Eastern Hosts Concert to ‘Remember and Reflect’ Sandy Hook

Written by Raven Dillon

WILLIMANTIC, CT (11/13/2018) On Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Instructional Center Concert Hall, the Music Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will host a concert titled “Remembrance and Reflection.” The concert is dedicated to Victoria Soto’s memory and the other victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting in December 2012. Soto graduated from Eastern in 2008. All donations at the door will go to the Victoria Soto Scholarship fund.

The Eastern Concert Chorale and Chamber Singers, conducted by David Belles and accompanied by Eric Ouellette on the piano, will perform alongside the Eastern Wind Ensemble, which will be conducted by Kelly Watkins.

The concert will explore themes of birth, life and ultimate peace, showcased through pieces such as “In the Bleak Midwinter,” a Christmas carol based on a poem by Christine Rossetti, a 17th century poet. “We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace” will also be featured as a reflection on the peace and resting place through the ultimate sacrifice of giving one’s life.

“Into the Silent Land,” composed by Steve Danyew, will also make its regional premiere at this concert. Danyew, who grew up less than a mile from Sandy Hook Elementary School, was moved to create a piece of remembrance for the victims and their families.

On this piece, Danyew writes, “Through the simple idea of remembering-not forgetting that this happened, not forgetting these children, not forgetting the grief that their families must feel-I realized this is when I wanted and needed to communicate through music.”

 

Eastern Celebrates Veterans Day 100 Years after WWI

Speakers at this year’s ceremony included, left to right: VP of Student Affairs Walter Diaz, VET Center Coordinator Rebekah Avery, Brigadier General Ralph Hedenberg, Father Laurence LaPointe and President Elsa Núñez.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern Connecticut State University held its annual Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 9 in the Student Center. Two days before the 100th anniversary of the close of World War I (Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918), the ceremony featured remarks by Eastern dignitaries as well as distinguished guest Brigadier General Ralph Hedenberg.

The Natchaug River Young Marines.

Following the Presentation of Colors by the Natchaug River Young Marines and the national anthem by Eastern’s Chamber Singers vocal ensemble, Father Laurence LaPointe of the Campus Ministry shared his reflections.

“There are none of us left who remember that day 100 years ago,” he said of the first Armistice Day. “The horrors of WWI, the horrible loss of life, 37 million people died… Because of the valor of those who died, the sacrifice that nations make to give up their young is why we cherish those who come home.

“As they grow old,” he said of combat veterans, “they often are reluctant to tell their stories. We must never forget the devastation of war.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Walter Diaz shifted the focus of the ceremony to Eastern’s campus. “Today we celebrate the vets who live, work and study on this campus. We enjoy a true democracy because of their sacrifice.

“Reflect on this past Tuesday, Nov. 6, voting day,” he continued. “You were able to vote – Democrat, Republican, independent and any other party – because of this democracy.”

President Elsa Núñez called attention to Eastern’s distinction as one of the “Best Colleges for Veterans” in the North by U.S. News and World Report.

“We have nearly 150 active-duty military and veterans enrolled at Eastern this semester,” she said. “The VETS Center, under the leadership of veteran Rebekah Avery ’94, not only offers a unique space on campus, but also the expertise to help veterans access the services and support they’ve earned and deserve.

“To me, our military represents the great diversity of America itself, and reflects how we are evolving as a nation and as a people,” continued Núñez, referring to Pew Research Center data that shows 40 percent of active-duty military personnel in 2015 were made up of ethnic minority groups. “They all took the same oath: ‘To support and defend the Constitution of the United States; to bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and to obey the orders of the president of the United States.'”

Conducted by Music Professor David Belles, the Eastern Chamber Singers sang the national anthem as wells the hymn “We Shall Walk through the Valley in Peace.”

Brigadier General Hedenberg delivered the ceremony’s keynote address. A decorated veteran himself, Hedenberg is currently director of the joint staff of Joint Force Headquarters, Connecticut Army National Guard.

“There are approximately 190 militaries around the world, but we are the only one that takes an oath to an ideal – the Constitution – not to a monarch,” he said.

“Our understanding of Veterans Day has evolved over the years. Armistice Day 100 years ago was a day of remembrance for those who died in WWI. That was meant to be the ‘war to end all wars,’ but we’ve fought many since.

