Eastern a Top 25 Public Regional University in U.S. News and World Report

The class of 2023 gathered for a group photo during the Fall 2019 Warrior Welcome weekend–Eastern draws students from 160 of Connecticut’s 169 towns

 Eastern Connecticut State University is again the highest ranked institution among Connecticut’s four state universities in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s edition of “Best Colleges.” The 2020 rankings were released on Sept. 9.

This is Eastern’s highest ranking ever as it was ranked 21st among public universities in the North Region. Eastern moved up five spots among public institutions over last year’s rankings and moved up 13 spots when both public and private institutions were considered.

Under the mentorship of Biology Professor Vijaykumar Veerappan, Roshani Budhathoki ’19 was selected for an undergraduate fellowship by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB).

.The North Region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, and is known as the most competitive among the four regions that make up the U.S. News and World Report ranking system.

Regional universities such as Eastern are ranked based on 15 criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, class size, faculty resources, admissions selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

“Given the uncertain times facing the higher education community, I am delighted to see Eastern achieving its highest ranking ever,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “This is a testament to our commitment to high standards and the faculty and staff’s focus on providing students with personal attention. Our improved ranking this year is due to our rising graduation and retention rates as well as the continued quality of our incoming classes.

 Environmental earth science students traveled to the mountains of Wyoming and Idaho this summer for a geology field course led by Eastern faculty.:

“Students and their families turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help decide where to attend college. These newest rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a relevant and high-quality education on our beautiful residential campus.”

This year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of upwards of 1,400 schools nationwide and are available at www.usnews.com/colleges. They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2020 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands on Oct. 15.

For the past 35 years, 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.

Written by Ed Osborn

Adella Dzitko-Carlson Completes Music Fellowship

Eastern Connecticut State University student Adella Dzitko-Carlson ’19 devoted three weeks this summer to mastering the clarinet and analyzing music scores. As part of an on-campus fellowship that concluded this August, she worked with her faculty mentor, Professor Christopher Howard, to strengthen her performance skills and obtain a better understanding of her role as a musician.

Her intensive schedule included playing the clarinet for six hours a day and studying score sheets for three hours a day. She also took the time to begin preparing her repertoire for graduate school auditions and her senior recital. Howard noted that the goal of the fellowship was for Dzitko-Carlson to understand the clarinetist’s role in a broader sense.

When studying the scores, she also analyzed the roles of other instruments in a composition. “I allowed the pieces to inform my decisions on dynamics,” she said. “I also thought about what other instruments can do when applied to playing with the clarinet.”

Dzitko-Carlson plays the clarinet throughout the year, but she hadn’t had the opportunity to fully immerse herself in her playing. “It was nice to have extended periods to focus only on practicing,” she said.

Howard noted that she was not only playing music and analyzing it but gaining experience few ever get. “One of the more invaluable skills that Adella was able to get out of this experience is learning how it feels to be completely enveloped in a regimen that’s as intense as she went through for the past three weeks.”

In addition to playing the clarinet and studying score sheets, Dzitko-Carlson also had writing assignments in which she reflected on the new perspectives and knowledge she was gaining as a musician.

Professor Chris Howard and Adella Dzitko-Carlson.

One of the obstacles she faced was keeping up with the challenging schedule. “A big challenge was definitely building up mental endurance; it took a lot to get through the long days while remaining focused and productive the entire time.”

Howard added, “Playing the clarinet is not something that many people realize can be as physically taxing as it is. Something we had to be careful about was performance injuries. We had to be aware of things like hands and facial muscles.”

Howard commented on how much work and effort it took from Dzitko-Carlson to get through the three weeks. “This is not something that is suited for every music student; it takes a very special type of student to do what she did. Adella is one of the hardest working students I’ve ever worked with; she completely took the challenge and ran with it.”

Dzitko-Carlson plans to continue playing the clarinet and obtaining her master’s degree in performing arts after graduating from Eastern.

Written by Vania Galicia

Eastern Alumna Salutes Inclusive Excellence Award Winners

On May 9, Eastern recognized more than 100 students with a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or higher, and an additional 11 students who have demonstrated exemplary co-curricular engagement at the University’s Seventh Annual Inclusive Excellence Student Awards Ceremony. The ceremony recognized the achievements of African, Latino, Asian and Native American (ALANA) students at Eastern.

Eastern President Elsa Núñez said the ceremony was not just about inclusion, but also spoke to the University’s other core values of academic excellence, integrity, social responsibility, engagement and empowerment. “It is important for each of you to stand tall and be proud of who you are and what you are capable of. Never, ever, ever let anyone attempt to diminish your worth or your talents.

