In the News

Robert McEachern

In this strange era through which we are all navigating new territories every day, it’s easy to feel a little lost at times. In an essay he published recently on Inside Higher Ed, entitled “Directionless,” English Professor Robert McEachern “contemplates the first time in many years that he didn’t spend the first day of classes roaming the halls of his university helping students who couldn’t find their way.”

Read “Directionless”

Inside Higher Ed is a leading source of news, analysis, and services for the entire higher education community.

 

Donald Yacovone, '74 (Photo by Photo by Mary E. Yacovone)

Historian Donald Yacovone, an associate at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research and a 2013 winner of the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal, was recently interviewed by the Harvard Gazette about a book he is writing, ““Teaching White Supremacy: The Textbook Battle Over Race in American History.” Yacovone is a Southern alumnus, having graduated in 1974 with a B.S. in history.

Yacovone, who co-authored “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” with noted historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. in 2013, spoke at the History Department‘s honor society induction ceremony last fall about his research on textbooks and white supremacy.

Georgette Nixon during her track and field days at Southern

Former SCSU women’s track & field All-American and current assistant coach Georgette Nixon, ’17, was featured in an article sponsored by Under Armour on Popsugar.com, “How This First-Generation College Athlete’s Track & Field Career Jump-Started Her Life Off the Turf.”

Nixon was a member of the first relay team in SCSU history to win a National Championship, and in the article discusses her journey as a walk-on onto the Owls as a freshman to becoming one of the most decorated student-athletes in program history. She graduated in 2017 with a major in business administration with a concentration in marketing. She minored in communications.

Georgette Nixon

 

Daisha Brabham

Daisha Brabham, who graduated from Southern in 2017 with a degree in history, was awarded a prestigious U.S. Fulbright – U.K. Partnership Award for the the 2019-2020 academic year that allowed her to complete a Master’s of Public History degree at Royal Holloway University of London. There is only one slot for the U.K. Partnership Award to Royal Holloway University, and it is highly competitive.

The U.K. Fulbright Commission recently posted a profile on its website about Brabham, “A Journey in Defining Blackness.” In the profile, Brabham discusses how her Fulbright project plans evolved with the onset of the global pandemic.

Brabham’s Fulbright project involved a play she wrote for an independent study in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program in her senior year. During her senior spring at Southern and the summer following, the play — Homegoing: A Herstory of the Black Woman — was performed on campus. Homegoing reflects the history of Black womanhood in America, beginning with the Yoruba tradition of West Africa and going on to travel with a number of different African American women, such as Venus Hottentot, Billie Holiday, and Mammie.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced Brabham to return to the United States before her Fulbright year was over, her plans for her play changed, but she found new avenues for her creativity and thought.

As Brabham writes in the profile, “As a Fulbrighter, you act as a bridge. A way of connecting two countries. We live in a world in which so many voices are speaking, but few are speaking to each other. . . . As we move forward, it is important that we each create spaces in our own respective fields to be a bridge, to act as agents of accessibility, community and connectivity.”

Read “A Journey in Defining Blackness”

A scene from Daisha Brabham’s play, “Homegoing,” as performed on Southern’s campus

 

 

 

Federico Fiondella

Federico Fiondella, M.S. ’03, 6th Yr. ’18, a teacher at North Haven High School, has been named the 2020 Connecticut History Teacher of the Year, an award presented annually by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education.

Inaugurated in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary school through high school. The award honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and U.S. Territories. In fall 2020, the National History Teacher of the Year will be selected from the pool of state winners.

Fiondella earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education (social studies) from Elizabethtown College and a master’s degree in political science from Southern, where he is currently an adjunct professor. He also completed a 6th year certificate in educational leadership at Southern and aspires to earn a doctorate in educational leadership in the near future.

Fiondella serves as board member of the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies (CCSS). He was selected as George Washington Education Scholar in 2002 and has received the North Haven High School Delio J. Rotundo Teacher of the Year Award (2007 and 2018), UNITAS Distinguished Service Award (2008), and John H. Stedman Passion of the Social Studies Award (2017). Fiondella was awarded a certificate of special Congressional recognition in teaching by Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (2008) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (2017). In 2019 he was inducted into the North Haven High School Sports Hall of Fame, after a long career coaching the high school boys’ soccer team.

