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

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.
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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.

NURSING EXCELS

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.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

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.

PROVOST SEARCH

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.

EMERITI KUDOS

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.

POETRY READING

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.

STARBUCKS!

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.

AMBASSADORS OF SONG

 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 www.southernct.edu while the choir is away on this wonderful trip.

REACHING OUT TO THE FAR EAST

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.”

NEW DEAN OF THE SCHOOL OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

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.

INTERIM PROVOST

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.

NEASC APPOINTMENT

 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.

DISTINCTIVE PROGRAM ADDRESSES UTILITY WORKFORCE NEEDS

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.”

THEATER PRODUCTION HONORED

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: http://tinyurl.com/pt5yzwn.

EXPLORING BIOSCIENCE

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.

FOOD COLLECTIONS BENEFIT THE NEEDY

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.

KUDOS

 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.

GIRLS AND WOMEN IN SPORT DAY

 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: http://tinyurl.com/qgul9dz

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 ricep1@southernct.edu

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 www.southernct.edu/commencement and a full guide to the day’s events is available at: www.southernct.edu/commencement

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:  http://bit.ly/1PUWfYa. 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 linebargerj1@owls.southernct.edu or Denise Bentley-Drobish, director of student involvement and leadership development, at bentleydrod1@southernct.edu.

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.

A MEMORABLE WEEKEND

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: http://go.southernct.edu/science/ 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.

TAKING THE LEAD IN CLIMATE COMMITMENT

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

NEASC REPORT

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.

CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS POSE NEW CHALLENGES

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.

SOCIAL JUSTICE WEEK

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.

CELEBRATING FACULTY ARTISTS

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!

STAR-SEARCHING

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: http://www.southernct.edu/special/astronomyforum.html

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.

NOVEMBER EVENTS

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 JSPR@southernct.edu

 

 

 

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.

TRANS-ATLANTIC ALLIANCE

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.

ENDOWED CHAIR

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.

A BOOST IN GIVING

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.

SCIENCE BUILDING RIBBON CUTTING

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.

PULITZER PRIZE NOMINEE

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.

UNIQUE COLLABORATION

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.

CHANGES IN FINANCIAL AID

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.

PROMOTING TOLERANCE

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.

STUDENT-ATHLETES EXCEL

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.

FISCAL MATTERS

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.

RESTRUCTURING

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. 

NATIONAL RECOGNITION FOR SCIENCE CONTRIBUTIONS

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.

PROFESSIONAL DOCTORATES

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.

FIRST NURSING DOCTORAL GRADUATE

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.

A FINANCIAL BOOST FOR NURSING STUDENTS

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.

ENCHANCING HEALTH EDUCATION IN ARMENIA

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: http://tinyurl.com/pk4k89b. 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!

25 YEARS OF STUDY ABROAD IN SALAMANCA

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: http://tinyurl.com/nb8junf. 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.

WELCOMING NEW AND RETURNING STUDENTS

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 demezzor1@southernct.edu, 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.

STANDOUT ALUM/NUTMEG STATE STAR TO LEAD OWLS BASKETBALL

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!

Our recent commencement ceremonies at Lyman Center and Webster Bank Arena were wonderful celebrations of student accomplishment and a job well done by all members of our campus community. At our undergraduate ceremony, students witnessed an exceptional role model in the form of honorary doctoral recipient and critically acclaimed author John Searles ’91, who has credited much of his success to the mentoring he received from Southern faculty.  And our students were inspired by the poignant words and life lessons shared by Heather Abbott, an amputee and survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, who delivered the commencement address. For a retrospective look at our ceremonies, in words, video and pictures, visit: http://go.southernct.edu/scsu2015/

Now we enter the summer months, preparing our budget, finalizing our enrollment numbers, fine-tuning our strategic and master plans and also engaging in a range of activities that will carry the institution forward on a number of fronts. New Student Orientation for both first-year and transfer students is soon to begin, and we also need to think about our individual opportunities to connect with current students throughout the summer to ensure strong retention in the fall. One good way to do that is through our Week of Welcome Activities (more details on that at the end of this blog).

I also hope that you take the opportunity for some much needed rest and relaxation during the coming weeks. This has been a busy year and the forthcoming one already promises challenge and opportunity in equal measure. I thank you for your accomplishments, your innovative ideas and your commitment to the academic and personal success of our students.  

PROFESSIONAL DOCTORATES

There was excellent news from the state Capitol in recent days when the legislature’s Higher Education Committee and the General Assembly both unanimously approved a statute change that – pending Governor Malloy’s signature – will allow Southern and our sister CSU institutions the ability 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.

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 degrees is a practical necessity. 

A number of professions, including social work (DSW), marriage and family therapy (DMFT), speech and language pathology (SLPD), and public health (DPH), have developed professional doctorates for those wishing to assume senior practitioner and clinical administrator roles within organizations. Other fields have also recognized the need for professionally trained scientists, or scientist administrators, with advanced skills in both a scientific specialization and the business arena, creating a demand for the Doctor of Science (ScD) degree in many disciplines. 

All of these degrees reflect the understanding within these professions that the level of knowledge required to be effective at senior clinician, senior scientist, administrator and management levels is advancing rapidly and requires a degree of specialization that only a doctoral-level education can provide.

Southern and our sister institutions will need to address this demand for increased education if we are to continue to promote Connecticut’s economic vitality and remain viable providers to organizations and businesses in the state that employ our graduates.

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, hold great potential for growth both here and abroad, as you will read below.

THINKING GLOBALLY

2015 has already been an outstanding year for international education. 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 (department of recreation and leisure), Belize (department of biology) and Peru (department of nursing). This is in addition to eight existing programs in Guatemala, Tuscany, Rome, Iceland, Spain, Paris, Jamaica and South Africa. Interest in faculty-led programming abroad has never been higher!

By far, the sharpest increase in international programming has been in institutional partnerships. Work undertaken in October 2014 by Provost Bette Bergeron and Erin Heidkamp, director of the Office of International Education, is bearing fruit in the most marvelous ways. Their trip to China led to a follow-up delegation visit by members of the social work department – Todd Rofuth and Bill Rowe – accompanied by Jin Jin Yang of exercise science. As a result, 24 students from Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture will be visiting our campus this July to take a course in social work and gain exposure to clinical environments here in the United States.

