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Barbara Aronson (left) and Lisa Rebeschi (center) of the Nursing Department are recognized by the Connecticut Nursing Collaborative Action Coalition for their efforts to improve the quality of nursing education in Connecticut. Also pictured is Marianne Kennedy, former associate vice president for academic affairs.

Two nursing faculty members at Southern were honored recently by the Connecticut Nursing Collaborative Action Coalition (CNC-AC) for their effort to eliminate the gap between academia and real world practice.

Lisa Rebeschi, chairwoman of the SCSU Nursing Department, and Barbara Aronson, coordinator of SCSU’s nursing doctoral program, were presented awards at the CNC-AC’s Education Summit held at the Yale School of Nursing.

A recent initiative, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, seeks to minimize the divide and better prepare students to be nurses. Nurses and nursing faculty at SCSU, Gateway Community College and Yale-New Haven Hospital worked collaboratively on the project.

The project enabled faculty to analyze their curricula, as well as real world patient care, leadership, technology, communication and teamwork, safety, quality improvement and evidence-based practice. The goal is to better prepare nursing students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to provide high quality and effective care.

The analysis also assists in identifying the educational needs of associate degree nursing students who begin baccalaureate nursing degree programs.

More than 175 recommendations were made and an action plan developed to implement many of these strategies during the next several years.

Sandra Bulmer, interim dean of the SCSU School of Health and Human Services, said Rebeschi and Aronson have made substantial contributions that will have benefit the future of nursing education in Connecticut.

“Their wealth of experience as nurse educators in public institutions added important perspectives to the work of the CNC-AC,” Bulmer said.

“Their leadership positions at our institution uniquely position them to take immediate action to begin implementation of curricular changes that will benefit our students and improve the quality of patient care in our healthcare settings.”

    In April 2013, Theatre Professor Sheila Hickey Garvey served as theater director for the Greater Middletown Chorale’s (GMChorale) production of Letter from Italy, 1944, a dramatic oratorio comprised of 24 choral and solo pieces, performed by the 80 members of the chorale. The oratorio told the true story of one man’s experiences during wartime. In addition to serving on Southern’s faculty, Garvey is resident director of the GMChorale.

    Karyl Evans
    Karyl Evans

    On June 18 at 8 p.m., a new documentary about the oratorio will premiere on Connecticut Public Television (CPTV). Commissioned by the GMChorale, the film explores the effects of war on a soldier and on his relationships with his family through the lens of staging a new American oratorio. Narrated by Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, the film was directed by five-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Karyl Evans (left), niece of Southern’s Hilton C. Buley and formerly a member of the Communication Department faculty.

    Letter from Italy’s ties to SCSU go deep,” says Garvey. She adds that the project is especially meaningful to her not only because of the veteran’s story but also it served “as a capstone sort of project in my professional directing career.”

    The film Letter from Italy takes viewers on the journey of the creation of an oratorio written by two sisters, Sarah Meneely-Kyder and Nancy Meneely, about their father, Dr. John K. Meneely Jr., a doctor trained at Yale Medical School (1941) who served as a medic in the elite 10th Mountain Division during World War II. He returned home from war in Italy with post-traumatic stress disorder and tried to rebuild his life.

    Meneely-Kyder, a Grammy-nominated composer, and Nancy Meneely, a noted poet, both Connecticut residents, wrote the compelling two-hour oratorio in collaboration with GMChorale Artistic Director Joseph D’Eugenio of Hamden.

    Evans, a North Haven resident and owner of Karyl Evans Productions LLC, says of the story, “Everything about this project is compelling: the story of Yale-trained Dr. Meneely and his family, the impressive accomplishments of the 10th Mountain Division in Italy, and the breathtaking quality of the lyrics and music in the oratorio.”

    “Karyl Evans’ enormous gifts as a storyteller and filmmaker are palpable through the tone and atmosphere she creates in telling this powerful story about an American soldier’s struggle with PTSD,” D’Eugenio says of the documentary.

    “We are so pleased to be able to premiere such a unique and creative program on CPTV,” says Carol Sisco, vice president and executive director of television programming and acquisitions for the CPTV networks. “This documentary showcases the talents of local artists and allows us to share an important story with our viewers.”

