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Two of Eastern’s Top Students Named Barnard Scholars

Barnard Scholars Sabreena Croteau ’16 and Quanece Williams ’16 with Eastern President Elsa Núñez.

Barnard Scholars Sabreena Croteau ’16 and Quanece Williams ’16 with Eastern President Elsa Nunez.

Two of Eastern Connecticut State University’s top students were named Barnard Scholars on April 6 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville, CT. The annual Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Awards recognize 12 outstanding undergraduates from Connecticut’s four state universities (Central, Eastern, Southern and Western). Quanece Williams ’16 of Bridgeport and Sabreena Croteau ’16 of North Kingstown, RI, were Eastern’s awardees; both are double majoring in political science and history.

The Barnard awards program is the premier academic recognition event for the Connecticut State University (CSU) system. To be considered for the award, a student must have at least a 3.75 GPA, a record of community service and be nominated by their respective university president. Eastern’s awardees fulfill these requirements, and further standout because of their research achievements and global perspectives.

From studying abroad in Eastern Europe, to assisting professors in their research, to interning with the state government, to volunteering with local Hispanic children to develop English literacy, Williams has been a broadly involved, quintessential liberal arts student. With particular interest in immigration law, she aspires to be an attorney. “I want to be a person who is able to represent someone whose rights have been infringed upon,” she said. “It’s important to advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves, or don’t know how to.”

Croteau’s impressive research projects — several of which she presented at national conferences — and travels abroad helped earn her the distinction. From the Middle East to France to Honduras, Croteau says of traveling, “When you go out of your comfort zone and go somewhere that counters your worldview, your mind opens and you grow as a person.” Croteau aspires to attend graduate school to study international relations and comparative politics in pursuit of a career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Three Recognized at Ella Grasso Awards

Left to right: Ken Bedini, vice president of Student Affairs, student award winner Alex Cross, faculty/staff award winner Sergeant Lisa Hamilton, community award winner Leigh Duffy, keynote speaker Mayor Erin Stewart and Kim Silcox, director of the Center for Community Engagement, at Eastern’s eighth annual Ella Grasso awards ceremony.

Left to right: Ken Bedini, vice president of Student Affairs, student award winner Alex Cross, faculty/staff award winner Sergeant Lisa Hamilton, community award winner Leigh Duffy, keynote speaker Mayor Erin Stewart and Kim Silcox, director of the Center for Community Engagement, at Eastern’s eighth annual Ella Grasso awards ceremony.

Eastern Connecticut State University presented its annual Ella T. Grasso Distinguished Service Awards on March 30. In its eighth year, the awards recognized three individuals who work tirelessly to promote women’s rights and gender equality. The community award went to Leigh Duffy ’06, director of the Windham No Freeze Hospitality Center; the staff award went to Sergeant Lisa Hamilton of Eastern’s Department of Public Safety; and the student award went to political science major Alex Cross ’16. The event’s keynote speaker was Mayor Erin Stewart of New Britain.

Ella T. Grasso became governor of Connecticut in 1974, and in doing so was the first woman in America to be elected in her own right to that office. Known for her compassion, intelligence and tenacious spirit, Grasso was seen as an effective leader who shattered the “glass ceiling.” She tragically passed away from cancer in 1981.

“I would like to be able to say that through the leadership of people like Ella Grasso, women have no limits today in what they can accomplish,” said Elsa Núñez, president of Eastern. “The fact is, we still have more work to do.” Núñez went on to explain that women outnumber men in college, yet have more difficulty finding employment and get paid less for the same work. “The struggle that Ella Grasso fought for us decades ago continues,” said Núñez, “and the three people we honor this afternoon, as well as our keynote speaker, are part of that good fight.”

Three Honored at Annual Martin Luther King Awards

2016 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award Winners Charles Chatterton, Courtney Callaway and Kevin Booker Jr.

2016 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award Winners Charles Chatterton, Courtney Callaway and Kevin Booker Jr.

Three individuals who demonstrate the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were honored at Eastern’s annual MLK awards on Feb. 24. Kevin Booker, a teacher from New London, won the community award; Charlie Chatterton, professor of kinesiology and physical education at Eastern, won the faculty award; and Courtney Callaway, a social work major, won the student award.

