‘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’s ‘Puentes al Futuro’ Explores Lambe Lambe Puppetry

The boys who created “The Magic Box” — with their camp counselor Adrian Lopez-Diaz ’20 (right) — perform a Lambe Lambe puppet show.

With headphones pressed over her ears, the one-person audience peers in through a slot in a box and waits for the show to start. Music buzzes through the headset, the curtain rises and a miniature set is revealed. A cast of puppet characters comes to life and takes the audience on a journey. Two minutes later, the curtain closes, the show is over.

This is Lambe Lambe, a form of miniature theatre that took place at Eastern Connecticut State University during the month of July.

Puentes al Futuro (Bridges to the Future) is the Center for Community Engagement’s (CCE) annual summer camp for local middle school kids. In recognition of Willimantic’s Hispanic community, the educational program spotlights Latin American culture. This year’s theme was Lambe Lambe.

NYC-based puppeteer and actor Harrison Greene demonstrated the art form and led the group of 27 middle schoolers through workshops on the Eastern campus. Greene participated in an international festival with the group Payasos con Ropa de Calle (Clowns with Street Clothes), a group of performers based in Puerto Montt, Chile, dedicated to spreading Lambe Lambe storytelling.

The girls of “El Dia De Los Muertos” perform for a family member at the Puentes al Futuro showcase on July 25.

“It’s a style that started 30 years ago in South America,” explained Greene. “The whole show is contained in a small box with a peephole. It’s a very personal, fully intimate experience.”

In Lambe Lambe, the puppeteer — or puppeteers — manipulates the characters from above, out of sight of the audience, whose vision is limited by the peephole. The headset plays prerecorded audio and the puppeteer does not speak. The spectator is left fully focused on the action inside the box.

For this summer’s Puentes program, the children were broken into six groups and tasked with creating original Lambe Lambe performances. Assisted by seven Eastern student volunteers, the groups wrote and recorded scripts, designed boxes (sets and scenery) and characters, and rehearsed for final performances.

CCE Program Coordinator Rose Hernandez explained that dreaming is a theme of Puentes al Futuro. “We want the kids to dream beyond their current circumstance and visualize their futures,” said Hernandez, who helped establish the Puentes program eight years ago at Windham Middle School. “This is why we hold the program every year on Eastern’s campus.”

The middle schoolers were asked to tap into their dreams. The result was a rainbow of colorful boxes and storylines.

CCE volunteers and Puentes al Futuro campers pose for a group photo with their finished boxes alongside Harrison Greene (middle, right).
A camper paints a backdrop for her group's Lambe Lambe box.
Student volunteer Katelyn Root works with campers on scenery.
Communication faculty member John Murphy records the campers' script.
Student volunteer Lexie Mastroianni helps her group of campers record their script in Eastern's radio station.
Student volunteer Forest Rappe works on scenery with a Puentes al Futuro camper.
Puentes al Futuro campers rehearse their Lambe Lambe performance.
Eastern President Elsa Núñez watches a Lambe Lambe performance during the Puentes al Futuro showcase on July 25.

 

In “The Letter,” several girls receive a letter and meet on a boat headed for Hawaii. After overcoming a series of challenges, they find they’ve passed “the test” and are now spies. In “The Magic Box,” Nemo is granted one wish and joins the circus. In “Girl’s Trip,” some friends are headed to see their idol, pop music star Billie Eilish, in concert. The girls meet Billie and are told to follow their dreams.

“Everyone contributed something different to the project,” said CCE volunteer Katelyn Root ’19. “Some kids loved writing stories, others specialized in art. Every talent was used to create the puppet shows.”

Speaking to his group of 11- and 12-year-old boys, Adrian Lopez-Diaz ’20 admitted, “It started out chaotic. Everyone was yelling ideas out, but eventually we narrowed it down. I gave them as much liberty as possible. It was fun to get to know the kids and see who they’re becoming.”

Harrison Greene, John Murphy, Rose Hernandez and CCE Director Kim Silcox pose for a group photo.

Zaira Hernandez’s ’20 group of girls carried a different level of energy. “My girls were very sweet. They were shy at the beginning, but over the month they opened up, asking me a lot of questions about my life, about college. There’s a lot of pressure on them. They’re just figuring out who they are.”

“Every day is a new opportunity to teach an important lesson to the campers,” said Forest Rappe ’20, “and to relate to them my own experiences from middle school. Our campers are going through a difficult transitioning period in their lives, so I want to give them as much support as possible so they’re happier and more successful in school this year.”

