Announcements

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our eleventh group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Evalisa Alvarez, Taylor Bird, Oscar Clark, Ludmyr Merlain, and Karen Musmanno for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Evalisa Alvarez

Nominated by a colleague, Evalisa Alvarez is a secretary in the Registrar’s Office. Her nominator wrote that Alvarez took on a project to digitize the department’s academic record archives during this pandemic, and that it was no small task. “She understands how important this was to help our office continue to work from a safe remote location,” her nominator wrote, “while still striving to provide the same level of excellent service for our students and alumni needing access to their records. Evalisa prepared, indexed, and boxed 250,000 records last week, that’s huge! These are now shipped off to our vendor to become digitized, this was a great service to the University, and our entire office is truly grateful to her for taking this on!”

Evalisa Alvarez

Taylor Bird

Nominated by a faculty member, Taylor Bird is a graduate student in the Department of Communication Disorders. Her nominator wrote that she has been a positive force for change within the department by providing open and honest communication with faculty and leadership about her experience and perspective as one of the few Black female students within the department. She organized and produced a powerful video in support of the Black Lives Matter movement featuring a message from every graduate student in her cohort. “Her open letter, along with the video, has deeply affected all of us,” her nominator wrote. In her letter, Bird said that she hoped her actions might “spark some positive change within the department.” “However,” her nominator wrote, “her actions have gone beyond a spark and have provided the fuel to ignite significant change. Her bravery, honesty, and leadership have inspired our department to take direct action that will result in diversification and inclusion, today, tomorrow and in the months and years ahead.”

During these past four months, Bird has skillfully navigated her school practicum placement which transitioned to remote learning during her final semester. She has been working effectively as a graduate clinician providing speech and language treatment services for children with communication disorders via remote learning. The transition to remote education has been a daunting task for experienced clinicians, and yet Bird navigated this uncharted territory with skill and grace. She will graduate in August 2020 and enter the profession as a speech-language pathology clinical fellow.

Taylor Bird

Oscar Clark

Music Department Secretary Oscar Clark was nominated by a member of the community. Clark not only works full time at Southern and serves as a religious resource for his community, but is also the agent of  VetFuel, Inc., a (501-C3) nonprofit agency based in New Haven. The directive of VetFuel, according to its website, is to “Offer all of Connecticut’s Veterans seamless assistance with mobility, health access, & means tested advocacy for the purpose of reintegration into civilian life.” Clark, as VetFuel’s agent, is responsible for all risks associated with the agency, the direction of the agency to some degree, and calculated growth within its mission. According to his nominator, Clark “came up with this great idea to market VetFuel as a brand and we are working toward that goal right now with very powerful attorneys who are working pro-bono. Under Oscar, we have had three successful presidents assist the organization, we have grown exponentially in our mission, and our grant awards, and have always had a keen eye on social justice.”

Clark’s nominator added that it was Clark who suggested “we run a neighbor to neighbor program in the Connecticut Valley Area to ensure people of Muslim faiths, affected by the war, and former soldiers could sit down in a space of peace and talk about how war has affected them. And it was Oscar Clark, that helped an ailing veteran in his final hours of hospice care, holding his hand, singing ‘Amazing Grace,’ as the man passed.” Clark is much more than just an SCSU employee, his nominator wrote, adding, “He is a community anchor and a recognizable figure of social justice at the local, state, and federal level, since we are now working with federal agencies as potential grantors.”

Oscar Clark

Ludmyr Merlain

A graduate student in Marriage and Family Therapy, Ludmyr Merlain was nominated by a member of the community, who wrote that she “has been lending a helping hand by helping youths in her community get through these difficult times. She been having Zoom meeting with children from her church where they talk about any issues they maybe having in these difficult times. I know she’s been a great help to . . . families in the church.”

Merlain’s nominator wrote that her weekly Zoom meetings with the teenagers’ class at church helps to “uplift them through all the unforeseen circumstances happening in this world right now. In these unfortunate times parents are trying to find ways to keep things as normal as possible for their children and Ludmyr is doing what she can to help the teenagers process and understand what’s going on. I wanted to highlight her efforts because sometimes i feel like they go unnoticed and i want to appreciate her for all that she does.”

Ludmyr Merlain

Karen Musmanno

Nominated by a faculty member, IT Systems Manager Karen Musmanno is, her nominator wrote, “truly one of those people the community relies upon to support individuals and University-wide initiatives, such as in May the Faculty Senate elections and most recently the Digital Evaluation project. She is consistently a thought partner in driving technological advances to enable greater learning outcomes as well as building enhanced efficiency and capability in faculty. There are a few who see the future and act on it. Karen has been on the forefront of providing support and driving innovation through generous sharing of her knowledge, time and unwavering belief that we can also always be better.”

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our tenth group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Ashley Burkell, Alyssa Maddern, Jay Moran, Sal Rizza, and Meredith Sinclair for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Ashley Burkell

Nominated by a faculty member, Ashley Burkell is a public health major, and her nominator wrote that “each year she strives to do more to promote equity.” Burkell recently emailed her nominator, who is also her advisor, to tell her that learning about privilege freshman year had led her to understand how she needs to help others with less privilege. While educating herself on social media and attending recent protests, she still didn’t feel it was enough. On a recent weekend, Burkell decided to use her week’s grocery money to make vegan pasta and garlic bread and sell it in her neighborhood (with contact-free pickup) to support Black Lives Matter Global Network. In fewer than three days, she had already raised $1100. Her nominator reports that Burkell intends to repeat this drive in July with a local social justice/equity group as the recipient. Burkell, her nominator wrote, even included instructions for safely warming the food, to avoid food-borne illness. Burkell, she wrote, “is using all she has learned in her public health and nutrition classes to help promote health equity.”

