Eastern Breaks Into List of Top 25 Public Regional Universities

Written by Ed Osborn

eastern_front_entranceFor the first time, Eastern Connecticut State University made the list of the top 25 regional public universities in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 edition of “Best Colleges.” Eastern was the highest ranked university among the four Connecticut state universities. The annual rankings were released on Sept. 12.

•Theatre students perform Cervantes' "Pedro, The Great Pretender," as the first production in the Proscenium Theatre of Eastern's new Fine Arts Instructional Center

• Theatre students perform Cervantes’ “Pedro, The Great Pretender,” as the first production in the Proscenium Theatre of Eastern’s new Fine Arts Instructional Center

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

•Biology major Elizabeth DelBuono '17 is in the graduate program in Genetic Counseling at Sarah Lawrence College.

• Biology major Elizabeth DelBuono ’17 is in the graduate program in Genetic Counseling at Sarah Lawrence College.

“I am gratified to see Eastern ranked in the top 25 public institutions in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges report,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “Our commitment to high standards, our focus on providing students with personal attention, and the introduction of new academic programs have resulted in our favorable ranking. Students and their families turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help decide where to attend college.  These newest rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a relevant and high quality education on our beautiful residential campus.”

This year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of 1,389 schools nationwide and are available at www.usnews.com/colleges. They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2017 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands on Oct. 10.

For the past 33 years, the U.S. News and World Report rankings, which group colleges based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, have grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.

Eastern’s Applied Behavioral Analysis Program Recognized Nationally

Written by Ed Osborn

behavioral analysisEastern Connecticut State University is one of 57 institutions in the United States recognized for its applied behavioral analysis program by Applied Behavior AnalysisEdu.org.  The first Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst program in Connecticut and one of only three in the state, Eastern’s program is a concentration offered within the Psychology major.  The program has been certified by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and given the BACB’s Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) credential.

“We are big fans of Eastern Connecticut University because of the many undergraduate research and creative activities available to students,” wrote ABAEdu.org. “In fact, students (at Eastern) enjoy the opportunity to work closely with faculty mentors on an array of projects that contribute to the growing body of research in the field of applied behavior analysis.”

Certification is usually required for employment in the field of applied behavioral analysis, especially when working with children with autism.

“Dr. James Diller continues to do an outstanding job leading this program,” said Carlos Escoto, professor of psychology and chair of the Psychological Sciences Department. “We are grateful to be recognized by a national organization and pleased to be able to offer our students this special professional credentialing opportunity.”

1978 Eastern Graduate Named to Major National Mental Health Post

McCance-KatzElinore McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., a 1978 graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Aug. 3 as the first Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use in the U.S. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, helped create the new position as part of the Mental Health Reform Act that he co-sponsored with U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

“Every one of us has a family member or friend coping with mental illness or addiction. We created this position because after listening to families in Connecticut, I heard loud and clear that the government needs to do a better job addressing these issues for the people who need it. Dr. McCance-Katz has a big job ahead of her,” said Murphy. “She’s experienced and I’m confident she’ll bring much-needed focus and attention to making sure people with mental health needs and addiction get the care they need. I look forward to working her.”

McCance-Katz majored in biology and graduated magna cum laude from Eastern in 1978.  Prior to her new appointment, she was the chief medical officer for the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals. She is also a professor of psychiatry and human behavior and professor of behavioral and social sciences at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University. She previously served as the first chief medical officer for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

After receiving her bachelor’s degree at Eastern, she obtained her Ph.D. from Yale University with a specialty in infectious disease epidemiology. McCance-Katz is also a graduate of the University of Connecticut’s School of Medicine and board certified in general psychiatry and addiction psychiatry. She is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry with more than 25 years of experience as a clinician, teacher and clinical researcher.

Following her graduation from UConn, McCance-Katz did her residency in psychiatry at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living. Her career in academia included a seven-year stint as a professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. She has conducted substantial research in the area of substance abuse and addiction, specifically opioid addiction.

“For the first time ever, a medical professional who is laser focused on addiction and mental health will be in the top echelon of HHS,” said Murphy. “We created this position to elevate these important issues and improve coordination so that people coping with a mental illness or substance use disorder can access the care and treatment they need.”

McCance-Katz’s confirmation has been applauded by such groups as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association.

Eastern to Host Public Dance Classes


Written by Michael Rouleau

WILLIMANTIC, CT (08/23/2017) Dancers of all ages and levels are invited to visit Eastern Connecticut State University on Sept. 9 for a day of dance workshops led by Eastern faculty, alumni and current students. Dance Awareness Day will occur in the Fine Arts Instructional Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Class offerings will include hip-hop, modern, tap and jazz dancing, as well as classes for yoga/Pilates, technique and more.

