Eastern a Top 25 Public Regional University in U.S. News and World Report

The class of 2023 gathered for a group photo during the Fall 2019 Warrior Welcome weekend–Eastern draws students from 160 of Connecticut’s 169 towns

 Eastern Connecticut State University is again the highest ranked institution among Connecticut’s four state universities in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s edition of “Best Colleges.” The 2020 rankings were released on Sept. 9.

This is Eastern’s highest ranking ever as it was ranked 21st among public universities in the North Region. Eastern moved up five spots among public institutions over last year’s rankings and moved up 13 spots when both public and private institutions were considered.

Under the mentorship of Biology Professor Vijaykumar Veerappan, Roshani Budhathoki ’19 was selected for an undergraduate fellowship by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB).

.The North Region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, and is known as the most competitive among the four regions that make up the U.S. News and World Report ranking system.

Regional universities such as Eastern are ranked based on 15 criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, class size, faculty resources, admissions selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

“Given the uncertain times facing the higher education community, I am delighted to see Eastern achieving its highest ranking ever,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “This is a testament to our commitment to high standards and the faculty and staff’s focus on providing students with personal attention. Our improved ranking this year is due to our rising graduation and retention rates as well as the continued quality of our incoming classes.

 Environmental earth science students traveled to the mountains of Wyoming and Idaho this summer for a geology field course led by Eastern faculty.:

“Students and their families turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help decide where to attend college. These newest rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a relevant and high-quality education on our beautiful residential campus.”

This year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of upwards of 1,400 schools nationwide and are available at www.usnews.com/colleges. They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2020 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands on Oct. 15.

For the past 35 years, the U.S. News and World Report rankings, which group colleges based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, have grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.

Written by Ed Osborn

Jonathan Mooney, Author with Dyslexia, to Speak at Eastern

Jonathan Mooney, a dyslexic writer and speaker who did not learn to read until he was 12 years old, will speak at Eastern Connecticut State University on Sept. 11 at 3 p.m. in the Student Center at Eastern.

“Instead of flipping burgers, I ended up writing books, the first of which I wrote in undergraduate school at 23 years of age,” said Mooney, who graduated with honors in English Literature from Brown University. “Growing up, I faced a number of low expectations. I was told that I would be a high school dropout and end up in jail. Instead of becoming an inmate, I became an advocate, creating organizations and initiatives that help people who get the short end of the stick.”

For his work, Mooney has been named the recipient of the Harry S. Truman Fellowship for Public Services and named a finalist for a Rhoades Scholarship. Mooney has been featured on ABC News, HBO, National Public Radio, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and USA Today, to name a few media outlets. 

“What I’m most proud of,” said Mooney, “is not that I proved wrong people who doubted me, but that I proved the many people — my mom, a teacher named Mr. R. my wife Rebecca — to be right, not just about my potential, but about the potential for all of us who live and learn differently.”

Mooney’s presentation is sponsored by the President’s Office, the Office of Equity and Diversity, Accessibility Services, the Division Student Affairs, and the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology and Social Work.

Written by Dwight Bachman

‘College Consensus’ Ranks Eastern Among Best Colleges

College Consensus, a college review aggregator that combines the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems with actual reviews of college students, has recognized Eastern Connecticut State University for the second year in a row. Eastern has been ranked among the “Best Colleges and Universities in Connecticut for 2019” and the “Best Regional Universities in the North for 2019.”

“Congratulations on making the Best Regional Universities in the North for 2019 and Best Colleges and Universities in Connecticut for 2019,” said Carole Taylor, marketing director for the College Consensus. “Your inclusion in the lists shows that you are making an impact on students that will have a transformative effect on their lives and the lives of others.”

Eastern began in 1889 as a normal school preparing teachers for careers in Connecticut’s elementary schools. Today it is known as Connecticut’s public liberal arts university. Eastern is home to 5,200 students, with more than 90 percent of them coming from Connecticut.

