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ECSU Foundation gifts benefit 3 programs on campus

Published on November 17, 2023

ECSU Foundation gifts benefit 3 programs on campus

Three programs at Eastern Connecticut State University — in Connecticut history, career services and summer transition — will benefit from recent gifts to the ECSU Foundation.

Gifts enhance Center for Connecticut Studies' public profile 

Balcerski Connecticut Research
History Professor Tom Balcerski works with students in the Center for Connecticut Studies, analyzing historical documents.

Eastern’s Center for Connecticut Studies will acquire new collections and promote its mission and activities to the public with the help of three recent gifts totaling $20,000. The gifts will enable the center to purchase materials needed as it begins the process of making its history collections digitally available, said Thomas Balcerski, associate professor of history and the center’s new director. 

Sandra Roth, the wife of the late David Roth, founder of the center and an Eastern history professor for 23 years, and the Roth’s daughter, Deborah, each gave $5,000 to the center. 

barbara tucker
Barbara Tucker

“When my husband David founded the Center for Connecticut Studies in 1970, he was passionate about making Connecticut history accessible to both lay and academic researchers and providing quality resources for teachers across the state,” said Sandra Roth, who is a former member of the ECSU Foundation Board. 

“We are heartened to know that the center is well positioned to advance the study of Connecticut history and will benefit Eastern students and faculty for generations to come. David would be very proud,” she said. 

“My daughter Deborah and I are grateful to Dr. Barbara Tucker, professor emerita of history and former director of the center, for her stewardship of the center for the past three decades,” she said. Tucker also gave $10,000 to the center, where she became director in 1986. 

“My emphasis was on collection development, especially concerning Connecticut history, culture and politics east of the river,” Tucker said. “To that end, the center now holds the Windham and Willimantic archives; state material, especially relating to the New Deal; and Civil War records and memorabilia among other proceedings and reports.”  

“With the invaluable help of archivist Tara Hurt and her staff, these were made available to the public,” Tucker said. With Balcerski taking over as the new director, “I wanted to provide him with some of the resources that would allow him to enact his ideas and values and to improve the visibility of the center,” she said. 

“I am pleased to report that work is underway at the center to increase its usable space for research and classroom activity, to make room for its growing collections, and to attract researchers, both in-person and remotely,” said Balcerski.  

The center is located on the fourth floor of the J. Eugene Smith Library. 

Career prep benefits from Enterprise donation 

foundation check
Katherine Maroney, talent acquisition specialist at Enterprise (second from right), presents a donation beside Eastern’s Ben Pauley, Clifford Marrett and Bill Salka.

Enterprise Holdings, which operates Enterprise, Alamo and National car rental companies, has donated $35,000 over the past 14 months to the Career Services Fund, which supports students through the Office of Career Success at Eastern. The fund supports student networking events, interview preparation for women business students and a career readiness conference. It helps students obtain professional attire for interviews and supports a career expo for first-year students. 

Katherine Maroney, talent acquisition specialist at Enterprise, said Enterprise has hired 15 Eastern students and alumni in the Hartford area alone in the past year. “We donate to Career Services to support their goals and to provide diverse opportunities for students to work on professional development and prepare for their transition after graduation,” she said. “We appreciate their partnership and look forward to continuing to support their work.” 

KeyBank gift funds opportunity scholarships 

stepcap computer
STEP/CAP students work in an Eastern computer lab.

A $10,000 gift from the KeyBank Foundation will fund a scholarship for the Summer Transition to Eastern Program (STEP/CAP). The six-week summer program builds academic skills and is an alternative path to admission for invited students, helping them prepare for the rigors of college coursework. 

“Since our office became a reality a little over two years ago, we have been working hard to remove roadblocks from the everyday life of the students in our programs,” said Christina Irizarry, director of Opportunity Programs at Eastern. “While our STEP/CAP students face many challenges both in their academic and personal life, funding their education will forever be the biggest hill to climb. It is for this reason that scholarship makes the biggest impact for our STEP/CAP students at Eastern.”  

The scholarship gift was one of 25 charitable donations made by the KeyBank Foundation to nonprofits in its Connecticut and Western Massachusetts markets. KeyBank is headquartered in Cleveland. 

“The KeyBank Foundation has provided more than $50,000 in contributions over the past three years, earmarked for the STEP-CAP program,” said Joe McGann, director of institutional advancement at Eastern. “These donations have helped students who have significant unmet need. We are grateful for this critical support.” 

Written by Lucinda Weiss