    The film tells the history of the 10th Mountain Division — still active today — and the life of John Meneely, and then follows the creative process of the writing of the oratorio’s lyrics (which are based on Dr. Meneely’s poetic letters home from war) and music, as well as the staging of the oratorio by theater director Garvey and the intensive rehearsal process with the GMChorale’s 80 members and the soloists, including tenor Jack Anthony Pott and Metropolitan Opera soprano Patricia Schuman.

    The film uses interviews with the creators, singers, three World War II 10th Mountain Division veterans, historians, audience members, community participants and other veterans, as well as archival photos and film, to weave together a compelling story about a veteran and his family and the way a shared artistic experience can help heal the trauma of war.

    The film Letter from Italy, also commissioned by the GMC, was made possible with the major support of the state DECD/Connecticut Office of the Arts.

    For more information on the program, visit CPTV.org or the GMChorale’s website. A promotional video about the film is available for viewing on YouTube.

    Photo below:  Garvey (center, in blue dress) and the composers, director and cast of Letters from Italy, 1944, take a bow at the oratorio’s 2013 production.

      The crown jewels of Buley Library have returned home after several years away. Four magnificent stained-glass windows were recently reinstalled in the library after being removed while the building was undergoing construction. Two arched windows, known as the “Hector” window and the “Water Brooks” window, among three donated by the First Church of Christ in New Haven, are considered masterful examples of the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Along with a third arched window known as “The Angel of Praise,” the “Hector” and “Water Brooks” windows are now on the south side of the first floor of the renovated section of the library, near the Reference Desk and computer area. These windows were originally donated to the university in the 1960s and installed in Buley in 1972. A fourth window, known as the “Congregational” window — donated by the North Stonington Congregational Church in the 1990s — is also on the south side, in the two-level reading area that starts on the second floor of the connector between the original library building and the addition built in recent years. Both locations illuminate the windows with natural light during the day and are also be visible at night from the outside.

      Buley's Tiffany WindowThe three arched windows were the first major works of art the university acquired for permanent exhibition. They were originally installed for public display in the library’s main reading lounge, set in shadow boxes with back lighting. It was believed that this manner of displaying the windows was the first incidence of former church windows being exhibited as art works in a public building, aside from museums. The windows were removed when construction began on the library, and they were restored and kept in storage until their new home became ready for them.

      The Tiffany windows are considered to be fine examples of the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933), a renowned designer, painter, and craftsman who remains one of America’s most influential and celebrated artists. Tiffany founded the Tiffany Glass Company on December 1, 1885. He focused on new methods of glass manufacture, and before opening his studio, he had registered a patent for opalescent window glass, in which several colors were combined and altered to create an inconceivable range of hues and three-dimensional effects. Tiffany devoted himself to “the pursuit of beauty” and the elevation of American Arts and Crafts into a fine art.

      Tiffany’s studio achieved national and international recognition when he was commissioned to produce stained-glass windows for the interior homes of Mark Twain, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the White House under President Chester A. Arthur. Tiffany’s unparalleled style – reflected most notably in his glass vases, tiles, mosaics, and particularly his glass table lamps and lampshades – greatly influenced the Art Nouveau movement. The artistic pieces he produced between the 1890s and 1918 were dazzling, exquisite, exotic, and of the highest quality, thus forever joining his name with the ideal of elegance.

      Unfortunately, by the time of his death in 1933, there had been a decline in the interest and popularity of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, matched by a drop in the market for Tiffany’s works. With the advent of the Art Moderne and Expressionist movements, the popularity of Tiffany’s signature design and style was diminished.

      It was Dr. Robert Koch, (Professor Emeritus, 1918-2003) a decorative arts expert and Louis C. Tiffany’s biographer, who set in motion a revival of interest in Tiffany’s Art Nouveau glasswork designs.

      His scholarly infusion into Tiffany’s legacy led to a resurgence in popularity and increased demand for Tiffany works. Born in New York City and educated at Harvard and New York universities, Koch served in the United States Army from 1942 to 1945 and in 1958 earned a doctorate in art history at Yale University.

      For over 20 years, he served as a faculty member and was an art historian in the Art Department at Southern. Upon his retirement, Koch’s significant contributions earned him professor emeritus status. He was the author of several books on Tiffany, and he donated rare Tiffany works to several museums. Koch was responsible for the donation to Southern of the Tiffany windows.

