Windham Textile & History Museum to Feature Work of Remarkable Dressmaker

WILLIMANTIC, CT (02/01/2019) The remarkable life of Sidonia Perlstein, Holocaust survivor and clothing designer, will be on display at the Windham Textile and History Museum from Feb.8-April 28. “Sidonia’s Thread: Crafting a Life from Holocaust to High Fashion” will showcase up to 50 garments created by Perlstein during her years in America. The exhibition will also display information about Perlstein’s personal history through narrative text and family photographs.

Perlstein’s daughter, Hanna Marcus, will make several appearances and give talks on the exhibition and her mother’s remarkable life. Marcus will be at the museum on Feb. 9 from 2-4 p.m.; Feb. 21 from 1-4 p.m.; Feb 24 from 2-4 p.m. (book talk and signing); March 10 from 1-4 p.m.; March 23 from 10-1 p.m.; April 7 from 1-4 p.m.; and April 28 from 2-4 p.m.

She will also speak at Eastern Connecticut State University on Feb. 13 from 3-4 p.m. in the Student Center Theatre and at the Mansfield Library on March 23 at 2 p.m.

Anya Sokolovskaya, assistant professor of theatre and costume design at Eastern Connecticut State University, collaborated with Marcus to bring the exhibition to life. Sokolovskaya learned of Perlstein’s fascinating life in 2017, at a book talk delivered by Marcus, who is an author and social worker.

“That’s when I learned that Hanna (Marcus) is in possession of a garment collection that was made by Sidonia (Perlstein),” said Sokolovskaya, who is also working with Eastern students on the project.

Garments from the collection will be placed on mannequins to help tell the story of their creator. Other items will illuminate the historical context of the exhibition and explore themes of humanity, including the role of immigration, the effects of Holocaust survival, single parenthood, family loss, and the role of textiles in the development of New England. Audio recordings of stories about Perlstein, narrated by her daughter, will be presented as well.

This project is funded by the Hochberg Committee for Holocaust and Human Rights Education at theTemple Bnai Israel; Connecticut Humanities, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Windham Textile and History Museum; and the CSU-AAUP 2018-19 University Research Grant.

The Windham Textile and History Museum is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. General admission is $7; students and seniors (62+) pay $5; and free for museum members, children under 5 years old, and Eastern students. For more information, contact themillmuseum@gmail.com or sokolovskayaa@easternct.edu.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern’s Raouf Mama Wins Storytelling Award

Raouf Mama (middle) with workshop participants at the annual conference for the Benin National Teachers of English Association (BNTEA) this January.

English Professor Raouf Mama recently received an award from the Benin National Teachers of English Association (BNTEA) for “Outstanding Storytelling and Service to English Teaching.” The BNTEA’s second annual conference was held from Jan.17-19 in Parakou, Benin. The conference recognizes English teachers for expanding the English language throughout the country of Benin and worldwide.

At the conference, Mama gave a plenary address titled “The Pursuit of Excellence in the Learning and Teaching of English.” He also led three workshops titled “Better Storytelling Skills Make Better Teachers.”

Mama performs African and multicultural stories, blending storytelling with poetry, song, music and dance. An orator out of the African oral tradition, he has been a keynote speaker at literary award ceremonies and fundraisers, as well as a plenary speaker at international and regional conferences in the U.S., Benin, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Venezuela.

Written by Bobbi Brown

Eastern’s Social Work Program is One of Nation’s Most Affordable

Eastern Connecticut State University’s bachelor’s degree in social work was recently named one of the nation’s 101 most affordable social work programs by humanservicesed.org.

Humanservicesed.org, which supports educational programs and careers in a variety of human services fields, developed a list of the most affordable accredited bachelor of social work programs in all 50 states, featuring one public and one private institution per state where both options are available. If there was more than one program in the private or public sector with similar costs, both were included.