After finalizing the scripts, Communication Professor John Murphy helped the middle schoolers record the audio in Eastern’s radio station. “A universal constant was how surprised they were to hear a high-quality recording of their voice — to hear what they sound like to other people.” He added, “I loved seeing their spontaneity, their fearlessness and ability to act and play different parts.”

The month-long camp culminated on July 25 with final performances on campus. Dozens of family and community members gathered into a crowded and unexpectedly silent room in Mead Hall. Careful to not disturb their audiences — six performances happening simultaneously — the children intently worked their puppets as others shifted backdrops in and out of boxes. One two-minute show after the other, family and friends took turns peering into boxes. As the curtains closed, each spectator removed the headphones with a smile.

“I’m blown away,” said Greene with a tear in his eye. “My expectations are exceeded. It’s exciting that Lambe Lambe is being exposed up here, especially in this community.”

Written by Michael Rouleau

Governors Hold Tri-State Summit at Eastern

Governors Charlie Baker (Massachusetts), Ned Lamont (Connecticut) and Gina Raimondo (Rhode Island) held a press conference in Eastern’s Science Building.

The three governors of southern New England convened at Eastern Connecticut State University’s science building on July 16 for their first tri-state summit.  During their lunch meeting, Governors Ned Lamont (Connecticut), Charlie Baker (Massachusetts) and Gina Raimondo (Rhode Island) discussed issues of common interest among the neighboring states — transportation and infrastructure, renewable energy and shared purchasing. They followed up their meeting with a press conference to a full audience of media representatives.

Eastern President Elsa Núñez praised the two Democrats and one Republican (Baker) for meeting despite political differences, saying that this sort of open-minded dialogue is a pillar of Eastern’s liberal arts education. “I applaud our three governors for their leadership in working on these critical issues in New England,” she said.

“When it comes to Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, I think personal relationships are really important and that’s what we really wanted to kick off again today,” said Lamont of the summit. The three agreed to reconvene this fall in Providence to continue their discussions.

Amid his first year in office, Lamont said that veteran governors Baker and Raimondo offered him advice and encouragement. Noting the uncommon job of working as a governor, Baker emphasized the importance of coming together to discuss ideas and challenges. 

“We came together today to say, ‘how can we help each other do our jobs better and deliver for the people of our state?’” said Raimondo. “Hopefully a few people in Washington might take a page out of this book and say, ‘we’re going to sit down and cross party lines and compare ideas and compare notes and actually try to solve problems.’”

Half of Connecticut Communities Now Participate in ‘Sustainable CT’

Sustainable CT, a statewide initiative that inspires and supports communities in Connecticut to become more efficient, resilient and inclusive, has registered its 85th Connecticut municipality, officially reaching a participation rate of 50 percent of the state’s cities and towns. These communities are working towards their own unique sustainability goals through this free voluntary certification program.

“We are excited and inspired by reaching this milestone,” said Lynn Stoddard, executive director of the program and director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) at Eastern Connecticut State University.

“Half of Connecticut’s towns, home to 2.1 million residents representing more than 58 percent of our state’s population, are working to make our communities great places to live, work, and play,” continued Stoddard. “When towns register for Sustainable CT, they send a strong message to their residents and peers that they are committed to making their communities more sustainable, collaborative and forward-looking. We look forward to bringing more towns on board and working with communities across Connecticut to achieve their sustainability goals.”

With input from municipal leaders across the state, Sustainable CT was developed under ISE’s leadership in partnership with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. To achieve certification, registered Sustainable CT communities work to demonstrate significant achievements in actions in nine sustainability impact areas ranging from thriving local economies and vibrant arts and culture to clean transportation and diverse housing. As a core part of the program, towns must address diversity, equity and inclusion when completing their certification applications. Certification submissions go through a series of rigorous reviews by independent experts and Sustainable CT partners.

“It is inspiring to see such incredible momentum in the second year of the program, and the interest points to a bright future for the state of Connecticut,” said Katie Dykes, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) and member of the Sustainable CT board of directors. “As we work to achieve our ambitious state levels goals, Sustainable CT serves as a critical framework for engaging our municipalities and supporting local action.”

Fairfield, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Hartford, and Stamford achieved “silver” certification, the highest honor in the program, in 2018. Seventeen municipalities were recognized at the “bronze” certification level: Bristol, Coventry, Hebron, Madison, Middletown, Milford, New Haven, New London, New Milford, Old Saybrook, Ridgefield, Roxbury, South Windsor, West Hartford, Westport, Windham and Woodbridge. More communities are working towards certification in 2019, with an application deadline of Aug. 30.

