Faculty

Philosophy Professor David Pettigrew

December 14, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords in Paris. Following three weeks of negotiations, the Dayton Peace Agreement — also known as The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina — was signed in Dayton, Ohio, on November 21, 1995, and formally signed in Paris, on December 14, 1995, bringing an end to the international aggression against Bosnia and the resulting genocide.

Philosophy Professor David Pettigrew has long been involved in advocating for the victims of atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. While his efforts are part of a personal commitment to human rights and social justice, Pettigrew’s work on Bosnia also has an academic dimension, expressed through his lectures, publications, film screenings, and other work. He also teaches a holocaust and genocide studies course at Southern.

Pettigrew recently published an op-ed essay in Al Jazeera Balkans on the Dayton Accords, following his co-organizing of the online international symposium, “Bosnia: 25 Years After the Dayton Accords 1995-2020,” which took place on November 5-6, 2020. His essay — “Confronting the Tragic Legacy of the Dayton Accords” (the text of which is below) — sets forth fundamental structures for the possibility of transitional justice for Bosnia and the region. The things he proposes will provide the possibility for long-awaited constitutional reform that would respond to the destabilizing influence from Republika Srpska and as well as to rulings from the European Court of Human Rights. This essay was also featured as a lead essay (in German) in the “Memorandum on the Dayton Peace Accords,” which was published by the Society for Threatened Peoples [Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker], an NGO based in Germany.

Since the essay’s publication, Pettigrew was interviewed on FACE TV/Sarajevo by Senad Hadžifezović, a prominent journalist and TV show watched in the region and around the world. It was posted on YouTube and so far has more than 50,000 views. He also presented virtually a paper for KRUG 99 for their special session on the Dayton Peace Accords, and was again interviewed, this time by Al Jazeera Balkans, for publication in Sarajevo.

Among other invitations for interviews and participation in a podcast and a webinar, Pettigrew was also invited by Ben Moore, director of The Center for Bosnian Studies at Fontbonne University,  to participate in a panel discussion, “Bosnian Studies: Scholars’ Perspectives on an Emerging Field.”

Pettigrew’s essay follows.

“Confronting the Tragic Legacy of the Dayton Accords, 1995-2020”

As we reflect on the legacy of the Dayton Accords, it should not escape our attention that Bosnia and Herzegovina was the victim, from 1992 to 1995, of international aggression from Serbia and from Croatia. Indictments and convictions at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) have identified Serbian and Croatian nationals, including Presidents Tudjman and Milošević, as members of Joint Criminal Enterprises responsible for orchestrating the aggression. At the end, “Mladić addressed a letter to Milošević, copying General Perišić, to express his gratitude for the ‘invaluable’ assistance that the VRS (Army of Republika Srpska) had received from FRY (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) authorities”. Mladić said he could not have done it without them.

Of course, Milošević was eventually indicted for genocide and other war crimes in 2001 as part of his own designs on “Greater Serbia.” Perhaps we should also recall that Bosnia had already sued Serbia for Genocide in the International Court of Justice in March 1993. Eventually, the ICTY Chamber found that the criminal enterprise in the Prlić case involved Croatian nationals “whose goal was to permanently remove the Muslim population from Herceg-Bosna.” However, in spite of being eventually implicated in Joint Criminal Enterprises, both Tudjman of Croatia and Milošević of Serbia were signatories to the Dayton Accords in 1995. Milošević was representing Serbia, as well as representing the leadership of Republika Srpska, by virtue of a “Patriarch Paper,” since Mladić and Karadžić were already indicted for war crimes and were unable to attend.

There were, however, representatives of the Bosnian Serbs at Dayton who had not yet been indicted. These included Momčilo Krajišnik and General Zdravko Tolimir. But both Krajišnik and Tolimir were also eventually indicted and convicted of war crimes. Hence, the problematic character of the negotiating team should have provided some foreshadowing of the fate of the peace agreement. In the years following the Dayton Accords, both Croatia and Serbia have worked to undermine Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign state. Each has encouraged separatist/secessionist initiatives in Bosnia (Herceg-Bosna and Republika Srpska), arguably pursuing their territorial goals from 1992. Their tactics to undermine Bosnia’s sovereignty have included anti-Muslim and nationalist propaganda.

