Eastern Presents Inclusive Excellence Awards to ALANA Students

Written by Dwight Bachman

Inclusive Excellence Award winners with keynote speaker Natasha Stephens

Inclusive Excellence Award winners with keynote speaker Natasha Stephens

 Eastern Connecticut State University recognized the academic achievements of African, Latino, Asian and Native American (ALANA) students on May 5 during its Fifth Annual Inclusive Excellence Awards ceremony. Nine awards were given and 165 students were recognized for achieving GPAs of 3.5 or higher.

Eastern presented Melat Assefa and Christina Perez the Advisor’s Choice Award; Deja Seawright the Inspirational Leadership Award; and Chisolm Sunny Uduputa the International Student Award. The Resilient Warrior Award to AnnRichelle Akko, Daniel Costillo, Adrian Lopez Diaz and Yineira Lopez. Taylor Hemphill was named recipient of the Social Justice Advocacy Award, and the Volunteer Service Award went to Destiny Hartmann.

Eastern President Elsa Núñez

Eastern President Elsa Núñez

Eastern President Elsa Núñez told those in attendance that the awards ceremony was not just about inclusion. “It also speaks to Eastern’s other core values of academic excellence, integrity, Social Responsibility, Engagement, and Empowerment. Today, we show respect and celebrate the accomplishments of students who too often have been forgotten in the past.  We are very proud of you! We are doing everything we can to promote the success of students of color. We know that having an inclusive, diverse, and culturally rich campus is good for all our students — in the end, we all must learn to live together in today’s global society.”

Natasha Stephens

Natasha Stephens

Alumna Natasha Stephens, who graduated from Eastern in 2003 and is the Title IX Coordinator at Wichita State University in Kansas, delivered the keynote address. She told the honorees she was honored to come back to campus. “While you have breath in your body, thank those who helped you, took time to meet with you, who gave you an opportunity and took a chance on you.  Never forget your roots and where you came from — no matter how high you go in life, give back of your time to someone else.”

She concluded by telling students that they can always change their plans. “Don’t limit yourself or your abilities — challenge yourself to new things. Believe in yourself, and give someone the wings to fly.”

MEDIA ADVISORY: 300 Students to Participate in Eastern Research Conference

WILLIMANTIC, CT — The Third Annual CREATE Conference at Eastern Connecticut State University will take place this Friday, April 21, from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CREATE stands for “Celebrating Research Excellence and Artistic Talent at Eastern,” and is the University’s premier conference showcasing student research and creative activity.

All activities take place in the Student Center except for an exhibit of student art taking place in room 223 of the Wood Support Services Center from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

From art to zoology, Shakespeare to social media, tax law to terrorism, Eastern students of all majors explore important concepts and produce exemplary research and creative work; the culmination of their work this academic year will be on display at CREATE. The one-day conference will feature more than 300 Eastern undergraduates, who will present talks, professional posters, live music, dance performances, art and photography exhibits, documentary films and panel discussions.

“CREATE is a reaffirmation of Eastern’s commitment to undergraduate research as Connecticut’s only public liberal arts university,” said Niti Pandey, business administration professor and conference co-chair. Reflecting on this year’s record number of participants, she added, “There is a wonderful variety of presentations and performances for people to see. CREATE 2017 showcases the hard work and talent of our students and demonstrates the dedication of their faculty mentors. We look forward to an excellent event!”

Members of the Eastern campus and surrounding communities are invited to browse the conference’s many cultural and academic offerings. “CREATE will be a superb learning experience for all who participate and a true celebration of our student’s achievements,” said Patricia Szczys, biology professor and conference co-chair.

Registration takes place at 8:15 a.m. in the Student Center Café, and the opening ceremony will begin at 8:45 a.m. in the Student Center Theatre. Those interested in the event but unable to attend the whole conference can view the schedule and presentation details at www.easternct.edu/create. Ample parking is available in the University’s two parking garages.

NOTE TO NEWS MEDIA:  The news media is invited to attend and cover the conference. This event is a marvelous collection of academic presentations, plays, musical performances, art on exhibit, and other student work — more than 300 students in all. Students and faculty mentors are available for interviews, and there will be host of photography opportunities. Come and see how undergraduates at Eastern are doing research commonly found only in graduate programs at larger institutions!

Eastern’s Institute for Sustainable Energy Empowers Sustainability Through Connecticut

Written by Christina Rossomando

Keynote speaker, Gina McCarthy, former head of the CT Department of Environmental Protection and former Administrator of the EPA under President Obama spoke to participants

Keynote speaker, Gina McCarthy, former head of the CT Department of Environmental Protection and former Administrator of the EPA under President Obama spoke to participants

WILLIMANTIC, CT (04/10/2017) The Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability (CACS) held a statewide conference at Wesleyan University on March 31 to bring together higher education students, faculty and staff who share a common interest with campus sustainability.

The Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University organized the conference with the Office of Sustainability at Yale University; Eastern and Yale serve as co-chairs of the CACS.


Approximately 150 representatives from campuses across the state participated in the conference and attended breakout sessions focused on campus sustainability projects, student engagement, community action and state policy. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Gina McCarthy, former EPA administrator under President Obama and former commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection for the State of Connecticut, spoke at the event to encourage continuing efforts toward greater sustainability.

In her keynote address McCarthy said, “We all have to get out of our comfort zone… so take off your lab coats. Turn off your Bunsen burners and round up your nerdy friends.”


In response to environmental directions being proposed by the new administration in Washington, D.C., McCarthy said, “It’s not unusual for the federal government to get a little confused at times . . . (but) states like this one have no intention of turning the clock back.”

Eastern ISE student interns and ISE staff participated at the conference. “The interns were engaged at almost every level of the conference,” said Norma Vivar of the Institute for Sustainable Energy. “They were involved in the planning and back end production of the event, designing and producing the conference guide, nametags and directional signs. Under Laura Miller’s guidance, students used their creativity and skills to support all logistical needs of the event. They also benefitted from the ability to attend sessions and network with others.”

Lynn Stoddard, ISE director, was a host and conference leader. She explained the progress of ‘Sustainable CT,’ the program where towns in Connecticut will be able to gauge their relative standing in regards to sustainability and plan for future development.

“The topics of the sessions varied,” said Vivar, “from campus initiatives and student programs to sessions about community engagement, the Sustainable CT program and Influencing State and Public Policy. Each session was positive, motivating and inspiring.”


Eastern Joins Colleges Nationwide to Urge Action on Climate Change

The community garden is a collaborative project of Eastern and Grow Windham. Located on the Eastern campus, the food harvested at this community resource is donated to local community organizations, like the Covenant Soup Kitchen.

The community garden is a collaborative project of Eastern and Grow Windham. Located on the Eastern campus, the food harvested at this community resource is donated to local community organizations, like the Covenant Soup Kitchen.

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — Elsa Núñez, president of Eastern Connecticut State University, has joined two other Connecticut university presidents as well as those from colleges and universities in 35 other states, in urging President-Elect Donald Trump and incoming congressional representatives to accelerate progress toward a clean energy future. Nunez joins Michal Roth, president of Wesleyan University, and Susan Herbst, president of the University of Connecticut, as well as 170 others from across the country.

Through their open letter, organized by a diverse group of higher education institutions and the Boston-based nonprofit Second Nature, higher education leaders are calling on elected officials to support participation in the Paris Agreement, climate research and investment in a low-carbon economy.

“The upcoming transition of federal leadership presents a unique opportunity to address head-on the challenges of climate change by accelerating the new energy economy and creating strong, resilient communities,” wrote the group. “We are committed to developing and deploying innovative climate solutions that provide a prosperous future for all Americans.”

The group of schools expressed their alignment with the business and investment communities in supporting the science-based targets outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement.

The 400-kilowatt phosphoric acid fuel cell next to the Science Building was installed in 2012. Electricity generated by the fuel cell supplies a majority of the power needed to run this building.

The 400-kilowatt phosphoric acid fuel cell next to the Science Building was installed in 2012. Electricity generated by the fuel cell supplies a majority of the power needed to run this building.

Eastern has been taking climate action for years, including voluntarily setting carbon neutrality goals and publicly reporting progress through a program called the Climate Leadership Commitment.

In the past year, Eastern has improved recycling on campus; opened the new Fine Arts Instructional Center, which is built to LEED standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design); and adopted a “trayless” system in the dining hall to reduce food waste, energy and water use.

“I am pleased to join other universities in America in calling for strong leadership in Washington, D.C., on climate change,” said Elsa Núñez, president of Eastern. “At Eastern, we intend to continue our commitment to climate action on our campus and in Connecticut communities.”

For more about sustainability at Eastern, visit:  www.easternct.edu/sustainability. A full list of schools supporting the open letter can be found at www.secondnature.org/higher-education-climate-action-letter.

Strong Showing for Eastern at Northeast COPLAC Conference

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

Written by Michael Rouleau

North Adams, MA — Twelve students from Eastern Connecticut State University presented their research and creative activity 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)“We are here to showcase and celebrate the talent, insight, collaborative spirit and inquiry of students from our COPLAC campuses in the Northeast and to recognize the support and guidance they receive from their dedicated faculty,” said MCLA President James Birge. “This conference provides a supportive venue at which students can present and discuss the results of their undergraduate research with their peers and faculty members from other COPLAC institutions.”

Eastern 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.

