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University Meeting discusses plans for a sustainable future

Published on May 13, 2022

University Meeting discusses plans for a sustainable future

President Elsa Núñez welcomes faculty and staff to the first in-person University Meeting in two years.  

Eastern Connecticut State University’s first in-person University Meeting in more than two years took place on May 6 in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center, showcasing the University’s new Strategic plan while also recognizing faculty achievements, service awardees and retirees.  More than 100 people attended the event in person, with 125 people tuning into the YouTube live stream.

President Elsa Núñez welcomed everyone in attendance and those viewing the meeting remotely via live YouTube stream. She thanked everyone for their dedication to students and their commitment to keeping the campus safe over the past two years. She had a special word for retirees: “What an impressive group! They represent more than 600 years of service and institutional memory. When we add in our August and January retirements, that’s almost 800 years.  It is an amazing amount of service to Eastern and its students, and it is institutional memory that cannot be easily replaced.  Each of our retirees is going to be missed.” 

While noting that Eastern must continue to practice fiscal prudence in managing its finances due to lower enrollments and tight state budgets, Núñez said Eastern has not sacrificed services to students. “Eastern is the #1 public regional university in New England in U.S. News & World Report’s overall ranking for the third year in a row. We have been able to maintain access and affordability for our students while enhancing our academic reputation.”

Bataille and Carenen
Vice President of Student Affairs Michelle Delaney and Health Sciences Professor Amy Bataille updated faculty and staff on the 2020-25 Strategic Plan.  

After summarizing Eastern’s strategic planning over the past 16 years, Núñez introduced Michelle Delaney, vice president of student affairs, and Health Sciences Professor Amy Bataille, who gave a brief update on the University’s 2020-25 Strategic Plan on behalf of the Committee on the Future of Eastern (COFE 3).

Before Delaney and Bataille spoke, Núñez explained that the 2020-25 Strategic plan kept the same five objectives from the 2013-18 Strategic Plan, developing new strategies to meet those five objectives.  In 2021, University Senate approved the plan and Eastern’s efforts were validated by a successful accreditation by the New England Commission on Higher Education.

Delaney discussed the progress made on the 2020-25 Strategic Plan, focusing on refining the liberal arts core. Objective 1—Maximize the Value of an Eastern Degree—seeks to promote academic excellence and relevance by 1) adopting five new learning outcomes for LAC; 2) revising the LAC and having it approved by Senate; and 3) developing an assessment plan for the new LAC.

Biology Professor Matthew Graham, winner of the Excellence in Research and Creative Activity Award, presented by Provost Bill Salka. 

Notable outcomes of Objective 2—Ensure that Programs are Relevant, Effective and Challenging—emphasized supporting evidence-based decision-making through the 1) development of a centralized data warehouse; 2) common data definitions; 3) transitioning from paper to electronic documents.

Notable outcomes of Objective 3—Expand Integrative Learning on Campus and in the Community—emphasized support for student academic and career preparation, which resulted in 1) Employability Plan approved in 2020; 2) making the Office of Career Success (formerly CICD) is part of the Academic Success Center; and 3) building stronger connections to academic departments.

Notable outcomes of Objective 4—Ensure that Students, Staff and Faculty Achieve Their Full Potential—emphasized the assurance of adequate resources for all, including 1) revising the Financial Aid model yearly to ensure aid is used most strategically; 2) coordinating with BRAC (Budget Resource Allocation Committee) to develop a strategic budget planning process to prioritize use of resources based on the plan; 3) working to revise the advising model; and 4) adopting Symplicity Insight (due to Grades First being phased out by EAB).

Notable outcomes of Objective 5—Increase Public Awareness of Eastern’s Unique Mission and Community—included 1) launching an award-winning website; 2) developing a virtual reality campus tour; and hiring a full-time social media coordinator to reflect the preferred communication channels of Generation Z.

History Professor Caitlin Carenen, winner of the 2022 Distinguished Professor Award, presented by EES Professor Drew Hyatt. 

Bataille presented an interactive presentation designed for anyone on campus to easily stay abreast on the progress of each initiative and objective of the Strategic Plan.

During the meeting, the University presented an Excellence in Research and Creative Activity Award to Matthew Graham, associate professor of biology. Caitlin Carenen, professor and assistant chair in the Department of History, won the 2022 Distinguished Professor Award. Environmental Earth Sciences Professor Drew Hyatt cited numerous accomplishments by Carenen, including her significant contributions in all areas of academic responsibility including teaching/mentorship, creative activity, service to the department and university and broader community.

The University also recognized employees for their years of dedicated service to Eastern. Daniel Butler, qualified craft worker/custodian and William Pirt-custodian; were recognized for 10 years of service. Nancy Harper, assistant director and maintenance supervisor, and David Mariasi, assistant director of financial aid, were recognized for 20 years of service.

Those retiring included Michael Berlin, IT technical services engineer; Biology Professor Charles Booth; Elise Brown, library technician; Edmond Chibeau, associate professor of communication; Finance Professor Chiaku Chukwuogor; Michael Desjarlais-maintenance supervisor 2 HVAC; Communication Professor Jaime Gomez; Paul Grenier, custodian; Mark Guardiani Sr., qualified craft worker-HVAC; Sergeant Lisa Hamilton of the Campus Police Department; Carlos Hernandez, skilled maintainer; Cynthia Hodis, associate director of acquisitions; Kristin Jacobi, librarian; Claudette Johnson, custodian; Renee Keech, director of facilities management and planning; Patrick Kelly, associate director of financial aid; History Professor Anna Kirchmann; Education Professor Hari Koirala; Richard Kratzke, custodian; Mary Lu Lauer, assistant to the director of student loans; Art Professor Terry Lennox; Computer Science Professor Jianhua Lin; Cedric Lindsey, general trades worker; Diane Moore, accountant; Zbigniew Mroz, mechanical engineer; Maria Pacheco, custodian; Anne-Marie Senechal, assistant director of student health services; Kimberly Silcox, director of the Center for Community Engagement; Sharon Smith, library technician; Philosophy Professor Christopher Vasillopulos; and Maria Weinberger, associate vice president of employee and labor relations.

Written by Dwight Bachman