Eastern Named a 2018 College of Distinction

WILLIMANTIC, CT (06/18/2018) Eastern Connecticut State University has been recognized as a 2018-19 College of Distinction by the college-guide/ranking organization Colleges of Distinction.

The organization praised Eastern for its student-centered approaches and high-impact educational practices. High-impact practices of note include Eastern’s community-based learning programs, intensive writing courses, living-learning communities for residents, undergraduate research, internships and other hands-on learning experiences.

“We are absolutely thrilled to recognize Eastern Connecticut State University as a College of Distinction for its effective dedication to student success,” said Tyson Schritter, CEO for Colleges of Distinction. “Colleges of Distinction is so impressed with Eastern’s curriculum, which is enriched with the kind of high-impact educational practices that are most crucial for student development. Such innovative engagement is preparing the next generation of young adults to thrive after college.”

Colleges of Distinction’s selection process consists of a review of each institution’s freshman experience and retention efforts alongside its general education programs, alumni success, strategic plan, student satisfaction and more. Schools are accepted on the basis that they adhere to the Four Distinctions: Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community and Successful Outcomes.

“Colleges of Distinction is far more than a ranking list of colleges and universities,” said Schritter. “We seek out the schools that are wholly focused on the student experience, constantly working to produce graduates who are prepared for a rapidly changing global society. Again recognized as a College of Distinction, Eastern Connecticut State University stands out in the way it strives to help its students to learn, grow and succeed.”

Top U.S. Mental Health Official Speaks at Eastern’s 128th Commencement

                                                                            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.

Eastern Announces Commencement Speaker/Honorary Degree Recipient

HHS Secretary Tom Price/National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Conference

WILLIMANTIC, CT (04/23/2018) Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use in the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), will be the commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient at Eastern Connecticut State University’s commencement exercises on May 15 at the XL Center in Hartford.

McCance-Katz graduated magna cum laude from Eastern in 1978 with a degree in biology. Her sterling career in medicine, psychiatry, academic achievement and public administration culminated in August 2017 with her DHHS appointment, which made her the first assistant secretary-level director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at DHHS.

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.

McCance-Katz is board certified in general psychiatry and addiction psychiatry, and is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, with more than 25 years of experience as a clinician, teacher and clinical researcher.

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.

She also was the Chief Medical Officer of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration from 2013-15; State Medical Director of the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs from 2007-13; and Medical Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Virginia Health Practitioners’ Intervention Program from 2003-07.

Dr. McCance-Katz has published numerous articles on clinical pharmacology and, along with her husband Michael, holds a patent for a method used to prevent specimen substitution in substance use screening.

More than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students will receive their diplomas at Eastern’s 128th annual graduation exercises at the XL Center on May 15, with an audience of more than 10,000 family and friends expected. In addition to McCance-Katz, dignitaries expected to attend include Eastern President Elsa Núñez; Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System; Yvette Meléndez, vice-chair of the Board of Regents for Higher Education; and Victor Funderburk, mayor of the Town of Windham.

Written by Edward Osborn

Eastern Presents Education, Advocacy and Immigrant Youth Discussion

Written by Anne Pappalardo

 Willimantic, CT — Eastern Connecticut State University hosted “Education, Advocacy and Immigrant Youth,” a discussion about supporting the educational aspirations of newly arrived immigrant students, in the Betty R. Tipton Room on April 4. The event was cosponsored by the Center for Children’s Advocacy in Hartford.

The event featured a panel of experts including Kathryn Meyer, director of SpeakUp Initiatives, and Sue Tenorio, educational consultant, both from the Center for Children’s Advocacy. Keynote speaker and law student Denia Perez, Ken Nienhusser from the University of Hartford and Andrea Spencer of the University of St. Joseph were also featured speakers.

Panelists discussed proactive approaches to support the achievements of new arrivals in schools, barriers to their achievements and community organizational efforts. 