There has also been the internal source of destabilization: Republika Srpska. It was Milošević who oversaw the legitimation of Republika Srpska at Dayton, one of the two entities “demarcated” by the agreement. The founders of Republika Srpska had officially declared the geographic territory of Republika Srpska and subsequently sought to secure the territory as ethnically homogeneous. The ICTY Trial Chamber in the Karadžić judgment determined that there was a common plan “to permanently remove the Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory.” Indeed, having officially declared the ethnically homogeneous territory, the founders of Republika Srpska carried out their aggression from 1992-1995 against the civilians of Bosnia, committing atrocities that have been judged to be war crimes, including genocide. However, in spite of the atrocities for which perpetrators had already been indicted–the ICTY had been formed in May 1993–at Dayton, the Bosnian Serbs were “rewarded” in the sense that Republika Srpska, the territory they had declared and violently transformed in name and deed, was recognized and legitimized as an official entity within Bosnia, an entity that would undermine Bosnia’s national sovereignty for the next 25 years.

Following the legitimation of Republika Srpska in 1995 as an entity in Bosnia, the authorities have undertaken concerted efforts, in spite of Annex 7, to prevent non-Serbs from returning to the homes from which they were forcibly expelled, thus continuing efforts to achieve the goal of ethnic homogeneity. Such efforts have included the intimidation of returnees through hate speech, genocide denial, the glorification of convicted perpetrators, and suppression of memorials for the victims.  In addition, Milorad Dodik, now member of the Presidency of Bosnia, and former President of Republika Srpska, undermines Bosnia’s existence by challenging decisions of the national court and threatening secession. Republika Srpska seeks to prevent Bosnia from functioning as a state, undermining any hope of restorative justice that would lead to reconciliation. Genocide denial and threats of secession have been wielded by the leadership of Republika Srpska with impunity. The failure of the international community to respond to these destabilizing provocations have led to the public celebration of the genocidal atrocities, a phenomenon Hariz Halilović has referred to as a “triumphalism” that retraumatizes the victims and threatens a repetition of the atrocities.  Sadly, “triumphalism” is part of the legacy of the Dayton Accords.

In 2014, a plaque glorifying Mladić, for example, was installed on a hill from which his forces assaulted the civilians of Sarajevo, and in 2016, a plaque commemorating Karadžić was affixed to a student dormitory in Pale. A monument that glorifies the perpetrators has stood in the middle of Višegrad for years. Sculptor Miodrag Živković has created numerous nationalist monuments glorifying the Serb forces that committed the very atrocities that have been judged to be genocide and other war crimes.  These provocative monuments to the perpetrators, such as in Bijeljina, which is dedicated to “The Fallen Serb Fighters,” are a form of genocide denial that insults the memory of the victims. This again, is part of the tragic legacy of the Dayton Accords.

When I spoke with Richard Holbrooke, the lead negotiator at Dayton, in a brief conversation in 2009, I identified the recognition of Republika Srpska as a legitimation of a genocidal geography, and as a dehumanizing zone of discriminatory exclusion that continues the founding genocidal impulse by its very existence. I proposed that the political existence of Republika Srpska needed to be challenged through constitutional reform that would reverse that dehumanizing zone of exclusion. He said he agreed with me completely, but he doubted it would be practical. He described the founding leaders of Republika Srpska as opportunists, thugs and criminals. In his book To End a War Holbrooke had already expressed his frustration with recognition of Republika Srpska, stating that “to divide Bosnia-Herzegovina into two independent parts would legitimize Serb aggression.” In 2005, in his Foreword to Derek Chollet’s book, The Road to the Dayton Accords, Holbrooke wrote “I still regret…agreeing to let the Bosnian Serbs keep the name ‘Republika Srpska’ for their entity. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic was right when he told me it was a ‘Nazi name’.”

The Dayton Accords attest, then, to the failure of the international community to recognize and stop a genocide in progress, from 1992-1995; the failure to create a just peace at Dayton; and the failure to support state-building in Bosnia in the past 25 years. As Republika Srpska wields genocide denial, challenges to the constitutional court, and threats of secession with impunity, the international community’s failure has betrayed the possibility of a meaningful future for the next generation and has undermined the possibility of restorative justice.

