Dining Hall Institutes Programs to Eliminate Food Waste

dining hall shotWith the cooperation of students, faculty and staff, Eastern Connecticut State University’s Hurley Dining Hall has taken steps to help eliminate waste by cutting back on the trash that the dining hall produces each day.

The first step was the elimination of trays. In the past, students grabbed a tray and loaded as much food on as many plates as they wanted. Over the past two years trays have been removed, forcing students to take only the food they can carry. “This was a good move for us,” said Jeffrey Kwolek, senior director of dining services. “Students were wasting full plates of food because they thought they were that hungry. Now not as much food is wasted.”

The second step the dining services took was the “Food Recovery Program,” which repurposes leftover food. “I don’t like to see food thrown away,” said Kwolek. “We have a leftover rack that at the end of the day would just get tossed, so I thought why not let someone else eat it.”

Eastern has a strong partnership with the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic; students, faculty, sports teams and other Eastern community members volunteer their time to help those in need at the kitchen. Now, Hurley Hall has partnered with the Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) to arrange for the leftover food to be repurposed and sent to the soup kitchen twice a week. “More than 400 portions of food are sent every week,” said Kwolek. “This has definitely made a positive impact. Our wasted food isn’t going into the trash anymore; it’s going to people who can use it.”

The last program Hurley is participating in is a “Compositing Program.” This program is used to turn the waste that Hurley generates into energy and fuel. Instead of the trash being sent to waste management systems it is being sent to the Bio Power Plant in Southington CT.

“It’s important we do as much as we can to become a good partner with the community,” said Kwolek. “The programs we are trying are good ways to support that.”


Eastern’s Carmen Cid Receives National Recognition

Cid started at Eastern in 1987, working as a professor of ecology for 17 years; she has served as dean of the School of Arts and Sciences for the last 12 years.

Cid started at Eastern in 1987, working as a professor of ecology for 17 years; she has served as dean of the School of Arts and Sciences for the last 12 years.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Pioneering ecologist Carmen Cid, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been elected a 2017 Fellow of the Ecological Society of America (ESA). The lifetime achievement award honors ESA members who have made outstanding contributions to the field of ecology—the study of how organisms interact with their environments—through research, education and outreach.

“My life’s work has focused on pioneering a multicultural urban ecology curriculum and implementing leadership programs to help recruit and retain undergraduate and graduate women and minorities in ecology,” said Cid. “Being elected by the ESA to its selective fellows community validates my work in ecology over the course of more than 30 years.

“When I started, there were few women in ecology and none from Latin America,” continued Cid. “I have worked to create bridges between cultures and the scientific field of ecology.”

Among Cid’s proudest achievements is the development of the Spanish/English curriculum “The Urban Ecologist,” which is part of the series “Wonderwise: Women in Science.” Used throughout the United States, Canada and the Philippines, the curriculum has become a standard in after-school programs, focused on engaging middle school-aged girls in the study of forest and wetland ecology. The project was funded by the National Science Foundation and Howard Hughes Foundation.

Taken in 1998 for the award-winning “Wonderwise” series, this photo depicts Cid in the pond at Eastern’s on-campus Arboretum, assessing plant biodiversity in the wetland.

Taken in 1998 for the award-winning “Wonderwise” series, this photo depicts Cid in the pond at Eastern’s on-campus Arboretum, assessing plant biodiversity in the wetland.

At Eastern, Cid has also been a champion of experiential learning, engaging students in ecological field work in the Arboretum—Eastern’s on-campus nature preserve—and the nearby Church Farm Center for the Arts and Sciences. As both a professor and dean, she has used the principles of ecology to develop Eastern’s campus into a more sustainable setting, helping it to become nationally recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Green College” for the past seven years.

“I am lucky to have worked for 30 years at a university that promotes the values of ecology and understands its greater effects on society,” she said of Eastern.

Cid has been a member of the ESA for 39 years. Among her contributions, she was the founding chair of the ESA Women and Minorities Committee and developed the first strategic plan to improve the recruitment and retention of women and minorities in ecology. She is currently the committee chair of the ESA Commitment to Human Diversity Award—an award she won in 2012.

With a membership of more than 10,000, the ESA elected Cid as one of only 27 fellows in 2017, and one of only three from New England. The organization elected Cid “For her ESA leadership and contributions enhancing ecology education outreach to diverse audiences, recruitment and retention of women and minorities in ecology, and applying ecological principles to improve undergraduate liberal arts education.”

The ESA fellows program was created in 2012 with the goal of honoring its members and supporting their competitiveness and advancement to leadership positions in the ESA, at their institutions and in the broader society. Past ESA Fellows are listed at http://www.esa.org/esa/about/esa-awards/esa-awards/esa-fellows-program/esa-fellows/.