During her opening remarks, Eastern President Elsa Núnez said, “There are millions of people today who want the same opportunity but fear the uncertainty of deportation, imprisonment and separation from their families. I am proud to tell you that Eastern continues to be a national leader in supporting undocumented students. We have more than 100 ‘Dreamers’ on our campus, supported by a private foundation, Opportunity Scholars, located in Washington, DC. The Dreamers’ educations are being fully funded by TheDream.US foundation. They have earned their passage—these are hardworking students with a cumulative 3.5 GPA on this campus. They have become student leaders as they are preparing for careers as doctors, scientists, lawyers, accountants and teachers.  No school in America has more Opportunity Scholars than Eastern.”

As moderator and coordinator of the event, Professor of Social Work Isabel Logan, welcomed and introduced important questions for the panelists to address.

“There is a need to improve parents’ ability to advocate for their children’s educational needs. Schools must improve in terms of identity for English Language Learners, inform parents in their native language, provide ESL or bilingual courses and continually evaluate student progress,” said Meyer.

Tenorio emphasized the challenges that immigrant parents and their children face navigating the educational system, calling it “a maze,” especially in terms of language barriers.

In her presentation, “From Aspirations to Achievement,” Perez discussed the challenges she faced as a youth fighting deportation and issues she encountered pursuing her education in California. She credited supporters who helped her during her educational journey and encouraged others to “not only pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but to seek support from their communities. Study history, but also write your own.” She is currently concluding her studies at the Quinnipiac School of Law.

“We have a long way to go,” said Nienhusser, a professor of educational leadership. “We must reframe our values and the existence of discriminatory policies in education that have affected deserving students solely based on their immigration status. We need to eradicate these policies and stop treating undocumented students as undeserving and villainous.”

Spencer discussed what she called the three best practices which she said schools need to focus on—recognition, relationships and resources. “Teachers need to collaborate and think about how they deal with the immigrant challenges these students bring to the classroom including rethinking curriculum, encouraging teachers to form closer relationships with students and providing them with improved bicultural language and activity opportunities.”

Barbara Lopez of Make the Road CT and Stefan Keller of CT Students for a Dream, both representatives of nonprofit groups that work in communities such as Bridgeport and Hartford, spoke about their respective community-based efforts and challenges immigrants encounter in communities that have large number of undocumented residents. 

Leadership Luncheon Recognizes Outstanding Donors and Alumni

The award winners of the 2018 Leadership Luncheon pose for a group photo. Front row: Elaine Ossen, Patricia McGrath (Geraldine Spillane’s daughter), Geraldine Spillane, Eastern President Elsa Núñez, Jack Spillane, Sean Spillane, Ken DeLisa, Vice President. Back row: Lorraine Scanlon (Mike’s wife), Mike Scanlon, and Debra Spillane

Written by Ed Osborn

A spirit of celebration and good will was in the air when Eastern Connecticut State University held its annual President’s Leadership Awards Luncheon on March 16 to honor the University’s leadership level supporters. The luncheon is Eastern’s premier donor appreciation event of the year and also recognizes the University’s most distinguished Eastern alumni. An appreciative crowd of Eastern supporters enjoyed this year’s event in the Fine Arts Center’s Susan Sukman McCray Foyer, named after a major donor to the University’s Theatre Program.

Ken DeLisa, vice president for institutional advancement, opened the luncheon by speaking to the University’s fundraising achievements of the past year. Total giving to the ECSU Foundation, Inc., exceeded $2 million for the sixth straight year, with student scholarship awards totaling $2.1 million over the past four years.  Projected scholarship awards in fiscal year 2019 will approach a record $700,000.

In recognizing the awardees as well as the many donors present, DeLisa said, “Because of your professional achievements, personal philanthropy and unwavering commitment to Eastern, you inspire our passion for higher education. You serve as role models for our students and you create opportunities for them to succeed.”

In her remarks, Eastern President Elsa Núñez told the audience that their generosity was contributing to Eastern’s improved reputation, indicating that the University had entered the ranks of the top 25 universities in the North Region for the first time in last fall’s U.S. News and World Report “Best Colleges” rankings. Eastern was also the only public institution in New England named a “Great College to Work For” by the Chronicle of Higher Education, and was named a Green College by The Princeton Review for the eighth year in a row. 

