President's Blog
Messages from President Mary A. Papazian.

Our recent Commencement ceremonies were a wonderful celebration of all that is best about Southern. As I mentioned during my undergraduate address, nothing has given me more pride during my tenure as president than watching our students walk up to the commencement stage to receive their well-earned diplomas.

Indeed, one of many wonderful memories that I will take away from Southern is its profound and lasting ability to help transform our students’ lives – personally, professionally and in terms of civic engagement. And their success says a great deal about the qualities of our university, the efforts of our faculty and staff and the self-sacrifice, determination and sheer hard work of our students.

Every May, there are poignant stories of achievement against the odds to be found among our graduates. But this year seemed to hold a special resonance, with several widely publicized profiles that highlighted the varied paths to success that characterize the members of our student body: from the award-winning students who struggled to get through high school, only to realize their full potential in college, to those who had to put off the goal of a college degree because life simply got in the way. You may read about them and view video, photographs and other stories from a memorable two days at:


This will be my final blog before I leave for San Jose State early next month, and as such I would like to thank all of you again for your kind words and many contributions during the last four years.

I particularly appreciated the warm farewell at the May 9 campus reception and the generous thoughts, not only from our own Southern representatives, but a selection of off-campus guests.  Their presence speaks to the inroads we have been able to make with the off-campus community in recent years, and this impression has been reinforced in recent weeks, when I have had exit interviews with a number of state and local officials, including Governor Dannel Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and senior legislators.

Without fail, they have told me that they see Southern as a key player in the advancement of our region and our state. And certainly, despite the ongoing challenges of which we are all aware, I know that we are in a very good place to maintain our upward trajectory and ensure that our university thrives and advances its mission.

We are fortunate to have strong, visionary senior leadership in place – and where we have had to make appointments on an interim basis, our campus leaders have stepped in admirably (my special thanks to Provost Ellen Durnin and School of Business Dean Sam Andoh in this regard).

Furthermore, the leadership in Hartford has stabilized, and CSCU President Mark Ojakian has proven to be a strong and effective leader for our system, with a sensitivity to our needs.

I continue to be inspired by the incredible dedication of our faculty and staff whose commitment to student success is one of the hallmarks of Southern.  And our Foundation Board and alumni have provided active support and enthusiastic engagement, not just at campus events, but at gatherings across the country.

Now, with our new Strategic Plan: “Discover Southern: A University for the 21st Century,” we have a blueprint that will carry us forward for the next decade. Led by Mark Rozewski, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, and Lisa Lancor, Chair of Department of Computer Science, our implementation team will begin to put the plan into action this fall.

The transformation of our campus will continue, with design plans for the new Health and Human Services Building soon to be developed. During the summer, we plan to issue an RFP for an innovative public-private partnership to redevelop the former Gateway Community College site on Long Wharf.

And plans to build an education laboratory school on campus have been revived, after the city Board of Aldermen this week approved a capital projects budget for the upcoming fiscal year that includes ensuring the funding is available to build the Strong 21st Century Communications Magnet and Lab School at Southern.

We are implementing innovative new academic programs that will meet the demands of Connecticut’s workforce. They include a new professional doctoral program in Social Work, the Business School’s Utilities Management Program and our newly approved major in Biotechnology – the cornerstone of the BioPath partnership with the City of New Haven and its burgeoning bioscience industry.

We continue to extend our reach and build new partnerships internationally, regionally and in our host city of New Haven.

And we are enhancing our undergraduate experiential learning and research opportunities, even as we expand and refine our support services to help ensure that every student’s path to a college degree is unimpeded.

These are all important and necessary steps, as Connecticut’s population will need to reach higher levels of education to meet skilled workforce needs in the foreseeable future.

I am confident that your collective and individual expertise and talents will ensure that the initiatives we have put in place over these last years continue effectively through the forthcoming transition in leadership (presidential search finalists are scheduled to be on campus the week of June 20).

I look forward to keeping informed about Southern’s progress in the months and years ahead – this is a wonderful, supportive and engaged community, and it will always hold a special resonance for me. Thank you all!


After nine years serving in key leadership roles at Southern, Gregory Paveza has informed me that he will retire on August 1, 2016. On behalf of the campus community, I thank Dean Paveza for his years of devoted service to the University and our students.

With a view to Greg’s pending departure, I am pleased to announce that Christine Broadbridge has agreed to serve as Dean of Graduate Studies in an interim role, effective Aug. 1. Christine is an accomplished academician and administrative leader, currently serving as the founding Director of our Office of STEM Innovation and Leadership, and I am confident she will serve as an effective leader of Graduate Studies upon Greg’s retirement.

After his arrival from the University of South Florida in October 2007, Greg spent seven years leading the School of Health and Human Services (HHS). Never shirking a challenge, he performed admirably in juggling the HHS role with that of Interim Dean of the School of Graduate Studies during 2012-14, a time of transition for both schools. Recently, he also assumed responsibility for management of the expanded Buley Library.

Greg is keenly aware of the need to align our graduate programs with areas of workforce demand and to offer them with an eye to the time constraints of professional, adult learners. During his seven-year tenure leading HHS, for example, he was a key player in the development of our Ed.D. in Nursing Education and cohort MSW program, using a combination of hybrid classes and weekend education.

Greg also worked to strengthen graduate admissions and played pivotal roles in university-wide initiatives. These included co-chairing the Graduate Program Prioritization Task Force, which produced recommendations to strengthen our graduate offerings, and serving as a member of the 2015-25 Strategic Planning Committee.

With his experience, versatility and vision, Greg has been a wonderful asset in his many leadership roles at Southern, and we will all miss him as he enters this new phase of his life.  Please join me in congratulating Greg and wishing him a happy and productive retirement.

Until a national search to fill the Graduate Studies deanship is completed, I know that Christine Broadbridge will be an excellent appointment in an interim leadership capacity.  Christine joined our Physics Department faculty in 2000 and served as Physics Chairperson from September 2008 – January 2015. During this time, the department established a Professional Science Master’s Degree in Applied Physics and a Concentration in Engineering.

Christine is the founding Director of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Center for Nanotechnology. She has served as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on five National Science Foundation (NSF) projects and a researcher on a dozen others, including grants from NASA, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

She helped establish, and is currently education director and senior researcher for the Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena (CRISP). This center of research excellence, based at Yale and Southern, was established in 2005 with a NSF grant of $7.5 million and renewed in 2011 with a grant of $13 million.

Recently, Christine has played a pivotal role in the development of our BioPath partnership with the City of New Haven and its burgeoning biotechnology industry.

I am very pleased that she has accepted my invitation to assume this important deanship on an interim basis, and I ask you to offer her your full support during this transitional period.

We also will use this time to implement an organizational change designed to strengthen and support our enrollment efforts in the graduate studies arena.  During the coming weeks, the operational enrollment management functions currently located within the School of Graduate Studies, including the admissions process, will be moved to the Enrollment Management division under the leadership of AVP for Enrollment Management, Terricita Sass.

This move will allow our graduate programs to benefit more fully from a holistic approach to enrollment strategy and thereby achieve each program’s full enrollment potential.  Christine and Terricita will work closely together and engage our graduate faculty leadership in all aspects of this important process.


Our enrollment outlook in several key areas continues to be positive. Terricita reports that new freshmen, transfers and graduate students are all trending ahead of last year, but additional work is required to ensure that goals are met.

A critical part of making sure that our new students feel welcome and continue to pursue their education at Southern is our series of Orientation sessions, which began this week. I know that a great deal of preparation has gone into ensuring that these sessions are fun-filled, informative, helpful and full of Southern spirit! Thanks to Vice President Tracy Tyree and her student affairs staff, along with colleagues from academic affairs, enrollment management and a host of others who have given their time to ensuring the success of this important program, which builds excitement for the new academic year.

In other enrollment-related news, training and preparation for the fall rollouts of SSC Campus (the enhanced version of the Education Advisory Board Student Success Collaborative that we introduced in 2013) and DegreeWorks® have begun, as part of the Advising Renewal and Revitalization project. During the summer, faculty, staff and external partners will be working to expand advising capabilities and introduce new tools to support their efforts and student retention.

The university welcomed more than 1,000 students in grades 5 through 9 from across the state to the annual College Knowledge early college awareness event in May, sponsored by Admissions. Terricita reports that these budding scholars had an early on-campus fun experience to start them thinking about their academic futures:

“Their day included being led around campus by current Southern students and staff.  Our young visitors learned about living a residence hall, healthy living and good study habits, and they really enjoyed having lunch in Connecticut Hall.  We hope they will keep Southern in mind when they start their own college planning in just a few years.”

I would echo that comment, as these and similar events are excellent exposure to our campus and our community.  Kudos to all who helped plan and deliver these important programs.


A wonderful opportunity has been presented to a group of 10 science students this fall when they will present their findings about faster detection methods for tuberculosis at the annual International Genetically Engineered Machine competition in Boston, Oct. 27-31.

Southern’s will be one of 300 teams worldwide to demonstrate their synthetic biology skills. They will be competing against other institutions for awards in various categories, as well as working to attain a medal for meeting certain standards.

The competition includes a community outreach component, which for Southern will take the form of professional development workshops using “Building with Biology” kits for middle and high school teachers from urban school districts in New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury.

Congratulations to Associate Professor of Biology Nick Edgington and his students, who are one of just a handful of teams from Connecticut to take part in this prestigious competition. Their participation also spotlights our bioscience programs, which form the core of Southern’s new BioPath partnership with the City of New Haven and its burgeoning biotechnology industry.

In another notable science-related event, 25 students will have a novel opportunity to learn about smart data discovery, hailed as a revolutionary approach to analytics, through a Watson Analytics Hands-On Workshop on campus later this month. Watson Analytics is the natural language analytic software that IBM developed after its Watson supercomputer beat human contestants in in Jeopardy, reports Michael Ben-Avie, Director of the Office of Assessment and Planning, who helped to bring the workshop to campus.

Michael and his staff have been using Watson Analytics to zero in on factors that influence student performance and retention:

“IBM Watson Analytics was a revelation for us: enabling us to explore and visualize data in minutes rather than the weeks it took to prepare, build and refine predictive models in the past,” he says. “With our new cognitive analytics approach, our team can be what we call the ‘anecdote busters,’ presenting solid evidence extracted from years of student data to inform decision-making.”

The June 28-29 boot camp, being held at the School of Business, will focus on how to analyze “big data,” the experience of working with analytic software, and working as a data scientist in corporations, labs, and other workplaces. Participants will earn an IBM Certificate of Achievement.


Our partnership with Liverpool John Moores University continues to expand and mature, with regular faculty research exchanges both through videoconference and in person and a growing number of students studying abroad at the respective campuses.

During this week and next, a party of 16 LJMU students and two faculty advisers are visiting Southern for an immersion program that includes cultural experiences, classroom lectures, and visits to area tourist and historical sites.

One of the group leaders, Andrew McMillan, a senior lecturer in creative writing, is an award-winning poet.  He will read from his debut collection, “physical,” today (Thursday,  June 9) at 7 p.m. at Lyric Hall, 827 Whalley Ave.

The first poetry collection to win The Guardian’s First Book Award, “physical” also won the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Costa Poetry Award, the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Roehampton Poetry Prize. It was recently included on a list of @PenguinUKBooks Pride reading for the Penguin Pride campaign, celebrating LGBTQ authors past, present and future.

The reading is sponsored by our Office of International Education and the SCSU MFA Program.


Southern’s sustainability efforts continue to receive recognition at state and national levels.

Last month, the Hartford Business Journal and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) presented the university with a Green Circle Sustainability Award. These awards recognize institutions that take a coordinated and holistic approach to reducing their environmental impact and resource demands of their operations and activities.

Suzanne Huminski, sustainability coordinator, reports that Southern’s award was based on its campus-wide sustainability efforts, with the focus on Sustainability Office student interns’ leadership on many projects.

Out of 68 finalists, 15 winners were chosen and were recognized at an event in Hartford on May 23. The Hartford Business Journal will feature the award honorees in its upcoming green guide, to be published in August.

We also have received notable media coverage in recent weeks for our participation in the Energize CT Higher Education Fellowship Initiative last fall. In conjunction with the Business Sustainability Challenge, Southern, United Illuminating, and Celtic Energy Consulting piloted the program, with four of our students being selected for the fellowship.

The program goals included updating our climate action plan and conducting a feasibility study for on-site solar panel installation. It provided an opportunity for the students to be directly involved in every aspect of planning, data collection, analysis and reporting.

The information they gathered allowed us to post a request for proposal for a photovoltaic solar installation project. This potentially will include installing ground-mounted panels and rooftop panels on a campus parking garage, along with a canopy installation in a separate campus lot.


The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) announced last month that Southern‘s M.S. in Reading was one of nine university programs in the U.S. receiving accreditation from IDA and its affiliate, the Center for Effective Reading Instruction (CERI).

Southern met the standards outlined in IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading, which provide a framework for course content in university and other teacher preparation programs.

The IDA Standards emphasize the need for teachers to be more deeply prepared in the structure of language, including the speech sound system, the writing system, the structure of sentences, the meaningful parts of words, meaning relationships among words and their referents, and the organization of spoken and written discourse.

Louise Spear-Swerling, Vice President of the CERI Board of Directors and Area Coordinator for the Graduate Program in Learning Disabilities here at Southern, said: “We are delighted to see this third group of teacher preparation programs meet the rigorous requirements for IDA accreditation, as well as to see increasing numbers of programs demonstrating an interest in seeking IDA accreditation.

“Effective teachers can make an enormous difference in children’s literacy outcomes,” Louise added. “These programs are providing the kind of thorough, evidence-based preparation that is needed for educators to teach reading and writing very successfully to diverse groups of students, including those with dyslexia and other reading difficulties.”

Congratulations to all affiliated with this excellent program.


With Orientation sessions, Summer Session classes and a host of special events, our campus remains a vibrant community during the summer months.

We are particularly excited to welcome 120 first-year students to the Summer Enrichment Academy from July 5 to Aug. 12. The academy is a partnership among Student Affairs, Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management and is a result of the integration and expansion of the former Southern Educational Opportunity and Southern Challenge programs.

Christopher Catching, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, reports that students will have the opportunity to take courses and develop relationships with their classmates, faculty and administrators that will help them be successful at Southern. These students currently are conditionally admitted in credit and non-credit courses, and when they complete the summer program, they will matriculate as first-year students in the fall.

This weekend, we continue our long and fruitful association with Connecticut Special Olympics, hosting the Summer Games as we have annually since 1999.

Connecticut Special Olympics is now woven into the fabric of our campus. Over the years, a number of volunteers and unified partners have gone on to enroll at Southern due to their experiences at the Summer Games. In addition, our University Police and student organizations annually combine to host a Jail ‘N’ Bail event that has raised thousands of dollars to support Connecticut Special Olympics and its programs.

Our strong connection is a natural one. As a public university, Southern is also committed to the advancement of diversity and accessibility. Our population of students with disabilities is one of the largest of any university in Connecticut, and over the last decade we have invested a great deal to make sure our campus is fully accessible.

We take pride in being able to offer the very best in facilities to the athletes and spectators who will visit us for these summer games.  And we also provide a warm welcome to our Special Olympics guests through the many Southern students, staff and faculty who volunteer to serve as results recorders, timekeepers, line judges, athlete escorts, and in various other roles.

Finally, you may recall from a recent blog that there were scores of entries in the competition to name the new Starbuck’s Café on the main floor of Buley Library. The winner was, appropriately, “The Owl’s Perch,” and the cafe is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 pm. The Owl’s Perch will be open all summer while the Bagel Wagon undergoes renovation.

I hope you have the opportunity to take some well-earned vacation time this summer and rejuvenate for what promises to be an interesting and exciting fall semester!

As I prepare to leave the university and begin the next phase of my new professional journey, I extend my best wishes to all of you for continued success and fulfilment in your careers and health and happiness in your personal lives. It has been a pleasure to work with all of you, and I know that Southern remains in good hands and will continue to prosper!




Despite the pervasive wind and rain, the spirit of Accepted Students Day remained undampened as we welcomed approximately 2,100 guests to campus April 2, showcasing our modern campus and our outstanding range of academic offerings and student support services.

With 734 students in attendance – a 27 % increase over last year – this successful event promises to be a springboard for good things to come.

Indeed, while it is still early days, Terricita Sass, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, reports that we continue to stay ahead of last year’s totals in freshmen applications, acceptances and deposits (up 45%) as we progress toward our fall freshmen goal of 1,400.

Transfer applications also have rebounded as we target a goal of 735 transfers for the fall. We recently hosted a day for community college counselors and are holding Transfer Days at Gateway, Naugatuck Valley and Housatonic community colleges during the next two weeks.

I thank our admissions and student affairs teams, along with the faculty, administrators and staff from various departments who worked so hard to ensure that our campus looked its best for Accepted Students Day and that our guests felt welcomed and inspired to learn more about all that a Southern education has to offer.


I am sure that all of you have been following developments in Hartford regarding the state’s fiscal challenges, and as you are aware, we have received instructions from the CSCU System Office to begin preparing a spending plan for the coming fiscal year.

As Mark Rozewski, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, reported last week, the budgetary process will be a difficult task, as we face an overall reduction in our state appropriation that will be only partially offset by the recently enacted tuition and fee increases for the CSCU system.

Mark notes that our preliminary review of key budget elements, and various adjustments we might make in response, still results in a shortfall of between $1,750,000, and $2,000,000. The University Budget and Planning Committee met last week to review these issues and will meet again today (Tuesday) to continue to craft a response, which is due to the system office by April 29.

During the next few days, many of you may be asked to supply information and analyses that will help in the development of this budget, and I ask that you make this your highest priority as we navigate this challenging time together.

In a related issue, six of our Student Government Association (SGA) members are at the State Capitol today (Tuesday, April 19) to meet with legislators representing their home districts, as well as members of the Appropriations and Higher Education Committees, advocating for increased fiscal support for the CSCU system.

In their capacity as tax payers and voters, our student contingent aims to lobby legislators to keep higher education accessible to the residents of Connecticut and look elsewhere to close budgetary gaps. Kalie Menders, SGA President, says she wants legislators to hear first-hand the effect of decreased appropriations and tuition increases and hopes that the sharing of personal experiences will give legislators a “face” to this critical issue.


Last week, I joined six other area college presidents and administrative leaders at a meeting with Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro, where we discussed major issues facing higher education in the state and nationally.

As the ranking member on the Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. DeLauro oversees our country’s investments in education, health, and employment, and she has a keen understanding of the financial burden of higher education on students and families.

