Monthly Archives: September 2017

CSU Professor of Art David Levine

David Levine, chairman of Southern’s Art Department and an expert on art history, has been selected for one of the most prestigious faculty awards within the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.

The state Board of Regents for Higher Education on Tuesday bestowed Levine with the title of Connecticut State University Professor. Southern, Central, Western and Eastern Connecticut State universities each can have up to three such professors. It is awarded in recognition of excellence in the areas of creative activity (research), teaching and service, and includes a peer review process.

Levine fills an SCSU vacancy left by the recent retirement of Joseph Solodow, professor of philosophy. He joins Vivian Shipley, professor of English, and Terrell Ward Bynum, professor of philosophy, as SCSU’s contingent of CSU Professors.

“During his long and distinguished career at Southern, (Levine) has received international acclaim as a scholar, in particular for his research on the Dutch and Flemish artists working in Rome during the Baroque era,” said SCSU President Joe Bertolino in his nomination letter. “His particular interest is in investigating the political dimensions of Dutch painting and the cultural competition with Italy.”

Troy Paddock, chairman of the CSU Professor Advisory Committee, said the committee concluded that Levine met or exceeded the standard of excellence required for consideration in each of the three criteria.

“Dr. Levine’s most significant research has been a new interpretation of the bambocciata, an anti-heroic genre painting style invented by Dutch artists in Rome,” Paddock wrote. “His work has been singularly responsible for a reassessment of the work of these figures.

“To redefine a field is no small achievement. He has co-edited or co-authored three books and written 17 articles, essays or book chapters. He has presented papers in North America and Europe.”

Paddock said Levine’s departmental colleagues and students hold him in high esteem. One former student, Laura Macaluso, wrote: “(Levine) changed my life when he opened his door to me 25 years ago. He was, I now realize, the first art historian I ever met, which means that my path might have been quite different if he had not been all the things he is: kind and warm, quietly brilliant yet at ease with laughter, humble, and genuinely interested in people.”

Paddock added that Levine’s service to the university has been exemplary. “Dr. Levine has served on every committee in the Art Department,” he said. “He played a leading role in establishing the Judaic Studies minor and has served as its coordinator on two different occasions. He is also a valued member of the Honors College and has served on numerous university-wide committees.”

 

He’s not a medical doctor. Nor does he play one on TV or at work. But Greg McVerry is passionate about improving the health of the Internet, and ensuring that the public has access to it – especially as cyberspace is becoming more and more critical in our daily lives.

McVerry, an associate professor of curriculum and learning at Southern, has been working over the last six years with the Mozilla Foundation to foster an open and secure Internet. Among their goals are to reduce criminal hacking; enable more open sources of information to be available, especially when it comes to education curricula; enhance Web literacy and bolster access to the Internet.

“There are about a billion people online at the moment,” McVerry said. “But what is the Internet going to be like as the next billion people go online?” He said that is a question he keeps in the back of his mind.

One of the major projects McVerry has been working on is testing an online code editor called Thimble, which seeks to make it easier for people to create their own Web pages. McVerry said he has asked students in his “New Literacies” education class to test the program, as well as offer their perspectives on it.

For all of his efforts, he was recently named by Mozilla as one of 50 individuals worldwide who made the Internet a better place in 2016 – called the “Network 50.”

“Greg drives the Internet health mission forward through his contributions as a participation lead, Mozilla Club Captain, curriculum tester, and Thimble champion,” said the Mozilla Network in an online announcement. “As a teacher, Greg naturally thinks about how our tools and curriculum will be received by learners. His thoughtful feedback about how Thimble is used in learning contexts helped us make important decisions about the user experience, the feature set, and the curricular content. He has been an active tester of our curriculum and has made valuable contributions, helping to increase the overall quality.”

McVerry earned the Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship in 2014. One of the benefits of the award is to grant newer faculty members work time to pursue their research projects. “I was able to engage more thoroughly in creating open-source learning tools to help improve the learning curriculum,” he said.

He added that he is a staunch advocate of having more of the repository of knowledge available to all on the Internet for free. “As a state university, taxpayers pay for our salaries and other costs,” McVerry said. “In my view, all of the research we do should be published openly.”

 

 

U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT) met with nearly two dozen Southern students on Sept. 1 to discuss issues related to college affordability and other logistical hurdles toward getting a degree.

Murphy outlined his thoughts, as well as listened to the questions and concerns from the students and SCSU President Joe Bertolino. The hour-long roundtable discussion also attracted several staff members who work with students on a regular basis.

Murphy said the percentage of students nationwide who graduate from college in four years has declined in recent years. “Today, the traditional student is someone who is going to class for five to seven years, either full time or part time,” Murphy said. He also noted that the average age of a college graduate is moving closer to 30 years of age.

At the same time, “it is three times as expensive to get a bachelor’s degree today than it was in 1980, and that’s adjusted for inflation,” Murphy said.

Murphy expressed his support for the federal government to provide a free college education, at least for low- and middle-income families.

But he also suggested that it might be time to revamp how degrees are awarded – away from requiring a specific number of credits and toward a system that is based on competencies. In other words, if a student reaches a level of proficiency in a designated set of disciplines, they should be awarded a college diploma, whether it’s through a class or exam. He said that could reduce the time needed to spend in college. “The traditional four-year model is arbitrary based on what people had said it should be many years ago,” he said.

Students raised several issues during the meeting, ranging from frustration with the onerous financial aid forms to mounting costs to the challenges of working and going to school.

President Bertolino noted that the overwhelming majority of students work full time or part time. “(In many respects), we’re a working-class university,” he said.

One student praised the creation of the position of coordinator of student financial literacy and advising to help students navigate the financial challenges of college life. Lew DeLuca serves in that role.

Murphy praised Southern for being ahead of the curve in many respects.