“After WWII, our veterans came home as heroes,” he continued. “The holiday became more festive; a celebration of success. The day commemorated both World Wars.

“Then came the Korean War, which some call the forgotten war; that’s unfair, as those soldiers fought hard as any. The Vietnam War was one of social unrest and protest, but those soldiers fought hard nonetheless.”

Speaking to the United States’ other conflicts, Hedenberg said that as a people we’ve learned to separate the politics of war from its participants. “People aren’t ‘in’ the army,” he said. “They ‘are’ the army. They represent themselves as well as those who came before them, and those who will come after.”

In closing the event, Avery, coordinator of the VETS Center, called attention to Willimantic’s new Veterans Coffeehouse. Starting Nov. 28, the coffeehouse will occur every Wednesday from 9-11 a.m. at the Salvation Army at 316 Pleasant Street, Willimantic. The Veterans Coffeehouse is open to all veterans to meet, socialize and discuss benefits and services.

‘Cabaret’ Swings Eastern Theatregoers back to Nazi Germany

Written by Michael Rouleau

The first theatrical production of the fall 2018 semester at Eastern Connecticut State University was “Cabaret,” the Tony Award-winning musical set on the eve of Nazi-controlled Germany. With six performances between Oct. 18 and 28, theatregoers were dazzled by a stage set in the seedy Kit Kat Klub in early-1930s Germany, a time rife with political tensions that ultimately brought Adolf Hitler to power.

The Kit Kat Klub is a promiscuous nightclub whose patrons seem happily oblivious to the shifting culture and crumbling society outside. Cliff Bradshaw (Harold Gagne ’20) is an American writer seeking inspiration. He finds his way into the ‘klub’ and becomes enamored with one of the dancers, Sally Bowles (Zoe Czerenda ’19). Cliff is quick to notice the rising Nazi movement, but Sally and her Kit Kat patrons would rather not think about politics.

Eastern’s rendition of “Cabaret” was directed by Eastern alumna and adjunct faculty member Nichola Johnson ’05. In her director’s notes, Johnson describes 1932 Berlin as a city in chaos, with economic hardships that severely stratified the country since the end of World War I.

“With German citizens hungry, out of work and hopelessly dreaming of a better future, a rising extremist movement calls for hatred of the ‘other,’ the ‘other’ including Jews, African immigrants and gay people,” writes Johnson. “The rising populace is schooled to believe in a gloriously revived Germany, a Germany that returns to the purity of its roots.”

Further describing the cultural context of early-1930s Germany, Johnson mentions the rising condemnation of artists and intellectuals, misogyny and ethnic intolerance. “It is deeply disturbing,” she writes, “that almost a century later, we are locked in the same struggles for acceptance and human rights, newly made acute by waves of populism taking hold all over the world.”

“I’m grateful to have had the honor to participate in such a culturally relevant show,” said Edward Lorsin ’21, who played Max, the owner of the Kit Kat Klub. “The themes within this decades-old musical highlight societal struggles that people continue to deal with today.”

Showcased in the Proscenium Theatre of Eastern’s Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC), the set for “Cabaret” featured an elevated platform from which a band of contracted musicians played jazz and swing music. On either side of the platform were stairs leading down to the stage, which served as swanky staircases for the Kit Kat girls to dance on.

Staying true to the form of theatre that is “cabaret,” the play featured a flamboyant emcee (Jacob Buckley ’21) and risqué musical numbers and choreography, including an act where the ensemble dressed and danced in drag.

“The choreography was so different from what I’m used to,” said Hannah Avena ’21, who played a Kit Kat girl named Helga. “We had to make contorted shapes with our bodies. To act in a play from a different time period – the way the people dressed and conveyed themselves – was fascinating to me.”

“Cabaret” was originally a book by Joe Masteroff, based on the play “I Am a Camera” by John Van Druten, which was adapted from the novel “Goodbye to Berlin” by Christopher Isherwood.

“Most of the characters are based on real people,” explained Hannah Zammarieh ’20, the play’s dramaturg. Cliff Bradshaw, for instance, is based on Christopher Isherwood himself, who lived in Berlin from 1929-1933 for the purpose of writing a novel: “Goodbye to Berlin.”