Ashley Burkell

Alyssa Maddern
Nominated by a faculty member, Alyssa Maddern is a full-time student who completed her undergraduate degree in recreation & leisure (concentration: therapeutic recreation) and is continuing her education for her master’s at Southern in recreation therapy. She was hired in February as a part time activities assistant at Maplewood Senior Living at Orange (MAO); however, amidst the pandemic, she has been working more and has been given more responsibilities and challenges to overcome. Due to this pandemic, her nominator wrote, Maddern “has been able to prove herself and her expansive abilities through creating innovative activities for her residents. Those activities include developing and distributing a daily BINGO newsletter to play together, but apart from others, a Workout From Your Apartment packet that shows her residents how many repetitions of an exercise they should do, a detailed explanation of how to do the specific exercise, and a hand drawn cartoon figure, properly doing the exercise, a Fun Brain Fitness Packet she creates for each and every Friday that includes themed sudoku, word searches, crosswords, anagrams, hidden pictures, etc. She has also provided Happiest of Hours to her residents’ apartments, facilitates 1:1 Hallway Exercises, developed and distributes a TV Guide for her residents to follow and tune in to entertaining movies and shows Thursday through Sunday, rolls around a cooler as the ice cream woman and distributes a variety of ice cream to her residents, developed and collaborated with her residents to create a ‘We Are All In This Together’ banner, and the list continues on.”

For all of her efforts, Maddern was recently awarded the H.E.A.R.T Award for the month of May at MAO; H.E.A.R.T. is the philosophy MAO associates embody in their work performance, going above and beyond with all their heart. H.E.A.R.T stands for Humor, Empathy, Anatomy, Respect and Reaching Out to Others, and Trust and Triumph. Her nominator wrote that “Each and everyday Alyssa brightens the lives of older adults who have been separated from family and friends during this epidemic! She is truly a hero!!”

Alyssa Maddern

Jay Moran

Nominated by a colleague, Southern’s Director of Athletics Jay Moran has led his staff, coaches, and teams — comprised of approximately 500 student-athletes — through, at his own admittance, his most challenging year as an athletic director. The department was faced with the EEE scare in the fall, which Moran addressed, and through coordination with his staff managed to avoid canceling any athletic competition or practice. Shortly thereafter, Moran’s nominator wrote, “the athletic department and gymnastics program, to say nothing of the entire SCSU community, was struck with the tragic loss of [student gymnast] Melanie Coleman. Jay has dealt with personal tragedy of his own, and never backed away from lending a helping hand and the needed patience to anyone that needed to talk.”

Moran then oversaw a midseason coaching change and was later confronted with the coronavirus pandemic. His nominator wrote that “he has been at the forefront of coordinating efforts for the entire Athletic Department in lending support to its student-athletes, and has worked tirelessly with the message being the same along the way: we have to get our student-athletes safely back on campus and get our fall student-athletes a season. Jay’s style of leadership ensures inspiration to his staff and coaches and presents himself as personable and approachable to student-athletes, as they are always first in line for his attention.”

Jay Moran

Sal Rizza

Nominated by a student, Sal Rizza, director of Orientation, Transition and Family Engagement, was described as having “contributed numerous outreaches and important knowledge to Southern students and people in general during this hard time for people fighting for a change in systemic racism. He has been a shoulder to cry on, person to reach out to, and an educator to fight for this change and make it possible for others to fight too.”

His nominator added that he recommended Rizza because students look up to him. Rizza has been on Instagram lives with students “to send positivity and distractions from being in quarantine,” wrote his nominator. “He has tried to give students a positive place to go, in order to feel like they are at home on Southern’s campus. There were many Instagram lives and event schedules that he and his orientation crew put together that truly helped me and other students during this time.” Rizza is also a part of the Orientation Ambassador Alumni group on Facebook, and his nominator wrote that he is “always available to reach out to and support those who are suffering through the tragedies in the black and brown communities.” Rizza, his nominator wrote, has always supported students and lifted them up through hard times, but “he has just truly shined through during this time. He was an amazing boss when I worked as an orientation ambassador during my time at Southern and he is an even more amazing person inside and out. Students are very lucky to have him on Southern’s campus.”

Sal Rizza

Meredith Sinclair

Nominated by a student, Meredith Sinclair, associate professor of English education, is described as having always been a supportive professor: “As soon as we went online” when the pandemic caused campus to close in the spring semester, her nominator wrote, “she assured us that our mental health was the first priority, and she adjusted our class to meet the needs of the students. Her biweekly TEAMS chats provided a place not only to discuss class content, but to express how we are feeling during these times.”

Sinclair taught an engaging class not just on the methods of teaching, but on unlearning racist biases in order to become better teachers, her nominator wrote. Sinclair is a member of the Educational Justice Collective at Southern as well and has reached out to the group to arrange discussions on teacher activism. Since the semester has ended, Professor Sinclair has continued to show her support for the Southern community by voicing her support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the end to racial injustice, especially within education, and attending protests.

Meredith Sinclair

Lewis DeLuca works with students on improving their financial literacy.

LendEDU, a website that helps consumers learn about and compare financial products, including student loans, has released its fourth annual report that recognizes the top 50 financial literacy programs in the country, and the program at Southern was featured in the top 50 for 2020. This the fourth consecutive year Southern’s program is nationally ranked.

See the full report here

The institutions were not ranked, but are listed in alphabetical order.