        New Student Orientation
        Students at New Student Orientation 2014

        A new partnership between Gateway Community College and Southern will enable many students to expedite their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.

        Students earning an associate in arts (A.A.) degree in liberal arts and sciences from Gateway will automatically have nearly all of their general education course requirements waived at SCSU. The general education requirements, known at SCSU as the Liberal Education Program (LEP), require most students to earn 48 credits in courses designed to ensure a well-rounded education.

        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. Students would still have to earn 3 credits in a foreign language class (200 level at SCSU or third level at Gateway); 3 credits in math above an intermediate algebra level; and a capstone course. The math and foreign language requirements could be earned at Gateway, as well, but the capstone must be taken at SCSU.

        “We are convinced that these students who have earned 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,” said SCSU Provost Bette Bergeron.

        “Gateway is our largest feeder community college, and this will dramatically simplify the transfer procedure for many Gateway students with an associate in liberal arts and sciences degree.”

        She noted that students previously would need a course-by-course analysis with an academic advisor to determine how many of their Gateway credits would count toward meeting the LEP requirements at SCSU.

        “These students will know up front what they are getting when they come here in terms of credits,” said Marianne Kennedy, associate vice president for academic affairs. “It will provide these students with a clearer, more transparent road to academic success.”

        Some academic majors require students to take a specific LEP class or two, according to Deborah Weiss, acting chairwoman of the SCSU Undergraduate Curriculum Forum. In those cases, the major requirement would supersede the new agreement.

        Frank LaDore, SCSU director of Academic Advisement and Career Services, said he would urge Gateway graduates who plan to attend SCSU to apply to their specific program as soon as they are accepted to the university. “Students will then know if they need to take a specific LEP course or two to meet the requirements of their major, as well as gain a clear understanding of which courses they should register for during their first semester here.

        Gateway recorded a total of 161 students who graduated with an A.A. degree in liberal arts and sciences last year, and 780 students who were enrolled in the program.

        “The faculty at Southern are endorsing the value of a liberal arts and science degree from Gateway, and acknowledging that students are prepared for upper division studies,” said Lauren Doninger, coordinator of Gateway’s liberal arts and sciences program. “With a Gateway degree, students will get a broad section of courses that will lead them to be successful in majors at Southern.

        “Previously, students who did not make course selections specifically with Southern in mind had to take many additional credits to complete a degree at SCSU. This change will vastly simplify the transfer,” Doninger said.

        FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

        Southern recently approved a plan that will enable students who earned an Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree in liberal arts and sciences from Gateway to expedite their path to a bachelor’s degree.

        Students who have earned an A.A. degree from Gateway will be exempted from most of the required general education courses, known at Southern as the Liberal Education Program (LEP).

        Who is eligible to participate in this program?

        Any student who graduated with an associate in arts degree in liberal arts and sciences from Gateway since 2011 is eligible. At Gateway, it is commonly referred to as the LAS degree.

        How many credits must students earn to complete the LEP requirements?

        Most Southern students must successfully complete 48 LEP credits.

        How many credits could such a student transfer to Southern?

        Generally, at least 39 credits could be transferred to Southern in terms of meeting the 48-credit LEP requirement. In some cases, up to 45 credits could be transferred. But all 61 credits may be transferred to help with earning a bachelor’s degree.

        Which 9 credits would still be required to complete the LEP program? In other words, if the associate degree earns most students at least 39 of the 48 credits, what are these other 9 credits?

        The 9 credits are:

        *3 credits – a course that meets the multilingual communication requirement. In other words, a 200-level foreign language is needed.

        *3 credits – a course that meets the quantitative reasoning (math) requirement. It must be at a level above intermediate algebra.

        *3 credits — a Tier 3 capstone course at Southern

        Is it possible for a student to earn some of the remaining 9 credits at Gateway?

        Yes, a student can earn 6 of those 9 credits at Gateway. The math requirement would be met by successfully completing a math course above the intermediate algebra level. The foreign language requirement would be met by passing a 200-level foreign language course at Gateway (e.g. French 201, Spanish 201). A student could also be waived from the foreign language requirement by passing the Stamp Test at the intermediate low level, meeting the CLEP exam score or meeting the ACTFL exam score.

