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 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 Graduates 1,200 Students at XL Center

Written by Ed Osborn

Hartford, CT — More than 13,000 family members and friends filled the XL Center in Hartford on Tuesday, May 12, to cheer on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,130 undergraduates and 70 graduate students received their diplomas at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 125th Commencement exercises.

Award-winning author and distinguished Eastern alumna Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ’01 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa during the Commencement Exercises, and offered remarks following presentation of her honorary degree. Adichie graduated summa cum laude from Eastern in 2001 with a degree in Communication. She was also awarded Eastern’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2004.

Adichie is the author of a collection of short stories, “The Thing around Your Neck,” and three novels. Her latest novel, “Americanah,” was published in 2013, earning recognition as one of The New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year. Last month, Ms. Adichie was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

In her remarks, she told the graduates that she cherished the bachelor’s degree she received at Eastern. “You are very fortunate to have received your education at Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, where professors are keen to see you succeed.”

Adichie recalled that when she graduated 14 years ago, “I had doubts and worries. ‘What next?’ was the question on my mind. You are worried today just as I was. You should be worried, because it shows that you care.  It is okay not to have all the answers.”
In concluding her remarks, Adichie encouraged the graduates to “make an effort and speak the truth.  It is okay to say, “‘I am wrong’ or ‘I don’t know.’  Life on Earth is short.  Each moment that we are not truthful to ourselves, we are wasting our time on Earth.”

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 Dane Paracuelles; and Matthew Hicks ’15, 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.
Nunez told the audience that this year’s event was Eastern’s 125th Commencement Exercises. “Our campus has grown from four rooms to more than 50 buildings on 82 acres and a campus footprint of almost two million square feet.  In 1891, we graduated 22 students; today we have almost 1,200 graduates, and we are closing in on 30,000 alumni.”

Turning to the graduates, Nunez told them, “Our nation and the global society we live in are looking to you for leadership.  As you embark on 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.  As the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote, “‘From caring comes courage.’”

“Amidst your joy and celebration, I ask you to spend some time today in reflection—please step back for a moment to think about your past four years, what you have learned, and what you are taking from Eastern as you continue your journey.”

Senior Class President Dane Paracuelles presented the Senior Class Gift to President Nunez—an annual Class of 2015 scholarship—and said the Commencement ceremony “symbolizes more than just earning a degree. It exemplifies the goals we have accomplished through personal growth, strength and ambition.”

David Jimenez spoke on behalf of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.  “Today is a significant milestone in your life,” he said, “for which you should be incredibly proud. Whatever path you have chosen, you can make a difference. Pursue your goals with the same dedication that brought you to this day.”

In his Senior Class Address, Matthew Hicks said, “To be here is no small feat, each of us has sacrificed a great deal of time and energy to walk across this stage.” Noting that he and his classmates had endured a challenging four years at Eastern and “have come out critical thinkers, determined activists, and dedicated leaders,” Hicks concluded his remarks by saying, “Let us enter this new (challenge) with our heads held high, ready to take what we have learned here and change the world, and most of all, let us never forget the amazing people and memories we have made while discovering who we are.”

Other graduates were reflective in describing their Eastern experiences.  English major Kathryn Shpak, a native of Oxford, CT, said her time interning for the English Department, as well as her student employment job in the Office of University Relations, helped develop her writing and editing skills, which she hopes to use in the fitness/nutrition industry.

Jonah Sanchez, from Newington, majored in business administration minored in accounting and business information systems. For the past three years, Sanchez served as a Benefits Finance intern with United Technologies. Sanchez says Eastern has helped him grow in many ways. “Being a part of and serving as president of the Organization of Latin American Students has opened up many doors for leadership and networking opportunities. Also, on campus job opportunities have been plentiful. I have worked as a resident assistant and a program assistant in the Intercultural Center. I like the fact that Eastern allows it’s students to be active and involved around the campus.” After graduation, Sanchez will begin full-time with United Technologies as an associate in the Financial Leadership Program at United Technologies.

Aaron Daley, from Bloomfield, majored in political science and minored in business information systems and pre-law. “My liberal education helped me to enhance my critical thinking skills, and built up my confidence; I now know that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to achieve.”

Day of Giving Shines through Snow and Sleet

Written by Michael Rouleau

Volunteers Ellen Lang ’81, president of Eastern’s Alumni Association, and her husband Jim Watson serving up green beans and squash at the Day of Giving.