Núñez also noted the growing philanthropy of Eastern supporters. “Since I arrived here 12 years ago, we have added 52 new endowed scholarships totaling $6.7 million; we have doubled the number of donors making annual gifts of $1,000 or more; and the percentage of alumni making gifts has grown from three percent to nine percent, the highest giving percentage among Connecticut’s four state universities, and higher than private institutions such as the University of Hartford, Sacred Heart University and Quinnipiac University.”  

In applauding the generosity of leadership donors, Núñez said, “Your contributions to student scholarships make a world of difference in the lives of the individual students who benefit from your generosity.  Over time, endowed scholarships at Eastern will benefit not only the thousands of students you are helping to fulfill their personal dreams, but will also have a great impact on Connecticut and our great American Democracy. As John F. Kennedy said in 1961, ‘Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream, which fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.’”

Following the luncheon service, Núñez was joined by Justin Murphy Esq., president of the ECSU Foundation, Inc., Board of Directors, to announce this year’s awards.

Elinore McCance-Katz ’78 was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award.  A graduate of Eastern’s Biology program, McCance-Katz has been a national leader in mental health and addiction policy for decades, and recently was appointed as the assistant secretary for mental health and substance use at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC. She is the first assistant secretary-level director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 

In addition to her Eastern degree, she holds a Ph.D. from Yale University and an M.D. from the University of Connecticut.  Prior to her federal appointment, McCance-Katz held senior medical officer positions in Rhode Island, Virginia and California, and has taught at Yale School of Medicine, Brown University, the University of Texas and other universities.

Michael Scanlon ’75 (right) received the Distinguished Service Award. Justin Murphy, president of the ECSU Foundation Board of Directors, and Eastern President Elsa Nunez join him for a photo.

Michael Scanlon ’75 received the Distinguished Service Award.  A native of Manchester, CT, Scanlon earned his M.S. in organic chemistry from the University of Connecticut, and went on to have a distinguished management career in the chemical engineering industry. In addition to years of service as a member and later as president of the ECSU Foundation, Inc., Board of Directors, Scanlon and his wife Lorraine volunteer for Meals on Wheels in their hometown of Redding, CT, and are active with the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, site of the historic Woodstock music festival in New York State.

“I am truly humbled and honored to be recognized today,” said Scanlon. “I was blessed with a quality education at Eastern, where I learned the value of social responsibility and how to think critically in real-world settings.” A first-generation college student, Scanlon followed three friends to Eastern, where he majored in biology. He thanked several professors who had inspired and supported him, including two — retired Mathematics Professor Steve Kenton and retired Chemistry Professor Max Ferguson — who were on hand to congratulate him.  “Some of my best years were at Eastern,” concluded Scanlon, sharing that the day was also he and his wife’s 27th wedding anniversary.

The Hermann Beckert “Friend of the University” Award was given to Rheo Brouillard, recently retired President and CEO of the SI Financial Group, Inc., a role he assumed in 2004 after being the president of the Savings Institute Bank and Trust (SIBT) since 1995.  Under Brouillard’s leadership, SIBT has contributed more than $60,000 to support Eastern students and University initiatives.

Through the SI Financial Group Foundation, established in 2005, Brouillard and his colleagues have also provided financial support for local organizations such as the Covenant Soup Kitchen, Camp Horizons, and the Northeast Connecticut Community Development Corporation, which is providing safe, affordable housing for local Windham residents and working to revitalize downtown Willimantic.

Eileen Ossen speaks on behalf of her family foundation after receiving the ECSU Foundation’s Board of Director’s Award.

Local philanthropist Eileen Ossen and the Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation received the Foundation’s Board of Director’s Award. Jeffrey Ossen, a local businessman who built a successful company in the manufactured housing industry, passed away in 2007. A lifelong philanthropist, Ossen made a $500,000 leadership gift that led to building the $8.5 million Jeffrey P. Ossen Emergency Center at Windham Community Memorial Hospital. 

Ossen’s widow Eileen has continued her late husband’s work through the Jeffrey P. Ossen Foundation, which has been instrumental in creating and supporting a variety of endowed scholarships at Eastern. The scholarships have a cumulative balance of $240,000 and have supported 53 students with scholarships ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 each of the past three years.