Todd and Bill also made a follow-up visit to Central China Normal University to discuss doctoral-level collaborations, which they hope to explore this coming fall semester. Also stemming from the fall trip to China, Tianjin University of Technology will be sending 16 administrators and 10 students to Southern in June for academic and cultural programming. Finally, a third group – high school students from Turkey – will visit Southern in June for language and culture programming. Altogether, we will be welcoming around 70 students and administrators for programming this summer! Southern has never had inbound international groups or camps visit over the summer months, and we anticipate this to be an area of increased demand in coming years.

In addition, thanks to a grant from the Donchian Foundation, I will accompany Interim Dean of Health and Human Services Sandra Bulmer and two nursing faculty members to Armenia in late June, to explore potential nursing collaborations there.

This year, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Professor Carlos Arboleda’s summer abroad program in Salamanca, Spain. This has been long in the planning! Erin will be attending the celebration, to be hosted by the city and universities with which this program has been affiliated over the years. At this meeting, Southern will be signing a new MOU with the pontifical University of Salamanca, and we look forward to expanding that partnership in the coming months and years. A follow-up celebration in September will take place on our campus in honor of the several hundred alumni who have expressed interest in celebrating this anniversary with Carlos.

Finally, last week we welcomed a 17-member delegation from Liverpool John Moores University. We are developing a unique and exciting partnership with this English institution. Collaborative work is taking place with eight different academic departments, fully supported by our deans and cabinet. The ultimate goal is to present a multitude of programming opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students from both institutions, ideally beginning in fall 2015. We plan to send a delegation of engaged faculty and deans to England this coming September to build upon the framework that has been established during the past year.

NEW ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT LEADER

As you know, our enrollment management team has worked long and hard in recent months to move our fall numbers toward their respective goals. These efforts will be enhanced in July with the arrival of Dr. Terricita Sass as the university’s new Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management. Terricita is a professional administrator with more than 25 years of service to public higher education and wide-ranging experience in student recruitment and retention.

During the last decade, Terricita has served as the chief enrollment management official at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va. At NSU, she has held leadership and team-building responsibilities for the offices of Enrollment Management, Admissions, the TransferMation Center (for transfer students), Financial Aid, Registrar, New Student Orientation, Customer Care and Military Services and Veteran Affairs.

Terricita’s collaborative efforts paid dividends, as during her 10-year tenure applications increased by 13 percent; new freshmen by 20 percent; retention by 9 percent; and total enrollment by 16 percent, with the highest entering-class profile on record.

At NSU, Terricita also led the Office of Institutional Research and organized a retention task force that led to the development of a dedicated office focused on advising. She has served as a consultant to other institutions and received several honors and recognitions for her exemplary leadership and dedication to her teams, students, and community.

Terricita brings to Southern specific expertise in improving student administrative operations through change management, engaging with the campus and off-campus communities, enhancing recruitment and retention efforts and crafting and executing holistic recruitment and enrollment management plans. She has experience in attracting and retaining students from many backgrounds including traditional, honors, first-generation, minority, low-income, adult, transfer and military students within an urban environment. 

Terricita completed her undergraduate studies at Francis Marion University, Florence, S.C., earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting.  She was conferred a Master of Arts degree in urban affairs from NSU, and a Ph.D. in education from Capella University, Minneapolis, Minn., with a specialization in leadership for higher education.  Additionally, she has earned two post-master’s certificates in enrollment management and completed leadership training at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Center for Creative Leadership.

I believe that Terricita’s range of experience in strategic recruitment and retention, her aptitude for team-building and her commitment to student success will serve our university well. Please take the opportunity to welcome her personally to campus when she joins us July 7.

FAREWELL MARIANNE KENNEDY

Marianne Kennedy, associate vice president for academic affairs, begins her retirement today and it is with very mixed feelings that we say goodbye to this great friend of Southern. As Marianne leaves us, I extend to her my own sincere personal thanks, as well as that of the entire university community, for the work she has done to help Southern become the institution it is today.

As you know, Marianne has played a key role in developing the university’s assessment processes and procedures. In 2009, she was appointed associate vice president for assessment, planning, and academic programs, a new position that evolved from her prior position of coordinator of assessment and planning, which she had held since 2004. Later, she stepped in to provide valuable leadership as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. Marianne also played an active role in Southern’s 2001 self-study in preparation for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation review and subsequently went on to chair the NEASC Steering Committee for the university’s 2011 reaccreditation. Most recently, she has chaired the university’s strategic planning process.

I could say much more about Marianne’s work here at Southern and the broad and deep impact she has had on the university’s processes and procedures. Few individuals in recent years have left such an indelible impression. We in the Southern community will miss Marianne not only for her accomplishments but also for her wisdom, grace, patience, good humor, and willingness – always – to work hard and get it right.

We wish Marianne a wonderful retirement full of new adventures. Marianne, you have earned it!

SUMMER AND WINTER TASK FORCE

In early March 2015, Provost Bergeron convened a 16-person Summer & Winter Task Force to improve the visibility, accessibility and profitability of our summer and winter sessions here at Southern. Representing all academic units and departments on campus, and chaired by Ian Canning, Director of Special Academic Programs and Sessions, Steven Breese, Dean of Arts and Sciences and Rick Riccardi, Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, the Task Force will further our goals of attracting and retaining academically prepared students, supporting initiatives that foster interdisciplinary and interdepartmental collaboration, and other complementary initiatives. 

The Task Force has now concluded its formal meetings for the 2014-2015 academic year.  It now will turn its attention to small group work in order to create an optimal baseline summer and winter schedule, integrate marketing and advising campaigns, build a new course scheduling model, develop new program offerings and delivery modes and research a new non-credit registration system. 

SUMMER SESSION

While the Summer & Winter Task Force will build new innovation and creativity into its planning for Summer 2016, some exciting changes already have taken place this year, Ian Canning reports. The Office of Special Academic Programs & Sessions worked collaboratively with Public Affairs to create a new Summer at Southern website that provides an informational portal for current and prospective students alike. 

Our Summer at Southern Twitter account has grown to 283 followers and highlights new course additions, answers to frequently asked questions, and new developments such as the new summer food service that was developed through Student Affairs.  While Summer Session A has just begun, and we have great strides to make between now and August 16 when Summer Session C concludes, there are currently 3,163 students taking summer classes, with a 4.4 percent increase in billed credits.  There is also an increase of 5.1 percent in total seats filled, meaning students are taking more classes and taking full advantage of the offerings on campus this summer.

BIOSCIENCE ACADEMIC AND CAREER PATHWAY

Following the celebration of the our Bioscience Academic & Career Pathway MOU signing on May 4, staff and faculty representatives at Southern are continuing to build connections and streamline pathways with Gateway Community College and the New Haven Public School System.

