Monthly Archives: October 2020

The university is sponsoring a virtual International Conference on the Blue Economy from November 4-7. The conference will feature about 70 speakers, and people from 13 countries will attend.

The conference — Coastal Transitions 2020 – will focus on examining the Blue Economy from a transdisciplinary perspective. Sub-themes include:

  • Conceptualizing of the Blue Economy in economic geography
  • The interconnection between climate change impacts and the Blue Economy
  • Smart shipping, ports, transportation, and global connectivity
  • Employment, job creation, and poverty eradication
  • The role of ocean/maritime clusters in fostering a sustainable Blue Economy
  • Innovation in the Blue Economy
  • Cities, tourism, resilient coasts, and infrastructure
  • Sustainable energy, mineral resources and innovative industries
  • Managing and sustaining marine life, conservation and sustainable economic activities
  • Securing food supplies and promoting good health and sustainable fisheries
  • Climate action, agriculture and fisheries, waste management, and pollution-free oceans
  • Maritime security, safety and regulatory enforcement
  • Participatory governance and community driven Blue Economies
  • Synergies between the scientific research community and coastal stakeholders
  • Blue Economy and climate adaptation, resilience, disruption
  • Just transitions and the Blue Economy
  • Blue growth industries
  • Marine spatial planning and the Blue Economy
  • Critical engagement with Blue Economy
  • Towards a Blue New Deal
  • Learning from the challenges encountered when trying to implement sustainable development on land, to avoid repeating the same mistakes when implementing blue economy agendas in the coastal zone

For more information and registration please visit: https://whova.com/portal/registration/ctbe_202011

Learn more about Project Blue at Southern.

A dedicated scholar of the poetry and art of William Blake and a researcher studying medieval cartography will be presented with the 2019-20 SCSU Faculty Scholar awards at a Virtual Celebration of Excellence that will premiere on Nov. 5 at noon on Facebook Live. Anthony Rosso and Camille Serchuk, respectively, were chosen for their academic and creative work of exceptional merit and will each receive a cash prize of $2,500.

Anthony Rosso, professor of English, teaches courses in the British Eighteenth Century, the Romantic Era, the English Epic, the English Novel to 1900, Literature of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, a Seminar in William Blake, an Introduction to British Literature 1800-Present, and all levels of Composition. An avid scholar of Blake, Rosso has published numerous lectures and conference papers, reviews, and essays, as well as three books, Blake’s Prophetic Workshop: A Study of ‘The Four Zoas’ (1993); Blake, Politics, and History, co-edited with Christopher Z. Hobson and Jackie DiSalvo (1998); and The Religion of Empire: Political Theology in Blake’s Prophetic Symbolism (2016).

Rosso’s newest book, The Religion of Empire, specifically was recognized by the Faculty Scholar Award committee for its “precision of writing,” “thorough and comprehensive quality of research,” and “important contribution the book makes to the study of Blake’s later works.” The book, which is the first monograph in the history of Blake criticism to analyze three major poems in one study, has been enthusiastically received within and beyond Rosso’s field of Blake studies. Aimed at reaching audiences in contemporary biblical, gender, and empire/post-colonial studies, the book draws on Rosso’s writings about Blake published over the last 30 years, in essence, a culmination of a lifetime of research.

In Sibylle Erle’s review in the British Association of Romantic Studies, she noted that Rosso has achieved a “beautifully written, very confident and accessible book.” Other reviewers called the book “an unparalleled ability to communicate complex readings and meanings lucidly” and “a significant, indeed landmark, contribution to Blake studies in particular and the evolution of political theology.”

Camille Serchuk, professor of Art History and assistant director of the Honors College at Southern Connecticut State University, teaches courses that focus on the art of the Middle Ages, gender and Art, and the methodology and historiography of art history. Her exhibition/catalogue “Quand les artistes dessinaient les cartes: vues et figures de l’espace français, Moyen Âge et Renaissance” was recognized by the Faculty Scholar Award committee for its interdisciplinary nature, academic merit, and public impact. Serchuk further was lauded for the project’s “colossal effort” and “prestigious setting.” Even more, the language in the exhibition texts was “evocative yet precise” and “very fun to read.”

