Monthly Archives: June 2013

Music Professor Mark Kuss continues his association with Music for Life International as a board member and is now involved in a series of 15 international concerts to commemorate the Year for the Children of Syria. Music for Life is an organization whose mission is to create transformative action for global and local social good through music and for music. It takes its name from the legendary MUSIC FOR LIFE concerts organized by Leonard Bernstein in the late 1980s at Carnegie Hall and was created to conceive and present musical concerts and related events to promote the awareness of significant international humanitarian crises and other public interest issues in the United States and throughout the world.

Music for Life International launched the Year for the Children of Syria on April 25, at an event hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the United Nations and H.E. Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative, at the Liechtenstein Residence in New York City. At this event – a fund raiser for UNICEF — following a program of remarks by H.E. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; George Mathew, founder and artistic director of Music For Life International; and other dignitaries, Kuss took part in a brief chamber music performance, also featuring former New York Philharmonic associate principal cellist Alan Stepansky; distinguished Syrian soloist and former West-Eastern Divan Orchestra principal clarinet and composer Kinan Azmeh; and Mathew. The event involved about 160 people, including representatives from the United Nations and CIOs and vice presidents of Fortune 500 companies.

The Year for the Children of Syria is a “global humanitarian concert” taking place in New York and cities around the world — including Panama City; Berlin; Washington, D.C.; and Boston — which will culminate in “Shostakovich for the Children of Syria,” a performance of the “Leningrad” Symphony of Shostakovich at Carnegie Hall in January 2014. This initiative brings together many of the world’s finest orchestral musicians, including Kuss. Principal artists will gather from the New York Philharmonic, MET Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and other major ensembles. Proceeds of this year-long initiative will benefit UNICEF’s humanitarian programs for the Syrian Emergency.

Video footage of Kuss at the piano during the April 25 event is available here: . He has since traveled to Panama with this project and in the fall will go to Berlin and Monoco.

Kuss is also Smithsonian Institution Resident Artist and pianist and composer for the Hesperus Ensemble. He recently had a sax concerto premiered in Warsaw, Poland, and a ballet premiered in Philadelphia.

*The Connecticut Post ran a story on June 19 that mentioned how Southern’s graduate secondary education program made the “honor roll” on the National Center for Teaching Quality report. The article mentioned that only 9 percent of education programs in the country were selected for that designation.

The following is a link to the Post story:

*Jon Bloch, chairman of the Sociology Department, was quoted in a Connecticut Post story that ran June 18 about a report on the Bridgeport crime rate.

The following is a link to the Post story:

*Gloria Lee, director of financial aid, was quoted in an a June 10 story in the New Haven Register about the potential rise in interest rates on student loans and the effect that it can have on students.

The following is a link to the Register story:

*The New Haven Register ran a June 7 story about an endowment of $500,000 for the purpose of providing West Haven High School students with scholarships to Southern. The endowment was left by Fred Giovannini, an entrepreneur who died in 2011. He was an alumnus of both West Haven High School and Southern. At a ceremony that week, 23 West Haven High School seniors received scholarships of $1,000 each to attend Southern.

The following is a link to the Register story:

*The New Haven Register ran a story on June 4 about Southern’s new Fulbright scholar –Brendan Walsh. He will teach English during 2013-14 to college students at Ventiane University in Laos. Brendan recently earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing.

A link to the Register story follows:

*Kevin Colwell, associate professor of psychology, was interviewed June 3 on the Channel 61Morning News Show. He discussed his latest research – a tool designed to help law enforcement narrow the pool of witnesses at public crime scenes, such as the bombings during the Boston Marathon. The tool can predict whether a witness is likely being truthful or lying about they know or don’t know.

A link to the Channel 61 interview follows:

*He was also featured on the front page of the June 2 (Sunday) New Haven Register.

The following is a link to the Register story:

It wasn’t so long ago when high school and college graduates could be reasonably confident they would land a job not too long after the echoes of “Pomp and Circumstance” had faded. In fact, not getting some type of professional job a year after obtaining that diploma was the exception, rather than the rule.


In today’s stagnant economy – especially with unemployment among 20- to 24-year-olds above 24 percent – securing a real job shortly after commencement is anything but assured.

So, what can someone do to increase their chances of employment in the near term?

