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Eastern’s Letterman Wins Charles Dunn Award

Published on April 15, 2015

Eastern’s Letterman Wins Charles Dunn Award

With 29 colleges and universities and hundreds of faculty members in the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), Margaret Letterman of Eastern Connecticut State University is one of only two professors in COPLAC to receive the Charles Dunn Award in 2015. This annual award recognizes faculty members whose commitment to student success goes “above and beyond” the classroom and the traditional roles of teacher and advisor—demonstrating extraordinary attention to students as individuals who face unique challenges.

In their nomination, Psychology Professors Wendi Everton and Peter Bachiochi said, “Margaret is the most student-centered faculty member we know.” While her teaching and out-of-class activities benefit students across campus, Letterman’s actions particularly impact Latino and other minority populations at Eastern.

As a central figure in the Summer Transition at Eastern Program/Contract Admission Program (STEP/CAP), Letterman works with underperforming high school graduates to prepare them for admission to Eastern. In addition to advising 40 psychology students, she is a mentor to a number of minority students from STEP/CAP and OLAS (Organization of Latin American Students), a student club that she advises. Letterman also has a reputation for staying in contact and maintaining a friendship with all of her advisees.

“Dr. Letterman’s impact on students outside of the classroom might actually be her greatest achievement at Eastern,” said Everton and Bachiochi. Perhaps she is best known for her Thursday night program “Meaningful Meals.” For more than a decade, on her own time, Letterman has prepared and served food for a crowd of more than 100 students every week during the academic year. Originally the program was intended for students of OLAS to help them feel “a little more at home,” but as word got out, the event grew and now serves students of all backgrounds.

As a professor, Letterman is known for teaching her psychology course material from a personal perspective, sharing with students stories of her Montana upbringing, imparting vivid memories and lasting learning, and tying it all back to core concepts of the class—“something we all love to see!” remarked Everton and Bachiochi. She also brings her students to regional conferences and conducts valuable research in the areas of minority student recruitment and retention.    Over the course of her 17 years at Eastern, Letterman has been honored with the Latin American Distinguished Service Award (2002), the Excellence Award for Service (2005 and 2010), the Student Government Association’s Advisor of the Year Award (2008) and MALES’ Service to Students Award (2011).

“We can’t imagine what Eastern would be like without Margaret,” concluded Everton and Bachiochi. “We would certainly retain fewer Latino students because nobody can do what Margaret does here!”

Written by Michael Rouleau