The organization determined an average four-year cost of the accredited bachelor of social work programs in each state — one average for programs offered at public schools and a separate average for programs offered at private schools.

“We are honored to be among the 101 most affordable social work programs in the nation,” said Eunice Matthews-Armstead, professor and coordinator of Eastern’s social work program. “Accessibility is an important issue for us as we strive to prepare a diverse population of students to be competent generalist social work practitioners concerned with issues of social justice.  We provide our student with a strong and supportive learning community that successfully graduates 98 percent of the students, of whom 76 percent gain access to some of the top advanced standing Master of Social Work programs.” 

Each school on the list is accredited by a regional or national accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education and the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, only programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Commission on Accreditation were listed. CSWE accreditation looks at how curriculum is built and kept current; how faculty are evaluated; testing and grading standards; and resources and administrative support systems.

“I am very pleased to see that our social work program, which has a strong academic reputation among our region’s human service agencies, is being recognized as being one of the nation’s most affordable programs,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “At Eastern, we pride ourselves on offering high quality educational experiences while also being accessible to students from all walks of life. The Social Work program exemplifies both those standards.”

In addition to a cost estimate for four years of education at each institution, the profiles found at humanservicesed.org also provide other useful information about the institutions that made the list.

Written by Ed Osborn

CCE Receives Outstanding Volunteer Award from United Way

CCE Director Kim Silcox and CCE student leaders Jack Irvine and Jocelyn Santiago pose with the United Way award for “Outstanding Volunteer Mobilization.”

The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at Eastern Connecticut State University was recognized for “Outstanding Volunteer Mobilization” by the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut at a Community Campaign Celebration on Jan. 15.

The award was presented to the CCE for its effectiveness in organizing volunteers in the Willimantic community. Eastern students have volunteered with the United Way Readers program for the past three years at Natchaug School. Student volunteers have also been instrumental in the Day of Caring, a major volunteer effort each fall in locations across Windham. The event is a collaboration between Eastern, the University of Connecticut and the United Way.

Jack Irvine, a sophomore from Cromwell who majors in elementary education and English, and Jocelyn Santiago, a senior from Ledyard who majors in Spanish, have been responsible for coordinating volunteers for the two programs.

“It has been a great experience working with the United Way Readers program,” said Irvine. “My volunteers have loved the experience.”

“Day of Caring is a large-scale event that provides students the opportunity to help community partners with outdoor cleanups, painting and more,” said Santiago. “It’s been a great experience to see the impact that so many students can have in the community on one day.”

CCE Director Kimberly Silcox commented, “Our partnership with the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut is an important relationship within the Willimantic community. We are proud to work with the United Way staff to serve our community in meaningful ways.”

Written by Michael Rouleau

Gregory Kane Releases New Edition Book on Sport Leadership

Gregory Kane, kinesiology and physical education professor at Eastern Connecticut State University, recently released the second edition of his book “Sport Leadership in the 21st Century.” The textbook is co-authored by John F. Borland of Springfield College and Laura J. Burton of the University of Connecticut. Eastern Psychology Professors Peter Bachiochi and Wendi Everton contributed to chapter 10, “Leadership in Groups and Teams.”

Several years ago, the authors set out to create a textbook designed for sport management classes that emphasized leadership styles. In an effort to reflect changes in the field, the second edition of “Sports Leadership in the 21st Century” features more interviews with sports professionals who share their experiences and helpful practices they’ve learned through their careers. Topics discussed range from social media usage, to integration of athletes with disabilities, to governance structures at the Olympics.

Gregory Kane, chair and professor of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education

“We made a point to get industry-direct information from a wide variety of organizations and sports,” says Kane, who conducted interviews with members of the Boston Celtics, New York Marathon, Twitch and Ski Magazine.

Included in the new edition are updated case studies to spark classroom discussion and bring real-world experience to student learning. These case studies contain critical-thinking questions and a variety of topics, such as effective team leadership in electronic sports (including video game competition) and the continued underrepresentation of women in international sport leadership.