Pat Whelan, associate director of career services at Southern, and Gerri Prince, the university’s coordinator of employer recruitment programs, offer some advice:

• Network! Hey, it might sound like a cliché, but this is a valuable piece of advice from Gerri and Pat. Let’s face it, the hunt for a job is somewhat of a numbers game. The people you are in contact with have contacts, who, in turn, have contacts, etc.

• Be sure to develop a refined, tailored version of your resume for each position to which you apply. A resume that is too generic can lead employers to think you lack motivation because you didn’t take the time to make it distinctive.

• Practice your interview skills. You can even request an “informational interview” from someone employed in an occupation in which you are trying to land a job. In those situations, it’s probably best to request no more than 20-30 minutes of their time since they might be very busy. And asking for a long period of time will make it less likely they’ll accept your request.

• Practice your pitch. No, not your fastball or curveball, but your commercial pitch. Be ready to talk about who you are and what you have to offer, even in unexpected settings, such as in the grocery store or at a social event. Politicians do this all the time and call it their “stump speech.”

• Professional dress for an interview is generally assumed by the employer. This should be a given, but you would be amazed at how many people think nothing of wearing jeans, T-shirts, tank tops, sneakers and even rather immodest clothing. The interviewer might mentally disqualify you from contention before you even utter a word if are attired in less than professional wear. Consider using graduation gift money toward the purchase of a career wardrobe.

• Join professional organizations in your field and try to build relationships with people. Individuals belonging to these groups often are well connected, and therefore it can help to meet them. If an opening occurs in their office and they know you, you might have an edge.

• Don’t under play your “soft skills” to potential employers, such as motivation, integrity, adaptability, organization, self-confidence and communication skills. These can be difficult to quantify or measure, but employers like team players, self-starters and those with a good work ethic.

• Remember to thank those individuals you encounter during your career search. Handwritten thank you notes, especially, are much appreciated. Even if you did not get a particular job after an interview, a thank you note leaves a good impression. And you never know if another job opening at the same organization is around the corner.

• Keep in mind that finding a job is a full-time job in itself, or at least it should be. Dedicate yourself to the search. The hard work you do now may not pay off immediately in terms of a paycheck, but it will increase your chances for finding a job you want.

    An exhibition of photographs and text from Philosophy Professor Armen Marsoobian’s extraordinary family collection has recently been on display in a gallery in Istanbul, Turkey. The exhibit –  “Bearing Witness to the Lost History of an Armenian Family through the Lens of the Dildilian Brothers” – told the story of his family against the backdrop of events that included a war that ravaged the world and a collapsing empire. The exhibit, which opened April 25 and closed June 8, was timed to coordinate with April 24, observed annually as the symbolic start of the Armenian Genocide, and has received a great deal of international press coverage.

    Marsoobian’s grandfather and great-uncle, Tsolag and Aram Dildilian, were photographers employed both by Anatolia College in Marsovan, a town in Ottoman Turkey, and the local government. From 1890 to 1922, Tsolag was a significant photographer in the region where the family resided. A large collection of photographs and glass negatives came down to Marsoobian from his “family of many photographers,” and he now possesses over 600 photographs from the Dildilian brothers’ collection, many of which date from the period 1910 to 1922, which encompasses the years of the Armenian Genocide.

    The Armenian Genocide, says Marsoobian, refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was implemented, he says, through wholesale massacres and deportations, with the deportations consisting of forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees. The total number of resulting Armenian deaths is generally believed to have been between one and one and a half million.

    Anatolia College is now located in Greece, and in 2009 Marsoobian was invited to the college to give a number of talks based on the photography collection. In doing research about the collection and his family history, Marsoobian received new information from members of the family. He learned that quite a bit had been written by his great-uncle and his great-aunt’s daughter pertaining to the photographs, including include two lengthy memoirs, as well as family letters and diary entries.

    Marsoobian explains that Armenians were a minority in Ottoman Turkey but were instrumental in having Anatolia College come to Turkey. At first, the students primarily came from the Armenian and Greek communities. Marsoobian says that although there were Turks who tried to help Armenians, the Turks generally avoid use of the word “genocide” and instead refer to the “catastrophe of 1915” or “events of 1915.” For the first time a few years ago, there were public commemorations of the genocide in Turkey.

    Marsoobian previously wrote a prize-winning essay dealing with the efforts of his grandfather and great-uncle in rescuing 30 young men and women in the period 1915 to 1918 in their hometown of Marsovan. He has also given lectures on the photography collection. Next he hopes to take the exhibit to Marsovan and possibly to France and the United States.