Serchuk is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the National Humanities Center and the Newberry and Huntington Libraries. In addition to being an impassioned researcher of art and cartography in France, 1400-1600, Serchuk has published several journal articles, book chapters and reviews; she’s also been the recipient or more than a dozen scholarly grants.

Additional awardees who will be recognized at the Virtual Celebration of Excellence are:

· Joan Finn Jr. Faculty Research Fellowship: Steven Bray (Biology), Rachel Furey (English)

· Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship: Kelly Stiver (Psychology)

· Senior-Level Faculty Research Fellowship: Armen Marsoobian (Philosophy)

· Robert Jirsa Service Award: Susan Cusato (Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences)

· Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award: Carrie Michalski (Nursing)

· J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching (F/T): Elliott Horch (Physics)

· J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching (P/T): Carolyn Thompson (Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences)

· BOR Teaching Award: Thomas Radice (History)

· BOR Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award: Shelley Stoehr-McCarthy (English)

· BOR Research Award: Steven Brady (Biology)

· Million Dollar Club: Kathleen De Oliveira (Academic Success Center)

· Undergraduate Research Assistants – Faculty Award Grant: Amy Smoyer (Social Work)

· Mensa – Distinguished Teaching Award: Kenneth Walters (Psychology)

· CSU Professor: Elliott Horch (Physics)

Faculty, staff and students watch as the ceremonial final beam is put in place on the new College of Health and Human Services building.

The final steel beam for Southern’s new home for the College of Health and Human Services building was swung up and into the building’s structure on October 23, as part of a “topping off” ceremony on campus.

Scheduled for completion in fall 2021, the building will provide greatly enhanced, research and experiential learning opportunities for students and faculty in the health-related fields.

Healthcare today is fully integrated – for example, recreation therapists, nurses, and speech language pathologists work side-by-side to provide to provide essential services to their patients,” said President Joe Bertolino. “ It is vital that our health and human services programs share a common facility where they can interact and communicate.”

By producing more graduates with much-needed expertise in these fields, Southern will continue to be a key player in Connecticut’s economic revival, Bertolino said.

The final beam is moved into place.

The new building will also serve as resource for the off-campus community, through expanded speech therapy and hearing clinics, human performance lab and our center for adaptive sport and inclusive recreation – all of which will be free and open to the public.

As part of the ceremony, members of the Southern community signed the beam before it was lifted skyward. The beam carried with it a small fir tree, a nod to a contractor’s tradition begun years ago by Scandinavians who believed their gods lived in trees. Today, adding a tree is a nod to sturdy and lasting craftsmanship and a symbol of good luck to the owner

In his comments, Bertolino said that the completion of the new building’s framework also symbolized that “the beating heart of Southern is alive and well.”

“That despite the challenges we face, our teaching, our work, our services in support of our students continue to move ahead,” Bertolino said. “And that one day soon we will emerge from this pandemic stronger, more versatile and more innovative than we were before.”

College of Health and Human Services Dean Sandra Bulmer, far right, front, and members of the CHHS faculty

Top row: Joshua Groffman, Al Seesi Sahar, Patty Bode, Marcell Graziano, Sujatha Herne; middle: Anuli Njoku, Svenja Gusewski; bottom: Melanie Uribe, Joshua Knickerbocker, Hanyong Chung, Kelly Coleman, Lauren Tucker

As society continues to grapple with subjects related to health, equity and the environment, Southern has opted to hire more than a quarter of its 31 new tenure-track faculty in clusters related to those real-world topics.

Robert Prezant, provost and vice president for academic affairs, recently announced that small groups of faculty have been hired to form three academic clusters – healthcare informatics; climate change, resilience and the blue economy; and equity, social mobility and access.

“These areas represent strong interdisciplinary approaches in fields that are growing, have great relevance to today’s world, and have strong employment opportunities for our students,” Prezant said.

“They also represent areas already strongly represented on our campus allowing for a compounding of our disciplinary power, enhancement of our potential curriculum and scholarship, and wonderful opportunities for external partnerships.”