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Sustainable CT is a voluntary certification program to recognize thriving and resilient Connecticut municipalities. An independently funded, grassroots, municipal effort, Sustainable CT provides a wide-ranging menu of best practices. Municipalities choose Sustainable CT actions, implement them, and earn points toward certification. Sustainable CT is independently funded, with support from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation; the Hampshire Foundation; the Common Sense Fund; The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut; and the Bristol Brass General Grant Fund, the Merriman Family Fund, and the James R. Parker Trust at the Main Street Community Foundation. For more information, visit www.sustainablect.org.

Written by Lynn Stoddard

French Professor Bacholle Named CSU Professor

On June 20, the Board of Regents for Higher Education awarded the title of Connecticut State University (CSU) Professor to French Professor Michelle Bacholle for the 2019-20 academic year. A member of Eastern’s faculty since 1999, Professor Bacholle has served the University with distinction. She was promoted to associate professor in 2003 and professor in 2008.  In addition to being a tenured professor of French Studies in the Department of World Languages and Culture, Bacholle is a prolific scholar with an international reputation.

Bacholle, who was named Eastern’s Distinguished Professor in 2018, recently published her sixth book. In addition, she has 46 articles, 48 book reviews, and has presented at 5 international conferences and 46 national conferences. Her work has been published in the top journals in her field.

Bacholle also participates in governing boards, editorial boards and dissertation committees, and is a frequent speaker on Francophone studies throughout North America and Europe.

Awardees must first be nominated by a faculty advisory committee must first nominate a faculty member, receive the recommendation of the University president and CSU chancellor and finally be approved by the CSU Board of Trustees.

“Dr. Bacholle is an eminent scholar of international reputation, clearly representing the high quality and continuous professional excellence indicative of the CSU Professor title,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “Her accomplishments clearly demonstrate that she has a significant body of scholarly work that is recognized internationally. She has been a leading scholar in the modern evolution of French and Francophone Studies. Her scholarship and books have received praise from around the world. Dr. Bacholle admirably fulfills the requirements for the position of CSU Professor.”

Not more than three (3) CSU Professorships are allowed in any one university at any given time. Dr. Bacholle serves as one of two CSU Professor at Eastern. History Professor Anna Kirchmann serves as the other CSU Professor.

By Dwight Bachman

Research Institutes Help Young Students to Identify as Scholars

David Porter ’20 presents “Overlooking How to Fish: How Chris Yates’ Contributions to Modern Day Transcendentalism Have Yet to be Recognized” in the English SRI.

Summer vacation was delayed for four groups of Eastern students who immediately followed the end of the school year with intensive, weeklong research programs on campus. From May 20–24, four Summer Research Institutes (SRIs) engaged select, up-and-coming students in projects pertaining to the fields of psychology, English, political science and network science.

Speaking to the goal of the SRIs, Political Science Professor Courtney Broscious said, “We want to engage students earlier in their academic careers. We want to immerse them in applied research at a younger age and help them to think of themselves as scholars.”

Political science SRI students and faculty pose for a group photo outside of Webb Hall.

Led by Broscious and Political Science Professor Nicole Krassas, the political science SRI challenged first- and second-year students to develop research proposals for projects they will carry out during the academic year. Using applied research methods, the students determined individual topics of inquiry, conducted preliminary research and wrote proposals.

Sophomore Griffin Cox’s research proposal concerns the campaign rhetoric of the 2016 presidential election and how President Trump’s language compares to that of former Presidents Regan and Nixon. “How does he compare to previous galvanizing figures in conservative politics?” questioned Cox.

Sophomore Luc Poirier’s proposal concerns male participation in, and identification with, the feminist movement. “I believe the issue with gaining the support of men in the feminist movement is in part rooted in the word ‘feminist’ itself,” said Poirier. “The term is synonymous with ‘feminine,’ which doesn’t appeal to the ‘macho culture’ that is still alive today.”

The Psychology Department hosted a SRI for 10 students who conducted psychological research on topics related to prejudice, discrimination and stereotypes. Led by Professors Alita Cousins and Jennifer Leszczynski, the students’ inquiry covered such topics as gender and criminality, the effects of physical attractiveness on perceived characteristics, parenting influences on gender and more.

Shirley Holloway ’21 presents “The Association Between Feminism and Gender Roles” at the psychology SRI.

Freshman Sierra Nastasi’s project on gender stereotypes in sports was inspired by her experience as a female hockey player. She said: “Playing on both men’s and women’s teams, I’ve noticed how perceptions of female hockey players differ from those of their male counterparts. I’ve always wanted to learn more about the perceptions that arise in cross-gendered sports.”