Eastern Joins Colleges Nationwide to Urge Action on Climate Change

The community garden is a collaborative project of Eastern and Grow Windham. Located on the Eastern campus, the food harvested at this community resource is donated to local community organizations, like the Covenant Soup Kitchen.

The community garden is a collaborative project of Eastern and Grow Windham. Located on the Eastern campus, the food harvested at this community resource is donated to local community organizations, like the Covenant Soup Kitchen.

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — Elsa Núñez, president of Eastern Connecticut State University, has joined two other Connecticut university presidents as well as those from colleges and universities in 35 other states, in urging President-Elect Donald Trump and incoming congressional representatives to accelerate progress toward a clean energy future. Nunez joins Michal Roth, president of Wesleyan University, and Susan Herbst, president of the University of Connecticut, as well as 170 others from across the country.

Through their open letter, organized by a diverse group of higher education institutions and the Boston-based nonprofit Second Nature, higher education leaders are calling on elected officials to support participation in the Paris Agreement, climate research and investment in a low-carbon economy.

“The upcoming transition of federal leadership presents a unique opportunity to address head-on the challenges of climate change by accelerating the new energy economy and creating strong, resilient communities,” wrote the group. “We are committed to developing and deploying innovative climate solutions that provide a prosperous future for all Americans.”

The group of schools expressed their alignment with the business and investment communities in supporting the science-based targets outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement.

The 400-kilowatt phosphoric acid fuel cell next to the Science Building was installed in 2012. Electricity generated by the fuel cell supplies a majority of the power needed to run this building.

The 400-kilowatt phosphoric acid fuel cell next to the Science Building was installed in 2012. Electricity generated by the fuel cell supplies a majority of the power needed to run this building.

Eastern has been taking climate action for years, including voluntarily setting carbon neutrality goals and publicly reporting progress through a program called the Climate Leadership Commitment.

In the past year, Eastern has improved recycling on campus; opened the new Fine Arts Instructional Center, which is built to LEED standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design); and adopted a “trayless” system in the dining hall to reduce food waste, energy and water use.

“I am pleased to join other universities in America in calling for strong leadership in Washington, D.C., on climate change,” said Elsa Núñez, president of Eastern. “At Eastern, we intend to continue our commitment to climate action on our campus and in Connecticut communities.”

For more about sustainability at Eastern, visit:  www.easternct.edu/sustainability. A full list of schools supporting the open letter can be found at www.secondnature.org/higher-education-climate-action-letter.

Eastern Featured in The Princeton Review’s 2016 List of Green Colleges

Michael Rouleau

: The rear façade of the new Fine Arts Instructional Center — currently under review for receiving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

The rear façade of the new Fine Arts Instructional Center — currently under review for receiving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

Willimantic, CT — Eastern Connecticut State University is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges according to The Princeton Review. The Review featured Eastern in its 2016 “Guide to 361 Green Colleges,” published on Oct. 4 and available at www.princetonreview.com/green-guide.
This is the seventh year in a row that Eastern has made the list of the nation’s top green colleges, which is based on data from the Princeton Review’s 2015-16 survey of hundreds of four-year colleges concerning their commitment to the environment and sustainability.

“We are proud to again be recognized as an environmentally-friendly school by this important publication,” said Lynn Stoddard, director of Eastern’s Institute for Sustainable Energy. “We’re happy that today’s college students value sustainability, and that our institutional efforts to minimize environmental impact have not gone unnoticed.”

In addition to a strong environmental earth science program and university initiatives that emphasize sustainability, Eastern’s campus boasts four LEED-certified buildings featuring daylight harvesting and gray-water systems, recycled flooring, native plants and biofilter systems to reduce rainwater runoff.

Furthermore, the ISE addresses energy issues in the region by supporting the development of sound public energy policy, providing K-12 energy education and professional development, and solutions to community resource issues.

“We strongly recommend Eastern and the other fine colleges in this guide to the many environmentally-minded students who seek to study and live at green colleges,” said The
Princeton Review’s Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher.

Franek noted the growing interest the company has seen among college-bound students in green colleges. “Among more than 10,000 teens and parents who participated in our 2016 College Hopes & Worries Survey, 61 percent told us that having information about a school’s commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the college.”

Profiles of Green Colleges found in The Princeton Review’s Guide include “Green Facts” about the schools with details on the availability of transportation alternatives at the schools and the percentage of the school food budgets spent on local/organic food.

