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 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

Annual Health, Wellness and Benefits Expo a Success

Written by Michael Rouleau

Willimantic, Conn. – The 23rd annual Health, Wellness and Benefits Expo at Eastern Connecticut State University was another success on Oct. 20, as hundreds of members of the local community came to campus to browse the offerings of more than 50 health-related organizations.

Patrons enjoyed free chair massages and took advantage of flu vaccinations and various health screenings. A popular attraction this year was “Bella the pug,” a therapy dog. Having gone through various trainings and certifications, Bella and her owner frequent Backus Hospital in Norwich and visit with patients.

Other demonstrations included Fatal Vision goggles, which simulate the sight of someone who is under the influence; car seat installations; pain relief and STD screenings; body composition analyses; and more. Eastern students even presented an informational table on how certain species of ants use antibiotics to keep their nests free of infectious microbes and pathogens — a research area that may have implications for modern medicine.

In addition to representatives from area hospitals and health insurance companies, other tables featured information about holistic wellness. Experts on yoga, naturopathic medicine, organic foods, chiropractic and essential oils were available. Based on the belief that financial health is a part of overall wellness, several financial institutions were in attendance as well.

Organized by Student Health Services and the Office of Human Resources, many of Eastern’s related departments and offices hosted informational tables.

Eastern to Host Annual Health and Wellness Expo

Written by Michael Rouleau

A massage therapist giving a massage at last year’s Health, Wellness and Benefits Expo.

Willimantic, Conn. – Eastern Connecticut State University will host the 23rd Annual Health, Wellness and Benefits Expo on Oct. 20 from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center. The public is invited to attend and visit with more than 50 health-related organizations that will be in attendance.

From free massages to samplings of healthy snacks, tips for reducing stress, HIV testing and interacting with a therapy dog, this year’s expo will again offer the variety of attractions the event is known for. Participants specialize in food and nutrition, therapy, wellness, medicine, health insurance and finance.

Among those attending will be the Willimantic Food Co-op, Mansfield Naturopath, The Healing Earth and others. Windham Hospital will have a dietitian providing advice on nutrition while one of its oncology nurses will offer information on cancer prevention and screening.

Tails of Joy, an organization that brings therapy dogs to medical patients, will be visiting with “Bella the pug” around 1 p.m. A local massage therapist will be on hand to provide soothing chair massages. Free HIV, Hepatitis C and other testing, as well as blood pressure screenings and body composition analysis will be offered. The Mawson Chiropractic and Wellness Center will be there to answer questions about chronic pain, while other organizations will be there to discuss retirement, financial health, health insurance and even knee joint replacements.

For more information, contact Jane Neu, associate director of Student Health Services, at (860) 465-5263 or, or La Shawn McBride, manager of human resources at (860) 465-5220 or

Social Security Benefits Workshop at Eastern

Written by Michael Rouleau

Willimantic, Conn. – Eastern Connecticut State University will host an educational workshop, “Strategies for Maximizing Your Social Security Benefits,” on May 19 and 20 at 6 p.m. in Room 116 in the Science Building. The public is invited to attend.

The issue of when to file for Social Security may be the single most important decision people make in planning for their retirement. Unfortunately, there are many common mistakes that people make when signing up, some of which may have a permanent negative impact on the lifetime benefits they receive.

This workshop will share a number of little-known strategies that can boost a person’s social security benefits and substantially enhance their lifetime retirement income. Social Security benefits alone will likely be insufficient for an individual or couple to retire comfortably.  However, decisions discussed at this workshop offer the potential to improve the standard of living you can look forward to.For instance, choosing when to file for Social Security benefits alone can be a daunting task; couples may have up to 728 timing choices from which to choose.

This workshop is an opportunity to learn key concepts everyone should understand before making this crucial retirement planning decision. Hosts Michael Alimo and David Weyner of U.S.A. Financial and Tax Services will discuss strategies to maximize your Social Security benefits; how benefits are calculated and simple strategies available to increase them; coordinating benefits, such as with married couples; how Social Security benefits are taxed; and the tax implications of collecting benefits while continuing to work part-time.

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.”

Health, Wellness and Benefits Expo a Community Hit

Written by Michael Rouleau

Willimantic, Conn. – On Oct. 21, Eastern Connecticut State University hosted its annual Health, Wellness and Benefits Expo in the Student Center. Hundreds of members from the Eastern and surrounding communities attended the expo to browse the services and informational tables of more than 40 health-related organizations. Highlights of the event included breast cancer, flu and diabetes clinics, free chair massages, healthy snacks from local vendors and STD and HIV testing.

The event was sponsored by Eastern’s Health Services and Human Resources Departments. “The health expo was an amazing opportunity for people to come together and learn about ways to stay well and about available health resources,” said Jane Neu, associate director of Health Services. “While visitors had access to free services, venders and various health organizations had the opportunity to meet a number of people with an interest in health and wellness. Some venders have been returning to this annual and fun event for over 20 years!”

The more than 40 vendors included small holistic wellness companies, area hospitals and nonprofit health centers, banks and financial institutions, health and life insurance companies,  state agencies and more.



Health, Wellness and Benefits Expo to Occur Oct. 21

Willimantic, Conn – More than 50 health agencies, vendors and representatives will convene at 10 a.m. on Oct. 21 in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center at Eastern Connecticut State University for the 22nd Annual Health, Wellness and Benefits Expo. The theme this year is “Wellness.” The program runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will include demonstrations, performances and free health screenings throughout the day. The public is invited. Admission is free.

The Connecticut Department of Children and Families Foster Care Services, Liberty Mutual Insurance, the Willimantic Food Co-Op, United HealthCare, the Social Security Administration, Planned Parenthood, the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling and Windham Hospital are just some of the nearly 50 participants in attendance.

Free chair massages and hand therapy; free HIV and STD testing; blood pressure; body fat analysis; free health food samples; breast cancer and flu information; hip replacement information; STD testing; and diabetic information are some of the offerings at this year’s event. In addition, representatives will be on hand with information about retirement, finances and health insurance.

Eastern’s Student Health Services and the Office of Human Resources are sponsoring the Health Expo. For more information, contact Jane Neu, associate director of health services, at (860) 465-5263 or e-mail neuj@easternct.eduand/or LaShawn McBride, manager of human resource programs at (860) 465-5220 or e-mail

“Know Your IX,” Title IX Examined

Written by Michael Rouleau

Willimantic, Conn. – On Oct. 8, Wagatwe Wanjuki, a feminist writer, activist and speaker, came to Eastern Connecticut State University to discuss Title IX in a presentation called “Know Your IX.” The University Hour event was hosted by the Women’s Center and broke down all that the 1972 landmark legislation really covers.

“Title IX is not just about sports,” Wanjuki said. “It is a prohibition against gender-based discrimination in all aspects of education.” Of particular emphasis, Title IX addresses sexual harassment and violence, and mandates that schools have a proactive approach to dealing with these issues.

Wanjuki also emphasized the concept of “intersectionality,” which involves recognizing the different factors and “intersections” within systems of oppression. In regard to sexual harassment and violence, she added, “It’s important to have diversity in support and level within the institution, and that administrators are educated about these issues.”

“Fortunately, while sexual harassment and violence do exist, there are organizations to combat them,” Wanjuki concluded. On campus, there is the Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence Response Team, 860-465-4314; locally there is the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Eastern Connecticut, 860-456-3595 (Willimantic) or at 860-442-0604 (New London); and statewide there is the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Service, Inc., 860-282-9881 (East Hartford).