“While there are no exact dates for the timeline of the show, based on the time that Isherwood was in Berlin, it can be assumed that the action of the musical takes place during the time when Adolf Hitler was just coming into power,” said Zammarieh. By 1934, one year after Isherwood’s departure from Germany, Hitler had named himself fuehrer (leader) of Germany.

Musical direction for “Cabaret” was provided by Anthony Pandolfe. In addition to an extensive musical career as a freelancer who has performed in such prestigious locations as the Vatican, Pandolfe is director-of-bands at Edwin O. Smith High School in Mansfield. Director Johnson also served as choreographer. In addition to being a lecturer at Eastern, she is the founder of The Complex Performing and Creative Arts Centre in Putnam, CT.

Eastern to Present ‘Music Still Speaks’ Choral Concert

The Eastern Concert Chorale and Chamber Singers at Eastern Connecticut State University will present “Music Still Speaks” on Nov. 4 at 2:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center. In addition to the two Eastern ensembles, the choral concert will feature performances by Choir Matrix Women’s Ensemble and Consonare Youth Chorus, as well as dancers from the local dance school Thread City Classical Dance.

The Consonare Choral Community is a new community-based program created to explore and cultivate a sense of consonance and community through singing together in Mansfield and surrounding areas. The community has a number of programs intended to nurture all levels of singers and allow all to participate in choral opportunities regardless of financial constraints. Choirs sponsored by Consonare include Choir Matrix Women’s Ensemble, conducted by Sarah Kaufold, and Consonare Youth Chorus, conducted by Kate Smallidge.

“Music Still Speaks” will feature choral works with compelling texts – many by living composers – to encourage and empower silenced voices to speak and sing. The concert will close with a performance featuring all four choirs.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern Music Program to Hold 6 November Performances

S.O.Y. Piano Trio at a prior concert in Eastern’s FAIC Concert Hall.

Written by Jolene Potter

The Music Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will offer six performances in November, ranging from faculty recitals to guest ensembles. All events will be held in the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) Concert Hall. Admission for all concerts is free; donations are gratefully accepted at the door.

On Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m., the Faculty Recital Series will present “Night Reflection: S.O.Y. Piano Trio Multi-Media Concert.” Collaborating with Eastern’s theatre and visual arts faculty members, the S.O.Y Piano Trio (violinist Seulye Park, pianist Okon Hwang and cellist YunYang Lin) will present compositions inspired by, or evocative of, Ernest Bloch, Reynaldo Hahn, Astor Piazzolla and Gaspar Cassado.

On Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m., Eastern’s woodwind faculty will present a combined recital as part of the Music Program’s Faculty Recital Series. Faculty members Amanda Baker (flute), Christopher Howard (clarinet), Joshua Thomas (saxophones) and David Ballena (piano) will present an evening of music by American composers. Featured on the program will be Simeon Bellison’s “Four Hebraic Pictures” and Neil Thornock’s “Moongarden” for flute and saxophone in addition to works by Robert Muczynski and Arthur Kreiger.

On Nov. 4 at 2:30 p.m., Eastern Concert Chorale and Chamber Singers, directed by David Belles, will host a choral concert titled “Music Still Speaks”. Joined by Choir Matrix Women’s Ensemble, directed by Sarah Kaufold, and Consonare Youth Chorus, directed by Kate Smallidge, the concert will feature performances by each ensemble and a final selection performed by all four choirs.

On Nov. 10 at 2:30 p.m., the Charter Oak Brass Band (formerly “Classic Brass”) will celebrate their 30th anniversary season with a concert featuring highly anticipated new works, composed in celebration of 30 years of brass band performance in Connecticut. The Charter Oak Brass Band is a 28-piece musical ensemble whose distinctive sound comes from its all-brass instrumentation. Based on the British brass band model, the group combines cornets, trombones and tubas with less familiar instruments, such as upright tenor horns and euphoniums, to produce its unique, thrilling and dramatic sound.

On Nov. 11 at 3 p.m., the Music Program will host the Willimantic Philharmonic Orchestra, a non-profit community orchestra dedicated to the performance of symphonic orchestral music. Their upcoming concert will feature works by Bian Balmages, Frank Miholland and Antonín Dvorák.