Southern has made financial literacy a priority by helping students pay for college. Students learn payment plan options as well as financial aid and scholarship opportunities through one-on-one advising, presentations, and resources.

A goal is to embed responsibility by providing strategies for short- and long-term financial obligations. Over 100 annual workshops such as Paying for College, $mart Money Management, Financial Aid 101, Credit Talk$, Budget Talk$, Scholarship Talk$, Life After College, and Loan Repayment Talk$ provide students with tools for successful personal finance. More than 4010 individual financial plans have been created and aligned with academic goals for timely degree completion.

Lew DeLuca, coordinator of Student Financial Literacy & Advising at Southern, says, “Financial literacy has always been an email or phone call away for a timely and comprehensive response in addition to in person and walk-in appointments. During the COVID challenges, those appointments have obviously been virtual but still extremely effective.  No matter the circumstances, Financial Literacy’s commitment to excellence and support will always be there for any current, prospective, and alumni students and their families to support paying for college and all other financial literacy needs.”

Financial literacy, especially as it relates to college financing decisions, is more important now than ever before because of the economic impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on so many American households, according to the LendEDU website.

To compile the fourth annual rankings, hundreds of financial literacy programs were rated on three things: (1) the number of workshops and resources available; (2) access to one-on-one financial consultation; (3) incentivizing programs available.

 

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our ninth group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Rondell Butler, Adam Cohen, Chelsea Harry, Debra Risisky, and Barbara Tinney for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Rondell Butler
Nominated by three staff colleagues, Rondell Butler is recognized as an exceptional member of the Registrar’s Office staff who goes above and beyond in demonstrating commitment to students and the community on a daily basis. His supervisor has many examples of Rondell responding to calls to speak to area high schools and student groups to share information about Southern, personally delivering transcripts to scholarship organizations on behalf of students, calming upset students and more. These activities are not part of Butler’s regular job description, but he does them because, in the words of his supervisor, “that’s just who he is.” Among his fellow administrative support employees, he is a leader they seek out for guidance and assistance with challenging student service situations because they trust him to bring grace, compassion, and respect to every interaction. “We’re grateful to have someone with Rondell’s integrity and service orientation on the Enrollment Management team,” wrote one nominator.

Another colleague noted in his nomination of Butler, “Rondell without question is an ambassador for the university. He does not hesitate to contribute above and beyond that which is required. His investment in the community on behalf of the university is remarkable. He not only volunteers as a presenter to youth and other community based groups, but also shares opportunities with other colleagues and coworkers encouraging their involvement. I recommend him without reservation.”

A third colleague wrote of Butler, “Mr. Butler is a major asset to SCSU. Knowledgeable, Hard working, fair, honest, loyal for starters. He solves problems, reviews all matters, Fantastic Human Being teammate.”

Rondell Butler

Adam Cohen
Adam Cohen, head women’s soccer coach, has been an outstanding source of leadership, guidance, and inspiration for the women’s soccer team and others during this pandemic, wrote his nominator, a fellow staff member. Cohen is in communication with the the student-athletes everyday on a variety of topics, including monitoring their academic involvement, checking on their families, sending motivational messages and COVID information, and keeping tabs on their overall well-being. Cohen’s nominator wrote that “He is providing the resources that show the student-athletes that they are cared for in a complete manner at SCSU. He has been accessible at all times for players to call or have video chats with so that they may discuss whatever is on their minds during this unprecedented time….and many have come to him and will continue to. Individually during this time he has continued to better himself by taking part in many webinars so that he may better serve the student-athletes of SCSU. The group is in a good place collectively as a result of Adam Cohen’s guidance.”

Adam Cohen

Chelsea Harry
Chelsea Harry, associate professor of philosophy, “has gone above and beyond in volunteering relative to food insecurity in the New Haven area during the pandemic,” wrote her nominator, a student. Her nominator explains that Harry has been on many food runs (picking up food from certain places and delivering them to people’s houses) and has worked with local soup kitchens many times to provide food for those in need. Most importantly, Harry’s nominator wrote, she “has extensively educated her students in her Honors 300 Service Learning course about what food insecurity is and how they can help in making a difference during this time of need by giving them the resources necessary to participate in food runs and volunteerism themselves, as well as discussions of the real effects that a lack of food has on society in such an unprecedented time.”

Chelsea Harry

Debra Risisky
Nominated by a student, Associate Professor of Public Health Debra Risisky is, the student wrote, “the person who opened my eyes to my white privilege as a white woman in America. Dr. Risisky taught me about equity, health disparities and social justice issues and how it is our responsibility to make change. Before I crossed paths with Dr. Risisky at Southern, I was blind to my privilege and had not put much thought into the struggles that BIPOC face every single day. Dr. Risisky encourages us to vote, march and demand justice. She’s an honorable woman and she has an incredible impact on students like me. During the outpour of Black Lives Matters and demanding justice for the lives lost due to racism and a broken system I decided to take direct action. This week I have sold vegan comfort meals out of my home to raise money for Black Lives Matter Global Network. As of today, I have raised $1,100 for the cause. I say this with my whole heart, if I did not cross paths with Dr. Risisky and open my eyes to the racial inequality and inequities, this money would not have been raised. Social justice is something I am very passionate about and will continue to speak out on for the rest my life and this is because of what Dr.Risisky taught me. Dr. Risisky has an incredible impact on her students and she is creating serious change for our generation.”