As we mark 25 years since Dayton, it is imperative that the international community confront this tragic legacy.  One crucial initiative would be for the High Representative, who has the responsibility to oversee the peace, to use his BONN powers to implement a law against genocide denial and against the glorification of convicted war criminals. This would be important for the survivors who are traumatized by these threatening and dehumanizing acts.  A legal framework for such legislation can be found in the Council (of the European Union) Framework Decision of 28 November 2008, on “combating … expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law.” The Framework Decision indicates that “Member States shall … insure” that “publicly condoning, denying, or grossly trivializing crimes of genocide is punishable.” Switzerland and Belgium have passed such laws against genocide denial. These laws, based on a tradition of laws against Holocaust denial such as exist in Austria and Germany provide a conceptual model for this long overdue legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Denial of a genocide is an act of hatred and discrimination, since it minimizes or justifies the barbaric crimes suffered by the targeted group, minimizing not only the crimes but also the suffering, and in this way the denial entails a threat that the crime could be repeated. The denial identifies the group as unworthy of empathy or protection against harm and renders the group vulnerable to a repetition of the harm. Such laws in Bosnia would need to criminalize the denial of not only the Srebrenica genocide, but of all war crimes that were committed, along with hate speech, as well as the glorification of war criminals and celebration of the atrocities.

Finally, it is imperative for the international community to resist and condemn threats of secession and destabilization and to recognize Bosnia’s sovereignty by expediting its membership in the European Union and its entry into NATO. A law against genocide denial, EU membership, and entry into NATO, should be the focused goals now in order to address the tragic legacy of Dayton and to support long overdue state-building in Bosnia.

David Pettigrew, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy
Southern Connecticut State University
Member, Steering Committee, Yale University Genocide Studies Program

 

Photo by Prateek Katyal

Written by Dr. Michele Vancour, Interim Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Services

Work-life balance is as intangible as the Holy Grail.

The idea that the work and non-work parts of our lives can be balanced as static, constant ideals is completely unrealistic, because in reality life is messy, unpredictable, and often overwhelming. As oxymoronic as this perfect storm may be, it’s 100% ours and we need to embrace it rather than spend an exorbitant amount of time and energy trying to compartmentalize and balance.

As a named “work-life expert,” some may be surprised by that opening. I didn’t always buy into this chaotic utopia (and most days, I still struggle with the lack of fair division, uncategorized and unorganized reality that is my life); however, seeing something personal in print a few years ago pushed me into this different way of thinking and being.

An award-winning, New York Times best-selling author and acquaintance asked if she could interview me for an article on the elusiveness of work-life balance from the perspective of work-life experts. As luck would have it, the day of the interview started as one of those mornings. I had to scramble to get my two sons and myself out of the house on time. My youngest son forgot his drums for band practice at home, so I had to run back home and back to school—navigating the bus-lined, impatient-parent-filled parking lot, the school’s new security protocol, and arctic morning temperatures twice—then rushed to the office in time for the reporters’ phone call.  It seemed fortunate at the time that her schedule also was off-track, as she made the call while still on the train commuting to her office. The phone connection was terrible, especially for her recording device, so she asked to call again in the afternoon. I agreed. While more relaxed when the second call came in at 4pm, I was, however, now in transit to my older son’s ice hockey game an hour away and was relying on my car’s navigation support to get me there. Before the official interview began, we shared a moment as I was somewhat joking with her about the day’s unplanned episodes, and how they are so commonplace in many working parents’ lives.

Fast forward now to the date her article hit the Internet. Imagine my surprise as I read the headline: “Even Work-Life Balance Experts Are Awful [emphasis added] at Balancing Work and Life.” I was taken further aback in reading further to find my name and the following:

Consider Michele Vancour, for instance, a professor of public health at Southern Connecticut State University whose area of expertise is how the stress and guilt of work-life conflict can make us sick. Yet she herself gets stressed out by work-life conflict. I spoke with her on a morning when all had gone smoothly until she went to drop her son off at school on her way to work and realized she’d forgotten to put the drums he needed for the day into the car. Her head started to pound. She sighed. “Every time I have to go give a talk, I always say, ‘Do as I say, not as I do’” (Schulte, 2017).

I think those who know me would say that I am authentic, and while I embrace this term as germane to my identity, the paragraph above left me feeling exposed and vulnerable. My initial reaction was embarrassment. But, as a tough self-critic, I pondered this statement and my feelings until I realized that this was one of life’s amazing signs or more poignantly a personal call-to-action.

Over the following few months, I invested considerable time in reflection before I was able to pinpoint the lesson I was meant to learn and how I could make changes that would prevent this from reoccurring. I quickly realized that I wasn’t bothered by the fact that balance was elusive after over 15 years of practice as a work-life expert. I also wasn’t upset that I shared my personal story of the day with a reporter. The thing that hit me to my core was the message about life I was sharing with everyone who listened. I am not sure when I adopted the phrase, ”do as I say, not as I do,” but I knew I said it often. I further surmised that it originated from an internal feeling of inadequacy. My research focused on the ideal mother and ideal worker, and as many other parents, internally I felt like I was failing when in my heart I knew differently. Once I was able to get my heart and head in sync, I reframed my story, so that the one I believed in, lived and shared were the same.