Willimantic, Conn. – Hundreds of members of the Willimantic community visited Eastern Connecticut State University on Nov. 26 for the eighth annual Day of Giving. Despite the day’s inclement weather, Eastern’s Hurley Hall bustled as usual, serving up hot Thanksgiving meals to community members who otherwise may not have had one.

Eastern faculty, staff, alumni and students volunteered to help serve the food, assisting the staff of Chartwells, Eastern’s food services contractor.  Food and other services were donated by Chartwells and its vendors, as well as by the ECSU Foundation, Inc.

“This is a great tribute to the community,” said Harry Cobb, a resident of Willimantic and patron of the event. “A lot of people are not able to have their own thanksgiving dinner, let alone a buffet style meal like the one today.”

Ken DeLisa, vice president for Institutional Advancement, delivering pumpkin pie throughout Hurley Hall.

Originally thought up by alumnus Jason Budahazy ’09 in 2007, the Day of Giving has become a fixture in Willimantic during the holiday season. “It has been a dependable, steady and generous tradition at Eastern,” said President Elsa Núñez.

Sponsored by the Center for Community Engagement, the Day of Giving occurs in collaboration with the Covenant Soup Kitchen and other social service agencies in Willimantic, which help to promote and provide transportation to Eastern. “I’m new to Willimantic. This is incredible. It says a lot about this university and the students,” said Shawn Shambley, a Willimantic resident from New Orleans, LA. “The spread is delicious and free! Just awesome and humbling.”

“This is so nice of the college to offer to the community,” said Sharon Wilson, a Willimantic resident. “The food is wonderful and the people are great. This is perfect for people who don’t have families or money to make a Thanksgiving dinner.”

In addition to the dinner, served to more than 400 residents, Eastern students also coordinated a food drive that yielded more than 3,000 canned goods that were donated to the local soup kitchen and food pantries. Food pantry officials indicated those food items will last them into the summer months.





Eastern Honors Distinguished Alumni and Friends

Written by Michael Rouleau

Front row: Mary Lou DeVivo ’60 received the Distinguished Donor Award; Kathleen Regan-Pryne ’79 received the Distinguished Alumni Award; Edward Giard ’00 received the Distinguished Service Award. Back row: Jim Bzdyra, representing First Niagara Bank, accepted the Distinguished Donor Award; President Elsa Núñez; Zygmunt Dembek ’72, received the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Willimantic, Conn. – On Nov. 7, the President’s Leadership Awards Luncheon was held in the J. Eugene Smith Library at Eastern Connecticut State University to honor and thank the university’s “leadership level” donors. The luncheon is the premiere donor appreciation event of the year; in addition to recognizing Eastern’s top donors, the event also honored several distinguished Eastern alumni.

Opening the luncheon program was Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “So why are we here today? Quite simply, we are here to say ‘thank you,’” she said. “I am also here especially to bring thanks from the hundreds of Eastern students who, without your support, might not be walking our halls, sitting in our classrooms and working tirelessly to achieve their goals as scholars and budding professionals.”

Ken DeLisa, vice president for institutional advancement, spoke to the fundraising achievements of the current year. “With students facing unparalleled needs, your generosity resulted in our being able to award an all-time high of $750,000 in ECSU Foundation Scholarships to more than 300 deserving students!” he said. Following the luncheon service, awards were presented to three alumni, one friend of the university, one individual donor and one financial institution.   Dr. Zygmunt Francis Dembek ’72, an epidemiologist and biochemist with more than 30 years of state and military service, received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Dembek spoke of his own experience on the receiving end of philanthropy. “The son of immigrants, I come from a humble economic background,” he said. “I would not be where I am today if not for the state programs that provided me with financial aid to attend Eastern.”

The second Distinguished Alumni Award went to Kathy Regan-Pyne ’79, whose career includes positions in education, human resources and career development. Most recently, she is a member of the tribal governing body of the Mohegan Tribe. A decorated Eastern athlete, Regan-Pyne said, “Eastern’s coaches and educators have made me a better person. My journey here began more than 35 years ago and continues today.”

Alumnus Edward J. Giard ’00, whose relationship with Eastern began as a graduate student, earned the Distinguished Service Award for his parish work in churches and volunteerism throughout Connecticut. “Eastern gives to its students a love of learning and passion for service,” he said. “Midway through my career, Eastern gave me an opportunity to earn a master’s degree in organizational management, which helps me to better serve now.”

