Top U.S. Mental Health Official Urges Audience to “Get Involved” in Responding to National Opioid Crisis

                                                                            Eastern Graduates 1,200 Students at XL Center

Written by Ed Osborn

Elinore McCance-Katz

Hartford, CT — Eastern Connecticut State University alumna Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), told the graduates and their families at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 128th Commencement exercises that the current opioid crisis facing the United States is “the nation’s greatest medical challenge since the AIDS epidemic of the 1990s. It is a tragedy of major proportions, and we need to work together to help those addicted get treatment and recover from this disease.”

Eastern’s annual graduation ceremony was held at the XL Center in Hartford on May 15, with more than 12,000 family members and friends cheering on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,105 undergraduates and 85 graduate students received their diplomas.

McCance-Katz told the audience that Eastern had grown from a small college when she attended Eastern Connecticut State College in the 1970s to become “a comprehensive university that has flourished.”

The commencement speaker also received an honorary doctor of science degree from Eastern in a special hooding ceremony during the graduation exercises.  She graduated magna cum laude from Eastern in 1978 with a degree in biology. Following a sterling career in medicine, psychiatry, academic achievement and public administration, McCance-Katz’s DHHS appointment in August 2017 made her the first assistant secretary-level director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

After earning her degree from Eastern, Dr. McCance-Katz went on to earn a Ph.D. at Yale University in Infectious Disease Epidemiology in 1984, and then received her M.D. from the University of Connecticut in 1987. 

After completing a residency in psychiatry, she held teaching positions at the Yale School of Medicine, Brown University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of California in San Francisco, the University of Texas and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Prior to her HHS appointment, McCance-Katz was Chief Medical Officer of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals from 2015 to 2017, and served as professor of psychiatry and human behavior and professor of behavioral and social sciences at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University.

Describing how her professional journey had taken her from treating AIDS patients in the 1990s to her current national leadership role in treating substance abuse and mental illness, McCance-Katz described federal and state efforts to develop new recovery services and support services.  “We will turn the tide on this epidemic,” she said, urging graduates to get involved as medical professionals, nurses, counselors and social workers.

 “Be adventurous. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Be an advocate for those who have not had the advantages you have had.  There is no greater satisfaction than helping others.”

Eastern President Elsa Núñez

Other speakers at the Commencement Exercises included Eastern President Elsa Núñez; Yvette Meléndez, vice-chairof the Board of Regents for Higher Education; and Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State College and Universities System. Additional members of the platform party included Justin Murphy ’98, president of the ECSU Foundation; Father Laurence LaPointe; and other Eastern officials.

Núñez told the graduates their liberal arts education at Eastern was highly prized by American employers.  “In five separate surveys conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities over the past decade, the vast majority of employers — over 90 percent! — say they are less interested in specialized job proficiencies, favoring instead analytical thinking, teamwork and communication skills — the wide-ranging academic and social competencies available through a liberal arts education.”

Núñez also urged the graduates to give back to their communities, saying, “I know that the majority of our seniors have found ways to donate their time and good will to making our community a better place to live.  Wherever you end up — in Connecticut or beyond — make sure you continue to give a portion of your time to make a difference in your community.” 

Lastly, Núñez encouraged the Eastern seniors to be active citizens as they participate in the American democratic system of self-governance. She quoted New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, who has written that disagreement is “the most vital ingredient of any decent society. It defines our individuality, gives us our freedom, enjoins our tolerance, enlarges our perspectives, makes our democracies real, and gives hope and courage to oppressed people everywhere.”

“So never abdicate your responsibilities as a citizen to someone else,” said Núñez. “Be willing to question the status quo.  And stand up for the values you believe in.”

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 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.

Senior Class President Charlotte MacDonald presented the Senior Class Gift to President Nunez — an annual Class of 2018 scholarship — and thanked her classmates’ families, friends and faculty for supporting the senior class in its journey. Recalling the Eastern tradition where freshmen toss a penny into a fountain on campus as they make a wish — presumably to graduate in four years — MacDonald shared her own three wishes with her classmates. “My first wish is that you go confidently in the direction of your passions . . . the education you have received at Eastern has prepared you for this.  My second wish is for you not only to better yourself but others around you. Contribute to your community, offer things you no longer use to those in desperate need, volunteer your time . . . My last wish is that you find a path to happiness. . . your willingness to conquer challenges is what will separate you from the majority.”

