Weather Underground Co-founder to Speak at Eastern

Written by Ed Osborn

Tim Plenk Photography

Jonathan Lerner, novelist, magazine editor and political activist from the 1960s, will speak at Eastern Connecticut State University this coming Monday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Theater. Lerner is a founding member of the Weather Underground, the militant offshoot of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and has recounted those turbulent times in his new memoir, “Swords in the Hands of Children, Reflections of an American Revolutionary.” Copies of the book will be available for purchase and book signing. The event is open to the public; admission is free.

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.

Record Number of Eastern Students Accepted at National Conference

       Record Number Accepted to Present at National Conference in Oklahoma

Written by Jolene Potter

WILLIMANTIC, CT (01/25/2018) A record-breaking 41 Eastern Connecticut State University students from a variety of disciplines have been selected to represent Eastern at the 2018 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), a competitive undergraduate research conference that draws students from across the United States. The conference will be held at the University of Central Oklahoma from April 4-7.

Eastern’s high rate of acceptance puts it among the top 20 schools nationwide – a group that includes major research universities and land grant institutions. Eastern students will present on a variety of academic disciplines, ranging from psychology and environmental earth science to business administration and kinesiology/physical education. Additionally, this is the first year that Eastern will send presenters for theatrical performances and visual art.

Chosen from more than 4,000 submissions, students whose work was accepted to NCUR are required to demonstrate a unique contribution to their field of study. NCUR offers students 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.

Eastern faculty continually encourage student researchers to present their work on a national scale, resulting in Eastern’s impressive number of presentations accepted by the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR). Last year, CUR identified Eastern as a campus that was “Leading the Way” with the number of students selected for presentation, a list Eastern will be featured on again at this year’s conference. In the past four years, Eastern has sent more student researchers to NCUR than all the other public universities in Connecticut combined.

Eastern Professor Wins Scholars for the Dream Travel Award

Written by Michael Rouleau

WILLIMANTIC, CT (01/24/2018) Christine Garcia, assistant professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University, has won a 2018 Scholars for the Dream Travel Award given by the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC). Garcia, who resides in Willimantic, CT, and hails from San Angelo, TX, is one of 20 award recipients, and will use it to present her research at the CCCC Annual Convention on March 15 in Kansas City, MO.

Her presentation, “Contesting the Myth of the Monolithic Linguistic Experience: Latina Student Writers, Translingualism, and Writing Across Communities,” “asks how a writing-across-communities/translingual approach to first-year college writing can cultivate agency and autonomy for the Latina student writer,” explained Garcia.

“This approach to teaching college writing practices respect for our writers’ knowledge and abilities instead of focusing on remediating the skills they lack,” she said. “I reject the notion that young college students cannot write, and instead honor them as complex language users who require contemporary and thoughtful college writing courses to continue cultivating their writing strengths and talents.”

Garcia concluded: “Much of my research is with Latina college writers, a student population whose rich linguistic repertoires and innovative ways of crafting and creating deserves recognition. My presentation at this conference, made possible by the Scholars for the Dream travel award, will be focused on highlighting and honoring Latina college writers.”

The CCCC is a constituent organization within the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). The CCCC sponsors the Scholars for the Dream Awards to encourage scholarship by historically underrepresented groups, which include Black, Latinx, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander scholars.

Garcia is originally from San Angelo, TX, where she received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in English Language and Literature from Angelo State University. She received her PhD in Rhetoric and Writing at the University of New Mexico.

 

Eastern’s Imna Arroyo Presents Artwork

             Professor Emeritus Imna Arroyo Exhibits “Ancestors of the Passage”

                                               at William Benton Museum of Art

Written by Casey Collins

Eastern Connecticut State University Professor Emeritus Imna Arroyo will present her installation “Ancestors of the Passage” at the William Benton Museum of Art. The installation will be on display from Jan. 18 to March 11, with an opening reception on Jan. 25 from 4:30-7 p.m.

“Ancestors of the Passage” is a multimedia installation composed of 27 terracotta ceramic figures, each one cast in a blue sea of acrylic canvas and silk fabric. The figures have a blank stare on their face as they reach a hand out toward the viewer.

The inspiration for the installation comes from Viet Thanh Nguyen’s “The Refugees,” and the histories of voluntary and involuntary immigration that brought us to become American.” Much like Nguyen’s work, Arroyo’s installation explores the forced immigration of slaves from Africa.

Entrance to the reception is free and open to the public. For more information regarding the installation, please contact the William Benton Museum of Art at (860) 486-4520.