Respective faculty members are working collaboratively to ensure a positive student experience, from the seamless transfer of credits to a hands-on, interdisciplinary classroom experience, to professional preparation as they consider the multitude of career pathways in the exciting bioscience field. 

The Biology and Chemistry departments will continue to work on course development throughout the 2015-2016 academic year for the launch of our new B.S. in biotechnology with a minor in chemistry, along with a revised B.S. in biochemistry. Campus representatives will continue to work closely with the City and institutional partners to assemble an industry advisory board that will closely assess the needs of New Haven’s burgeoning biotechnology industry and solicit support for these new programs.  We anticipate a wave of activity throughout the summer and upcoming academic year to fulfill the requirements of the MOU. 

WEEK OF WELCOME

Our 3rd Annual WOW! Fall Week of Welcome will kick off on Monday, August 31 and run through Sunday, September 6. The WOW! program strives to help create a sense of community at Southern by encouraging students to make new connections and to explore all that our university has to offer.

This is an excellent opportunity for your department, office or student organization to introduce Southern students to what you do best! You are invited to plan WOW! programs, events and activities to welcome and support our students as they begin a new calendar year on campus! I encourage you to think about fun and creative ways to bring attention to your programs and services that will appeal to our students.

The following link will allow you to submit a WOW! event for inclusion in the program of activities:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1wr0Jm9EdvcU5Ldgwh07-HUH-lCTh61Of8NWVTCM5h_0/viewform?usp=send_form

If you have any questions about planning an event for WOW! Fall Week of Welcome 2015 or if you are interested in sponsoring a program but would like some creative assistance, please email weekofwelcome@owls.southernct.edu

Thank you for your anticipated participation in making this year’s Week of Welcome one to remember for our students!

The end of the academic year is approaching quickly, with commencement in just three weeks! This is the time of the semester when all of us are trying to catch a breath as we run events, complete research papers, grade finals and balance year-end budgets. But as graduation nears, this is also a time to reflect on our commitment to student success and a job well done. Every student who crosses the stage to receive his or her diploma is a reflection of the efforts of each and every one of you – and on behalf of our soon-to-be graduates, I thank you for your many contributions to their achievements.

BULEY RIBBON-CUTTING

Spring is also a time of big events. Last Monday, despite the rain, we celebrated a joyous ribbon-cutting ceremony for Buley Library. The fact that the event was held indoors somehow made it even more poignant – with the glorious Tiffany windows and students studying in the background as the speaking program proceeded in the Learning Commons. It was wonderful to have more than a dozen members of the Buley family present on this special day, which marked not only the completion of the library renovations, but also paid tribute to the legacy of President Hilton C. Buley, an innovative educator whose vision led to the construction of the library that bears his name.

As we all know, the completion of the renovation project was a long time in coming, requiring a great deal of meticulous planning and thought. On behalf of the campus community, I thank the members of Southern’s facilities team, especially Bob Sheeley, Associate Vice President for Capital Budgeting & Facilities Operations and Paul Loescher, Director of Facilities Planning and Architectural Services. Executive Vice Presidents Jim Blake (recently retired) and Mark Rozewski, also have provided key leadership to the project.

And kudos, too, to Director of Library Services Christina Baum and her team, who have been models of patience as they have moved into the new wing of the building and now back to the renovated original library while the renovation work took its course.

OTHER NOTABLE EVENTS

Also this past Monday, the 17th edition of the Mary and Louis Fusco Distinguished Lecture featured a compelling conversation with New York Yankees legends Joe Torre and Mariano Rivera. The discussion, moderated by ESPN’s Linda Cohn, was heartfelt and insightful and the speakers clearly connected with the sold-out Lyman Center audience. Messrs. Torre and Rivera were also engaging and, in a special moment, gathered with members of our baseball and softball teams prior to the event.

Friday we held a special reception in Buley Library to mark the opening of Ashfall, an art exhibit by Robert Barsamian that tells the stories of the victims of the Armenian genocide. The observance of the centennial of the genocide was marked worldwide by events on Friday and during the weekend. At Southern, we also marked the centennial with a SCSU Symphonic Band concert featuring Armenian folk music last Thursday, and a recital the following evening by guest musicians Anna Hayrapetyan and Tatev Amiryan, featuring pieces connected specifically with the Genocide theme by Armenian composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.  A special thanks to Dr. Craig Hlavac, chair of Southern’s music department, for his work with our students and our special guests to bring these concerts to life.

Our university’s commitment to social justice is very much animated by the recognition of man’s inhumanity to man. The centenary of the Armenian Genocide gives us pause to recall the mass suffering that occurred at that time and at other periods throughout history. I have emphasized these points during several public appearances during the last week, including remarks at the Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day – gathering at the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven and an address sponsored by the United Nations – Connecticut organization at the Kent, CT, Town Hall. By remembering the past, we can work to build a better future for all.

While the Friday Ashfall reception and related events drew members of the surrounding community, the exhibit itself has been seen by a number of student groups and classes during the past week and will continue to be available for public viewing through early July (weekdays 1-4 p.m., or by special arrangement).

Capping the week was the annual Big Event, a campus-wide service initiative in which the we come together to support New Haven and surrounding communities. On Saturday, hundreds of our students, faculty and staff volunteered their time and effort for local non-profit organizations, agencies, and other groups in need of assistance – the type of initiative that has three times seen the university recognized on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

And of course, we are not finished yet. This weekend we celebrate the accomplishments of our most accomplished students at Honors Convocation, while recognizing our donors and scholarship recipients at the annual Celebration of Philanthropy.

BIOTECHNOLOGY PARTNERSHIP WITH NEW HAVEN

This coming Monday (May 4), Mayor Toni Harp and I formally will announce an exciting new partnership with the City of New Haven and its burgeoning biotechnology industry. Through its Economic Development Administration, the city will be supporting Southern in the development of a new Biotechnology Program that will provide an important link between academia and the science sector.

This program, formally known as the Bioscience Career Ladder, will include four academic pathways for incoming students: a new major in biotechnology with a chemistry minor; an updated biochemistry concentration; graduate-level certification programs in areas such as project management and healthcare or pharmaceutical management and new biotechnology concentrations for students in other STEM disciplines.

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 would 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 Connecticut is making concerted efforts to further develop this important economic growth center. For example, as the first phase of its Downtown Crossing 100 College Street, a 495,000 square-foot medical research and laboratory building is being constructed as the future home of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a world-class bioscience company. The project is expected to bring approximately 960 jobs to New Haven upon completion this year.