Speaking to the evolution of sport management, Kane concluded, “Leadership styles change as we grow as individuals, reflect our behavior, and adapt to evolving organizational and societal landscapes. Leadership is a set of behaviors that can be learned through understanding theory, practice, mentorships and internships.”

Written by Raven Dillon

Professor RuJoub Receives IMA Faculty Leadership Award

Dr. RuJoub received the distinguished service award at the IMA’s annual conference this past November

The Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals (AAFP) and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) recently named Mohd RuJoub, professor of accounting at Eastern Connecticut State University, recipient of its 2018 Distinguished Service Award for Educators. The IMA presented RuJoub on Nov. 3, 2018, at the IMA Student Leadership Annual Conference in St. Louis, MO.

The IMA has more than 100,000 members world wide, yet only grants one faculty leadership award per year. The award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated exemplary leadership within and service to the IMA, and has demonstrated significant leadership activities at the national, regional and/or local levels of the IMA. Additional contributions and activities include supporting student participation and student chapters in IMA; leadership, participation and support of the Annual Student Case Competition; recruiting students into meaningful participation in the local, regional and national IMA; and supporting research and writing in IMA publications, such as “Strategic Finance and Management Accounting Quarterly” and other IMA-sponsored research.

“Congratulations! It is an honor for us to choose you from an outstanding group of candidates as a distinguished leader among your peers and an active supporter of IMA activities,” wrote Kerry Butkera, IMA’s research and academics relations administrator, in a letter to Rujoub. “The IMA appreciates your time and dedication to your students and the IMA.”

Rujoub resides in Hebron. He has been attending the IMA Student Leadership Conference with Eastern students every year for the past 18 years. This year, he took six students to the conference. “Thank you very much for this award,” said Rujoub. “I am deeply grateful. It is an immense honor to be recognized by the IMA organization for the 2018 Leadership Award. What a pleasant surprise! Everyone in the IMA organization is so gracious to recognize my work in this way.”

Under Rujoub’s tutelage, the accounting program at Eastern has risen in prestige. In 2015, Rujoub set up a scholarship in his name – the Dr. Mohd Rujoub and Family Endowed Accounting Scholarship. Scholarship are granted to accounting majors with a minimum 3.0 GPA and in financial need. To donate, visit: https://ecsufoundation.com/annual-fund.

Written by Dwight Bachman

ISE Interns Shift Three Rivers CC to Sustainable Lighting

Alex Fazzino (left) Oscar Gomez (right) review the Three Rivers Community Collage lighting blueprints.

This January marked the conclusion of an Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) project that began two years ago. Student interns from Eastern’s ISE conducted a massive conversion to energy-efficient lighting at Three Rivers Community College.

In total, 8,575 light bulbs were replaced with LED lights by students Emma Avery ’19, Tara Brooks ’18, Leticia Denoya ’17, Alex Fazzino ’18, Oscar Gomez ’18, Weronika Lewkowicz ’17 and Zachary Stygar ’17. The interns have all since graduated.

Their auditing efforts included counting the light bulbs in all of Three Rivers’ buildings, along with identifying fixtures, bulb types, running hours and cost to create a master spreadsheet for later use. The upgrade is estimated to save more than $55,000 in energy costs moving forward — equivalent to the tuition for 14 full-time students.

In addition to gaining insight on how different kinds of bulbs can create different ambiances, the ISE interns learned that some lighting choices may be aesthetically pleasing but waste energy. The Eastern students spent six months on the project, working with facility managers, lighting specialists and contractors.

Along with initiatives throughout Connecticut to advance the adoption of practical, cost-effective solutions and strategies that increase energy efficiency, sustainability and resilience, the ISE works in close partnership with Eastern’s Center for Sustainable Energy Studies and the Facilities Management and Planning Department to incorporate sustainability into the academic offerings, physical infrastructure and culture of Eastern Connecticut State University.