As a group we discussed the need for more federal funding and additional programs such as work-study or internships to help students pay for the cost of college.

Rep. DeLauro told the New Haven Register that she believes education has always been “the ticket to success” for middle-class and low-income families, and she would not want to see the federal government “shortchange” them.

“The need for us as a society to invest in education is so great,” she said, noting that she is pursuing several measures to enhance college affordability, including a higher dollar amount for the Pell grant (32 percent of our undergraduates receive some level of a federal Pell Grant, which is free money for college, based on high financial need according to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA).

Rep. DeLauro also re-emphasized the roles of higher education in fostering civic engagement and working for the public good, both of which we foster here at Southern.

In similar vein, the theme of civic and community engagement was front and center at the Campus Compact 30th anniversary conference: “Accelerating Change: Engagement for Impact,” which I attended in Boston last month. For three days, administrators, faculty, and other higher education leaders discussed past and present efforts to achieve our shared goals and how we can move higher education more fully to embrace its public purposes.

Keynote speaker Robert Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University and bestselling author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis discussed his groundbreaking examination of the growing inequality gap and why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility.

“During the last twenty-five years we have seen a disturbing “opportunity gap” emerge,” he said. “Americans have always believed in equality of opportunity, the idea that all kids, regardless of their family background, should have a decent chance to improve their lot in life. Now, this central tenet of the American dream seems no longer true or at the least, much less true than it was.”

As an institution of public higher education whose mission is driven by access and affordability, It is vital that we at Southern continue our role in keeping the American Dream alive.


Last week, I had the great pleasure to present the 2016 recipients of the Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award. The awardees embody all that is best about a Southern education, having earned a 3.7 GPA or better and contributed significantly to life on campus and community service.

  • Kristen Dearborn is an English major, with a GPA of 3.71. She is president of the Golden Key International Honour Society; is recipient of the Study Abroad Academic Merit Scholarship; studied abroad in Rome; and wrote a series of poems she intends to publish. What makes her academic accomplishments even more remarkable is that she struggled as a high school student and participated in the SCSU Proof of Ability program during the summer between her senior year in high school and her freshman year at Southern. But she was determined to overcome her challenges, fashioned a path to success and now intends to pursue a master’s degree in a health-related field.
  • Kelly Gunneson is a secondary education major in mathematics, with a GPA of 3.91. A student-athlete, she was a captain of our women’s volleyball team and was named to the Northeast-10 Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Her academic honors include the Beatrice H. Rockwell Endowed Scholarship and the Dr. George J. Collins Academic-Athletic Scholarship. She also participates in many community service activities, serving as the head coach of the Connecticut Juniors Volleyball Association, and is a Praxis core math test prep instructor for Southern’s Academic Success Center. Kelly plans to pursue a teaching career after graduation.
  • Caitlin Hansen is a physics major and math minor, with a GPA of 3.97. She has received the SCSU Honors College Scholarship, the Pathways to Academic Success Scholarship and the NASA Connecticut Space Undergraduate Research Fellowship. In addition, Caitlin coordinates outreach programs for the New Haven Public Schools as part of Southern’s STEM-Innovation and Leadership program. She is a nationally certified tutor for physics, scientific writing and writing. And she also is a runner who two years ago completed her first half marathon! Caitlin plans to apply to a Ph.D. program in either medical physics or biomedical engineering.
  • Megan Mancinelli is a psychology major with a GPA of 3.91. She is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and vice president of the hall council in the Office of Residence Life. Megan tutors middle and high school students from New Haven, Hamden and Cheshire, and was involved with the Gear-Up program, in which she worked with children from New Haven. She also has been involved with many community service activities, such as the Special Olympics and intends to earn a master’s degree in social work before working with to support children and adolescents.

Congratulations to these four outstanding students for their all-round achievements and contributions, and to the faculty and staff who have nurtured their prodigious talents.


As I noted in recent blogs, the quality of our teacher preparation programs has been borne out by a succession of statewide awards for excellence, including teacher, counselor and superintendent of the year awards for 2016.

The trend has continued, with Michael Ginicola ’98, being selected by the Connecticut Parent Teacher Association as its 2016 Outstanding Elementary School Teacher. Michael, who teaches at Nichols Elementary School in Stratford, studied physical education as an undergraduate before earning his MS in School Health Education here in 2002.

Exercise Science Department Chair Dan Swartz notes that Michael continues to give back, serving as a mentor for our student teachers.

Meanwhile, South Side (Bristol) Elementary School art teacher Walter Lewandoski ‘77 was named Elementary Art Teacher of the Year by the Connecticut Art Education Association. Walter, who is certified to teacher kindergarten through 12th grade, earned his bachelor’s degree in art education at Southern.

The association’s annual awards recognize visual arts educators for demonstrating excellence in the classroom, active participation and leadership at the local, state and/or national level, publications and/or exhibits, advocacy for the arts and other art education related accomplishments.

Further afield, Patricia C. Moran, M.S. ’95, was one of five scholars and educators presented with the prestigious insignia of the Chevaliers dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques (the Order of the Academic Palms) at a ceremony held at the French Embassy in New York City.

The order was founded in 1808 by Napoleon Bonaparte to recognize commitment and accomplishment in the areas of teaching, scholarship, and research.

Patricia was recognized for helping to obtain an educational grant for Waterbury schools and furthering a program that connects Waterbury students with similarly aged children in Toulouse, France, through state-of-the art technology. Moran is now the supervisor of the early childhood education for the city of Waterbury.

Congratulations to these alums and to all in our School of Education who continue to foster this tradition of excellence!


Our Office of Information Technology has been taking the lead in a system wide initiative to improve dramatically the University’s systems and data quality, user experience, and support for mobile devices as well as providing modern best practice business processes.

A major part of this effort includes the replacement of the current Banner enterprise software system (ERP), which is used at Southern and throughout the CSCU system to run business and student support functions, but is quickly approaching the end of its life. The system includes everything from registration to financial aid and financial systems.

Chief Information Officer Robert Rennie says that Banner 9, built on Ellucian’s new XE architecture, “will provide a tremendously better user experience as well as greater functionality and improved price performance. This upgrade will represent a significant move forward in our business processes, the availability of useful data, and the ways in which we interact with the system.”

Rob and his team earlier had developed a white paper detailing that it was imperative to develop a replacement for the current ERP and related products, along with system features and other characteristics necessary for sustained success. This charge was embraced by the System Office CIO, Joe Tolisano, and has evolved into a system-wide initiative

The proposal for this initiative was shared by Southern IT staff, CSCU System Office representatives and Ellucian (the company that produces Banner) staff at open forums on campus April 11.

Rob reports that he has asked governance leaders on campus “to solicit input on this initiative from their constituencies and provide feedback to me as I prepare to develop my recommendations for President Ojakian. This project is a good example of collaboration between the BOR and the University to the benefit of us all.”


On April 8, we launched a second campus climate survey on sexual misconduct for students. I ask faculty to encourage our students to participate in this important survey as we had a low return rate when we piloted it last year.

The survey, distributed to all graduate and undergraduate students, was designed by the Educational Advisory Board, a best-practice higher education research firm in Washington, D.C.

The results will help us gather systematic information about sexual violence on campus in order to address it and ensure that we are taking every measure possible to ensure that our students live, study and work in a safe and healthy environment.

Participation in the survey is voluntary, and all responses are completely anonymous and confidential. If a student approaches you with a concern or for advice regarding issues raised in the survey, please advise them to contact the SCSU Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy and Support Center at 203-392-6946, any members of the SCSU Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART) or the SCSU Counseling Office at ext. 2-5475.

General questions about the survey may be addressed to Dean of Students Jules Tetreault at


We have had many notable figures inspire audiences at the Lyman Center during the 18 years of the Mary and Louis Fusco Distinguished Lecture Series, and this year promises to be no exception, with the visit of Robin Roberts, Co-Anchor of ABC News’ Good Morning America, on May 6.

Ms. Roberts will recount the incredible journey that has been her life so far, and the lessons she’s learned along the way as she overcame breast cancer in 2007 — only to learn five years later that she would need a bone marrow transplant to combat MDS, or myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare blood disorder.

“Robin’s Story,” her reports on MDS that inspired hundreds of potential bone marrow donors to register, led to a George Foster Peabody Award and other accolades, including the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2013 ESPYs.

Proceeds from this event help to benefit our Endowed Awards of Excellence, a merit-based scholarship program. In the spirit of community partnership that has always characterized this event, the Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital has purchased more than 100 tickets for cancer survivors and their families.

General seating for this event is selling out rapidly – visit for ticket prices and more information.


Hundreds of our students have experienced the International Field Study in Spain over the past 25 years. This program, based in Salamanca, is the university’s longest consecutively running international study program and is led by Carlos Arboleda, professor of Spanish in the World Languages and Literatures Department.

To recognize the 25th anniversary of this program and the exceptional efforts of Carlos as its organizer, the university will hold a gala celebration on April 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom.

All are welcome to attend the event, which will include dinner and entertainment — flamenco dancing, live music, speakers, and a DJ. Proceeds will benefit a scholarship fund for future study abroad students in Spain. Carlos will also have available for purchase copies of a book he has compiled about the Salamanca program, and proceeds from the book sale will also benefit the scholarship fund. Tickets to the gala are $60 general admission and $20 for current Southern students and may be purchased here:

Celebrations also took place in Spain last summer, including events hosted by the City of Salamanca and universities with which the program has been affiliated over the years. As we continue to expand Southern’s study abroad offerings and international partnerships, our relationship with Salamanca is a benchmark for success.


The sixth annual Latino and Native American Film Festival (LANAFF) will take place this year on April 22, 27, and 29. Coordinated by Carlos Torre, Professor of Elementary Education, and Anna Rivera-Alfaro, academic advisor, the festival is ground-breaking in its dedication to the recruitment and retention of Latino and Native American students toward furthering their education at the university level.

It is also innovative in its promotion of these two cultures through the exhibition of feature films, documentaries, shorts and animations, as well as through other artistic manifestations, by or about Latinos and Native Americans.

The festival has helped familiarize the university’s, public schools’, and Greater New Haven’s diverse communities with excellent artistic, social, political, and entertainment film projects being created by contemporary filmmakers.

As Carlos notes: “With so many negative stereotypes stilting the progress of Latinos and Native Americans in this country, it is important for all communities to meet and interact toward a better understanding of perceptions and realities.”

The schedule of screenings is available here: and you can also follow the progess of the festival on Facebook:

The Film Festival is just one example of the wonderful array of diverse activities taking place on our campus during the next few days. This weekend sees The BIG Event — when hundreds of students perform community service in New Haven and surrounding communities — and the Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference. This is also Spring Week, culminating in a sold-out Spring Week Concert on Saturday night featuring Bryson Tiller. Friday night is also the 5th Annual Greek Yard Show and Sunday is the Show Out Step Show (the largest step competition in the Greater New Haven area). A wonderful array of events that spotlight a vibrant, student-engaged campus!


Last weekend’s Women’s Studies Conference: “#FeministIn(ter)ventions: Women, Community, Technology”  — featured a novel event welcoming teens and young adults to join together in building software and hardware projects.

#FemHack brought together girls and young women, ages 11-21, from Greater New Haven to meet scholars, industry experts, and mentors from all over the country. Activities included learning basic HTML by remixing websites about current events; evaluating the 13 principles of a feminist Web; creating a movie poster using HTML and CSS; and learning how to build a website.

Greg McVerry, assistant professor of education, and members of the Computer Science Club worked closely with the #FemHack participants, in an empowering effort to enable young women to see a future for themselves in the field of technology.


One of the notable features of the renovated Buley Library is the new café, operated by Starbucks. Since this was introduced primarily with student needs in mind, it seemed natural to let them name the space.

There are more than 600 entries now in the naming contest and next week they will be winnowed down to three finalists, which will be voted on by the student body.

Prizes include an Apple Watch Sport and a semester’s worth of free coffee, along with the honor of naming a space that we hope will help provide students with the sustenance they need as they pursue their studies in Buley’s Learning Commons.



This Saturday, we will welcome almost 700 prospective students and their parents to Accepted Students Day, a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our modern campus and our outstanding range of academic offerings and student support services.  Set against the backdrop of the state’s budget woes and the likelihood of deeper funding cuts to the Connecticut State Colleges and University System, a successful Accepted Students Day has never been more critical to the continued fiscal health of our university. With applications running 8 % ahead of last year and confirmations up by 47 % over the same time period, it is essential that we turn this peaked interest into significant yield.

On Tuesday, the CSCU Board of Regents approved a recommended 5 percent, or $480, tuition increase for the forthcoming academic year – a move that is expected to offset about half the system’s projected $37.3 million deficit for the next year. But unless we and our sister institutions can achieve a flat enrollment or better, the deficit will continue to balloon. And this does not take into account the outcome of union contract negotiations or further state budget cuts if revenue forecasts deteriorate.

Spending controls are already being implemented system wide. Last week, CSCU President Mark Ojakian announced a temporary hiring freeze across all 17 campuses and the System Office for at least the remainder of the fiscal year.

President Ojakian said that these measures “are necessary given our projected shortfall for the current fiscal year and the financial pressures being exerted on all CSCU institutions. We know it is not optimal and only intend to implement these procedures for the short-term.”

At Southern, we continue to plan the best we can for a variety of contingencies, and I will update you when the situation becomes clearer and we have hard numbers with which to work. I cannot overemphasize the importance of good budgetary planning, and I am confident that we will develop strategies similar to those that served us well during previous periods of fiscal challenge.

In the interim, we continue to concentrate on enhancing our own resources – through private giving, which is already on a record pace this year, and enrollment. As I noted above, applications are trending well, due in part to our recent adoption of the Common App, but also due to innovative strategies by our enrollment management team and the introduction of new and compelling ways to market Southern through the use of video and social media.

Accepted Students Day, which this year features expanded components such as mini classroom experiences, promises to be a celebratory occasion and a springboard for good things to come. I thank our admissions and student affairs teams, along with the faculty, administrators and staff from various departments who have worked so hard to ensure that our campus looks its best and that our guests feel welcomed and inspired to learn more about all that a Southern education has to offer.


The recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium, and Lahore, Pakistan, were another stark reminder of the continued acts of senseless violence that are scarring our world. While we are thankful that no Southern students, faculty or staff were in either of these cities at the time of the attacks, we reach out as a community to embrace the relatives and friends of the deceased and injured.

Let us also be spurred to give renewed energy to the promotion of the values of peace, tolerance and understanding, both within our own community and beyond. As a public university, Southern is an institution that values diversity in all its forms. And as a result, we provide a welcoming forum to learn and grow from each other’s viewpoints, backgrounds and experiences.

In difficult times, it is essential that we remain a community that supports a climate of respect and dignity for all. As we know all too well, emotions are raw and fears are heightened when atrocities occur on a global scale. But we must remember that the evil actions of groups of radicals should not serve as an excuse to stereotype and offend individuals who are our classmates, our colleagues, our friends and neighbors.

We should carry these thoughts forward as we strive to make a better world in the months and years ahead. And let us continue to keep those who are suffering in our thoughts and prayers.


As you know, Banner is the major enterprise software system (ERP) used at Southern and throughout the CSCU system to run business and student support functions. It includes everything from registration to financial aid and financial systems.

Chief Information Officer Robert Rennie reports that Ellucian (the company that owns Banner), the BOR, and the universities have been working together to prepare for the future of Banner. The current system (Banner 8) will need to be replaced as it is quickly approaching its end of life.

Rob says that Banner 9, built on Ellucian’s new XE architecture, “will provide a tremendously better user experience as well as greater functionality and improved price performance. This upgrade will represent a significant move forward in our business processes, the availability of useful data, and the ways in which we interact with the system.”

All members of the campus community are invited to participate in an open forum to hear from Ellucian, the BOR, and our information technology staff and to ask questions about the future of Banner.

There will be two sessions on Monday, April 11. The first will be from 10 a.m. to noon, and the second from 2 to 4 p.m. – both in the Adanti Student Center Theater. Please take the opportunity to attend and learn more about this important process.


Our fledgling partnership with Liverpool John Moores University is beginning to flourish, with several student exchanges, joint faculty research and video conferenced class sessions.  Eight Southern students will be studying in Liverpool in the fall, and up to 10 of their counterparts will be joining us here next semester. Our first joint master’s program, in coastal resilience, is in the advanced planning stages.

Next week, nine students will be the first such group from Southern to visit LJMU when they embark for a nine-day trip on April 3. Led by Lee deLisle, Professor in Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management, they will attend presentations on campus as well as visit museums and other points of interest in this vibrant city.

The group includes students from Tourism, Sport Management, Recreation Therapy, Community & Youth Development, Communications, Liberal Studies and one Southern alumnus who is a huge Beatles fan! You can follow their progress through a daily blog at:


A proud moment for the university will occur April 18 when Ruth Eren, director of our Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders, will be installed as the first endowed chair in Southern’s 122-year history.

Ruth, along with the late former interim dean of the School of Education James Granfield, co-created the Center in 2010 to provide the state with a distinctive resource to improve the experiences of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

She has spent many years consulting with public schools in Connecticut on program development for children with ASD and has served several state committees related to this topic, including Connecticut’s Task Force for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Ruth is a former special education teacher and administrator and currently serves as chair of our Special Education and Reading Department.

Dr. Louise Spear-Swerling, who chaired a national search for the Goodwin Endowed Chair in Special Education, noted that Ruth “combines an exceptional level of applied expertise with strong leadership skills and a deep personal commitment to helping this population of students and their families.”

The endowed chair is funded through a gift left by the late Dorothy Weisbauer Goodwin, who graduated from Southern in 1939, when we were still the New Haven State Teachers College. Upon her death in 2009 at the age of 91, $1 million of the $1.2 million gift to the SCSU Foundation was earmarked for an endowed chair.

Ruth plans to use the endowment “to support more SCSU student engagement in the Center and its activities, bring outstanding leaders in the field of education regarding ASD to our campus to share their knowledge with our students and community, and support efforts to increase our visibility and influence at state, national and international conferences.”

Most important, she says, “the endowed chair will allow SCSU and the Center to enhance the lives of individuals with ASD by giving their teachers, related service providers and families, the evidenced-based tools that will help them all to achieve the goal of successful participation in society as adults.”

This appointment will enhance the reputation and prestige of the Center and the university as a whole. Congratulations to Dr. Eren, and to the search committee for having selected such a worthy candidate.


As it continues its progress toward AACSB accreditation, our School of Business is becoming a fertile ground for new and innovative programming.