On Nov 16, the Music Program will present guest ensemble Night’s Blackbird. Night’s Blackbird is an early-music ensemble based out of Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. Members of the ensemble will perform at 12 p.m. in room 110 of the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC), as well as work with Eastern voice students on the interpretation and presentation of several lute ayres at 1:30 p.m. in the FAIC Concert Hall.

Eastern Theatre Presents ‘Cabaret’ Musical

Written by Jolene Potter

WILLIMANTIC, CT (10/02/2018) The Theatre Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will present the Tony Award-winning musical “Cabaret” from Oct. 18 to 29 in the Proscenium Theatre of the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC). Directed by Nichola Johnson with musical direction by Anthony Pandolfe, “Cabaret” is a love story set in the turmoil of pre-World War II Germany.

This iconic musical takes place in the world of the “Kit Kat Klub” in 1932, on the eve of Hitler’s rise to power, and tells the story of Cliff Bradshaw, a young American writer newly arrived in Berlin, who falls in love with cabaret singer Sally Bowles.

Speaking to the conflicts facing the world during the 1930s, Jonson said, “It is deeply disturbing to recognize that almost a century later, we are locked in the same struggles for acceptance and human rights, newly made acute by waves of populism taking hold all over the world.

“Cabaret has always been one of my favorite plays,” said Johnson. “It forces the viewer to take off the ‘rose-colored glasses’ and wake up. Through the lens of the Kit Kat Klub, everything is beautiful, but is it real?”

Winner of multiple Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical, the show’s musical numbers include “Money,” “Willkommen,” “Maybe This Time” and the title hit “Cabaret.”

“Cabaret” will be presented in the FAIC Proscenium Theater on October 18, 19, 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m., October 21 and 28 at 4 p.m. and October 25 at 5:30 p.m.

Tickets are free for Eastern students; $5 for other students and groups of 10 or more; $10 for Eastern faculty, staff, alumni and senior citizens; and $20 for the general public. For reservations, phone the box office at (860) 465-5123 or email theatreboxoffice@easternct.edu.

 

Eastern Music Program to Host 6 September-October Events

The Eastern Wind Ensemble will be joined by members of Eastern Opera Workshop on Oct. 13 in their fall concert “Art of Song.”

The Music Program at Eastern Connecticut State University will offer six performances in late September and October. Ranging from jazz to opera, there will be something for everyone! All events will be held in the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) Concert Hall. Admission for all concerts is free; donations are gratefully accepted at the door.

On Sept. 26 at 3 p.m., internationally acclaimed soprano Carmen Balthrop will present a public voice masterclass as part of Eastern’s University Hour Series. Balthrop has appeared with major opera companies throughout North America including The Metropolitan, Canadian, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami, Seattle and Houston, as well as making her Broadway debut in the Palace Theater in Scott Joplin’s “Treemonisha.” As a sought-after voice pedagogue, she will guide students through a discovery of their own vocal and expressive potential.

On Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m., the Music Program will open the 2018-2019 Faculty Recital Series with a recital by the percussion duo “Confluence.” Faculty members Jeff Calissi and Matt Bronson will collaborate on a diverse program for percussion duo, including the premiere of Calissi’s new work “Modus Vivendi” for mallet and world percussion. The concert will also include Eastern percussion students on an arrangement of “Big Country” by Béla Fleck. 

On Oct. 6 at 7 p.m., guest ensemble Ensemble/Parallax will return to Eastern to perform a series of contemporary works, including a new composition by Professor Anthony Cornicello.  Ensemble/Parallax is renowned for their diverse performance repertoire including 20th- and 21st-century masterworks and European avant-garde music, often presented alongside multimedia and video art from artists around the world. This event is co-sponsored by the Music Society and New England Foundation for the Arts.

On Oct. 13 at 2:30 p.m., the Eastern Wind Ensemble will be joined by members of Eastern Opera Workshop in their fall concert “Art of Song.” The concert will feature works by influential composers including Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. The program will feature several collaborations between Eastern students, faculty and guest artists, including a performance of Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” with soprano Emily Riggs. 

On Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m., the Eastern Concert Band will celebrate the life and music of iconic American composer, conductor and pianist Leonard Bernstein with their concert “Bernstein at 100.”

On Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m., YouTube sensation Derek Brown will present a concert featuring his unique performance style that combines his classical training as a saxophonist with beat boxing and vocals. The following day, Oct. 26, Brown will present a public masterclass as part of the Music Program’s Colloquium Series.