Debra Risisky

Barbara Tinney
Nominated by a student, Barbara Tinney, assistant professor of social work, was lauded for helping her students to stay on track after classes were moved online due to the pandemic. Her nominator wrote that Tinney “checked in with her each and every student at the beginning of each WebEx meeting. She also relaxed due dates at the beginning of the online transition, allowing us to plan ahead and lower the stress and anxiety that surfaced through this transition. She communicated consistently! For me, this was imperative to my academic success because I have an anxiety disorder and I felt my mind and body shutting down through this tough time. She made me feel that my learning was just as important to her as it was to myself! Thank you for providing a platform to recognize her efforts!”

Barbara Tinney

In recent days, the senseless, brutal killing of George Floyd and its ripple effects have placed the issues of racial inequality and injustice under an intense spotlight across the state, the nation, and around the world. To promote campus-wide dialogue, Southern is hosting a virtual panel discussion with Southern faculty, students and community members. Please join us.

Wednesday, June 17 (12 – 1:30 p.m.)

A community online forum streaming live on Southern’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SouthernCT/

A community online forum moderated by Jonathan L. Wharton, associate professor of political science and urban affairs, Southern Connecticut State University.

This event is open to the public, and a Facebook account is not required to attend.

Submit questions for the panelists here.

Panelists:

Shanté Hanks, ’97, M.S. ’99, 6th Yr. ’05, is the deputy commissioner of the State of Connecticut Department of Housing, with professional experience spanning government affairs, public policy, affordable housing development and education. She holds two Southern degrees and an advanced certificate.

Solomon James, ’22, a rising junior at Southern, is a community activist and the co-organizer of a recent racial justice march held in Danbury, Conn., in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Julian Madison is an associate professor of history at Southern with a scholarly focus on race and ethnicity, civil rights, culture and the Jazz Age. His books and manuscripts cover a wide range of topics, including desegregation of sports and the fight to end school segregation.

Cassi Meyerhoffer is an associate professor of sociology at Southern. Her research and teaching interests focus on systemic racism, racial residential segregation, and the role of race in American policing. She is working on a book proposal: From the Old Jim Crow to the New: Tracing the Roots of Reconstruction to Residential Segregation, Police Brutality, and the Mass Incarceration of Black Bodies.

Orisha Ala Nzambi Ochumare is one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter New Haven. She is an anti-racism organizer and has done work with youth in local schools. She is currently the LGBTQ+ youth program officer at the New Haven Pride Center.

Timothy Parrish is a professor of English at Southern, an award-winning writer, and one of the architects of the university’s MFA program. He is the author of three books, including Fear and What Follows: The Violent Education of a Christian Racist, a Memoir (U Press of Mississippi).

 

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our eighth group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Jennifer Botwick, Alexander Grant, Rebecca Hedreen, Jamie Malaterra, and Deborah Weiss for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Jennifer Botwick
Nominated by a staff member, Jennifer Botwick is an adjunct faculty member who teaches in the Department of Public Health. Her nominator wrote that they initially met when Botwick asked to borrow some yoga mats to teach yoga to her Wellness class. When COVID hit, and Botwick was unable to practice yoga with her students in person, her nominator reached out to ask if Botwick would be able to host a live meditation, and, hr nominator wrote, “she contributed so much more! Not only did Dr. Jenn host several Instagram live meditations and other Q&A sessions focusing on different areas of student health, she also contributed recipes and tips and resources for our Recreation and Fitness team to share with our community to inspire continued well being at home. She made herself available at all times, while seeing her patients via telehealth and still teaching her Southern students online. As an adjunct faculty member, she didn’t have to contribute anything, but as a health practitioner and genuinely caring member of our community, she said ‘yes’ to all of our requests because of her genuine care for health, safety, and well being of our students. Dr. Jenn absolutely went above and beyond and we are so grateful for her talents and positivity to help our community.”

Jennifer Botwick

Alexander Grant
Nominated by a fellow student, Alexander Grant is a sophomore, majoring in political science, from Woodbury, Conn. He is also a Presidential Student Ambassador at Southern. His nominator reports that Grant has worked at his local grocery store, LaBonne’s, since high school and often talks about how great his co-workers are and how he has always enjoyed working there. His intentions to return to work there were only for the duration of spring break. However, due to the sudden shutdown of the campus, he was quick to return to work and start helping his community. “Now that he’s a part of one of the smaller populace of workers still working during this time,” wrote Grant’s nominator, “he’s been doing as much as possible to help those in need all while trying to balance coursework from classes. Alex recently has been making grocery runs for friends and family to help them and ensure that they continue to stay safe and get all the essentials they’ll need to remain at home.”

Grant’s nominator added that Grant is also actively involved with managing and controlling the long lines often seen at the grocery store, yet again ensuring that those coming to shop are staying sanitary and having a smooth experience. His nominator continued, “He underestimates the amount he’s contributing to his community and still is by continuing to work during these tough times.”

Alexander Grant

Rebecca Hedreen
Nominated by a faculty colleague, Rebecca Hedreen has been carrying out a multitude of tasks in Buley library as the Distance Librarian in charge of all of the library’s virtual services during the pandemic. Her nominator wrote that Hedreen “has been an exceptional colleague this time and the go-to person for students and faculty in anything related to library online resources and services. What is most admirable about Rebecca is her willingness to drop everything she is doing to help anyone who approaches her online anytime any day.”

