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

‘College Consensus’ Ranks Eastern Among Best Colleges

College Consensus, a college review aggregator that combines the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems with actual reviews of college students, has recognized Eastern Connecticut State University for the second year in a row. Eastern has been ranked among the “Best Colleges and Universities in Connecticut for 2019” and the “Best Regional Universities in the North for 2019.”

“Congratulations on making the Best Regional Universities in the North for 2019 and Best Colleges and Universities in Connecticut for 2019,” said Carole Taylor, marketing director for the College Consensus. “Your inclusion in the lists shows that you are making an impact on students that will have a transformative effect on their lives and the lives of others.”

Eastern began in 1889 as a normal school preparing teachers for careers in Connecticut’s elementary schools. Today it is known as Connecticut’s public liberal arts university. Eastern is home to 5,200 students, with more than 90 percent of them coming from Connecticut.

To identify standout colleges, College Consensus averages the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems, including U.S. News and World Report, along with student reviews to produce a unique rating for each school. Read more about the organization’s methodology at: https://www.collegeconsensus.com/about.

To see Eastern’s College Consensus profile, visit https://www.collegeconsensus.com/school/eastern-connecticut-state-university.

Written by Vania Galicia

Eastern Named a 2019-20 ‘College of Distinction’

Eastern Connecticut State University has been named a 2019-20 College of Distinction by the college-guide organization Colleges of Distinction. In addition to the university-wide accolade, Eastern’s business and education programs, as well as its career development center, were honored with badges of distinction.

Rather than rank schools on criteria such as selectivity and endowment size, Colleges of Distinction recognizes schools that incorporate high-impact practices and student-centered programs into every student’s undergraduate experience. Such practices include community-based learning and service-learning programs, study abroad opportunities, intensive writing courses, faculty mentorship, undergraduate research, living-learning communities and internships.

“We are so proud to see Eastern Connecticut State University walking the walk,” said Tyson Schritter, chief operating officer for Colleges of Distinction. “Colleges of Distinction knows that a truly valuable education can’t be measured by rank or reputation. Students learn and thrive best when they embrace hands-on learning in a vibrant, welcoming community. That’s why it’s so encouraging to find that Eastern takes an innovative approach with its curriculum, which ensures that the undergraduate experience is worthwhile and unique.”

Colleges of Distinction’s selection process consists of interviews and research of each institution’s freshman experience and retention efforts alongside its general education programs, career development, strategic plan, student satisfaction and more. Schools are accepted on the basis that they adhere to the Four Distinctions: Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community and Successful Outcomes.

“Colleges of Distinction doesn’t rank schools, because we know that every student is different in what they need to best learn, grow and succeed,” said Schritter. “Instead, we value schools that embrace those differences. Eastern Connecticut State University puts the student experience first, providing all the tools and opportunities they need to become lifelong learners who are ready to take on any challenge in today’s ever-evolving society.”

Written by Michael Rouleau

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Since 2000, the Colleges of Distinction website and guidebook have honored schools throughout the U.S. for their excellence in undergraduate-focused higher education. The cohort of schools in the Colleges of Distinction consortium distinguish themselves through their focus on the undergraduate experience. The website and annual guidebooks provide dynamic college profiles, customized tools and resources for students, parents and high school counselors. For more information, visit CollegesofDistinction.com.

Escoto Named Alumnus of the Year by Loma Linda University

Carlos Escoto, associate professor of psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University, was recently named 2019 Alumnus of the Year by Loma Linda University’s School of Behavioral Health. Escoto accepted the award on June 16 in Loma Linda, CA.

Born and raised in Orange County, CA, Escoto earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Chapman University and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in psychology from Loma Linda University.

He was recognized for outstanding performance in his roles as a researcher, administrator, educator and colleague. “Dr. Escoto, you honor us with your dedication to excellence,” said Bev Buckles, dean of Loma Linda’s School of Behavioral Health. “We look forward to the opportunity to present you with this award.”

Escoto moved to Connecticut and joined the Eastern faculty in 2002. With a primary focus on student success, Escoto has mentored many students through independent research projects. He received a teaching award in 2007 and has also published on the topic of pedagogy.

Professor Escoto (left of podium) accepts the Alumnus of the Year award at Loma Linda.

He’s served as chair of the University Curriculum and Faculty Development Committees as well co-chair of the Strategic Plan Implementation Committee. He’s served on search committees for the provost and dean of students positions. Currently he is chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences.

Dr. Escoto is also the coordinator of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, a position he’s held since 2013. During that time, research activities and opportunities for presenting at conferences have dramatically increased across Eastern’s undergraduate student body. Eastern was among the top 20 schools nationwide for participation at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research this past April in Georgia — the only school from New England to make the list. Eastern students routinely represent Connecticut at the highly selective Posters on the Hill conference in Washington, D.C. And this May, two students presented in Germany at the second annual World Conference on Undergraduate Research.