To identify standout colleges, College Consensus averages the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems, including U.S. News and World Report, along with student reviews to produce a unique rating for each school. Read more about the organization’s methodology at: https://www.collegeconsensus.com/about.

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

Written by Vania Galicia

Eastern Alumna Salutes Inclusive Excellence Award Winners

On May 9, Eastern recognized more than 100 students with a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or higher, and an additional 11 students who have demonstrated exemplary co-curricular engagement at the University’s Seventh Annual Inclusive Excellence Student Awards Ceremony. The ceremony recognized the achievements of African, Latino, Asian and Native American (ALANA) students at Eastern.

Eastern President Elsa Núñez said the ceremony was not just about inclusion, but also spoke to the University’s other core values of academic excellence, integrity, social responsibility, engagement and empowerment. “It is important for each of you to stand tall and be proud of who you are and what you are capable of. Never, ever, ever let anyone attempt to diminish your worth or your talents.

“Today’s honorees join thousands of other successful Eastern alumni who are making their own personal contributions out in the real world, including our guest speaker today, Dr. Kawami Evans. Today, we show respect and celebrate the accomplishments of students who too often have been forgotten in the past.  Thank you for being part of this celebration; to our honorees, congratulations.  We are very proud of you.”

Keynote speaker Evans ’97 serves as associate director at the Center for African Diaspora Student Success at the University of California at Davis. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history and social science at Eastern, her Master of Education in educational policy and research administration from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a doctorate in educational management and leadership from Drexel University.

Evans encouraged the students to use their curiosity and optimism to persevere through unseen psychological struggles that can become their staunchest challenges. She said many high- achieving students fall prey to chasing individual achievements, accolades or material gain as their goal, even confusing their self-worth with what they can accomplish.

“This is dangerous; it can lead to anxiety and depression. Don’t let this be your reality or focus,” said Evans. “Who you are is what we are celebrating today. All the earned accolades you are receiving are but a byproduct of the brilliance within you . . . You are the promise of our ancestors’ prayers and walk with the wisdom and swag of those who have grit, resilience, the social and emotional intelligence, curiosity and hope.”

Evans told the students the most important element they need to resurrect in discussing their future success is their spirituality, ways in which students discover their destiny — answers to the big questions of who they are, what is their life purpose and how do they make difference in the world.

“Much of the world right now is relegated to systems and polices. We have to raise the bar with our vision of what’s possible,” Evans said. “It will take hard work, community, love, bravery, unrelentless effort and celebration.  I sincerely believe that we can create a world that works for all.”

A total of 280 students qualified for an Academic Excellence Award with a 3.5 cumulative GPA or higher, and more than 100 of them were able to attend the May 9 event. During the ceremony, several students received service awards. Adrianna Arocho and Mayra Santos Acosta was presented the Volunteer Service Award; Aiyana Ward, the Athletic Excellence Award; Kimberly Allen and Sommer Bachelor, the Career Development Award; Jenilee Antonetty, the Resident Assistant Diversity Impact Award; Rafael Aragon, the Residential Community Leadership Award; Tristan Perez, the Social Justice Advocacy Award; Emma Costa, the Inspirational Leadership Award; Ishah Azeez, the Resilient Warrior Award; Kimberly Allen and Vishal Jungiwalla, the Advisor’s Choice Award; and the Freedom at Eastern Club, the Building Bridges Award.

By Dwight Bachman

Lavender Graduation Honors LGBTQ Seniors

The fourth annual Lavender Graduation was held on May 9 to recognize seniors who exemplify the values of Eastern Connecticut State University and support the campus’s LGBTQ+ community. Emma Costa, Shannon Carroll, Rebecca Cyr, Angelique Greenberg, Priscilla Leon, Rebecca Loh, Paige Matheson, Bria Nicole Prentice and Zac Troiano were all recognized. In addition, Cyr received the LGBTQ+ Campus Community Award, while Prentice received the Academic Excellence Award.Julia Golden-Battle, assistant dean of student affairs at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, was the keynote speaker. Golden-Battle was the first queer person of color to create a national Trans and Queer Person of Color safe training program.