Hedreen created the initial Virtual Library page, which was used as a template for the new Buley Library homepage, and participated actively in the decision making and design of the new page as a member of the Library Technology Committee. She has been a tremendous help to her colleagues in using the SpringShare suite of products library uses for remote services. Hedreen continues to participate actively in the university-wide Online Learning Team’s planning sessions, trainings, and drop-in times including a host of other committees. In addition, she manages the library’s social media presence (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) with over 500 posts. She continues to participate in virtual desk services and online library instruction providing assistance to many students and faculty in her liaison subjects in biology, nursing, and psychology including distance learning assistance in all areas. “She is a remarkable and outstanding librarian and we want to appreciate her expertise and professionalism,” added her nominator.

Rebecca Hedreen

Jamie Malaterra
Nominated by a fellow student, Jamie Malaterra is a communication disorders major from Trumbull, Conn. Her nominator wrote, “I can’t think of a student more worthy of recognition than my good friend, Jamie Malaterra. Throughout this time of crisis, Jamie has been a shining light. There are so many examples of how she has been there for her community.”

In the very beginning of quarantine, her nominator wrote, Malaterra noticed her elderly neighbors were afraid to leave their homes and wanted to do something to brighten up her neighborhood. She wrote and delivered letters challenging all of the neighborhood children to decorate the neighborhood with colorful chalk messages of hope, and even supplied the chalk. That same day, the children filled the street with drawings and hopeful words.

Malaterra is also an essential healthcare worker. At the Kennedy Center, she works one-on-one with several adults with special needs. Her nominator said that one of Malaterra’s clients has been making incredible progress with her. Together they practice communication skills, occupational skills, and exercise. Currently, Malaterra is working with this client on learning to write his name, and he is making great strides.

Also, her nominator wrote, Malaterra is the older sister of a high school senior, and is planning a driveby graduation celebration for her sister, recruiting all of her friends to decorate their cars and drive by their house to celebrate her sister’s graduation. Her nominator added, “I couldn’t be more proud of Jamie. Southern is so lucky to have her as a part of our community.”

Jamie Malaterra

Deborah Weiss
Nominated by a faculty colleague,  Deborah Weiss is a professor in the Department of Communication Disorders, co-director of the Judaic Studies Program, and president of the SCSU Faculty Senate. Her nominator wrote, “Since the moment it was understood that our semester would be disrupted in an unprecedented way, Dr. Deborah Weiss, in her role as President of the Faculty Senate, bounded into action and has been at the center of developing and getting approval for policies that have been vital to enabling
students to succeed. At the same time, she has been instrumental in finding ways to ensure vital processes (e.g., faculty evaluation) would go forward in an orderly way, and has masterfully applied crisis-communication techniques to bring clarity to new options, revised procedures and altered expectations.

Under enormous pressure to “get it right the first time,” her nominator wrote, Weiss has been able to work harmoniously and productively with, and foster consensus among, key faculty, administration and staff leaders. Her accomplishments have served the university well, he writes, adding “in fact, they are awe inspiring, and worthy of a presidential medal of valor, were such a thing to exist. All of this was done at a tremendous personal cost of time and sleep, and in spite of the most difficult of family demands that were happening at the same time — which, of course, attests to Deb’s heroic dedication to Southern Connecticut State University and the members of our campus community. During times of crisis, clear thinking, full engagement with all affected parties, willingness to act, selflessness, compassion and smarts carry the day. Deb Weiss embodies all of those characteristics and has used every available ounce of energy to make Southern shine brightly during a dark period.”

Deborah Weiss

 

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our seventh group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Alan Bensen, Haroon Chaudhry, Diane Morgenthaler, Roland Regos, and Sue Zarnowski for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Alan Bensen
Nominated by a faculty member, Alan Bensen is a biology major who took Physics 201 this spring, a course designed for non-Physics majors. His professor wrote that Bensen was an excellent student and very responsible, but at some point during the semester, he requested some accommodation for an exam time change. At that point, Bensen’s nominator wrote, “I learned from him that he is a first responder, working in the EMS. And he had a very busy new schedule. At some point later, he told me that ten of his patients were confirmed with COVID-19. Even in such a situation, he still got a perfect grade for that exam. I asked him if there was anything I (we) could do to help. He said the best way for people to help was to stay home and practice social distancing. I have been truly touched by his service, his attitude, and his performance, and feel that he should be recognized.”
Alan Bensen

Haroon Chaudhry

Graduate student Haroon Chaudhry was nominated by a faculty member, who wanted to recognize Chaudhry for his offer of free resume and cover letter editing, and practice interviewing to students and recent graduates. “These are services for which he could be paid,” she wrote, “but is giving back to the community by offering these services for free.”

Chaudhry is an undergraduate alumnus (class of 2019) and a graduate student in the accelerated MBA program. He takes time from his own busy work and academic schedule to offer his time and skills to help ungraduated students and recent graduates. In Chaudhry’s Facebook post, where he offers his services, he writes, “This university has given me everything a student can ask for and now I want to give back to the community. I typically charge people for professional services but I’m offering free services to everyone. First, congratulations to the class of 2020.”

Chaudhry continues, “Currently, we are living in a global crisis and many of us are struggling. I know people who have been laid off or had internships cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak and I know this is happening everywhere. I want to help out in any way I can and would love to edit resumes or cover letters, do a practice interview or provide career advice. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!”