“Undergraduate research is one of the best aspects of an Eastern liberal arts education,” said Carmen Cid, dean of Eastern’s School of Arts and Sciences. “It provides our students the ability to develop their talents in a meaningful and successful career path. Those who present at COPLAC represent the leaders of tomorrow for Connecticut.”

Established in 1987, COPLAC is dedicated to the advancement of high-quality liberal arts education in a public college setting. 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.

Princeton Review Names Eastern a 2016 Green College

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

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

Written by Michael Rouleau

Willimantic, CT — Eastern Connecticut State University 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.

“We strongly recommend Eastern and the other fine colleges in this guide to the many environmentally-minded students who seek to study and live at green colleges,” said The Princeton Review’s Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher.

Franek noted the growing interest the company has seen among college-bound students in green colleges. “Among more than 10,000 teens and parents who participated in our 2016 College Hopes & Worries Survey, 61 percent told us that having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the college.”

Profiles of Green Colleges found in The Princeton Review’s Guide include “Green Facts” about the schools with details on the availability of transportation alternatives at the schools and the percentage of the school food budgets spent on local/organic food.

The Princeton Review chose the colleges based on “Green Rating” scores (from 60 to 99) that the company tallied in summer 2016 for 640 colleges using data from its 2015-16 survey of school administrators. The survey asked them to report on their school’s sustainability-related policies, practices and programs. More than 25 data points were considered in the assessment. Schools with Green Rating scores of 80 or higher made it into the guide.


Distinguished Eastern “Fellows” Talk Careers with Students

Written by Michael Rouleau

 Eastern Fellows Cynthia Konney ’77, Andrew Zlotnick ’85 and Tracey Boyden ’89 lead a panel discussion moderated by Dean Jacob Easley (right) of the School of Education and Professional Studies.

Eastern Fellows Cynthia Konney ’77, Andrew Zlotnick ’85 and Tracey Boyden ’89 lead a panel discussion moderated by Dean Jacob Easley (right) of the School of Education and Professional Studies.

Willimantic, CT — Three esteemed alumni from Eastern Connecticut State University were inducted into the Eastern Fellows Program on Sept. 21. The program recognizes distinguished alumni while engaging them in the life of the university. This year’s fellows — Tracey Boyden ’89, Cynthia Konney ’77 and Andrew Zlotnick ’85 — visited classes in the morning and led a panel discussion with students in the afternoon.

Boyden, a biology major, is a principal scientist at Pfizer who holds several patents. Over the course of 25 years with the pharmaceutical giant, she has contributed to the development of numerous drug therapies that treat a variety of diseases from cancer to neurological disorders.

Konney, an environmental earth science major, is a nationally recognized gemologist who runs a gemological company with four offices in three states. She’s an expert at identifying, evaluating and appraising gems and jewelry, and holds several professional certifications in the field.

Zlotnick, also an environmental earth science major, is a senior vice president at Fuss & O’Neill, a civil and environmental engineering consulting firm with seven offices across the country. He leads a team of environmental professionals who focus on hydrology, site assessment, remedial planning and design.

 Zlotnick, Boyden and Konney with Elsa Núñez, president of Eastern

Zlotnick, Boyden and Konney with Elsa Núñez, president of Eastern

During the panel, the three alumni gave career advice and reflected on their days as Eastern students. Boyden opened the discussion by emphasizing being “change agile.” “Chances are you won’t be in the same position throughout your career,” she said. “Science and technology change all the time; Pfizer has changed immensely over the years.” She credits the well-rounded education she got at Eastern with enabling her to “stick with the changes.”

Speaking to a well-rounded education, Zlotnick said, “At a liberal arts school you’re exposed to a lot more than specialized schools, which allows you to communicate with a variety of people.”
All the fellows agreed on the importance of being able to communicate and having good people skills, especially when interviewing. Boyden has interviewed hundreds of people during her career: “I’m looking for someone I can work with,” she said. “I can teach someone how to use the lab equipment; I’m more interested in who they are as a person.”

Zlotnick emphasized the ability to write — another principle skill taught on Eastern’s liberal arts campus. Job interviewees at Fuss & O’Neill have to take a 20-minute writing test. “It’s very telling,” he said, “…the people who can put their thoughts down quickly and coherently.” No matter what your major or profession, Zlotnick maintains that writing is invaluable, and that “the more tools on your tool belt, the more indispensable you are.”

One upperclassman asked the panel how employers view an applicant who went to a state school. “We all went to state schools and we made it,” said Boyden with a smile. “My colleagues who went to expensive private schools graduated with more debt, not more experience.”

Zlotnick added, “It’s not where you went to school, it’s what you did and how you present yourself.”
Speaking of self-presentation, Boyden offered advice for when the students land their first jobs: “Be humble. Admit to not knowing things. I’m happy when I see younger employees asking questions.”

