students to write a 30-minute play for children that supports the eesmarts curriculum: explaining energy production, identifying energy resources, and being energy-efficient and sustainable.
Stauffer PlaqueStauffer was honored at the State Capitol in Hartford this past April and received a prize of $500, but returning to school was the real achievement for her. “Life has its twists and turns,” she said. “After raising four children for 20 years I decided to finish the degree I started in 1978 at Manchester Community College.” Stauffer now has a Bachelor of General Studies degree from Eastern with a concentration in communication.

The task to write the play was assigned in her script-writing class, tught by Professor Edmund Chibeau “This class was extremely out of my comfort zone; I considered finding a different communication course,” she said. The course not only involves the writing of scripts, but also presenting and acting them out. “Thank heavens I didn’t! Script writing ended up being my favorite class, so to win an award on top of it… that’s so amazing. I encourage people like myself to step out of their comfort zones. College has been my most rewarding and uplifting experience — well, besides having children!”

Strong Showing for Eastern at COPLAC Conference

Madeleine Haynes ’17, an environmental earth science major, presenting "A Comparison of Arsenic Distributions in Groundwater for Study Sites with Similar Hydrogeologic Conditions" at the conference.

Madeleine Haynes ’17, an environmental earth science major, presenting “A Comparison of Arsenic Distributions in Groundwater for Study Sites with Similar Hydrogeologic Conditions” at the conference.

Twelve students from Eastern presented their research and creative work at the Northeast Regional Research Conference of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) on Oct. 21–22. Hosted by the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), eight colleges in the COPLAC consortium participated in the undergraduate conference.

Eastern at COPLAC (002)Eastern’s students represented a variety of majors, including biology, psychology, visual arts, theatre and education. Their research topics spanned antibiotic discovery, gender and attitudes toward casual sex, optimism and heart rate, the role of those with siblings who have disabilities, and more.
COPLAC represents a distinguished sector in higher education consisting of 30 colleges and universities in 28 states and one Canadian province. Eastern is Connecticut’s designated public liberal arts university and joined COPLAC in 2004.

Seven Eastern Faculty Publish Books!

Liu book 2-243x300Eastern faculty are on a publishing roll! Seven have edited and authored/co-authored new academic books on a wide range of topics. Xing Liu, associate professor of education, authored “Applied Ordinal Logistic Regression Using Stata,” published by Sage Publications in 2016. The book is the first of its kind to provide single-level and multi-level modeling of ordinal categorical data.

Fatma Pakdil, assistant professor of business administration, co-authoredPakdil book-215x300 “Performance Leadership,” published by Business Expert Press in 2016. The authors discuss “performance leadership” — the idea of leading employee performance, emphasizing that it should be the focus of management. The book is intended as a resource for supervisors, managers, human resource staff and anyone who needs to manage performance.

Fabrizi book-199x300Mark Fabrizi, assistant professor of education, edited “Fantasy Literature: Challenging Genres,” a 2016 addition to Sense Publishers’ “Critical Literacy Teaching Series: Challenging Authors and Genre.” The book serves to help teachers use fantasy texts in the classroom to develop their students’ critical reading abilities.

Jacob Easley II, dean of the SEPS, co-editedEasley book-200x300 “Educational Accountability: International Perspectives on Challenges and Possibilities for School Leadership,” published by Routledge in 2016. The volume provides readers an opportunity to assess, reflect on and discuss current issues surrounding accountability policies in education from around the globe and the implications they hold for school leadership.

Boskovicz bookFrench Professor Michèle Bošković recently published her fifth book, “Un appelé dans la guerre d’Algérie: témoignage photo-textuel” [A Conscript in the Algerian War of Independence: A Photo-Textual Testimony] by L’Harmattan, Paris. The book is based on Bošković’s interview with her father about his service in the French Army from 1959-61. Bošković used her father’s photo-album to create a unique and innovative book combines visual and textual elements as well as her own personal and scholarly experiences.