Space is limited. Initial registration begins at 8:30 a.m., though participants can register up to 10 minutes before individual classes. Participants under the age of 18 must be registered by a parent or guardian. Prices for the general public are $5 per class or $15 for four classes. Dance Awareness Day is sponsored by the Modern Movement student club at Eastern. For more information, contact Modern Movement at modern@my.easternct.edu.

Students Study Health Care in Ghana

Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18
Photo courtesy of Helena Delfino '18


Written by Michael Rouleau

Ten health sciences students from Eastern Connecticut State University returned from a study abroad trip in Ghana this August. The purpose of the two-week trip was to introduce students to the health care system of a developing country.

Trip highlights included two days at Mampong Hospital, a rural facility where the students observed two live births. “Students got to see a cesarean section and hold a five-minute old baby, which is an unparalleled experience,” said trip supervisor Rochelle Gimenez, a health sciences professor at Eastern.

“My goal is to become a labor and delivery nurse,” said Helena Delfino ’18. “We all got the chance to stand in the operating room and watch a cesarean section! A few days later we observed a natural birth; I got to stand next to the table and hold the baby boy immediately after he entered the world. This experience solidified my dream of becoming a labor and delivery nurse.”

The Eastern students also spent time at an orphanage and gained first-hand knowledge of the local infrastructure while touring a water-treatment plant and an environmental health/sanitation center. They also visited local markets, a game reserve, a monkey sanctuary, a cultural center, a rainforest, and learned about the slave trade at Cape Coast Castle.

“After returning home, the impact of my trip has really become apparent,” said Allison Nadeau ’17. “As an American-born citizen, I have never known any other lifestyle. My times of hardship are minuscule in comparison to what Ghanaians may go through daily. Clean water, wash rooms, consistent electricity and drivable roads are things that I have taken for granted in the United States. Ghanaians showed me the simplicity of true happiness.”

Students Write Fiction in Italy


Written by Michael Rouleau

Fourteen students from Eastern Connecticut State University spent a month this summer in Florence, Italy, in a global field course called “Creative Writing Abroad.” The region of Tuscany’s rich culture and picturesque landscapes inspired students’ literary senses as they wrote, critiqued and edited original works of fiction.

“While my story had an element of fantasy, other students in the class wrote about realistic scenarios,” explained Victoria Randazzo ’18. “One thing everyone’s story shared was a touch of Florence. Whether characters or places, everyone drew from our daily experiences. I was happy to get more in touch with my creative side; the beauty of Florence was an inspiration.”

“I was able to put a lot of detailed description into my story that I wouldn’t have been able to had I not been there firsthand to see how the city looked, how the people interacted, and the feeling of being away for an extended period of time adapting to another culture,” said McKenzie Fayne ’17. “Being in Italy as a creative writing student gave me the tools I needed to step out of my comfort zone in terms of writing style. I enjoyed writing this piece on my own terms and being able to perfect it while in such a beautiful city.”

Led by English Professor Christopher Torockio, the students gathered for writing workshops at SACI—Studio Arts College International (in Florence)—and immersed themselves in Italian culture as they visited the famed cities of Fiesole, Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca and Pisa.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy to Host Town Hall on August 13

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy will hold a town hall meeting at Eastern Connecticut State University this Sunday, Aug. 13, from 5:15-7 p.m. The event is being held in the Concert Hall of the new Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC).  The FAIC is the second building north of the main entrance on the west side of High Street. Free parking is available in the Cervantes and Shakespeare parking garages.  (Click here for a campus map)  We hope you can join us. Please RSVP to RSVP_Connecticut@Murphy.Senate.Gov; please include your name and town.


‘Colleges of Distinction’ Recognizes Eastern’s Business and Education Programs

colleges of distinction badges

Written by Michael Rouleau

WILLIMANTIC, CT (08/09/2017) The School of Education and Professional Studies at Eastern Connecticut State University has been recognized by Colleges of Distinction for its expert blending of the liberal arts with professional programing in business and education. This honor is in addition to Eastern being named a 2017-18 College of Distinction by the same organization, which is a trusted guide for college-bound students.

In acknowledging the recognition, Jacob Easley, dean of Eastern’s School of Education and Professional Studies, said: “The marriage of liberal arts outcomes with those of professional studies contributes to the unique value and distinction of our programs. Furthermore, our commitment to inquiry, social responsibility, lifelong learning and diversity enriches the lives of students.”

“The 21st-century job market now demands employees who are both stellar communicators and critical-thinkers, and it is with the School of Education and Professional Studies’ well-rounded approach to career development that its students are especially prepared to take on the postgraduate world,” wrote Colleges of Distinction in a recent news release.

