Monthly Archives: April 2018

Four Southern students were honored recently as the recipients of the Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.

Each year, 12 students are selected for the award from the four universities in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system. Four of the 12 students come from Southern. All 12 students were feted to a dinner at the Aqua Turf in Southington.

Criteria include a GPA of 3.7 or better, and having demonstrated significant participation in university and/or community life.

The four students are:

*Jessica Holman, an English major with a GPA of 3.79. She is an Honors College student and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa. Holman earned SCSU’s Top Owl Social Justice Award, the Multicultural Legacy Award and the Outstanding Women’s Studies Student Award. She received the Gail Burns-Smith Dare to Dream Scholarship from the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

She is a resident assistant and president of the Peer Educators Advocating for Campus Empowerment (PEACE). She is a peer educator at the Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy and Support Center, and the Support and Resource Team for survivors of sexual misconduct. Her thesis project, “Empowering a Community of Active Bystanders: The Expansion of Bystander Intervention Training at SCSU,” involved helping to train students to safely intervene in problematic situations.

“Social justice has been a core part of Jessie’s experience,” said Julia Irwin, professor of psychology. “She has volunteered with Amelia’s Light, an organization that helps survivors of human trafficking develop their own businesses. Most importantly, her honors thesis was the development of a Bystander Intervention Program to prevent sexual misconduct on campus.”

*Rebecca Harmon, an elementary and special education major with a GPA of 3.75. She graduated in December as an Honors College Student, and was a recipient of many scholarships. She is a member of Zeta Delta Epsilon, as well as the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society, the Golden Key International Honour Society and the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success.

She plans to continue presenting research related to LGBTQ and other social justice issues in educational practice. Rebecca was a student teacher, and is a long-term substitute at an elementary school in New Haven.

“She embodies all that we stand for here at Southern: scholarship that deepens knowledge; service to our community; and as Mahatma Ghandi famously said, ‘a commitment to being the change we want to see in the world,’” said Jessica Powell, assistant professor of curriculum and learning. “Rebecca’s work here at Southern and in the larger New Haven community captures these qualities.”

*Kanita Mote, a French and political science major with a GPA of 3.86. She is an Honors College student and a recipient of the Tarini Foundation Scholarship and Roberta Willis Scholarship. She is a member of the Pi Delta Phi French Honors Society.

Mote, whose family was granted political asylum to the United States in 1999 from Indonesia, is an organizing committee member from New Haven Rising, and established the International Socialist Organization as an official SCSU club. She was a French tutor at the SCSU Academic Success Center and a research intern at the UNITE HERE International Labor Union. She also spent a semester in France, tutoring students in both English and French.

“Few students exemplify Southern’s commitment to social justice in the same way that Katina does,” said Luke Eilderts, assistant professor of world languages and literatures. “Not only does she demonstrate a real commitment to Southern’s home city of New Haven, fighting for those who often do not have the resources to fight for themselves, but also to Southern itself, as well as the CSU system, going to the capitol to educate our state legislators on the importance of higher education in Connecticut.”

*Kevin Redline, an interdisciplinary studies major with a 3.79 GPA. He is an Honors College student, peer mentor and resident assistant. He is circle president of the Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society and president of the SCSU Pre-Law Society.

Kevin earned the Crescent Players Scholarship and was costume crew manager for the Crescent Players. He performed at the Kennedy Center College Theater Festival (KCACTF), and presented at KCACTF for original costume design for a SCSU’s production of “35mm: A Musical Experience.”

“Kevin has been an exemplary member of the SCSU community through the meaningful participation in clubs and organizations,” said Sobeira Latorre, director of the interdisciplinary studies program. “He has done so while maintaining an impressive academic record and achieving academic honors regularly…I cannot think of a more deserving student for the award.”

 

 

 

 

The J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching is presented each year to one full-time and one part-time faculty member for exemplary teaching. The award is one of the university’s highest honors, and faculty honorees are recognized at undergraduate commencement with a plaque and an honorarium of $2500.