Written by Jolene Potter

Eastern to Host September-October University Hour Events

Connecticut State Comptroller Kevin Lembo is a past University Hour guest, who spoke on “being out” in politics as a gay man.

Written by Jordan Corey

Eastern Connecticut State University is hosting a variety of University Hour events this fall 2018 semester. This free and open-to-the-public series of guest lectures and performances occurs on Wednesdays from 3-4 p.m. in locations across campus. Upcoming University Hours for late September and October include:

On Sept. 26 in the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) Concert Hall, Carmen Balthrop-Metropolitan Opera alumna and first-place winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Competition-will share her experience as an international opera singer and highly sought-after voice pedagogue. Balthrop will select five students for participation in a public masterclass during which she will address issues of vocal technique and presentation.

On Oct. 3 in the Student Center Theatre, veteran Bruce Weigl will discuss his latest book of poetry, “On the Shores of the Welcome Home.” His previous collection, “The Abundance of Nothing,” was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Weigl’s Vietnam War experiences inspire much of his work. “The paradox of my life as a writer,” he has said, “is that the war ruined my life and in return gave me my voice.”

On Oct. 17 in the Student Center Theatre, Professor James Lawler of Pace University will share a recent project that uses augmented reality (AR) to improve the performance of students with developmental and learning disabilities, including several videos he produced to document the process. AR is a view of a real-world environment with elements that are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptions.

On Oct. 24 in the Student Center Theatre, a presentation will advocate for a transformation of Puerto Rico’s electric grid, with rooftop solar communities that pool available resources to operate as microgrids. The human suffering caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has been immense. The catastrophe exposed the lack of maintenance to the grid and the lack of environmental planning.

On Oct. 31 in the Student Center Threatre, Winona LaDuke of the Anishinaabe tribe-an internationally renowned environmentalist, Native rights advocate, author and former vice-presidential candidate for the Green Party in the United States-will discuss restoring systems that have long been considered sacred. LaDuke works on issues of climate change, renewable energy, sustainable development, food systems and environmental justice.

Eastern Welcomes New Full-Time Faculty, Staff

Eastern Connecticut State University welcomed several new full-time faculty and administrative staff to the campus community this fall. They include Eastern alumni, former adjunct professors and scholars from across the country and beyond. Their knowledge and expertise will benefit students and the University as a whole as they settle into departments across campus. Eastern’s new hires include:

Academic faculty

Education

Caitlin Tenney

Caitlin Tenney is a new assistant professor in the Department of Education.  She is interested in working on projects that advocate for women and minorities in science and science education. Tenney has taught science at the high school level and served as an adjunct instructor in Eastern’s Biology Department. She has a master’s degree in secondary science education from the University of Massachusetts.

“Eastern is a special place and teaching here is a privilege,” said Tenney, who enjoys working with students of different backgrounds as well as her passionate and supportive colleagues. “I hope to bring a powerful energy and love of learning to my students. I want to prepare them to be great teachers who will make a positive and lasting impact in this world.”

Outside of academia, Tenney loves to travel and enjoys outdoor activities such as snowboarding and swimming in the ocean. She also loves spending time with her four-year-old twins and cheering on her husband’s hockey team.

Heather Bassett

Heather Bassett ’09 is a new assistant professor in the Department of Education. A graduate of Eastern’s early childhood education program, she is currently working on her doctoral degree in early childhood special education at the University of Connecticut. She is interested in family-centered practices and the infusion of creativity into the classroom.

“I hope to bring out my students’ unique talents and strengths,” said Bassett. “It is my mission to empower students so they have what it takes to teach in the ever-changing 21st century.”

Outside of work, Bassett enjoys spending time with her husband and two young sons. She and her husband are also licensed real estate agents who buy, sell and renovate properties. 

Matthew Puhlick is a new assistant professor in the Department of Education. A two-time graduate of Eastern (undergraduate degree in 1993; master’s degree in 2001), he has a doctoral degree in curriculum, teaching, learning and leadership from Northeastern University. Puhlick has taught at the elementary school level and has expertise with educational technology for curricular planning and delivery.