The initiative is also designed to create synergy for faculty research. Each cluster is represented by faculty from at least two or three academic disciplines and at least two of Southern’s colleges.

“Bringing in a team of faculty members whose disciplinary and scholarly interests overlap creates an instantaneous set of collaborators,” he said.

“All too often new faculty members are hired and they must search out or work with current faculty and administrators to find those relevant partners. This saves the effort of new faculty searching for disciplinary partners and instantaneously creates enhanced areas of disciplinary excellence.”

Prezant explained the selection of these three topical clusters was made from nine proposals across the campus. “The selection of the final three was difficult and made after lively discussions and debates by members of the Provost’s Council.”

Jean Breny — chairwoman of the Public Health Department who played a key role in the creation of the equity, social mobility, and access cluster — said she is excited about the opportunities being afforded to students.

“We know that our students today are passionate about making a difference in the world and in the communities they live,” Breny said. “We see this in the topics they choose for papers and internship placements, and their increased engagement in political and social issues…Because this is an area where data collection and analysis have proven very fruitful, students will gain hands-on experience with data issues adding to their marketable skills at graduation.”

New faculty members selected for one of the clusters include:

  • Climate change, resilience and the blue economy: Amanda Bertana, sociology; Marcello Graziano, management; Miriah Kelly, environment, geography and marine sciences.
  • Equity, social mobility and access:  Karen D’Angelo, social work; Anuli Njoku, public health; and Adam Pittman, sociology.
  • Healthcare Informatics: Sahar Al-Seesi, computer science; Andy Bartlett, Mathematics

Other new tenure-track faculty members include:

  • Punit Anand, finance. Research interests include asset pricing and investments, as well as corporate finance.
  • Patricia Bode, art. Research interests include multicultural education, postmodern perspectives in art education, and the importance of art education in society.
  • Jennifer Cooper Boemmels, earth science. Research interests include post-rift structural evolution of the Vermont and New York portion of the New England-Quebec Igneous Province.
  • Susan Burger, nursing.  Research interests include health promotion and use of telehealth to manage chronic illnesses.
  • Dana Casetti, physics. Research interests include astronomy and astrophysics.
  • Shi Biao (William) Ding, marketing. Research interests include factors shaping gift giving.
  • Qu Chen, counseling and school psychology. Research interests include factors related to empathy.
  • Hanyong Chung, accounting. Research interests include financial reporting and corporate governance.
  • Kelly Coleman, health and movement services. Research interests include athletic training in secondary schools, and doctoral education in athletic training.
  • Denver Fowler, educational leadership. Research interests include ethical leadership among school leaders.
  • Michele Griswold, public health. Interests and research are in the area of social inequities and structural barriers surrounding infant feeding and maternal child health.
  • Joshua Groffman, music. Research interests include environmental communication through music and sound.
  • Svenja Gusewski, communication disorders. Research interests include language and literacy development of young Spanish-English dual language learners, and culturally sensitive intervention methods for culturally and linguistically diverse populations.
  • Joshua Knickerbocker, nursing. Experience includes instructing pediatric advanced life support simulation at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.
  • Atul Kulkarni, marketing. Research interests include digital marketing and analytics, and sales promotions.
  • Nicole McGowen Madu, curriculum and learning. (January hire)
  • A. Casey McPherson, counseling and school psychology. Research interests include mental health in rural America, and improving training practices of early-career faculty.
  • Joanne Roy, nursing. Background in nursing leadership and professional development.
  • Anastasia Sorokina, world languages and literatures. Research interests include bilingualism’s effect on autobiographical memory, and liberal vs. conservative media coverage of Crimean crisis of 2014.
  • Lauren Tucker, special education. Research interests include assistive technology in education, and the use of Twitter by teachers.
  • Melanie Uribe, art and design. Research interests include migrant identity and acculturation (refuges/displaced), exhibition design and installations as medium for effective communication, experimental design and book arts.
  • Jillian McNiff Villemaire, recreation, tourism and sport management. Research interests include career decisions among sport management students, and transferable skills for student-athletes.
  • Alice Wieland, management/international business. Research interests include gender and decision making in the business world.