Written by Jordan Corey

Eastern Helps Hartford Deltas Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Eastern’s delegation (left to right): Dwight Bachman, public relations officer; Kayla Rose Thomas ’19 a communication major from Windsor; Morgan Russell ’19 a political science major from Hartford; Gov. Lamont; Stacey Close, associate vice president for equity and diversity; Katherine Atkinson, administrative assistant to Eastern President Elsa Núñez; Chelsy Popo ’19, a political science major from Manchester; Hanna Antoine ’22, a health sciences major from East Hartford; and Alyssa Lawrence ’22, a sociology major from East Hartford

Several Eastern staff and students attended the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast at the Connecticut Convention Center on Jan. 21. Dr. King would have been 90 years old this year. 

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, State Treasurer Shawn Wooden, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy, and Johana Hayes, the first African American woman elected to Congress from Connecticut, were among the many dignitaries in attendance.  Lamont promised the packed ballroom that he would create a diverse cabinet and state government that would work to make Dr. King’s dream a reality.

Since 1984, the Deltas have provided scholarships totaling $365,000 to upwards of 150 African American female high school students to support their college education.

Revelations Abound in Hawaii for Eastern Students

Photo by Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault.

Twenty psychology students expanded their worldview over winter session during a global field course in Hawaii. Titled “Cross-Cultural Well-Being and Relationships in Hawaii,” the course ran from Jan. 2–11. Students were immersed in the local culture and visited some of the island chain’s most breathtaking sites.

“This course was designed to provide an overview of cross-cultural issues related to well-being and relationships,” said Psychology Professor Madeleine Fugère, who led the trip with Professor Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault. “Aspects of well-being and relationships were examined from Western and native-Hawaiian perspectives.”

The Eastern students examined differences in attachment styles, social support, parenting, psychological disorders, personality and emotional expression, physical attraction, romantic relationships and compassionate love.

“I came to realize some of my own cultural biases,” said Danielle Gallagher ’20. “Being aware of these biases will enable me to interact better with individuals from a multitude of cultural backgrounds, which will not only help me in achieving my career goals, but in my daily interactions in general.”

The Eastern group volunteered at an ancient fish farm that is damaged by storms and invasive plant growth. They helped rebuild a portion of the wall that surrounds the pond, and cut and burned invasive mangrove. Photo by Madeleine Fugère.

One of the students’ most impactful realizations was how the native people relate interpersonally. “Hawaiians have a strong sense of family and community,” said Erica Mchugh ’19. “They call everyone cousin, uncle and other familial terms. Throughout our trip, many of the locals referred to us as cousins, even though we had never met them before.

“Hawaiians put a lot of emphasis on the ‘aloha spirit’ and treating everyone with kindness,” added Mchugh. “We’re not used to this concept in the Northeast. Most of the time we don’t think to stop and say hi to a stranger.”

Cooled lava from the eruptions of summer 2018 cover a roadway. Photo by Brianna Starkey.

What struck Brianna Starkey ’19 was how the natives regard members of the LGBTQ community. “Native Hawaiians have a much more accepting approach to individuals in this community, especially transgender individuals,” she said. “We learned that individuals who identify with both masculine and feminine genders are called ‘mahu,’ which means having the spirit of a male and female. These people are not judged as having something wrong with them like they often are in our culture.”

Another revelation was the people’s connection to the land, and their respect for volcanic activity. “We spent so much time in nature — restoring an ancient fish pond, exploring lava tubes, hiking the ancient petroglyph trail — it was impossible to ignore the respect for the land all around us,” said Gallagher, who remarked on the prevalence of signs reminding nature goers to be respectful of wildlife, as well as the cultural emphasis to live more sustainably.