Eastern’s Pride Center — expanded in 2016 — continues to provide leadership in advancing awareness sand support of LGBTQ+ issues on campus. In addition to seeing an increase in Pride Center visitors, the center sponsored a range of programs this past year, including participation in National Coming Out Day, International Pronouns Day, and the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Events specific to Eastern included a World Aids Day lecture, a Transgender Day of Visibility panel discussion attended by CSCU President Mark Ojakian, and Rainbow Connections, an open mike night that takes place three times each semester.

The Lavender Graduation was instituted by Ronni Sanlo in 1995 and is now celebrated by more than 100 colleges and universities across the country.

Mohegan Tribal Chief Named Eastern’s Commencement Speaker

 Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba, chief of the Mohegan Tribe, will be the Commencement Speaker at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 129th Commencement Exercises on May 21 at the XL Center in Hartford. Malerba will also receive an honorary doctorate degree at the ceremonies.

Malerba has achieved an exemplary career in the health care and tribal governance fields. Not only has she served her community with distinction, she has brought national recognition to the State of Connecticut.

Chief Mutáwi Mutáhash (Many Hearts) Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba became the 18th Chief of the Mohegan Tribe on August 15, 2010, and is the first female chief in the tribe’s modern history. The position is a lifetime appointment made by the tribe’s council of elders. She previously served as chairwoman of the tribal council and was also executive director of health and human services for the tribal government.

Prior to her work for the Mohegan Tribe, Chief Malerba had a distinguished career as a registered nurse and served as director of cardiology and pulmonary services at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at Yale University and was named a Jonas Scholar. She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Connecticut, and has an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford.

Chief Malerba has achieved a national reputation as an advocate and supporter of health issues and the welfare of Native Peoples. She is chairwoman of the Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee of the Federal Indian Health Services; is a member of the U.S. Justice Department’s Tribal Nations Leadership Council; serves on the Tribal Advisory Committee for the National Institute of Health; is a member of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Tribal Advisory Committee; and serves as a technical expert on the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. She also serves as the United South and Eastern Tribes board of directors secretary, and is a member of the board of directors for the Ms. Foundation for Women.

In Connecticut, Chief Malerba serves as a trustee for Chelsea Groton Bank, as a board member for the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, as an advisory committee member for the Harvard University Native American Program and served on the board of directors for Lawrence Memorial Hospital for 11 years.

More than 1,200 undergraduate and graduate students will receive their diplomas at Eastern’s graduation exercises on May 21, with an audience of more than 10,000 family and friends expected. In addition to Malerba, dignitaries expected to attend include Eastern President Elsa Núñez; Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System; and Merle Harris, vice-chair of the Board of Regents for Higher Education.

Written by Ed Osborn

Eastern’s Walter Diaz Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Walter Diaz, vice president for student affairs at Eastern Connecticut State University

Written by Ed Osborn

WILLIMANTIC, CT (12/10/2018) The Connecticut Association of Latinos in Higher Education (CALAHE) presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to Walter Diaz, vice president for student affairs at Eastern Connecticut State University, at the CALAHE annual meeting on Dec. 7 at the University of Hartford.

The award was given in recognition of Diaz’s commitment to CALAHE’s mission and for his dedication to helping students achieve their academic potential.

Diaz has served Eastern in a variety of capacities since arriving on campus in July 1999. In addition to serving as the director of career services, he also served for two and a half years as acting director of the Office of Housing and Residential Life, before becoming the dean of students in 2010.

He has more than 30 years of higher education experience, having also served at Tunxis Community College, Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering, SUNY’s Institute of Technology, and the University of Connecticut, before coming to Eastern.

In his various capacities at Eastern, Diaz has implemented a number of innovative programs, including Haven training on sexual misconduct; “Tell Somebody,” a campaign to improve the reporting of student behavioral concerns; the Academic Performance Notification System; the Occupancy Management Group, which increased retention and occupancy rates for on-campus housing; the Warriors’ Cup to promote the campus culture; Friday After Dark, which provides weekend activities for resident students; the Priority Points System for preferred housing; and an expanded Cultural Calendar that has seen a 50 percent increase in diversity and social justice programs.