The awardee for 2017’s full-time award is Associate Professor of English Charles Baraw, known for his thoughtful, meticulously prepared and stimulating English classes, as well as his rare ability to switch gears if that’s what he senses students need. The awardee for the part-time award is Michelle Stoehr-McCarthy, Adjunct Professor of English, an accomplished writer, who has made a remarkable impact on students and colleagues during her short time at Southern as an adjunct professor teaching composition/academic writing.

In eight years at Southern, Baraw has designed and taught more than a dozen different courses and created two new ones again this year. He has a broad range of experience teaching 19th- and 20th-century literature, as well as the works of Shakespeare and the British poets.

One of his most popular classes, “Comics and the American Experience,” ends with a project in which students create their own comic, along with an essay about the creative process behind their productions.

“I have to listen carefully to what students say and what they do not say in their conversations with the text, with each other, and with me,” Baraw wrote of his teaching style. “And I have to be ready to act accordingly, to change, to try a different approach. What do we do, for instance, when students are reluctant to speak in class because, as some have told me, they are ‘afraid of being wrong’? Or when students do not know what to look at or what to look for in a text, or when they don’t or won’t or can’t do the assigned reading?”

One colleague, calling Baraw “respected and admired,” said that he “has made a dramatic and positive difference for our English majors and for students across the university.” The colleague added that Baraw’s instructional design is “brilliant,” and he has “deep care for the learning and development of each student.”

Baraw has said his core philosophy of teaching, is based on a “mutual imperative to trust,” explaining, “I have to trust that all students can learn . . . and they must trust that I can teach them,” he said.

Baraw has been a champion of study abroad, and in recent years has been a key figure in the university’s growing relationship with Liverpool John Moores University. He has also started, and through his family endowed, a foundation fund to help Southern students with limited financial means to travel to Liverpool, or elsewhere, for their studies.

Beyond academics, Baraw has steadfastly promoted the AAA fund, designed to help at-risk students in times of financial crisis. The fund aids Southern’s efforts to encourage student retention and persistence.

A graduate student-turned-colleague of Baraw’s describes him as an “incredible mentor,” who has guided her through tough situations. The student said Baraw modeled behavior that has changed not only “how I teach, but how I live, with a focus toward progress, not perfection.”

Colleagues also said they’ve learned a lot about the art of teaching from Baraw. “Chuck is one of a very small number of my ‘go-to’ people in the department when I want to talk teaching,” one colleague said, adding that Baraw is “a font of great ideas, sensitive self-criticism, and constructive experimentation in light of actual classroom results.”

Baraw holds a Ph.D. in English from Yale University, a master’s degree in English from Middlebury College, and a bachelor’s degree in English literature and American history from the University of Vermont.

 

Stoehr-McCarthy says that her goals in the classroom “have been not only to teach reading and writing, but to promote social and personal engagement and commitment to excellence,” adding that “one of my talents as a teacher has been to discern student strengths, and to bring those out through positive feedback with attention to student-generated goals, while minimizing student weaknesses through redirection.”

She frequently ask students to present their writing both in and out of class in order to build their confidence and to promote leadership skills “that will serve my students in future SCSU classes and in life.”

One colleague wrote that Stoehr-McCarthy “has taken a leading role in encouraging students at all levels to present their research and writing to the public.” The colleague explained that Stoehr-McCarthy instituted a partner system among the 20 students in her class so they could respond to each other’s postings and work collaboratively in class. “Since that time, I have seen more evidence of why Professor Stoehr-McCarthy’s students, colleagues, and fellow writers respect her so much. She works closely with writers of all levels and cultivates confidence among them,” the colleague wrote.

Another colleague of Professor Stoehr-McCarthy’s said that while she’s certain there are many who can attest to her highly effective, engaging, and innovative teaching model, “what makes her a truly outstanding teacher is her commitment outside of the classroom to the profession itself.”

A student who had Stoehr-McCarthy for the spring 2017 semester said that she is a fabulous teacher, but most of all a wonderful person who took great care of her emotionally when the student’s brother died.