“I am thrilled to return to the campus that has provided me with so many opportunities,” said Puhlick. “I hope my many years of experience in education allow me to help prospective teachers challenge their assumptions, learn new skills and think critically about the world of education.”

Puhlick also enjoys cooking, traveling and exploring the world with his wife and three children.

Biology

Derek Laux is a new assistant professor in the Department of Biology, specializing in cell biology. Laux earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh. His research has focused on the role of innate immune cells in early cancer development.

“I am excited to help Eastern students grow and to train the next generation of biological scientists,” said Laux. “I love the field of biology. I hope my students develop a love of science, an appetite for discovery, a passion for hard work, and learn that all of us can contribute a verse to the records of life and learning.”

Outside of the lab, Laux enjoys being outdoors, surfing, reading and playing the piano.

Performing Arts

DeRon Williams

DeRon Williams is a new assistant professor for the Theatre Program, specializing in directing. Williams received his master’s in arts administration from Eastern Michigan University and his Ph.D. in Fine Arts-Theatre at Texas Tech University. He is a director, arts administrator and scholar of 20th– and 21st-century American drama and Black expressive culture.

“Eastern is student-centered and committed to diverse perspectives, which I believe is the purpose of higher education and imperative for future leaders, arts supporters and global citizens,” said Williams. “It is my hope to engage students in diverse perspectives of the arts, imparting my knowledge and love for Black theatre and performance through seminar and practical courses.”

Outside of academia, Williams enjoys going to the theatre, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

David Ballena

David Ballena is a new assistant professor for the Music Program, specializing in piano. A native of Peru, he received his early training at the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica before traveling to the United States where he earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in Collaborative Piano from the University of Maryland-College Park.

“I am excited to be more involved in the life of the campus community,” said Ballena, who has taught at Eastern for the past five years as an adjunct professor for the Music Program. “I look forward to sharing with my students the many things I’ve learned from my own teachers and professional experience—I hope to help them understand the resilience and work ethic required to succeed in a career in music.”

Outside of work, Ballena and his wife enjoy playing tennis and attending tournaments. They drive every summer to Colorado, where he works at the Aspen Music Festival.

Business Administration

Jean Cooley

Jean Cooley is a new assistant professor in the Department of Business Administration, specializing in accounting. Cooley earned master’s degrees in business administration and accounting at Northeastern University, and has more than 20 years of experience as a certified public accountant.

“I hope to encourage students to use their time at Eastern to truly discover their passions,” said Cooley. “I want to get them excited about their futures and learn to use their talents to impact others’ lives.”

Cooley also enjoys listening to music, riding roller coasters, traveling and spending time with family.

Erik Christensen ’07 is a new assistant professor in the Department of Business Administration, specializing in accounting. An Eastern graduate, he also holds a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Connecticut. Christensen is a certified public accountant who has served as the finance director for the Town of Griswold.

“I hope to impart in students the knowledge students will need to be successful,” said Christensen. “I hope to bring my industry experience into the classroom and share some of the experiences I’ve had as a CPA.”

Outside of work, Christensen enjoys watching and playing sports, traveling and being on the ocean.

Computer Science

Tim Hartley is a new assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science. He holds a master’s degree in computer science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master’s degree in linguistics from the University of Connecticut, as well as a diploma in Mandarin Chinese from the Defense Language Institute, which he earned while serving in the U.S. Air Force. Hartley has held full-time appointments as an assistant professor at the University of Hartford and as an associate professor at Rensselaer at Hartford. He has also co-authored three textbooks on database technology.

Health Science

Paul Canavan is a new assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences. An expert on the lower extremity of the body, Canavan earned a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Connecticut as well as a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Northeastern University.

“I’m excited to join Eastern full time,” said Canavan, who has taught at Eastern as an adjunct professor for three years. “I hope to bring to students a desire to learn and provide opportunities for them to practically apply class information.”

Outside of academia, Canavan enjoys hiking, fishing, reading and spending time with his wife and son.

Mitchell Doucette is a new assistant professor in the Department of Health Science. He received his Ph.D. in Health Policy and Management from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and was selected as the 2017-18 William Haddon Jr. Fellow in Injury Prevention. Doucette’s research interests include injury prevention and control and longitudinal panel analysis.