“Today’s honorees join thousands of other successful Eastern alumni who are making their own personal contributions out in the real world, including our guest speaker today, Dr. Kawami Evans. Today, we show respect and celebrate the accomplishments of students who too often have been forgotten in the past.  Thank you for being part of this celebration; to our honorees, congratulations.  We are very proud of you.”

Keynote speaker Evans ’97 serves as associate director at the Center for African Diaspora Student Success at the University of California at Davis. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history and social science at Eastern, her Master of Education in educational policy and research administration from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a doctorate in educational management and leadership from Drexel University.

Evans encouraged the students to use their curiosity and optimism to persevere through unseen psychological struggles that can become their staunchest challenges. She said many high- achieving students fall prey to chasing individual achievements, accolades or material gain as their goal, even confusing their self-worth with what they can accomplish.

“This is dangerous; it can lead to anxiety and depression. Don’t let this be your reality or focus,” said Evans. “Who you are is what we are celebrating today. All the earned accolades you are receiving are but a byproduct of the brilliance within you . . . You are the promise of our ancestors’ prayers and walk with the wisdom and swag of those who have grit, resilience, the social and emotional intelligence, curiosity and hope.”

Evans told the students the most important element they need to resurrect in discussing their future success is their spirituality, ways in which students discover their destiny — answers to the big questions of who they are, what is their life purpose and how do they make difference in the world.

“Much of the world right now is relegated to systems and polices. We have to raise the bar with our vision of what’s possible,” Evans said. “It will take hard work, community, love, bravery, unrelentless effort and celebration.  I sincerely believe that we can create a world that works for all.”

A total of 280 students qualified for an Academic Excellence Award with a 3.5 cumulative GPA or higher, and more than 100 of them were able to attend the May 9 event. During the ceremony, several students received service awards. Adrianna Arocho and Mayra Santos Acosta was presented the Volunteer Service Award; Aiyana Ward, the Athletic Excellence Award; Kimberly Allen and Sommer Bachelor, the Career Development Award; Jenilee Antonetty, the Resident Assistant Diversity Impact Award; Rafael Aragon, the Residential Community Leadership Award; Tristan Perez, the Social Justice Advocacy Award; Emma Costa, the Inspirational Leadership Award; Ishah Azeez, the Resilient Warrior Award; Kimberly Allen and Vishal Jungiwalla, the Advisor’s Choice Award; and the Freedom at Eastern Club, the Building Bridges Award.

By Dwight Bachman

Students Honored at Library Research Awards

Winners of the J. Eugene Smith Annual Library Research Awards, left to right, are Jackson DeLaney, Emily Miclon and Cassaundra Epes

On May 15, Library Director Janice Wilson announced the selection of three Eastern Connecticut State University students as winners of the Ninth Annual Undergraduate Student Library Research Award. The prize was established to recognize and celebrate exemplary student research projects that demonstrate the ability to locate, evaluate, select and apply information from appropriate resources. Primary emphasis is placed upon the creative and effective use of library resources, services and collections encompassing print, microform and online databases.

Jackson DeLaney ’21, a political science major from Southbury, won the $350 prize in the freshman/sophomore category for his paper “The Influence of Political News Consumption on Voting Behavior.” Political Science Professor Nicole Krassas provided the faculty statement of support.

Emily Miclon ’19 a music major from Enfield, won the $350 prize in the junior/senior category for her paper titled “La Musique en Plein Air: Debussy’s Open Air Emplacement.” Timothy Cochran, assistant professor of music, provided the faculty statement of support.

Cassaundra Epes ’19, a history major from Baltic, received Honorable Mention in the junior/senior category for her paper on “The Ideal Woman: Sexology, Sex Reform, and Engineering Marriage in Weimar Germany.” Scott Moore, assistant professor of history, provided the faculty statement of support.

Eastern President Elsa Núñez congratulated the winners saying,Today, knowledge on this planet doubles every 12 hours—12 hours!—and within that mass of information exists detailed information on every conceivable topic.  There has never been more information available, yet the task of locating and synthesizing information continues to be a skill unto itself.”  She said academic success and the intellectual growth of student scholars “speak to the scholarship on our campus, the relationship between student scholars and their faculty mentors, and of the importance of having a vibrant library in the 21st century academy.” 

Librarians and teaching faculty comprised the committee that read the research of all the applicants and selected the award winners. “Each year, we are pleased to receive applicants from students showing the product of their extensive research and inspired use of library resources,” said Library Director Janice Wilson. “This year was no exception, as we received an above average number of entries and decided to recognize a deserving paper as Honorable Mention.”