“I believe in Windham and Willimantic,” said Eileen Ossen in accepting the award. “Supporting education is the best way to help this community, because it can empower our residents to fulfill their dreams for a better life. Jeff would have a light in his eye if he saw how many young people we are helping through the foundation.”

The Spillane family: (first row) Jack Spillane, Geraldine (Shea) Spillane ’57, Debra Spillane (Sean Spillane’s wife), Patricia McGrath (Geraldine Spillane’s daughter). Second row: Sean Spillane, nephew Steve Spillane.

Pawcatuck, CT, resident Geri (Shea) Spillane, Class of 1957, her brother-in-law Jack Spillane, and his son, Sean Spillane, were honored with the ECSU Foundation’s Distinguished Donor Award. Gerry Spillane’s late husband, Robert “Buddy” Spillane ’56, served as superintendent of schools in Boston, as well as in school districts in Virginia, New York and New Jersey. He later worked as the European regional officer for the U.S. State Department’s Office of Overseas Schools. 

In addition to his distinguished career in education, Buddy Spillane served on the ECSU Foundation, Inc., Board of Directors for more than a decade, and was the first recipient of the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1969.

Following his passing in 2015, Spillane’s brother Jack, and nephew Sean, joined with Geri Spillane to create an endowed scholarship in Buddy’s honor, and have funded it with gifts in excess of $150,000. Sean and Jack Spillane are successful businessmen in the Minneapolis, MN, area, and Jack serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing.

In speaking for his family, Jack Spillane recounted how he and his brother grew up on High Street in Willimantic upstairs from what is now Blarney’s Cafe. In the 1950s, the family ran a lunch counter on the first floor of the building. “The Campus Shoppe” was frequented by many Eastern students at the time, including Buddy Spillane’s future wife, Geraldine Shea.

“Bud’s heart was in this school,” said Jack Spillane, “and we are pleased that we can create a long-lasting legacy for him at Eastern.  Bud is not gone . . . he is still in all the places where he made an impact.”

In concluding the day’s festivities, DeLisa thanked the donors in attendance: “You honor Eastern through your continued faith in the University and your ongoing commitment to giving our students access to all the opportunity that comes with higher education.”

Eastern to Hold Memorial Service for David Carter

Written by Ed Osborn

WILLIMANTIC, CT (03/26/2018) The public is invited to join the Eastern Connecticut State University campus community in celebrating the life and legacy of David Carter, Eastern’s fifth president, by attending a special memorial service on Thursday, April 12, at 3 p.m. in the Betty R. Tipton Room in Eastern’s Student Center.

Carter passed away on March 17 following a lengthy illness. He was president at Eastern from 1988-2006 before being appointed chancellor of the Connecticut State University System.

Carter became the first African-American to lead a four-year institution of higher education in New England when he was appointed Eastern’s president in 1988. During his 18-year tenure, Carter’s leadership resulted in an expansion of academic degree offerings, significant enrollment growth and the realization of a vision to see Eastern designated as “Connecticut’s Public Liberal Arts University.”

Facilities were also transformed, doubling the campus footprint with the construction of modern buildings ranging from the Science Building to the J. Eugene Smith Library, Child and Family Development Resource Center and South Residential Village.

During his five years as chancellor of the state university system, Carter led the four universities system through an expansion of academic programs and campus development. In his final year as chancellor in 2010-11, the system reached an all-time high of 36,629 students at the four universities. Carter’s vision and dedication also resulted in state funding for a $950 million commitment to update and upgrade the System’s four campuses.

Scholar shines light on unsung civil-rights hero Constance Baker Motley

Gary L. Ford Jr. visited Eastern on Feb. 14

WILLIMANTIC, CT (02/26/2018) Scholar and award-winning film producer Gary L. Ford Jr. examined black history triumphs and shared his insight on jurist and civil rights champion Constance Baker Motley as part of Black History Month at Eastern Connecticut State University on Feb. 14.

Ford crossed paths with Motley – a fellow native of New Haven, CT – early on in his life. A member of a family of lawyers and a graduate of Columbia University, Ford has felt compelled to share Motley’s story ever since. The more he learned of the activist’s feats, the more he realized that she had been overlooked not only in textbooks, but on other platforms as well.