Ray Aramini earned the Hermann Beckert Friend of the University Award for his commitment to students as a role model, mentor and assistant coach of the rugby club. Aramini stresses character and work ethic as much as sport, and said, “We might not have anyone on the team that will become a professional player, but they will all become professionals.” The ECSU Foundation Distinguished Donor Award went to alumna Mary Lou Corbett DeVivo ’60, whose involvement with Eastern includes an endowed scholarship and participation in boards and a number of campus events. “Our family has been at Eastern a long time,” she said. “My mother was first here to become a teacher, I was the second generation, my son graduated from here, and I hope one of my grandchildren will be the fourth generation to graduate from Eastern!”

Finally, the ECSU Foundation Board of Directors Distinguished Donor Award went to First Niagara Bank. Jim Bzdyra, senior vice president and market executive for First Niagara Bank’s New England region, accepted the award. “We greatly value our relationship with Eastern,” he said. “First Niagara has made supporting quality education initiatives a key philanthropic focus area, and Eastern Connecticut State University is an institution that we are proud to support.”

“Thank you to this group of exceptional alumni and friends who we have honored today, and to everyone who has contributed to our success,” said DeLisa. “We are humbled by your faith in us, and by your commitment to giving our students the important support that will allow them to continue on a path to graduation and to success in their careers.”

Scholarship Reception Brings Donors and Students Together

Written by Michael Rouleau

Willimantic, Conn. – On Oct. 15, Eastern Connecticut State University hosted its annual Scholarship Reception in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center. The event brought together major ECSU Foundation scholarship donors and their respective student-recipients. This year, more than 325 scholarships were awarded, totaling more than $750,000 in financial aid to students of all backgrounds and academic majors — both of these totals are Foundation records.

“We are relentless in our pursuit of increasing educational access and improving success rates of students attending our campus,” said Ken DeLisa, vice president of Institutional Advancement. “Everyone in this room should take pride in the fact that as recently as a decade ago the Foundation was only able to award $100,000 in scholarships.”

“This event allows us to see several hundred of our hardest working, most dedicated students in one spot at one time,” Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “We also have the pleasure of announcing a significant outpouring of support from generous donors who understand the value of investing in America’s next generation of leaders.” This year’s reception also introduced one of the Foundation’s newest endowed scholarships, the John F. Kearney Jr. Scholarship Award. The scholarship was presented by Laura Kearney, wife of the late John Kearney. “John loved his years at Eastern. When he was reaching the final weeks of his battle with cancer, he wanted me to arrange this scholarship to help facilitate the education of future Eastern students,” she said.

Student Lisa Forcellina, a senior from Newington double majoring in early childhood education and psychology, spoke at the event, and said, “The gifts you have given open many doors for us as students here at Eastern. I think I speak for just about everybody here when I say thank you for allowing us to cross a few financial worries off of our lists.”


Eastern Fares Well in U.S. News Rankings

Eastern Connecticut State University was ranked again in the top 30 public regional  universities in the North Region in U.S. News and World Report’s 2015 edition of Best Colleges. Eastern was the highest ranked university among the four Connecticut state universities.

Regional universities such as Eastern are ranked on the basis of criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. The North Region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

“I was very pleased to see Eastern ranked highly in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2015 Best Colleges report,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “Our commitment to academic excellence; the hiring and supporting of full-time faculty; and the relevance of our majors to Connecticut’s economy have resulted in strong scores for such U.S. News and World Report criteria as academic reputation, student selectivity, faculty resources and alumni giving. Students and parents turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help them make important decisions about where to attend college.  These newly released rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a valued, affordable liberal arts education in a residential campus setting.”

This year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of 1,513 schools nationwide and are available at They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2015 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands starting Sept. 23.

Over the past two decades, 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.

The 2015 Best Colleges program provides the most thorough examination of 1,513 accredited four-year schools, compared on a set of 16 widely accepted indicators of excellence.

Ossen Foundation Matches Four Science Scholarships

Written by Ed Osborn

Ken DeLisa, vice president of institutional advancement at Eastern Connecticut State University, is flanked by Robyn McCullough and Eileen Ossen of the Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation.

