Eastern Breaks Into List of Top 25 Public Regional Universities

Written by Ed Osborn

eastern_front_entranceFor the first time, Eastern Connecticut State University made the list of the top 25 regional public universities in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 edition of “Best Colleges.” Eastern was the highest ranked university among the four Connecticut state universities. The annual rankings were released on Sept. 12.

•Theatre students perform Cervantes' "Pedro, The Great Pretender," as the first production in the Proscenium Theatre of Eastern's new Fine Arts Instructional Center

• Theatre students perform Cervantes’ “Pedro, The Great Pretender,” as the first production in the Proscenium Theatre of Eastern’s new Fine Arts Instructional Center

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.

•Biology major Elizabeth DelBuono '17 is in the graduate program in Genetic Counseling at Sarah Lawrence College.

• Biology major Elizabeth DelBuono ’17 is in the graduate program in Genetic Counseling at Sarah Lawrence College.

“I am gratified to see Eastern ranked in the top 25 public institutions in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges report,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “Our commitment to high standards, our focus on providing students with personal attention, and the introduction of new academic programs have resulted in our favorable ranking. 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 1,389 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. 10.

For the past 33 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.

Eastern a 2017 College of Distinction

COD_Program Badge Business 2017-2018 COD_Program Badge Education 2017-2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern Connecticut State University was recognized as a 2017-18 College of Distinction by the college-guide/ranking organization Colleges of Distinction. New this year, Colleges of Distinction is further recognizing colleges that have distinctive fields of study—first-rate programs with professional accreditations. This year Eastern received badges for programs of distinction in education and business.

“Eastern Connecticut State University is one of the teaching-centered colleges that makes up the fabric of the American educational system,” said Wes Creel, founder of Colleges of Distinction. “It’s a school that delivers well our four overarching distinctions—Engagement, Teaching, Community and Outcomes—the fundamental elements of an effective undergraduate education. It is the mission of Colleges of Distinction to honor and recognize those institutions that are so essential to educating the next generation of young adults.”

To be designated a “college of distinction” a school’s curriculum must emphasize such core competencies as critical thinking, writing, oral skills, research and global perspectives. They must also offer dynamic out-of-classroom learning and study abroad programs.

“The Colleges of Distinction evaluation process goes beyond traditional ranking models that assess colleges based on things like historic prestige, selectivity, athletic prowess and the size of its endowment,” said Creel. “Such ranking systems tend to focus on the perceived ‘top’ schools, despite the fact that the vast majority of students do not attend the small, exclusive selection of ‘big-name’ schools.”

Once a school is deemed qualified to be among Colleges of Distinction, an in-depth profile of the school is published on their website and in their guidebook, which is then made available to high school students nationwide.

Former Washington Post Publisher Addresses Eastern Graduates

Written by Ed Osborn

                                                     Eastern Graduates 1,238 at XL Center

David Graham

David Graham

Hartford, CT — Former Washington Post Publisher Donald Graham told the graduates at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 127th Commencement exercises to “treasure this college. Eastern has given you a wonderful education . . . once you are making a living, give something back so that you can help Eastern continue to be great in the future.”

The annual graduation ceremony was held at the XL Center in Hartford on May 17, with more than 12,000 family members and friends cheering on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,180 undergraduates and 58 graduate students received their diplomas.

Graham also told the graduates, “Throughout our history, American leaders have stood up in times of peril — during the American Revolution, during the Civil War, confronting Hitler, standing up to Communism, and advancing civil and women’s rights.  At some time in your life, you will be asked to stand up for what is right, and I know you will answer the call.” Noting that the American political system has worked very well for more than 200 years, Graham said, “Future politicians will say, ‘I will fight for you.’  That’s fine. But ask them, ‘What will you do when you are done fighting?’”

