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 Named a ‘Great College to Work For’ for Eighth Time

Written by Michael Rouleau

2013GCWF_4CsingularWILLIMANTIC, CT (07/17/2017) Eastern Connecticut State University has again been named a “Great College to Work For” by The Chronicle of Higher Education, a top trade publication for colleges and universities. Released today by The Chronicle, the results are based on a survey of 232 colleges and universities. This is the eighth time Eastern has received “Great Colleges” distinction since it first began participating in the program in 2009.

Only 79 of the institutions that applied for the program achieved “Great College to Work For” recognition this year. Eastern was also named to the national Great Colleges “Honor Roll,” one of only 42 institutions named to this exclusive club. This is the third year in a row that Eastern has been named to the honor roll. Eastern was also the only public four-year university or college in New England to gain “Great Colleges” distinction.

The Chronicle’s Great Colleges to Work For survey is the largest and most comprehensive workplace study in higher education. Now in its 10th year, it recognizes the colleges that get top ratings from their employees on workforce practices and policies.

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 employee feedback.

Eastern won honors in six survey categories this year: Collaborative Governance; Compensation and Benefits; Facilities, Workspaces, and Security; Confidence in Senior Leadership; Teaching Environment; and Tenure Clarity and Process.

“It is gratifying to know that our employees continue to value the positive working atmosphere we share on our campus,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “The ‘Great Colleges to Work For’ recognition is not only a symbol of the common purpose found among our faculty and staff, it represents the welcoming and supportive environment that our students experience every day.

“To know that Eastern has consistently received this honor – winning ‘Great Colleges’ recognition in each of the eight years we have participated – is an indication that our commitment to campus unity is an enduring value firmly embedded in our culture.”

“Ten years in, the ‘Great Colleges to Work For’ distinction is well-known by academic jobseekers as a sign that an institution’s employees are valued and given opportunities for growth even when they face financial constraints,” said Liz McMillen, editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. “Any college or university that’s on the list is showing that they emphasize one of their most valuable assets: their faculty and staff.”

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, principal and managing partner of ModernThink LLC. “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.”

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About Eastern Connecticut State University

Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,300 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 163 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 23 other states and 20 other countries. A residential campus offering 39 majors and 64 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked the 26th top public university in the North Region by U.S. News and World Report in its 2017 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded “Green Campus” status by the U.S. Green Building Council seven years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.

About The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education is dedicated to serving the higher-education community with insights, understanding, and intellectual engagement. Academic leaders and professionals from around the world trust The Chronicle’s analysis and in-depth exploration to make informed decisions.

About ModernThink LLC

As a research and consulting leader in workplace issues, ModernThink has supported a wide variety of “Best Place to Work” initiatives. Through these programs, the firm has gained substantial survey and industry expertise, including specific insight into higher education. ModernThink knows what it takes to build a great place to work and shares that know-how with its clients. The ModernThink team of organizational development experts is dedicated to helping colleges follow through and capitalize on feedback from employees and benchmark data from peers to drive meaningful change at their institutions. Learn more at http://www.modernthink.com.

View Online: http://easternct.meritpages.com/news/eastern-named-a–great-college-to-work-for–for-eighth-time/691

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 Hosts Career Week for Upperclassmen

Written by Anthony LaPenna

Career Week 1Willimantic, Conn — The Center for Internships and Career Development (CICD) at Eastern Connecticut State University held a career week for current Eastern students in early October. The week was designed to help students build their resumes and learn how to talk to employers. During the week students and faculty were invited to three different events to become educated on the job search process.

The week kicked off with “Career Fair Boot Camp,” where employer partners of the CICD, Jillian Doll of Foley Carrier Services and Cristina Taylor of Verizon Wireless, spoke to students about how to prepare for a career fair and talk to employers.

Career Week 2“The employers shared with the students how to navigate a career fair and how to network, how to talk to potential employers and how to dress successfully,” said Cliff Marrett, director of the CICD. “They also talked about bringing multiple resumes, and equipped them with the right questions to ask employers.”

Career Week 3Lastly, the career and internship fair took place in the Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium. The CICD hosts a career and internship fair once every semester. This semester’s fair comprised 68 employers ranging from Travelers and Cigna to the FBI and Northwestern Mutual. “A lot of students were happy with the turnout of employers,” said Marrett. “Students left excited, hoping for a phone call or an e-mail back.”