In addition to his administrative duties, Diaz is known around campus for his commitment to students. He has mentored hundreds of students as an advisor to the MALES and OLAS student clubs and through his support of the Unity Wing, STEP/CAP, and other University initiatives. Diaz has also provided leadership on a number of University committees, including as chair of the Enrollment Management Committee, the Professional Development Committee, and the SUOAF Minority Mentoring and Recruitment Committee.

He is also active in national organizations associated with student affairs professionals, including the American Association of Latinos in Higher Education; NASPA, the national association for student affairs administrators in higher education; and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. More locally, Diaz was a member of the Latino Endowment Fund of the Hartford Foundation of Public Giving, and is past vice president of CALAHE.

Diaz earned his bachelor’s degree at Central Connecticut State University, his master’s degree at the University of Connecticut, and his doctorate at Johnson & Wales University. In 2016, he completed a fellowship with the New Leadership Academy, coordinated by the University of Michigan on behalf of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education and the National Center for Institutional Diversity.

ScholarMatch Recognizes Eastern’s Support of Low-Income Students

Written by Ed Osborn

Eastern Connecticut State University was recognized by ScholarMatch as one of the standout colleges in the United States providing support for first-generation and low-income students. ScholarMatch is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by author Dave Eggers. Its mission is to make higher education possible for young people from modest backgrounds.

Each year, ScholarMatch analyzes 1,400 U.S. colleges and universities, using public data and information from College Scorecard, to determine which schools offer the most supportive environments for students whose families earn less than $50,000 per year. ScholarMatch publishes its findings in its College Honor Roll, which recognizes 375 schools that are offering robust student support and are achieving excellent outcomes for this student population.

ScholarMatch also features schools recognized on its College Honor Roll in ScholarMatcher, the free interactive college search tool created by ScholarMatch to help underserved student populations find their best fit college in just a few simple clicks. Read more about ScholarMatch at www.scholarmatch.org.

Summer Fellowships Delve into Industrial Psych, Music Performance

Among her percussion instruments, Emily Miclon trained with the marimba during her summer fellowship.

Two Eastern students participated in Undergraduate Research/Creative Activity (UGRCA) Fellowships this summer, which are intensive research experiences on the Eastern campus that pair students with faculty mentors. Psychology major Kelly Bielonko ‘18 conducted a project on employee support groups while music major Emily Miclon ‘18 prepared for advanced percussion performance.

Bielonko partnered with Professor Peter Bachiochi to execute her study titled “The Relationship Between Employee Resource Groups and Occupational Health Outcomes.” She has prior experience as a research assistant in Bachiochi’s industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology lab. I/O psychology focuses on human behavior in relation to work.

Bielonko attended the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology conference this past April in Chicago.

“I became personally interested in I/O psychology over a year ago when I realized we spend nearly one-third of our lives working,” said Bielonko. “I’ve always been one for statistical representations or nuanced ways of looking at everyday occurrences, and this one hit home. Workplace behavior and health are very interesting topics that are often overlooked, yet they are a critical component of any successful business infrastructure.

“Within any workplace, there are a variety of backgrounds, from gender to race, ethnicity, religion, talent, disability and more,” she added. “The question is, how can an employer support such a diverse workforce?”

Miclon, on the other hand, partnered with Music Professor Jeff Calissi on a project titled “The Preparation and Performance of Advanced Percussion Repertoire.” Their research included preparing advanced pieces of music on marimba, snare drum and timpani.

“Throughout the program, I had intensive lessons that focused on performance practice, with the goal of preparing me as a musician for performance and competition,” said Miclon. “This advanced repertoire — including transcription works — helped me properly understand how to approach the instruments in a musically effective manner to be presented in front of audiences.

“I believe this will help my contribution to the ensembles I play with at Eastern,” she continued. “Musical performances can unite people and communities, and I hope that I can use my skills to impact others.”

