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.
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
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 BARD COMES TO SOUTHERN
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.
LONG WHARF SITE REDEVELOPMENT
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.
FORUM ON ISLAM
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.”
SUPPLEMENTAL INSTRUCTION FOR MATH
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.
WOMAN OF IMPACT
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!