Willimantic, Conn: — The Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation has committed up to $40,000 per year for the next three fiscal years to match gift dollars for four endowed scholarships that assist Eastern Connecticut State University students who are planning careers in the sciences.  Eastern alumni, parents and friends of the University will be able to restrict their endowed scholarship gifts in fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017 for any of the following scholarships:

The Dr. Robert N. Horrocks and Dr. Daniel B. Switchenko Founders of HPE Endowed Fund supports department needs as well as scholarships. The scholarship will be awarded to a student with financial need majoring in Physical Education or Sport and Leisure Management.

The Dr. J. Donald McLaughlin Endowed Memorial Scholarship was established in 2014 by Dr. Robert Jennette, director of Student Health Services, in memory of the first physician at Eastern.  A warm, caring, and exceptional doctor who set the bar high for those who were and are to follow, Dr. McLaughlin had a wry sense of humor, possibly borne out of his time as a naval doctor on a submarine. He  died all too soon shortly after retiring in 2000.

The Sidney Vernon, MD, Endowed Scholarship was established in 2000 by Sheridan Vernon to honor the memory of his late father, Dr. Sidney Vernon, who practiced medicine in the Willimantic area for many years. It is intended for a student with financial need who is studying physical science, biology, pre-professional programs or biochemistry, or in an individualized program related to medicine.

The Student Research Scholarship was started in 2014 by Marc Freeman and his wife Amy, both graduates of Eastern.  Freeman is a nationally recognized researcher and associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Neurology at the UMass Medical School.  He earned his Ph.D. in Biology at Yale and in 2009 became a recipient of a prestigious Early Career Scientist Award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, one of only 50 scientists across the country to receive the honor. In spring 2013, Freeman was appointed as an “Investigator” of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a designation that recognizes exceptionally innovative and creative scientists and provides them with lifetime research awards. In Freeman’s case, he is receiving upwards of $1 million annually over the balance of his career to support his research in neurobiology.  This scholarship fund will support Eastern students for research work or research internships in the sciences – including room and board, research materials and stipends.

With growing enrollments in the Biology and Biochemistry programs, and the launch of a new Health Science major, the time is right to increase financial support for students enrolling in these programs.

“Not only will we be able to attract more high achievers who want to pursue careers in the health sciences, but the match will help to encourage more alumni and friends to contribute to this special University, knowing that their gifts will be matched dollar for dollar,” said Kenneth DeLisa, vice president of institutional advancement at Eastern.

“The beauty of this matching grant is that Eastern alumni and friends who opt to give to one of the aforementioned endowed funds will be helping us to build the principal of these funds for future generations of Eastern students, while the matching gifts from the Ossen Foundation will be distributed annually to deserving students who fit the criteria, helping to address immediate scholarship needs,” continued DeLisa. “We are most grateful to Eileen Ossen and the Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation for this special opportunity.”

The Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation is dedicated to fulfilling dreams and achieving heights by enrichment of the mind, body and spirit. This is achieved through support of cultural arts, education and healthcare issues.

Eastern Graduates 1,227 at XL Center

Written by Ed Osborn

Willimantic, Conn. – More than 12,000 family members and friends filled the XL Center in Hartford on Tuesday, May 13, to cheer on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,162 undergraduates and 65 graduate students received their diplomas at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 124th Commencement exercises.

Nicholas Lawson, director of field human resources for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa during the Commencement Exercises, and offered remarks following presentation of his honorary degree.

Commencement Speaker Nicholas Lawson

Lawson has worked with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) for the past 17 years, a group he proudly describes as the “preeminent emergency medical humanitarian organization in the world.” As Director of Field Human Resources for MSF since 2007, Lawson is responsible for the oversight of 35,000 staff across the globe, and leads the development and implementation of MSF’s vision as a member of the MSF Executive Management team. Over the years, he has traveled to and coordinated humanitarian and medical relief efforts in Uganda, Pakistan, Burundi, East Timor, South Sudan and Afghanistan.

Lawson spoke of the organization’s core principles of service, independence, impartiality, neutrality, ethics and engagement, and described his early years with MSF, when he faced the challenge of bringing medical supplies to civilians in Afghanistan caught in the crossfire of that nation’s civil war.  In the end, he said MSF’s focus was simple: to “alleviate the suffering of vulnerable people in crisis.”

His charge to Eastern’s 2014 graduating class was equally simple:  “What place does service and engagement in the public realm have in the careers we dream for ourselves? Is that activism? Is it volunteerism? Is it civics? Will it be a lifelong professional choice? . . . You will be richer than you can possibly imagine if you do actually make that choice.”