The stars are aligned for Southern to be a key player in New Haven’s biotechnology expansion, given our location in the city, the pending opening of our new science building, our establishment of the Office for STEM Innovation and Leadership and our commitment to increasing the number and quality of students graduating in the STEM disciplines.

Please join me on Monday at 10:30 a.m. in front of Engleman Hall (the Fitch Street entrance) as we celebrate this exciting new partnership.

ENROLLMENT UPDATE

Our April 11 Accepted Students’ Day was highly successful, with more than 690 prospective students attending and 140 making tuition deposits on the day (compared with 114 last year). The attendance was all the more impressive considering the University of Connecticut and our sister institution, Central Connecticut State University, held similar events the same day.

Congratulations to our admissions and student affairs staff, along with the faculty, administrators and staff from various departments who highlighted our academic programs, student support services and campus activities for our guests and and their families.

Boosted by the Common App, our application numbers remain strong, and we are continuing to stay ahead of last year’s pace in freshman enrollment.  While we are making good progress toward our fall goals, we still have a long way to go and we must continue our concerted efforts to ensure that the final yield meets or exceeds our projections.

GREEN CAMPUS NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED

Southern is once again one of the 353 most environmentally responsible colleges in the nation, according to The Princeton Review (www.PrincetonReview.com). The education services company known for its test prep and tutoring services, books, and college rankings features Southern in the 2015 edition of its free book, “The Princeton Review Guide to 353 Green Colleges.”

Published April 16, a few days before the April 22, 2015, celebration of Earth Day, the free, 218-page guide can be downloaded at www.princetonreview.com/green-guide. The Princeton Review chose the schools for this sixth annual edition of its “green guide” based on data from the company’s 2014 survey of hundreds of four-year colleges concerning the schools’ commitments to the environment and sustainability.

In the “Green Facts” section on Southern, the guide cites the university’s available transportation alternatives such as indoor and secure bike storage; shower facilities and lockers for bicycle commuters; free or reduced price transit passes and a free campus shuttle; a carpool/vanpool matching program and a car sharing program. It also cites our 15 percent of school energy from renewable resources; 28 percent waste diversion rate; formal sustainability committee and sustainability officer, and the fact that 100 percent of new campus construction is LEED certified.

Congratulations to our sustainability committee, our facilities team and all of those whose dedication to conservation efforts on campus have garnered us deserved national attention.

FACULTY AWARDS

Recently, we recognized the recipients of the university’s most prestigious faculty awards (see list of awardees below) at our annual Celebration of Excellence. Our faculty members are truly vibrant, immersed in research, creative activity, teaching, and service and inspiring and mentoring our students. Their talents are also recognized in the wider community, as evidenced by these two recent examples:

Gary Morin, Professor of Exercise Science and Director of our Athletic Training Education Program, has been elected to the Connecticut Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame. Gary will be inducted during the business meeting at the CATA Annual Symposium on May 21.

The Connecticut Athletic Trainers’ Association (CATA) strives to improve the quality of health care for athletes, patients and clients and enhance the profession of athletic training, through leadership, education, and cooperative efforts with other organizations and allied health professions.

This award for lifetime achievement honors dedicated members that have contributed to athletic training by their leadership, service, scholarship, promotion of the profession and professionalism at the local, state, district and national level. A Hall of Fame candidate exemplifies the mission statement of the CATA by their conduct and advancement of the profession.

Arthur Guagliumi, Professor of Art, has been named the Connecticut Art Education Association’s (CAEA) Outstanding Higher Education Art Educator for 2015. CAEA is the state’s largest professional organization representing Connecticut’s visual art and museum educators from all levels, and Art was recognized at an April 26 award ceremony in Farmington.

Criteria for the award include demonstrated outstanding teaching and leadership in the field of art education; research, publication, or exhibition that contributes to the body of knowledge of the field at the local, state or national level; a demonstrated local, state or national reputation in the area of art education; and development of an outstanding program in the field at the local, state or national level

Kudos to both Art and Gary! Their well-earned recognition also shines the light on their respective disciplines at Southern and the university as a whole.

And in case you missed earlier notifications, here are the award recipients from the Celebration of Excellence held April 15:

  • Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship — Michael Fisher, biology, and Elyse Zavar, geography
  •  Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship — Kenneth McGill, anthropology
  • Technological Teacher of the Year Award — Elizabeth Lewis Roberts, biology
  • Robert Jirsa Service Award — Deborah Weiss, communication disorders
  • Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award — Marie Basile McDaniel, history
  • Board of Regents Teaching Award for SCSU — Marie Basile McDaniel, history, and Donald Brechlin, mathematics
  • Board of Regents Research Award for SCSU — Chulguen (Charlie) Yang, management
  • Faculty Scholar Award — Troy Paddock, history
  • J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teacher — Julia Irwin, psychology, and Jess Gregory, educational leadership
  • Million Dollar Club Inductee — Joy Fopiano, elementary education.

Congratulations to all these recipients for their achievements and commitment to academic excellence.

STRATEGIC PLAN STATUS

Representatives of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee met with many campus constituency groups during April and received anonymous feedback on the latest draft through the web site.  This was the second round of feedback (the first was solicited in the fall).

The Steering Committee is now considering all the feedback received during April and plans to have an updated draft available for one more round of comments around May 8. This document will be posted on the web, and anonymous feedback may be provided once again via the web site from May 8-22.

The goal is to deliver the plan for review by me and the Cabinet by the end of May, with implementation set to begin July 1.

HUMAN RESOURCES and ODE MOVES

Due to the hiring freeze that is currently in place, several employees have agreed to take on temporary roles to cover critical functions during this time.

Paula Rice is now the interim Director of Diversity and Equity, with responsibilities including assisting with searches, developing the  Affirmative Action Plan, handling complaints and overseeing ADA compliance.  Paula may be reached at ext. 25568 or at ricep1@southernct.edu.

Dean of Students Jules Tetreault will continue in his current role as interim Title IX coordinator through the summer. Jules may be reached at ext. 25556 or at tetreaultj4@southernct.edu

Marlene Cordero will serve as interim Human Resources Administrator, overseeing all aspects of hiring and personnel-related issues for faculty, administration and management employees.  Marlene may be reached at ext. 25537 or at santiagom4@southernct.edu

HEART WALK

Just a reminder that Southern is a major sponsor of the Greater New Haven Heart Walk, which will be held this Saturday, May 2 at 10 a.m. at Savin Rock, West Haven.