Meléndez, former vice president of government and community alliances for Hartford Hospital, spoke on behalf of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, expressing gratitude to all who had supported Eastern’s graduates — parents, family, friends and especially Eastern’s faculty. “Their commitment to your success is what makes this university so special. Today is a significant milestone.  We hope today is merely a catalyst for a fulfilling life as each of you pursues your goals.”

Michele Bacholle, Distinguished Professor of the Year

 

Ojakian also offered remarks, commending Eastern President Núñez, her administrative team and “an exceptional faculty that guided you onyour journey to get to today.  The journey is now yours. It is your own path and your own truth that will motivate you . . .  Trust your instincts . . .  You have an obligation to leave this world a better place.  Take charge!”

This year’s graduation ceremonies again reflected Eastern’s Commencement traditions, ranging from the Governor’s Foot Guard Color Guard, 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. University Senate President Maryanne Clifford presided over the commencement exercises; seniors Halie Poirier, Michael Beckstein and Hannah Bythrow sang “America the Beautiful”; Senior Nathan Cusson gave the invocation; and French Professor Michèle Bacholle was recognized as the 2018 Distinguished Professor Award recipient.

Northeastern Connecticut launch of Sustainable CT

Written by Lynn Stoddard

WILLIMANTIC, CT (03/28/2018) Sustainable CT, a new statewide initiative to support Connecticut’s cities and towns, will be holding an upcoming regional launch event at the Connecticut Audubon Society Center in Pomfret on April 18 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is encouraged; if you are planning to attend please call (860) 928-4948.

Created by towns for towns, Sustainable CT includes a wide-ranging menu of sustainability best practices, tools and resources, peer learning and recognition. Many area municipal leaders, experts and community members have worked together for the past 19 months to develop Sustainable CT.

The Sustainable CT platform supports a broad range of actions, such as improving watershed management, supporting arts and creative culture, reducing energy use and increasing renewable energy, implementing “complete streets” (streets that meet the needs of walkers and bikers, as well as cars), improving recycling programs, assessing climate vulnerability, supporting local businesses, and providing efficient and diverse housing options. There is no cost to participate and communities will voluntarily select actions that meet their unique, local character and long-term vision. After successful implementation of a variety of actions, municipalities will be eligible for Sustainable CT certification.

The initiative was developed under the leadership of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University in partnership with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. Three Connecticut philanthropies – The New Haven-based Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Hampshire Foundation and the Common Sense Fund – have supported the program’s development and launch.

The Northeastern Connecticut regional launch event is for anyone interested in learning more about Sustainable CT and how to get involved in supporting the implementation of Sustainable CT actions. Event attendees will include municipal-elected officials and staff, residents, nonprofits, businesses, colleges and universities.

For more information, visit www.sustainablect.org.

 

Designs to be revealed for Willimantic Whitewater community art project

The winning design will eventually be installed at the Willimantic Whitewater Partnership’s Bridge Street site

WILLIMANTIC, CT (03/22/2018) On April 14, three Connecticut-based teams will reveal their designs for a new public art piece that generates renewable energy, to be located on the Willimantic River. The public is invited to attend the evening reception from 6-8 p.m. in the Student Center at Eastern Connecticut State University to hear from representatives of the three teams who will present and showcase their design concepts. The winning design will be announced on Connecticut Arts Day later in April, and the community art piece will eventually be installed on the Willimantic Whitewater Partnership’s Bridge Street site.

The design competition is a partnership of the Willimantic Whitewater Partnership, the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts, and the nonprofit Land Art Generator Initiative.

The three design teams – Pirie Associate Architects (New Haven), Howeler & Yoon/Gray Organschi (New Haven/Boston) and Swiftwater Hub (Mansfield/Hartford) – were selected in December from 15 teams of landscape architects, artists and engineers who responded to a call for qualifications.

The three designs will also be on display from March 24 through April 13 at Kerri Gallery, 861 Main St., Willimantic, where the public will be encouraged to provide feedback. For viewing hours, visit www.kerriquirk.com. For more information, visit www.landartgenerator.org/lagi-willimantic.html.

Eastern Makes “College Consensus” List of Top Colleges in Connecticut

Written by Ed Osborn

WILLIMANTIC, CT (01/26/2018) College Consensus, a unique new college review aggregator, has recognized Eastern Connecticut State University in its ranking of “Best Colleges in Connecticut for 2017-18.” Eastern was ranked in the top 10 schools in Connecticut, and was one of only two public institutions chosen, the University of Connecticut being the other.