Here are five actions that were critical to my progress and feeling of greater work-life balance.

Reflect: Reflection can move us from chaos to action even when we have those days when things don’t meet our expectations. Maybe you spill coffee on your shirt, get stuck in traffic, can’t find a parking space, miss an appointment (or all of above and more). It’s not the sum of things that do not go as planned as much as it is the way in which we react to them. Ask yourself these questions next time this happens to you: How do you feel? What’s wrong? What’s going right? What needs to change? How can you do something different to minimize the impact and add protections so that these emotions and events happen differently next time?

Debunk Perfection: Perfection is an unrealistic ideal; don’t perpetuate it. Move your thoughts from not-good-enough to self-acceptance. Shift your focus. Instead of focusing on your weaknesses and making comparisons to others to focus on your strengths. Reframe your ideal realizing that we need to utilize other people’s strengths and to collaborate to fully achieve goals. No burden should fall only on one person at work or at home. Move away from unrealistic ideations of perfection and pressures to succeed. Focus on life being a journey rather than a destination.

Align Values and Purpose: If we do not prioritize our values (the people and activities that matter most in our lives), we likely will run out of time before tending to them. But, how do we identify our value priorities? Consider these questions:

What do you love (not love) to do? Does time fly by when you are doing that thing or spending time with that person? What drives you? What energizes you? What are you willing to sacrifice to have the thing(s) you love and enjoy the most? Who do you want to help? How do you want to help? You need to try it out and be willing to reflect, revise and try again.

Rebrand: You are the author of your story. Try asking yourself, how can you change your narrative? What is your message? What do you want people to remember about you from your story? You can revise your story as many times as you need to. Be self-accepting and focus on small successes that have shaped you along your journey.

Control: Small wins equal BIG change, especially when we have prioritized ourselves in the process. If we are not able to function at full capacity, the risks are greater to finding success in all of our relationships, activities and goals. If you feel like you do not have enough time in your schedule, then you may need to add boundary setting to your time management plans. Schedule uninterrupted time for dinner, fitness, meditation, reflection, and sleep. Setting boundaries allows us to be present in activities that help recharge us physically, mentally, emotionally, and intellectually. By setting priorities around values, it makes it easier to achieve goals. If you’re like me, you may need to be selective with the things you say yes to, schedule specific time to ”work” on tasks, and avoid emailing colleagues after 6pm and on the weekends to stay on track.

Finally, start a gratitude practice. According to Psychologytoday.com, being grateful has been connected to improved sleep and self-esteem, greater empathy, reduced aggression, increased connectedness, and better overall health. A great way to start is to let someone know you’re thankful for them. By the way, I am really grateful that you let me share this with you today. If you’re interested in learning more, please feel free to reach out to me.

Biology Professor Sean Grace was quoted in an article, “What kelp can teach us about thriving amid uncertainty,” published on Quartz. The writer, Katherine Ellen Foley, uses kelp’s ability to survive in harsh conditions as a metaphor for how we can look at life during a pandemic. Below is the full text of the article.

“What kelp can teach us about thriving amid uncertainty”
By Katherine Ellen Foley
Health and science reporter, Quartz
November 4, 2020

On days when it feels that the uncertainty is too much to bear, we’d be wise to take notes from a humble, giant algae: kelp.

We land-dwellers rarely think about kelp, but we’ve got quite a lot in common with this ocean friend. For one thing, neither of us are plants; kelp is actually a type of algae called a heterokont. Our lives also share similar beginnings and ends: We both create offspring via sexual reproduction, and eventually, our cells age and die.

These similarities should inspire us to know that we, too, can be like kelp in perhaps its most remarkable feat: It stays firmly rooted amid tumultuous forces beyond its control, and in doing so, inadvertently creates a nurturing environment for others.

Kelp is somewhat constrained in where it can live; because it is algae, it must stick to shallow salt water where it can absorb the sun’s rays. Unfortunately, though, these shallows experience incredibly turbulent waters—too rough for most organisms to handle. These forces would rip humans apart, says Sean Grace, a marine ecologist at Southern Connecticut State University.

Although kelp might be happier in a calmer environment, it continues to thrive. It does so by being both steadfast and flexible. At the bottom of kelp stocks are appendages called holdfasts, which live up to their names, Grace says. Holdfasts fuse themselves to rocks, and become unflappably grounded.