Booker’s efforts involve assisting victims of sexual assault, facilitating leadership and diversity workshops, serving as a mentor and traveling the United States as a public speaker. In addition to promoting physical activity on Eastern’s campus, Chatterton created an initiative in 2006 called “Taking Strides to Brake the Cycle of Poverty,” which spreads awareness of the issues of poverty and raises funds to alleviate them. Callaway’s involvements span the Women’s Center, Intercultural Center, Senior Class Committee and Student Advisory Council, where she works to promote social justice issues for underrepresented communities.

Eastern’s Hockey Team Named NECHA American Conference Champions

The team celebrating after beating Southern New Hampshire University 4-2 and becoming NECHA American Conference champions.

The team celebrating after beating Southern New Hampshire University 4-2 and becoming NECHA American Conference champions.

The Eastern Connecticut State University club hockey team claimed the title of American Conference champions of the Northeast Collegiate Hockey Association (NECHA) on Feb. 21 with a 4-2 victory over Southern New Hampshire University. The team finished with a regular season record of 11-1, the second best record in the 32-team NECHA.

“The key to our success is the quality of our players,” said John Brancati, head coach. “They are dedicated and determined; they have the will to win.”

Eastern’s overall American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) record was 22-2-1, with more than half of their games played against teams outside of the NECHA. There are more than 400 collegiate teams nationwide in the ACHA. [read more]

New Website for the Arts at Eastern

Learn about the new Fine Arts Instructional Center, delve into the history of the arts at Eastern, view this semester’s calendar of events, browse Eastern’s art-related academic offerings and more at this new website.

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Windham Artist Discusses First Exhibition in Eastern’s New Fine Arts Center

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Eastern Connecticut State University proudly presents “In Place, In Time,” the first exhibition in the art gallery of the new Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC). The exhibition features the work of local Windham photographer T. Harrison Judd, and runs from Jan. 14 to Feb. 25. Judd talked about his exhibition on Jan. 28.

Judd’s images share subject matter and themes similar to the paintings of 19th-century Windham artist J. Alden Weir. The striking connections capture the timelessness of art, highlighting connections between contemporary and historical artwork.

Judd-TalkingDuring his talk, Judd spoke to the themes and inspirations behind his work and answered questions about the process of creating specific pieces as well as the overarching theme of the exhibition. The title of the show, “In Place, In Time,” has strong connections to Judd’s career as an artist and his belief that all people should live their lives in the moment. “Being present in time is all we truly have and that is a large part of why this show is called ‘In Place, In Time,” he said. “We must allow technology and the outside world to help us, not control us. Having control over yourself is the most fundamental creative act.”

Judd also spoke about the creative process of being an artist and how living a creative life allowed the exhibition to come to life. “To be creative means to be disconnected from the society we have built,” said Judd. “Living creatively allows you to find what you truly love to do. A creative view of nature develops contemplation and appreciation for your surroundings.”

George Weinstock Discusses the Human Microbiome at Eastern

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Pioneering scientist George Weinstock visited Eastern Connecticut State University on Jan. 27 to explain “The Human Microbiome: A New Frontier That Might Just Affect Everything.” Associate director of microbial genomics at The Jackson Laboratory, Weinstock spoke to a crowd of 200 students, faculty and other members of the Eastern community in the Student Center Theatre.

“Right now I’m looking out at a sea of microbial cells held together by a human body framework,” said Weinstock to the capacity crowd, informing the audience that our bodies are only 10 percent human cells, with 90 percent of the cells in our body being bacteria. “You’re loaded with microorganisms. Understanding them will help us to better understand ourselves.”

The human microbiome is composed of those microbes (microorganisms) that live in and on our bodies. This microscopic ecological community impacts all of our bodily functions and processes, from digestion, to immunity, to hereditary and genetic diversity.

Since the field is so new and the technology so young, scientists who study the microbiome are at the early stages of gathering and analyzing data, trying to find similarities and correlations between the microbiomes of different people (the amounts and types of microbial cells).

“For most of this, it’s correlation, not causation,” emphasized Weinstock, admitting that at this time they cannot be certain of what microbial factors may cause certain diseases and other phenomena. It is expected that understanding the microbiome will revolutionize healthcare, enabling precision (personalized) medicine, as well as unimagined applications. “This is just the beginning,” concluded Weinstock. “We know a lot will come of this.”