“We are ecstatic to celebrate Eastern Connecticut State University for its exceptional commitment to student success,” said Tyson Schritter, chief operating officer for Colleges of Distinction. “Building upon its extensive liberal arts curriculum, as well as its impressive engagement of high-impact practices, Eastern continues to stand out through its stance as a leader in professional education.”

Colleges of Distinction granted these awards in education and business programming after a comprehensive vetting process, selecting schools based on such qualities as accreditation, breadth of program and a track record of success.

Eastern’s Education programs include early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education and educational technology. “Eastern’s future educators are bolstered by an enriching liberal arts perspective, allowing them to be empathetic, creative and efficient mentors for their students,” added Colleges of Distinction.

“The fast-paced, modern world of business requires effective communication and innovative strategies,” wrote the organization. “Eastern’s programs in accounting, business administration, business information systems, finance and organizational management keep their future leaders ahead of the curve and ready to grow alongside the industry.”

About Colleges of Distinction: Colleges of Distinction has recognized and honored schools throughout the U.S. for excellence in undergraduate-focused higher education for over 15 years. The member schools within the Colleges of Distinction consortium distinguish themselves through their focus on the undergraduate experience. For more information, visit CollegesofDistinction.com.

About Eastern Connecticut State University: Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,300 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 163 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 23 other states and 20 other countries. A residential campus offering 39 majors and 64 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked the 26th top public university in the North Region by U.S. News and World Report in its 2017 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded “Green Campus” status by the U.S. Green Building Council seven years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.

Windham Schools Partner with Eastern on Puentes al Futuro Program

Written by Ed Osborn

puentes 2017 games

For the sixth summer in a row, the Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future program provided enrichment activities for Willimantic middle school students from July 5–27. The program is a collaboration between Windham Public Schools’ Office of Family and Community Partnerships and the Center for Community Engagement at Eastern Connecticut State University. The academic and cultural enrichment program was funded in part by a generous grant from Eversource, in addition to funding from Windham Public Schools.

puentes 2017 students in costume

Puentes al Futuro provides a safe space for summer fun and helps students improve their academics in advance of the next school year. The program is an extension of an after-school program in Windham schools during the academic year that has grown from only 20 students when it started six years ago to a level of more than 125 this year.

“The summer Puentes al Futuro program is a unique opportunity for Windham middle school students and Eastern Connecticut State University students to spend an intensive month together outside of the traditional school environment,” said Kimberly Armstrong Silcox, director of the Center for Community Engagement.

puentes 2017 in the pool“The student-led program allows the college students to develop deeper relationships with the youth through leadership development, student engagement and enrichment opportunities. We see the children develop self-confidence, respect for themselves and others, and blooming creativity that is not easily established during the school year with the pressures that children face in school. The Center for Community Engagement is always proud to partner with Windham Public Schools. This program is a terrific reflection of the commitment that Windham Public Schools has to provide resources to support their students in unique and powerful ways.”

During the three-week program, 27 students from Windham who are entering sixth and seventh grade participated in an academic component in the mornings at the middle school and then spent the afternoons at Eastern learning cultural dance, theater and swimming.

This year’s focus was on the immigration experience and the experiences of undocumented individuals and families. The students wrote essays and turned them into monologues that were performed at a “Showcase” during the final day of the program, along with dances and original theatrical pieces the students had developed. The goal was to provide the students with accurate information and to give them a safe space to express their concerns as well as to ask questions. Members of the organization “Connecticut Students for a Dream” met with the participants to provide accurate information about pathways to college for undocumented students.

puentes 2017 showcase final

Each Monday, students also visited the CLiCK (Commercially Licensed, Cooperative Kitchen) in Windham to learn about nutrition, gardening and cooking.

puentes Emiliano Gutierrez“I enjoyed being at Eastern,” said Emiliano Gutierrez, who is entering Windham Middle School this fall. “I had a lot of fun with the other students. We played games — BINGO and “Helicopter” — and also swam in Eastern’s beautiful swimming pool.  We learned about the lives of immigrants and wrote stories about them. I wrote about a young Mexican boy who had immigrated to the United States.”

Manuel Silva will be a student at the Charles H. Burrows STEM Academy this fall. “I learned how to express my creativity in the Puentes program. I wrote my story about four children whose parents had immigrated to the United States and how they are trying to come to America to find their parents.”

Silva was one of four participants who presented their stories in oral monologues during the program’s final showcase on July 27.  After practicing dancing in Eastern’s Dance Studio, the children in the program formed two teams during the final ceremony to perform a “Warrior Dance” in colorful costumes.

The program was staffed by five Eastern students and coordinated by the Center for Community Engagement (CCE). Windham Middle School staff supported the program as well, and professional dancer from New York City taught the dance classes.