Portrait of SCSU Professor of Biology Sean Grace
Sean Grace

Holdfasts allow the parts of kelp that stretch up to the sky, called stripes and blades, to bend to the water’s will. This flexibility is what allows them to survive, instead of getting whisked away and torn to shreds. Even while it accommodates unforeseen pushes and pulls, kelp never stops reaching for the suns’ rays.

But here’s more: As kelp sustains itself by absorbing sunlight, water, and literal tons of carbon dioxide (cleaning up much of our dirty work, I might add), its stability creates a habitat for all kinds of marine life. It does so physically, by providing a reliable hideout for fish, crustaceans, and mammals; and biologically, by providing these creatures with the nutrition they need to thrive.

“If you look all around the world to wherever there are kelp forests, you find higher biodiversity, which is a signal of health,” Grace says. The more kelp, the more other kinds of life thrive.

We didn’t ask to live through the pushes and pulls of 2020, nor did kelp ask to live through the ebbs and flows of the tides. Yet kelp survives, and help others thrive, as should we. Although we don’t have holdfasts, we do have family and loved ones to keep us grounded. We have foundational values that allow us to keep sight of our goals, even while being pulled in undesirable directions. And we can make room for others along the way, too.

Perhaps when Confucius referenced the strength of the humble green reed compared to the stiff oak, he really meant to say “kelp.”

Dr. Samuel Andoh

Dr. Samuel Andoh, professor of economics, has been appointed as the next AP Macroeconomics Chief Reader for the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program. The position, known colloquially known as the Chief Reader, is responsible for overseeing the scoring of over 145,000 AP Macroeconomics exams at the annual AP Reading. Chief Readers are college faculty and considered experts in their field. Andoh has been involved with the AP Reading for 14 years and has served in Reading leadership positions for 8 years.

James Thorson, chair of the Economics Department, said “Dr. Samuel Andoh has served for years in the AP economics program. His promotion to Chief Reader is the result of his tireless devotion to improving the learning experience of our students. It is a real honor that the AP program has recognized his outstanding work in this area. His appointment brings great honor to the department, school and university.”

Andoh began his term as Chief Reader in July and he will serve in this vital role through June 2024.
The AP Program enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies – with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both – while still in high school. In 2020, over 2.6 million students took more than 4.7 million AP exams.

Held each June, the AP Reading brings together AP teachers and college faculty members from around the world to evaluate and score the free-response sections of the AP Exams. It is a unique forum in which an academic dialogue between educators is both fostered and encouraged. Andoh is one of just 32 Chief Readers, who are responsible for directing scoring activities for over 18,000 AP Readers across 38 different subjects.

During the Reading, Andoh will oversee more than 170 readers as they score student responses from the AP Macroeconomics exam, ensuring students receive fair and valid scores. Students’ scores on this exam help to determine credit and placement into college courses in economics on close to 2,300 college campuses each fall. Additionally, as Chief Reader, Andoh will serve in a leadership capacity on his subject’s Development Committee, where new tasks and questions are developed for future exams.

The AP Program has expressed its gratitude for the immeasurable ways Andoh, and Southern Connecticut State University, have positively impacted the lives of so many students, teachers, and college faculty over his years of service with AP.

James Thorson

As School of Business Dean Ellen Durnin has recently announced her impending retirement, Dr. James Thorson, chairman of the Department of Economics, has accepted the position as interim dean for the School of Business.

Thorson, who has been at Southern since 1992, knows the institution well and brings an excellent mix of skills and experience to the role.

In addition to serving as chair of the Department of Economics (his second round in this role, his first from 2009-2015), Thorson served as interim director of the MBA program, and has been chair and vice chair of the Graduate Council.

He has an array of publications and presentations ranging from works on overpaid baseball players to lawyers’ salaries to hedge fund returns.

Thorson will start his role as interim dean on January 1, 2021, concomitant with Dean Durnin’s official (semi)retirement. Durnin will continue to work with the School of Business through the spring 2021 semester in focused roles on accreditation and fund raising.

Durnin said, “I am pleased that Dr. James Thorson has accepted the position as the Interim Dean of the School of Business. Jim is a long-time colleague who will ensure that the School is successful while the university searches for a permanent dean. He has the respect of his colleagues, and has served as a department chair and an interim MBA director.  He will do a fine job in this role.”

Jennifer Hopper
Jennifer Hopper

Throughout this election season, our faculty experts in the Political Science Department have shared their insight and expertise with the public via a slew of media interviews.