The English Department brought together 10 first-year and transfer students for a SRI titled “Finding your Scholarly Voice,” which focused on developing scholarly projects on texts of students’ choice. 

“The workshop aimed to help students dive into the scholarly conversation surrounding their texts and find their own ways to contribute to that conversation,” said Professor Allison Speicher, who led the workshop. “Students completed extensive research, synthesizing a wide variety of sources, including literary scholarship, histories, authors’ journals and letters, book reviews and theoretical perspectives, to craft project plans and abstracts for their own scholarly articles.”

Network science SRI students and faculty pose for a group photo.

Freshman Bailey Hosko’s project investigated the minor role of the teacher in the book “Push” by the author Sapphire. The teacher was a “change agent” for the main character, an illiterate 16-year-old girl from Harlem. “The research institute gave me a head start on my senior seminar, but more importantly it gave me a desire to further investigate a topic that I’m interested in as a career,” said Hosko, who aspires for a career as an educator with a focus on literacy.

Mathematics Professor Megan Heenehan and Computer Science Professor Garrett Dancik collaborated on a SRI that introduced students to the field of network science. The week-long program utilized techniques in graph theory, computer programming and network analysis to collected data from movie scripts. Broken into groups, the students used the information to analyze the social structure and sentiment of “Mean Girls, “The Dark Knight” and “Batman and Robin.”

Written by Michael Rouleau

Windham NAACP Recognizes Dwight Bachman

Left to right: Sociology Professor Dennis Canterbury and wife Sandra, Mathematics Professor Bonsu Osei, Dwight Bachman, Communications Professor Christopher Ayeni, Accounting Professor Candice Deal and Stacey Close, Associate Provost and Vice President for Equity and Diversity
Left to right: Salim Bachman, Dwight Bachman, Bonsu Osei, Dennis Canterbury, Sandra Canterbury, U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney and Stacey Close, Associate Provost and Vice President for Equity and Diversity
Theatre Professor Kristen Morgan and Dwight Bachman
Keynote Speaker Lottie Scott

 

On June 1, the Windham/Willimantic Branch of the NAACP presented Dwight Bachman, public relations officer at Eastern Connecticut State University, its President’s Award. The award ceremony took place during the NAACP’s Second Annual Freedom Fund Dinner, held at the Lakeview Restaurant in Coventry.

The award is given “to an individual whose outstanding participation and contributions provide essential support to the President and hence to the Windham\Willimantic branch’s growth and success.”

The NAACP’s mission is to secure the political, education, social and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all human beings.

Dwight Bachman and Leah Ralls

“Mr. Bachman has shared his knowledge of African American history with me often, and that knowledge has assisted me with developing programs for the branch,” said NAACP President Leah Ralls in presenting the award. “As his guest at a Hartford Foundation for Public Giving event, I learned much about generating support for organizations such as the NAACP though donations. When I served as keynote speaker at the Putnam, CT, Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast this year, a video that Mr. Bachman researched, wrote and produced back in 1983 on Dr. King that aired on television stations around the world fit perfectly into my presentation.”

Lottie B. Scott, author of the book “Deep South, Deep North” and a member of the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities for more than 22 years, delivered the keynote address. “Be a champion for change. Pay back what has been given to you. My mother taught me to not talk about anybody’s child. Help improve opportunities for young people,” Scott said at the event. “Give the world the best you have, and the best will come back to you.”

Bachman was also named one of the Connecticut NAACP’ s “2018 100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut; received the 2018 James Ralston/David G. Carter Sr. Youth Education Innovator Award from the Prince Hall Masons of Connecticut; was honored with the 2018 Distinguished Reverend Collin Bennett/Marcus Garvey Award by St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Hartford; and was the recipient of a 2016 Quarter Century Award by the National Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

In 2007, Eastern presented Bachman the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award, and in 2001, the Connecticut Library Association presented him its News Media Award.

Prior to being hired at Eastern in 1990, Bachman served as a “Black Scholar in Residence” at Wartburg Theological Seminary; was director of the Commission on Human Rights in Dubuque, IA; was an editor at Howard University; and served as an editor and news producer at radio and television news stations in Washington D.C., Baltimore, New York City, Stamford and West Hartford.

Bachman earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Rhetoric at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA, and his Master of Professional Studies in African and African American Studies at Cornell University.

