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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.”
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.
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 email@example.com or Denise Bentley-Drobish, director of student involvement and leadership development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.