Haroon Chaudhry
Diane Morgenthaler
Diane Morgenthaler, director of Student Health Services, was nominated by a student who recently graduated. This student had been hospitalized for three weeks with COVID-19, and when she was finally well enough to go home, she was told she needed to have a nebulizer to give herself breathing treatments. There were no nebulizers available anywhere in the state for her to have at home, and her breathing began to slowly deteriorate again. Roland Regos (see below), a member of President Bertolino’s staff and and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management, asked this student to give him some time to make calls and send emails to try to get a nebulizer machine. Otherwise, she would have gone back to the hospital. “Then,” she wrote, “a miracle happened. I received a phone call from Diane Morgenthaler. She learned from Roland about my plight. Diane left her home in Old Saybrook and drove to the SCSU campus and picked up a nebulizer machine and medicine. She then drove to Waterbury to bring me this life-saving equipment. I couldn’t believe it! Diane stood in the parking lot and was showing me how to properly use the nebulizer. The teamwork that Roland and Diane performed truly saved my life.”
Dr. Diane Morgenthaler
Roland Regos

Roland Regos, nominated by the same recent graduate who nominated Morgenthaler, coordinates the Presidential Student Ambassadors program and served as a mentor to his nominator, who was an Ambassador. But, his nominator wrote, he “was more than a mentor to me . . . He encouraged me to do my best and to have a positive attitude in good and bad times. In March, I was admitted into Waterbury Hospital extremely ill from COVID-19. Every day I struggled to fight this virus. Roland called and allowed me to call him any time of the day. There were many days of pain, fear, and tears. Roland faithfully was there for me as I lost many family and friends to COVID-19. Often, I would tell Roland to just make me laugh. I was so exhausted from the struggle to breathe. Roland always found a way to make me want to fight on! The funny pictures and Snapchat memes of himself made me smile when I wanted to give up.”

His nominator reports that Regos still checks on her just about every day. “His dedication and commitment are priceless,” she wrote. “I will be forever grateful to one of the kindest, caring, and supportive people on earth.”

Roland Regos

Sue Zarnowski

Nominated by a colleague, Sue Zarnowski serves as case manager for the Dean of Student Affairs Office, where she supports students who encounter challenges of all types. Prior to quarantine, Zarnowski helped connect students to countless resources in the community and at Southern, from accessing financial resources to, as an example, working with hair salons to help students access free hair cuts for job interviews. Since the university moved online, Zarnowski has been integral to helping students find and access resources. Her nominator wrote, “She is often the person behind the scenes that is moving pieces into place so that students can be successful or sometimes, just receive some relief from the burdens of the world. She has worked tirelessly to identify ways to provide wifi, financial assistance, shelter, and other basic needs. She connects with countless students individually to help them to build a strategy, learn how to advocate for themselves, and sometimes just to listen. Going well beyond her role at the university, she has an unwavering commitment to Southern, students, and people in need.”
Sue Zarnowski

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our sixth group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Parker Fruehan, Loida Reyes, Cara Richardson, Shuei Kozu, and Andrew Smyth for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Parker Fruehan

Parker Fruehan, systems librarian at Buley Library, was nominated by a colleague, who wrote that he “has been an instrumental part of Buley Library’s transition to being fully online and he’s making a difference beyond the Southern community during this pandemic.”

Fruehan’s nominator explains that as the systems librarian, Fruehan works with the technology needs of the library. When campus closed, he worked tirelessly to ensure all library faculty and staff had laptops and other any other technology needed to continue their services remotely. He worked with library employees to answer their questions and support them in any way needed. In addition to this, he updated the library website and catalog to highlight Buley’s virtual services and resources. These updates allow students, faculty, and the entire Southern community to find digital resources such as articles, e-books, and streaming videos, without sifting through physical items that are current inaccessible due to the building closure. All of this work has allowed the entire library to seamlessly switch to a virtual platform as it continues to provide support to all academic departments, students, faculty and more across the university’s now virtual campus.

Fruehan is also making a difference beyond Southern during the pandemic. His nominator wrote that he is working with UConn Health to print mask exoskeletons using the 3D printers from Buley Library’s Makerspace. The mask exoskeletons, which were highlighted on scsulibrary’s Instagram page on April 9, create a better seal for non-respirator masks. Fruehan and his student worker each brought home a 3D printer and the necessary filament before campus closed and have been printing the mask exoskeletons at home and sending the masks to Uconn Health.

His nominator continued, “I believe all of these reasons make Parker Fruehan an excellent candidate for the SouthernStrong Award. I’m proud to be able to call him my colleague and hope that his hard work can get recognized.”

Parker Fruehan

Shuei Kozu

Shuei Kozu, assistant professor of social work, was nominated by a graduate student, who wrote that she “has made the transition to online learning enjoyable rather than extremely stressful.” According to her nominator, Kozu was able to re-evaluate the course syllabus to adjust assignments and accommodate accordingly and “has reached out to the quiet students individually to address if they needed anything or if she can further support them in any way. She has went as far as to chat with her students on the phone.” Her nominator added that Kozu “has been extremely empathetic and accommodating to all students and had started a support group for social work staff. Her dissertation in crisis management has prepared her to handle situations like this in the most professional and supportive way. As a graduate student, I am extremely grateful and thankful to have had Dr. Shuei as a professor.”

Shuei Kozu

Loida Reyes

Loida Reyes, assistant professor of social work, was nominated by a student, who wrote that Reyes “has done a tremendous job of reminding her students that despite this difficult time, that we will get through this. Along with the rest of the SCSU class of 2020, my SWK 491 class expressed our feelings of sadness in regards to our graduation ceremony getting cancelled. Being the empathetic person that she is, she threw a graduation celebration for our class through Zoom. She played the graduation song, gave us each our own personalized speech about our achievements throughout the Social Work program, and recognized all of our hard work that we have put into this program. She also invited other faculty and their students in the program to join our Zoom session as well. Although this is not the graduation ceremony that we had all planned on having, she completely went out of her way to make sure that her students knew that their work would be recognized. This was the most thoughtful gift that she could have given us, and this act of kindness is something that I will always cherish, and never forget. Dr. Reyes is such a caring, compassionate, and inspiring teacher that deserves this recognition.”