Off campus, Escoto has served as the associate editor for the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research. He is an elected councilor in the Psychology Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), as well as an executive board member of the CUR at large.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Windham NAACP Recognizes Dwight Bachman

Left to right: Sociology Professor Dennis Canterbury and wife Sandra, Mathematics Professor Bonsu Osei, Dwight Bachman, Communications Professor Christopher Ayeni, Accounting Professor Candice Deal and Stacey Close, Associate Provost and Vice President for Equity and Diversity
Left to right: Salim Bachman, Dwight Bachman, Bonsu Osei, Dennis Canterbury, Sandra Canterbury, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney and Stacey Close, Associate Provost and Vice President for Equity and Diversity
Theatre Professor Kristen Morgan and Dwight Bachman
Keynote Speaker Lottie Scott

 

On June 1, the Windham/Willimantic Branch of the NAACP presented Dwight Bachman, public relations officer at Eastern Connecticut State University, its President’s Award. The award ceremony took place during the NAACP’s Second Annual Freedom Fund Dinner, held at the Lakeview Restaurant in Coventry.

The award is given “to an individual whose outstanding participation and contributions provide essential support to the President and hence to the Windham\Willimantic branch’s growth and success.”

The NAACP’s mission is to secure the political, education, social and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all human beings.

Dwight Bachman and Leah Ralls

“Mr. Bachman has shared his knowledge of African American history with me often, and that knowledge has assisted me with developing programs for the branch,” said NAACP President Leah Ralls in presenting the award. “As his guest at a Hartford Foundation for Public Giving event, I learned much about generating support for organizations such as the NAACP though donations. When I served as keynote speaker at the Putnam, CT, Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast this year, a video that Mr. Bachman researched, wrote and produced back in 1983 on Dr. King that aired on television stations around the world fit perfectly into my presentation.”

Lottie B. Scott, author of the book “Deep South, Deep North” and a member of the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities for more than 22 years, delivered the keynote address. “Be a champion for change. Pay back what has been given to you. My mother taught me to not talk about anybody’s child. Help improve opportunities for young people,” Scott said at the event. “Give the world the best you have, and the best will come back to you.”

Bachman was also named one of the Connecticut NAACP’ s “2018 100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut; received the 2018 James Ralston/David G. Carter Sr. Youth Education Innovator Award from the Prince Hall Masons of Connecticut; was honored with the 2018 Distinguished Reverend Collin Bennett/Marcus Garvey Award by St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Hartford; and was the recipient of a 2016 Quarter Century Award by the National Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

In 2007, Eastern presented Bachman the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award, and in 2001, the Connecticut Library Association presented him its News Media Award.

Prior to being hired at Eastern in 1990, Bachman served as a “Black Scholar in Residence” at Wartburg Theological Seminary; was director of the Commission on Human Rights in Dubuque, IA; was an editor at Howard University; and served as an editor and news producer at radio and television news stations in Washington D.C., Baltimore, New York City, Stamford and West Hartford.

Bachman earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Rhetoric at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA, and his Master of Professional Studies in African and African American Studies at Cornell University.

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

Eastern Graduates 1,250 Students at XL Center

Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba

Hartford, CT — Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba, chief of the Mohegan Tribe, told the 1,259 graduates at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 129th Commencement to “Allow yourself the faith to ‘dream ahead’ as you embrace the next chapter in your journey.” Noting that college graduates have greater job security, live longer and have greater social mobility, Malerba told the graduates that they had made “a smart decision” in pursuing their educational dreams.

The annual graduation ceremony was held at the XL Center in Hartford on May 21, with more than 12,000 family members and friends cheering on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,175 undergraduates and 84 graduate students received their diplomas.

Malerba told the graduates “Your education has just begun, as you have ‘birthed’ a career that will only grow and mature over time.” She also reminded graduates to set aside time for the “keepers of your heart” — family and friends who share life’s challenges. “When you meet others on the path of life, offer a kind word, encourage someone, comfort someone, and celebrate someone’s joy.”

The commencement speaker also received an honorary doctor of science degree from Eastern in a special hooding ceremony during the graduation exercises. 

Malerba was appointed the 18th Chief of the Mohegan Tribe in August 2010, becoming the first female chief in the tribe’s modern history. She previously was chair of the tribal council and executive director of health and human services for the tribal government.

Prior to her leadership roles in the Mohegan Tribe, Malerba served as director of cardiology and pulmonary services at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice from Yale University and her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Connecticut.

In addition to a distinguished career as a registered nurse and her leadership positions with the Mohegan Tribe, Malerba is also a national advocate of health issues and the welfare of Native Peoples. She serves in a number of national roles, including positions with the Federal Indian Health Services; the U.S. Department of Justice; and the National Institutes of Health.

Other speakers at the Commencement exercises included Eastern President Elsa Núñez; Merle Harris, vice-chair of the

President Elsa Núñez

Board of Regents for Higher Education; and Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System. Additional members of the platform party included Justin Murphy ’98, president of the ECSU Foundation; Father Laurence LaPointe; and other Eastern officials.

“The most important lesson I hope you have learned at Eastern is the knowledge that our great American democracy is only great because of the involvement and participation of our citizens,” said Núñez. “Being a citizen means debating the issues with your friends and in public forums — wherever you get a chance to voice your opinion. Most importantly, be willing to say no to whatever doesn’t feel right.

