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Published on May 09, 2023

President's Message

A shared commitment to access and opportunity

NunezAs I reflect on my 17 years at Eastern, I can recall many special moments — memorable events, student and faculty accomplishments, new buildings and other snapshots in time. What strikes me about all these memories is that they speak to the collective values held by those of us who call Eastern home.

The Eastern family – more than 40,000 alumni, 4,000 current students, and 1,000 faculty and staff — are bound together by a common commitment to learning and the realization that Eastern is making a positive difference in our state and nation. Over the years, I have witnessed three recurring themes on our campus that further define Eastern — each of them is captured in our mission statement.

Academic excellence: Last fall we learned that Eastern — for the first time — was named one of the top 20 public universities in the North Region in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings. Anthropology Professor Sarah Baires has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to further study the ancient indigenous city of Cahokia in southwestern Illinois. Earlier this year, elementary school teacher Elaine Hill ’17 was recognized with a prestigious Milken Educator Award. Other alumni are making their contributions known at the Mohegan Sun, at Hartford HealthCare and in many other professions and locations.

Supporting the public good: As a public university, Eastern has long been focused on serving our local and state communities. Faculty and students in our Biology Department are using a NASA grant to study scorpions as they seek new antibiotics in the wake of increased bacterial resistance. Staff in our childcare center are at the forefront of bilingual education for preschoolers. In response to the national nursing shortage, Eastern will launch a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program this coming fall.

Eastern is also committed to the environment and was recently awarded its first gold rating in the annual Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS).

Access and opportunity: From our local STEP/CAP program to working with Higher Edge in New London, to supporting “Promise” scholarship recipients from Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury, Eastern continues to make a college education accessible and afford-able to students from all backgrounds. At the national level, for the past six years and counting, Eastern has enrolled more Opportunity and National Scholars — upwards of 350 — than any other partner school of TheDream.US, established in 2016 by former Washington Post publisher Donald Graham to support undocumented students. This winter we received a NASA grant to encourage high school students to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers, and we are in the second year of a similar NSF grant to enroll students from lower-income families as they also pursue STEM professions.

As always, our mission is advanced by the financial support of alumni and other donors, through major gifts, Annual Fund contributions, our yearly #Warriors Give campaign, endowed scholarships and through many other means. I am forever grateful for this generosity and for the good will shown by members of our Eastern family. Together, we can continue to be proud of our mission as Connecticut’s only public liberal arts university, a mantle of distinction we carry with honor.

Elsa M. Núñez