The Princeton Review chose the colleges based on “Green Rating” scores (from 60 to 99) that the company tallied in summer 2016 for 640 colleges using data from its 2015-16 survey of school administrators. The survey asked them to report on their school’s sustainability-related policies, practices and programs. More than 25 data points were considered in the assessment.
Schools with Green Rating scores of 80 or higher made it into the guide

Eastern Connecticut State University Participates in Annual Sustainability Week

Written by Christina Rossomando

Sustainability-CampusWillimantic CT- Eastern Connecticut State University will be hosting the Second Annual Campus Sustainability Week from Oct. 1-7. The Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) will host numerous events for students, faculty and staff designed to promote sustainable actions throughout the state’s higher education institutions.

This weeklong celebration is being coordinated by the Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability, which is a network that encourages state universities to address challenges at local and state levels. The collection of events is intended to contribute to the states discussion of the importance of sustainability across college campuses. Events for this year are as follows:

Oct. 1: Eastern’s rugby team will be hosting a green rugby game in honor of sustainability week at 1 pm.

Oct. 3: CT Rides will be leading a workshop, “Alternative Transportation for Residents of Mansfield, Manchester or Windham” at 12 pm in hopes to teach students the benefits of carpooling and vanpooling and the options that are available.

Oct. 4: The Department of Environmental Earth Science will sponsor the screening of the award winning documentary “Sustainable.” There will be two showings, one beginning at 11 a.m. and the other at 12:30 p.m. The ISE will also be hosting a book swap event at 372 High Street between 2-6 pm. Bring a book you have already read and swap with another individual for a book you want to read.

Oct. 5: Robert Scott, project manager of the wastewater treatment faculty at UConn, will deliver a presentation during the FYI 100 Green Business Models class at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. in Goddard 223.

Oct. 6: The Willimantic Co-op will have a table outside the Student Center in hopes of educating students, faculty and staff about their produce and the benefits of becoming a member. The ISE’s Alyssa Norwood will be leading the “Connecticut Airline Trail,” a walking tour beginning at 1 pm.

Oct. 7: Beginning at 9 am students, staff and faculty are invited to assist the ISE and Grow Windham as they clean up Eastern’s community garden and prepare it for the winter. Students also have the opportunity beginning at 11 am to clean up Eastern’s Arboretum. Volunteers will assist by clearing trash and recyclables.

The week will wrap up in Student Center 223 with a Guest speaker from Yale University who will present on Sustainable development goals at 2 pm.

The Courant Names Eastern a 2016 Top Workplace

Written by Michael Rouleau

Top Places LogoWillimantic, CT — For the fifth time in the past six years, the Hartford Courant has recognized Eastern Connecticut State University in its “Top Workplaces” survey. With 961 employees, Eastern ranked fourth in the “large” category, and was the only higher education institution to be recognized among 61 organizations in Hartford, Middlesex, Tolland, Windham and New London counties. Results were published on Sept. 18 in the Hartford Courant.

Surveys were administered on behalf of the Courant by WorkplaceDynamics LLP, a research and consulting firm that has compiled top employer lists for some of the nation’s largest media outlets. Rankings were based on confidential survey results completed by employees of the participating organizations.
The survey included 24 statements, with employees asked to assess each one on a scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” Topics included organizational direction, workplace conditions, effectiveness, managers and compensation. Each company was assigned a score based on a formula.
Survey statements included: “This company operates by strong values and ethics”; “I have confidence in the leader of this company”; “I have the flexibility I need to balance my work and personal life”; for example.

“We are honored to be recognized as a top workplace in Connecticut,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “While Eastern was recognized in the large organization category, our campus has always prided itself on its sense of community and for being a welcoming, inclusive environment for students, their families and the community-at-large. This announcement is a wonderful reminder that Eastern is a great workplace for our faculty and staff and I am delighted that we were among those recognized.”

Eastern Jumps Seven Places in U.S. News and World Report Rankings

Written by Ed Osborn
US News and World Report-FlagsEastern Connecticut State University moved up seven places among regional universities in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 edition of “Best Colleges” to 85th overall; Eastern was also tied for 26th place among public universities on the list. The annual rankings were released on Sept. 13.

Eastern was the highest ranked university among the four Connecticut state universities, and this year’s ranking was Eastern’s best ever.

Regional universities such as Eastern are ranked on the basis of 16 criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, admissions selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. The North Region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

US News and World Report-Campus Scene“I am gratified to see Eastern achieve its highest ranking ever in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 Best Colleges report,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “Our commitment to academic excellence, our focus on student engagement and the introduction of new majors have resulted in strong scores for such criteria as academic reputation, student selectivity, faculty resources and alumni giving. Students and their families turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help decide where to attend college.  These new rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a quality, affordable liberal arts education on our beautiful residential campus.”
US News and World Report- Residential Halls ExteriorThis year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of 1,374 schools nationwide and are available at www.usnews.com/colleges. They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2017 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands on Oct. 4.

