Eastern Concert Chorale and Friends to Perform Fall Concert

Eastern Concert PosterOn Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m., the Eastern Concert Chorale will be joined by the Chamber Singers, Men’s and Women’s Choirs and the E.O. Smith Chamber Choir for an evening of choral works in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center at Eastern Connecticut State University. The ensembles will present a variety of choral works, including selections from Brahms’ “Ein Deutches Requiem.” The Eastern choral ensembles will also collaborate with members of the Percussion Ensemble and the E.O. Smith Chamber Choir for “O Fortuna” by Carl Orff. Music Professors David Belles and Emily Riggs will conduct the performances. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted at the door.

Eastern Artists Showcase Their Work

On Oct. 22, prior to a musical performance by David Foster and the Mohegan Sun All-Stars, patrons of Eastern Connecticut State University’s Fine Arts Instructional Center will have the opportunity to purchase art created by two Eastern student artists — Nicholas Khan and Jessie Kohn. Seven different pieces will be on display in the Susan Sukman McCray Foyer, and staff will be on hand to take payment or provide additional information on the artists.

kohn photo

Jessie Kohn

Jessie Kohn ’14 is a digital artist who uses specialized software programs and a computer tablet and stylus to draw, colorize, add effects, and otherwise render visual art in a variety of simulated media—water colors, acrylic, oil, and pen and ink.  Using his knowledge of traditional art forms, Kohn focuses on portraits, as he finds “the human face to be one of the most fascinating subjects to draw,” and enjoys the “challenge of capturing someone’s whole identity in a portrait.”

khan photo

Nick Khan

Nicholas Khan ’17 creates art in the form of graphite, ink, oil, acrylic, watercolors and mixed media. He specializes in landscapes, abstract works, portraits and architectural subjects. Khan’s portraits and landscapes draw attention to natural light, both as a focal point and as a diffused element. In each case, Khan’s art has the power to alter the tonality of an image, creating multiple lenses of color in transparent layers and solid forms.

Eastern Named a 2017 Vet-Friendly College by USNWR


Eastern Connecticut State University is the 14th highest ranked public institution in the north when it comes to being a “Best College for Veterans,” according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 rankings. Eastern’s campus is home to more than 600 faculty, staff, and students who are self-identified veterans, active military or reserves service members.

Veterans who are students have a range of resources available through The Vet Center, which has a study area and lounge and hosts social events and family programs. Because veterans often face additional challenges as students—such as post-traumatic stress disorder or families to support—the center organizes trainings for faculty to teach them about this dynamic student group. Situated in Willimantic, a town with a large veteran population, the Vet Center works as a link to the community, connecting students to the local American Legion and Veterans Affairs offices.

“I visit the Veterans Center here on campus because it provides a sense of community, which is an important part of transitioning to civilian life,” said Shannon Polhemus, a Coast Guard veteran and current Eastern student.

At Eastern’s Center for Internships and Career Development is a representative who helps veterans look for jobs and incorporate military experience into their resumes. Student vets and service members also have access to on-campus mental health services.


Sigma Tau Delta Sponsors Harry Potter Night

hogwartsAs the spring 2016 semester came to a close, Eastern Connecticut State University’s Alpha Epsilon Delta chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, hosted “Harry Potter Night” in the J. Eugene Smith Library’s curriculum center. The society, advised by Allison Speicher, assistant professor of English, created an event that was open to all students in hopes of raising Sigma Tau Delta’s profile. “This year we tried to step up our presence on campus,” said Speicher. “We wanted to be more than just a line on people’s resume, and a chance to wear cords at graduation.” The event, open to all, was inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which became a popular phenomenon throughout the world, starting in 1999. The society encouraged any and all students interested in literature to attend. “We choose Harry Potter because we wanted people to attend, and we all know you don’t need to be an English major to love Harry Potter,” said Speicher.


Hope Marie Cook, associate librarian and coordinator of Eastern’s Big Read program, and her staff helped coordinate the event. Themed snacks were provided for the participants, including caldron cakes, butter beer, golden snitch candy, jelly beans and all kinds of sweets, as well as games and a highly contested trivia challenge. More than 60 people came, setting a Sigma Tau Delta record for attendance.