It has been a year of tremendous growth and opportunity for the Department of Music at Southern Connecticut State University. The department was just one of five in Connecticut to receive accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), it has gained a new departmental chair (associate professor Joshua Groffman took the reins this August), and is pursuing the development of a one-of-a-kind music therapy degree. And most recently, the music program has received a $250,000 gift in merit-based scholarships from the Stutzman Family Foundation.

The gift joins several other generous commitments to the program from the Stutzman Family Foundation, including music scholarships, and the Southern Applied Music Program, which provides free weekly voice or instrument lessons. Walter Stutzman, ‘09, teaches traditional and online classes as an adjunct faculty member with the Music Department and the First Year Experience (FYE) program; the foundation, established to further music education, was named in tribute to his parents, Geraldine and Jacob Stutzman.

Although access is a crucial component to the Stutzman Family Foundation’s mission, Craig Hlavac, associate dean, College of Arts & Sciences, said the department was not expecting a gift of this magnitude.

“This is a huge step in the area of scholarships,” Hlavac said. “These scholarships will be given over the next five years to music students. This is a major step in both the longevity of the agreement and in the focus.”

According to Groffman, the scholarships also give Southern a more competitive edge when attracting musical talent.

“A lot of the support from the Stutzman Family Foundation enables us to go beyond just courses and go into intensive music training,” Groffman said. “Yes, it lowers barriers to bring students to Southern, but it also raises the overall level of music making on campus. The caliber of students is already high, but there’s a problem with access even to the top-level pool of students.”

Joshua Groffman

The merit-based scholarships provide music majors with up to $6,000 a year in funds and can be combined with other financial grants and awards.

“We’re bringing access to a high-quality music education to everyone at a state school,” Groffman said. “We have stellar faculty, free applied lessons, and departmental growth with new programs and an increased technological component.”

In short, the department is on an upswing, and there is no sign of slowing.

“There’s so much growth potential,” Groffman said. “Music education is continuing to evolve. There’s new kinds of teaching. Music as a field isn’t unhealthy, and there’s a lot of passion to tap into. The Stutzman Family Foundation has continued to help drive the dialogue that this is an excellent program that’s evolving and growing in exciting ways.”

Walter Stutzman, ’09

Mrs. Mildred Madison

When 94-year-old Mildred Madison’s absentee ballot was late arriving, she wanted to make sure her vote was counted. So her son, History Professor Julian Madison — drove her 350 miles each way, from Chicago to Detroit, so that she could cast her ballot. Mrs. Madison was featured in a news segment on CBS 17, a local CBS affiliate in North Carolina, as well as on CNN Politics.

Mrs. Madison is quoted in the CNN article as saying, “I’ve been voting in every election, whether it was city, state, county or national for the last 72 years.” She has a long history in activism and politics and was the first black president of the League of Women Voters in Cleveland, Ohio, where she raised her children. In that role she worked to bring the final presidential debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter to Cleveland.

In the video, Mrs. Madison emphasizes the importance of voting, “not only for your children, but for their children.”

Professor Madison says, “While growing up, my mother insisted on two things: First, respect women. Second, vote in every election. Her explanations were simple. By voting, I take part in shaping my future as well as those who come after me. Second, it sets an example for others. Finally, by NOT voting, not only will my voice not be heard, but I will have no right to complain when things go wrong.”

From the CBS 17 video: History Professor Julian Madison waits for his mother as she casts her ballot.

Mrs. Madison’s story has caught the attention of many and has now gone viral. Professor Madison reports that news outlets in Vietnam, England, and France have picked up this story as have outlets in most states. The Daily Show covered her story on October 20, and she has been interviewed by phone by someone on the Oprah Winfrey Channel. She was also featured on the CBS Morning News on Election Day, November 3.

As Professor Madison says, “this is certainly an opportunity for my mother who has run for political office on several occasions and won, to continue to push people to vote.”

Julian Madison

Sarah Crawford

Sarah Crawford, a professor of biology who has an expertise in virology, recently had an article published regarding the latest developments with vaccines and therapeutics in the journal, “Medical Research Archives.” The piece is titled, “Defeating the COVID-19 Pandemic by Targeting the Critical Interface between SARS-CoV-2 Virus Infection and Its Destructive Immune System Effects.”