    Read an article about the exhibit in “Today’s Zaman,” a Turkish newspaper.

      Nearly 2,000 undergraduates sit for six hours each winter trying to solve 12 complex math problems for the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition – considered by many to be the most prestigious university-level math exam in the world. They compete for a little bit of money, a few moments of fame and even for the “fun” of it. For the last two years, Elizabeth Field has been one of those students.

      Last winter, Field earned 10 out of a possible 120 points on the Putnam exam. A year earlier, she scored but a single point. Those may not seem particularly impressive scores – that is, until you discover that more than half of the participants – which include many of the best young math minds in the United States and Canada — fail to tally a single point. And less than a third of the students reach the 10-point mark.

      Field, who is majoring in elementary/special education and mathematics, will finish her student-teaching certification next fall. And while Field says she’s always liked math, she never envisioned herself majoring in that discipline, let along contemplating a career in it. But all that changed when she transferred to Southern three years ago.

      “As an education student, I had to choose a second major and I just happened to pick math,” Field says. “I ended up loving it. It was fascinating.”

      Her impressive 4.0 GPA in her math classes and participation in multiple math research opportunities and conference panel presentations demonstrate her fondness for the subject.

      She is also breaking traditional gender barriers seen in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines, where women hold a disproportionately low portion of undergraduate degrees in those fields.

      Field’s success has been recognized by Raymond Mugno, an associate professor of mathematics, who has been one of her teachers.

      Mugno says Field’s intelligence, drive and extraordinary work ethic are an integral part of her success, but he adds that her creativity sets her apart.

      Field has traveled throughout the country to attend a variety of math conferences and workshops. Last summer, she was one of 10 students to take part in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she studied for eight weeks. The program culminated in a paper, which she presented with her peers, at the 2013 Joint Mathematics Meeting in San Diego.

      “In math class, you sit there and the answers are in the back of the book,” Field says. “But in the world of mathematics, there are real questions and the answers are just waiting to be discovered.”

      Field has participated in workshops that have engaged her in theoretical studies, such as issues related to climate change.

      Although she originally envisioned herself teaching in an elementary school, she has shifted her focus to research, graduate school and perhaps a career as a university professor.

      Nevertheless, Field remains connected to one of her passions — youth development. She works with the children at her church’s youth group in an effort to help them become better people and leaders.

      Etienne Holder’s warm smile and easygoing personality make her easy to like. But for those who know her personally, it simply underscores her compassion for others.

      William Faraclas, chairman of the university’s Public Health Department, says he is impressed by her record of volunteer service. That record includes having served as patient liaison in the Pediatric Emergency Department of Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, as well as serving on the Connecticut-Rhode Island Public Health Training Center Fellow, where she is contributing to a community health assessment for the Quinnipiac Valley Health District and assisting with a community garden event in Bridgeport.

      “She is the student every professor dreams of having in class,” Faraclas says of Holder, who has compiled a 3.7 GPA.

      For her accomplishments in the areas of volunteerism, leadership and academics, she has been selected as the recipient of the first-ever Michael J. Perlin Student Award, which recognizes a current graduate or undergraduate student enrolled in a public health program. Perlin earned the title of professor emeritus of public health at Southern after retiring in 2009. His career in academia spanned four decades and he co-authored the state’s original pre-trial alcohol education system curriculum in 1981. Perlin died in 2011.

      During the annual summer International Health Field Study in Guatemala, of which Holder attended, Faraclas says he noticed her sense of adventure and compassion for the indigenous people of Guatemala. These qualities motivated Faraclas to nominate Holder for the award, which is presented by the Connecticut Public Health Association.

      “To be acknowledged for my accomplishments was an amazing honor,” Holder says. “I was at a loss for words.”

      The reception was held at the Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate in Middletown.

      Holder says she always had an affinity for health-related subjects. When she was a kid, she aspired to be a cardiac surgeon because she liked the way the heart worked. She would eventually attend the University of Virginia, where she majored in medical anthropology.

      Holder credits the Guatemala trip in solidifying her interests in global health, chronic disease and epidemiology. “The nomination (for the Perlin award) reinforced that this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” she says.

      Faraclas says Holder is an outstanding student who he believes will someday help change the field of public health through innovation, dedication and passion.

      “I have so much more to do and prove,” she says. ” I want to be remembered for my love for people, health and cultures and the things I have done to make great strides in public health. I want to influence younger generations to push the limits and be all that they can be.”