As I have mentioned in previous blog entries, our newly approved undergraduate Utilities Management program has been hailed as a model for responding to an industry’s needs. With an estimated third of the workforce at the region’s utility companies eligible to retire, this unique collaboration between Southern and Gateway Community College will help these companies with succession planning and leadership development.

In another development, budding entrepreneurs at Southern now can receive a taste of what it’s like to start a small business in the real world, thanks to their participation in a statewide, interdisciplinary course offered this semester called “New Venture Challenge.” Southern participants joined with 100 students from institutions statewide on teams that developed hypothetical businesses centered on student products and services, pitching their work to judges and investors.

“The New Venture Challenge course was tremendously successful in giving students a chance to develop the skills they will need if they opt to start their own businesses,” reports Dan Mabesoone, assistant professor of management/MIS. “The level of enthusiasm sparked by the course – especially during the Launch Weekend – was incredible. You could see the passion that these students have toward being entrepreneurs.”

Dan noted that the additional $230 per student fee for the course was covered by a generous donation from Richard C. Meisenheimer, ’76, an area businessman who is president of the Meisenheimer Foundation and a member of the school’s Business Advisory Council – and has six family members who are graduates of Southern.


A fellow Business Advisory Council member, Michael Chambrello, ’79, also is supporting the Business School through the Chambrello Challenge — for every dollar you give, up to $10,000, that amount immediately will be doubled.

Michael currently serves as CEO of North America Lottery for IGT, one of the world’s top end-to-end gaming companies and credits Southern with giving him a real-world foundation, pushing him to find his direction as an exceptional and hard-working business professional after graduating with a degree in economics

As an avid supporter of his alma mater, Michael serves as the treasurer of the SCSU Foundation Board of Directors, as well as Chair of the Finance Committee and member of both the Executive and Governance Committees.

You can take up the Chambrello Challenge at:


An excellent community service event takes place this Friday (April 1) when Zeta Delta Epsilon, the Disability Resource Center, First Student Transit Transportation and University Police will team up to host the 4th Annual Stuff a Shuttle.  The shuttle will be parked in front of the Lyman Center from 8 a.m. to noon.

Please gather all your slightly worn clothing, jackets, shoes and similar items, along with non-perishable food and new toiletries to support our neighbors at St. Luke’s Church in New Haven. If you have food items and need to drop them off before Friday, please contact Vinnie Ferrie at Last year the Southern community filled a shuttle for the same recipients, and I hope that we will do so again to support this worthy cause.


I mentioned last month that mandatory online training soon would be available for all Southern employees regarding sexual misconduct and the impact of such actions.

This “responsible employee” training course will provide a comprehensive overview of important issues related to sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and sexual harassment. It also will provide information and access to University policies and reporting protocols, resources available on campus, and information on how to respond if you receive a report of an allegation of sexual misconduct.

All employees are required to complete this on-line training by May 1, 2016.  Instructions on how to access the course are noted here:

  • Go to: and click to Register
  • Tab should be highlighted on student/learner
  • Enter the Registration Code: b2637f20 and click “Next” to create your EverFi Account.

In addition, employees are invited to attend one of two optional on-campus workshops that will provide additional information on how to navigate a disclosure or report of sexual misconduct in a sensitive and supportive way, while remaining compliant with the BOR policy. These workshops are scheduled for April 12, in Adanti Student Center 201 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and May 2, in Adanti Student Center 301, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

I thank you in advance for your cooperation in helping to enhance a key element of campus health and safety


As we move into the heart of the semester, the campus is alive with an eclectic range of events, from arts performances to public lectures and scholarly presentations. I will share a selection with you here, but please check the University online calendar: for more highlights.

Next week features two faculty music recitals sponsored by the Stuzman Family Foundation: Monday with Jonathan Irving (piano) and Kim Collins (flute) and Wednesday with Olav van Hezewijk (oboe) and Eric Trudel (piano). Both recitals are at 7:30 p.m. in the Garner Recital Hall (Engleman C112).

Nationally known media critic Anita Sarkeesian will be the keynote speaker for the 2016 SCSU Women’s Studies Conference, “Women, Community, Technology,” on April 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lyman Center.

Ms. Sarkeesian is the creator of “Feminist Frequency,” a video web-series that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives. Her work focuses on exposing and deconstructing the sexist stereotypes and patterns in popular culture and highlighting issues surrounding the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces.

In 2013, Newsweek magazine and The Daily Beast named Sarkeesian as one of their “125 Women of Impact.” In 2015, she was chosen as one of the Time 100, Time Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

On Wednesday, April 20, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., in the Adanti Student Center Theater, the World Languages & Literatures Department presents “Literature Across Disciplines, Gabriel García Márquez II: An Interdisciplinary & Transcultural Conference.” Keynote speakers will be Gene H. Bell-Villada and Fan Ye; the conference will also feature presentations by Southern’s own David Pettigrew, Carlos Torre, Patricia Olney, Luisa Piemontese, Maria Diamantis, and Ruben Pelayo, with Rafael Hernandez and Resha Cardone moderating. The conference is free and open to the public. Contact Ruben Pelayo for more information at

Also on April 20, a 25th-year anniversary gala celebration of the SCSU Program in Salamanca, Spain, will be held from 6:30-10:30 p.m. in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom. The event includes dinner and entertainment to celebrate this study abroad program’s quarter-century milestone and also will raise funds for a scholarship program to assist future study abroad students in Spain. Tickets are $60 per person and $20 for current SCSU students. The event is sponsored by the World Languages and Literatures Department, the Office of International Education, and the Dean’s Office in the School of Arts & Sciences. For more information, please contact Carlos Arboleda at Tickets may be purchased at

The second annual Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference is an inclusive event giving SCSU undergraduate students a unique, local opportunity to gain experience presenting scholarly papers, posters, art exhibitions, and live performances. It is open to all undergraduates and will take place on Saturday, April 23, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Adanti Student Center. For more information, please contact Christine Broadbridge at (203) 392-6461

The 7th annual Latino & Native American Film Festival (April 22, 27, 28, 29) once again will showcase groundbreaking feature films, documentaries, shorts, animations, and other artistic manifestations by or about Latinos and Native Americans. This festival has helped familiarize Southern’s, the New Haven Public Schools’ (NHPS), and Greater New Haven’s diverse communities with excellent artistic and entertainment film projects being created by contemporary Latino and Native American filmmakers. By bringing NHPS students to our campus, as well as taking selected films, Southern students, and filmmakers to the public schools, festival organizers successfully have used the film festival as a tool for the recruitment and retention of Latino and Native American students who wish to further their education at the university level. The festival is scheduled to open on 22 April (Earth Day) with a program dedicated to Puerto Rico. The festival is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Carlos Torre at (203) 668-9940.

Southern will host the 12th Annual Conference of The International Association for the Study of Environment, Space, and Place on April 29 and 30 and May 1. The conference theme is “Mythical Places/Legendary Spaces” — Myths and legends play a vital role in explaining how human beings understand their world. Many myths and legends are linked to a specific places or environments. The place can be an ordinary spot that became associated with an important event, or it can be created as an ideal or to serve as a critique for an existing society. The conference will explore aspects of mythical or legendary places/spaces. Sessions will take place at Southern on the Green and in the Academic Science and Laboratory Building. For more information, please contact Troy Paddock at or (203) 392-5639.

Finally, on Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m., the university will host a recital by the exceptional Armenian concert pianist Kariné Poghosyan in the Charles Garner Recital Hall (Engleman C112). Ms. Poghosyan is a very fine New York City-based pianist who made her orchestral debut at 14 playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.1, and her solo Carnegie Hall debut at 23, and has since gone on to win numerous awards as well as perform in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls. Last year she released a solo CD of piano works by Khachaturian that was well received. She has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras including the New West Symphony, Park Avenue Chamber Symphony Orchestra, Musica Bella Symphony Orchestra, the CSUN Symphony, and the Kokolo Ensemble, and the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra, whose music director Dr. Choe described Ms. Poghosyan as “an audience magnet” and “a born performer.”




As you know, I will be leaving the university at the end of this academic year to take up the presidency of San Jose State University in my home state of California. I arrived at this decision only after great soul-searching and deep reflection, because I have developed very strong ties with our students, our campus, and our incredibly dedicated faculty and staff. Contributing to Southern’s development, after a period of institutional uncertainty, has given me a great sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

I believe that, drawing on the strengths of its talented community, our university will continue on an upward trajectory, with fresh leadership in all vital positions and a greater exposure to our region, and indeed the whole state. Furthermore, the governance in Hartford has stabilized and new President Mark Ojakian is a man of excellent judgment, with a commitment to innovation and a sensitivity to our needs.

Last week, President Ojakian announced the launch of presidential searches for both Southern and Central Connecticut State Universities. The selection process includes the establishment of a Board of Regents search committee by BOR Chair Nicholas Donofrio, and a University Advisory Committee with members representing various constituency groups.

Both committees will work with an executive placement firm currently on contract, AGB Search, to conduct a national search. The Board of Regents will select the candidate based on recommendations from each committee and President Ojakian.

The search for Southern is expected to begin in early March and that for Central in mid-May.

I plan to spend the coming months continuing to guide our upward trajectory so that I can leave the campus knowing I have done my best for an institution I have grown to love. I hope you will take an opportunity over the next months to say goodbye and, hopefully, to wish me well.


 February is typically a difficult month, when winter is at its harshest, the glow of the holiday season seems in the distant past, and spring has yet to bring the full glow of its warmth and renewal. At Southern, February also offered us the gloomy prospect of a continuing series of projected state budget deficits, the full impact of which on our operating budget has yet to be determined.

Needless to say, without hard numbers, we are planning the best we can for a variety of contingencies, and I will update you when the situation becomes clearer. I cannot overemphasize the importance of good budgetary planning, and I am confident that we will develop strategies similar to those that served us well during previous periods of fiscal challenge.

As you know, this institution has progressed through choppy seas before, and our mission, and our dedication to student success, has always remained in focus. With this in mind, I thought I would share with you some interesting research from Michael Ben-Avie, Director of Assessment and Planning, which highlights some key characteristics of our student body and shows the results of our efforts to provide our students with the best educational experience possible:

  • Southern seniors exceed expectations. A capstone assessment at Southern is the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), a performance-based assessment used to test students’ development of the competencies considered by employers as important in new hires. The advantage of CLA is that it projects how well the seniors should score based on freshmen CLA scores and entering academic ability. Southern seniors exceed expectations, and this is the “value-added” from a Southern education.
  • Our students thrive at the university despite having complicated lives. Southern students work off-campus for pay more than their peers at the other Connecticut state universities, and they are often pulled in many different directions (for example, taking care of elderly or younger relatives). According to the 2015 Southern Experience Survey, about a quarter of the sophomores and juniors agreed that financial difficulties may compel them to leave the university.
  • The strongest direct predictors of enrollment retention are GPA and sense of belonging. They are the main predictors of persistence, regardless of ethnic background or gender. Students’ self-regulation is enhanced when they have a sense of connectedness, providing them with the commitment that they need to override self-absorbed and self-indulgent behaviors. A sense of belonging and future orientation are closely linked. Supportive relationships also enhance students’ engagement and motivate them to continue to study and learn.
  • Many Southern students continue to be first-generation college students. This year, 44% of the incoming students indicated that the highest level of education completed by either of their parents was a high school diploma or G.E.D. 4% indicated that their parents did not finish high school. 10% said parents attended college but did not complete a degree.
  • Our students are making gains as a result of the university’s liberal education program. For example, three faculty raters assessed students’ competency in analyzing an unfamiliar work of art using the “cultural expression” skills learned in class. Students scored in the very high range on such criteria as the description of structure and formal elements as well as interpretive and creative thought. In another example, faculty scored students’ competency in courses related to the American Experience. Students received scores “with distinction” in knowledge, insight, and analytic skills.
  • Southern’s critical thinking courses contribute to student performance on the Collegiate Learning Assessment. Freshmen who strongly agreed to the following items on the First-Year Program Self-Assessment had the highest scores on the CLA: “As a result of my critical thinking course, I can identify and explain specific types of fallacies (common errors in reasoning),” wrote one respondent. And “as a result of my critical thinking course, I am able to distinguish between the premises and the conclusion of an argument in a complex piece of writing,” wrote another.
  • Employers rate graduates of our professional programs highly. According to the 2015 Employer Survey, employers of graduates from certification programs commended the university on the well-preparedness of SCSU graduates. Employers deemed graduates of the following programs as well prepared: school psychologists; speech and language pathologists; guidance counselors; librarians; administrators; media specialists; physical education teachers; and school health teachers.
  • Employers describe Southern graduates in positive terms. For example, an employer wrote, “I have had positive experiences when hiring professionals from SCSU and would hire again graduates from SCSU.” Another wrote, “SCSU has a much-respected program for producing strong teachers; I am always very satisfied with their skill level.” An employer noted that “In my experience, the SCSU graduates are well-prepared.” Other employer surveys elicited similar results. For example, employers rated graduates of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program: 93% agreed that the graduates “demonstrate the competence to think through a problem and offer novel approaches to resolving it.”
  • Certification students succeed in their clinical field experiences. Students are placed with cooperating professionals (employees of the school or agency) who rate the students based on the competencies that employers consider desirable in new hires. In 2014, for example, 78% of the student teachers received “exemplary” scores for their overall effect on K-12 student learning and 22% received “proficient” scores. Also in 2014, site supervisors provided an overall ranking of the performance of social work students: 97% of the students in the Social Work BA program “met standards”—the highest possible rank—as did 94% of the students in the MS program.
  • Graduates of our certification programs tend to work in high needs schools and agencies. Of the alumni of the School of Education, for example, 91% work in a public school: 22% in an urban area (population > 100,000), 21% in an inner city, 16% in a town (population > 25,000), 7% in a small town/rural area, and 34% in a suburban area.
  • Southern graduates find employment in their fields. According to the 2015 Employer Survey, for example, 79% of the graduates of the School of Education are currently employed in the field of education, 4% are in graduate school, 12% were employed outside of the field of education, and only 4% were still seeking a position. Less than 1% of the respondents were out of the workforce and not seeking a position.
  • Graduates’ current employment tends to be related to their SCSU degrees. 72% of the respondents to the 2014 Alumni Survey indicated that their current employment is related to their degree from Southern.

As these findings detail, our commitment to access and affordability remains crucial for many of our students, and our commitment to excellence insures that the degrees earned are of the highest quality. And despite our fiscal challenges, we continue to do what we do best – provide a balanced education that gives our students the practical and intellectual toolkit they need for success in a knowledge-based economy.


As you know, tuition income is a critical part of our operating budget. For the spring, we saw slight increases in full-time headcount and FTE and undergraduate headcount and FTE. Terricita Sass, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, reports that these increases were carried by an upturn in undergraduate new student enrollment and improved retention.

Fall to spring first-time freshmen retention is also at a six year high of 93%. Many of the enhancements and investments in student success campus wide in recent years have provided a solid framework to build a sustainable retention structure.

Below are the fall to spring retention numbers for the last six years:

FTFT Cohort     Students    Registered Following Spring   Percent

Fall 2010         1,248             1,136                                     91.0%

Fall 2011         1,319            1,206                                       91.4%

Fall 2012         1,360             1,252                                      92.1%

Fall 2013         1,361            1,256                                       92.3%

Fall 2014         1,275            1,156                                       90.7%

Fall 2015         1,394            1,296                                       93.0%

Now we are looking ahead to the fall, and with our acceptances currently trending more than 20 % ahead of last year, we are excited about the possibilities for our Fall 2016 class.

A key date on the calendar will be Accepted Students Day on April 2, which will include some expanded components, including offering abbreviated mock classroom experiences. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our modern campus and our outstanding range of academic offerings and student support services.


The university has contracted with SimpsonScarborough, a leading higher education marketing research, branding and creative strategies firm, to conduct a comprehensive marketing and brand identity research project for the University.

The purpose of this project is create a brand strategy for Southern that will help us promote a distinctive identity for the University and set us apart from our peers in an increasingly competitive higher education marketplace. The development of this strategy will be crucial as we seek to enhance both our student recruitment efforts and our fundraising from private sources.

SimpsonScarborough will draw on key research findings and input from surveys and collaborative branding workshops with prospective undergraduates and their parents, adult and transfer students, admitted non-enrolling students, community and business leaders, guidance counselors, current students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Company representatives were on campus last week to interview representative groups of students, faculty and staff, drawing on some of the following key questions:

  • What are Southern’s areas of strength?
  • What are Southern’s areas of weakness?
  • What is Southern best known for?
  • What should Southern be known for?
  • What misperceptions, if any, exist about Southern?
  • What are the attributes, adjectives and emotional elements of the Southern experience that convey a unique brand that matters?

The overall project will take several months and the findings not only will help to inform our marketing and recruitment strategies, but also identify areas for improvement in our community outreach and student services.


These are high times for our Theatre Department. As I mentioned last month, the university has entered into an exciting partnership with Elm Shakespeare Company (ESC) that promises to bring new energy to our theater activities and the entire university community.  Members of the campus community are invited to a special event celebrating the signing of the MOU and the announcement of the new ESC season this Wednesday (March 3) at 4:30 p.m. in the Lyman Center lobby.

Meanwhile, at the recent John F. Kennedy Center American College Theater (KCACTF) Festival, Region I, the Theatre Department continued its long track record of producing award-winning students and productions.

Department Chair Kaia Monroe reports that student Kiernan Norman competed in Dramaturgy and Criticism and ended up winning both the Best Program Notes in Dramaturgy and the National Institute for Journalism and Advocacy award for the region. Kiernan will be going on to Washington D.C. in April to compete nationally.

Christine Parella competed in Lighting Design where she received 1st Runner-Up in the National Award for Excellence in Lighting Design and won the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas Award. She will be traveling to Las Vegas this summer to attend the Stagecraft Institute.

Southern student thespians also received three merit awards: for Outstanding Multiple Accents for the ensemble cast of “Our Country’s Good,” for Outstanding Student Sound Mixing (JT McLoughlin) on “Rent” and Outstanding Ensemble Acting for “Almost Maine.” Marcelle Morrissey was a semi-finalist in the Irene Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions.

Directed by Professor Sheila Garvey, “Almost, Maine” was one of just six productions selected for presentation from almost 150 submissions entered by colleges across New England and New York. Sheila describes the play as “a delightful comedy/romance with cosmic overtones” and says the invitation to perform at the festival was “a great honor.” Written by playwright and actor John Cariani, the play has a small cast of eight and a minimal set, designed for the SCSU production by Theatre Professor John Carver Sullivan, who also designed the costumes.

It is a wonderful achievement to have two regional winners competing at the national level. Congratulations to everyone involved in representing Southern so well at this showcase event.


