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Eastern community looks forward to a ‘return to normal’

Published on May 11, 2021

Eastern community looks forward to a ‘return to normal’

Campus Scene

University Senate President Stephen Ferruci no doubt spoke for the entire Eastern Connecticut State University campus community on May 7 when he told his virtual audience at the end-of-year University Meeting, “I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for the end of the semester. I’m done talking to a screen; done squinting at tiny boxes hoping to figure who just spoke; done forgetting to unmute or reminding someone to unmute, turn on their video, turn off their mics, ask their roommates to simmer down, repeat what they just said; done with screen sharing, chatting, breakout rooms, online polls, lost connections; done with Zoom or Teams or WebEx meetings. I’m ready to reconnect with friends and family again, ready to travel someplace other than the Big Y, ready for a weekend that does not look like the same weekend it’s been since March 2020.”

Of course, Ferruci was referring to the past 15 months of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and like Ferruci, Eastern President Elsa Núñez was also thankful for the campus’s hard work and the promise of a return to normal this coming fall.

“It feels like a cloud is being lifted in front of us and we can see again, said Núñez. “If there is a lesson in all of this, it is that life is uncertain, and we must be ready to adapt. Adapt you did! In addition to offering 65% of our classes on-ground this spring, our housing capacity for the year has also been around 65%. No other school in Connecticut can claim those numbers! This has been an exhausting year for everyone at Eastern. We have persevered because everyone was committed to getting the job done, staying safe and sticking together! Certainly, we still have further to go, but the signs of progress are all around us. We plan for a full return to campus life this fall.”

Núñez said that while COVID-19 has taken center stage in our consciousness, a more enduring illness has plagued the nation. “Since slavery first stained our shores 400 years ago years, discrimination and injustice has followed immigrants, people of color, and other disenfranchised groups, this country has struggled to confront injustice and inequality. It is our most critical moral failing.”

Nunez challenged the faculty to take the lead in infusing social justice and equity even further into the curriculum, and closed by thanking the campus “for demonstrating the character of this campus and working together for the good of all. It is the spirit, resolve and character of the people of Eastern that has kept us going during these unforgettable times.”

Recognitions at the meeting included Thomas Balcerski, associate professor of history, who was named the statewide recipient of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) System’s 2020–21 faculty research award; Susan DeRosa, associate professor of English, who received Eastern’s campus-based teaching award for full-time faculty; and Brenda Westberry, adjunct professor of sociology, who won the campus-based teaching award for part-time faculty.

Julia DeLapp

Susan DeRosa

Thomas Balcerski

Brenda Westberry

Kimberly Dugan

Patricia Szczys

The University also recognized Patricia Szczys as this year’s Distinguished Professor of the Year, and presented Excellence Awards to the following individuals: Julia DeLapp, for creating research opportunities for students in the Center for Early Childhood Education; Sonya Alicea, for her service to students and staff; Kim Dugan, professor of sociology, and Mallory Bagwell, lecturer in education, for teaching excellence; and Sarah Baires, associate professor of anthropology, for scholarly and creative activity.

The University also recognized individuals who have reached a milestone of 10, 20, 25 years or retirement at Eastern. Ten years recognitions were presented to Kuo-Wei (“Will) Chi, senior system administrator in IT; Christopher Drewey, associate dean in the School of Education/Professional Studies and the Graduate Division; and Debra Fitzpatrick, mail handler.

20-year service awards were presented to Michael Kowalczuk, bursar in Fiscal Affairs; Gary Lalumeire, skilled maintainer and qualified craft worker/HVAC, Jeffrey Smith Sr., qualified craft worker and Scott Wilson, qualified craft worker/electrician in the Office of Facilities Management; and Monica O’Connor, administrative assistant in Counseling and Psychological Services.

Kristin Jacobi, cataloging librarian, was recognized for 25 years of service to the University.

The University also recognized several retirees, including Carmen Cid, who served for 34 years as professor of biology and dean of the School of Arts and Sciences; Art History Professor Anne Dawson; Kathleen DeFranco, assistant bursar; Jeffrey Garewski, director of public safety; Michael Kowalczuk, Bursar; Lisa Lester, building and grounds patrol officer; Jane Murack, library technician; Business information System Professor Doncho Petkov; Claudia Sweetland, teacher in the Child and Family Development Resource Center; and Computer Science Professor Huan-Yu Tu.

Written by Dwight Bachman

Categories: Administration