By Dwight Bachman

Music Program Holds Numerous Performances, Honors Recital

April Concerts

Eastern professors Anthony Cornicello and Rick O’Neal, with drummer Venlo Odom, presented a night of standard jazz repertoire as part of the Music Program’s Faculty Recital Series on April 5.
“Sounds of Korea” featured traditional and contemporary music and culture from Korea on April 6. The event included a Samul percussion ensemble, classical art music and K-pop.
On April 11, guest ensemble Cuatro Puntos present a program of Persian classical music for the santoor and string quartet written by Dr. Reza Vali.
The Eastern Concert Chorale presented “Requiem for the Living” on April 22.
The Eastern Concert Band presented a festive spring program of standards and newer music for wind band on April 24.
Eastern Jazz Ensemble will present an evening of music on April 29.

 

May Concerts

Eastern’s Brass Ensemble presented its inaugural concert on May 1.
A variety of percussion ensembles performed on May 5 during their annual spring concert.
On May 6, Eastern’s jazz combo “3 o’clock Band” presented classic jazz tunes from a variety of eras, ranging from standards and bebop to contemporary jazz and rock.
On May 7, students enrolled in Chamber Music Repertoire presented a recital of music from the Baroque period to the present.
The World Percussion Concert showcased the rich history of drumming in Korea, West Africa, the Middle East and the Americas on May 8.
Eastern professors Anthony Cornicello and Rick O’Neal, with drummer Venlo Odom, presented a night of standard jazz repertoire as part of the Music Program’s Faculty Recital Series on April 5.

 

Honors Music Recital

 

On April 14, the Music Program presented its annual honors recital and awards ceremony in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center. The event featured a recital by six students who were recognized by the Music Program for their excellence in performance. This year’s honorees were Hannah Avena (trombone) ’21, Adella Carlson (clarinet) ’20, Abigail Edelman (piano) ’20, Emily Miclon (percussion) ’19, Eric Peterson (guitar) ’20 and Austin Stone (tenor) ’19.

Eastern Music Program to Present Series of Year-End Concerts

Students of the jazz combo “3 O’clock Band” perform in Eastern’s Concert Hall.

The Music Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will host a variety of performances in May to mark the end of the spring semester. All concerts and recitals will be performed in the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) Concert Hall. Admission is free, although donations are gratefully accepted at the door.

On May 1 at 7:30 p.m., Eastern’s Brass Ensemble will present their inaugural concert – an evening of music for brass and percussion.

On May 4 at 2:30 p.m., Eastern Opera Workshop will present “Mostly Mozart.” This semester’s program includes scenes from Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte” and “Le nozze di Figaro,” Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta “The Mikado,” and Kurt Weill’s “Street Scene.” Ice cream will be served in the lobby following the performance.

On May 5 at 2:30 p.m., the Percussion Ensemble, Chamber Percussion Group and World Percussion Ensemble will present their annual Spring Concert.

On May 6 at 7:30 p.m., Eastern’s jazz combo “3 o’clock Band” will present classic jazz tunes from a variety of eras, ranging from standards and bebop to contemporary jazz and rock. The 3 o’clock Band and Eastern Jazz Ensemble will also present a free community concert on Saturday, May 11, at 1 p.m. at the Shaboo Stage in Willimantic’s Jillson Square.

On May 7 at 7:30 p.m., students enrolled in Chamber Music Repertoire will present a recital of music from the Baroque period to the present.

On May 8 at 7:30 p.m., Eastern’s World Percussion Concert will showcase the rich history of drumming in Korea, West Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.

On May 11 at 7:30 p.m., the Music Program will host the Willimantic Orchestra. For more information, visit www.willimanticorchestra.org.

43 Strong, Eastern Represents in Georgia at National Conference

With 43 student presenters, Eastern was among the top 20 schools nationwide for NCUR participation, and the only school from New England to make the list.

Forty-three students from Eastern Connecticut State University traveled to Georgia on April 11-13 to present original research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). The 2019 conference occurred at Kennesaw State University and featured hundreds of undergraduate students from across the country.

Eastern was among the top 20 schools nationwide for NCUR participation this year – the only school from New England to make the list – and one of the few with a student population of less than 6,000.

Eastern students from a range of majors presented artwork, music performances and oral/poster presentations. Research questions probed topics such as the microbiome of scorpions, the link between casual sex and online dating, pop-culture glamorization of eating disorders, and much more.

Adella Dzitko-Carlson presents “Finding Faith in the 21st Century: The Search for the Sacred in John Luther Adams’ “In the Name of the Earth.”