 One of our ongoing points of pride is that Southern historically has produced more teachers, principals, superintendents and school administrators than any other university in the state, meaning that our impact on education in Connecticut is both wide and deep.

As I noted in a recent blog, the ongoing excellence of our teacher preparation programs was again borne out by the announcement of Jahana Hayes, ’05, a social studies teacher at Waterbury’s John F. Kennedy High School, who was recently named Connecticut’s 2016 Teacher of the Year and Colleen Palmer, the Superintendent of the Weston Public Schools, has been named Superintendent of the Year for 2016 by the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS). Colleen earned a M.S. in counseling from Southern in 1990 and a sixth-year diploma in administration supervision in 1993.

Subsequently, Megan Johnson, M.S. ’98, 6th Yr. ’99, was honored as the 2016 School Counselor of the Year Connecticut state representative. Megan was among a select group of school counselors honored by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House in January.

A counselor at King Philip Middle School in West Hartford, Megan was raised in a family of educators. Her father, David Fox, is a retired history teacher and her mother, alumna Rosemary Fox, ’69, M.S. ’72, also taught before becoming a school counselor.

At Southern, Megan worked as a graduate assistant while pursuing her studies. She credits Professor Emeritus of Counseling and School Psychology Michael Martin, for his mentorship: “His belief in me as a professional helped me gain the confidence I needed to pursue my career and is something I will never forget.” Megan earned her most recent honor after being named the 2015 School Counselor of the Year by the Connecticut School Counseling Association

Alumni librarians are also feeling the love. Congratulations to Diane Brown, ’95, M.L.S. ’04, and Elizabeth G. Rumery, M.L.S. ’05, two of only 10 librarians from throughout the nation to receive the “I Love My Librarian Award.” The competition, which is overseen by the American Library Association, recognizes librarians who have transformed lives through education.


 Continuing the education theme, I note that Beverly Levett Gerber, Professor Emeritus of Special Education has played a leading role in the establishment of a new special interest division of the national Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), focusing on the arts.

Thanks to Beverly’s efforts, art educators now have a home at CEC in the Division of Visual and Performing Arts Education (DARTS). DARTS is the first CEC division to focus on arts education for students with disabilities, and on collaboration between art, music, drama, and dance/movement educators and special educators. It offers art educators who work with special needs children the opportunity to share stories and teaching approaches:

Beverly, who currently is the president of DARTS, has been an advocate of the arts for students with disabilities for almost 50 years. She initiated CEC’s Special Interest Group for Teachers of the Arts and was a founding member and Past-President of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) Special Needs Issues Group.

Beverly and her husband Stuart Gerber both taught special education for more than 30 years before retiring in 2003.


Two of our biology students have been selected to present on Washington’s Capitol Hill their discovery of a type of bacteria that may have valuable antibiotic properties.

The duo will participate in the Posters on the Hill program, sponsored by the national Council of Undergraduate Research and featuring 60 student research projects from more than 300 applicants across the nation. The program will be held April 19 and 20, when students will offer poster presentations of their work to members of Congress, Congressional aides and representatives of federal agencies.

Elizabeth Lewis Roberts, assistant professor of biology, reports that Jaqueline Mary Desrosier, a Guilford resident who recently graduated from Southern, found the bacteria during an advanced microbiology course last spring. The course, part of a nationwide program called the Small World Initiative, enabled students to isolate soil bacteria in the hopes of finding new antibiotics.

During the summer and fall, Jacqueline and and Laeticia Iboki, from Stratford, performed experiments with this “good bacteria,” and showed that it not only killed harmful bacteria, but also helped tomato plants grow larger and withstand heat stress.

Patricia Zibluk, director of the SCSU Sponsored Programs and Research (SPAR) program, notes that the fact that our students’ application was accepted in a very competitive environment “is a testament to Southern’s growing emphasis on giving our students genuine research experiences that foster their intellectual growth and creativity.”

Please take the opportunity to talk with our innovative students and view projects from across the disciplinary spectrum at our Second Annual Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference April 23 in the Adanti Student Center.


 Our grassroots recycling efforts are continuing to gather pace in partnership with Chartwells, Southern’s contracted food service provider. Heather Stearns, Southern’s Recycling Coordinator, reports the launch of a new reusable mug option in which students, faculty and staff may refill their personal bottle/mug at any of the retail locations on campus including Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks for the price of a small drink.

This represents savings for both our community members and Chartwells (through not having to purchase cups and lids. Currently, Chartwells serves more than 65,000 cups of hot and cold beverages each month.

Another project that kicked off last week is the daily donation of food from Connecticut Hall to   St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen on Arch Street.  This builds on a pilot program that began last summer, in which more than 600 pounds of prepackaged food from campus retail locations have been donated to the Connecticut Food Bank.

The Department of Residence Life has also begun a compost program at Hickerson Hall, the home of our Sustainability Living Learning Community. Hall Director Caitlyn Cody, says that in just three weeks, the compost bin has already been filled and plans are to use the resulting compost to sustain the potted flowers that are placed at all of the residence halls during the spring and summer.


Earlier this month, our Faculty Senate, in association with the SCSU Muslim Students’ Association, presented a timely and important forum intended both to raise awareness about Islam and show solidarity with those who have been targeted by hateful speech.

As we witness through the media all too frequently, there is an ongoing need to promote the values of peace, tolerance and understanding, both within our community and beyond.

In this spirit, I am pleased to note that there are a number of events and activities planned that will continue to advance these values, including an Interfaith Dialogue on Tuesday hosted by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Women’s Studies Program in Engleman A120 at 1 p.m.; the ongoing 64 Days of Non-Violence programming coordinated by Women’s Studies: and a forthcoming Faculty Senate forum on Judaism.

In addition, the Office of Faculty Development’s focus for the Spring 2016 edition of “Southern Dialogue” is ‘Creating a More Compassionate Campus.’

This continued dialogue is essential for us to maintain an open and welcoming campus community.


 As you know, the CSCU Board of Regents established in 2014 a policy concerning sexual misconduct and intimate partner violence: This policy requires the reporting of these incidents in an effort to ensure that every member of our community can fully engage in the life of our campus

As a Southern employee, you may find yourself responding to a student or other employee’s report or disclosure of sexual misconduct or intimate partner violence. We have developed a protocol for employees to follow in such a situation: Remember that all university employees except those whose official responsibilities require confidentiality are mandated reporters under the BOR policy.

Additional training for all Southern employees on sexual misconduct and the impact of such actions soon will be provided by the Office of Diversity and Equity. This will include mandatory online training and two on-campus workshops.

I thank you in advance for your cooperation in helping to enhance a key element of campus health and safety.


 As spring approaches and we move into the heart of the semester, the campus always becomes alive with an eclectic range of events, from arts performances to public lectures and scholarly presentations. I will share a selection with you, but please check the University online calendar: for more highlights.

An interdisciplinary forum – on the first Thursday of each month during the semester – will feature Southern faculty in the arts, humanities, and social sciences presenting new scholarship, with special emphasis on emerging topics, methodologies, and areas of research in the 21st century.

The Biology and Psychology Joint Department Seminar Series on Behavioral Neuroscience runs through April, with the next offering – with the intriguing title of “Filial cannibalism: Why did daddy do that?” on March 7 at 1 p.m. in the Academic Science and Laboratory Building.

Black History Month events will include national recording artist and music industry executive June Archer speaking on: “Keys to Success” this evening (Feb. 29) at 7:30 p.m. in the Adanti Student Center Theater; a showcase of the rich culture of Africa through fashion, dance and music on March 4 at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom and a Heritage Ball: The Rolling Twenties: Celebrating the Harlem Renaissance Era on April 14 at 7 p.m. in the same location.

On April 3, at 4 p.m., Tina Packer’s ‘Women of Will,’ will play at the Lyman Center. Packer, a master Shakespearean actor/dramaturg, will deconstruct and conjure William Shakespeare’s most famous female characters during this benefit for Elm Shakespeare Company’s programs.

And finally, John Heilemann, one of the nation’s most respected political reporters and commentators, will offer an insider’s take on the 2016 presidential election, the Washington scene, and the major national political and policy issues of the day on April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyman Center.

The winter’s first real blast of Arctic chill and the welcome return of our students signaled the start of our spring semester this week. Once again, we are greeting our returnees and new students with a myriad of activities organized by our student affairs staff, in concert with colleagues across campus. For many reasons, it is important that we engage our students early and often, so that they feel valued as members of our community and are able to participate fully in the academic and social life of the campus.

As always, this promises to be an active and energizing semester. While we still have to work within our current budget constraints, we do not foresee further cuts in the immediate future. I plan to be an active presence in Hartford during the new legislative session, advocating for Southern’s needs and those of state public higher education in general. Certainly, as you will read below, there are many positive developments that will carry us forward during the coming months, guided by our new Strategic Plan: “Discover Southern! A University for the 21st Century.”

The previous year gave us much on which to build. As you can read in the pages of the President’s 2015 Annual Report: we did a great deal to transform our mission to reflect the needs of both a changing higher education landscape and the rapidly evolving, knowledge-based economy of the 21st Century.

Meeting these needs will be a challenge: state projections indicate that by 2025, Connecticut’s economy will require a workforce in which 70% will have some education beyond high school. But hitting that target will require production of 4,500 more graduates cumulatively each year than the current rates of production will yield.

Clearly, as I have said previously, surmounting this challenge will require a globally competitive, regionally engaged Connecticut higher education system – and Southern will be a key player in this effort.


Last year, we opened two signature buildings, the refurbished Buley Library and the new Academic Science and Laboratory Building. One is an inspiring, academic heart of campus, the other a state-of-the-art facility that will greatly enhance our ambitious goals in STEM education. While we will not see any major construction in the next few months, planning and design are proceeding behind the scenes on several projects.

We soon will begin design on a new home for the School of Health and Human Services where Pelz Gym, the oldest structure on campus, now stands. This building is part of the CSU 2020 capital construction plan. As the needs of the school now are substantially greater than when this plan originally was devised almost a decade ago, we anticipate that the project will be completed in two phases. As healthcare today is fully integrated it is vital that our health and human services programs share a common facility where they can interact and communicate.
Also on tap is planning for a proper entrance to campus – a symbolic front-door, if you will – in the current faculty-staff lot in front of Engleman Hall, the space that connects the new renovated library with our new science building. This project will allow us to make a visible statement to let visitors and prospective students know that they have indeed arrived at Southern!

We continue to study the feasibility of a campus  Recreation and Wellness Center, and our master plan also calls for new homes for our Schools of Business and Education and our fine arts programs, all of which have outlived their current buildings. Therefore, over the next decade expect more physical changes as we build a campus for the 21st Century.


The university has entered into an exciting partnership with Elm Shakespeare Company (ESC) that promises to bring new energy to our Theatre Department and the entire university community.

The Elm Shakespeare Company, recognized as the premiere Shakespeare company in Connecticut and one of the very best in New England, has been offering free professional outdoor Shakespeare performances in New Haven for 20 years. Southern and Elm Shakespeare recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that brings Elm Shakespeare onto campus and integrates it into our Theatre Department activities and facilities.

Under the MOU, the Elm Shakespeare Company officially is “in residence” at Southern Connecticut State University, and the university will provide rehearsal, production, and office space for the company. In turn, Elm Shakespeare will bring its expertise into the Theatre Department’s programming.

Steven Breese, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, says of the new partnership, “We are delighted that Elm Shakespeare will be taking up residency at Southern. Our artistic and educational missions are deeply interconnected and, like any good partnership, we strengthen one another by joining our forces.

“While SCSU has, for many years, had a strong relationship with Elm, having the company and its artistic staff ensconced on our campus and interacting with students and faculty every day will be a ‘shot’ of creative adrenalin — something that all artists need and welcome.”

Dean Breese acknowledges the efforts of Rebecca Goodheart, Elm Shakespeare’s new Producing Artistic Director, and Kaia Monroe, Theatre Department Chair, for the work they have done to bring this partnership to fruition, adding, “It represents a giant step forward for our theater program, while offering a secure home for one the region’s most respected professional Shakespeare Companies.”

A date for an official signing of the MOU will be settled soon, coinciding with Elm Shakespeare’s announcement of its 2016 season. This is a wonderful community partnership, and congratulations go to Steven, Kaia and all involved in bringing Elm Shakespeare to Southern.


Exciting news from Graduate School Dean Greg Paveza and our Nursing Department, who received word from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification program that the 2015 graduates of our MSN/FNP program achieved a 100% pass rate on the FNP Certification exam.

Furthermore, graduates of our Family Nurse Practitioner program had an average score of 604 on the exam, compared with the national average of 561. Our students’ scores in assessment, diagnosis, planning, and evaluation were all at, or exceeding, the national averages.

Dean Paveza reports that our graduate program success in terms of 100% certification rates on the FNP exam has been sustained for the last 10 years. This is a wonderful accomplishment for our students and faculty. Congratulations to Health and Human Services Dean Sandy Bulmer and Nursing Chair Lisa Rebeschi, the faculty and all associated with the nursing department.


As you know, Southern was awarded care and control of the former Gateway Community College property at 60 Sargent Drive on Long Wharf in 2014, following Gateway’s relocation to the downtown business district.

The site consists of a 140,250 square-foot building on 6.5 acres in a prime location, given the proximity to I-95 and the ongoing commercial development of the Long Wharf area. A new Jordan’s furniture outlet recently opened just across the street, in the former New Haven Register building.

After a feasibility study determined that it would not be cost-effective to keep the existing building in service for continued academic use, Executive Vice President Mark Rozewski has been working with city officials to determine a new use for the property.

While still in its early stages, the plan is to lease the land to a developer, who would then raze the existing structure and construct a new building or buildings at the site. Part of the new project would be dedicated to commercial purposes, part for Southern outreach activities or academic programming, likely in graduate studies.

This innovative proposal would potentially be a win for the city – which would receive property taxes from the commercial development – and for the university, which would retain a high-visibility site, with easy access for commuters and close proximity to downtown New Haven.

I will keep you apprised as the plan unfolds, but even its fledgling stages, this is an exciting possibility: a project that would break new ground as a delivery strategy for public higher education by helping to meet future academic needs without requiring significant state or student funding.


Members of the university’s Incident Management Team met January 8th for a comprehensive review of our Emergency Management Plan and how it would guide our response to different crisis scenarios. This was an important exercise, particularly in light of recent events at home and abroad. It illustrated both the need for effective planning and preparation and how critical it is for divergent units to work seamlessly together.

Moderators from the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security led the team members through an unfolding incident and commented on their replies. The moderators said they were impressed by both the comprehensiveness of our plan and its detailed responses to a range of potential crises, from tornados and winter storms, to hostile intruders and suspicious letters and packages. You can view the plan at Emergency Preparedness at Southern.

University Police Chief Joseph Dooley is planning a full tabletop exercise in the near future, in which our team would respond to an incident in a real-time setting. Similar exercises in the past have focused on our response to natural disasters, flu pandemics and a hostile presence on campus. While we hope that none of these incidents occur, preparedness is the key to an effective response, and I am confident in the ongoing measures that we are undertaking to keep our campus community safe and secure.


Last week, I announced that a nationwide search for the position of Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs has commenced, headed by Dr. Craig Hlavac, Music Department Chair.

As you know, former Provost Dr. Bette Bergeron will be leaving Southern February 29 to take up a new role as Provost at the State University of New York at Potsdam. On January 8, Dr. Ellen Durnin, commenced her new duties as Provost during the tenure of the search. MBA Program Director Sam Andoh will act as Dean of the Business School in Ellen’s stead during this transitional period.

The other members of the Provost Search Committee are as follows, representing an inclusive cross-section of the campus community:

Dr. Kevin Buterbaugh, Political Science
Dr. Betsy Roberts, Biology
Dr. Lyn Kwak, Marketing
Dr. Elizabeth Rodrigues-Keyes, Social Work
Dr. Adam Goldberg, Education
Dr. William Faraclas, Public Health & Faculty Senate
Patricia Zibluk, SPAR & SUOAF
Diane Mazza, Human Resources
Paula Rice, Diversity & Equity
Dr. Tracy Tyree, VP – Student Affairs
Dr. Terricita Sass, AVP – Enrollment Management
Mark Rozewski, EVP – Finance & Administration
Dr. Sandy Bulmer, Dean – Health & Human Services
Giovanni D’Onofrio, Payroll & Administrative Faculty Senate
Dennis Reiman, Associate CIO
Anna Rivera-Alfaro, Academic Advising
Sal Rizza, Director – New Student Programs
Shawn Copeland, Undergraduate Student
Alyssa Maresco, Graduate Student

Dr. Robert Holyer, a consultant with AGB Search, will be assisting our committee and will meet with constituent groups on campus January 27 regarding the announcement, process and other details. The schedule for that day is available online.

Dr. Hlavac will update the campus regularly as the search proceeds. I am confident that this process will yield an outstanding pool of finalists for this critical senior leadership position.


On February 3, our Faculty Senate, in association with the SCSU Muslim Students’ Association, will present a forum on Islam from noon to 2 p.m. in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom. The forum is in response to recent incidents of negative and discriminatory comments to Muslim students on campus, as well political statements that target Islam and Muslims at the national level.

I strongly encourage you to attend this important event, which is intended to “raise awareness about Islam” and show solidarity with those who have been targeted by hateful speech.

As I wrote in a recent blog, emotions are raw and fears are heightened when atrocities occur on a global scale. But the evil actions of groups of radicals should not provide an excuse to stereotype and offend individuals who are our classmates, our colleagues, our friends and neighbors.

Thus, there is a continued need to promote the values of peace, tolerance and understanding, both within our community and beyond.


I regularly report on the ground-breaking research of our faculty, and it is a measure of their quality that for some, these efforts have continued into retirement. Two of our faculty emeriti have received notable recognition recently for their scholarly works:

Dr. Geoffrey Martin, Professor Emeritus of Geography and a prominent historian of American geography, will discuss “On the History of the Book – American Geography and Geographers: Toward Geographical Science” this evening (Thursday) at the Library of Congress. This special event, which is free and open to the public, will focus on Dr. Martin’s most recent major work, which charts the emergence of American geography as science in the United States. The evening will include a display of related rare maps and atlases from the collections of the library’s Geography and Map Division.

Ronald Abler, immediate past president of the International Geographical Union, cited “American Geography and Geographers” as “unparalleled in the scope and depth of its research and in its meticulous exposition of the evolution of geography in the United States through the 1970s.”