“You have learned how to think critically on our campus. You have learned how to ask questions, conduct research and analyze the results.  Do this in your workplace, in your community, and as a citizen of our great country.  I know you can do it . . . and I am counting on you to do so.  We need your enthusiasm, commitment and knowledge more than ever.”

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 160 of the state’s 169 towns, with approximately 85 percent of graduates staying in Connecticut to launch their careers, contribute to their communities and raise their families.

Senior Class President Michael Theriault (right)

Senior Class President Michael Theriault presented the Senior Class Gift to President Núñez — an annual Class of 2019 scholarship — and thanked his classmates’ families, friends and faculty for supporting the senior class in its journey. He recalled registering for classes in the early morning hours, “trying to stay silent on the third floor of the library” and Thursday night pancakes. Looking to the future, Theriault said the arena floor was a sea of graduation caps, but “While they may look the same from the outside, the reality is that we all will wear different hats. Some of us will go on to be future educators and make differences in the lives of students. Others will become journalists, historians, psychologists, broadcasters and so much more. No matter what hat you will wear, we will all be Eastern Warriors now and forever.”

In speaking on behalf of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, Vice-Chair Merle Harris reminded the audience that “commencement” means “beginning.” She told the graduates they “have gained the skills needed to make wise decisions. . .” and were ready to “make your community, our state, and our nation a better place. I am gratified that I can greet you tonight as you begin the next phase of your life’s journey.”

CSCU President Ojakian also offered remarks. Pointing to the “transformational academic journey you have just completed,” he called the graduates “change agents for the future and the next generation of leaders.” Ojakian went on to say, “Connecticut needs bright, talented individuals to stay here, fill the jobs of the 21st century, purchase homes, and raise their families here in the state. Connecticut needs your creativity, your entrepreneurial spirit and your ingenuity. You are the future of Connecticut — and because of that, Connecticut’s future is bright.”

From the colorful Governor’s Foot Guard Color Guard in attendance, to the piercing 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 reflected Eastern’s longstanding Commencement traditions.

University Senate President Andrew Utterback presided over the commencement exercises; seniors Andrew Hofmann, Tiara Lussier, Austin Stone, Ryan Michaud and Sara Ann Vega sang “America the Beautiful”; senior Shawn Ray Dousis gave the invocation; and Environmental Earth Science Professor Dickson Cunningham was recognized as the 2019 Distinguished Professor Award recipient.

Written by Ed Osborn

Eastern Receives High Sustainability Rating by AASHE

In recognition of its sustainability achievements, Eastern Connecticut State University has earned a STARS Silver rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) measures and supports sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

More than 10 years ago, Eastern made a commitment to become a carbon neutral campus by the middle of the 21st century. Eastern has worked steadily to reduce its carbon footprint and integrate sustainability into university operations, with five “LEED” (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings; the state’s largest geothermal system; a Sustainable Energy Studies Program; and opportunities for on- and off-campus sustainability internships.

In recent years, Eastern and Chartwells Dining Services have taken strong action to promote sustainability practices in the university dining hall by buying local foods, removing trays from the dining hall to reduce food waste, replacing all disposable take-out containers with reusable containers, donating excess food to the Covenant Food Kitchen, and converting food waste to biofuel and compost.

“I am proud of Eastern’s sustainability progress and the many initiatives led by our staff, faculty and students to earn the Silver STARS rating,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “In addition to the recognition, STARS helps us assess where we are with our sustainability efforts, how we compare to our peers and where the next opportunities lie.”

With more than 800 participants in 30 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in five overall areas: academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Eastern has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

Unlike other rating or ranking systems, this program is open to all institutions of higher education, and the criteria that determine a STARS rating are transparent and accessible to anyone. Because STARS is a program based on credits earned, it allows for both internal comparisons as well as comparisons with similar institutions.

Eastern’s STARS report is available at https://reports.aashe.org/institutions/eastern-connecticut-state-university-ct/report/2018-12-31/. To learn more about sustainability at Eastern, visit www.easternct.edu/sustainability.

Written by Ed Osborn

Annual CREATE Conference to Showcase Student Art, Research

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.

Students present research during the poster session of the 2018 CREATE conference.

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

ScholarMatch Recognizes Eastern’s Support of Low-Income Students

Written by Ed Osborn

Eastern Connecticut State University was recognized by ScholarMatch as one of the standout colleges in the United States providing support for first-generation and low-income students. ScholarMatch is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by author Dave Eggers. Its mission is to make higher education possible for young people from modest backgrounds.

Each year, ScholarMatch analyzes 1,400 U.S. colleges and universities, using public data and information from College Scorecard, to determine which schools offer the most supportive environments for students whose families earn less than $50,000 per year. ScholarMatch publishes its findings in its College Honor Roll, which recognizes 375 schools that are offering robust student support and are achieving excellent outcomes for this student population.

ScholarMatch also features schools recognized on its College Honor Roll in ScholarMatcher, the free interactive college search tool created by ScholarMatch to help underserved student populations find their best fit college in just a few simple clicks. Read more about ScholarMatch at www.scholarmatch.org.