Collectively, Jonathan Wharton, Tess Marchant-Shapiro and Jennifer Hopper have provided Southern with a regular presence in the news. Media representatives have expressed that they value not only their knowledge of politics, but their ability to provide objective analyses of political events — a valuable skill in today’s polarized political world.

As an example, Channel 3 interviewed Jennifer both on Election Day, and then the next morning, about the presidential election race. She also was interviewed on WNPR’s “Where We Live” show.

Jonathan also was interviewed on Channel 3 before the election, and on Channel 30 after the election.

In the days leading up to the election, the three were interviewed by various media, as well.

As an example, Tess was interviewed by Channel 3, Channel 61 and WNPR.

 

A dedicated scholar of the poetry and art of William Blake and a researcher studying medieval cartography will be presented with the 2019-20 SCSU Faculty Scholar awards at a Virtual Celebration of Excellence that will premiere on Nov. 5 at noon on Facebook Live. Anthony Rosso and Camille Serchuk, respectively, were chosen for their academic and creative work of exceptional merit and will each receive a cash prize of $2,500.

Anthony Rosso, professor of English, teaches courses in the British Eighteenth Century, the Romantic Era, the English Epic, the English Novel to 1900, Literature of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, a Seminar in William Blake, an Introduction to British Literature 1800-Present, and all levels of Composition. An avid scholar of Blake, Rosso has published numerous lectures and conference papers, reviews, and essays, as well as three books, Blake’s Prophetic Workshop: A Study of ‘The Four Zoas’ (1993); Blake, Politics, and History, co-edited with Christopher Z. Hobson and Jackie DiSalvo (1998); and The Religion of Empire: Political Theology in Blake’s Prophetic Symbolism (2016).

Rosso’s newest book, The Religion of Empire, specifically was recognized by the Faculty Scholar Award committee for its “precision of writing,” “thorough and comprehensive quality of research,” and “important contribution the book makes to the study of Blake’s later works.” The book, which is the first monograph in the history of Blake criticism to analyze three major poems in one study, has been enthusiastically received within and beyond Rosso’s field of Blake studies. Aimed at reaching audiences in contemporary biblical, gender, and empire/post-colonial studies, the book draws on Rosso’s writings about Blake published over the last 30 years, in essence, a culmination of a lifetime of research.

In Sibylle Erle’s review in the British Association of Romantic Studies, she noted that Rosso has achieved a “beautifully written, very confident and accessible book.” Other reviewers called the book “an unparalleled ability to communicate complex readings and meanings lucidly” and “a significant, indeed landmark, contribution to Blake studies in particular and the evolution of political theology.”

Camille Serchuk, professor of Art History and assistant director of the Honors College at Southern Connecticut State University, teaches courses that focus on the art of the Middle Ages, gender and Art, and the methodology and historiography of art history. Her exhibition/catalogue “Quand les artistes dessinaient les cartes: vues et figures de l’espace français, Moyen Âge et Renaissance” was recognized by the Faculty Scholar Award committee for its interdisciplinary nature, academic merit, and public impact. Serchuk further was lauded for the project’s “colossal effort” and “prestigious setting.” Even more, the language in the exhibition texts was “evocative yet precise” and “very fun to read.”

Serchuk is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the National Humanities Center and the Newberry and Huntington Libraries. In addition to being an impassioned researcher of art and cartography in France, 1400-1600, Serchuk has published several journal articles, book chapters and reviews; she’s also been the recipient or more than a dozen scholarly grants.

Additional awardees who will be recognized at the Virtual Celebration of Excellence are:

· Joan Finn Jr. Faculty Research Fellowship: Steven Bray (Biology), Rachel Furey (English)

· Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship: Kelly Stiver (Psychology)

· Senior-Level Faculty Research Fellowship: Armen Marsoobian (Philosophy)

· Robert Jirsa Service Award: Susan Cusato (Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences)

· Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award: Carrie Michalski (Nursing)

· J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching (F/T): Elliott Horch (Physics)

· J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching (P/T): Carolyn Thompson (Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences)

· BOR Teaching Award: Thomas Radice (History)

· BOR Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award: Shelley Stoehr-McCarthy (English)

· BOR Research Award: Steven Brady (Biology)

· Million Dollar Club: Kathleen De Oliveira (Academic Success Center)

· Undergraduate Research Assistants – Faculty Award Grant: Amy Smoyer (Social Work)

· Mensa – Distinguished Teaching Award: Kenneth Walters (Psychology)

· CSU Professor: Elliott Horch (Physics)

Top row: Joshua Groffman, Al Seesi Sahar, Patty Bode, Marcell Graziano, Sujatha Herne; middle: Anuli Njoku, Svenja Gusewski; bottom: Melanie Uribe, Joshua Knickerbocker, Hanyong Chung, Kelly Coleman, Lauren Tucker

As society continues to grapple with subjects related to health, equity and the environment, Southern has opted to hire more than a quarter of its 31 new tenure-track faculty in clusters related to those real-world topics.