The official archivist for the American Association of Geographers for nearly 30 years, Dr. Martin has been a prominent author and presenter and received numerous national and international honors, including visiting scientist to Cambridge University, visiting scholar at Yale University and National Science Foundation grant recipient in 1984, 1989 and 2010. He taught geography at Southern from 1966-96 and was also a Connecticut State University Professor.

Following years of research, supported by CSU grants, and a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship Dr. Harvey Feinberg, Professor Emeritus of History, saw his seminal work: “Our Land, Our Life, Our Future: Black South African Challenges to Territorial Segregation, 1913-1948,” published by the University of South Africa Press, 2015.

As listed on Amazon: “this ground-breaking book evaluates a topic central to the past century of South African history – the 1913 Natives Land Act and its consequences. Applying rigorous scholarly standards, the book analyzes, reassesses, and then challenges previously accepted ideas about the impact of the Natives Land Act.”

“Our Land, Our Life…” was recently selected to the annual CHOICE Outstanding Academic Titles list for 2015 in African studies. The citation read in part: “…this is an important, insightful book sure to have wide interdisciplinary appeal. The Natives Land Act continues to have enormous symbolic (and legal) significance, and Feinberg nicely connects segregation with apartheid eras, past with present. Essential.”


Our Academic Success Center, led by Director Katie DeOliveira has been working with Mathematics Department Chair Terri Bennett and her faculty to launch a new program of academic support for students taking several math courses this semester.

Developed at the University of Missouri Kansas City and used by hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide, Supplemental Instruction (SI) is an academic support model that utilizes regularly scheduled, peer-assisted study sessions outside the classroom.

In these informal seminars, students compare notes, discuss readings, predict test items and develop tools for effective organization. The SI program targets traditionally difficult courses at the undergraduate, graduate and professional school levels.

This non-remedial approach to learning targets high-risk courses rather than high-risk students and participation is voluntary, though all students are encouraged to attend as the program benefits varying levels of academic preparedness.

A trainer from UMKC was here last week to work with the faculty who are teaching the selected courses and the students who will serve as the SI instructors. This promises to be another valuable component of our overall plan to ensure student success at all levels of their Southern experience.


MFA alumna Elizabeth Hamilton, ’14, a poet and former journalist who is currently an adjunct professor in the English Department, will have 12 of her poems performed next month by the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.

Elizabeth has been collaborating over the past 18 months with composer Jessica Rudman, who is using her poems in an original composition. The February 20 program – “Voices of Connecticut Poets: Wallace Stevens and Elizabeth Hamilton” – will also feature the poetry of Wallace Stevens in a concert of contemporary chamber orchestra music.

Elizabeth met Jessica Rudman during a three-week writing residency in Florida at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. She was chosen to participate in that residency by the poet Richard Blanco, known for having read at President Obama’s second inauguration in 2013.


Our Women’s Studies Program has announced that on April 16, nationally known media critic Anita Sarkeesian will be the keynote speaker for the 2016 SCSU Women’s Studies Conference, “Women, Community, Technology.”

Ms. Sarkeesian is the creator of “Feminist Frequency,” a video web-series that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives. Her work focuses on exposing and deconstructing the sexist stereotypes and patterns in popular culture, and highlighting issues surrounding the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces. She has received particular attention for her video series “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games,” which examines tropes in the depiction of female video game characters.

In 2013, Newsweek magazine and The Daily Beast named Sarkeesian as one of their “125 Women of Impact.” In 2015, she was chosen as one of the Time 100, Time Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. And in January 2015, as part of a $300 million effort to increase diversity and inclusivity in the technology sphere, Intel announced it would partner with “Feminist Frequency” and other groups to help promote increased career opportunities, engagement, and positive representation for women and minorities in technology and gaming.


And finally, just in time for the start of the semester, the welcome news that the Starbucks café has opened on the main floor of Buley Library. Serving regular and steamed coffees and prepared sandwiches, scones and other Starbucks fare, the café will be open seven days a week during the following hours: Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The café – for which we plan to have a naming contest – will provide our students, faculty and staff with a convenient, central location to obtain some sustenance while they work and study. It adds another user-friendly element to Buley’s wonderful new facilities. Enjoy!

This Friday, we will celebrate the accomplishments of our students at our December commencement ceremonies, with a special nod to the six graduate students who will receive their doctorates in nursing education.

They were enrolled in the program’s 14-strong first cohort when it was launched in 2012 as a joint initiative with Western Connecticut State University. The second cohort of 18 students will be completing its second year of study next spring.

These students come with varied professional backgrounds and have previously demonstrated clinical expertise in nursing practice. For example, Linda Roney, who was the first to complete her doctoral requirements, has served as the Pediatric Trauma Program Coordinator at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital from 2009-2014. She currently serves as a full-time faculty member in the School of Nursing at Fairfield University while maintaining her practice as a clinical nurse at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital Bridgeport campus.

Another of Friday’s awardees, Philip Martinez, has practiced as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner since graduating from the Yale School of Nursing in 2006. He currently holds clinical appointments at Middlesex Hospital as an advanced practice nurse in the department of pulmonary and critical care medicine and serves as a clinical preceptor at Yale-New Haven Hospital in the trauma unit. Philip also serves as the Specialty Coordinator for the Graduate Entry Prespecialty in Nursing (GEPN) Program at the Yale School of Nursing.

Clearly this program, which was designed to meet an identified area of workforce demand, is attracting a strong pool of candidates. It is indicative of the kinds of niche programs that we can successfully develop and offer, particularly as we now have permission to offer professional doctorates in related fields such as social work and public health, where advanced training is increasingly sought after.


 Thanks to the vision and spirit of Walter Stutzman and generous support from the Stutzman Foundation, our University Choir, led by Director Terese Gemme, soon will be departing for Greece.

The choir has previously traveled to Ireland, England, and Spain, working with internationally-known guest conductors such as Simon Carrington and Craig Hella Johnson. This year’s 53-strong choir will be made up of current students, SCSU alumni, and longtime community members, and will once again be working with Simon Carrington. Also traveling with the group from Dec. 27 through Jan. 4 will be students from the Honors College class “The History of Athens.”

By arrangement with host company KIconcerts, our choir will be performing in several venues around Athens, including, by special invitation from the city, a Gala New Year’s concert at Syntagma Square. On Jan. 2, the choir will perform as part of a special holiday program at the Piraeus Municipal Hall, a classic architectural gem.

In addition to a busy rehearsal and concert schedule in Athens, the choir will travel to the islands of Hydra and Aegina, Delphi, and Corinth. This exciting trip will once again enhance the students’ musical education and global awareness, while providing them with a life-changing experience.

Terese comments that: “Being able to perform great music with new friends from around the world in historic venues is awe-inspiring, and these trips, with their combination of musical inspiration, cultural exploration, personal discovery, and community-building experiences have been life-changing events for everyone. As an educator and as a musician, I can’t think of any more worthwhile endeavor.”

And KIconcerts President Oliver Scofield added: “SCSU is a choir that does more than sing for the sake of singing; through performance SCSU engages its students with the larger world as ambassadors of peace, bridges between cultures and custodians of better futures for humanity.”

Watch for a special blog on our home page at while the choir is away on this wonderful trip.


In other international news, several faculty members from our Exercise Science Department have recently returned from China, where they held workshops for more than 500 physical educators and 150 university students. Dr. Peter Latchman also presented numerous lectures to faculty and students and collected data measuring arterial stiffness and central aortic blood pressure in Chinese students – mirroring similar studies he has performed here at Southern.

The department currently has an MOU with East China Normal University in Shanghai, and our Southern delegation was also asked to present at Capital University of Physical Education and Sports in Beijing.

“In terms of their reaction, we were like rock stars!” notes Exercise Science Department Chair Dan Swartz, who also was accompanied by colleagues Jinjin Yang and Jim Rauschenbach. “We tried to offer them things that they would have never seen before, and they loved everything we gave to them. After every presentation, we had a line of at least 90 percent of the participants wanting to take pictures with us, and we received great feedback on the content of the presentations.”

This semester, there are four students from East China Normal University in Southern’s Physical Education Program. Two are planning to stay for another semester as exchange students and then enroll in the Exercise Science master’s program in the fall.

“At this point, it is the beginning of our relationship, and we are hoping that it grows into an exchange program for students and potentially a feeder program for our graduate program,” Dan says. “We also would like to conduct comparative research studies (as Peter Latchman has already begun doing) between the U.S. and China.”


Last week, I was pleased to announce that Dr. Sandra Minor Bulmer, Professor of Public Health here at Southern, has been named as the university’s new Dean of the School of Health and Human Services.

Sandy has served as a faculty member in our Department of Public Health since 1999, full professor since 2009 and Interim Dean of HHS since 2014. A specialist in college student health issues and women’s exercise and health, she has excelled as a teacher/scholar, demonstrated a strong commitment to mentoring students, and provided a high level of service to her department and the university.

Sandy has been active in campus leadership activities, including a six-year term on the Faculty Senate, chairing the Honors Thesis Committee since 2010 and chairing searches for the Vice President of Student Affairs and, most recently, the new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Since fall 2014, in her role as Interim Dean, Sandy has focused on building a community environment within the School, expanding inter-professional collaboration among faculty and students, increasing resources for high-demand degree programs, and developing new programs that address workforce needs in the state of Connecticut.

Under her leadership the Department of Nursing initiated reforms to their admissions process, the Exercise Science Department created and launched a new degree program in Respiratory Therapy, and the Social Work Department is creating a new doctoral degree program.

She also led a team of 20 faculty through the development of an initial building program for the School, worked with her Associate Dean to expand collaborations and build relationships in the New Haven community, and supported faculty with the launch of academic partnerships with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture (BUCEA).

In addition to her work at Southern, Sandy is the current president for the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), volunteers with the Institutional Review Board and Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars program at Yale University, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut and Western Massachusetts Division of the American Heart Association.

Sandy has been the recipient of several notable honors, including the J. Philip Smith Outstanding Teaching Award in 2003 and the Society for Public Health Education’s Outstanding Service Award in 2011.

During her tenure as Director of Fitness Operations with Western Athletic Clubs in San Francisco, the International Health, Racquet & Sports Club Association (IHRSA) selected her as their first-ever Fitness Director of the Year in 1991.  Under her guidance, Western Athletic Clubs was one of the first major employers in the fitness industry to require college degrees and relevant certifications for personal trainers and other fitness professionals.

In 1997, Sandra left her position at Western Athletic Clubs to obtain her Ph.D. in health education at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Tex.  She also holds a B.S. in physical education from California State University Hayward and an M.S. in physical education with a focus on exercise physiology from the University of Oregon.

Sandra brings a breadth of knowledge, experience, and effective leadership that will serve her school, and Southern, well. Please take the opportunity to congratulate her on this well-earned new appointment.


In another senior leadership change, Dr. Bette Bergeron, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, will be leaving Southern on February 29, 2016, to take up a new role as Provost at the State University of New York at Potsdam.

On behalf of the campus community, I thank Bette for her leadership and commitment to advancing our academic mission during a time of transition and fiscal challenge for this university. Thanks to her stewardship, we were able to develop new programs and partnerships that will help Southern meet the evolving needs of Connecticut’s 21st Century economy. Please join me in wishing Bette well in her new position.

In order to ensure a smooth transition, Dr. Ellen Durnin, Dean of the School of Business, will serve as interim Provost beginning on January 8, 2016, while we complete a national search for a permanent replacement.  MBA Program Director Sam Andoh will act as interim Dean of the Business School during this time.

With more than 15 years’ experience in higher education leadership – first as Dean of Graduate Studies and External Programs at Western Connecticut State University and, since 2010, here at Southern – Ellen has demonstrated the qualities to move our academic division forward during this interim period.

A national search for a new provost, chaired by Dr. Craig Hlavac, Music Department Chair, will begin immediately. The other members of the search committee are being selected now and will include members of our governance bodies.  You will receive regular updates as the search unfolds.


 I am pleased to report that I have been named to serve as one of four new Commissioners-Elect for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, with my term commencing July 1, 2016.

The Commission on Institutions of Higher Education currently oversees 232 member and candidate institutions in the six New England States and 11 institutions abroad (in Greece, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Morocco, Switzerland, and Bermuda) and is very much a working group.

In New England regional accreditation, the Commission is the body that both sets the policy (including adopting the Standards for Accreditation) and makes accreditation decisions regarding applicant, candidate, and member institutions. This combination of setting and applying policy gives the Commission an unusually important role in assuring and promoting the quality among affiliated institutions in New England and abroad.

As a Commissioner, I will have a unique opportunity to learn more about higher education issues among the member institutions, on a national level and abroad. I will also work closely with other Commissioners, who represent a variety of roles and types of institutions and some of whom who represent the public’s interest in the quality of higher education.

This experience will only serve to help me in understanding the broader challenges we face here at Southern, and give me insight into new ways to gain support for our initiatives in the legislature, with governmental leaders and in the corporate sector.


A unique collaboration between our School of Business and Gateway Community College is being hailed as a model for responding to an industry’s needs.

With an estimated third of the workforce at the region’s utility companies eligible to retire within five years, industry leaders were motivated by the “graying of the industry” and interested in working with institutions that could assist them in their succession planning and leadership development.  Enter our new undergraduate Utilities Management program, which was approved last week by the state Board of Regents for Higher Education.

An industry advisory board has recommended content for the new program, will provide employees as students, and has recommended jobs that its graduates can fulfill. It is anticipated that the first students will be enrolled in fall 2016.

Larry Bingaman, President and CEO of the Regional Water Authority (RWA), says an aging workforce, combined with changes in regulations, technology and the push toward “greener energy” sources, is posing new challenges for the utility industry throughout New England and across the country.

He says that this “exciting program” will see the RWA and other utility companies gain a pool of qualified candidates to assume management and technical positions while providing students with new career opportunities.

Southern and Gateway have essentially created a pathway for students to receive the training necessary to fill these projected managerial and technological job openings. Our specialization in public utility management – believed to be one of the first of its kind in the nation –

will include 30 credits  and be part of our Bachelor of Science degree program in business administration. Meanwhile, Gateway will develop an associate degree in public utility management that will align with our bachelor’s degree program.

New classes in crisis/risk management, green energy and environmental sustainability, and workforce safety and industry regulatory codes will be part of the program. It also will include existing courses – such as business communications, business law, public utility/governmental accounting, and business continuity planning – that will have sections tailored to focus on elements of utility management.

As Business School Dean Ellen Durnin points out, one of our commitments as a public university is to meet the needs of the state’s workforce, and this is exactly the type of program that will accomplish this goal.

“(The utilities companies) demonstrated a serious need for this type of training because of the demographics and anticipated retirements,” Ellen notes. “They have employees who want to be trained to fill those soon-to-be openings, and we have the faculty who can provide that kind of education.”


For the second year in a row, one of our Theatre Department’s productions has been selected for presentation at the John F. Kennedy Center American College Theater Region I Festival (ACTF).

In fact, Southern is this year’s New England Region I winner with John Cariana’s Almost, Maine, a show that Director Sheila Hickey Garvey describes as “a delightful comedy/romance with cosmic overtones.”

Almost, Maine, which has a small cast of eight and a minimal set, will be performed twice on Friday Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the lab theater of Western Connecticut State University’s performing art center.

Almost, Maine was one of just six productions selected for presentation from almost 150 submissions entered from across New England States and New York.  Congratulations to Sheila, the cast and crew and to the Theatre Department as a whole for nurturing and maintaining a standard of excellence in our student thespians. You can view a Facebook gallery from the recent Kendall Drama Lab-based production here:


More than a dozen Southern science students attended the Connecticut Health and Life Sciences Career Initiative “Bioscience Careers Forum” last Wednesday at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Conn.

The forum gave our students some crucial advice for gaining a competitive edge in the bioscience career market, from CV boosts to ideal skills and mindsets for getting hired. But perhaps the most impactful aspect was the opportunity for them to network across Connecticut state colleges and universities and with some of the state’s biggest names in bioscience, such as Matthew McCooe, CEO, Connecticut Innovations; Todd Arnold, Ph.D., director of Mount Sinai Genetic Testing Laboratory, and Ellen Matloff, M.S., president and CEO, My Gene Counsel

In Connecticut, health and life sciences represent an area of strategic growth supported by significant public and private investment. Approximately 200,000 people in the state work in health and life science industries, with another 11,000 additional jobs expected in the next eight years.

With our new science building providing an excellent launching pad, Southern already is tapping into this potential through our new Bioscience Academic and Career Pathway, or BioPath, collaboration with the City of New Haven and its rapidly growing biotechnology industry.

BioPath will include four academic pathways for incoming students, including a new major in biotechnology. The School of Business will also work closely with industry partners to develop a series of certificate programs that support the professional development and career advancement needs of current employees. The city will assist in promoting these offerings to industry partners and area educational institutions, support an internship program with area companies and create biotechnology pathways in city schools that will prepare students for entry into Southern’s programs.

Greater New Haven already is home to the second largest cluster of biotechnology companies in New England, and an investment in BioPath will help Southern become a key player in the industry’s expansion in Connecticut.


Southern has joined the Food Recovery Network (FRN), a national organization that supports college students recovering perishable and non-perishable foods on their campuses that would otherwise go to waste and donating them to people in need.

Heather Stearns, our recycling coordinator, says that Chartwells has hired a student intern, Ashley Silva, who is focused on sustainability, and has been working with her on a weekly food collection schedule. Each week, Ashley makes the rounds to the Bagel Wagon, Davis Outtakes, and the North Campus Kiosk and collects perishable foods — including salads, sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, bagels, and hummus — that have reached their “best by” date.

The foods would be thrown away when they reach that date, but they are still safe to eat. So after Ashley collects them, they are donated to Connecticut Food Bank, a private, nonprofit organization that works with corporations, community organizations, and individuals to solicit, transport, warehouse and distribute donated food.

In addition to the food collected from campus Chartwells locations, fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the campus organic garden are harvested and donated to local soup kitchens such as the Community Dining Room in Branford and St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen in Hamden. Pounds of produce such as squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, various greens, corn, peas, potatoes, peppers, and basil, are donated on a regular basis.

This fall, Southern donated almost 200 pounds of fresh produce that was grown at the garden, located behind Davis Hall.  Suzanne Huminski, sustainability coordinator, says that throughout the fall semester, between the garden and FRN efforts, over 600 pounds of food have been collected and donated.

To expand Southern’s food donation program, the Sustainability Office is placing permanent collection boxes in the lobby of the Facilities building, in the Wintergreen building, and on the second floor of Engleman, outside of the FYE Office. Members of the university community are encouraged to donate non-perishable food items year-round. Donations from these collection sites will be brought to the Connecticut Food Bank in Wallingford each week. Heather also encourages staff and faculty to bring food items to the Sustainability Office during the regular Swap Shop open houses.