Three Eastern Faculty Researchers Featured in TV Documentaries

Three assistant professors at Eastern Connecticut State University had an unusual fall 2015 semester. Because of their academic expertise and research activities — and a little bit of luck — they were pursued by nationally televised documentary programs. Environmental Earth Science Professor Bryan Oakley recently appeared on “Xploration Awesome Planet”; Anthropology Professor Sarah Baires will appear on the Smithsonian Channel’s new series “Ancient Mysteries”; and History Professor Thomas Balcerski will appear on “Lectures in History,” a C-SPAN series.

Bryan Oakley recording the profile (position and elevation) of the beach at Napatree Point, RI, during the filming of “Xploration Awesome Planet” in October 2015. Photo credit: Janice Sassi, Watch Hill Conservancy.

Bryan Oakley recording the profile (position and elevation) of the beach at Napatree Point, RI, during the filming of “Xploration Awesome Planet” in October 2015. Photo credit: Janice Sassi, Watch Hill Conservancy.

Professor Oakley, an environmental geoscientist, appeared on “Xploration Awesome Planet,” a television program hosted by Philippe Cousteau, grandson of famed explorer Jacques Cousteau. Producers of the program sought out Oakley because of his expertise in shoreline change along Napatree Point, RI — an undeveloped extension of beach that responds uninhibitedly to coastal weather.

Since Napatree is one of the few undeveloped regions along the New England coastline, “we can study processes in a fairly natural sense,” said Oakley. Landforms such as Napatree (also known as “barriers”) “are formed by wind, waves and tides, so those same processes then impact them.” The intense conditions brought on by storms particularly impact barriers — the shape of the shore, the width the beach, the height of the dunes and other features.

During the October filming at Napatree, the approaching Hurricane Joaquin battered the Northeast. Cameras and microphones were pointed at Oakley and Cousteau as rain poured down and wind gusted. “It was a bit surreal,” said Oakley. “I was getting smashed by waves, trying not to fall down, all while having to maintain this dialogue with the host.”

Sarah Baires (left) working at a site three years ago (as a PhD student) near Cahokia. The site (Collins Site) can be thought of as suburb to Cahokia. She and her then-classmate were studying the site to determine the size of the Native American dwelling that once stood there.

Sarah Baires (left) working at a site three years ago (as a PhD student) near Cahokia. The site (Collins Site) can be thought of as suburb to Cahokia. She and her then-classmate were studying the site to determine the size of the Native American dwelling that once stood there.

Professor Baires, an anthropologist, will appear in “Ancient Mysteries,” a brand-new documentary series on the Smithsonian Channel. She was sought out because of her knowledge of historic Cahokia, the largest indigenous city in North America north of Mexico. Located in southern Illinois, the short-lived metropolis (dating from 1050–1400 A.D.) is relatively unknown by the masses, despite containing approximately 120 earthen mounds, some of which are among the largest in the world. The emergence of Cahokia perplexes scholars to this day.

“People don’t hear about Cahokia partly because of the erasure of native history through the colonial process,” said Baires. “A lot of the mounds were destroyed in the 1800s from farming and construction; people would bulldoze the area without thinking about it.”

Baires has been researching Cahokia since 2007, participating in archaeological digs and using ground-penetrating radar to create maps of the city’s unexcavated features. Among the peculiarities surrounding Cahokia is the fact that it was built within a floodplain — a seeming disadvantage from an urban development standpoint. Yet approximately 20,000 people migrated to the area and immediately began constructing mounds and other raised earthen features.

Thomas Balcerski addressing his class during the C-SPAN filming of “Lectures in History” in Webb Hall at the Eastern campus.

Thomas Balcerski addressing his class during the C-SPAN filming of “Lectures in History” in Webb Hall at the Eastern campus.

Professor Balcerski, a historian, will appear on the C-SPAN program “Lectures in History.” C-SPAN came to Eastern in November to film Balcerski delivering a lecture in front of one of his introductory U.S. history classes, titled “Political Culture of Antebellum Congress.”

The lecture focused on three aspects of the political culture of pre-Civil War America: “tobacco culture,” “political friendships” and “affairs of honor.”