As a teacher, Fiondella emphasizes a classroom culture where students discover the importance of engagement and become more responsible for their own education and personal growth. He hopes that students see the short-term and long-term benefits of studying history and understand how topics of history connect to both their own personal lives and to the world around them. He cultivates a positive, safe learning environment that supports intellectual risk-taking, challenges students to think critically, encompasses historical investigation, and emphasizes mutual respect and welcoming of diverse ideas and points of view.

In addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Fiondella’s school will receive a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials and recognition at a ceremony in Connecticut.

 

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Now celebrating its 25th year, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, visionaries and lifelong supporters of American history education. The Institute is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education while also serving the general public. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. Drawing on the 70,000 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the Institute provides teachers, students, and the general public with direct access to unique primary source materials.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Organization of American Historians, and the Council of Independent Colleges.

President Joe Bertolino in an interview with New 8's Ann Nyberg

Ahead of a Town Hall special, “Educating in a Pandemic,” on WTNH on July 30, 2020, News 8’s Ann Nyberg sat down for a one-on-one interview with President Joe Bertolino, to discuss the reopening of the university, among other related issues. As President Joe says in the interview, “There will be light at the end of the tunnel, it’s going to be okay. And while things may not get back to normal or be the same as it was before, I do think that we’re going to grow from the experience.”

Watch the interview:

One-on-one interview with SCSU President Joe Bertolino on COVID-19 impact on higher education

Photographer Ebony McKelvey, '10 (photo by Kathy Leonard Czepiel)

Alumna Ebony McKelvey, ’10, was featured recently on the Daily Nutmeg website for her photography business, Ebony B. Photography. The article, “Big Pictures” (by Kathy Leonard Czepiel, July 8, 2020), introduces McKelvey as “a portrait and art photographer whose mission is ‘capturing the beauty of the African American woman.’ That mission comes from the message she heard repeatedly from other children when she was growing up in New Haven, first in Rock View off Wilmot Road and later at Farnam Courts in Fair Haven,” according to the article.

Image provided courtesy of Ebony B. Photography.

McKelvey graduated from Southern in 2010 with a B.S. in liberal studies, with concentrations in psychology, sociology, and studio art.

A past exhibition of McKelvey’s, The Beautiful Ghetto, highlighted photographs of real people in the Newhallville, Fair Haven, and Hill neighborhoods in New Haven. She is now working on a project about people who were molested.

See more of McKelvey’s photographs and read more about her.

Image provided courtesy of Ebony B. Photography.

 

Marla McLeod

To hear Marla McLeod, ‘14, describe her passion for her former major, geographic information science (GIS), one can’t help but imagine her happily surveying the earth’s surface, gathering information and studying its infinite connections for years to come. But life had different plans for this artist, who was recently named by the Boston Globe as one of “5 Outstanding Art-School Grads for 2020.”

“I really loved geography,” McLeod says. “[With GIS] you can follow different veins and be creative and share perspective. The information builds, and you see how to build connections the more you bring in. It was the study of everything, everywhere.”

It wasn’t until she transferred from community college to Southern in 2012 and took a painting course that she found herself impassioned by the same principles — studying a subject, building up depths of color, sharing perspective – and started questioning her career path.

“I took an art class with Rachael Vaters-Carr, and in that class she told me I was really good at it. And when she told me that, I was a little skeptical,” McLeod says. “In Professor Thuan Vu’s painting course, I was trying to figure out how to paint! What kind of painting did I want to do? He suggested I try working from my own photography, and I took a picture of my friend in drag taking his makeup off, and I felt like, ‘Wow, I think I can paint!’ The colors came alive. And that’s how I got into it.”

After graduating from Southern with a degree in studio art, she took two years off to practice her technique. In 2018, she was accepted into the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University (she graduates this August) and, in 2019, was the recipient of Tuft’s Tisch Library Research Grant, for which she spent the summer “researching Black identity in America and representation and combining the research with fashion found in the drag culture.”

The culmination of the research for her exhibition “RePresent” were her sculptures “Anonymous Woman” and “Baldwin,” which were presented at Black Portraitures 2019 at NYU. McLeod removed things from her sculptures  — skin, hair, features — that have to do with individuality and characteristics in culture and visual cues about who they are as an individual.

“Anonymous Woman”
By Marla MacLeod
Size: 84in (h) x 72in (w) x 72in (d)
Medium: Various textiles, acrylic paint, beads, wood, mannequin
Year: 2019

According to McLeod, “One sculpture represents the black woman in America, the visual references to negative imagery like the mammy are overlayed and altered with symbols and references to Black pride. The second sculpture represents the black man in America, the intimidating hooded figure is overlayed and altered down, adding lavish details that give the figure a sense of royalty.”