Anyone interested in helping with FRN efforts on campus can call Ashley in the Sustainability Office at (203) 392-7135.


 Aaron Washington, associate dean of student affairs, recently was honored at a luncheon sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Tau Xi Omega chapter. It is the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African-American college-trained women. Aaron was presented with the Tau Xi Omega Vanguard Community Award, which is given to recognize community service. In addition to his role at SCSU, where he played an integral role in founding the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, he serves on the New Haven Scholarship Fund Board of Directors and is active with New Haven’s Saint Martin de Porres Catholic Church. He is a former director of the Tuskegee University National Alumni Association, Northeast Region director.

Patrick Heidkamp, co-chair of the Department of Geography, Environment and Marine Sciences was elected Vice-President of the NESTVAL (New England-St. Lawrence Valley) Geographical Society, a division (oldest regional founded in 1922) of the Association of American Geographers.  This position has a two-year term, after which Patrick will ascend to the presidency.

Founded in 1922, NESTVAL is the country’s oldest regional division and the only one that includes the maritime provinces of Canada. Patrick is just the second representative from Southern to be honored as NESTVAL President – a significant honor for the department and the university.

Three Southern faculty members were named recently to New Haven Mayor Toni Harp’s blue ribbon commission on reading. The panel, which includes educators from local schools and colleges, as well as other members of the community, plans to identify best practices to help students’ reading skills and literacy across the New Haven Public Schools. The commission includes Julia Irwin, associate professor of psychology; Greg McVerry, assistant professor of elementary education; and Regine Randall, assistant professor of special education and reading.


 The Athletic Department and the Office of Alumni Relations have announced that they will host Girls and Women in Sport Day on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in conjunction with the Owls’ basketball doubleheader against Adelphi. This year’s event will be sponsored by the Connecticut Army National Guard and the Tim Greer Insurance Agency.

The day will begin at 9:15 a.m. at Moore Field House and participants will then take part in a variety of sports at clinic stations (basketball, cheerleading, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, track and field, and volleyball) from 10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Following a complimentary lunch and before the basketball action commences, participants will have an opportunity to meet with and receive autographs from all of the Southern Connecticut State University student-athletes in attendance.

All participants must wear sneakers and athletic clothing and bring a water bottle. Registration is limited to the first 200 female participants in grades 1-8 that have submitted a signed registration/assumption of risk form:

In conclusion, let me thank for your dedication, your creative thinking and your sheer hard work during the fall semester. Our students’ success is indeed your success!

Indeed, a great deal has happened during the last few weeks to demonstrate that we are committed to making the world a better place on campus and in the neighborhoods beyond our boundaries. From our annual Friends of Rudolph and Adopt-A-Family toy and food drives, respectively, to the Candlelight Vigil expressing solidarity with those afflicted by the recent terrorist attacks, to the campuswide staff and student efforts to make the exam period less stressful, we are building a true sense of community.

Developing this strong sense of community is paramount to fully engaging students in their Southern experience. Students respond very positively to outreach efforts that tell them that others (their peers, faculty and staff) notice them, care about them, and want the best for them. In these times of conflict and discourse throughout our nation and around the world, we can truly make a difference for our students by creating a community of care and compassion.

I wish you a peaceful, relaxing and enjoyable holiday season in the warm company of your family and friends.



The headlines during the last two weeks have made grim reading as we recoil at the news of terrorist acts in Paris, Beirut, Nigeria and Mali.

As a community, we embrace the relatives and friends of the deceased and injured and decry the senseless violence that is scarring our world. The attacks are yet another stark reminder to us all of the continued need to promote the values of peace, tolerance and understanding, both within our own community and beyond.

This point was brought home to me this week when I attended a meeting of our Muslim Students’ Association and spoke with members and officers of the group. Several noted that they had been subjected to negative or discriminatory comments on campus in the wake of the Nov. 19 Paris attacks.

Such comments have no place at Southern, or in society in general. Certainly, emotions are raw and fears are heightened when atrocities occur on a global scale. But the evil actions of groups of radicals should not provide an excuse to stereotype and offend individuals who are our classmates, our colleagues, our friends and neighbors.

To quote the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Let this be the theme that we carry forward through the months and years ahead.

Leading The Way In Sustainability

I recently signed a new Climate Leadership Commitment that goes farther than the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), to which the university became a charter signatory in 2007. Southern is one of only 40 of the original 600-plus signatories from across the country to join the new commitment thus far.

Signing the ACUPCC meant pledging to reduce the university’s carbon footprint to zero by 2050, an important step to take in 2007. But over the intervening years, it has become clear that a carbon mitigation pledge alone as a strategic imperative is not enough.

In 2014, Second Nature, which oversees the efforts around the ACUPCC, introduced the Alliance for Resilient Campuses (ARC), to begin exploring climate adaptation and resilience as complements to the original Climate Commitment. The ACUPCC has been updated as a Carbon Commitment and, to advance the mission of ARC, a new Resilience Commitment has been formed.

Now, there are three possible Commitments a university president or chancellor can sign: the Climate Leadership Commitment, which integrates a goal of carbon neutrality with climate resilience and provides a systems approach to mitigating and adapting to a changing climate; the Carbon Commitment, which is focused on carbon neutrality; and the Resilience Commitment, which deals with climate resilience and adaptation. I signed the first of the three, with approval from my Cabinet.

Under this new integrated Climate Leadership Commitment, we formally are committing to continue the initiatives on which we have been working for many years. This includes incorporating sustainability across all of our operations, as well as further developing sustainability in our academic programs, greening our purchasing practices, the way we care for our buildings and grounds, our co-curricular offerings, and reducing the amount of materials we throw away.

We also are educating our students to prepare them for environmental issues that will be prevalent when they graduate, and the new commitment means that we are going farther than just striving for carbon neutrality. The Climate Leadership Commitment is more than just a declaration or statement: it is a catalyst for rigorous and robust actions on our campus and in our community.

Congratulations to Suzanne Huminski, sustainability coordinator, who was instrumental in bringing Southern to the table on this new Climate Commitment. As the university’s implementation liaison between Southern and Second Nature, Suzanne will be sharing Climate Leadership Network opportunities and resources with the campus community.

Leaving For Liverpool

Representatives from Liverpool John Moores University will be visiting Southern early next week to further details of our new “Trans-Atlantic Alliance.” You will recall that this partnership between our two institutions is designed to offer students the chance to study on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean as well as enable them to benefit from dual-taught undergraduate and graduate-level programs, delivered by LJMU and SCSU faculty members through video link and guest lectures.

Our collaboration already is bearing fruit. In the spring semester, four undergraduates with academic interests in business, wellness, geography and global health will be leaving for Liverpool to study abroad for a semester. Additionally, Mark McRiley, a graduate student from public health, also will be attending LJMU in 2016 to earn his Ph.D on full scholarship.

On the home front, several academic departments hosted classes or colleagues from Liverpool via videoconference or in person. Earlier this month, the nursing departments from the respective institutions participated in a symposium in which Assistant Professor Christine Denhup presented her research on parental bereavement following the death of a child, an area of mutual interest for both groups.

Last week, John Morrissey, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Geography, Natural Sciences and Psychology at LJMU, spoke about “Enabling Sustainability Transitions in the Coastal Zone,” during our Department of Environment, Geography & Marine Sciences’ Geography Awareness Week.

And last month, the visit of former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent for the Dr. Joseph Panza Sport Management Lecture was broadcast live to LJMU so that sport management students there could participate and ask questions of the speaker.

Expect many more of these positive interactions as we develop this exciting and unique partnership.

Building Corporate Ties

As you may know, state support for our operating budget has declined to 33 percent from almost 48 percent in 2002. With the increasing need for private funding to support university initiatives, Southern has been developing fruitful partnerships with the corporate sector.

A new collaboration with PerkinElmer – a Massachusetts-based company that delivers instruments and services designed to improve human and environmental health – has seen the installation of high-tech scientific laboratory instrumentation in our new science building.

Technologies provided by PerkinElmer are benefiting a variety of academic disciplines, including nanotechnology, optics, biology, chemistry, environmental science and earth science. The state-of-the-art solutions include several analytical instruments that will improve faculty research capabilities and provide our students with opportunities to conduct cutting-edge research.

Christine Broadbridge, director of STEM Initiatives, points out that our collaboration with PerkinElmer is “emblematic of the multi-dimensional relationships that are bubbling up between our campus community and industry thought leaders.”

Another successful partnership has been forged with the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA), which generously has sponsored our downtown New Haven location, Southern on the Green, for the next three years.

Negotiated by Vice President for Institutional Advancement Robert Stamp and the members of our development team, this is a wonderful development that will ensure that we can maximize Southern on the Green for academic offerings, community partnership building and continued corporate outreach.

The agreement also will see discretionary funds made available to me to support initiatives in environmental education, workforce development and community education for Southern and our students. This partnership was a natural fit, given both entities’ commitment to championing sustainability. The RWA will receive permanent recognition on our campus through the naming of the unique rainwater harvester at our new science building.

Affirmative Action

I am pleased to announce that Paula Rice is now serving as the Director of Diversity and Equity, with responsibilities including assisting with searches, developing the Affirmative Action Plan, handling complaints and overseeing ADA compliance.  In this capacity, Paula also is serving as our Title IX Coordinator. She may be reached at ext. 25568 or at

Paula already has achieved one notable accomplishment in her new role, as our Affirmative Action Plan has been fully approved by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

Winter Session

Some very good news from Winter Session, where we currently are up 15.6 percent in overall headcount and up 20.4 percent in overall credits.

Ian Canning, Director of Special Academic Programs and Sessions, has been working closely with our public affairs marketing team on a targeted campaign to let current and visiting students know how winter best meets their needs through directed emails, a redraft of our Winter website, and social media (Twitter, Facebook). We also are reaching external student populations through billboards, print advertising, and digital ads through popular social media sites.

Along with the enhanced awareness campaign, Ian reports that another factor in boosting our Winter Session numbers has been our continued effort to offer a higher percentage of online courses than we have in previous years.

Last year, we offered 50 online sections; this year, 49 – as a point of comparison, the average number of online sections over the previous four years (2011-2014) was 18.5. The move to more online offerings clearly has proved popular, allowing students the flexibility to continue their academic progression without losing out on the holiday season and time with their family and friends.

Thanks to Ian for his meticulous planning, and to our deans, chairs and faculty for their collaborative efforts to optimize the Winter Session schedule.

Human Rights Advocate

Professor of Philosophy David Pettigrew is in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where he will deliver a Nov. 29 lecture on the legacy of the Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the ethnic conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina 20 years ago. Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia on March 1, 1992, triggering a secessionist bid by the country’s Serbs backed by the Yugoslavian capital, Belgrade, and a war that left about 100,000 dead, including the mass slaughter of many Bosnian Muslims by Serb forces.

Following earlier lectures in Prague and Stockholm that identified human rights violations in Republic Srpska, (the Bosnian Serb Republic), David’s Nov. 29 lecture condemns efforts in the republic to deny the genocide and to demean and otherwise psychologically intimidate Bosnian Muslims who were targeted and driven from Visegrad, in the eastern part of the country.

David writes that the political culture in Republic Srpska “is breeding hatred and contempt of the Bosnia Muslims”:

“The culture of genocide denial and dehumanization, produces what I call in my paper a ‘cumulative cruelty’ directed at genocide survivors,” he says. “The cumulative cruelty directed against Bosnia’s Muslims and non-Serbs is the sad legacy of Dayton. The lecture calls for constitutional reform to reunify the country with national laws against hate speech and genocide denial…”

Through his writings, lectures and interviews with the media, David has been a powerful voice for the victims of atrocities for several years. The Institute for Research of Genocide Canada recently thanked him for his “continuous struggle for the truth about the aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and genocide against its citizens”:

“Professor David Pettigrew is an example of an intellectual who put his knowledge at the service of truth and justice. It is a major contribution to peace in the world.”

Education Kudos

The excellence of our teacher preparation programs again was borne out by recent announcements of state awards for educators and school administrators.

Jahana Hayes, ’05, a social studies teacher at Waterbury’s John F. Kennedy High School, recently was named Connecticut’s 2016 Teacher of the Year. Jahana, who got her start in the classroom 13 years ago in New Haven, has spent the last 11 years teaching World History, Roots of American Citizenship, U.S. History, Civics and Geography, and African American History to students in Waterbury.

In addition to her teaching duties, she has served for seven years as the lead teacher for the district’s after-school programming, and she has worked as part of a team on minority teacher recruitment strategies for the district. She also has a passion for service learning and spearheads many community service efforts at her school.

Jahana graduated magna cum laude from Southern in January 2005 with a B.S. in history and social science, with certification to teach history and social science in grades 7-12.

Colleen Palmer, the superintendent of the Weston Public Schools, has been named Superintendent of the Year for 2016 by the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS). Colleen earned an M.S. in counseling from Southern in 1990 and a sixth-year diploma in administration supervision in 1993.

Under Colleen’s guidance, Weston High School was named the top Connecticut high school in 2015 and ranked 47th nationally by Newsweek. Prior to joining Weston Public Schools as superintendent in 2011, she served three years as superintendent of Monroe Public Schools and four years as deputy executive director of the Capitol Region Education Council. She is the former principal of Simsbury High School, Hamden High School and Nonnewaug High School.

Other Notables

Professor of Public Health Bill Faraclas was inducted into the Association of Yale Alumni in Public Health Winslow Centennial Honor Roll for Excellence and Service, named after Charles-Edward Amory Winslow, founder of the public health program at Yale.

The Winslow Centennial Honor Roll for Excellence and Service was established to honor 100 alumni and faculty who have made outstanding contributions to public health and/or the Yale School of Public Health during the school’s first 100 years.

Allyson Derosier, graduate student in Exercise Science-Human Performance was awarded the DuPont Nutrition & Health ACSM Travel Award at the New England regional American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) fall meeting. The grant is awarded to a current master’s student and ACSM member who is investigating the role of nutrition in exercise science.

Allyson recently successfully defended her master’s thesis titled “The Effects of Varying Postexercise Nutrition on Subsequent Exercise Performance in Active Adults Habitually Consuming a Low-Carbohydrate/High-Fat Diet” and is currently employed as a research assistant at the United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) in the Thermal & Mountain Medicine division in Natick, Mass. She will be submitting an abstract from her thesis research for presentation at the 2016 ACSM national meeting in Boston.

Southern was honored to host the 50th anniversary celebration and fall conference of the New England Historical Society at Southern on the Green Oct. 23-24. Troy Paddock, History Department chair, reports that the event included a roundtable discussion by past NEHA presidents and a full slate of conference sessions on the Saturday.

Among a notable representation of historians from across the region, Southern presenters featured prominently, including: Richard Gerber: “Horace Greeley for President: The Liberal Republicans of 1872”; Darcy Kern: “The Structure of Bodies: Metaphors of the Natural and Transcendent Body in Late Medieval Castilian Political Discourse”; Christine Petto: “Paper Encroachments in the Eighteenth-Century North American Colonies”; and Jessica Dooling: “Eighteenth-Century British Privateering in the Press.” Troy Rondinone, Polly Beals, Troy Paddock, Steve Judd, Thomas Radice, Michelle Thompson and Virginia Metaxas either chaired sessions and/or provided commentary.

Semester’s End/Looking Ahead

We are just a few short weeks away from the end of a very full semester. We can acknowledge our many accomplishments as we celebrate with our winter graduates at our December Commencement ceremonies on Friday, Dec. 18: at 2 p.m. for undergraduates and 7 p.m. for graduate students. Both ceremonies will be live streamed online at and a full guide to the day’s events is available at:

Of course, before commencement there are finals, and since the first day coincides with the third anniversary of the Newtown school shootings, we should be aware that this may add extra emotion to an already stressful time. Therefore, please take extra care to ensure that our students are fully supported during the exam period. Also, with retention in mind, I encourage our advisors to reach out to all current students who have not yet registered for the next semester and remind all campus employers to be sure that their student employees are set for the spring.

Before we know it, we will be welcoming our new and returning students with a full slate of activities for the spring semester. Southern’s third Annual WoW! Winter Week of Welcome will kick off on Tuesday, Jan. 19 and run through Sunday, Jan. 24. WoW! helps to create a sense of community at Southern by encouraging students to make new connections and explore all that the university has to offer.

Student groups, departments, faculty and staff are invited to plan WOW programs, events, and activities – this is the perfect opportunity for you to introduce SCSU students to what you do best!

You can submit a WoW! event, request funds to support your program, and be included in the WoW! Publication at: All event submissions must be received by Friday, Dec. 4, to be considered. For more information, contact Joey Linebarger, graduate intern for student involvement and leadership development, at or Denise Bentley-Drobish, director of student involvement and leadership development, at

In conclusion, as the holiday season approaches, let me thank for your dedication, your creative thinking and your sheer hard work during the fall semester. Our students’ success is indeed your success! I wish you a peaceful, relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving in the warm company of your family and friends.

We are deep into fall and our campus looks stunning, with the spectacular foliage complementing the physical transformation of our university. With the completion of the Buley Library renovation project, and now, the opening of our new science facility, we have signature buildings in place that significantly will advance our academic mission by providing our students with the best possible learning environment.  These modern facilities also will demonstrate to potential applicants that Southern is indeed an institution on the move.

And we are not done yet! With the completion of the new master plan, we are now embarking on the next phase of campus redevelopment. The next year will consist of planning and preparation behind the scenes, as we begin design on a new home for the School of Health and Human Services where Pelz Gym, the oldest structure on campus, now stands.

This building is part of the CSU 2020 capital construction plan.  As the needs of the school now are substantially greater than when this plan originally was devised almost a decade ago, we anticipate that the project will be completed in two phases. Healthcare today is fully integrated – for example, the presence of social workers in primary care offices is now a growing feature – and therefore it is vital that our health and human services programs share a common facility where they can interact and communicate.

We also are beginning the development of a new Recreation and Wellness Center, which will continue to advance the goals of our health and wellness initiatives. The combination of a healthy mind and healthy body is crucial for our students to be able to learn and study effectively and to live long, healthy lives.

Also on tap is planning for a proper entrance to campus – a symbolic front-door, if you will – in the current faculty-staff lot in front of Engleman Hall, in the space that connects the new renovated library with our new science building. And our master plan also calls for new homes for our Schools of Business and Education and our fine arts programs, which all have outlived their current buildings.

Therefore, over the next decade expect more physical changes as we build a campus for the 21st Century.