        The Tier 3 capstone course, however, can only be completed at Southern.

        What if a student decides to major in a discipline that requires a specific LEP course or two to be met?

        In those cases, the major requirement supersedes this agreement, and that specific course – or in some cases, two courses — must be taken at Southern.

        Before this plan went into effect, how did the credit transfer process work?

        Academic advisors would examine each student’s transcript and determine which courses would be transferable – both for the LEP requirements and for graduation purposes.

        Does the new system allow students to transfer more of their credits toward meeting Southern’s LEP requirements than previously was the case?

        Yes. Typically, it enables students to transfer at least 2 to 3 additional courses – thereby, reducing their workload while at Southern. As an example, English classes were often not transferrable to meet the LEP, but they are now. In some cases, a student can graduate a semester earlier now as result of this agreement.

        What else has changed?

        The process is more transparent. Students will know how many credits will be transferable before coming to Southern.

        student and professor in research lab

        Innovative studies and projects from students will be showcased March 28 at the first of what is anticipated to be an annual Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference at Southern.

        “This is a wonderful opportunity for our undergraduates to display what they can do, and in fact, have done over the past year,” says Patricia Zibluk, conference coordinator and director of Southern’s Office of Sponsored Programs and Research. “It provides an overview of the types of research opportunities available to students at Southern. In addition, it shows the value of a Southern education – where undergraduates have the opportunity to conduct research under the mentorship of engaged faculty, and in many cases, to partner with them on research projects.”

        Registration and breakfast will begin at 8 a.m. in the Michael J. Adanti Student Center, Grand Ballroom, with opening remarks scheduled for 9 a.m. by President Mary A. Papazian. She will be followed by keynote speaker Jacquelynn Garofano,  an alumna who is now a research scientist at United Technologies Research Center. Garofano earned a B.S. degree in physics from Southern in 2006. She went on to earn an M.S. degree and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of Connecticut.

        Garofano conducted extensive materials science research as an undergraduate at Southern, some of which was supported by the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at Yale and Southern. She conducted her research under the tutelage of Christine Broadbridge, who is currently the university’s director of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiatives and the director for the CSCU Center for Nanotechnology.

        “Jackie is a tremendous role model for students – someone who made the most of her opportunities as an undergraduate at Southern and is now doing exciting things in the world of materials science,” Zibluk says.

        She says the upcoming conference is filled with budding talent across the disciplinary spectrum. Various rooms in the Student Center will be used during the day. The program will include oral presentations, poster presentations, an art crawl in Earl Hall, a panel discussion on careers from Southern alumni, and dramatic scenes played out by students who recently competed at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

        Zibluk adds that it is an educational opportunity for students to hear from alumni about career opportunities that may await them.

        Among the career panelists is Dave Paulson, who will deliver a lunchtime keynote address. Paulson is a Southern alum who graduated summa cum laude earned a B.S. degree in anthropology in 2010. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Temple University who is researching the developmental experiences of Cham ethnic minority children as they acquire their endangered language amid Vietnam’s post-socialist transformation.

        For further information about the program, contact Patricia Zibluk, (203) 392-6800, or at ziblukp1@southernct.edu . The deadline for registration is March 20.

         

        student doing a push up
        The focus on student health and wellness is part of a larger culture change that has been taking place on campus in recent years and continues to grow.

        The key to student success is a multifaceted approach to students’ health, says Southern’s new Student Health and Wellness Center coordinator, Emily Rosenthal, MPH, MSW.

        Rosenthal was hired late last year to develop a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to health and wellness education for students.

        Vice President for Student Affairs Tracy Tyree envisions Rosenthal’s efforts will bring together the growing number of health and wellness initiatives around campus while boosting overall awareness of programming.

        “While we have a lot of great people and offices who focus on the health and wellness of our students, Emily will help us provide a more integrated and intentional approach,” Tyree says. 

        “Student wellness is a top priority, as it is critical to students’ capacity to learn and be successful at Southern.”

        Since arriving on campus in January, Rosenthal has been meeting with key leaders in these areas. “My goal is to find out how a wellness coordinator can help,” she says. “Where do they see gaps, needs, priorities?”