Music major Esther Jones ’20 commented on the experience of performing a lecture-recital. “This experience at NCUR was a milestone in my life because I didn’t think that I could actually do it when the time finally came around. I thought that I would be trembling so badly that my mind would go blank.”

Jones’ piano performance was titled “‘Theme and Variations on an Egyptian Folksong’ by Gamal Abdel-Rahim.” She added, “This experience helped to boost my confidence and has given me courage to face new challenges.”

“One of my greatest takeaways from this conference is how it pushes you and makes you a better academic,” said Michael Tuttle ’19, who majors in psychology and mathematics.

“Presenting at a conference subjects your research to a higher level of scrutiny, challenging your thoughts and ideas. When audience members ask questions and offer suggestions, it pushes you to think critically and creatively.” Tuttle’s presentation was titled “Overconfidence and Impulsivity of College Students in a Cognitive Reflection Task.”

Theresa Parker presents “Echo Chambers in Social Media: Why do People Seek or Reject Opposing Viewpoints.”

Biology major Chris Shimwell ’20 presented “Molecular Identification of the Scorpion Telson Microbiome.” He said, “Presenting at a national conference is a valuable experience because it allows you to synthesize information into an audio-visual format and present it to others who are highly educated and knowledgeable about your field.”

Jacob Dayton ’19, a biology major who presented two projects – one on the genetic diversity of a migratory bird group and one on the behaviors of strawberry poison-dart frogs – added that the value of presenting at national conferences is threefold.

“One, it provides students with the opportunity to practice communicating their research to a diverse audience. Two, questions and comments from audience members challenge students to defend and/or expand their thinking. And three, it provides the opportunity to publicize Eastern and the quality research that its students are conducting.”

Students also cited being exposed to new research questions during others’ presentations, interacting with peers from across the country, and sharing the NCUR experience with their Eastern friends as highlights of the conference. Psychology Professors Carlos Escoto and James Diller and Biology Professor Patricia Szczys accompanied the Eastern group.

NCUR was established in 1987. From a pool of several thousand applicants, students are accepted into the conference if their research demonstrates a unique contribution to their field of study. NCUR offers undergraduates the opportunity to present their research findings to peers, faculty and staff from colleges and universities across the nation, providing a unique networking and learning opportunity.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Music Students Shine at New England Intercollegiate Band Festival

Left to right: Adella Dzitko-Carlson, Emily Miclon, Michael Lauretti, Hannah Avena and Emily Kennedy pose for a photo in Eastern’s Concert Hall.

Five instrumentalists from Eastern Connecticut State University recently performed among the best undergraduate musicians in the Northeast. A clarinetist, a flautist, a percussionist and two trombonists represented Eastern’s Music Program in an “honors band” at the 2019 New England Intercollegiate Band Festival on March 29-30 at Gordon College in Massachusetts.

The honors band consisted of approximately 75 young musicians who auditioned from colleges and universities across the region. This year’s guest conductor was T. Andre Feagin of Colorado State University.

The five Eastern students included trombonists Michael Lauretti ’19 (Bristol) and Hannah Avena ’20 (West Hartford), flautist Emily Kennedy ’20 (Coventry), percussionist Emily Miclon ’19 (Enfield) and clarinetist Adella Dzitko-Carlson ’19 (Woodbury). Dzitko-Carlson was also selected as one of only three winners of the festival’s solo competition.

The students rehearsed for 12 hours over two days in preparation for the March 30 evening concert. “Throughout rehearsal, we never fully ran any of our pieces,” said Miclon, a percussionist of six years. “The first time we ran the pieces in entirety was during the concert, which really enhanced the authenticity of the experience.”

The 2019 New England Intercollegiate Band, directed by T. Andre Feagin, performed at Gordon College on March 30.

Conductor Feagin, assistant director of bands at Colorado State, emphasized the importance of conveying emotion during performance. “There was so much intention, focus and energy,” added Miclon.

The first half of the concert featured performances by the three winners of the soloist competition. “Being selected as one of the winners was an exciting performance opportunity,” said Dzitko-Carlson, a clarinetist of 12 years who was also the principal clarinet in the overall band. She performed the first movement of Carl Maria von Weber’s “Clarinet Concerto No. 2” for her solo.

“Adella’s playing has developed tremendously in every facet,” said her clarinet teacher Chris Howard, citing her musicianship, technical prowess and knowledge of the repertoire. “This was her third year performing in this ensemble — first playing in the section, then playing as the band’s principal clarinetist, and now as a featured soloist. What a testament to her progress!”