To identify the Best Colleges in Connecticut for 2017-18, College Consensus averaged the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems, including U.S. News and World Report among others, along with thousands of student review scores, to produce a unique rating for each school. Read about the organization’s methodology at https://www.collegeconsensus.com/about.

“Congratulations on making the list of Best Colleges in Connecticut for 2017-18,” said Carrie Sealey-Morris, managing editor of College Consensus. “Your inclusion in our ranking shows that your school has been recognized for excellence by both publishers on the outside and students and alumni on the inside.”

Part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, Eastern began its life in 1889 as a public normal school. Today the University is recognized as one of top 25 public universities in the North Region by U.S. News & World Report, and has been named one of the nation’s Green Colleges eight years in a row by the Princeton Review.

Eastern is Connecticut’s public liberal arts college, with a student body of 5,300 students; more than 90 percent of Eastern’s students are from Connecticut. Eastern’s size gives its students an uncommon degree of individualized attention, aided by a 15:1 student/faculty ratio and a strong commitment to student success.

In addition to a strong liberal art foundation, Eastern has many opportunities for students to engage in practical, hands-on learning, ranging from internships to study abroad, community service and undergraduate research. For instance, Eastern has sent more student researchers to the competitive National Conference on Undergraduate Research in the past four years than all the other public universities in Connecticut combined. In 2018, 41 of the 44 students from Connecticut who will present their research at the conference in April are from Eastern.

With its history, Eastern is also one of Connecticut’s foremost educators of teachers, and its professional studies and continuing education programs have made it an important institution for Connecticut’s working adults.

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

2 Upcoming Sustainable CT Events

            Eastern, Connecticut College Host Sites in Eastern Connecticut

Written by Lynn Stoddard

WILLIMANTIC, CT (01/22/2018) Sustainable CT, a new statewide initiative to support Connecticut’s cities and towns, will be holding two regional launch events in eastern Connecticut this coming week. The first event will be held on Jan. 24 from 6:30-8 p.m. in New London at Connecticut College, in the 1941 Room, College Center at Crozier-Williams, 270 Mohegan Avenue. The second event will take place on Jan. 26 from 9-10:30 a.m. in Willimantic, in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library at Eastern Connecticut State University. The events are free and open to the public.

Created by towns for towns, Sustainable CT includes a wide-ranging menu of sustainability best practices, tools and resources, peer learning and recognition. Many area municipal leaders, experts and community members have worked together for the past 19 months to develop Sustainable CT.

Delpha Very, executive director of economic & community development in Putnam as well director of the town’s redevelopment agency, helped spearhead a group of municipal leaders, nonprofits, academics and business representatives to develop the arts and culture actions in the program. “In Putnam we recognize that the creative workforce is a significant driver of our local economy,” said Very. “By incorporating actions that support arts and culture, Sustainable CT provides municipalities the opportunity and resources to advance their own economic growth.”

The Sustainable CT platform supports a range of actions, such as improving watershed management, supporting arts and creative culture, reducing energy use and increasing renewable energy, implementing “complete streets” (streets that meet the needs of walkers and bikers, as well as cars), improving recycling programs, assessing climate vulnerability, supporting local businesses, and providing efficient and diverse housing options. There is no cost to participate and communities will voluntarily select actions that meet their unique, local character and long-term vision. After successful implementation of a variety of actions, municipalities will be eligible for Sustainable CT certification.

The Town of Groton is one local community that has expressed interest in seeking certification. “In Groton we are planning for the future. In the wake of recent coastal flooding events and intense storms, we realize that there is a need to be prepared,” said Deborah Jones, assistant director of planning and development for the Town of Groton. “Sustainable CT, with its forward-looking actions provides a helpful roadmap, and potential funding opportunities that can help the town advance these goals.”

The Sustainable CT initiative was developed under the leadership of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University in partnership with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. Three Connecticut philanthropies – The New Haven-based Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Hampshire Foundation and the Common Sense Fund – have supported the program’s development and launch.

The eastern Connecticut regional launch events are for anyone interested in learning more about Sustainable CT and how to get involved in supporting the implementation of Sustainable CT actions. Event attendees will include municipal elected officials and staff, residents, nonprofits, businesses, colleges and universities.

For more information and to register for any regional launch event, visit www.sustainablect.org.

Eastern Helps Launch Sustainable CT

               Program Lift Off on January 16 at the Hartford Public Library

Written by Lynn Stoddard

WILLIMANTIC, CT (01/16/2018) Sustainable CT, a new statewide initiative to support Connecticut’s cities and towns, will have its launch in the Hartford area on January 16th at 6:00 p.m. in the Center for Contemporary Culture at the Hartford Public Library, in collaboration with the City of Hartford. Created by towns for towns, the initiative includes a wide-ranging menu of sustainability best practices, tools and resources, peer learning and recognition.