“‘Pele’ is the goddess of the volcanoes, who is credited with creating the islands,” said Gallagher. “There is a lot of respect for Pele and her land because Hawaiians feel it is a gift that they are able to be there. There is no sense of entitlement or ownership over the land, but gratitude and respect toward it.”

Signs dot the Hawaiian countryside telling people to respect the land. Photo by Danielle Gallagher.

During a tour in which the Eastern group saw a road covered in hardened lava from the volcanic eruptions of summer 2018, the guide informed them that Hawaiians don’t divert the lava’s path, out of respect for Pele.

“This mindset was incredibly hard for me to relate to because there is a strong sense of land ownership in our culture and it’s rare to see such passivity in relation to natural events,” added Gallagher. “Our culture attempts to exert control over events as much as possible, rather than accepting and embracing them as they come.”

Another highlight of the trip was a volunteer project at the 800-year-old Pae Pae fishpond, which is a source of food for the locals but currently damaged by storms and the growth of invasive plant species.

The Eastern group also went on several excursions to sites such as Pearl Harbor, Puako Petroglyph Field, Rainbow Falls, Imiloa Astronomy Center, Volcanoes National Park, Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, Pu’uhonoa o Honaunau National Historic Park, and St. Benedict’s Catholic Church (Painted Church). 

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern’s New PASS Program Offers ‘Academic Reset’ for Students

Academic advisors and study-skills specialists in Easterm’s Advising Center help students develop individualized action plans.

Eastern Connecticut State University is going the extra mile to ensure that African American and Hispanic students who end up on academic probation are provided the support they need to succeed. The new PASS (Promoting Academically Successful Students) program is funded through a $75,000 grant from the Connecticut State Office of Higher Education.

PASS recognizes that African American and Hispanic college students are often first-generation college students without college-educated parents to provide support and personal knowledge of what it is like to attend college. Trying to juggle supporting a family, working to pay for tuition, room and board, and books, and studying can be stressful. Adjusting to campus life is also a challenge. The result can be academic probation and can even lead to dropping out.

PASS is managed by Eastern’s Office of Continuing Studies and Enhanced Learning (CSEL) in collaboration with the Center for Internships and Career Development (CICD) and Eastern’s Advising Center. The program uses a hands-on advising model and an active career development program to inform students of available support services.

“While the PASS Program’s immediate goal is to return participants to good academic standing by the end of the semester, its ultimate goal is to reset how students perceive themselves academically and professionally so they put in place learning practices that will sustain them through to graduation,” said June Dunn, assistant dean in the Office of Continuing Studies and Enhanced Learning. 

Dunn says PASS helps students take charge of their own learning. “This is particularly crucial for first-generation students on probation who may not have family members or mentors who are college graduates to prepare them for college success. They have repeatedly heard it’s important to get good grades, and they will tell anyone who asks that their intention is to get good grades. What’s unique about Eastern’s PASS program is that we are putting in place the infrastructure that helps students internalize the connection between their education and career goals,” said Dunn.

PASS requires weekly mandatory advising sessions, skill development workshops, and group meetings for all participating students to review their schedules and make any necessary adjustments. Academic advisors and study skills specialists help students develop individualized action plans that may include more appropriate course selection and/or majors Students must show how they plan to keep up with coursework and meet professor expectations.

Eastern’s Center for Internships and Career Development helps students internalize the connection between their education and career goals.

The CICD also has an important role. “Participating students have to take the FOCUS 2 assessment, and then come into the office to meet with a career advisor to assess results,” said Cliff Marrett, CIDC director. “The assessment helps each students identify a major and explore career clusters that align with their interests. Students work with their career advisor and check in weekly after they complete their career development assigned tasks.”

Participating students also attend workshops on resume development, interviewing skills and dressing for success, and use interactive online job search tools and mentoring programs to connect to potential employers and alumni mentors.  “We believe this rigorous academic/career routine will ensure the motivation needed for students to come off and remain off academic probation,” said Dunn.

by Dwight Bachman