English Professor Allison Speicher published a new book, “Schooling Schooling-ReadersReaders:Reading Common Schools in 19th Century American Fiction.” Speicher’s book discloses literature that individuals have not been reading and scholars have neglected to study. “Most scholars have studied literature related to other reform movements during the 19th century,” said Spiecher, “such as the abolition of slavery, temperance and women’s suffrage.  There hasn’t been scholarly activity around literature about school reform, so that’s the gap that this book fills.”

Fraustino Book CoverEnglish Professor Lisa Fraustino has co-authored a new book “Mothers in Children’s and Young Adult Literature: From the Eighteenth Century to Postfeminism.” Fraustino co-edited the book with Professor Karen Coats of Illinois State University. The book includes 13 essays that go into detail about mothers’ literary roles in children’s books outside of gender stereotypes. The book has three sections. One discusses the roots of maternal influence in early children’s literature, the second section talks about shifting cultural perspectives of the 20th century, and the third section talks about the interplay of fantasy, reality and the ethical dimensions of literary mothers.

Professors Present Research and Scholarship

Business Administration Professor Sukeshini Grandhi

Business Administration Professor Sukeshini Grandhi

Two Eastern faculty members presented research at Faculty Scholar Forums in October. Business Administration Professor Sukeshini Grandhi presented “To Reply or To Reply All: Understanding Replying Behavior in Group Email Communication” on Oct. 5. Biology Professor Patty Szczys presented “100 Years of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act” on Oct. 19.

Grandhi 2“The ‘Reply’ and ‘Reply All’ buttons in email can be troublesome to both the individual and the group if receivers intentionally or unintentionally use one button instead of the other,” said Grandhi. “It is not clear what contributes to such mistakes.”

In her research, conducted alongside Psychology Professor Lyndsey Lanagan-Leitzel, Grandhi poses the questions: is it because of the email interface where “Reply” and “Reply All” buttons are too close to each other, enabling a slip; is it because people are unaware of the number of recipients; or are there differing social norms or opinions regarding appropriate communication?
Through experimental and study surveys, Grandhi found the former two possibilities to be unlikely, and that “the use of ‘Reply’ or ‘Reply All’ was most influenced by the sender’s message, such as explicit instructions to either ‘Reply’ or ‘Reply All.’”

Patty Szczys

Biology Professor Patty Szczys

Szczys’ presentation focused on the role of genetics in the conservation ofmigratory water birds, particularly the common tern. “Common terns are present across the world; it is truly a globally distributed species,” said Szczys, who has studied the species in far-away lands such as Bermuda and Ukraine. Because of wintering locations and migratory patterns, tern populations in close proximity tend to be genetically distinct. “I’m trying to assess linkage between gene pool and wintering sites,” she said, with the goal of gathering enough data to direct appropriate conservation measures.

TernFlight 2Bermudan common terns are becoming extinct. Unlike their migratory peers, terns on Bermuda are isolated, so they demonstrate different behavior. “Bermuda common terns don’t cheat,” said Szczys, remarking on how they are monogamous, which limits their ability to reproduce. Furthermore, “there’s little chance of repopulation because there’s not that mixing or sharing of migratory routes.” Conversely, the Eurasian Whiskered Tern, with a presence in Ukraine, has seen an increase in population. This phenomenon intrigues Szczys: “How and why during a period of climate change is this happening?”

University Awards and Honors

Top Places LogoEastern Named a 20116 Top Workplace. For the fifth time in the past six years, the Hartford Courant has recognized Eastern in its “Top Workplaces” survey. With 961 employees, Eastern ranked fourth in the “large” category, and was the only higher education institution to be recognized among 61 organizations in Hartford, Middlesex, Tolland, Windham and New London counties. Results were published on Sept. 18 in the Hartford Courant.

2681-85_Panorama1 copy“We are honored to be recognized as a top workplace in Connecticut,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “While Eastern was recognized in the large organization category, our campus has always prided itself on its sense of community and for being a welcoming, inclusive environment for students, their families and the community-at-large. This announcement is a wonderful reminder that Eastern is a great workplace for our faculty and staff and I am delighted that we were among those recognized.”