      In an effort to better meet the needs of students and the demands of the changing Connecticut workforce, the Computer Science Department has restructured its Master of Science degree program.

      The department has replaced the two previous tracks with those having more relevance in today’s ever-evolving technological landscape — network and information security (cybersecurity), and software development.

      “Previously, the M.S. program was designed primarily for students who had earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science,” says Lisa Lancor, graduate coordinator for the department. “But we had been getting increased interest from individuals who had bachelor’s degrees in other disciplines and wanted to move into the computer field. We have students who majored in music, political science and other disciplines not closely related to computer science. So, we revamped the program to make it more flexible.”

      Among the changes enacted is the establishment of a single prerequisite course, instead of three such courses. The new prerequisite is a 4-credit course on computer programming and data structures. Students then take 12 core credits, as well as 18 credits in either of the two tracks. Students are then required to pass a capstone, typically a 6-credit thesis.

      One of the new courses offered for those engaged in the cybersecurity track is “Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing.” In this course, students learn how to test whether networks are secure and how to enhance that security.

      “There is a huge need for individuals who have an expertise in this area,” Lancor says. “The number of companies and organizations whose websites are hacked is growing all the time. These companies want to hire individuals who can detect and fix these security issues, but there really is a shortage of such people.”

      Lancor says that many companies actually hire individuals to try to break into their network system (without causing any damage). The idea is that if they can hack into it, the system needs to be upgraded and fixed. If it can’t be hacked, it indicates the system is probably secure, at least at that time.

      She notes that cyber attacks are occurring more frequently these days and the hackers are becoming more sophisticated at cybercrime. “As cyber attacks become more sophisticated, demand will increase for workers with security skills.”

      Lancor points to U.S. Department of Labor projections that indicate employment of network and computer systems administrators (which includes security specialists) is expected to increase by 23 percent from 2008 to 2018. Similarly, the department projects that the number of computer software engineers and computer programmers will rise by 21 percent in that same time period.

      She also says that in addition to individual hackers, foreign governments hostile to the United States are more inclined these days to try to wreak havoc with U.S. networks. In fact, The U.S. Department of Defense has increased its allocation for cyber operations by 20 percent in its 2014 budget. Many experts are predicting that future wars and hostilities among nations will include cyber warfare.

      Alexis Haakonsen doesn’t claim to have all the answers. She’s not inclined to make decisions in a vacuum. And she doesn’t plan to make major changes without at least first learning the intricacies of what makes Southern tick.

      But the newly hired director of admissions is excited about the opportunity to help bolster the quantity and quality of students attending Southern. And she is confident that the recent declines in enrollment can be reversed in the years ahead.

      “The Admissions Department has done a good job over the years,” she says. “We have a dedicated staff that cares about the university and the students we serve. I believe that with some refinements and tweaking, as well as a few new initiatives, we can really take off.”

      Haakonsen says one new strategy she hopes to employ within the next year is to hire alumni volunteers to help with recruitment. “Alumni who can attend some of the college fairs, or who can host an out-of-state, or even in-state event, can really help us with recruitment of students. Who is better to talk about Southern than people who went through the various programs themselves and are now successful in their careers?”

      She also believes Southern’s location in New Haven – with its proximity to New York City – can be leveraged to be a bigger selling point to international students. “Students from outside the country may not be familiar with much of the United States, but they usually have heard of the big cities – like New York and Los Angeles. I think our location so close to New York can help us even more.”

      Haakonsen also said that firming up the university’s presence in the local market, as well as an increased outreach to part-time and transfer students, can help Southern’s enrollment numbers.

      Kimberly Crone, associate vice president for academic student services, says Haakonsen has a successful track record in the areas of admission marketing, recruitment, staff supervision, budget management and department operations. “Alexis brings passion, vision and leadership to the important role of director of admissions,” Crone says.

      As the former executive director of graduate admissions at Sacred Heart University (SHU), Haakonsen says she became quite familiar with Southern as a competitor. “In particular, I remember Southern having a strong reputation in teacher preparation because we went head to head with each other in trying to recruit graduate students in these programs.”

      Haakonsen spent 16 years at SHU, where she honed her recruitment skills and strategies. Previously, she worked in the undergraduate admissions office at the College of Worcester in Ohio, where she had earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She would later earn a Master of Arts degree in learning (education) from SHU.

      “I actually worked in the admissions office while I was a student,” she says. “Little did I know that I would fall in love with that line of work and make a career out of it. I know the admissions process can be pretty scary for students and their families and I like to help make it a less frightening experience.”