Crawford discusses why younger people are at lower risk for severe reactions to COVID-19 infections; the role of interferon — both natural and in drug form — and of hydroxychloroquine on the disease; the keys to effective therapeutics; and whether it is possible to prevent the “cytokine storm,” the cascade of reactions causing serious complications in the second week after an infection begins.

She also addresses the topic of whether previous exposure to other coronaviruses can generate immunity.

And Crawford’s article points out that previous vaccines for SARS and other coronaviruses showed serious after effects in some patients in clinical trials. “We are beginning to see that now with the new vaccines,” she said.

After having her paper published, she was interviewed on Channel 3 (WFSB) and on WTIC radio (1080 AM).

The following is a question-and-answer with Crawford that offers a summary of the highlights of the article:

*Why are younger people at lower risk for severe reactions to COVID infections?

I believe one of the reasons is that people 50 years and older tend to produce less interferon than younger folks. Interferon inhibits the reproduction of the virus in the early stages.

*Can interferon as a drug help those who don’t produce enough of it naturally?

Studies have shown that it does help. But it has a wide range of effects in drug form, and the pros and cons would have to be weighed.

*Are there other reasons for young people having much milder symptoms?

This may be related to the various vaccines given to children. There is evidence to suggest they create a broad enhancement of the immune system during a person’s youth. This seems especially linked to a type of tuberculosis vaccine.

*What are keys to effective therapeutics?

The most effective therapeutics attack the spike attachment protein, replication of the RNA genome, and assembly of virus particles in infected cells.

*Is it possible to prevent the “cytokine storm,” the chain reaction in the body that spurs inflammation and sometimes blood clots and other complications, in a person who already has been infected?

Drugs, such as Remdesivir and Favipiravir decrease the duration of the disease, and seem to have the greatest effect in limiting the cytokine storm if given early in the infection. Dexamethasone, a glucosteroid, has been shown to decrease mortality rates.

*What about hydroxychloroquine? Is this an effective treatment or not?

There is conflicting evidence. But a study in Henry Ford Hospital included 2,500 patients in which there was a significant reduction in mortality rates when used by itself or with the antibiotic azithromycin, compared with those who used neither. This contradicted an earlier Oxford study.

*Can previous exposure to other coronaviruses generate some immunity from COVID-19?

Other coronavirus may produce long-lasting cross-reactive immune system responses.

 

 

Artist's rendering of the new College of Health and Human Services building, scheduled to be completed by fall 2021

The College of Health & Human Services welcomes our nine new tenure-track faculty members! Read about them below:

Susan Burger, PhD, RN, CNE, is an associate professor in the Department of Nursing with more than 30 years of nursing experience. Her clinical expertise is in Community-Public Health Nursing and Maternal-Child Health Nursing. Dr. Burger is an active researcher and presenter. Her program of research focuses on reducing re-hospitalization among chronically ill individuals through more effective self-management.

Susan Burger

Anuli Njoku, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Public Health. Her research and teaching specialties include cultural competency in higher education, health disparities, health promotion and education, rural health, and environmental health equity. She has extensive experience developing and teaching university courses and publishing about health disparities.

Anuli Njoku

Karen D’Angelo, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work, specializing in community practice and community-engaged research. Her scholarship focuses on community-driven solutions to health inequities. Previously on the faculty at the University of Illinois Chicago, Dr. D’Angelo is excited to return to Connecticut in order to be closer to her long-term research partners, her family, and the world’s best pizza.

Karen D’Angelo

Jillian McNiff Villemaire, Ed.D., is an associate professor of sport management in the Department of Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Management. Dr. McNiff Villemaire has been teaching sports management full-time since 2011 and before that worked in marketing for Boston University’s Fitness and Recreation Center and in marketing and corporate sponsorships for the New England Patriots, New England Revolution, and Gillette Stadium. Her research primarily focuses on sports management graduates’ career outcomes and sport management education. She presented in September 2020 to the European Sport Management Association on creating opportunities where everyone can succeed in a sports management classroom.