2 Upcoming Sustainable CT Events

            Eastern, Connecticut College Host Sites in Eastern Connecticut

Written by Lynn Stoddard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eastern Helps Launch Sustainable CT

               Program Lift Off on January 16 at the Hartford Public Library

Written by Lynn Stoddard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bachman Wins Bennett/Garvey Award

Dawn Bennett, Dwight Bachman and Mark Bailey, awrds committee chairmanDawn Bennett, Dwight Bachman and Mark Bailey, awards committee chairman

The St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Hartford recently named Public Relations Officer Dwight Bachman a special honoree of the Reverend Collin Bennett/Marcus Garvey Service Award.

Dr. Julius Garvey, Marcus Garvey's son, congratulates Dwight BachmanDr. Julius Garvey, Marcus
Garvey’s son, congratulates Dwight Bachman

The award, presented at the Marriott Hotel Downtown Hartford, in recognition of the late Reverend Collin Bennett ’81 and Marcus Garvey, Jamaica’s first national hero, “honors individuals from the Greater Hartford community who, like Marcus Garvey, promote racial pride, civic responsibility, and a keen interest in uplifting citizens in the communities to which they belong.”

“Garvey’s famous quote, ‘Up you mighty race and accomplish what you will,’is indicative of the thrust behind the contributions you and the other honorees have made,” said Mark Bailey, awards committee chairman. “It is this level of dedication, civic consciousness and strong commitment to action which St. Martin’s hopes will be a beacon for others to emulate.”

Marcus Garvey Expert Robert Hill looking at the volumes he contributed to the Reverend Collin Bennett Cribbean Collection with Mollie Bennett, Bennett's widow.Marcus Garvey Expert Robert Hill looking at the volumes he contributed to the Reverend Collin Bennett Cribbean Collection with Mollie Bennett, Bennett’s widow.

Four members of the Bennett family graduated from Eastern. Bennett, winner of Eastern’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1994, was noted for his entrepreneurial, political and civic activities in Hartford. In October 2000, Bennett donated the funding to create his entire collection of Caribbean books for inclusion in the J. Eugene Smith Library, where it now sits on the third floor.

 

 

Eastern Reveals 2017 TIMPANI Winner

•The Animal Kingdom Mega Pack by Animal Planet has been named the 2017 TIMPANI toy of the year.

• The Animal Kingdom Mega Pack by Animal Planet has been named the 2017 TIMPANI toy of the year.

Written by Ed Osborn

Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Early Childhood Education announced on Dec. 6 that “Animal Kingdom Mega Pack” by Animal Planet has been named the 2017 TIMPANI (Toys that Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination) Toy.

Now in its eighth year, the annual study investigates how young children learn as they play with a variety of toys in natural settings. Ten toys were selected this year for the study by teachers, faculty and student researchers. The toys were placed in preschool classrooms at the University’s Child and Family Development Resource Center, and student researchers used hidden cameras to videotape children playing with the toys. Researchers then coded the footage according to the study’s evaluation rubric, which includes four subscales: thinking and learning, cooperation and social interaction, creativity and imagination, and verbalization. For this year’s study, researchers coded nearly 8,000 five-minute observations.

•Professor Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, principal investigator of the study and Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education, discusses the study during the TIMPANI press conference.:

• Professor Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, principal investigator of the study and Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education, discusses the study during the TIMPANI press conference.:

“Undergraduate research is a strength of Eastern’s liberal arts education,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez, “and the TIMPANI toy study is an outstanding example of students conducting faculty-sponsored research of the highest level on our campus. For the past eight years, our early childhood education students have observed children at play with a variety of toys, and have developed an annual criteria-based evaluation of what toys are best for the cognitive, social, and creative development of young children. Parents, preschool educators and others across the globe are turning to Eastern for guidance on how best to support children’s play. In the process, our early childhood education students are learning to conduct empirical research of the highest quality.”

The Animal Kingdom Mega Pack received the highest overall score in this year’s study. It also scored the highest in three of the four subscales: creativity and imagination, social interaction, and verbalization. It was the highest-scoring toy for both boys and girls. It also scored highly for children from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. “This was a toy that inspired high-quality play by children of all different backgrounds,” said Julia DeLapp, director of the Center for Early Childhood Education and co-investigator of the study.

•Children enrolled at Eastern's Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) play with the tool in the preschool classroom

• Children enrolled at Eastern’s Child and Family Development Resource Center (CFDRC) play with the tool in the preschool classroom

DeLapp noted that research studies such as the TIMPANI toy study are not available to undergraduate students at most colleges universities, but are essential elements of an Eastern education. The result, as she explained, was that early childhood education students are well prepared for graduate school and the workforce because of the professional experience that research projects provide.