Green Campus 2016 FAIC imageEastern Featured Again in The Princeton Review’s 2016 List of Green Colleges. Eastern is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges according to The Princeton Review. The Review featured Eastern in its 2016 “Guide to 361 Green Colleges,” published on Oct. 4 and available at www.princetonreview.com/green-guide. This is the seventh year in a row that Eastern has made the list of the nation’s top green colleges, which is based on data from the Princeton Review’s 2015-16 survey of hundreds of four-year colleges concerning their commitment to the environment and sustainability.

“We are proud to again be recognized as an environmentally-friendly school by this important publication,” said Lynn Stoddard, director of Eastern’s Institute for Sustainable Energy. “We’re happy that today’s college students value sustainability, and that our institutional efforts to minimize environmental impact have not gone unnoticed.”

In addition to a strong environmental earth science program and university initiatives that emphasize sustainability, Eastern’s campus boasts four LEED-certified buildings featuring daylight harvesting and gray-water systems, recycled flooring, native plants and biofilter systems to reduce rainwater runoff. Furthermore, the ISE addresses energy issues in the region by supporting the development of sound public energy policy, providing K-12 energy education and professional development, and solutions to community resource issues.

Caption: The rear façade of the new Fine Arts Instructional Center — currently under review for receiving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

Eastern Participates in Annual Sustainability Week

Sustainability satellite dishEastern hosted the Second Annual Campus Sustainability Week from Oct. 1-7. The Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) hosted numerous events for students, faculty and staff designed to promote sustainable actions throughout the state’s higher education institutions.

The weeklong celebration was coordinated by the Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability, a network that encourages state universities to address challenges at local and state levels. The collection of events is intended to contribute to the states discussion of the importance of sustainability across college campuses. Events for this year included Eastern’s rugby team hosting a green rugby game; CT Rides leading a workshop on “Alternative Transportation for Residents of Mansfield, Manchester or Windham”; The Department of Environmental Earth Science sponsoring the screening of the award-winning documentary “Sustainable”; The ISE hosting a book swap event and leading the “Connecticut Airline Trail,” a walking tour; the Willimantic Co-op educating students, faculty and staff about their produce; and Eastern students, staff and faculty helping the ISE and Grow Windham clean up Eastern’s community garden and Arboretum to prepare them for the winter.

Eastern Chamber Singers Fund Tour with Fun Run

Chamber Singers runningOn Oct. 28 the Eastern Chamber Singers held their annual Fun Run to raise funds for their choir tour. This year, the funds will help the ensemble take a trip to Montreal. All funds were matched by a generous offer from the ECSU Foundation.  “The Fun Run gives our ensemble the opportunity to show off their talent and gain the enriching experience of going on tour,” said David Belles, conductor of the Chamber Singers. “I cannot thank the Eastern Foundation enough for their continued support of the arts at Eastern.”

Chamber Singers group shot fun runThe Fun Run route taken by participants was just shy of two miles. Students dressed in costumes and were given prizes for having the best, craziest and scariest Halloween costumes. Music Professor Emily Riggs was the judge this year. “This event gives us the opportunity to show all of our hard work off on tour,” said music major Tiara Lussier.

Adrianna Mihalek Breaks Volleyball Kill Record

Left to right, are Mihalek, current head coach Megan Silver Droesch and Nichols

Left to right, are Mihalek, current head coach Megan Silver Droesch and Nichols

It took 25 years, but E-Club Hall of Famer Katie Nichols’ women’s volleyball record for career kills was finally eclipsed Oct. 22 against the University of Southern Maine at Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. Senior outside hitter Adrianna Mihalek of Woodbury broke Nichols’ record of 1,381, set between 1988 and 1991. Pictured above, left to right, are Mihalek, current head coach Megan Silver Droesch, and Nichols. Mihalek became only the second player in program history to record both 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career during a match against against Western Connecticut.

Playing prior to the formation of the Little East Conference, Nichols was a three-time All-New England Region selection and 1991 New England Player-of-the-Year.  Nichols’ daughter, Allie Henry, was a two-year teammate of Mihalek and ranks fifth all-time in assists (2,133), one spot below her mother (2,328).