The Friday, Oct. 16 ribbon-cutting for the science building kicked off a celebratory weekend for Southern, with Family Weekend and Homecoming activities and our Undergraduate Open House showcasing the very best that our university has to offer.

Visitors who attended the ribbon-cutting and later toured the science building were awed by the building’s myriad features and functions, particularly as they were able to talk with students and faculty directly about their research in tour stops along the Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Earth Science wings, as well as at the CSCU Center for Nanotechnology and the Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies.

If you haven’t yet viewed the building, I strongly encourage you to do so, as this is indeed a facility for the entire university, promoting interdisciplinary research and learning. A special website: highlights all that the science building has to offer, through words, photography and video.

Tours were also held on the following day, when we welcomed our alums back to campus for a chilly, but happy, Family Day and Homecoming. We must never lose the opportunity to engage our alumni, show them how our campus and academic mission are evolving, and give them the opportunity to play an active role in our advancement. During the weekend, I heard several inspiring personal stories about the transformative effect of a Southern education. As I remarked during my State of the University address, as a public institution it is our civic responsibility to empower all individuals through education for the betterment of themselves and the society in which they live – or, as one commentator said, “to live fully in their time.”

Our final event of the weekend was our Undergraduate Open House, which drew the largest audience in the last five years, with 730 prospective students in attendance along with parents and friends. This is a very welcome turnout and clearly, our mix of affordability, accessibility and emphasis on student success through academic excellence is still a potent draw.

My congratulations to all who participated in staging these high-profile – and highly successful – events, which drew thousands of people to campus: in particular Student Affairs, Enrollment Management and the members of our Development and Public Affairs teams. My thanks, too, to all of our faculty members who joined us for the prospective student Open House.


Our new science building was constructed to the latest standards in sustainability, and in recent times, Southern has been recognized as a leader for its greening initiatives—whether for new building design, energy efficiency, recycling programs, or the award-winning efforts of our students.

As many of you know, in 2006 Southern became a charter signatory to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), thereby pledging to reduce our carbon footprint to zero by 2050.

In 2014, Second Nature, which oversees these efforts, introduced the Alliance for Resilient Campuses (ARC) to begin exploring climate adaptation and resilience as a complement to the ACUPCC. Now, the ACUPCC has been updated as a Carbon Commitment and, to advance the mission of ARC, a new Resilience Commitment has been formed. Together, the carbon neutrality and resilience commitments constitute a new integrated Climate Commitment, to which Southern is now a signatory.

Southern is one of only 40 of the original 600-plus signatories from across the country to join the new commitment. I have already signed the commitment remotely, but on November 10, I will sign it in a small ceremony on campus.

Under the new Climate Commitment, we will incorporate sustainability across all of our operations – work on which we already have made steady progress during the last five years. We are educating our students to prepare them for environmental issues that will be prevalent when they graduate, and the new commitment means that we will be building a community around sustainability.

The Climate Commitment is more than just a declaration or statement: it is a catalyst for rigorous and robust actions on our campus and in our community


I have appointed a steering committee to prepare the fifth-year interim report to the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The committee is co-chaired by Ilene Crawford, associate vice president for academic affairs and Rick Riccardi, associate vice president for institutional effectiveness.

As many of you may recall, in 2012 the university received notice of its full reaccreditation by NEASC, following a self-study report that analyzed Southern’s effectiveness as a teaching and learning institution and assessed the extent to which we met each of 11 standards for accreditation.

As part of the reaccreditation process, the university is required to submit a fifth-year interim report for consideration in the fall of 2016. The purpose of the fifth-year report is to review how the institution continues to meet the Standards for Accreditation and progress since the last comprehensive evaluation; to prepare a reflective essay on student learning; to project areas of focus for the next five years leading up to the next comprehensive review in 2021; to serve as a vehicle for stimulating improvements within the institution; and to support NEASC in its role of assuring the public of the quality of the institution.

The steering committee met for the first time last week and has begun working on the now nine standards for accreditation. A draft report will be made available to the public in March 2016, and a final report will be submitted to NEASC in August.


During the early part of this week, I attended the 35th annual meeting of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) in Austin, Texas. The annual meeting provides the opportunity for presidents and chancellors to examine critical national issues and explore strategies required to help our students succeed and our institutions thrive.

The focus this year was on the changing demographics of the U.S. population. The federal Census Bureau predicts that by 2042, “racial minority” groups will make up the majority of the U.S. population, a trend that has profound implications for colleges and universities.

Indeed, in our own backyard, the legislature-sponsored Strategic Master Plan for Higher Education in Connecticut revealed that, if current education trends continue, our state will produce 23,000 fewer graduates due to a projected decline in high school graduates over the next decade and beyond. The only increases in high school graduates will occur among Connecticut’s minority populations – yet the education attainment gaps between whites and minorities are greater in Connecticut than in almost all other states in the country.

However, these changing demographics are not limited to race, ethnicity, native language, religion and culture, AASCU Board of Directors Chair Keith Motley, Chancellor of University of Massachusetts-Boston, pointed out.

“These increasing numbers of applicants to our colleges and universities are adult students with adult-level experience and responsibilities. Increasing numbers need higher levels of financial support. And increasing numbers take for granted sophisticated communication technologies that, outside of fiction, were unimaginable less than a generation ago,” Chancellor Motley said.

Clearly, surmounting these challenges will require a globally competitive, regionally engaged Connecticut higher education system – and Southern and our sister institutions will be key players in this effort.


The President’s Commission on Campus Climate and Inclusion will kick off our second annual Social Justice Week Nov. 9-15, 2015. Supporting our commitment to academic excellence, access, social justice, and service for the public good, Social Justice Week is a focused opportunity to ask ourselves, both as educators and students, to consider our role in challenging injustice, valuing diversity, and creating a climate of inclusion.

This year, I am excited to see a diverse lineup of events in which students and our entire campus community can engage in transformative discussions, build connections and alliances, and increase their self-awareness and identity. From “Dear World,” a photography project that invites honest reflection through a distinct message-on-skin style, to the interactive courtroom drama “Defamation,” which explores the highly charged issues of race, religion, gender, class and the law.

I’m also extremely proud to announce the first Social Justice Weekend Retreat for students at Camp Woodstock in Connecticut (Nov. 13-15). The weekend, led by Chris Catching, assistant vice president for student affairs, will give students the opportunity to address some of the critical topics of diversity and social justice impacting our community. Having these conversations amidst the beauty of changing seasons in New England will be symbolic and no doubt, powerful.

It is my hope that the conversations started this week will continue on throughout the year, and help us all to be better stewards of these important topics.


Last week, I had the great pleasure to join Art Department Chair David Levine in opening the first “homemade” exhibition of paintings, photography and sculpture by our talented art faculty in the new Buley Library Art Gallery.

As you may recall, the former gallery space in Buley was flooded several years ago. And while the work of our faculty has been on individual display since then in galleries across the state and further afield, it was a long wait before a collective exhibit could be displayed on campus.

“This exhibit marks an absolute watershed in the history of the art department and the university,” David said. “The continued use of this space for exhibits by students, faculty and community artists will have a transformative influence on the arts at Southern.”

The exhibit features the art of the following faculty, many of whom have notable recognition for their works: Thuan Vu (who coordinated the exhibit), Mia Brownell, T. Wiley Carr, Kelly Carrington, Greg Cochenet, Jeremy Chandler, Keith Hatcher, Terry Lavin, and Rachael Vaters-Carr. A number of adjunct faculty also have their work displayed: Michael Donovan, Karen Dow, Michael Faulkner, Leeah Joo, Noelle King, Phil Lique, Meredith Miller and Perry Obee.

The exhibit is on display through November on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the gallery, which is on the lower level of the library. As Pablo Picasso once said: “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Come and be re-energized by the work of our faculty!


One of the notable features of the new science building is an astronomy control room, from which telescopes positioned on the roof pipe down data to viewing screens located around the circumference of the room. Using techniques being developed by Elliott Horch, professor of physics, the telescopes can be trained simultaneously on the same object.

Elliott also is part of a National Science Foundation-funded study in which he will take the clearest images ever photographed of 2,000 of the nearest stars to Earth, thanks to his own invention: a Differential Speckle Survey Instrument (DSSI), which attaches to and greatly enhances the imagery observed by the largest star-seeking telescopes.

The $335,000 grant was approved after research conducted by Georgia State University identified and catalogued stars within 150 light years of Earth. Southern researchers will observe and capture images of the stars, followed by in-depth analysis by GSU colleagues.

The project ultimately will tell us how typical our solar system is within the Milky Way Galaxy, Elliott says: “This is an exciting opportunity for us to explore our ‘local neighborhood’ of stars and solar systems, and in effect, learn more about our own sun and solar system.”

Elliott will also be among the speakers (who include two NASA scientists) at a Nov. 16 astronomy forum, “Missions Possible: A Manned Flight to Mars, & Finding ‘New Earths’ in the Milky Way Galaxy.” The forum, hosted by the Office of Public Affairs, will look at NASA’s plans for human exploration of Mars, as well as its Kepler Mission, the search for Earth-like planets outside of our solar system. It will run from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Lyman Center for the Performing Arts and the event website is:

Along this theme, the NSF study also will examine how many stars have rocky planets like Earth and Mars orbiting them in a “habitable zone,” a distance that is neither too close nor too distant to support life. Elliott notes that this grant – the third from the NSF that he has received in the last decade – will enable the university to hire a doctoral student to assist with the project, as well as giving Southern students the opportunity to participate in this groundbreaking research.


Finally, I wanted to mention two other notable events that are taking place next month. On Nov. 7 and 8, Southern will host the 4th Northeast Conference on Chinese Thought, with scholars from around the nation and the world attending. Panels will cover such topics as Confucianism, Moral Cultivation, and Contemporary Chinese Philosophy, among others.

The goals of the conference are to provide a regional forum for everyone from graduate students to established scholars to present work, learn from one another, and establish or strengthen mutual relationships; and to bring together scholars and students who approach Chinese thought from diverse disciplinary perspectives.

The conference is supported by SCSU Minority Recruitment and Retention; SCSU Faculty Development; the SCSU departments of history and philosophy; East Asia Studies at Yale University; and East Asia Studies at Wesleyan University. Tom Radice, associate professor of history, and Xiaomei Yang, associate professor of philosophy, are the conference coordinators.

The Journal of Student Psychological Research (JSPR) — an academic journal based in the Psychology Department and edited by undergraduate and graduate psychology students – will host a research forum on Nov. 19 from 6-8 p.m., in collaboration with the Psychology Department and with assistance from The Literary Coalition of New Haven.

The forum, “Early Literacy Experiences, the Brain, and Child Development,” will feature Dr. Perri Klass, National Medical Director for Reach Out and Read; Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, commissioner of the CT Office of Early Childhood Education; and Dr. Julia Irwin, associate professor of psychology at Southern and senior research scientist at Haskins Laboratories.

Dr. Klass is a professor of journalism and pediatrics at New York University and has written extensively on pediatrics, literacy, medicine, and ethics for many publications, including the New York Times. Dr. Jones-Taylor’s research expertise centers on the effects of early care and education reform in low-income urban communities, while Dr. Irwin focuses on the development of audiovisual speech perception.

The event is free and open to faculty, students, and any members of the community with interests in language, reading, child development, and education. Anyone interested should RSVP to




It’s hard to believe that we already are a month into the new academic year! I hope it has started positively for all of you. With the pending formal opening of our Academic Science and Laboratory Building, freshly minted strategic and master facilities plans ready for implementation and exciting academic partnerships developing at home and abroad, we certainly are entitled to begin the new academic year with a sense of optimism, despite some of the real challenges that surround us.

Certainly concerns remain, notably in enrollment, where an upswing in new students has been offset by retention losses at both the undergraduate and, especially, the graduate levels. As I will outline in my State of the University Address (Wednesday at 1 p.m. in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom), we must continue to build on our internal efforts to strengthen our retention and graduation rates, while exploring potential growth areas for Southern at home and abroad, particularly through timely and relevant programs targeted to areas aligned with the state’s economic opportunities, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.


One such growth area is our developing partnership with Liverpool John Moores University. Two weeks ago, a team of faculty led by Provost Bette Bergeron and School of Business Dean Ellen Durnin visited Liverpool, England, to identify areas of common interest that could be developed under this new and unique “Trans-Atlantic Alliance.”

The collaborative agreement between our two institutions will give students the chance to study on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean as well as enable them to benefit from dual taught undergraduate and graduate-level programs, delivered by LJMU and SCSU faculty members through video link and guest lectures. There also will be opportunities to take part in field trips with both sets of students and participate in joint research projects.

Many commonalities exist between our universities, including: student demographics, programs, and areas of faculty interest and expertise. LJMU and SCSU also share a similar mission: to provide access to higher education to a diverse population of students, support the development of skills and knowledge capabilities in a multitude of disciplines, and embrace the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

With its home in the historic port city of Liverpool, England, LJMU traces its roots back nearly 200 years to 1823 and the opening of the Liverpool Mechanics’ Institute. Over the decades, the institute merged with other institutions to become Liverpool Polytechnic, traditionally providing training, education and research to the maritime industry, before earning university status in 1992. Now ranked among the top 400 universities world-wide, LJMU offers 250 degree courses to 25,000 students drawn from more than 100 countries.

In our increasingly inter-connected world, both SCSU and LJMU recognize that the development of skills and problem solving strategies require universities to be globally connected, providing students with international opportunities and supporting staff engagement with international networks.

And as LJMU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nigel Weatherill, points out: “Building a strong trans-Atlantic alliance between New England and North West England will position both universities to compete more strongly in their domestic markets and provide distinctive opportunities to new staff and students.”

During their recent visit, Southern faculty members from a variety of disciplines, including Anthropology, Business, Computer Science, Creative Writing, Geography, Environmental Studies, Exercise Science, Nursing, Public Health, Recreation & Leisure, and Tourism & Event Management, spent time on location at sites that held promise for joint research and student engagement in the near future. For example, James Tait, professor of science education and environmental studies, joined geography colleague Elyse Zavar at Formby Point, home of the United Kingdom’s largest collection of sand dunes. Erosion issues there are very similar to those that Jim has been researching with students along the Long Island Sound shoreline in the wake of recent hurricanes.

Anthropology colleagues Michael Rogers and Kathleen Skoczen visited an archaeological site in Poulton, Cheshire, where LJMU students are participating in the excavation of a grave site that dates back to the Bronze Age. More than 800 sets of human remains have been uncovered so far, along with pottery, Roman tiles and jewelry more than a thousand years old.

Public Health Department Chair Jean Breny and colleague Michael Minkspent a day at LJMU’s Centre for Public Health, listening to presentations on substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual violence, all of which are issues studied on our campus.

“This visit showed me that there are many global opportunities for collaborative public health research and practice, particularly concerning the inequality of healthcare” Jean says.

We will be looking to build on these and other opportunities in the months to come. Stay tuned for more developments in this exciting Trans-Atlantic partnership.


A proud moment for the university occurred last week when we announced the first endowed chair in Southern’s 122-year history. Ruth Eren – the director of our Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders and a noted expert in this field on program development for children – has been selected as the Goodwin Endowed Chair in Special Education.
Ruth, along with the late former interim dean of the School of Education James Granfield, co-created the Center in 2010 to provide the state with a distinctive resource to improve the experiences of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

She has spent many years consulting with public schools in Connecticut on program development for children with ASD and has served several state committees related to this topic, including Connecticut’s Task Force for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Ruth is a former special education teacher and administrator and currently serves as chair of our Special Education and Reading Department.

School of Education Dean Stephen Hegedus says that Ruth “stands out in her field as an educator, researcher and resource who has been tapped many times by Connecticut legislators and education officials for her insight and advice.”

Dr. Louise Spear-Swerling, who chaired a national search for the endowed chair position, noted that Ruth “combines an exceptional level of applied expertise with strong leadership skills and a deep personal commitment to helping this population of students and their families.”

The endowed chair is funded through a gift left by the late Dorothy Weisbauer Goodwin, who graduated from Southern in 1939, when we were still the New Haven State Teachers College. Upon her death in 2009 at the age of 91, $1 million of the $1.2 million gift to the SCSU Foundation was earmarked for an endowed chair.

Ruth plans to use the endowment “to support more SCSU student engagement in the Center and its activities, bring outstanding leaders in the field of education regarding ASD to our campus to share their knowledge with our students and community, and support efforts to increase our visibility and influence at state, national and international conferences.”

Most important, she says, “the endowed chair will allow SCSU and the Center to enhance the lives of individuals with ASD by giving their teachers, related service providers and families, the evidenced-based tools that will help them all to achieve the goal of successful participation in society as adults.”

I agree fully with Dean Hegedus in his assessment that this appointment will enhance the reputation and prestige of the Center and the university as a whole. Congratulations to Dr. Eren, and to the search committee for having selected such a worthy candidate.


The endowed chair is a wonderful legacy from an alumnus who devoted her life to teaching and the service of others. And it is indicative of a welcome upward trend that we have been seeing in recent years with private giving, which helps support a range of areas, including scholarships, undergraduate and faculty research, study abroad programs, and equipment needs.

Our overall goal for this past year was $2.2 million, and we raised $2.6 million, or 120 percent of goal. Cash commitments alone stood at $2.3 million, or 125 percent of this year’s goal of $1.87 million.

Given that historically we have raised an average of $1.54 million during the last decade, this year’s result is a wonderful achievement and holds great promise for the future. Congratulations to Vice President for Institutional Advancement Robert Stamp and his development team.

With this momentum, the active support of our SCSU Foundation, and our continuing efforts to engage our alumni, we will be well-placed to launch the university’s first-ever comprehensive campaign when we celebrate our 125th anniversary in 2018.


Recently, I accompanied members of the Werth Family – who made a transformative $3 million gift to our newly named Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies in 2013 – on a tour of our soon to be opened science building. It is truly an incredible facility, with an array of features and opportunities for learning and research that would have seemed out of Southern’s reach not too long ago.

As you know, as part of last year’s White House Day of Opportunity, we committed to increasing the number and quality of students graduating in the STEM disciplines during the next decade, as well as enhancing the preparation of effective K-12 STEM teachers. This new building will provide an outstanding launching pad to achieve both goals.

Enhanced success in STEM degree completion at the university level is a significant component of our broader student success initiatives, which strive to enhance retention and graduation rates across the university. Therefore, we are committed to graduating a diverse population of students with the skills and knowledge needed to compete and lead in the high-tech, STEM-oriented 21st century economy both locally and globally.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the science building is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. As I have stated earlier, this is a facility for the entire university, so I hope that all of you will join me that day and take the opportunity to view the building and see everything it has to offer.