The student wrote: “Never in my life have I known such grief and have been tormented by such pain; Shelley was the only professor that took time out of her day to sympathize with me, and made sure I was ever okay. During my leave of absence from class, she put my mental health first before my assignments that I was going to miss. When I returned to her class, she was so patient with me and would come over to my desk to encourage me when I would look or act withdrawn from what we were doing. I have never been more thankful for an educator that had such a big heart for her students.”

Another student wrote that Stoehr-McCarthy “truly made the class relatable for all the students, giving a technological twist for our millennial culture. She gave us, the students, the ability to express our thoughts and have intelligent class discussions about what our feelings were on topics and she even told us about herself and how she related to such topics.”

Professor Stoehr-McCarthy holds a bachelor of arts degree from Connecticut College with a major in dance and a minor in English. She is an author and has held many writing positions, including as a freelance editor, ghost writer, freelance reporter for Milford Patch, and guest book reviewer for The San Francisco Chronicle. From 1992-1996 she served as head teacher for School for Education in Dance in New York City. She is an MFA candidate in creative writing at Southern.

At the annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence on April 16, several major faculty awards were presented at a ceremony to honor the awardees, with President Joe Bertolino and Provost Robert Prezant welcoming those in attendance. Bertolino said, “First and foremost, we’re here to honor several of our distinguished colleagues. But secondly, we’re here as a public affirmation of the fact that, as a university, we hold faculty research, teaching, service, innovation, and student advising in high regard.”

Prezant agreed, adding, “For those of us in academia, a passion for research and learning is what brings us into the field. We sometimes don’t know whether our work resonates with others until we are recognized by a colleague or a student as having enlightened them. For a scholar and teacher, the feeling of knowing that you have shed light on something for someone is so very gratifying.”

This year’s honorees included:

Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship
Awardees:
Dr. Rachel Jeffrey, Biology
Dr. Jason W. Smith, History

Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship
Awardee:
Dr. Jennifer McCullagh, Communication Disorders

Senior-Level Faculty Research Fellowship
Awardee:
Dr. Camille Serchuk, Art

Faculty Scholar Award
Awardee:
Dr. Steven Judd, History

Robert Jirsa Service Award
Awardee:
Dr. Wafeek Abdelsayed, Accounting

Outstanding Academic Adviser Award
Awardee:
Dr. Helen Marx, Curriculum and Learning

Board of Regents Teaching Award (Campus and System Winner):
Awardee:
Dr. Richard Zipoli, Communication Disorders

Board of Regents Research Award (Campus and System Winner):
Awardee:
Dr. Chelsea Harry, Philosophy

J. Philip Smith Outstanding Teacher Award
Awardees:
Dr. Charles Baraw, English
Professor Shelley Stoehr-McCarthy, English

Middle East History Professor Steven Judd says he doesn’t “shy from controversy” when it comes to scholarly work or university life – and he’s demonstrated that in his recent book: Religious Scholars and the Umayyads: Piety­ minded Supporters of the Marwanid Caliphate.

The book forces scholars to re-examine long held assumptions about the early history of Islam.

Judd is this year’s recipient of the Faculty Scholar Award, an honor conferred jointly by the Faculty Scholar Award Committee and the university president. The award recognizes scholarly and creative work of exceptional merit by a full-time member of the SCSU faculty.

Judd’s book argues that opposition to the Umayyads was not universal and that a substantial network of pious religious scholars actively supported the regime. “Religious Scholars and the Umayyads was meant to disrupt,” Judd wrote of his book.

Judd asserts in his work that “the standard historiographical approach to the period falls victim to the biases of a few selected sources and that a broader array of sources provides a necessary corrective.”

He goes on to explain, “By exploiting different sources, I reconstructed the network of religious scholars who supported the supposedly Godless regime and demonstrated their influence on Islamic legal development.”

A colleague reflecting on the book informed Judd that he and others were “impressed by the depth of your scholarship, your imaginative use of biographical sources, and the fact that your book forces scholars to re-examine long held assumptions about the early history of Islam.”