Loida Reyes

Cara Richardson

Student Cara Richardson holds many leadership positions, both on and off campus. On campus, she is a Peer Mentor, a Presidential Student Ambassador, the Panhellenic Delegate of Alpha Sigma Alpha, the co-vice president of Psi Chi, and a Representative at Large for SGA and the class of 2021. Her nominator wrote that Richardson is “constantly reaching out to her peers to make sure they are okay during these trying times,” as well as making service efforts in her hometown. She is a volunteer for a local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, and she has been collecting food and clothing items to donate to her local shelter during the pandemic to help those who have been affected by this crisis.

Cara Richardson

Andrew Smyth

Andrew Smyth, chairman of the English Department, was nominated by four of his colleagues in the English Department, all of whom expressed deep gratitude for his exceptional leadership, kindness, and sensitivity during the pandemic and move to virtual classes.

One nominator wrote that Smyth has “juggled his many responsibilities with grace, skill, and — when needed — a sense of humor. His care for both students and colleagues is evident. He’s thorough and efficient in providing information, taking care to keep us up to date while also respecting our time. He’s responded to my questions with amazing speed and remarkable patience and thought, providing guidance that has allowed me to better serve my students.” Smyth has held regular office hours on Teams so faculty knew there was a time they could check in with questions, and he even started a weekly department happy hour via Teams to provide his colleagues “with much-needed time to chat and laugh together. He’s helped to lift the spirits of both students and colleagues.”

A second nominator added that Smyth has been “a model of thoughtful, helpful leadership, and our semester would have been much harder without his guidance.”

A third nominator wrote of Smyth, “In addition to answering any student and faculty questions and regularly addressing any concerns, I wanted to draw especial attention to his sincere and consistent efforts to provide resources and a voice of support for our part-time faculty colleagues. Andrew recognized the particularly vulnerable situations that many part-time faculty have found themselves in over the last couple of months, and has been outspoken in seeking to help them navigate this crisis. Somehow, he is able to offer this same level of support to full-time faculty, students, and staff both within and beyond the English department as well — I cannot see how he ever has time to sleep, given all that he does!”

His fourth nominator wrote that most of the many reasons for which she felt Smyth deserved to be recognized with a SouthernStrong Award “fall into two categories: advocating for students by modeling and urging empathy for what is actually happening in their lives right now; and communicating clearly and consistently with faculty and students in order to keep everyone as calm and focused as possible.” He was able to help a student who had become housing insecure and had her hours at work cut, and he supported his faculty even more than he usually does by responding quickly to emails, Teams chats, and phone calls, and doing all of this “with grace and good humor.”

She added, “The English Department is large, with over 60 full- and part-time faculty. What Andrew is doing for me, he is doing for all of us. He is definitely Southern Strong. I hope you will recognize his extraordinary efforts on behalf of our students.”

Andrew Smyth

The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our fifth group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Noelle Brideau, Trever (Charles) Brolliar, Derek Faulkner, Lisa Kortfelt, and Jackie Scott for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Noelle Brideau
Noelle Brideau, a student, was nominated by a faculty member. Brideau was enrolled in this professor’s HON 300 course, Introduction to Service Learning, this semester, a course that focuses on food insecurity in the community. Because of COVID-19, the class’s planned community service projects fell through, and students had to develop new projects that could be accomplished while most students were living off campus and social distancing. “Not even a week into quarantine,” Brideau’s nominator wrote, “Noelle reached out to me to see if we could organize donations to send to a fellow SCSU student who spoke to our class earlier in the semester about her struggles with food insecurity. Noelle’s leadership helped us raise money to send to this student.” Her nominator continued, “A few weeks later, while our class was meeting over video chat to discuss service options, Noelle announced that she had already been serving the food insecure during the pandemic, volunteering to grocery shop for individual elderly members of her community. She asked if this work could count for her service requirement in our class. I said: of course!! We all then gave her a round of applause, as she is obviously a leader in more ways than one. I’m very impressed with Noelle’s quick action-minded thinking that has benefitted a number of people during this difficult time.”
Noelle Brideau
Trever (Charles) Brolliar
Trever Brolliar, director of academic technology, was nominated by a faculty member. His nominator wrote that this semester she was chairing a faculty search committee for Curriculum and Learning in the College of Education, and when the university closed, she was charged with conducting virtual campus visits (multiple interviews and presentations) for candidates but had very little idea of where to start. She wrote that she was referred to Brolliar, who “got in touch with me immediately and walked me through setting up WebEx meetings (approximately 15 meetings in all). I was so concerned about getting this right,” she wrote, “especially because it involved so many people — candidates from the outside, SCSU faculty and students, and our Dean and Dept. Chair. At one point, a candidate was having a lot of trouble with her audio and Trever worked with her to fix the issue so she could do her teaching and research presentations. His patient, generous support were key to a successful week of virtual campus visits that presented SCSU and the College of Education in a positive light. We can’t thank him enough!”
Trever Brolliar
Derek Faulkner

Student Derek Faulkner was nominated by a member of the staff, who described him as “an outstanding student leader who goes above and beyond when it comes to the Southern community.” When the University needed to close due to the pandemic, Faulkner worked with Chartwells to recover food off the line and at all of the retail locations across campus. The day after the University closed, he returned to campus to work with Chef Ernie Arroyo to clean out the refrigerators and deliver the food to St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry.

