Monthly Archives: April 2018

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.

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. Although time constraints did not allow the team to fully complete its research, the work was sent to the IGEM headquarters repository for future teams 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.”