Robert Prezant, provost and vice president for academic affairs, recently announced that small groups of faculty have been hired to form three academic clusters – healthcare informatics; climate change, resilience and the blue economy; and equity, social mobility and access.

“These areas represent strong interdisciplinary approaches in fields that are growing, have great relevance to today’s world, and have strong employment opportunities for our students,” Prezant said.

“They also represent areas already strongly represented on our campus allowing for a compounding of our disciplinary power, enhancement of our potential curriculum and scholarship, and wonderful opportunities for external partnerships.”

The initiative is also designed to create synergy for faculty research. Each cluster is represented by faculty from at least two or three academic disciplines and at least two of Southern’s colleges.

“Bringing in a team of faculty members whose disciplinary and scholarly interests overlap creates an instantaneous set of collaborators,” he said.

“All too often new faculty members are hired and they must search out or work with current faculty and administrators to find those relevant partners. This saves the effort of new faculty searching for disciplinary partners and instantaneously creates enhanced areas of disciplinary excellence.”

Prezant explained the selection of these three topical clusters was made from nine proposals across the campus. “The selection of the final three was difficult and made after lively discussions and debates by members of the Provost’s Council.”

Jean Breny — chairwoman of the Public Health Department who played a key role in the creation of the equity, social mobility, and access cluster — said she is excited about the opportunities being afforded to students.

“We know that our students today are passionate about making a difference in the world and in the communities they live,” Breny said. “We see this in the topics they choose for papers and internship placements, and their increased engagement in political and social issues…Because this is an area where data collection and analysis have proven very fruitful, students will gain hands-on experience with data issues adding to their marketable skills at graduation.”

New faculty members selected for one of the clusters include:

  • Climate change, resilience and the blue economy: Amanda Bertana, sociology; Marcello Graziano, management; Miriah Kelly, environment, geography and marine sciences.
  • Equity, social mobility and access:  Karen D’Angelo, social work; Anuli Njoku, public health; and Adam Pittman, sociology.
  • Healthcare Informatics: Sahar Al-Seesi, computer science; Andy Bartlett, Mathematics

Other new tenure-track faculty members include:

  • Punit Anand, finance. Research interests include asset pricing and investments, as well as corporate finance.
  • Patricia Bode, art. Research interests include multicultural education, postmodern perspectives in art education, and the importance of art education in society.
  • Jennifer Cooper Boemmels, earth science. Research interests include post-rift structural evolution of the Vermont and New York portion of the New England-Quebec Igneous Province.
  • Susan Burger, nursing.  Research interests include health promotion and use of telehealth to manage chronic illnesses.
  • Dana Casetti, physics. Research interests include astronomy and astrophysics.
  • Shi Biao (William) Ding, marketing. Research interests include factors shaping gift giving.
  • Qu Chen, counseling and school psychology. Research interests include factors related to empathy.
  • Hanyong Chung, accounting. Research interests include financial reporting and corporate governance.
  • Kelly Coleman, health and movement services. Research interests include athletic training in secondary schools, and doctoral education in athletic training.
  • Denver Fowler, educational leadership. Research interests include ethical leadership among school leaders.
  • Michele Griswold, public health. Interests and research are in the area of social inequities and structural barriers surrounding infant feeding and maternal child health.
  • Joshua Groffman, music. Research interests include environmental communication through music and sound.
  • Svenja Gusewski, communication disorders. Research interests include language and literacy development of young Spanish-English dual language learners, and culturally sensitive intervention methods for culturally and linguistically diverse populations.
  • Joshua Knickerbocker, nursing. Experience includes instructing pediatric advanced life support simulation at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.
  • Atul Kulkarni, marketing. Research interests include digital marketing and analytics, and sales promotions.
  • Nicole McGowen Madu, curriculum and learning. (January hire)
  • A. Casey McPherson, counseling and school psychology. Research interests include mental health in rural America, and improving training practices of early-career faculty.
  • Joanne Roy, nursing. Background in nursing leadership and professional development.
  • Anastasia Sorokina, world languages and literatures. Research interests include bilingualism’s effect on autobiographical memory, and liberal vs. conservative media coverage of Crimean crisis of 2014.
  • Lauren Tucker, special education. Research interests include assistive technology in education, and the use of Twitter by teachers.
  • Melanie Uribe, art and design. Research interests include migrant identity and acculturation (refuges/displaced), exhibition design and installations as medium for effective communication, experimental design and book arts.
  • Jillian McNiff Villemaire, recreation, tourism and sport management. Research interests include career decisions among sport management students, and transferable skills for student-athletes.
  • Alice Wieland, management/international business. Research interests include gender and decision making in the business world.