Sociology

Rachael Pesta is a new assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology and Social Work, specializing in criminology. She received her master’s degree in criminal justice from Youngstown State University and her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Akron. Pesta’s teaching interests include criminological theory, research methods and social inequalities in the criminal justice system.

“I am excited to join an institution that provide students with a top-quality liberal arts education that extends beyond the classroom and brings ‘textbook learning’ to life,” said Pesta. “I am eager to engage students in critical and abstract thinking by using active learning. It’s important that students see how theory impacts the world around us and informs our everyday life.”

Pesta enjoys reading, hiking the beautiful trails around Connecticut, and listening to podcasts. 

Administrative faculty

Admissions

Dempsey Schott

Dempsey Schott is the newest admissions counselor for the Office of Admissions. She graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing, and has experience as a head tour guide with Muhlenberg’s admissions office during her undergraduate career. This fall, Schott will be travelling to Fairfield County and Long Island to recruit students.

“I am excited to be a part of a community that cares about shaping graduates who are informed and successful global citizens,” said Schott, who is attracted to Eastern’s public liberal arts mission. “I hope to showcase the institution to prospective students who otherwise might not have considered Eastern.”

Outside of work, you can find Schott running, hiking, baking vegan desserts, singing and drinking excessive amounts of coffee.

Financial Aid

Velma Walters

Velma Walters is an assistant to the director in the Office of Financial Aid. She earned her master’s degree in public administration from American International College and has more than 20 years of experience in higher education and more than 15 years in financial aid. Among her duties, Walters will work with the STEP/CAP Program.

“I am excited to be part of a fantastic liberal arts university that is rich in diversity and producing well-rounded leaders who make their mark on society,” said Walters. “I bring to Eastern my experience, my passion for education and my commitment to helping students realize their dream of a college degree.”

Walters is also a member of the public service organization Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., as well as an independent beauty consultant for Mary Kay Skin Care & Cosmetics.

Registrars

Mary-Francis Ricks

Mary-Francis Ricks ’11 is an assistant degree auditor in the Office of the Registrar. An Eastern graduate with a degree in communication, she earned a master’s degree in human development and family studies from the University of Rhode Island. Ricks has higher education experience in advising, career services and housing.

“Eastern is the place that sparked my passion for student affairs; I’m excited to be working at a university that aligns with my values,” said Ricks, who often interacts with graduating seniors in her new role. “I hope to be a guiding, clarifying resource for these students.”

Ricks loves to travel, and recently visited Ireland. In February she plans to explore Spain.

Academic Services Center

Carlos Castillo is a professional advisor with the Academic Services Center. He holds a master’s degree in organizational management and leadership from Springfield College and comes to Eastern after being a family and community engagement liaison with the Capitol Region Educational Council in Harford. Castillo is currently completing his dissertation for a doctorate in adult learning.

Lauren Eddy is a professional advisor with the Academic Services Center. She joins Eastern after working at the University of Maine as an athletic academic counselor. She is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University where she earned bachelor’s degrees in history and English and a master’s in counseling with a concentration in student development.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern to host Annual Dance Awareness Day

Modern Movement, a dance club at Eastern Connecticut State University, will host its second annual Dance Awareness Day on Sept. 8 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC). A number of dance classes will be offered in a variety of styles and levels.

Registration is from 8:30–9:30 a.m. Classes are $5 each for non-Eastern students. Eastern students get one class free (with Eastern ID); additional classes are $5 each. Classes will occur in rooms 117, 215 and 219 of the FAIC.

Classes are led by Modern Movement members, Eastern alumni and faculty members in Eastern’s Dance and World Performance concentration. Multiple classes will occur simultaneously during certain timeslots.

The schedule is as follows: 9:30-10:30 a.m. yoga/Pilates; 10:30-noon beginner ballet, intermediate/advanced contemporary-modern dance or intermediate/advanced Afro-modern dance; 1-2:30 p.m. intermediate/advanced lyrical dance, intermediate/advanced hip-hop or musical theatre; 2:30-4 p.m. West African dance and drum or beginner tap dance.

Modern Movement is Eastern’s pre-professional dance company. Although there is a focus on modern dance, Modern Movement creates and performs choreography in a wide variety of dance styles. Money raised at Dance Awareness Day supports Eastern’s Dance and World Performance concentration.

Written by Michael Rouleau