“Sustainable CT provides support to help the City of Hartford and all of our communities achieve the shared values of improved well-being, economic vitality, and environmental stewardship,” said Shubhada Kambli, sustainability coordinator of the City of Hartford, who will also serve on Sustainable CT’s newly formed board of directors.

Many Hartford-area municipal leaders, experts and community members have worked together for the past 18 months to develop Sustainable CT, including Khara Dodds, director of Land Use Planning and Services for Glastonbury, who will also serve on Sustainable CT’s newly formed board of directors; Matthew Hart, town manager of the Town of West Hartford and co-chair of the Cultural Ecosystems Working Group; Mark Moriarty, director of Public Works of the City of New Britain and co-chair of the Sustainable CT Transportation Working Group; and Jennifer Kertanis, director of Health of the Farmington Valley Health District and co-Chair of the Sustainable CT Public Services Working Group.

The Sustainable CT platform supports a broad range of actions, such as improving watershed management, supporting arts and creative culture, reducing energy use and increasing renewable energy, implementing “complete streets” (streets that meet the needs of walkers and bikers as well as cars), improving recycling programs, assessing climate vulnerability, supporting local businesses, and providing efficient and diverse housing options. There is no cost to participate, and communities will voluntarily select actions that meet their unique, local character and long-term vision. After successful implementation of a variety of actions, municipalities will be eligible for Sustainable CT certification.

“We are excited to register and become a Sustainable CT certified community,” said Ted Shafer, first selectman of Burlington and officer of Sustainable CT’s pending board of directors. “The program provides an engaging opportunity to be recognized for our sustainability successes and to access new opportunities for funding to become an even more sustainable community.”

The initiative was developed under the leadership of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University in partnership with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. Three Connecticut philanthropies-the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Hampshire Foundation and the Common Sense Fund-have supported the program’s development and launch.

The Hartford area regional launch event is for anyone interested in learning more about Sustainable CT and how to get involved in supporting implementation of Sustainable CT actions. Event attendees will include municipal elected officials and staff, residents, nonprofits, businesses, college and universities. Tabling organizations will be present to highlight existing sustainability initiatives and successes in the Greater Hartford region.

Regional launch events will be held throughout the state in January. For more information and to register for any regional launch event, visit www.sustainablect.org.

Eastern to Host Community Forum

     Public to Discuss Art Installation related on Whitewater Partnership

WILLIMANTIC, CT (01/10/2018) Members of the public are invited to attend an information session and community forum at Easten Connecticut State University on Jan. 17 regarding the design competition that will result in a new community art installation on Bridge Street in downtown Willimantic. The forum will run from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Room of Eastern’s J. Eugene Smith Library. Interested community members are encouraged to attend to ask questions and share ideas regarding the project. Light refreshments will be served.

The design competition arose from a collaboration between Willimantic Whitewater Partnership, the Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Eastern Connecticut State University, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts (COA) and the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI).

Three Connecticut-based design teams were recently selected as finalists in the competition to design the art piece, which must also generate renewable energy. Representatives from the three teams will be present to get feedback and community input as they craft their designs. The three teams include Pirie Associate Architects of New Haven, Gray Organschi/Howeler & Yoon Architecture of New Haven and Boston and Swiftwater Hub of Mansfield and Hartford. In March, a single design will be selected and the winning team will develop working blueprints.

More information can be found at www.landartgenerator.org/lagi-willimantic.html.

View Online: http://easternct.meritpages.com/news/community-forum-for-art-installation-related-to-whitewater-patnership/2006

Eastern Supports Community Art Project

                                            Teams up with Willimantic Whitewater Partnership

Written by Lynn Stoddard

Three world-class design teams from Connecticut have been selected to prepare detailed design concepts for public artwork that generates renewable energy for the future Willimantic Whitewater Park site.

The invited design competition arose from a collaboration between Willimantic Whitewater Partnership, the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Office of the Arts and the Land Art Generator Initiative.

From proposals submitted by 15 multi-disciplinary teams, the selection committee chose Pirie Associate Architects of New Haven, Gray Organschi/Howeler & Yoon Architecture of New Haven and Boston and Swiftwater Hub of Mansfield and Hartford to develop detailed designs. The designs are due at the end of February. In March, one winning design will be selected and the winning team will develop working blueprints. More information about the project can be found at http://www.landartgenerator.org/lagi-willimantic.html.