For her MFA thesis, McLeod continued her study of Black women from her undergraduate thesis at Southern.

“I began to understand how much I don’t understand about African American history,” McLeod says, “so I had to go back and research and learn and dig into the topic this time with five large portraits.”

In her oil paintings, backed with textiles inspired by Mali mud cloths to give a sense of African tribal patterning, McLeod asked herself: “You’re depicting black people, are you just putting them on display? Each woman, they’re only wearing black, and the viewer must decide what they’re putting on to that body. As I’m creating, the women are happy to be photographed, they are happy with something that’s being created of them, they’re proud. When I get done painting, I worry if I’m getting it right and then from there, it’s wondering if people will be satisfied. I feel like it’s extremely relevant at this point.”

“Ancrum.” From MacLeod’s MFA thesis project, 2020

The large-scale, realistic portraits were displayed this spring at the Tufts University Art Galleries.

As a Black artist, McLeod feels it is important to contribute to the conversation about race “because as I continue my studies it remains to be a considerable factor in what I read about African American history, and it continues to play a considerable factor in my own life. It is at the core of where we are socially in America at this moment. It’s important for me to contribute.”

Art Professor Vu agrees: “Marla is a great example of how committing to the process of art-making, self-investigation and hard work can really pay off. She learned not only the technical skills of drawing and painting, but, more importantly, she found the desire to go deeper and make work that was truly meaningful to her. By doing so, she is contributing her personal voice as a woman of color to a public audience that desperately needs to become more aware of stories from diverse perspectives. I am so happy for all her success and am so proud to have been able to assist her in her growth.”

Despite the accolades and recognition, is McLeod at peace with the fact that she left GIS for art?

“Art majors are for impractical people, either your art sells or it doesn’t,” she says. “For me, it’s been, ‘How much do I enjoy doing my work, will one person look at it?’ I had to get past that naysaying idea about an art career and once you go into it, you will find avenues that are extremely practical. There are teaching jobs, museum fields, and more. People don’t realize how much the artistic field affects every other field.”

As fate would have it, McLeod will bring her unique perspective back to Southern this fall as an adjunct professor, teaching Art 150 Introductory Drawing. In the position, she’ll be able to share her knowledge and perspective with students; as she puts it: “I had a great support system at Southern and hopefully now I’ll be doing what professors did for me.”

Marla McLeod’s work has been presented at Southern Connecticut State University; the School of the Museum of Fine Art; Ely House, CT; City Lights Gallery, CT; Dana Hall School, MA, and ESPN, amongst others. She was the 2014 recipient of the Robert EW Eisele Fine Arts award, and 2019 Will and Elena Barnet Painting Award.

Siobhan Carter-David

Associate Professor of History Siobhan Carter-David recently published her essay, “Essence as Archive on the Occasion of its Golden Anniversary,” in Black Perspectives, the award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS). First published in 1970, Essence is a monthly lifestyle magazine covering fashion, beauty, entertainment, and culture. Its target audience is African American women.

In what Carter-David refers to as her “ode to Essence,” she discusses “the work carried out by Essence in documenting the collective lives of Black women” over the past 50 years. She has used the magazine in her research and writing.

Carter-David, who is also an affiliate faculty member in Women’s and Gender Studies, teaches in the areas of fashion studies and African American/African Diasporic and contemporary United States histories. Her research focuses are dress and racial uplift as presented in black print media and migration and public housing in New York City. She has worked with museum and special collection curators on projects involving various facets of African American and broad-based United States cultural histories. She is author of several journal articles, and chapters in edited volumes and exhibition catalogues. She is completing her book manuscript, Issuing the Black Wardrobe: Fashion, Magazines, and Uplift Post-Soul.

 

 

Tess Marchant-Shapiro
Tess Marchant-Shapiro

The Supreme Court recently ruled that states may require members of the Electoral College to vote for the presidential candidate for whom their state elected in the popular vote.

The 9-0 decision gives states the authority to impose restrictions on the electors from those states, as well as to impose sanctions on those who fail to comply. From time to time, members of the Electoral College throughout U.S. history have “gone rogue” in voting for candidates who were not popularly elected in their state.

It most recently occurred during the 2016 presidential election, when a group of electors from states won by Hillary Clinton voted for other candidates, while a couple of electors from states won by Donald Trump also voted for other candidates.

Theresa Marchant-Shapiro, professor of political science, offered her insight and analysis during two recent radio interviews — WTIC (1080 AM) and WICC (600 AM).