      As the supervisor of the Admissions Department, Haakonsen sees herself as a team leader. “I value the experience and thoughts of our staff,” she says. “They are on the front lines, so to speak. Sure, as the department director, ultimately I’ll be making decisions. But whenever possible, I plan to discuss ideas as a team first.”

      Haakonsen is the first admissions director at Southern since the retirement of Sharon Brennan in 2006. Jim Williams had succeeded Brennan on an interim capacity for a few years. Paula Kennedy has helped coordinate the operations of the admissions office since the retirement of Williams.

      Haakonsen grew up in Chattanooga, Tenn. She is married to Erik Haaksonsen, son of the late Harry O. Haakonsen, who had been a professor of chemistry at Southern. They have two children, ages 7 and 11.

      Jan Brady has been a poster child for the “middle child” stereotype since the “Brady Bunch” became ingrained in the American culture in the early 1970s. You might recall that Jan sometimes felt overlooked as she struggled to find her own niche and identity – caught between her ever-popular older sister, Marcia, and her younger sister, Cindy.

      And while middle children are unfairly stereotyped as going through life with an insatiable craving for attention because of a perceived lack of it growing up, no birth order has been as stigmatized and maligned as much as “only children.”


      The “lonely onlies” may not have a symbolic character to perpetuate their own stereotype – that of spoiled children who become self-centered adults — but one clearly isn’t needed. Say that someone is an only child and many people will instantly associate them with those undesirable traits, even if they don’t say it. And intuitively, it doesn’t sound unreasonable. If you’ve never had to share your toys or clothes, compete for parental attention or negotiate with siblings, it doesn’t sound like such a huge leap.

      But Phyllis Gordon, director of Southern’s Family Therapy Clinic, says that an overwhelming amount of research on only children does not support the stereotype. She says the stigma originates from G. Stanley Hall, an American researcher and pioneer of child psychology. After collecting data from various sources in a way that has little resemblance to today’s scientific research methods, Hall actually went so far as to say just before the turn of the 20th century that “being an only child is a disease in itself.”

      Whoa! Maybe that kind of comment could fly in the late 1800s, when large families were the norm and only children were rather uncommon. But can you imagine the fallout today if a researcher were to make that “analogy” about only children, or anyone’s children?

      Just in the last 50 years, the percentage of kids under the age of 18 who fall into the category of being an only child has doubled – from 10 percent to 20 percent. So, in a typical classroom of 25 students, 5 of those students are only children, on average. Yet, the popular notion continues that they tend to be spoiled.

      “Virtually all subsequent research on onlies has debunked the anecdotal and meaningless findings of Mr. Hall,” Gordon says. “But many parents continue to fear that being an only child will mean a lifetime of being unhappy, selfish, spoiled, lonely and maladjusted.”

      Nevertheless, Gordon says there are some distinctive characteristics among only children of which parents should be aware. After all, birth order does play a role in the development of a child’s personality. Therefore, she offers a few suggestions to parents about raising only children, keeping in mind these are based on generalities and that each child is unique.

      First, don’t worry! An only child is not from another planet. And studies have shown that only children tend to feel more confident in school; score better in achievement, motivation and personal adjustment; and complete an addition year of education, on average, than their peers. And despite not having to grow up scrapping with siblings – and perhaps because of that — they tend to be more calm and patient with others. They learned early in life that their turn will come because it generally did in their more orderly childhoods.

      Be extra careful about pressuring them to succeed. Only children (and first borns) tend to be self-driven and conscientious. They often apply plenty of self-imposed pressure. When they do, outside pressure can be like pouring gasoline on a fire! It could create psychological and emotional problems. Again, each child is unique and some do need a nudge, or several nudges. But be aware of this tendency among only (and first-born) children.

      While only children are quite capable of making friends, it is important to give them those opportunities. Children learn some of their social skills from their siblings. So, it’s probably even more important for onlies to have opportunities to interact with other kids, whether they are play dates, after school activities or youth clubs and sports.

      And just in case you needed any more assurance, just look at some of the many famous only children. They include:

      • Franklin Delano Roosevelt
      • Joe Montana
      • Elvis Presley
      • Nancy Reagan
      • Ted Koppel
      • Walter Cronkite
      • Kareem Abdul-Jabaar
      • Sammy Davis Jr.
      • Laura Bush
      • Maria Sharapova

      The list goes on and on.