“Through an investigation of Antebellum political culture, those three patterns emerge,” said Balcerski. Though this era is nearly 200 years in the past, its legacies carry on. “This stuff doesn’t die, it changes,” he continued. “The idea that you can lodge political power through your domestic arrangement, that’s not dead. The idea that men and politicians drink together, that’s not dead. As far as challenging to a duel, while the actual affairs of honor are no more, the discourse about honor still persists in politics.”

Eastern Reveals 2015 TIMPANI Toy Study Results

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Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Early Childhood Education announced on Dec. 7 that a wooden cash register produced by Hape Toys has been named the 2015 TIMPANI (Toys that Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination) Toy.

Now in its seventh year, the annual TIMPANI study investigates how young children play with a variety of toys in natural settings. This year, 10 toys were selected for the study by the center’s faculty and student researchers. The toys were then approved by an advisory committee made up of Child and Family Development Resource Center staff.

The toys were placed in preschool classrooms, 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 problem-solving, cooperation and social interaction, creativity and imagination, and verbalization.

All of the toys of the 2015 TIMPANI study.

All of the toys of the 2015 TIMPANI study.

“The TIMPANI study has garnered national media attention across our country, and is used as an educational model in countries as far away as Turkey,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “This international interest is wonderful, but it is not why we conduct this study of preschool toys. We do it to help guide preschool teachers, parents and others in selecting toys for their children that promote intellectual growth, social interaction and creativity.  In the process, we have been able to give our early childhood education students an excellent opportunity to conduct empirical research under the tutelage of Eastern’s early childhood education faculty. It turns out that important science is at work, and much can be learned, as we watch children at play.”

The wooden cash register was chosen as this year’s TIMPANI toy for several reasons – it scored highly in all subscales, particularly creativity and imagination and social interaction, and was the highest scoring toy for verbalization. It also scored very highly across age, gender, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Heather Oski, a student involved in the study, noted, “Cash registers are often a staple in preschool classrooms, but this one is unique because it’s made of wood and doesn’t make noises or have special effects. It seemed to encourage the children to really use all of its pieces in their play.”

Study Abroad


“Studying abroad is probably the best decision I’ve ever made.” – Lizzie De Block (semester in Italy)

Application Deadline

Fall semester: March 15th – Spring semester: October

Eastern Has a New Mascot

In 2014, through the advocacy of lacrosse player Aaron Daley ’15, the Student Government Association (SGA) launched a campaign to develop a new athletic mascot for Eastern Connecticut State University. The sentiment on campus was that the existing mascot—“Sheldon the Shield”—did not sufficiently represent the competitive spirit of the school’s athletic teams.

“I believe the student body was in favor of a new mascot simply for the reason that the old mascot wasn’t intimidating enough,” said SGA Secretary Nicole Vigorita. “As a student, I like showing the other team what we’re made of and I think this new mascot will do just that.”
As part of the process for developing the new mascot, the SGA served as a focus group for the redesign process and played a vital role in ensuring that the student body’s voice was heard throughout.

To kick off the design process, an e-mail was sent out to all Eastern students encouraging them to submit a design. The only rules — make sure the design was not offensive, gender specific or overly aggressive. The result was 11 viable options that were distributed via e-mail and voted on by students. After a year of brainstorming, planning and designing, Eastern’s new Warrior mascot was finally ready to be unveiled. The winning design was submitted by student Alexa Senia.

“Having students design their visions and then allowing the campus to cast their vote gave us valuable feedback on a variety of levels,” said Director of Student Affairs Michelle Delaney. “Since students were involved so early in the process, everyone was excited to see which design won. To see that come to life is great.”

As an ambassador for the University, the new mascot will be present at sporting events and other activities all over campus. From athletic events to student orientation, to campus activities, students can expect the mascot to have a big presence on campus. There is also a hope that the mascot will be involved in events in the local community to promote Eastern’s brand. “The new mascot isn’t only valuable for the Athletics Department. This mascot will be the face of the entire University, and can be a source of pride for students, faculty and alumni for many years,” said Equipment Manager Scott Smith.

In the fall 2015 semester, a contest will be conducted through social media to select a name for the mascot. Stay tuned!