The 2017 TIMPANI Toy, which includes plastic animals from a variety of habitats, is an example of a “replica play toy.” According to Professor Jeffrey Trawick-Smith, principal investigator of the study and Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair of Early Childhood Education, replica play toys provide important opportunities for children to engage in symbolic, make-believe play. “When children are playing with these kinds of toys, they have to do something beyond just becoming a make-believe character themselves. They actually have to project themselves into the role of an animal. This takes what some researchers call a ‘greater symbolic leap’ from reality to the make-believe play theme.”

Trawick-Smith said toys such as the “Animal Kingdom Mega Pack” have been played with for centuries. “Even children in Ancient Rome have been recorded playing with little replicas of animals and people.”

As Dominique McLean, a psychology and early childhood education student involved in the study, noted, “The animals were an open-ended toy that allowed children to bring their prior knowledge into their play narratives. They collaborated with their peers to create habitats and to sort the animals.”

Nicole Green, an English and elementary education student involved in the study, said that the study made clear to her how important play is for children’s learning. “I saw many important life skills that were being taught as children were playing with each other, and I think that those need to be fostered even as they get a little older and move into elementary school.”

Other students involved in this year’s study were researchers Amanda Terenzi, a social work student, and Stefanie Dominguez, a communication and early childhood education student. Ayla Heald was the student editor for this year’s video, with student Emily Parsons providing additional support for the study.

The results of the study were first announced at the annual meeting of the National Association for the Education of Young Children in Atlanta, GA, on Nov. 15. Findings will be disseminated to preschool teachers nationally to inform their decisions about the toys to include in their classroom. Findings will also be shared with families.

To see today’s press conference on the TIMPANI Toy of the Year, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRHzF_sUnP4

For more information on the 2017 TIMPANI Toy of the Year, visit http://www.easternct.edu/cece/timpani/, or contact the Center for Early Childhood Education at (860) 465-0687 or visit www.easternct.edu/cece/timpani/.

Previous TIMPANI toys include Plus-Plus® by Plus-Plus® (2016), Wooden Cash Register by Hape (2015); Paint and Easel (easel by Community Playthings), and Hot Wheels Cars by Mattel (2014); Magna-Tiles by Valtech!, and My First Railway by Brio (2013); Duplo Blocks by LEGO (2012); Tinker Toys by Hasbro (2011); Wooden Vehicles and Signs by Melissa and Doug (2010).

* * * * *

Disclaimer: The TIMPANI toy study does not consider, nor does it test, the safety of toys. The study makes no claims about the safety of any toy studied. Neither the Center for Early Childhood Education nor Eastern Connecticut State University is liable for any mishaps related to the use of toys mentioned in study findings. Concerns about any toy listed in the study findings should be directed to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Eastern’s Rahmanifar Exhibits in NYC

Afarins Arnavaz_and_ShahrnazWritten by Casey Collins

From Nov. 17 to Dec. 22, Brooklyn’s SOHO20 Gallery will present “Women of Shahnameh, The Memories Between,” an exhibition by Afarin Rahmanifar, art professor at Eastern Connecticut State University. For Rahmanifar, who resides in Manchester, this will be her first time on display at the prestigious New York gallery – in the past month she was also featured at the ArtWalk Gallery in Hartford, CT, and the Hans Weiss Newspace at Manchester Community College.

Self-described as having “intersecting points of Eastern and Western culture,” Rahmanifar’s work is a reflection of her life as a young exile of Iran and a proud American mother. As a child, Rahmanifar’s family was forced to abandon her home in Tehran, Iran, in the wake of the Iranian Revolution. She later came to America, where her passion for art led her to earning a master’s in fine arts at the University of Connecticut.

“Women of Shahnameh, The Memories Between,” is a masterful collection of different art forms, including painting, installation and animated motion picture. The exhibition draws inspiration from “Shahnameh” (“The Book of Kings”). The book is the world’s longest poem, and is a staple of Iranian mythology, telling the stories of magic, superheroes and love. Rahmanifar’s exhibition translates the epic into short films and original stories that tell modernized tales of the women of Shahnameh, while still encapsulating the main themes of love, dreams and demons.

“Women of Shahnameh, The Memories Between” is on display until Dec. 22. For more information, call (718) 366-3661 or visit https://www.facebook.com/pg/soho20gallery/about/?ref=page_internal.