Another colleague wrote: “Dr. Judd’s imaginative use of biographical sources is used to shed new light on an era that is forcing even the defenders of the orthodox position to acknowledge that some assumptions need to be re-examined.”

In describing the book, Judd writes that the Umayyad century, between 661-750 CE, has traditionally been treated “as an interregnum, characterized by ungodly rulers confronting pious opponents whose resistance ranged from rebellion to quietist withdrawal.”

Judd’s book has been well-received by scholars in the field, he says, “despite its disruptive intent and its critique of long-standing historical and historiographical paradigms.”

Reviews of the piece have appeared in diverse venues, including American, German, Turkish and Italian publications. The work has also been cited extensively in a variety of publications.

Hamza Zafer, the leading Islamic historian at the University of Washington, asserts that the work “changes our understanding of lslam’s early development,” and “upends the standard Western and Muslim narratives.”

David Powers, senior Islamic legal scholar at Cornell and long-time editor of “Islamic Law and Society,” describes the work as ”a solid and persuasive monograph” and “an important contribution.”

In addition to formal reviews, Religious Scholars and the Umayyads has been cited in a variety of articles, including by Nimrod Hurvitz, a leading Israeli scholar who notes that Judd’s work “marshaled a convincing body of historical ‘evidence that contradicts the ‘opposition paradigm.”

Judd says that broad and largely positive interest shown in the book around the globe suggests that it will have a long-term impact on the field and force scholars to question long-standing historical and historiographical paradigms.

“If that is the case,” he said, “the book will have accomplished its purpose.”

Judd holds a Ph.D. and master’s degree from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College. He counts among the courses he teaches: Islamic Civilization, Muhammad to the Mongols, Modern Iraq, Islamic Fundamentalism, and The Medieval Middle East.

 

Academic and local government entities often talk about the importance of town-gown relationships. But a partnership that includes Southern, the city of New Haven and regional bioscience companies has evolved into what might best be described as a “town-gown-downtown” relationship.

And in just three years, that relationship has borne substantial fruit in a variety of areas — academic programs, community outreach and development of industry and career collaborations. Taken together, a Bioscience Academic and Career Pathway Initiative (BioPath) has been created that promises to benefit the Greater New Haven region, which is home to the second largest cluster of biotechnology companies in New England.

“One of the goals of BioPath is to help sustain the region as a leader in bioscience by generating a pipeline of highly skilled and well-educated citizens and workers,” said Christine Broadbridge, interim dean of the SCSU School of Graduate Studies, Research and Innovation. “It really is becoming a win-win-win for the university, the Greater New Haven bioscience industry, and area communities, in general.”

On the academic front, SCSU launched a Bachelor of Science degree in biotechnology last fall. The new major provides students with an opportunity to take their scientific knowledge and conquer real world problems in the areas of medicine, genetics and other related fields. The program has aligned a series of pre-existing and new courses with the needs of the biotech industry, according to Nicholas Edgington, associate professor of biology. “As a result, students will come away with a background that will enable them to be competitive for good, high paying biotechnology positions,” he said.

In addition, SCSU has created a biochemistry concentration in the B.S. degree in chemistry, and is in the process of developing other academic programs that also are sensitive to the needs of the bioscience industry. Southern also has worked with area community colleges to align course offerings to ensure an easier transition for students wishing to complete a four-year degree.

The enhanced relationship between SCSU and the bioscience industry has led to increased internship opportunities at companies such as Isoplexis, Arvinas, Medtronic, Quantum BioPower and Perkin-Elmer. Broadbridge said these types of internships are invaluable to students from an experience standpoint, and often lead to first jobs after graduation.

New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp said she is encouraged by the opportunities BioPath offers students. “Thanks to this innovative collaboration, one of today’s students in a New Haven middle school will someday graduate from SCSU and launch a successful career, well-prepared for a fast-changing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field.”

SCSU, in partnership with The Jackson Laboratory and the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, is sponsoring a bioscience careers forum to provide college students with information about industry trends and career opportunities. Speakers for the April 27 event include those from area bioscience companies. A group of local high school students also have been invited to attend. WTNH (Channel 8) recently interviewed Broadbridge about the careers forum and bioscience at Southern.