Eastern Athletes Tops in Little East Conference for Third Straight Year

Eastern President Elsa Nunez; Athletic Director Lori Runksmeier; and LEC Commissioner Cora H.L. Brumley

 For the third straight year, Eastern Connecticut State University has claimed the Little East Conference (LEC) Commissioner’s Cup, the league’s top honor for overall athletic performance among the LEC’s nine primary member institutions. The Warriors captured the 2018-19 Commissioner’s Cup after accumulating a point average of 6.26. Eastern’s accomplishment is especially significant as it has only 17 of the 19 varsity sports for which LEC members earn points.

“We are delighted to win the Commissioner’s Cup for the third year in a row for having the best athletic record in the Little East Conference,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “Our student-athletes are bringing honor and recognition to the University while achieving great heights on the playing field.

“I am equally proud that our athletes take their studies seriously as they prepare for rewarding professional careers. Our student-athletes apply their teamwork skills, self-discipline and a commitment to excellence in and out of class on campus, and they demonstrate the same standards in athletic competition.

“For Eastern athletes to perform at a consistently high level across varsity sports in the conference is a tribute to them, their coaches and our Athletic Department. I could not be more proud of the Warriors!”

Eastern Connecticut Director of Athletics Lori Runksmeier added, “Eastern athletics has a long and proud tradition of success. Winning the LEC Commissioner’s Cup for the third year in a row is a result of the hard work our student-athletes and coaches have put in this year and is a testament to the support that athletics receives from the University. The Little East Conference is a strong league, and knowing we need to push ourselves to be competitive makes us better.”

Eastern claimed the outright regular season title in men’s soccer, and was one of two programs to share the regular season championship in men’s basketball and women’s soccer. The Warriors were second in the conference standings in women’s basketball and women’s cross country, and totaled four third-place finishes – men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, softball, and women’s swimming and diving. Only two of Eastern’s 17 programs placed lower than fourth in the LEC standings in 2018-19.

“Congratulations to the Eastern Connecticut State University administration, coaches and student-athletes on earning three Commissioner’s Cups (the LEC’s highest athletic award) in a row,” said Little East Commissioner Cora H.L. Brumley. “The Warriors exemplify the NCAA Division III philosophy by consistently excelling both on and off the field of play.”

The University of Southern Maine finished second in the 2018-19 Commissioner’s Cup standings, followed by Keene State College, UMass Dartmouth, Plymouth State University, Rhode Island College, UMass Boston, Western Connecticut State University and Castleton University.

Written by Ed Osborn

Eastern at Small College Rugby Association All-Star Championships

(l to r) Josh Synott, Brad Marston, Nate Tozzi and Kodey Duplissie

Four Eastern Connecticut State University rugby players represented the Northeast on the National Select Side at the National Small College Rugby Association All-Star Championships in Houston May 23-28. Of the hundreds of schools in the Northeast that qualified for this distinction, Eastern rugby was afforded the opportunity of having four of its players selected. The Eastern players participated in five matches over thee days, with the Northeast team they were on placing second.

‘Eastern Celebrates’ Alumni at Annual Reunion Weekend

The class of 1969 leads the Alumni March to the Big Tent BBQ.
The annual Young Alumni Bash commences at Blarney's.
Alumni, families and President Núñez gather for lunch in the Big Tent BBQ.
Hundreds of the Eastern community enjoy lunch.
Alumni, including the jubilee class of 1969, gather for a reception in the Student Center Cafe.
Alumni from the 80s, 90s and 00s celebrate at Blarney's during the Reunion Happy Hour.
Graduate students are honored during the Hooding Ceremony.
Graduates from the past 10 years gather at Blarney's for the Young Alumni Bash.

 

Hundreds of alumni converged on the Eastern Connecticut State University campus on May 17–18 for the 14th annual Eastern Celebrates reunion weekend. The class of 1969 celebrated its 50th reunion as graduates young and old partook in festivities on and off campus.

The weekend kicked off Friday night as graduates from the past 10 years gathered at Blarney’s for the annual Young Alumni Bash.

Saturday morning opened with a jubilee reception for the class of 1969 in the Student Center Café. President Elsa Núñez congratulated the jubilee class and gave them golden diplomas.

The morning continued with guided tours of campus, the newly reopened Communication Building and the Fine Arts Instructional Center—with a pitstop in the Art Gallery for an exhibition of student art work.

The festivities shifted focus midmorning to graduate students during their hooding ceremony, which celebrated soon-to-be graduates from master’s programs in accounting, organizational management and education.

Lunchtime gathered all patrons to the Big Tent Barbecue for a spread of all-American classics. The class of 1969 led a parade of generations of alumni in a march to the barbecue. With class banners in hand, they entered the tent to music and cheering families.

Classes from the 80s, 90s and 00s closed the celebration at Blarney’s with a reunion happy hour.