While some people from the civil rights movement have been highlighted for their efforts, many groundbreakers like Motley have disappeared into the background. “We need to make sure we talk about these other hidden figures,” said Ford. “Our history is not really complete. Without these grassroots leaders, without these women, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

Ford opened his presentation by giving the audience an overview of the extensive research that went into his dissertation-guided novel, “Constance Baker Motley: One Woman’s Fight for Civil Rights and Equal Justice under Law” and the subsequent documentary, “Justice is a Black Woman: The Life and Work of Constance Baker Motley.” Motley was the first African-American woman to become a federal judge, and a key component in landmark cases such as Meredith v. Fair and Brown v. Board of Education.

Ford’s documentary, which debuted in 2012, opens with Maya Angelou reading her poem “Still I Rise,” and accurately captures Motley as an established crusader. With notable commentators – President Bill Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Joel Motley III, members of the Little Rock Nine and Dr. Bernard Lafayette among them – and a thoughtful assessment of Motley’s historical accomplishments, the film aims to give her the credit she deserves.

Contributors called attention to Motley’s upbringing with immigrant parents from the Caribbean island of Nevis, her ability to excel academically despite external setbacks and her unwavering persistence during a professional career actively combatting racism. She was the only woman attorney at the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Legal Defense and Educational Fund during the bulk of the civil rights movement.Motley won cases that ended de facto segregation in white-only restaurant spaces, protected the rights of protestors and secured the right for black people to register, vote and have general access to the political power structure. During this time, she worked closely with Thurgood Marshall and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Justice is a Black Woman,” in collaboration with Ford’s other studies, successfully humanizes one of history’s strongest characters, not only by showcasing the monumental services that Motley provided through her involvement with the law, but also by evaluating the life she constructed around these achievements. “From a very young age, she was always one to speak the truth to power,” said Ford.

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.

Constance Motley Expert at Eastern

Written by Dwight Bachman

Willimantic, CT — Gary Ford Jr., assistant professor of Africana Studies at Lehman College and author of the book, “Constance Baker Motley, One Woman’s Fight for Civil Rights and Equal Justice under Law,” will speak on Feb. 14, at 3 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre on Eastern Connecticut State University campus.

Born in New Haven in 1921 as the daughter of immigrants from Nevis, British West Indies, Motley attended Fisk University before transferring to New York University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in economics. She subsequently became the first black woman accepted to Columbia Law School. A wife and mother who became a pioneer and trailblazer in the legal profession, she broke down barriers, overcame gender constraints, and operated outside the feminine role assigned to women by society and the civil rights movement.

Motley met Thurgood Marshall, chief counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and became the only female attorney to work for the fund, arguing desegregation cases in court during much of the civil rights movement. From 1946 through 1964, she was a key litigator and legal strategist for landmark civil rights cases that included the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the desegregation of the universities of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. She represented Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others jailed for their participation in sit-ins, marches and freedom rides.

“Gary Ford’s well-researched book is more than a biography of Motley’s extraordinary life,” said Henry Louis Gates, Endowed Alphonse Fletcher Professor of History and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. “It is an argument for recognizing the tenacious, courageous role African American women like her played in advancing the cause of civil rights and equal justice for all. To witness Judge Motley in action was to be fortified and astounded. Now, thanks to Ford, a new generation can bear witness to her immense talents.”

“Dr. Ford’s book has sold out three times already this year,” said Stacey Close, associate vice president of equity and diversity at Eastern, whose office invited Ford to campus. The Offices of the President, Provost and Academic Affairs, Education Professional Studies and the Graduate Division, and Departments of History, Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work are co-sponsors for Ford’s appearance at Eastern.

“The narrative of the civil rights movement is fundamentally and irrevocably altered by the inclusion of Constance Baker Motley,” said Ford. “Her story is like a breath of fresh air that only strengthens the legacy of the movement as a whole. Her contribution expands the view of history from the model of leadership by charismatic men to a more complex model that is inclusive of female change agents and leaders. Judge Motley broke down barriers for other women of color, attorneys and women in general.”