It has been a year of tremendous growth and opportunity for the Department of Music at Southern Connecticut State University. The department was just one of five in Connecticut to receive accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), it has gained a new departmental chair (associate professor Joshua Groffman took the reins this August), and is pursuing the development of a one-of-a-kind music therapy degree. And most recently, the music program has received a $250,000 gift in merit-based scholarships from the Stutzman Family Foundation.

The gift joins several other generous commitments to the program from the Stutzman Family Foundation, including music scholarships, and the Southern Applied Music Program, which provides free weekly voice or instrument lessons. Walter Stutzman, ‘09, teaches traditional and online classes as an adjunct faculty member with the Music Department and the First Year Experience (FYE) program; the foundation, established to further music education, was named in tribute to his parents, Geraldine and Jacob Stutzman.

Although access is a crucial component to the Stutzman Family Foundation’s mission, Craig Hlavac, associate dean, College of Arts & Sciences, said the department was not expecting a gift of this magnitude.

“This is a huge step in the area of scholarships,” Hlavac said. “These scholarships will be given over the next five years to music students. This is a major step in both the longevity of the agreement and in the focus.”

According to Groffman, the scholarships also give Southern a more competitive edge when attracting musical talent.

“A lot of the support from the Stutzman Family Foundation enables us to go beyond just courses and go into intensive music training,” Groffman said. “Yes, it lowers barriers to bring students to Southern, but it also raises the overall level of music making on campus. The caliber of students is already high, but there’s a problem with access even to the top-level pool of students.”

Joshua Groffman

The merit-based scholarships provide music majors with up to $6,000 a year in funds and can be combined with other financial grants and awards.

“We’re bringing access to a high-quality music education to everyone at a state school,” Groffman said. “We have stellar faculty, free applied lessons, and departmental growth with new programs and an increased technological component.”

In short, the department is on an upswing, and there is no sign of slowing.

“There’s so much growth potential,” Groffman said. “Music education is continuing to evolve. There’s new kinds of teaching. Music as a field isn’t unhealthy, and there’s a lot of passion to tap into. The Stutzman Family Foundation has continued to help drive the dialogue that this is an excellent program that’s evolving and growing in exciting ways.”

Walter Stutzman, ’09

Mrs. Mildred Madison

When 94-year-old Mildred Madison’s absentee ballot was late arriving, she wanted to make sure her vote was counted. So her son, History Professor Julian Madison — drove her 350 miles each way, from Chicago to Detroit, so that she could cast her ballot. Mrs. Madison was featured in a news segment on CBS 17, a local CBS affiliate in North Carolina, as well as on CNN Politics.

Mrs. Madison is quoted in the CNN article as saying, “I’ve been voting in every election, whether it was city, state, county or national for the last 72 years.” She has a long history in activism and politics and was the first black president of the League of Women Voters in Cleveland, Ohio, where she raised her children. In that role she worked to bring the final presidential debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter to Cleveland.

In the video, Mrs. Madison emphasizes the importance of voting, “not only for your children, but for their children.”

Professor Madison says, “While growing up, my mother insisted on two things: First, respect women. Second, vote in every election. Her explanations were simple. By voting, I take part in shaping my future as well as those who come after me. Second, it sets an example for others. Finally, by NOT voting, not only will my voice not be heard, but I will have no right to complain when things go wrong.”

From the CBS 17 video: History Professor Julian Madison waits for his mother as she casts her ballot.

Mrs. Madison’s story has caught the attention of many and has now gone viral. Professor Madison reports that news outlets in Vietnam, England, and France have picked up this story as have outlets in most states. The Daily Show covered her story on October 20, and she has been interviewed by phone by someone on the Oprah Winfrey Channel. She was also featured on the CBS Morning News on Election Day, November 3.

As Professor Madison says, “this is certainly an opportunity for my mother who has run for political office on several occasions and won, to continue to push people to vote.”

Julian Madison