Jillian McNiff Villemaire

Joshua Knickerbocker, PhD, earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing at SCSU in 2006. Dr. Knickerbocker worked as a registered nurse in pediatric emergency, adult emergency, and flight nursing. He obtained his MBA from SCSU in 2011 and worked at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, Quality and Safety Department. In 2018, he graduated from Quinnipiac University with a doctoral degree in nursing and has been practicing in emergency medicine as a nurse practitioner ever since.

Joshua Knickerbocker

Michele Griswold, PhD, MPH, RN, IBCLC, has a background in maternal-child and pediatric nursing and is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She has led statewide and global policy and advocacy efforts targeting equitable access to breastfeeding and lactation care as well as family-friendly policies. Dr. Griswold’s research interests involve the identification of unjust social barriers to breastfeeding and understanding how implicit biases of health care professionals contribute to poor health outcomes for marginalized populations.

Michele Griswold

Joanne F. Roy, PhD, RN-BC CNL, has been a nursing professional for over 39 years, earning a PhD in nursing from the University of Rhode Island, an MSN from the University of Connecticut, and a BSN from Western Connecticut State University.  Dr. Roy holds two specialty certifications as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist (RN-BC) and Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL), and has held numerous nurse educator/leader positions in practice and academic settings. Dr. Roy’s expertise resides in evidence-based practice, nursing leadership; and theoretical foundations and transitions within professional nursing practice roles.

Joanne F. Roy

Svenja Gusewski, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Communication Disorders Department. Dr. Gusewki’s research focuses on bilingual language and literacy development. As a multilingual speech-language-pathologist, she has provided clinical services in Germany, Spain, and the U.S. She is excited about connecting teaching, research, and clinical training at Southern. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her husband, Dylan, and their two dogs, Archie and Samson.

Svenja Gusewski

Kelly Coleman, PhD, is a nationally certified athletic trainer and a licensed athletic trainer in Connecticut, with over 10 years of clinical experience providing athletic training services at the NCAA Division I, II, and III levels. She is active in professional organizations at the national, regional, and local levels, with teaching experience at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Dr. Coleman’s research interests include academic and clinical leadership of athletic trainers as well as promoting access to appropriate medical care for athletes of all ages.

Kelly Coleman

Before the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted our lives and introduced us to distant learning, students looked forward to the learning experiences they found on campus. Interviews with a few students and professors from the College of Health & Human Services suggests that they are adjusting well to remote learning. Although it is nice not to have a commute to campus for classes or struggle to find a parking spot, to walk across campus in the rain, or wait in long lines for coffee, students do miss many of the in-person experiences of university life. Some students feel that it’s not the same and really miss the in-person learning experience. Being completely online can be a bit difficult and some students fear that they are not absorbing the information as much, compared to previous courses that they took in person. However, students find themselves adjusting to the situation and find that Southern is doing a phenomenal job in assisting students to get the most out of distance learning. Professors are even becoming more comfortable with the technology to help create a supportive environment for their students.

Students miss participating in on-campus events and enjoying the beautiful sights of the campus and nature that is around us. Those little walks from one building to another when the weather was nice was something that many appreciated. Students would run into familiar faces around campus and interact with people in between their classes or on their way home. Now students are finding new creative ways to stay connected with each other, enjoying new activities, and discovering new talents about themselves. It really helps to remain positive and to find a routine that works for you. Students have found that going on walks and setting up weekly FaceTime or Zoom calls helps them from socially distancing themselves completely and losing hope in our current situation.

Despite the new changes, students are working smarter this semester and finding new ways to manage their workload. Public Health senior Annie Ricupero shared, “I have found that making short to-do lists for myself for each week helps me to stay organized and on top of my school-work without feeling too overwhelmed.” By planning ahead and keeping track of due dates on assignments, and setting up a quiet designated work area, students are able to stay focused without being too hard on themselves.