The university has reached out to the public-at-large with a variety of science-related events. Family science nights have been developed in an effort to generate increased interest among students in the New Haven Public Schools. SCSU has sponsored public lectures and tours of its state-of-the-art laboratory facilities in a new science building that opened in 2015. SCSU also has continued to reach out to area educators, particularly with summer science training programs aimed at “teaching the teachers,” designed for educators in the fields of bioscience, nanoscience, computing and technology.

Greater research opportunities have become available, as well, through the acquisition of cutting-edge equipment, and participation in an International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition during the fall of 2016. SCSU became one of only a few Connecticut universities to have ever competed in the event since its inception more than a decade ago. The team of SCSU undergraduates earned a bronze medal for its efforts during the summer and fall to develop a screening test that would help expedite testing for tuberculosis, while also maintaining a high level of accuracy. The work was sent to the IGEM headquarters repository for future scientists to advance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michele Vancour, President Joe Bertolino, and Chandra Kelsey

Over 50 members of the campus community were honored at a recent campus celebration to mark Southern’s official designation as a Breastfeeding-Friendly Campus by the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition (CBC) — the first college or university to receive this designation in the state and in the nation. These community members, who have volunteered to serve as “Breastfeeding Champions,” are a critical component of the breastfeeding-friendly initiative. At the celebration, Public Health Professor and Director of Faculty Development Michele Vancour and President Joe Bertolino were presented with a certificate by Chandra M. Kelsey, Vancour’s CBC co-chair — an award, the CBC says, that “distinguishes SCSU for their work of making the campus accessible and providing lactation space to students, faculty, and visitors. Their unique approach to recruiting breastfeeding champions and alternate spaces alongside information and on-site professional lactation support set a new standard for providing necessary support on campus.”

This step is important for Southern because it is building an awareness that mothers who breastfeed their babies need access to safe, clean, and private spaces to express milk, says Kelsey. “Mothers who return to work or to school should be encouraged and supported both in their pursuits as well as their desire to provide food for their baby. A majority of students are not mothers, but bringing awareness to the need and the space changes social norms. Personally, I see it as a way to empower women.”

State law protects the rights of women who wish to breastfeed or express breast milk at their place of employment, during breaks and in private spaces designated for these purposes. But students are not protected by the workplace law, Vancour points out. “The culture is different for students from employees,” she says. “As a result of unequal access to supports, students are forced to leave school, miss classes, or pump milk in unsafe environments like bathrooms and cars.” The Breastfeeding-Friendly Campus initiative broadens support to include students and even visitors to campus who may wish to breastfeed or express breast milk.

The designation certainly “sends a signal about what kind of campus we are,” says Terricita Sass, associate vice president for enrollment management, who is a volunteer Breastfeeding Champion.

Kelsey agrees, adding, “Southern is off to a great start towards being a family-friendly environment for students and faculty by going a step beyond offering a basic lactation space. What they have done is to create a culture of support with faculty volunteering to be breastfeeding champions. These champions serve to bridge the gap when accessing the space is too far from their next class or next meeting. They work within their departments to identify a space that can be used on a temporary basis as well as be a point person if a mother needed more resources. This is not only an important piece, community support, for breastfeeding moms, it also benefits the university as a work place (reduced absenteeism, health care savings, employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity).”

A celebratory group of Southern’s Breastfeeding Champions

Vancour believes that Southern can serve as a model for other campuses around the country and in fact has been contacted by individuals at other universities who are working towards attaining the Breastfeeding-Friendly designation.

The Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition (CBC) is organized around the six sectors identified in the 2011 Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding (SGCTA). Each Sector has a committee that is led by a board member-liaison and is responsible for implementing actions in response to the SGCTA. Each committee is tasked with contributing to the discussion and advancement of breastfeeding goals within the state. The CBC’s overall mission is to “improve Connecticut’s health by working collaboratively to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.”

Read an article in the Washington Post about Southern’s designation as a Breastfeeding-Friendly Campus.