I hope that you will join me and show your Southern colors during this 3-mile walk to raise funds supporting the research, education and advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association.

 You can join a team from the university, donate or help out, here: http://tinyurl.com/ndok5xy

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES

One of our 2015 Barnard Scholars, Daniel Elliot, an exercise science major, is a seven-time Northeast-10 Conference champion as a member of the swimming and diving team, and served as team captain this year. He also is an Academic All-American.

But it was as a New York State Ocean Life Guard for four years that Dan’s life changed. In that role, he saved the lives of more than 200 people. Ironically, it was a situation in which he could not rescue someone that was the turning point.

During Hurricane Bertha in August 2014, he suffered a major spinal injury while trying to rescue someone stranded away from shore. The injury could have taken his life, or at least, left him with serious deficiencies in his motor skills. But Dan has recovered completely, which has amazed his doctor.

He was an outstanding swimmer for the Owls’ men’s swimming and diving team before sustaining the injury. Following his graduation next month, he plans to earn a master’s degree in occupational therapy in a two-year program at Columbia University. WFSB-TV ran a story on Dan Thursday:  http://www.wfsb.com/story/28921564/scsu-student-looks-forward-to-graduation-after-life-changing-injury, a fitting tribute to an outstanding young man.

COMMENCEMENT

I hope that you will join me to celebrate our students’ accomplishments at our commencement ceremonies on May 14 (graduate, Lyman Center) and May 15 (undergraduate, Webster Bank Arena).  This year’s undergraduate ceremony will feature the award of an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters to critically acclaimed author and Southern alumnus John Searles ’91, and a commencement address by Heather Abbott, an amputee and survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. I am sure that Ms. Abbott’s presence and words will be an inspiration to us all.

Spring is here – really! – and while this signals new growth and the promise of warmer days ahead, on our campus it also ushers in a period of intense activity as we reach the heart of the semester.  It is a time of big events – the ribbon-cutting for Buley Library, the Fusco Distinguished Lecture, our annual Celebration of Philanthropy , Honors Convocation – but also host to myriad other activities that define our campus experience.

A wonderful example was our inaugural Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference this past Saturday, which showcased innovative students and projects from across the disciplinary spectrum. The daylong event at the Michael J. Adanti Student Center included oral presentations, poster presentations, an art crawl, a panel discussion on careers from Southern alumni, and dramatic scenes performed by students who recently competed at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

As well as providing an overview of the range of research opportunities available to our students, the day-long conference highlighted the value of a Southern education – which gives undergraduates the opportunity to conduct research under the mentorship of engaged faculty, and in many cases, partner with them on research projects.

Students also heard presentations from alumni who have made their mark in their respective fields, including Jacquelynn Garofano, ’06, who is now a research scientist at United Technologies Research Center.  Jacquelynn earned a B.S. degree in physics in 2006 before going on to receive her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in materials science and engineering from the University of Connecticut.

Working under the tutelage of Dr. Christine Broadbridge, director of the CSCU Center for Nanotechnology, Jacquelynn conducted extensive materials science research as an undergraduate at Southern.  And as a scientist who made the most of her opportunities as an undergraduate at Southern and is now undertaking groundbreaking research in a cutting-edge field, she is a tremendous role model for our students.

Congratulations to the Conference Committee for creating this excellent opportunity to highlight the creative work of our students as they prepare to become key contributors to Connecticut’s knowledge-based economy.

An upcoming highlight on the calendar is Accepted Students’ Day (April 11), when we have a myriad of activities planned to highlight our academic programs, student support services and campus activities, for prospective students and their families. I encourage all of you to help out in any way you can to ensure that this day is a success and that our guests feel welcomed and receive any assistance and information that they may need.  While our application numbers remain very strong, we must continue our concerted efforts to ensure that the final yield meets or exceeds our goals.

BUDGET UPDATE

As you know, efforts are ongoing at the state level to close a projected deficit of $1 billion in each of the next two fiscal years. Higher education has not been spared, and the CSCU system faces a $20.6 million cut, or $48 million short of what it is projected that the system would need to support existing programs.

If this projection holds, it will present significant challenges system-wide and here at Southern, where our reserves have been significantly depleted in recent years to offset a series of enrollment shortfalls and resulting loss of tuition income.

The 4.85 percent tuition and fees increase approved last week by the Board of Regents will only go part-way toward helping offset the $10 million deficit that we are facing in the next fiscal year. If our fall enrollment is flat, we will be facing a deficit of $3.1 million; if it is a 2 percent decline, the deficit would be $4.8 million. 

MASTER PLAN NEARING COMPLETION

Despite these near-term budget issues that ultimately will be solveable as we work through them together, planning for the future of this 122-year-old institution continues, as it must. To that end we will be presenting the final draft of the master plan for a final round of campus discussion very shortly.

The Master Plan Advisory Committee, co-chaired by Provost Bette Bergeron and Executive Vice President Mark Rozewski, has been developing a blue print that will carry us forward into the next decade. This evolving plan reflects new opportunities for growth and academic focus and will be aligned with our new strategi plan over the coming months.

Meanwhile, construction continues to move forward smoothly on our new Academic and Laboratory Science Building, which is expected to be available for occupancy by the beginning of August. Move-in will start in July, and our development staff is working with area technology companies to provide the additional equipment that will be needed to utilize fully the new space.

We plan to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony in early fall for the new building, which will open the door to exciting new opportunities to grow and promote our STEM programming, as you will read below. 

BIOTECHNOLOGY PARTNERSHIP WITH NEW HAVEN

On Monday, May 4, we formally will announce an exciting new partnership with the City of New Haven and its burgeoning biotechnology industry. Through its Economic Development Administration, the city will be supporting Southern in the development of a new Biotechnology Program that will provide an important link between academia and the science sector.

This program will include four academic pathways for incoming students: a new major in biotechnology with a chemistry minor; an updated biochemistry concentration; graduate-level certification programs in areas such as project management and healthcare or pharmaceutical management and new biotechnology concentrations for students in other STEM disciplines.

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 would 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 Connecticut is making concerted efforts to further develop this important economic growth center. For example, as the first phase of its Downtown Crossing 100 College Street, a 495,000 square-foot medical research and laboratory building is being constructed as the future home of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a world-class bioscience company. The project is expected to bring approximately 960 jobs to New Haven upon completion this year.