Commencement 2017 Crowd_7167The commencement speaker also received an honorary degree from Eastern in a special hooding ceremony during the graduation exercises. Graham is chairman of Graham Holdings Co., formerly the Washington Post Co. A graduate of Harvard College, he is a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving as an information specialist with the First Cavalry Division from 1967-68.  He later served as a patrolman on the Washington, D.C., police force before joining the staff at the Washington Post in 1971 as a reporter.  Graham assumed the position of publisher of the Washington Post in 1979, following in the footsteps of his mother, Katherine Graham, who led the newspaper following her husband Philip Graham’s passing in 1963. In 1991, Donald Graham took over leadership as chief executive officer of the Washington Post Co.

Commencement 2017 Nunez and BabyIn 2013, Graham and his wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amanda Bennett, joined Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and Henry R. Munoz III, chairman of Munoz & Company, to co-found TheDream.US, a national scholarship fund that helps undocumented immigrant youth get access to a college education. Since its founding, TheDream.US has raised $91 million in scholarship funds, providing financial support to 1,700 college students nationwide. Graham also co-founded and served as chairman of the District of Columbia College Access Program; he remains a member of the board.  The program has helped double the number of District of Columbia public high school students going on to college and has helped triple the number graduating from college.

Commencement 2017 Nunez Shakes HandOther speakers at the Commencement Exercises included Eastern President Elsa Nunez; Matt Fleury, chair of the Board of Regents for Higher Education; Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and University System; and Senior Class President Abigail Caselli, 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.

Commencement 2017 BEST BalloonNunez told the graduates she was confident they would impact the world in three ways,  first as professionals in the workforce, equipped with “. . . a highly desired set of skills” sought by the majority of American employers — “analytical thinking, teamwork and communication skills, the broad intellectual and social competencies available through a liberal arts education.” Nunez also urged the graduates to give back to their communities, quoting Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, who once said, “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”

Waving BESTLastly, Nunez encouraged the Eastern seniors to “. . . exercise your duties and rights as American citizens. Our nation remains a beacon of freedom and a guiding light for other nations to follow, not because of our military might or our economic power, but because of the political, religious and personal freedoms we enjoy.”

Commencement 2017 Four LadiesNoting those freedoms must be protected, Eastern’s president went on to say, “Being a citizen of this great nation is clearly an investment of time, but it is the only way we can protect the freedoms we hold dear. Never abdicate your responsibilities as a citizen to someone else.  Be willing to question the status quo.  And stand up for the values you believe in.”

Commencement 2017 FamiliesMore 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 163 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.

Commencement 2017 Student PresidentSenior Class President Abigail Caselli presented the Senior Class Gift to President Nunez — an annual Class of 2017 scholarship — and thanked her classmates’ families, friends and faculty for supporting the senior class in its journey. “To a room filled with the next great doctors, nurses, actors and actresses, genetic counselors, presidents of universities, human resource managers and professors, just to name a few of the success stories to be written about my fellow graduates, I encourage you to use the opportunities that Eastern has given you and make the world around you better.  As someone once said, ‘Service is the highest form of leadership.’ May each of you find and share that leadership within you.”

Matt Fleury, president and CEO of the Connecticut Science Center, spoke on behalf of the Board of Regents for Higher Education. “Today is a significant milestone for you,” he said. “We are proud of your accomplishments and applaud the many sacrifices you have made to get here. Your journey to this point was not easy, but for that reason, it is so much more satisfying. Whatever path you have chosen, you can make a difference.”Commencement 2017 SelfiesMark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, also spoke to the graduates. “You have come a very long way since the first day you arrived at Eastern,” said Ojakian. “Life will take you in many different directions after you leave here tonight. The road in front of you is undefined. But I am hopeful that our state and our nation will be in a better place — as you become your future.”Commencement 2017 Christina

Commencement 2017 Foot GuardFrom 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 Eastern’s Commencement traditions.