Ford earned a bachelor of arts in African American history from Harvard University; a law degree from Columbia University; a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the New School; and a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Maryland. In addition to his writing and teaching, Ford helped produce the 2012 award-winning documentary film “Justice is a Black Woman: The Life and Work of Constance Baker Motley” with director/producer Professor Michael Calia, director of the Quinnipiac University Ed McMahon Mass Communications Center and scriptwriter Susan Bailey.

Eastern Presents Pedro Noguera

Noguera by TOMWritten by Dwight Bachman

“If we want to create a more equitable society, we must transform the way we teach our children.” That was the message that Pedro Noguera, distinguished professor of education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), drove home during his lecture to a packed house on Nov. 14 at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Speaking in the beautiful Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center, Noguera was introduced by Jacob Easley, dean of Eastern’s School of Education and Professional Studies. “Dr. Noguera’s advocacy for educational equity is timely. We are delighted that community members and future educators alike are energized by his message. It is clear that sound pedagogy alone will not tip the scale to ensure that educational excellence is afforded to all children and youth. Advocacy, policy and practice have to work together.”

Noting that family income is the best predictor of student success, Noguera reiterated a point found in many of his published writings – if we want to see student academic performance improve, our society must deal with the root causes of poverty at the same time that we attempt to implement classroom reform.

Nogueara_Wide_shot_in_FAICPolicies such as “No Child Left Behind” still leave far too many children behind, said Noguera, especially children with the greatest needs. He offered numerous ways to close the achievement gap, arguing that equity is recognizing that not all students are the same; some need more time and help due to disadvantages. Equity is about fairness, giving all children the same opportunities.

Noguera also said schools should stop blaming students and accept responsibility for raising achievement in all students, not just the privileged. He called for an “equity lens” in addressing the challenge. “We are supposed to make sure all kids have a chance. Throughout the country, educating kids is a major challenge. School reform has been insufficient in paying attention to teaching and learning.”

The nationally recognized scholar lamented that, “Teachers today focus on control and passive learning, covering material, memorization, when they should be emphasizing engaged learning.” He encouraged the audience of students, faculty and staff from Eastern as well as those from area schools, to seek ways to recognize and develop excellence in students. “We must raise their confidence, competence and resilience . . . If we feed their curiosity, they become life-long learners and problem solvers.”

In sharing a variety of strategies he has observed in schools across the nation that can empower students to learn, Noguera said, “We have to stop treating the kids like inmates.” Innovations he endorsed included personalized lesson plans, team projects, simulations and other engaging teaching methods.

During a lively question and answer period, Noguera said society should reverse what is Noguera_in_FAIC_verticalcurrently happening – spending more money to keep young students in jail than to educate them. “We need to focus on student strengths rather than their deficits.”

He said it is in society’s own interests to invest in education, and he encouraged students to go into teaching “to make a difference, not to make money. Becoming an educator is to become a role model. To become a teacher is to become a life-long learner. We must be committed. We must have the passion for this work.”

Noguera recalled the 19th-century New England educator Horace Mann, who famously said, “Education is “is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery,” and said that we must continue to invest in teaching our children if we want social equity and a prosperous nation.

“Education is the solution to so many of the problems we face. If we invest in the education of kids, we will secure democracy in this country. The goal is to make sure everyone with different learning skills is getting a quality education. We must meet the needs of all kids. The cost of failure is simply too great.”

Prior to his current position at UCLA, Noguera served as the Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University and the executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools; the Judith K. Dimon Professor of Communities and Schools at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and as professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was also the director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change.

He began his career as a classroom teacher in Providence, RI, where he attended Brown University. Among Noguera’s published writings are the books “City Schools and the American Dream”, “Unfinished Business: Closing the Achievement Gap in Our Nation’s Schools” and “The Trouble With Black Boys…and Other Reflections on Race, Equity and the Future of Public Education.”

Noguera’s presentation celebrated the 10th year anniversary of Eastern’s Center for Early Childhood Education. The event was sponsored by Eastern’s School of Education and Graduate Studies, Office of Equity and Diversity, Windham Public School and Eastern’s Multicultural Leadership Council.