At the end of March when the residential students moved out of the residence halls, Faulkner returned to assist with the nonperishable food donated during move out. With the help of the Facilities Operations Grounds Crew, he managed to get the food boxed up and stored in the warehouse. Faulkner coordinated with the nonprofit organization Haven’s Harvest to pick it up and deliver it to area food pantries in New Haven, his nominator wrote.

Lisa Kortfelt
Lisa Kortfelt is director of environmental health and safety for the entire SCSU campus. Her nominator, a colleague, wrote that “whenever you have a question or issue she is there ready to help you and will help you. She has bi-weekly safety meetings for us trade guys and training on equipment and other things.” When COVID-19 happened, Kortfelt’s nominator wrote, “she sent out a training booklet about the procedures we should be following on campus while we are still here working. She also handmade about 30 mask for us and dropped them off (she lives over an hour away). I haven’t talked to her about what she has been doing at home for her community and family. But if she is doing stuff for us workers I’m sure she is doing stuff at home too. Great lady, glad to have her on my team!!”
Lisa Kortfelt
Jackie Scott
Jackie Scott, an SCSU alumna who will begin her PhD program at Southern next month, was nominated by a fellow student. Scott happens to supervise her nominator at Recovery Network of Programs, a non-profit substance use treatment agency in the greater Bridgeport area. “Jackie has taken on so many new roles since this pandemic hit,” her nominator wrote. “She has been on the front lines, every day, working with the most vulnerable populations. She has been assisting clients in applying for basic needs, getting them phones to engage in telehealth, volunteering at local food banks, gathering food for the homeless, and helping our clients resolve their anxieties and traumas on a daily basis. All the while, Jackie has remained not only my boss, but my mentor. She calls me every single day just to ‘check in.’ If I start talking about work, she quickly diverts my attention back to “whats really important”, and that is my own personal struggles and progress during this trying time. Jackie has helped me to make important decisions about my college career, and she was one of the biggest reasons I chose Southern! Jackie is a perfect example of #SouthernStrong.”
Jackie Scott

CSU Professor Elliott Horch

He developed a super-powered device for telescopes that enabled astronomers to snap photos of celestial objects many times clearer than had ever been taken. He was tapped by NASA to assist with the Kepler Mission – a project to find potential “new Earths” in the Milky Way Galaxy. He has assembled a stellar teaching record and demonstrated a strong commitment to student success since he began teaching at Southern Connecticut State University in 2007.

And on Thursday, Elliott Horch was recognized for the sum of his professorial achievements by being named a Connecticut State University Professor by the state Board of Regents for Higher Education. The recommendation for this honor came from SCSU President Joe Bertolino.

The designation is one of the most prestigious within the Connecticut State Colleges and University System. Only three faculty members at each of the four CSU campuses can hold the title at any given time.

Horch, a professor of physics, joins Vivian Shipley, professor of English, and David Levine, professor of art history as the Southern contingent of CSU professors. A vacancy was created with the recent retirement of Terrell “Terry” Bynum, who had been a professor of philosophy.

“A full professor since 2013, Elliott has developed a remarkable record of teaching and service excellence and has, with little company in his scholarship stratum, a remarkable record of peer-reviewed publications and grant success,” wrote Robert Prezant, SCSU provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“Dr. Horch represents one of our most successful scholars in any field,” Prezant said. “Roll into the mix his strong teaching credentials, devotion to our students, and his high level of important service, and you have an individual who can easily serve as a model for newer faculty members who have high aspirations. (He) is recognized for high quality work at the international level, and that recognition, in concert with his strong global collaborations, makes him an exceptional representative of Southern across continents.”

The CSU Professorship Advisory Committee reviewed eight applications for the award this year, according to Adiel Coca, chairman of the CSU Professorship Advisory Committee.

“It is the committee’s opinion that Dr. Horch has a documented high level of effectiveness in all three categories of evaluation (creative activity, teaching, and service), including a record of outstanding performance in the area of creative activity,” Coca wrote.

Horch earned a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University in 1994. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University and the Rochester Institute of Technology and held teaching appointments at RIT and at UMass Dartmouth before coming to Southern.

His research interests are in astrophysics, binary stars, exoplanets, high-resolution imaging, and astronomical instrument building. He regularly collaborates with scientists from around the globe. During his time at Southern, Horch has co-authored 82 publications and has been awarded 10 external grants, most of which came from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense.

He developed the Differential Speckle Survey Instrument (DSSI) and the SCSU Interferometer and described the DSSI as being like “putting eyeglasses on a telescope.”

Horch earned the CSU System Research Award in 2011 and was the recipient of the 2012 SCSU Faculty Scholar Award. He has taught more than 20 physics courses, including four courses that were new at the time.

“It is clear from his student evaluations that students really enjoy having Dr. Horch as an instructor,” said Coca, who noted that Horch supervised 26 undergraduate and five graduate theses.

Horch was also instrumental in the development of the Master’s in Applied Physics program at Southern, and served on the LEP Committee from 2011 to 2015. He currently serves as chairman of the university’s Research and Scholarship Committee. Horch also chairs the Scientific Organizing Committee for the Gemini Science Meeting scheduled for June.

He thanked Physics Department Chairman Matthew Enjalran for nominating him, and thanked colleagues for their letters of support.

“This designation is a tremendous honor, and something I simply could not expect given the many excellent faculty we have at SCSU,” Horch said.

“I receive this during a very uncertain time,” he added. “But my hope is that as we find our way through the COVID-19 crisis and eventually reach better times, this position would allow me to be a stronger advocate for the value of science in our society and for the positive role that SCSU plays in that regard, both in teaching and research.”