Commencemetn 2017 SingersUniversity Senate President Maryanne Clifford presided over the commencement exercises; seniors Abigail Perreira and Kristin Uschkureit sang “America the Beautiful”; Senior Leigha Grushkin gave the invocation; and Environmental Earth Science Professor Peter Drzewiecki was recognized as the 2017 Distinguished Professor Award recipient.

Eastern’s Chris Drewry Among the Best Academic Advisors in Northeast

Chris Drewry, assistant director of the Academic Services Center, has worked at Eastern since 2011.

Chris Drewry, assistant director of the Academic Services Center, has worked at Eastern since 2011.

Written by Michael Rouleau

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) has selected Chris Drewry, assistant director of the Academic Services Center at Eastern Connecticut State University, for its 2017 Excellence in Advising award. Drewry was the sole recipient in Region 1 for the “Advisor Primary Role” category, standing out among thousands of NACADA members from numerous colleges and universities in New York, New England, Quebec and the eastern provinces of Canada.

“There are different types of academic advising,” explained Drewry. “The advising we offer at Eastern is holistic. Only a small part of our time is spent prescribing classes and building students’ schedules. Instead we use our time to troubleshoot other issues the student may be facing.

“Everything is connected,” he continued, acknowledging the myriad factors that influence academic performance. “We look at the big picture and consider all aspects of their experience at the university.”

Explaining that students who are involved with athletics, clubs and other campus organizations tend to perform better academically, Drewry said, “We want to make sure students feel connected. So a lot of what we do is connect students with other departments to help them become more engaged on campus.”

Professional academic advisors at Eastern carry caseloads of approximately 250 students per semester. “The ultimate goal is to develop as many good relationships with as many students as possible,” said Drewry. “Being relatable and getting the students to be honest and open with you may be the most important quality of being an advisor here.”

In his nomination letter, William Bisese, director of Eastern’s Academic Services Center, said of Drewry: “I’ve worked at six institutions throughout my career, and Chris stands out as a perfect example of what it means to be a committed, student-centered academic advisor.” Regarding the Excellence in Advising award, he added: “This is one of the most prestigious awards our professional association bestows on its members in the field of academic advising.”

NACADA promotes and supports quality academic advising in institutions of higher education to enhance the educational development of students. The association has more than 11,000 members representing colleges and universities from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada and several other international countries.

President Obama’s Community Service Honor Roll Recognizes Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

Honor Roll logo WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — For the sixth time in the past seven years, Eastern Connecticut State University has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). These results, for the 2013-14 academic year, were announced this fall.

Eastern was selected for the General Community Service category, which recognizes institutions that address local issues — particularly those affecting low-income individuals — such as education, health, economic opportunity, the environment and other human needs. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors, including the scope and innovation of service projects, and measurable outcomes as a result of the service.

Two Eastern students play games and socialize with a resident of High Chase

Two Eastern students play games and socialize with a resident of High Chase

“One of the projects that our application highlighted was the great work of the student club People Helping People (PHP),” said Kim Silcox, director of Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE). For the past 10 years, PHP has organized students to visit the High Chase residential care facility in Willington, CT, a home for 30 adult residents who are unable to live independently due to physical and mental disabilities.

Amy Greika, director of High Chase, said of the students: “The residents look forward to the students coming every week. The visits help the residents gain more social experience and teach them to better handle outside society’s circumstances.”

With a student population of approximately 5,300, in Eastern’s 2013-14 academic year nearly 1,900 students engaged in general community service or “service learning,” academic work that directly involves them in community efforts. Six hundred students volunteered more than 20 hours. In total, Eastern students completed 91,813 hours of community service.

The Center for Community Engagement

The Center for Community Engagement

“We are fortunate to have passionate students and community partners who are open to having our students volunteer,” added Silcox. Created in 2009, the CCE coordinates dozens of special events and long-term community programs. Favorites include the Day of Giving, a Thanksgiving celebration that feeds hundreds of community members, and afterschool programs with Windham Public Schools.