Students were able to gain insight into job openings and descriptions at various companies. “I would say that the majority of my conversations with students at Eastern were positive,” said Steven O’Keefe, administrative principal from Foresters Financial. Many of them will be invited to informational group session interviews to learn more about the position/internship so we can learn more about them individual.” O’Keefe added, “Overall, my general advice to students at career fairs is simple: be enthusiastic about being there and be interested in the conversations you engage in.”

Josh DeSouza, an Eastern senior, reflected on the week: “Through direct interactions with businesses at the career fair, students like myself were able to secure first-round interviews with companies. I am grateful Eastern allows for companies to come to speak to students about career and internship opportunities.”

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 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

CoD_Yearly_Badge_16_17_500px

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.

 

 

“College Knowledge Day” Inspires Young Students

Written by Christina Rossomando

Willimantic, CT. – On May 24, 25 and 26, Eastern Connecticut State University invited 26 schools to participate in the annual “College Knowledge Day” event. 950 students in grades 5-9 gathered in the Betty R. Tipton Room in the Student Center to attend workshops and sessions over the three-day program. “We only invited inner-city schools, as we wanted to target students who didn’t easily have access to this type of information,” said Dmitry Satsuk, associate director of admissions. The students came from Bridgeport, Hartford, Norwich, New Britain, New Haven, Willimantic and other school districts.

The students participated in a number of lectures and group activities organized by various Eastern departments. The different sessions were designed to educate students on how to prepare for college, and stressed the importance of completing high school. “It is important to generate awareness about the importance of doing well and staying involved,” said Satsuk.

The admissions office coordinated the event with the help of various departments across Eastern’s campus. The Financial Aid Office hosted the session “Finance Future,” which was directed toward loans, grants, scholarships and budgeting throughout college. The Center for Internships and Career Development hosted the presentation, “When I grow up,” where students were able to find out what they needed to study in order to get the job they desire to pursue as an adult. The Advising Center put on the information session, “Building Success,” which instructed students about interpersonal communication, as well as ways to network in the business world.

Eastern started this program in 2009 and was the first four-year college in Connecticut to host such a program. Now other colleges and universities host this type of program in hopes of educating inner-city school students. “75 percent of the students invited will be first-generation college students upon attendance,” said Satsuk. “Our goal was to generate a basic understanding on how to succeed in college and the career world.”

Eastern Graduates 1,200 Students at XL Center

Written by Ed Osborn

Commencement balloon drop_6165Hartford, CT — More than 12,000 family members and friends filled the XL Center in Hartford on Tuesday, May 17, to cheer on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,221 undergraduates and 25 graduate students received their diplomas at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 126th Commencement exercises.

Jerry Franklin, CEO and president of the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network, was awarded an

Jerry Franklin

Jerry Franklin

Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa during the Commencement Exercises, and offered remarks following presentation of his honorary degree.

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

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

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

Other speakers at the Commencement Exercises included Eastern President Elsa Nunez; attorney David Jimenez, who represented the Board of Regents for Higher Education; Senior Class President Bryan Hayes, and Gabriela Wrobel ’16, 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.

President Elsa Nunez

President Elsa Nunez

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

More than 40 percent of the graduates were the first in their families to earn a bachelor’s degree. As Connecticut’s only public liberal arts university, Eastern draws students from 158 of the state’s 169 towns. Approximately 85 percent of graduates stay in Connecticut to launch their careers, contribute to their communities and raise their families.

Commencement overall of floor_6088Senior Class President Bryan Hayes presented the Senior Class Gift to President Nunez — an annual Class of 2016 scholarship — and said, “Our contributions will allow future Eastern students to experience the vast opportunities that our University has to offer. Together, we are leaving behind a legacy that we can all be proud of.”

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

Commencement Student Photographer DSC_2132
Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, also brought greetings.  “I hope you feel an immense sense of pride for the unique contributions to Eastern. You have pushed yourself to succeed despite life’s numerous challenges. I am inspired by what you have achieved. You are Connecticut’s future leaders, its future workforce, and members of our state’s communities. Now go out and make us proud!”

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

From the Governor’s Foot Guard Color Guard in attendance, to the plaintive sound of the bagpipes of the St. Patrick’s Pipe Band and the pre-event music of the Thread City Brass Quintet, this year’s graduation ceremonies again reflected the University’s Commencement traditions of dignity and grace. University Senate President Gregory Kane presided over the commencement exercises; seniors Shelby Larsen, Caitlin McDonough, Delaney Jordan, Moriah Parrett, Alexis Kurtz and Judy Reid sang “America the Beautiful”; Senior Courtney Callaway gave the invocation; and Business Administration Professor Jeffrey Schaller was recognized as the 2016 Distinguished Professor Award recipient.