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Published on March 02, 2022

Campus Briefs

After more than a year of pandemic-subdued activity on campus, the fall 2021 semester saw a near return to normal with a range of university events and achievements. Among the highlights were a new internship program with Discovering Amistad, a ceremony commemorating the 20-year anniversary of 9/11, top rankings in U.S. News and World Report, a visit by Governor Lamont and more.

Eastern students teach of The Amistad’s journey to freedom



Eight Eastern students worked with Discovering Amistad this past September and October, teaching Hartford-area middle and high school students about the famed revolt of The Amistad. The Eastern students taught of the ship’s historic rebellion and helped to connect it to contemporary social and racial issues as part of the “Amistad Journey to Freedom” program.

The program served more than 1,000 students from the Hartford, Bloomfield, East Hartford, Windsor and Farmington school districts. Eastern students were trained by Discovering Amistad Staff and gave in-person presentations in the districts’ classrooms.

“We are very excited about working with Eastern Connecticut State University students, faculty and staff to prepare the students to deliver our Amistad Journey to Freedom education program,” wrote Steve Armstrong and Kathleen Peters-Durrigan, co-chairs of the Discovering Amistad Education Committee.

“Eastern was selected as our partner for The Amistad Journey to Freedom because of its reputation for community engagement and the long desire by Discovering Amistad to develop an internship program with Eastern. We are hoping that this wonderful partnership will be just the beginning of a vibrant and productive collaboration.”

Eastern remembers 9/11 on 20-year anniversary



More than 100 members of the Eastern community gathered this past September in remembrance of the terrorist attacks that occurred 20 years prior on Sept. 11, 2001. Students, faculty and staff congregated at the University’s 9/11 memorial tree outside of Gelsi Young Hall to hear remarks and reflections by Eastern students and officials.

“We are holding today’s service not only to remember and honor the 3,000 people who lost their lives on September 11, 2001,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “We are also here to make sure that today’s students, most of whom were not born yet or were too young to remember 9/11, understand the impact of that day on our nation.”

The ceremony opened with remarks by student Nathan Fontaine, president of the Student Government Association (SGA). “I wasn’t old enough on September 11, 2001, to be able to tell you where I was or what I was doing. I was not watching the television or seeing the horrific images that my parents and their friends had to witness and endure 20 years ago.

“But I certainly have seen the photographs of the World Trade Center in flames, the people on the streets of New York covered in ashes . . . limping to safety. It was a war zone, on our soil. Almost 3,000 people died that day — more than the attack on Pearl Harbor 80 years ago that caused the United States to enter World War II.”

U.S. News & World Report ranks Eastern #1 in New England in three categories


US News

For the third year in a row, Eastern was ranked as the #1 public regional university in New England by U.S. News & World Report in its annual review of U.S. colleges and universities. Eastern is again the highest ranked among Connecticut’s four state universities. Released in September 2021, the report also ranks Eastern as New England’s #1 public institution for “best value.” The University also was tied for #1 in New England with Westfield State University for service to veterans.

“Being ranked so highly again by U.S. News and World Report is a testament to the personal commitment our faculty and staff have in serving our students and maintaining the quality of our academic programs,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “Our improved U.S. News and World Report ranking is especially gratifying during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it speaks to the consistency of our services and the resilience of our faculty, staff and students. I am particularly proud of Eastern’s affordability as measured by our #1 “Best Value” ranking, and our ranking in serving veterans — the men and women who keep our nation safe.”

The “best value” ranking considers academic quality relative to the overall costs of attending a college or university and factors in how much financial aid is provided students. The only other Connecticut regional university listed was Fairfield University, a private institution.

Eastern also scored highly in serving veterans; it currently enrolls more than 100 veterans and active-duty service members.  “Eastern is a very military-friendly campus,” said National Guard veteran and sophomore Katherine Platt. “If you have drill and things to do, they understand. And Eastern has a huge variety of majors, which is good for people like me; I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do when I came here.”

Lamont talks with students on loans, pandemic, marijuana



Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont visited the Eastern campus on Oct. 5 to hear student concerns on a variety of issues. A group of 25 students met with the governor for an informal question-and-answer session. The cost of a college education topped the list of student issues, but other topics were also addressed.

“It would be wonderful if Governor Lamont could help students with loans and overwhelming debt,” said McKenna Lerch ’24, an elementary education and liberal studies double major. “It is stressful with the amount of credits and hours spent put into assignments, papers and tests. Worrying about being able to stay in college can be too much at times.”

Computer science major Katherine Platt ’24 focused her questions on the pandemic and state’s efforts to increase vaccinations. “I would also like to know the steps the governor plans to take to slowly drop any mask or social distancing guidelines.”

Political science major Jarod Werner brought up the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Connecticut: “I expressed my support for it, due to the horrible impact the ‘war on drugs’ has had on individuals and communities across the country. I was interested to hear the governor mention the economic benefits he saw legalized marijuana bringing to the state.”

Stephen Tavares sworn in as Eastern’s police chief



Stephen Tavares ’96 was sworn in as Eastern Connecticut State University’s chief of police and director of public safety on Aug. 27.

Tavares is a 1996 Eastern graduate whose return to campus follows a distinguished 26-year career with the Bristol Police Department, where he started as a patrol officer in 1995. Over the length of his career in Bristol, Tavares moved on to such roles as detective, patrol sergeant, lieutenant and deputy chief. He also held specialized positions including narcotics officer, K-9 officer, crisis negotiator and domestic violence liaison.

“I am excited about being a part of a community that means so much to me,” said Tavares. “I attended Eastern and was a residence assistant on campus . . . Now many years later, I am blessed to come back in the role of chief of police.”