Though many students miss being able to utilize Buley Library and all the in-person resources it has to offer, they are creating new routines at home and taking advantage of the library’s online resources, the Academic Success Center, and the other facilities. It’s also a good idea to take advantage of the virtual office hours for your professors. They are easy to access, and students finding the accessibility to be helpful, as they can still receive the one-on-one help they seek on assignments. Professors are doing their best to accommodate their students and helping students feel adjusted to their classes. Communication Disorders senior Annie Prusak said, “I always like to introduce myself to professors when I first meet them, and while I was able to do it this semester over Zoom, it isn’t quite the same as shaking someone’s hand.” You build a stronger connection with not just the professor but with classmates as well, as the first couple of minutes coming into the classroom enables students to create conversations with their peers.

Many students are finding it easy to follow the safety protocols – wearing a face mask, washing their hands, and using hand sanitizer – both on and off campus. Students mainly find themselves at home unless they need to go to work, classes, or grocery shopping. Though many students do not have access to campus, they find that Southern is doing a great job announcing what services are available to students and when and what events are being held, whether on campus or virtually. Professor Joseph Milone of the Recreation, Tourism, & Sports Management Department said, “staying connected can be as simple as reaching out to classmates to set up a study session or just talk. Reach out, get involved, and stay connected in some capacity.”

Though it is easy to feel isolated when classes are online, it’s important to think about your mental health. Students find that talking to a therapist every week has helped them work through their thoughts and feelings. You should also continue to strengthen your physical connections with your family members and peers as they are a great support system to have. Milone commented, “one tip to manage stress, which applies to everyone, is to step away from the computer when needed. Take a walk, get some fresh air, set up a chair outside to watch the birds, and get away from it all for a few minutes. The pandemic has given us an opportunity to rethink how we engage with outdoor spaces”. Overall, students are feeling lucky to be able to continue their learning from a safe environment where they can still get the help that they need and require, making this transition a better experience.

The Southern Connecticut State University School of Business is pleased to announce a partnership with Get Virtual, a program that gives local businesses affected by COVID-19 the tools to adapt to the virtual landscape and extend their businesses online. As the east coast anchor of Get Virtual, the School of Business will pair local businesses seeking help with college students seeking experience.

Organizations have been facing a changing business landscape for several years, and the current global pandemic has intensified these changes. Disruptions in the workplace, technological changes, global effects, and social unrest have businesses and consumers interacting differently, and traditional business models no longer fit the landscape.

Founded by SCSU School of Business alum and former Tesla president, Toby Corey, ‘83, Get Virtual is a curriculum program that is free to businesses and provides course credits and internships to participating students. Get Virtual inspires entrepreneurship through web development, ecommerce, and online marketing to support local businesses in the critical transition to the online marketplace.

The connections students and businesses make by participating in Get Virtual go beyond the scope of the curriculum. Students have the opportunity to hear about and learn from business professionals while giving back to their local community and gaining practical, real-world experience. Businesses have the opportunity to provide high-quality internships, which are a powerful recruiting tool. Southern students make great interns. They are known for their drive, working an average of 27 hours a week in addition to their school and personal commitments, and are a great investment, as 85 percent of Southern students stay in Connecticut after graduation.

On October 6, Corey joined School of Business Dean, Dr. Ellen Durnin, and Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garrett Sheehan for a panel discussion titled, “The Power to Pivot – Harnessing the Virtual Landscape to Maximize Business Success.” The panelists talked about how businesses can adjust and reinvent their organizations given this new landscape and discussed critical tools and resources available to help pivot and rebound to protect organizations and employees, and attendees had the opportunity to learn how they can partner with the School of Business and Get Virtual to adapt to the virtual landscape and extend their businesses online.

Corey says, “Businesses need to be where their customers are, and customers are online.” Adding, the goal is to “teach businesses to fish,” by providing inexpensive, easy-to-use tools that will provide quick results to businesses who know they need to pivot, but aren’t sure where to start.

Durnin says, “We are proud to partner with SCSU School of Business alum Toby Corey, and believe that Get Virtual can help entrepreneurs pivot from a bricks-and-mortar setting to providing virtual experiences for their customers. This ability is essential in our new economy.”

Local Connecticut businesses interested learning more about Get Virtual can go to getvirtual.org, and to find out how your organization can participate in this exciting program, contact Amy Grotzke at GrotzkeA1@Southernct.edu.