Congratulations to Professor of English Vivian Shipley, whose recently published volume of poetry, Perennial (Negative Capability Press, 2015), has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Vivian, a Connecticut State University Distinguished Professor, has taught at Southern since 1969 and has published 10 books of poetry and six chapbooks.

The poems in Perennial, she says, are centered on the persistent poverty, illness, and terror that plague the world generation after generation. Vivian says she does not believe her poems will impact constant acts of senseless brutality, but she thinks it is important “not to look away or forget lives that have been snuffed out by mindless cruelty.”

A New York Times review of her poetry says that it “preserves a uniqueness of place,” and her work has received many accolades. Her book All of Your Messages Have Been Erased (Louisiana Literature Press, 2010) also was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won both the 2011 Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and the Sheila Motton Book Prize for Poetry from New England Poetry Club.

Vivian, who teaches undergraduate and graduate poetry writing workshops in the English Department, has received many other awards and recognitions as well, including being chosen as SCSU Faculty Scholar three times and named to the University of Kentucky Hall of Distinguished Alumni.


Our School of Business and Gateway Community College are collaborating on a new degree program in Utilities Management. Business School Dean Ellen Durnin reports that the institutions have been guided by an industry advisory board whose members recommend content, will provide employees as students, and have recommended jobs that its graduates can fulfill.

The industry leaders were motivated by the “greying of the industry,” and are interested in working with institutions that can assist them in their succession planning and leadership development.
Southern and Gateway successfully have presented the program for the first round of approval at the Board of Regents Academic Council. Ellen says that the council’s members were supportive and System Provost Estela Lopez indicated that the SCSU/Gateway collaborative model should stand as a model for future program development.

We anticipate that the program will receive full approval by January, with its first students enrolling in Fall 2016.


Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure to welcome U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro to campus for a discussion about steps taken by the Obama Administration to ease the application process for financial aid.

Among the changes announced by President Obama are allowing students and their families to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in the fall – as the college application process gets underway – rather than waiting until Jan. 1. Another change allows students and their parents to submit data from the previous tax year to calculate their student aid eligibility.

Learning about aid eligibility options much earlier in the college application and decision process will allow students and families to determine the true cost of attending college and make more informed decisions. Streamlining the financial aid application process can only help families and encourage more students to go to college. And this comes at a time when we are striving in Connecticut to increase the proportion of adults with higher education: in 2012, just 47.5 percent had at least some post-high school education.

Financial challenges are consistently among students’ top concerns when pursuing higher education. And this is particularly true at Southern where, compared with other schools, we have a relatively high number of first-generation college students and students from families with a low-to-moderate income. The new federal changes to the financial aid application process will help to reduce that stress.


This past week marked a special time for our nation as members of our campus community observed the Jewish High Holiday Yom Kippur, the Islamic Holy Day of Arafah and the first official visit to the United States by Pope Francis. It was a time, too, to embrace our commitment to the university’s core values of diversity and community involvement.

The promotion of tolerance and understanding lies at the heart of our educational mission and it is incumbent upon us all to build a stronger, more inclusive community. The President’s Commission on Campus Climate and Inclusion, led by Vice President for Student Affairs Tracy Tyree, is continuing its efforts to promote a campus environment of civility and respect — for each other, for our diversity of perspectives, experiences, and opinions. A series of awareness events are being planned for the academic year, highlighted by our annual Social Justice Week Nov. 9-15

The efforts are highly appropriate, as in recent months, a disturbing sequence of violent events across our nation – in St. Louis, Baltimore, Charleston and other cities – have revealed a seething underbelly of intolerance and hatred. Our campus is not removed from larger societal issues, and I want to remind everyone that acts of hate, whether directed at race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, class or identity, are against the values that we hold dear at Southern Connecticut State University. It is incumbent upon all of us to further the cause of social justice and understanding, on our campus, in our home communities, and beyond.


Director of Athletics Jay Moran reports that our athletic program enjoyed its most successful year ever in the classroom during the recently completed academic year.

Our 400 student-athletes combined for an average cumulative GPA of 3.07. Almost half of them were recognized at either the conference, regional or national levels — and in some cases all three — for their work in the classroom.

In addition, seven of our teams were recognized by their respective national coaching organizations for exceptional academic prowess.

Congratulations to the coaching staff and athletics administration for creating an environment in which our student-athletes are able to thrive academically.

As we move into the heart of summer, our campus is alive with New Student Orientation programs, which will continue through July and August. During the sessions that I have attended, I have been impressed by the breadth and diversity of programming and the extent to which each and every new student is made to feel welcome. Developing these events has required significant commitment from many members of the campus community, and I thank all who have participated, in particular Sal Rizza, Director of New Student and Sophomore Programs, and his team.

The campus is also being prepared physically to welcome these new students come the fall. Along with the completion of the new Academic and Laboratory Science Building, which should be ready for occupancy in August, 16 classrooms in Davis and Engleman halls are being renovated and refurnished with a new, higher standard of furniture for the start of classes, as phase one of an annual classroom renovation project.  Behind the scenes, there are several information technology infrastructure enhancement projects underway, including classroom wifi and technology upgrades and a complete replacement of the university network, including massive bandwidth improvements.


Looking ahead to the new academic year, we continue to monitor the budget outlook, which remains fluid. We have already had some funds restored but then a portion of that was removed via rescission. While there is potential for more funding restoration, we are well aware that there were three rescissions during the last fiscal year, meaning that it is essential that we maintain our reserves as best we can.

Much will depend on the outcome of our fall enrollment, as our budget is predicated on a flat count. Currently, our freshman entering class remains strong, and thanks to the excellent efforts of Admissions Director Alexis Haakonsen and her team, we are very close to our goal of 1,400 freshmen. Transfer numbers are also gaining momentum, but we are still seeing a decline in returning students from the sophomore to junior years, adding importance to new initiatives such as the launch of the new Academic Success Center this fall.

On a positive fiscal note, we are ending the year in a very strong position with our private fundraising efforts, which help support a range of areas, including scholarships, undergraduate and faculty research, study abroad programs and equipment needs. Our overall goal for this past year was $2.2 million, and we are currently at $2.4 million, or 110 percent of goal. Cash commitments alone stand at $2.1 million, or 112 percent ahead of this year’s goal of $1.87 million.

Given that we have historically raised an average of $1.54 million during the last decade, this year’s result is a wonderful achievement. Congratulations to Vice President for Institutional Advancement Robert Stamp and his development team.


At the close of each academic year, I and the members of my senior leadership team look carefully at the structure of our academic and support services, making sure that they are aligned to best meet the needs of our mission and our commitment to student success.

This month, we welcomed Dr. Terricita Sass as the university’s new Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management. Terricita will report directly to the Office of the President, reflecting the critical importance of enhancing our enrollment and improving our retention rates. As you know, we have been reconfiguring the Wintergreen Building to consolidate our enrollment management services in one convenient location and promote greater synergies among the respective departments. As part of this effort, the Office of Financial Aid will report to Terricita, returning to an alignment that served the university well under previous administrations.

In other moves, campus Sustainability Coordinator Suzanne Huminski will report to Christine Broadbridge, Director of STEM Initiatives, allowing us to strengthen our community outreach efforts in this key area. 

And finally, Greg Paveza, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, has assumed oversight of the library, working with Director of Library Services Christina Baum to ensure that our newly renovated, beautiful multi-faceted library is used to its fullest potential in the coming years. 


We have just received news about a wonderful recognition for several of our faculty, who collectively have been selected by the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE) as a recipient of the 2015 Team William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science.

Southern’s honorees are: Vincent Breslin, Susan Cusato and James Tait, (all science education and environmental studies); Therese Bennett (mathematics); Terese Gemme (music); and Winnie Yu (computer science).

NCSCE is the parent organization for SENCER (Scientific Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities), whose methods and strategies we have pursued on campus during the last decade, offering courses and programs connecting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics content to critical local, national, and global challenges. Students and faculty report that the SENCER approach –introduced to Southern by former Dean of Arts and Sciences DonnaJean Fredeen and enhanced by her successor Steven Breese – makes science more real, accessible, “useful,” and civically important.

Writes Dr. Yu, who is co-director of the SENCER Center for Innovations New England: these efforts have helped us “build prolific academic and professional collaborations in science education and civic engagement in our coursework and research, within and beyond the local and national community.”

Congratulations to all the recipients of this prestigious award for your dedication and commitment to the advancement of science education.


In my previous blog, I mentioned excellent news from the state Capitol, where a statute change was unanimously approved allowing Southern and our sister CSU institutions to offer professional doctoral degrees.

Accomplished after extensive conversation and engagement at the Capitol, this move will further enhance Southern’s ability to meet the developing needs of the 21st-century workforce. And through our outreach efforts, it also presented a welcome opportunity to demonstrate to legislators the valuable and unique role that our institutions play in educating students and supporting economic development in our state and our region.

As you know, we now offer doctoral degrees in educational leadership and nursing education, but due to changes in the educational requirements for employment in numerous other professions and scientific fields, expanding into offering additional advanced professional doctoral degrees is a practical necessity.

Our first clinical doctorate – in social work – has already progressed through internal governance and will soon go to the Board of Regents for final review and approval. This program, and others in health-related fields, holds great potential for growth both here and abroad.


Recently, Dean Paveza reported that Ms. Linda Roney, MSN, RN-BC, CPEN successfully defended her dissertation and became the first person to be awarded the Ed.D. in Nursing Education in our collaborative doctoral program with Western Connecticut State University. Linda’s dissertation was entitled: “Technology Use, Technology Self-Efficacy and General Self-Efficacy Among Undergraduate Nursing Faculty.”

I echo Greg’s comments in congratulating the faculty of both nursing programs, particularly those who  were engaged in the development and implementation of this program. It is the only one of its kind in Connecticut and one of a handful in the United States uniquely designed to prepare nurses for academic faculty roles.

Building on our long-standing tradition of excellence in preparing educators and nurses, the program offers individuals with clinical expertise and a master’s degree in nursing an innovative doctoral experience – one that focuses on the content and skills required to be effective faculty members, to advance the science of nursing education, and to transform the education of future nurses.

Nursing faculty positions are in great demand across the profession. Yet while 13 percent of nurses currently hold graduate degrees, fewer than one percent have a doctoral degree.

We applaud Dr. Roney on her accomplishment and look forward to recognizing her publically at our December Commencement.


In related nursing news, congratulations are due to Barbara Aronson, Professor of Nursing, for securing $430,673.00 under the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP). These funds will enable our Ed.D. and master’s degree students in the nursing program to finance their education with the possibility of excused repayment if they become nurse educators.  As Patricia Zibluk, our Director of Sponsored Programs and Research points out, this money will make an enormous difference in the lives of our current students, the health of our community and the education of future generations of nursing graduates.

The purpose of the NFLP program is to increase the number of qualified nursing faculty to facilitate education of the nurses needed to address the nursing workforce shortage.  Participating nursing programs make loans from the fund to assist registered nurses in completing their graduate education to become qualified nursing faculty members.  The program offers partial loan forgiveness for borrowers that graduate and serve as full-time nursing faculty members for the prescribed period of time. The loan recipients may cancel 85 percent of the loan over four years in return for serving full time as faculty in any accredited school of nursing.

Patricia notes that as a result of this grant, Barbara – who coordinates our Ed.D. in nursing education program – will be inducted into our Million Dollar Club next spring. She has now brought in more than a million dollars to support nursing education. Congratulations to Dr. Aronson and many thanks to Gloria Lee, director of financial aid, for her valuable support of this program.


Earlier this month, I led a delegation of Southern faculty and staff to Armenia to explore ways in which we might support the needs of nursing and healthcare professionals there.

During the visit, which was supported by funding from the Richard David Donchian Foundation of Greenwich, CT, we held talks with representatives from Armenia’s Ministry of Health and leaders in higher education (from the Erebuni Nursing College, Yerevan State University Medical College, the Armenian State Pedagogical University and the American University of Armenia). I also had the opportunity to meet with Armenian President Serzh A. Sargsyan; Galust Sahakyan, president of the National Assembly and His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

Our Department of Nursing is actively involved in exploring the establishment of an “Armenian Center for the Continued Professional Development of Nurses.” Historically, healthcare education in Armenia has focused primarily on physician care. And as a result, the Armenian healthcare system, while making great strides in the area of physician care, has no formalized degree or certificate track for nursing education, and the demand is significant all over the world as populations age.

Armenia recognizes the need to develop its healthcare infrastructure beyond physician care, as evidenced by reforms in nursing training introduced at the Erebuni nurse-training college founded in partnership with the UCLA Medical Center. Our proposed initiative is intended to support these earlier efforts through collaborative programming that will meet the instructional needs for the preparation of Armenian nurses and healthcare professionals and ensure a forward-looking nursing and allied health curriculum and preparation. In doing so, we also hope to create a formal educational pathway for prospective nurses while significantly impacting the delivery of healthcare in Armenia.

During our highly productive visit, I also delivered a keynote address on “Health, Education, and Civic Welfare in the 21st Century” at the 4th International Armenian Medical Conference in Yerevan, the Armenian capital city, on July 2: Southern nursing faculty members Cheryl Resha and Antoinette Towle spoke at a satellite conference on nursing, while Sandra Bulmer, Dean of the School of Health and Human Services, spoke at a meeting on public health issues at the American University of Armenia.  Not only are we establishing valuable partnerships abroad but we are sharing our expertise as well!


This summer, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of our study abroad program in Salamanca, Spain, and the work of its organizer, Carlos Arboleda, professor of world languages and literatures. Last week, the Spanish city and universities with which this program has been affiliated over the years hosted a special event attended by Dr. Aboleda, 18 of our students, Dean of Arts and Sciences Steven Breese and Director of International Education Erin Heidkamp: A follow-up gathering is planned for September on our campus in honor of the several hundred alumni who have expressed interest in marking the anniversary of our longest-running study abroad program with Carlos.

As you know, a key part of our mission as an institution of higher learning is “preparing our local students for global lives,” and each year, a significant number of Southern students study abroad. We recently joined 240 institutions nationwide in the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative to double the number of American students who study abroad by the end of the decade.

Currently, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic careers. With 2.6 million American students graduating with associate or baccalaureate degrees each year, it is clear that major segments of America’s young people are not getting the international experience they will need to advance their careers and to participate in the global economy, or to work together across borders to address global issues. At Southern, we intend to do our part to ensure that students from all backgrounds and in all fields of study have the opportunity to gain this important experience.

Carlos long ago saw the need for students to have such experiences and has said that total immersion in another culture helps the individual not only learn about that society but also gain insight into him or herself. Carlos’ vision and his understanding of the importance of study abroad have set a foundation upon which the university can build.

Already, 2015 has been an outstanding year for international education at Southern. Our familiar facets of international programming – semester and year-long study abroad and faculty-led programs – have increased in enrollment numbers. We also launched new faculty-led programs this year to Italy, Belize, and Peru. This is in addition to eight existing programs in Guatemala, Tuscany, Rome, Iceland, Paris, Jamaica, South Africa – and, of course, Spain.

I thank Carlos for his vision and commitment to international study and congratulate all those involved with the Salamanca program over the years. May this program flourish for many more years to come!

We are also starting to host overseas student groups here. Twenty-three students from Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture are currently on campus for our first International Inbound Program – taking a social work course and participating in cultural activities coordinated by our Office of International Education. We are hoping that this will lead to future collaborations with this and other Chinese institutions of higher education.


Orientation sessions may be ongoing, but plans are already in place for the return of our students at the end of August. New Student Opening Weekend (NOW) formally kicks off with Move-In Day on Thursday, Aug. 27.  Move-In usually takes place on a weekend (with classes starting on Wednesday or Thursday). But this year, with classes starting on Monday, Aug. 31, there is the opportunity for members of the campus community to join student affairs and residence life staff in welcoming our new first-year students on this special day.  This would not involve carrying and lifting, but rather greeting students at the residence halls and conversing with parents at the hospitality tents.  If you would like to volunteer, please contact Rob DeMezzo, Director of Residence Life, at, ext. 25886.

NOW continues with three days filled with activities for our new students.  On Friday, August 28 we will have New Student Convocation at 3 p.m. in the Lyman Center.  Then, WOW (the Week of Welcome) follows on Monday, Aug. 31.  That day, the President’s annual Ice Cream Social will be held at 1 p.m. outside the Adanti Student Center, preceded by the launch of our Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative at noon in front of Buley Library. There will be a full week of activities to welcome our campus community to Southern for a new academic year.  WOW concludes on Saturday, Sept. 5, with the first home football game against Gannon University. 

Looking further ahead in the calendar, Social Justice Week is scheduled for November 9-13, hosted by the President’s Commission on Campus Climate and Inclusion. I ask our faculty to think about how they might incorporate related topics in their courses and otherwise promote the events of the week.  In light of the tragic events that unfolded recently in Charleston, S.C., Social Justice Week provides a timely and appropriate forum to advance the cause of tolerance and understanding, while reinforcing our campus community’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.


We had exciting news in athletics during the past two weeks with the introduction of Kate Lynch ’08, as the new head coach of women’s basketball program and then Scott Burrell as head coach of the men’s program.

Kate was the MVP of our 2007 national championship team and the all-time leading scorer in the history of the women’s program.

As Director of Athletics Jay Moran stated at the press conference announcing her appointment: “(Kate) had an indelible impact on this program during her time as a student-athlete, highlighted by a National Championship in 2007. I am confident that her experiences as a student-athlete at SCSU, along with her outstanding coaching acumen, will allow our program to return to national prominence.”

Kate, who was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame last year, has enjoyed success as a coach at the Division I, II and III levels, along with the junior college ranks, since the conclusion of her playing career at Southern. But she says it has always been her dream to return to her alma mater.

 We are thankful that she did.

Scott Burrell is a household name in Connecticut, thanks to his accomplishments as an all-round high school athlete in Hamden, his record-breaking basketball career at UConn, and his winning an NBA title with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. But Scott is much more than an accomplished athlete. As he showed during his eight-year stint as assistant coach at Quinnipiac University, he is also about building community relationships and molding student athletes to move on to productive lives beyond basketball.

And of course, Scott has his own ties to Southern, as both his parents are proud alumni – Gertrude ’80, M.S. ‘92 and Sam Burrell ’70, M.S. ‘92. His charismatic presence promises to have a positive impact on our recruiting and extend the achievements of our men’s team, which made strong post-season runs the past two seasons under former head coach Mike Donnelly.

With these two outstanding head coach appointments, it promises to be an exciting season on the hardwood this winter!