Members of the public are invited to attend an information session and community forum on Jan. 17 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library at Eastern Connecticut State University. All interested community members are encouraged to ask questions and share their ideas regarding the project at this public event.

Eastern Helps Launch Sustainable CT

                                                     Municipalities May Now Participate

Sustainable-CT_Logo_color_wide_no_badge_300dpiWritten by Lynn Stoddard

Sustainable CT, an exciting new initiative to support Connecticut’s cities and towns, launched on Nov. 28 at the annual convention of Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. The initiative, created by towns for towns, includes a detailed menu of sustainability best practices, tools and resources, peer learning and recognition.

“Sustainable CT provides support to help all of our communities achieve the shared values of health, economic development, cost savings and environmental stewardship,” said Ted Shafer, first selectman of Burlington and chair of the Sustainable CT Advisory Committee.

The Sustainable CT platform supports a broad range of actions, including improving watershed management; supporting arts and creative culture; reducing energy use and increasing renewable energy; implementing “complete streets” (streets that meet the needs of walkers and bikers as well as cars); improving recycling programs; assessing climate vulnerability; supporting local businesses; and providing efficient and diverse housing options.

There is no cost to participate and communities will voluntarily select actions that meet their unique, local character and long-term vision. After successful implementation of selected actions, municipalities will be eligible for Sustainable CT certification.

The initiative was developed through the leadership of the Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University, in partnership with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. Three Connecticut philanthropic organizations – the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Hampshire Foundation and the Common Sense Fund – have supported the program’s development and launch.

“Sustainable CT builds on many current success stories in our communities to create and support more great places to live, work and play,” said Lynn Stoddard, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy. “This positive vision has inspired more than 200 municipal leaders, experts and community members to work together for the past 18 months to develop Sustainable CT. We are all very excited about launching the program. Lots of towns want to be the first to participate.”

“We are excited to partner with the Institute for Sustainable Energy on this initiative,” said Joe DeLong, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. “Sustainability actions, policies and investments deliver multiple benefits to all residents and help municipal leaders make efficient use of scarce resources and engage a wide cross-section of residents and businesses.”

Municipalities may now begin to participate in the program and use its tools and resources. Residents, businesses, non-profits, and colleges and universities are important partners and can play a role in supporting communities through the Sustainable CT platform. Additional regional launch events will provide information for all who are interested and will be held throughout the state in January. For more information and the schedule of regional launch events, see www.sustainablect.org.

Eastern’s ‘Campus Sustainability Week’

Written by Michael Rouleau

File Photo

File Photo

WILLIMANTIC, CT– Eastern Connecticut State University will participate in the Third Annual Campus Sustainability Week from Oct. 9-15. The weeklong celebration is coordinated by the Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability, a network of state universities that addresses environmental and social challenges in Connecticut.

Activities will range from outdoor yoga to documentary showings to discussions about food security. Participating campuses this year include Eastern, Wesleyan University and Yale University. Activities open to the public at Eastern include:

On Oct. 9, a book swap will occur in the Webb Hall foyer from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A solar cooker demonstration will occur outside in the Webb Lawn from 12 to 2 p.m.

On Oct. 10, a showcase of local farmers who produce food for Eastern’s dining services will occur on the Student Center patio from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A showing of the documentary “Just Eat It” will occur from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre.

On Oct. 11, another book swap will occur from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Webb Hall foyer, as well as another solar cooker demonstration from 12 to 2 p.m. outside of Webb Hall. The movie “No Impact Man” will show from 5 to 6:30 in room 217 of the Student Center. The film follows a Manhattan family that decides to lead a zero-waste lifestyle.

On Oct. 12, the award-winning documentary “Reuse” will show from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre.

On Oct. 15, the week’s concluding event will be the “Fall for Nature Trail Run,” starting at 12 p.m. at Mansfield Hollow State Park. Runners, walkers and volunteers are invited to the three-mile trail run, which aims to inspire interest in preserving parks and natural spaces. The run includes a pre-registration fee of $5 or a day-of registration fee of $10.

For more information on Eastern’s Campus Sustainability Week, as well as activities happening at other campuses, visit the online calendar at http://www.easternct.edu/sustainenergy/files/2017/10/Campus-Sustainability-Week-2017.pdf.

The Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability was founded and co-chaired by Eastern and Yale for the purpose of sharing information, developing partnerships and implementing strategies to address different sustainability issues.