Carly Perron ’18 was the Eastern student program coordinator and was assisted by fellow Eastern students Sarah Tricarico, Mariana Vega, Adilsa Encarnacao and Luis Martinez, who served as counselors.

Perron served as a counselor in the program in 2016.  A double major in political science and history who is also preparing for secondary education certification, she is a regular CCE volunteer leader, working in programs for the elderly in addition to the program for middle school students.  “Middle school is hard,” she says. “I want to make the kids’ lives and experiences a bit easier.”

Given the multi-cultural nature of Willimantic, the Puentes program is “all about culture and remembering where you come from,” says Perron. Speaking to the focus on immigration in this year’s program, she said, “I want these students to know the positive side of immigration. They are learning about the rights and opportunities for undocumented children or their undocumented parents.”

The middle school students also got to spend time on a college campus, some for the first time, and realize that going to college and getting their degree is an achievable aspiration.

In addition to the summer program, the Puentes program also includes activities throughout the school year, including several that involve Eastern students. These range from a “Arts and Culture” program for elementary schoolchildren, which focuses on learning the culture of another country — Jamaica, Ireland and Russian have been explored in the past — to the “I Love Me” program designed to build self-confidence for middle school students.

Parents can learn more about the Puentes program and register their children when school begins by visiting www.windham.k12.ct.us or by calling (860) 465-2300. You can also watch a video interview about “Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future” at www.easternct.edu/cce.

For more information about the Center for Community Engagement visit www.easternct.edu/cce or call (860) 465-0090.


Sustainable CT to Provide Path toward Livable Communities

Written by Ed Osborn

                                              Municipal Leaders Celebrate Program Milestone

Co-creators of the emerging Sustainable CT program celebrate at Wickham Park in Manchester.

Co-creators of the emerging Sustainable CT program celebrate at Wickham Park in Manchester.

Willimantic, CT — The creators of “Sustainable CT,” an initiative to help communities become more vibrant and livable, gathered at Wickham Park in Manchester, CT, on July 24 to celebrate their accomplishments.

More than 200 municipal leaders and residents from across the state and people from key agencies, non-profits, businesses and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities have collaborated to create the vision and framework for Sustainable CT.  The Institute for Sustainable Energy at Eastern Connecticut State University is spearheading program development and coordination.

Sustainable CT, created by towns and for towns, is a certification program that will provide a roadmap of best practices and resources intended to help communities become more efficient, healthy, safe, resilient and livable.  Leading up to the celebration, the Sustainable CT Advisory Committee held an all-day work session to make important decisions on program design and forthcoming action.  The program will be further developed over the coming months, with an official launch scheduled for November.

Ted Shafer, First Selectman for the Town of Burlington and Chair of the Sustainable CT Advisory Committee, addresses partners and collaborators.

Ted Shafer, First Selectman for the Town of Burlington and Chair of the Sustainable CT Advisory Committee, addresses partners and collaborators.

Ted Shafer, first selectman for the Town of Burlington and chair of the Sustainable CT Advisory Committee, thanked the crowd and said, “Sustainable CT is a gateway to creating more thriving, resilient, collaborative and forward-looking communities.  I am honored to be working with all of you to create this positive vision and framework for our towns and our state.”

Municipal leaders on hand at the event expressed hope that, in the midst of Connecticut’s budget challenges, Sustainable CT can provide a positive vision to help engage residents in improving their communities and bring much needed resources and support to Connecticut towns.  “We are excited to partner with the Institute for Sustainable Energy on this initiative,” said Joe DeLong, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

“Sustainability actions, policies and investments deliver multiple benefits to all residents and help municipal leaders make efficient use of scarce resources and engage a wide cross-section of residents and businesses,” concluded DeLong.

Representatives from each of Connecticut’s 169 towns and cities have participated in the development of Sustainable CT.  Many elected officials and town staff chaired committees and working groups.  Other municipalities were represented by regional organizations that helped shape the program.

Over the past five months, eight working groups have developed a list of approximately 65 best practices to benefit Connecticut municipalities of all sizes.  The emerging roadmap includes 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.

Tony Cherolis, a youth program coordinator of the BiCi Co program at the Center for Latino Progress (CPRF), is a newer member of the Sustainable CT Transportation Working Group. “I’m generally passionate about the role of transportation in equity and sustainability,” said Cherolis. “I’m becoming the coordinator for the Transport Hartford Academy at CPRF, where we will be providing opportunities for education, discussion, civic engagement and action supports for sustainable and multi-modal transportation options. Being on the Transportation Working Group is a way to bring that kind of engagement to other towns and municipalities that are also excited about this mission.”

The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Hampshire Foundation and the Common Sense Fund have provided seed funding to support the development of Sustainable CT.  For more information visit www.sustainablect.org.