The stars are aligned for Southern to be a key player in New Haven’s biotechnology expansion, given our location in the city, the pending opening of our new science building, our establishment of the Office for STEM Initiatives and our commitment to increasing the number and quality of students graduating in the STEM disciplines.

Thanks to Steven Breese, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Christine Broadbridge, Director of STEM Initiatives, Sean Grace, Biology Department Chair, Gerald Lesley, Chemistry Department Chair, and Ian Canning, Director of Special Academic Programs & Sessions, for spearheading the development of this latest innovative partnership with the City. Please mark your calendars for May 4 and stay tuned for further details.

REACHING OUT

Recently, I traveled to Washington, D.C., for the American Council on Education annual meeting. While I was in the nation’s capital, I also met with members of the Connecticut Congressional delegation to speak about economic development and higher education policy.

The visit was rounded out with a successful gathering of more than 40 D.C.- area alumni – many of them younger alums who welcomed the chance to reconnect with their alma mater. 

Carrying our message to alumni in various parts of the country is a crucial step as we seek to strengthen and broaden our support base in advance of our first comprehensive campaign. Alumni gatherings in coming months are also planned in Boston, Atlanta and Los Angeles. 

We have a solid core of loyal, dedicated alums who are fully engaged and supportive of the university. But we are also seeking to connect with those who have had sporadic contact with the university since graduation and would likely be interested in learning about the many new developments at their alma mater.

SIMPLIFYING THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE TRANSFER PROCESS

As part of our focus on improving the enrollment process for transfer students, we have established a new partnership between Gateway Community College and Southern that will help transfers expedite their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. Students earning an associate of arts (A.A.) degree in liberal arts and sciences from Gateway will now automatically have nearly all their general education course requirements waived when they enroll at Southern.

Under the agreement, most students with an A.A. in liberal arts and sciences from Gateway will be exempt from at least 39 of the 48 general education credits. They will still have to earn 3 credits in a foreign language class; 3 credits in math above an intermediate algebra level; and take a capstone course. The math and foreign language requirements may be earned at Gateway, as well, but the capstone must be taken here at Southern.

We have determined that students who earn an associate degree in liberal arts and studies have already attained a level of proficiency in most of the core competencies that we require of our own students.

And with Gateway being our largest feeder community college, this agreement will now dramatically simplify the transfer procedure for potential students. Previously, transfers from Gateway needed a course-by-course analysis with an academic adviser to determine how many of their Gateway credits would count toward our general education requirements.

Thanks to Deborah Weiss, acting chair of the SCSU Undergraduate Curriculum Forum; the members of our Liberal Education Program Committee and Lauren Doninger, coordinator of Gateway’s liberal arts and sciences program for their work in devising this important partnership.

 BULEY LIBRARY OPENS

Our renovated library opened its doors during spring break week, and if you who have not yet viewed the new interior, please take the chance to do so.

Last week, the spacious study commons area at the front of the building was filled with students, while the reinstalled Tiffany windows provided a beautiful backdrop.

Staff will continue to move into the new building over the following two months. Several departments now based in the Wintergreen Building temporarily will be moved to Buley while Wintergreen is renovated to provide a new home for our Enrollment Management Services.

I know that all of you are excited to see this project finally come to fruition, after many years of delay and frustration. Please mark your calendars for Monday, April 20 at 10 a.m., and join me for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the library as we celebrate the opening of a building that will provide our campus with exciting new opportunities for learning and engagement.

LIBRARY EXHIBIT COMMEMORATES GENOCIDE VICTIMS

Buley Library’s new art gallery will host its first major exhibit in April with the opening of Ashfall, an exhibit by Robert Barsamian that tells the story of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, the 100th anniversary of which will be commemorated worldwide on April 24.

A 16’ by 16’ structure to be erected within the gallery space with the help of Southern art students, Ashfall contains its own lighting and sound system. Inside the structure are various pieces: portraits on lace, framed by branches — elements from Armenian culture – along with text panels and other objects that symbolize the violence and loss the Genocide engendered. Benches inside the structure allow visitors to pause and contemplate the exhibit, which has been called a “sacred space.”

The Ashfall opening will be one of several activities held on campus during the week of April 20 to observe the anniversary of the Genocide, examine its context in contemporary international relations and promote human rights and understanding.

On April 22, soprano Anna Hayrapetyan and composer/pianist Tatev Amiryan will present a lecture/performance for music students and the campus community in general at 1 p.m. in the Garner Recital Hall. A University Band concert: Music of Armenia, featuring folk music by five Armenian composers, will be held April 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the same venue.

On April 24, the Ashfall exhibit will open with a public reception, commentary by the artist and a walking tour in the Buley Library Gallery at 5 p.m. A recital featuring pieces connected specifically with the Genocide theme by 20th and 21st century Armenian composers will follow at 7:30 p.m. in the Garner Recital Hall.

HUMAN PERFORMANCE LAB TESTS NEW ATHLETIC INSOLE

With support from the SCSU Foundation, Southern will soon be the testing site for an innovative athletic shoe insole that may help athletes jump higher and sprint faster while improving their agility.

Our Human Performance Lab will be testing the XG4, an insole made predominantly of carbon fiber and produced by the Milford-based ROAR (“Redefining Optimal Athletic Response”) Athletic Performance Corp.

Rich Salerno, an SCSU alumnus who oversees the company’s business operations, says the insole differs from others in that it returns most of the energy created by the athlete back to the athlete. It is much more rigid than traditional inserts, which generally return little energy, Rich says.

The insert was first developed in 2005 for use by the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team. And it has since been refined and improved for athletes in various sports requiring explosive action, such as football, basketball, baseball, track and field, volleyball, tennis, soccer and lacrosse.

Rich says he has been impressed with the quality of our Human Performance Lab and thought it was an ideal opportunity to test the new product in a research-based setting.

Robert Gregory, assistant professor of exercise science, is the lead researcher on the XG4 study, and says the insole will be subjected to several tests – a 10-yard sprint, a 20-yard shuttle run and a maximal vertical jump.

Rob says that the XG4 “is an intriguing product to research and complements the wide range of basic and applied research being performed at Southern.”

The Human Performance Lab will be using several cutting-edge pieces of equipment to test the insert, including force platforms to measure explosiveness during sprinting and jumping, and an instrumented gait analysis treadmill to evaluate efficiency in distance runners.

Stay tuned for the final results of this exciting study.

POETRY AWARD

Congratulations to Professor of English Vivian Shipley, who won first prize in the national poetry competition in the 2014 Hackney Literary Awards for her poem, “Foxfire.” 