Eastern Named a 2016-17 College of Distinction


Innovative application of high impact educational practices at Eastern Connecticut State University has earned the school recognition among the nation’s Colleges of Distinction. Eastern students earned college credit and valuable life experience while participating in study abroad programs in 17 countries, as well as through service learning, undergraduate research, and internships.

“We’re so happy to recognize Eastern for developing skills relevant to graduates’ lives,” said Tyson Schritter, executive editor for Colleges of Distinction. “High student engagement in college is one of the keys to a successful undergraduate education. With an increasing emphasis on hands-on learning techniques, Colleges of Distinction applauds Eastern for practicing methodologies that prepare students for their futures.”

Schools must demonstrate results across four distinctions—Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community, and Successful Outcomes. High school counselors and educators make nominations, and each school is evaluated on key indicators including student engagement, student empowerment and curricular innovation. Colleges that have distinguished themselves in each of the four distinctions and that have demonstrated dedication to enriching student outcomes through innovative learning opportunities are then invited to join Colleges of Distinction.

The annual process to select the nation’s Colleges of Distinction also includes a review of each institution’s freshman experience, as well as its general education program, strategic plan, and alumni success and satisfaction measures.

“Colleges of Distinction is more than an annual ranking of colleges and universities. We only include colleges that offer every student a holistic and valuable experience,” said Schritter. “The Colleges of Distinction have earned solid reputations for serving their students and nurturing success. Like Eastern, our member schools provide the affirming undergraduate experience every student deserves.”

To view Eastern’s profile or to find more information about the innovative learning experiences it offers, visit CollegesofDistinction.com.



XL Center Comes Alive for Eastern’s 2016 Commencement Exercises

balloon drop_6165More than 12,000 family members and friends filled the XL Center in Hartford on Tuesday, May 17, to cheer on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,221 undergraduates and 25 graduate students received their diplomas at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 126th Commencement exercises.

Jerry Franklin, CEO and president of the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa during the Commencement Exercises, and offered remarks following presentation of his honorary degree.

Franklin has served as CEO and president of CPBN for more than 30 years. Through CPTV, the state’s only public television broadcasting network, and WNPR, Connecticut’s leading National Public Radio affiliate, CPBN serves Connecticut as well as areas of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York — reaching an estimated 450,000 television viewers and 276,000 radio listeners each week.

During his tenure at CPBN, Franklin has led a growth in programming ranging from the Infinity Hall music concert series to playing a leadership role in bringing children’s programming such as “Barney and Friends,” “Bob the Builder” and “Thomas and Friends” to public television.

Speaking to the graduates, Franklin said, “You may feel overwhelmed by today’s events . . . it feels like the world is coming unglued. You may see these times as a pivotal point in human history. It is where we have always been. Life is all about moments of transition. Tonight you are coming to the end of your college phase, bringing you back to a beginning, a new start. Do not be afraid of this time. Adjusting to change is what life is all about, and the liberal arts undergraduate degree you have earned is the first step toward your success.”

Other speakers at the Commencement Exercises included Eastern President Elsa Nunez; attorney David Jimenez, who represented the Board of Regents for Higher Education; Senior Class President Bryan Hayes, and Matthew Hicks ’15, who delivered the Senior Class Address. Other members of the platform party included Willimantic Mayor Ernie Eldridge; Justin Murphy ’98, president of the ECSU Foundation; Ellen Lang ’81, president of the ECSU Alumni Association; Father Larry LaPointe; and other Eastern officials.

Nunez_6045Núñez told the graduates, “Our nation and the global society we live in look to you for leadership.  As you begin your career, take care of yourself, take care of your families, but make sure that you take time to help others when you can. You will find that supporting and helping others strengthens you.  St. Francis of Assisi once said, ‘Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take nothing that you have received…but only what you have given; a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage.’ May each of you have a long, successful life, marked by courage, strengthened through sacrifice, and enriched by service to others.”

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 158 of the state’s 169 towns. Approximately 85 percent of graduates stay in Connecticut to launch their careers, contribute to their communities and raise their families.

Senior Class President Bryan Hayes presented the Senior Class Gift to President Nunez — an annual Class of 2016 scholarship — and said, “Our contributions will allow future Eastern students to experience the vast opportunities that our University has to offer. Together, we are leaving behind a legacy that we can all be proud of.”