    Eastern President Elsa Nunez

Other speakers at the Commencement Exercises included Eastern President Elsa Nunez; Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, who represented the Board of Regents for Higher Education; Senior Class President Zachary Yeager; and Brittany Lane ’14, who delivered the Senior Class Address. Other members of the platform party included Gregory Gray, president of the Board of Regents; Willimantic Mayor Ernie Eldridge; and other Eastern officials.

Nunez gave her traditional charge to the graduates, telling them, “I hope you look forward to the next chapter in your lives with optimism and expectation, knowing that the faculty and staff on our campus have done their utmost to prepare you for this day.”

Nunez cited examples of applied learning experiences ranging from internships at ESPN and Cigna to study abroad trips to Costa Rica and Switzerland, to undergraduate research into genetics and emotional health among senior citizens, to working in South Carolina on anti-hunger efforts, as examples of the hands-on experiences that Eastern students receive in applying their liberal arts education.

“Never be satisfied with a half-hearted effort, never assume that the way things have been done is the way we should do things in the future. Intellectual curiosity and a moral commitment to a better life for all people are hallmarks of a liberal arts university in our democracy. The best way to honor Eastern and our faculty is to remain true to what you have learned here.”

Nunez closed her remarks with a quote from the 19th-century Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda:  “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life — think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”

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 164 of the state’s 169 towns. Approximately 90 percent of graduates stay in Connecticut to launch their careers, contribute to their communities and raise their families.

Senior Class President Zachary Yeager presented the Senior Class Gift to President Nunez–an annual Class of 2014 scholarship–and said, “College has been the time to make mistakes and learn from them, a time to challenge ourselves, and a time to step out of our comfort zone . . . We will carry the memories that we have made in the past few years at Eastern with us for a lifetime.”

Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, offered remarks on behalf of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.  “I want you to know how deeply moved and excited we are about the great work you have done to earn your degree tonight,” said Smith. “This is a significant milestone, and you should be very proud. The journey isn’t easy, and there are no shortcuts to earning an undergraduate degree, but the benefits are enormous. Eastern has prepared you well for all the challenges you will face as the 21st century-economy continues to change. Pursue your career with the same dedication that has brought you to this fabulous day.”

In her Senior Class Address, Brittany Lane urged the graduates to “pack your bags” and get ready for a new journey. She listed five items to include on the trip. First on the list: a belief that “every day is a great day to be alive,” something she learned from one of her professors, Dan Switchenko. Second on her list was a commitment to helping others. “Volunteer; give back to your community; give back to your school. It is far more rewarding than a paycheck.”

The third item on her list was to live life with kindness. “You never know the impact that your kind words could have on someone’s day or even their life. Make your mark.” Lane told her peers to also “remember to take the memories you have made at Eastern with you . . .  These are the moments that stand the test of time.”

Finally, Lane reminded her classmates that “there is no place like home. For your duration of time spent here at Eastern, it has become a second home . . . a close community of students from different walks of life coming together to live and learn in harmony . . . No matter where your journey takes you after today, no matter how many bumps in the road you may hit, always remember that we all have a place here at Eastern. You are all important. You will all accomplish incredible things; and our journey starts today.”

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 Emily Chuber, Rachel Jung and Emma Kuehnle sang “America the Beautiful”; Senior Mame Fatou Diop gave the invocation; and History Professor Anna Kirchmann was recognized as the 2014 Distinguished Professor Award recipient.


Chief Justice Rogers and Judge Kahn to Speak at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

Willimantic, Conn. – Two high-level Connecticut court officials will speak at Eastern Connecticut State University on March 26 for Eastern’s University Hour series. At 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers and Superior Court Judge Maria Kahn will speak with the Eastern community about justice and the judicial system in today’s world. 

Born and raised in Angola, Africa, Kahn was appointed a Superior Court Judge in 2006 and currently is assigned to hear criminal matters in the Fairfield Judicial District Courthouse. She moved to the United States at 10 years of age, is fluent in three languages and serves on a number state and national Bars. 

Rogers, a Connecticut native, was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court in 2007–the second woman ever to reach this designation in Connecticut. She was also appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the State Justice Institute’s Board of Directors. In addition to serving on a number of prestigious Bars and committees, Rogers is also an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

“The event is open to the public and will be organized in a question-and-answer format,” said Starsheemar Byrum, coordinator of the Women’s Center. “Arrive early at the Student Center Theatre to ensure a good seat.”