Vivian is a Connecticut State University Distinguished Professor who has earned wide acclaim for her work, including the 2011 Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination for All of Your Messages Have Been Erased (Louisiana Literature Press, 2010).

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!

Four members of Southern’s women’s indoor track and field team won the NCAA National Championship in the women’s 4×400 relay at the NCAA Div. II Indoor Track and Field Championship.

Sophomore Crystle Hill ( from Norwalk); junior Georgette Nixon (Naugatuck); graduate student Sarah Hill (Vernon) and sophomore Shatajah Wattely (Uncasville), earned the Owls the 79th individual title in program history, the fourth for women’s track and the second for our  women’s indoor track and field program.

The quartet won the event with a time of 3:44.91, defeating Northeast-10 rivals Stonehill College and the University of New Haven, along with teams from seven other Division II schools as well.

Congratulations to these four outstanding young women, who also earned All-American honors with the win.

 

CAMPUS CLIMATE SURVEY

I want to reinforce the message from Dean of Student Affairs Jules Tetreault last week asking faculty to encourage our students to participate in an electronic Campus Climate Survey on sexual violence.

The survey, to be 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. Southern is one of about 30 campuses across the nation and Canada that will participate in the pilot survey during the spring 2015 semester.

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 Women’s Center at 203-392-6946, any members of the SCSU Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART) http://www.southernct.edu/student-life/health/womenscenter/sexual-misconduct/sart.html or the SCSU Counseling Office at ext. 2-5475. 

General questions about the survey may be addressed to Jules at tetreaultj4@southernct.edu

HEART WALK

And finally, Southern is a major sponsor of the forthcoming Greater New Haven Heart Walk, and I invite you to participate in a kick-off event on Wednesday (April 1). Faculty, staff and students are invited to come together and get some fresh air with a 1.4-mile self-paced walk around campus, starting outside Moore Fieldhouse at 12:15 p.m. (Rain location will be the fieldhouse indoor track).  Click here for more information and to register.

The Greater New Haven Heart Walk will be held May 2 at 10 a.m. at Savin Rock, West Haven. I hope you will join me and show your Southern colors during a 3-mile walk to raise funds supporting the research, education and advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association. You can join a team from the university, donate or help out, here: http://tinyurl.com/ndok5xy

 

Winter has hit us with its full force this month, disrupting schedules, making for difficult commutes and providing a challenge for those engaged in keeping our campus accessible and safe. With this last thought in mind, I thank our facilities staff, our university police and our residence life team for their herculean efforts during and after the recent succession of winter storms.  Though the days lost – particularly Mondays! – have been frustrating for us all, we have been able to return to full operation quickly thanks to this core of dedicated staff members.

BUDGET OUTLOOK

Last week we welcomed Mark Rozewski to lead our Division of Finance and Administration. Mark comes to us from the University of Southern Indiana, an institution that mirrors Southern in scale and has a similar emphasis on access and affordability. This familiarity will be an asset to Mark as he begins his career at Southern with a difficult budgetary outlook looming ahead.

Many of you, I am sure, read the news last week about Governor Malloy’s proposals to close a projected deficit of $1 billion in each of the next two fiscal years. Higher education has not been spared, and the CSCU system faces a $20.6 million cut, or $38 million short of what it is projected that the system would need to support existing programs.

 If this projection holds, it will present significant challenges system-wide and here at Southern, where our reserves have been significantly depleted in recent years to offset a series of enrollment shortfalls and resulting loss of tuition income. As soon as I know more specifics about the impact on our campus I will share with them you.

On a positive note, our enrollment numbers for fall 2015 continue to show signs of promise. The 7,001 freshman applications as of early last week – boosted in large part by our adoption of the Common App – are almost double the number of total applications for fall 2014. The final yield rate will be critical, however. And the potential inherent in these early numbers re-emphasizes the need for us to complete our internal curricular and process repair work this spring, so that new students who arrive this fall are quickly engaged with the campus and have an unobstructed path to their chosen degree.

ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT AVP SEARCH

A search committee led by Elena Schmitt, chair of the Department of World Languages and Literatures, is commencing a national search for a new Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management. A candidate pool will be assembled by late March, with finalist interviews on campus anticipated for April. Richard Riccardi, associate vice president for institutional effectiveness, is overseeing our enrollment initiatives on an interim basis.

Given our enrollment challenges, and the changing landscape of student recruitment, this is clearly a critical position. National projections show that, while the traditional population of 18 to 22-year-olds will remain a staple at most institutions, demographic and economic changes will see future enrollment growth come from other student segments.

In its report, “Future Students, Future Revenues: Thriving in a Decade of Demographic Decline,” the Education Advisory Board (EAB) reports that populations such as community college transfers, international undergraduates, professional master’s students, and adult degree completers offer the best opportunities to grow enrollment and tuition. These are all areas of opportunity that we are seeking to enhance.  To that note, Southern has recently completed a seamless transfer pathway with Gateway’s Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, a unique partnership that has been facilitated by Deborah Weiss, the chair of the department of Communication Disorders and interim chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Forum, with support from members of our LEPC and UCF.

PROFESSIONAL DOCTORATES

In a recent blog, I mentioned that we have had success in target marketing new master’s-level programs to meet workforce demands and the time constraints of adult professional workers. During this legislative session, I and the other Connecticut State University presidents will be lobbying for a statute change that would allow us to offer professional doctoral programs, further enhancing our institutions’ ability to meet the developing needs of the 21st Century workforce.

Under a current statute the CSUs are permitted to offer programs that provide for “the preparation of personnel for the public schools of the state including master’s degree programs, education doctoral degree programs, including an education doctoral degree program in nursing education and other graduate study in education, and the authority for providing liberal arts and career programs at the bachelors, masters and sixth year programs.” 

As you know, we now offer doctoral programs in educational leadership and nursing education, but due to changes in the educational requirements for employment in numerous other professions and scientific fields, the current authorization should be expanded. 

A number of professions, including social work (DSW), marriage and family therapy (DMFT), speech and language pathology (SLPD), and public health (DPH) have developed advanced doctoral clinical degrees for those wishing to assume senior practitioner and clinical administrator roles within organizations. Other fields have also recognized the need for professionally trained scientists, or scientist administrators, with advanced skills in both a scientific specialization and business skills, creating a demand for the Doctor of Science (ScD) degree in many disciplines.  Schools of Business have for many years offered the Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) for those interested in the advanced study of management, practical finance, and accounting. More business organizations are now requiring their senior managers, at the vice president level and above, to hold this academic credential.