With each fellowship experience came different goals, ranging from personal development to enhancing the lives of others. Miclon, for instance, wants to move on with increased confidence as a performer.

“Musical performance can be a vulnerable thing,” she said, “and I hope to not only feel comfortable taking on challenges in my musical career, but also to feel more comfortable presenting myself as a musician.”

Bielonko noted the possibility of refining workplace environments through her analysis, calling attention to the effectiveness of employee support groups (ERGs). “Not feeling supported by an organization can lead to negative outcomes for both employer and employee. We want individuals to feel happier and healthier in their place of work, and we hope to highlight with our study that the conceptual framework of an ERG can enhance everybody’s experience.”

She also acknowledged her own professional growth. “Going through the entire grant and fellowship process, along with generating an I/O research study from beginning to end, has allowed me to better understand the life of a psychology researcher in academia. The ultimate goal is to publish and present our findings at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology conference next spring.”

Miclon concluded, “Working closely with faculty over an extended period of time is an incredible opportunity. Professors at Eastern are so willing to spend time doing research with students, and it’s amazing that the school provides opportunities like this fellowship.”

Those selected for the competitive UGRCA fellowships each receive a stipend of $1,000 and $250 to be used for their projects or travel to present/exhibit their projects. Students and faculty members must apply as a pair.

Written by Jordan Corey

Eastern is Top School in New England for NCUR Participation

• Eastern student Yohan Krumov ’18 presents “Divided Attention and Learning Without Awareness” at NCUR 2018.

Eastern Connecticut State University was New England’s most prolific representative at this year’s National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). Held April 4-7 at the University of Central Oklahoma, the conference was among the premier gatherings in all of U.S. academia, with more than 3,500 students representing more than 460 colleges and universities from across the country. Remarkably, Eastern was the 12th institution in terms of participation, with 45 students presenting research – the most in all of New England.

Of the top 12 schools, only four have student bodies of 6,000 or below – Eastern’s enrollment is a modest 5,300. The rest range from 9,000 to 35,000 students, and two of them are based in Oklahoma. In the past five years, Eastern has sent more than twice as many students to NCUR as all other Connecticut schools combined.

“Undergraduate research is clearly a strength of Eastern,” said Carlos Escoto, psychology professor and director of Eastern’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity. “We had students from 15 different departments represented and the majority of presenters were students outside of the university’s Honors Program.”

Departments ranged from Environmental Earth Science to Music, Economics to Health Science, Mathematics to Visual Arts. Research topics included global water shortages; media and mental illness stigma; childhood poverty and educational outcomes; non-drug therapies and cancer patients; political rhetoric; and much more.

• Eastern student Elizabeth Hilton ’18 presents “Sleep Hygiene, Psychological Distress and Acceptability of Sleep Hygiene Practices in College Students” to a packed room at NCUR 2018.

Escoto continued: “This ranking, coupled with our first Goldwater Scholar (Jacob Dayton ’18), a second Fulbright award recipient in two years (Adam Murphy ’18), and many more students succeeding in the realm of research, speaks to the quality of instruction and faculty mentorship at Eastern.”

Reflecting on her experience at the 2017 NCUR conference in Memphis, TN, communication major Olivia Godin ’19 said, “Presenting at NCUR has been one of the most valuable experiences in my collegiate career. I was able to give an oral presentation to several students and professors about my research, which discussed the differences between how men and women communicate – a project I spent several months working on with my advisor.”

“Learning to conduct research is a major component of a liberal arts education,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “That is why Eastern is committed to supporting our undergraduate students so they can conduct research and present it at regional and national conferences. We know that students who are engaged in applied learning activities such as research projects get better grades and graduate at higher rates.”

The National Conference on Undergraduate Research was established in 1987. From a pool of several thousand applicants, students are accepted into the conference if their research demonstrates a unique contribution to their field of study. NCUR offers undergraduates the opportunity to present their research findings to peers, faculty and staff from colleges and universities across the nation, providing a unique networking and learning opportunity.

Written by Michael Rouleau