David Jimenez, a shareholder in the Hartford-based law firm of Jackson Lewis, which specializes in employment and labor law, spoke on behalf of the Board of Regents for Higher Education. “We all know there is no shortcut to earning an undergraduate degree, but the benefits for doing so are extraordinary,” said Jimenez. “You energize my colleagues and me on the Board of Regents with the promise and potential you represent. The foundation of learning you have received at Eastern has prepared you well.  Your contributions to your communities, our state and the world have just begun.”

Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, also brought greetings. “I hope you feel an immense sense of pride for the unique contributions to Eastern. You have pushed yourself to succeed despite life’s numerous challenges. I am inspired by what you have achieved. You are Connecticut’s future leaders, its future workforce, and members of our state’s communities. Now go out and make us proud!”

In her Senior Class Address, Gabriela Wrobel described coming to the United States from Poland when she was 11 years old, and said, “It was at Eastern, in this tight-knit community, that I found my home over the past four years… By connecting with the faculty on campus I have had the chance to do independent research, aid in running a classroom as a teaching assistant, and even broaden my horizons by taking a Global Field Course to Israel and Jordan over spring break.” Turning to her fellow graduates, Wrobel said, “At Eastern, we have developed a deeper way of thinking about the world and the solutions to its problems. We leave here as liberally educated people, well-rounded, rational, critical and ethical members of society, ready to create change where change is needed.”

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 Shelby Larsen, Caitlin McDonough, Delaney Jordan, Moriah Parrett, Alexis Kurtz and Judy Reid sang “America the Beautiful”; Senior Courtney Callaway gave the invocation; and Business Administration Professor Jeffrey Schaller was recognized as the 2016 Distinguished Professor Award recipient.

overall of floor_6088

Eastern Named Connecticut’s 2016 “Hidden Gem” College


College Raptor, a free college matching platform, has named Eastern Connecticut State University the best hidden gem institution in Connecticut in an announcement published on May 12.

This marks the second year of the Hidden Gem program, which highlights colleges and universities around the country that may be overlooked by students weighing their college options. Hidden Gems colleges are determined based on the number of applicants, the number of enrolled students, and the institution’s national ranking, according to data obtained by College Raptor through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

“There are many great colleges across the country,” said Tyler Hakes, director of marketing at College Raptor. “In some cases, you have colleges ranked in the top 150 or 200 schools in the nation, but they receive relatively few applicants simply because they don’t have the brand name of other institutions.

In order to qualify, institutions must have received fewer than 5,000 applications in the previous application cycle for which data is available and enroll at least 1,000 undergraduate students. From this set, the top-ranked college was selected from each state.

The national ranking or “Overall Ranking” is determined based on academic and outcome data, including graduation rate, selectivity, student-to-faculty ratio and other factors.

Eastern was one of 49 institutions recognized across the country. One college was named from each state, with the exception of Alaska, which did not have an institution meeting the criteria for recognition. The announcement is meant to call attention to institutions which may be overlooked by many students but stand out in terms of academic rigor and student success.

View the full list of Hidden Gems colleges here: http://bit.ly/HiddenGems2016



Eastern Presents First Concert in New Fine Arts Instructional Center


Written by Jolene Potter

On Feb. 20 the Music Program at Eastern Connecticut State University presented the first concert held in Eastern’s new state-of-the art Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC). The historical concert, featured vocal and instrumental ensembles composed of Eastern students, faculty, staff and local community members.

“It was an absolute pleasure to be with the students, faculty, staff and community for this historic event,” said David Belles, conductor of the Eastern Concert Chorale and Eastern Chamber Singers. “I spoke with all of them and asked for a moment of silence to think of the magnitude of what was about to happen as they brought their sounds to the audience, and made the notes of the composers come alive for the first time in the moment and space.”

Eastern’s Music Program supports a variety of musical ensembles, which are open to all Eastern students regardless of major, including the Eastern Concert Chorale, Concert Band, Chamber Singers, Wind Ensemble, Men’s Chorus, Women’s Chorus, Opera Workshop and Percussion Ensemble. All performed at the inaugural concert.