All of these degrees reflect the understanding within these professions that the level of knowledge required to be effective at senior clinician, senior scientist, administrator and management levels is advancing rapidly and requires a degree of specialization that only a doctoral-level education can provide.

Recognizing the increased educational and clinical preparation required, several disciplines have already made the move to the professional doctorate as the entry level credential to the field. For example, the field of audiology has moved in the past decade from the master’s degree as the acceptable entry-level practice degree to the Doctor of Audiology (AuD). Other professions, such as physical therapy (DPT), have adopted similar strategies for changing the entry-level practice credential to the doctorate. Similarly, the field of nursing is moving steadily from the MSN in advanced nursing practice to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) as the entry-level credential.

Southern and our sister institutions will need to address this demand for increased education if we are to continue to promote Connecticut’s economic vitality and remain viable providers to organizations and businesses in the state that employ our graduates.

NEW DIRECTIONS FOR STEM

Christine Broadbridge, our new director of STEM Initiatives, reports that a key initiative of the Office for STEM Innovation and Leadership involves promoting multidisciplinary projects that engage faculty and students in cutting-edge research. The timing is perfect, Christine says, as our new academic and laboratory science building was built specifically to promote these types of interactions.

One recent successful example of this initiative was the first offering of the Werth Family Foundation- sponsored Industry Academic Fellowship (IAF) program by the CSCU Center for Nanotechnology (CNT), which is based on our campus. The program provided four undergraduates and one graduate student with the opportunity to conduct team-based interdisciplinary research in nanotechnology. The disciplines represented included biology, chemistry and physics and during the eight-week summer program, the IAF students partnered with educators and industry professionals, while exploring the business-related aspects of technology.  The students also worked part-time on their projects during the spring and fall semesters and have already presented their work at professional meetings. For this first year the project topics included nano-medicine and nano-environmental studies.

The deadline for applications for the second year of the program is March 1 (see www.southernct.edu/nanotechnology for more information).  The CNT is also actively engaging faculty in interdisciplinary working groups to support additional projects for future IAF interdisciplinary teams.  

On the STEM outreach front, Professor of Mathematics Maria Diamantis (representing the Center for Excellence in Mathematics and Science – CEMS) continues to host weekly group meetings for the local National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Jr. Chapter.  Last November, five of these students traveled to Hauppage, N.Y., where they attended the Region I, NSBE Jr. Regional Conference and earned third place in a Try-Math-A-Lon.  The students are meeting at Southern twice a week in preparation for the NSBE National Convention in San Diego, California, led by Southern alumna Gwen Brantley.

Additional STEM outreach events are scheduled for March, including an Education Connection Center for 21st Century Skills Academy for Digital Arts and Sciences class visit by 100 high school students. A teacher professional development workshop on STEM careers will also be jointly hosted by the Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena (CRISP) and the New Haven Manufacturers Association (NHMA).  More information on these events is at: http://www.skills21.org/ and http://crisp.southernct.edu/images/f/ff/2015_March_21_Draft_Flyer.pdf

REACHING OUT

During the early part of this week, I will be in Florida with Robert Stamp, vice president for institutional advancement, and members of our advancement team for two alumni gatherings in Naples and Boca Raton. As I write this, the advance numbers for both events were very encouraging, with more than 40 alumni registered for each event.

Carrying our message to alumni in various parts of the country is a crucial step as we seek to strengthen and broaden our support base in advance of our first comprehensive campaign. Following an event last fall in New York City, alumni gatherings in coming months are planned in Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Los Angeles. 

We have a solid core of loyal, dedicated alums who are fully engaged and supportive of the university. But we are also seeking to connect with those who have had sporadic contact with the university since graduation and would likely be interested in learning about the many new developments at their alma mater.

STUDENT SUCCESS INITIATIVES

Last Friday we marked the first-year anniversary of the Student Success Taskforce with the Playbook for Student Success workshop led by Education Advisory Board Consultant Holly Chatham. Holly presented EAB’s best practice research on student success and progress to graduation. She placed emphasis on students in the “murky middle” – generally those earning between a 2.0 and 3.0 GPA – who present compelling opportunities for intervention and degree completion.

As you know, the Student Success Taskforce was established last year to find ways to strengthen our retention and graduation rates, to provide more strategic and proactive student advising, and to remove any obstacles students may face as they move toward completing their degrees.

We have already enacted a number of recommendations, including creating an Academic Student Success Center to support academic achievement; adding new, specialized academic advising positions; adopting a predictive analytics academic advising platform; and introducing more co-curricular activities for freshmen, sophomores and transfer students to build stronger connections with the university.

These are just the first steps in our institution-wide commitment to student success as we strive to ensure that students who come to Southern have the best possible educational experience, and stay on to complete their degrees in a timely manner.

HUMAN RIGHTS LECTURE

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in a conversation on campus with Osman Kavala, a philanthropist and human rights advocate in Turkey and founder of Anadolu Kültür, a civil initiative, committed to fostering mutual understanding through arts and culture.

The organizations Mr. Kavala founded and supports have been on the forefront of human rights issues including Armenian genocide recognition and the denial of Kurdish cultural and political rights. During this event, which was also supported by our Department of Philosophy, Mr. Kavala spoke on the current status of these issues in Turkey.

As you may know, 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. In 1915, the Ottoman rulers of Turkey seized the opportunity of a world preoccupied by global conflict to attempt to erase the Armenians’ presence within Ottoman territory through executions and forced marches into the desert.

During the spring, we will have several activities on campus to commemorate this anniversary, examine its context in contemporary international relations and promote human rights and understanding. Planned events include an art exhibit, music concert and a literature reading – details will be forthcoming shortly.

ATHLETICS SUCCESSES

Our athletics teams are coming to the end of the spring season. Our men’s indoor track and field team was No. 1 in last week’s United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division II East Regional team rankings. Earlier this month, the men’s swimming and diving team captured its fifth straight Northeast-10 Conference Championship, and 11th in the past 12 seasons.

And our men’s basketball team re-entered the national rankings at number 25 last week on the back of a seven-game winning streak. The Owls have now reached the 20-win plateau for the second successive season and are poised to earn another place in the NCAA tournament, after reaching the Elite 8 last year.

The continued academic success of our student-athletes was highlighted by the women’s cross country team, which earned All-Academic Team honors from the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for the third successive year. The award recognizes those institutions that achieved a minimum GPA of 3.0 and compiled a team score at their respective NCAA regional championships.