College students across the country make a huge impact in terms of community service. According to statistics compiled by the CNCS in 2013, 3.1 million students volunteered 118 million hours of community service; a value of $2.5 billion. The CNCS has administered the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll since 2006, recognizing colleges and universities that demonstrate a commitment to community and achieve meaningful, measurable outcomes through service.

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 Named a 2017 Best College in the Northeast by Princeton Review

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The Princeton Review named Eastern Connecticut State University as one of the “Best Colleges in the Northeast” in its 2017 edition of “Best Colleges: Region By Region.” In the 11-state region, 227 colleges were recognized in the report, which was released in August 2016.

Only schools that permit the Princeton Review to independently survey students are eligible to be considered for the regional “best” list, and only schools with a strong level of student satisfaction make it on the final list. The survey asks students to rate their colleges on several issues — from the accessibility of their professors to the quality of their science lab facilities — and answer questions about themselves, their fellow students and their campus life.

Among the four regions the report looks at — Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, West — 649 colleges made it on The Princeton Review’s “regional best” lists, constituting about 25 percent of the nation’s 2,500 four-year colleges.

The 225 colleges that The Princeton Review chose for its “Best in the Northeast” 2017 list are located in: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont—and the District of Columbia.

Eastern a 2016 ‘Great College to Work For’

Facilities staff members Nicole Balkus and Will Rivera, who work in Shipping and Receiving.

Facilities staff members Nicole Balkus and Will Rivera

Willimantic, CT — The Chronicle of Higher Education announced on July 18 that Eastern Connecticut State University has been named one of the nation’s “Great Colleges to Work For.” Of the 281 institutions participating in the survey this year, Eastern was one of only 42 named to the program’s “Honor Roll.”

Eastern is the only school in Connecticut to make the honor roll and the only public four-year institution in New England to be named a “Great College to Work For.” This marks the seventh time that Eastern has been recognized since the recognition program began in 2009.  This year, Eastern was given high grades for collaborative governance; compensation and benefits; confidence in senior leadership; facilities, workspace and security; and tenure process for faculty.

Tao Chen, digital art and design professor, mentors a student during class.

Tao Chen, digital art and design professor, mentors a student during class.

“We are very pleased to be a member of the ‘Great Colleges to Work for’ Honor Roll for the second year in a row,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “It is an honor to again be recognized as one of the nation’s top higher education workplaces. The shared values and spirit of teamwork that exists on our campus is a strength that helps us better serve our students and the state of Connecticut. Receiving this national recognition for the seventh time from the Chronicle of Higher Education is very gratifying, as is our high ranking on six of the program’s 12 criteria.”

 

“Nine years in, The Chronicle’s ‘Great Colleges to Work For’ program is well known as a mark of a college or university that puts thought and effort into serving the needs of its faculty and staff,” said Liz McMillen, editor of The Chronicle. “The colleges and universities that make the list are highly rated by their employees for creating great working environments, an important achievement that helps them recruit top academic and administrative talent.”

The survey results are based on a two-part assessment process: an institutional audit that captured demographics and workplace policies, and a survey administered to faculty, administrators and professional support staff. The primary factor in deciding whether an institution received recognition was the employee feedback.

To administer the survey and analyze the results, The Chronicle worked with ModernThink LLC, a strategic human capital consulting firm that has conducted numerous “Best Places to Work” programs, surveying hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide.

“It’s easier to be a great workplace during good times, but it’s when times are tough that the commitment to workplace quality really gets tested,” said Richard K. Boyer, the firm’s principal and managing partner. “And those institutions that measure up during times of economic hardship reinforce their already strong cultures and put even more distance between them and their peer institutions for whom they compete for talent.”

Great Colleges to Work For is one of the largest and most respected workplace-recognition programs in the country. For more information and to view all the results of the survey, visit http://chronicle.com/AW16.

Eastern Named a 2016-17 College of Distinction

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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.