The Eastern Concert Chorale is the largest vocal ensemble at Eastern and focuses on choral and orchestral masterworks, as well as shorter choral selections. The ensemble performed excerpts from “Come Ye, sons of Art” by Henry Purcell, “Better is Peace” from Armed Man Mass by Karl Jenkins and “When in Our Music God is Glorified” by Charles V. Stanford.

“It was exciting to be one of the first students to perform in the FAIC,” said music major Sharon Whitehead ’18. “This building has been a long time in the making and it is amazing to think about how many talented musicians will use the space in the future.”

“The FAIC is a phenomenal space and it makes students even more excited to perform than ever,” said Stacy Dziuk, conductor of the Eastern Concert Band, Eastern Wind Ensemble and Eastern Jazz Ensemble. “The students had so much fun and that excitement really translated into their performances.”

The Eastern Concert Band is a unique blend of more than 80 musicians, including Eastern students, faculty, alumni, local music educators and talented musicians from the community. Performance repertoire includes classic band literature as well as challenging works from contemporary composers. The ensemble performed “Slava!” by Leonard Bernstein, “Pageant” by Vincent Persichetti and “America, the Beautiful” by Samuel Ward.

The Eastern Wind Ensemble is the newest instrumental ensemble and provides students with a unique, student-centric instrumental playing experience. The small ensemble performs music from the wind ensemble and chamber winds repertoire as well as more contemporary works. The ensemble performed “Fantasy for Band” by Frank Erickson, “Air” from Brook Green Suite by Gustav Holst, and “Blue Ridge Reel” by Brian Balmages.


The Eastern Chamber Singers is Eastern’s premiere vocal ensemble and features 20-25 auditioned singers. Repertoire performed by Eastern Chamber Singers encompasses chamber music from more than four centuries. The ensemble performed excerpts from “Hymn to St. Cecilia” by Benjamin Britten, “O Magnum Mysterium” by Javier Busto and “Let Me Fly” by Robert DeCormier.

The Eastern Men’s and Women’s Choruses provide Eastern students with an additional opportunity to sing in smaller student-only ensembles. The ensembles perform a mixture of both accompanied and a cappella repertoire. The Men’s Chorus, conducted by Belles, performed “Fillimiooray,” an Irish-American Folk song arranged by Lon Beery. The Women’s Chorus, conducted by Emily Riggs, performed “Scarborough Fair” arranged by Jay Althouse. The two ensembles also performed a combined piece titled “Mouth Music” by Dolores Keane.

Prior to the concert, Eastern’s Opera Workshop provided entertainment to arriving guests in the grand foyer. Directed by Riggs, the workshop is offered each semester as an opportunity for students to experience the steps involved in creating and performing opera scenes. Students who participate are introduced to new repertoire and learn how to research and prepare roles for performance. During their pre-concert performance, the Opera Workshop performed “Language of Love” from Boccaccio, “Ah, perdona al primo affect” from La clemza di Tito, “Sull aria” from Le nozze di Figaro, “Agony” from Into the Woods and “It Takes Two” from Into the Woods.

The Eastern Jazz Ensemble, a traditional big band that plays music from a wide variety of styles and eras in the jazz idiom, also provided 15 minutes of entertainment during the concerts intermission.

Now housed in the new FAIC, Eastern’s Music Program will continue to provide theoretical and experiential opportunities which emphasize the history, theory and performance of music. All ensemble concerts are free and open to the public!

Eastern Hosts First Music Concert in New Fine Arts Center


Eastern Connecticut State University will be holding the first major concert in the new Fine Arts Instructional Center with the “Inaugural Ensembles Concert” on Saturday, Feb 20, at 2:30 p.m. The Eastern Music Program will be presenting a concert of vocal and instrumental music, with featured ensembles including vocal and instrumental ensembles.

The concert is free and the public is invited to attend.

concert band



Coaches vs. Cancer

use me too

Eastern’s basketball teams had a great turnout for the Coaches vs. Cancer games on Jan. 27.  This annual event raised close to $1,000 for the American Cancer Society.  Fans were able to purchase a ‘Warriors of Hope’ card in honor/memory of someone close to them who has battled cancer.  During the games, the coaches proudly wore their sneakers to help raise awareness for the cause.  Coaches vs. Cancer supporters nationwide help the American Cancer Society provide hope, support and answers to the nearly 14.5 million Americans living with a personal history of cancer.