Jeff Calissi, music professor and percussion director at Eastern, commented on the dedication of the students. “Each of our five students who performed at the Intercollegiate Band Festival have spent numerous hours practicing their instruments and honing their craft as musicians.”

“Since becoming an Eastern student, my playing has greatly matured, both technically and expressively,” said Avena, who is mentored by trombonist Wes Mayhew. “Not only am I concerned with playing the correct notes, but I have gained an increasing amount of knowledge of the theory and history of music. I am now able to better understand the context of what I’m playing.”

Each of the students praised the one-on-one attention they receive from their music professors. “Without the faculty I really would not be the player I am today,” said Lauretti, a trombonist of seven years who’s also mentored by Professor Mayhew. “From technical exercises to working on tone and making the music we play sound musical, everything they teach has made a huge impact on my playing ability.”

Kennedy, a flute player since fifth grade, echoed: “All of our faculty are amazing in their different instruments. I’ve developed greatly in my musicality due to my teacher Amanda Baker.”

Eastern’s undergraduate instrumentalists pose for a photo with music faculty Kelly Watkins (white shirt) and Chris Howard (right) at the festival.

“I could not be happier that I chose to study music at Eastern,” added Avena. “The Music Program is rather small — all of the faculty members know who I am, which is a special feeling. This has led to greater opportunity, as I’ve had many chances to perform. At a larger university, these opportunities may have been reserved for upperclassmen,” she continued. “Instead of a competitive environment, Eastern is very supportive; everyone wants each other to succeed.”

“When I started at Eastern, I only had very basic skills,” said Miclon, who was recently accepted at the University of Missouri to pursue a master’s degree in percussion performance on a full tuition waiver and assistantship. “We have great percussion equipment at Eastern, and many diverse opportunities and ensembles.”

“Emily’s musical abilities have extended beyond campus and demonstrate the beginnings of what will be a fruitful career in percussion,” said Calissi of her graduate school acceptance. “We see the growth of our students’ musicianship as a reflection of the myriad opportunities we provide to those who wishes to participate.”

This was the third year Eastern students have participated in the New England Intercollegiate Band. Auditions were coordinated by Kelly Watkins, director of Eastern’s Concert Band.

“We are extremely proud of the work of these students,” concluded Emily Riggs, voice professor and chair of the Music Program. “We’re grateful to the many faculty members who have mentored their development and are thrilled that these students have earned the opportunity to represent Eastern at this regional festival.”

Written by Michael Rouleau

Annual CREATE Conference to Showcase Student Art, Research

 

WILLIMANTIC, CT (04/08/2019) Eastern Connecticut State University will host its premier academic and artistic conference of the year on April 12. CREATE – Celebrating Research Excellence and Artistic Talent at Eastern – will take place from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Student Center and surrounding venues. An award ceremony with remarks by Eastern President Elsa Núñez will take place at 12:30 p.m. in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center.

Hundreds of student researchers, artists and performers will present their talents at CREATE. Students from all majors will lead oral and poster presentations, participate in panel discussions, showcase music and dance performances, exhibit their art and photography, and present documentary films and more.

Registration will take place at 8 a.m. at the Student Center Café. President Núñez will present two undergraduate awards and two mentor awards to outstanding students and faculty members at the 12:30 p.m. award ceremony.

For more information, visit http://www.easternct.edu/create/, where you can view the day’s agenda and download the event’s cell phone app for iPhone and Android.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Orchestra of Voices ‘Chanticleer’ to Perform at Eastern Chamber Choir Festival

Eastern Chamber Singers at Eastern Connecticut State University will present the inaugural 2019 Chamber Choir Festival with guest clinicians Chanticleer on April 9 in the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC). The festival will feature two concerts: Chanticleer at 12:30 p.m. and a joint performance with the Eastern Chamber Choir and four visiting choirs at 3 p.m.

Chanticleer will work with visiting guest chamber choirs in a workshop format during the morning, followed by a free concert presented by Chanticleer at 12:30 p.m. in the FAIC Concert Hall. The concert is free and open to the public.

Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for its “tonal luxuriance and crisply etched clarity,” Chanticleer is known around the world as “an orchestra of voices” for its seamless blend of twelve male voices ranging from soprano to bass and its original interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to jazz and popular genres, as well as contemporary composition.

Later than day, Eastern Chamber Singers will join guest chamber choirs from Glastonbury High School, Guilford High School, Plainfield High School and Stonington High School for a combined closing concert at 3:00 p.m. in the Concert Hall, presenting the materials covered during the morning workshops. This 3:00 p.m. concert combines all choirs for a grand finale featuring all 150 singers.

Written by David Belles