Governor’s Council on Climate Change to Hold Public Input Meeting at Eastern

Climate Commitment logoWillimantic, CT — The Governor’s Council on Climate Change is holding meetings around the state on July 26 to update the public on the status of Connecticut’s climate change planning efforts and to solicit input on policy scenarios needed to achieve the state’s ambitious climate change goals.
A central stakeholder event will be held in Hartford, with presentations streamed to 10 satellite locations, including Willimantic. The Willimantic session takes place from 5:30–7:30 p.m. in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Room in the J. Eugene Smith Library at Eastern Connecticut State University. Other satellite events will be held in Bridgeport, Goshen, Groton, Killingly/Dayville, Middletown, New Haven, Norwalk and Waterbury.

Governor Malloy established the GC3 through executive order to establish interim targets and make recommendations to achieve the state’s climate change goals.  Connecticut’s long-term target is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050.
Nearly 200 people participated in the first round of stakeholder meetings held on May 5.  Those participating in the July 26 stakeholder meetings will have an opportunity to learn about the initial results of greenhouse gas emissions modeling scenarios and engage in discussions about some of the policy implications of the initial results.

The event is free and refreshments will be served.  Participants are asked to register in advance. To register and to learn more, visit bit.ly/GC3-July26 or contact John Humphries at john.humphries1664@gmail.com or (860) 216-7972.  For more information, visit www.CTClimateandJobs.org.

Eastern Named a 2016-17 College of Distinction


Innovative application of high impact educational practices at Eastern Connecticut State University has earned the school recognition among the nation’s Colleges of Distinction. Eastern students earned college credit and valuable life experience while participating in study abroad programs in 17 countries, as well as through service learning, undergraduate research, and internships.

“We’re so happy to recognize Eastern for developing skills relevant to graduates’ lives,” said Tyson Schritter, executive editor for Colleges of Distinction. “High student engagement in college is one of the keys to a successful undergraduate education. With an increasing emphasis on hands-on learning techniques, Colleges of Distinction applauds Eastern for practicing methodologies that prepare students for their futures.”

Schools must demonstrate results across four distinctions—Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community, and Successful Outcomes. High school counselors and educators make nominations, and each school is evaluated on key indicators including student engagement, student empowerment and curricular innovation. Colleges that have distinguished themselves in each of the four distinctions and that have demonstrated dedication to enriching student outcomes through innovative learning opportunities are then invited to join Colleges of Distinction.

The annual process to select the nation’s Colleges of Distinction also includes a review of each institution’s freshman experience, as well as its general education program, strategic plan, and alumni success and satisfaction measures.

“Colleges of Distinction is more than an annual ranking of colleges and universities. We only include colleges that offer every student a holistic and valuable experience,” said Schritter. “The Colleges of Distinction have earned solid reputations for serving their students and nurturing success. Like Eastern, our member schools provide the affirming undergraduate experience every student deserves.”

To view Eastern’s profile or to find more information about the innovative learning experiences it offers, visit CollegesofDistinction.com.



Eastern Named Connecticut’s 2016 “Hidden Gem” College


College Raptor, a free college matching platform, has named Eastern Connecticut State University the best hidden gem institution in Connecticut in an announcement published on May 12.

This marks the second year of the Hidden Gem program, which highlights colleges and universities around the country that may be overlooked by students weighing their college options. Hidden Gems colleges are determined based on the number of applicants, the number of enrolled students, and the institution’s national ranking, according to data obtained by College Raptor through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

“There are many great colleges across the country,” said Tyler Hakes, director of marketing at College Raptor. “In some cases, you have colleges ranked in the top 150 or 200 schools in the nation, but they receive relatively few applicants simply because they don’t have the brand name of other institutions.

In order to qualify, institutions must have received fewer than 5,000 applications in the previous application cycle for which data is available and enroll at least 1,000 undergraduate students. From this set, the top-ranked college was selected from each state.

The national ranking or “Overall Ranking” is determined based on academic and outcome data, including graduation rate, selectivity, student-to-faculty ratio and other factors.

Eastern was one of 49 institutions recognized across the country. One college was named from each state, with the exception of Alaska, which did not have an institution meeting the criteria for recognition. The announcement is meant to call attention to institutions which may be overlooked by many students but stand out in terms of academic rigor and student success.

View the full list of Hidden Gems colleges here: http://bit.ly/HiddenGems2016