The discussion concluded with final thoughts. “I wish I took one business course,” admitted Zlotnick. Boyden told the students to have fun and to be open minded to the activity around them. “Get your nose out of your book every once in a while.”

The Eastern Fellows Program was established in the 2008-09 academic year. The program enriches the educational experience of current Eastern students by exposing them to alumni who are able to share their work experience in realistic terms. Since its inception, 26 alumni have been inducted.

The Courant Names Eastern a 2016 Top Workplace

Written by Michael Rouleau

Top Places LogoWillimantic, CT — For the fifth time in the past six years, the Hartford Courant has recognized Eastern Connecticut State University 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.

Surveys were administered on behalf of the Courant by WorkplaceDynamics LLP, a research and consulting firm that has compiled top employer lists for some of the nation’s largest media outlets. Rankings were based on confidential survey results completed by employees of the participating organizations.
The survey included 24 statements, with employees asked to assess each one on a scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” Topics included organizational direction, workplace conditions, effectiveness, managers and compensation. Each company was assigned a score based on a formula.
Survey statements included: “This company operates by strong values and ethics”; “I have confidence in the leader of this company”; “I have the flexibility I need to balance my work and personal life”; for example.

“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.”

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

Written by Ed Osborn
US News and World Report-FlagsEastern 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” to 85th overall; Eastern was also tied for 26th place among public universities 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-Campus Scene“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- Residential Halls ExteriorThis 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.

Eastern to Offer Four New Programs in Coming Academic Year

Written by Michael Rouleau

Willimantic, CT — Eastern Connecticut State University will offer four new academic programs in the coming 2016-17 academic year — a major in criminology and minors in bioinformatics, environmental health science and insurance. All four programs are in response to local and national workforce needs and labor market projections.

new major - criminologyThe criminology major, available this fall semester, will explore the social construction of crime, the causes of criminal behavior and the societal responses to crime. Grounded in a sociological perspective, the new program will investigate the intersection of social inequality, diversity, crime and justice.

“As our society continues to grow in diversity, and as public dollars shift from traditional corrections jobs into alternative sentencing measures, the need for broadly trained criminologists will grow significantly,” said Sociology Professor Theresa Severance. “This major will produce criminologists who are culturally sensitive, critical thinkers and effective communicators.”

The criminology major aligns with a number of career paths, including traditional criminal justice roles such as police officer or corrections supervisor; community service roles such as drug abuse/domestic violence counselor or positions with related nonprofit organizations; or analytical and policy-making roles focusing on crime research and analysis.

new minor - bioinformaticsThe bioinformatics minor, also available this fall, will prepare students for Connecticut’s growing biomedical and pharmaceutical industry. Using computational and mathematical tools, the goal of the program is to teach students how to analyze genomic information, which is revolutionizing our understanding of health and disease.

“Eastern is one of the only schools in the region to offer an undergraduate program in bioinformatics,” said Garret Dancik, bioinformatics and computer science professor. “This is a great opportunity for students interested in using computer science and mathematics to solve important biomedical problems, such as better diagnosing and treating genomic diseases like cancer.”

With the relocation of the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Research to Farmington, and other similar organizations, Gov. Dannel Malloy has identified the bioscience industry as a key area for economic growth in Connecticut. The bioinformatics minor will expose students to current bioinformatics tools and databases and train them to apply bioinformatics programming to solve problems in biology.

new minor - environmental health scienceThe environmental health science minor, available this fall, will explore the relationship between human health and the environment, and how one influences the other.

“This minor is a timely addition to the offerings at Eastern,” said Catherine Carlson, professor of hydrogeology and hydrology. “Who hasn’t heard about the Zika virus or water crisis in Flint, MI? These are just two examples of how the intersection of human activities and the environment influences health. Environmental health science addresses a myriad of such intersections.”

The versatile minor is particularly appropriate for students majoring in health sciences, environmental earth science and biology, but also supports those students whose careers will involve them closely with the public, such as those majoring in communication, sociology, social work and political science.

new minor - insuranceThe insurance minor, available in the spring 2017 semester, is meant to meet the needs of the ever-changing health care system as well as forecasts that predict greater demands for new employees in the insurance industry. The minor is particularly suitable for students majoring in finance, business administration, accounting and economics.

The global insurance industry expanded by 26 percent from 2010 to 2015, reaching more than $5.1 trillion in 2015. Life insurance represents the leading market segment with almost 58 percent of the overall market in terms of value. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an additional million jobs in finance between 2012 and 2022, and an increase of five million jobs in health care and social assistance for the same period.

“As these activities increase so will insurance for those activities,” said Finance Professor Chiaku Chukwuogor. “It is important that we position our students to take advantage of this growing industry by offering this minor in insurance.”