        In response to her findings, Rosenthal has preliminarily outlined four general priority areas for student wellness: sleep, stress, nutrition and sexual health. She says that tobacco cessation is a priority as well, and she intends to look at student health data, which the university collects every two years.

        Reporting to Diane Morgenthaler, the Center’s director, Rosenthal will head a collaborative wellness team with representatives from Student Health, Counseling, the Fitness Center, Campus Recreation, the Drug and Alcohol Center (DARC), the Women’s Center, the Multicultural/SAGE Center and relevant academic departments.

        Morgenthaler says Rosenthal’s “vision to develop a holistic wellness experience is one that we anticipate will contribute significantly to our students’ overall success.”

        “There’s so much that is already being done here,” Rosenthal says, “and so much we can do. But it’s important that we take the time to focus and see what our priorities are, so that we’re more effective and efficient.”

        With two master’s degrees – in public health and in social work — from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Harvard University, Rosenthal has always worked in health-related fields, mostly focusing on teens and young adults.

        Prior to arriving at Southern, she worked in residence life at Harvard and held a variety of positions over a period of three years. As a resident dean in one of the university houses, she worked closely with students as well as faculty and staff around campus.

        Now, Rosenthal looks forward to applying her health background and student-focused experiences to strategic health and wellness programming.

        “Based on what we see in the student health data, we will come up with a central goal and message that we can collaborate around.”

        A HEALTHY CAMPUS

        The focus on student health and wellness is part of a larger culture change that has been taking place on campus in recent years and continues to grow. As part of this movement towards a healthier campus community, Southern is now considering a campus-wide policy that would prohibit smoking and tobacco use.

        In February 2014, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy asked Connecticut’s colleges and universities to consider going “smoke-free” as part of a federal initiative. In response, the university’s Health and Safety Committee conducted outreach and research to determine the feasibility of such a move. After several months of studying the issue, the committee concluded that the use of tobacco compromises the well-being of the campus community as a whole, and was ready to propose that Southern become a tobacco-free campus following the spring semester of 2015.

        The committee’s proposed policy and timeline has been presented to the campus governance bodies for review and comment before a final recommendation is made to President Papazian. The committee has also encouraged final comments from all members of the community. Read more about the proposed policy.

        In another effort to support health and wellness,  Southern is “going red” for the American Heart Association (AHA) through the 2015 Greater New Haven Heart Walk, taking place on Sat., May 2, under the leadership of President Mary A. Papazian, vice-chair of the event. The university has committed to raising $5,000 in support of the AHA, and several SCSU offices and departments have formed teams and begun fundraising by recruiting walkers and donations.

        The Greater New Haven Heart Walk is a non-competitive three-mile walk that raises funds and awareness for research, education, and advocacy of cardiovascular disease and stroke right here in Greater New Haven. There is no registration fee to participate in the Heart Walk and no fundraising minimum. The walk will take place at Savin Rock in West Haven on May 2, beginning at 10 am. Learn more.

          the authors
          Michele Vancour, a professor of public health, and Michele Griswold, a graduate of Southern’s public health master’s program as well as a nurse and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)

          When a breastfeeding mother returns to work, her separation from her infant can disrupt breastfeeding, and many workplaces lack policies and procedures to support mothers who wish to continue nursing their babies. According to Michele Vancour and Michele Griswold, such policies don’t exist just to cater to families — they are good for business by contributing to greater employee satisfaction and retention. Yet many working mothers stop breastfeeding because of the barriers they encounter in the workplace.

          Breastfeeding Best PracticesIn their new book Breastfeeding Best Practices in Higher Education, Vancour, a professor of public health, and Griswold, a graduate of Southern’s public health master’s program as well as a nurse and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), examine breastfeeding and the workplace as a public health issue. They address the need for support of breastfeeding on university campuses; describe best practices as implemented at several U.S. higher education institutions and provide examples of how college and universities can work toward becoming more supportive of breastfeeding among employees and students.

          Both Griswold and Vancour have expertise on the topic of breastfeeding, both as a health issue and as a workplace issue. Griswold chairs the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition, and Vancour is on the board. Griswold’s master’s thesis looked at breastfeeding in the pediatric primary care setting, and she has worked as a lactation consultant in a primary care setting. Vancour was Griswold’s thesis adviser and has long researched and written on work/life balance. She was an advocate for the university establishing a lactation space on campus, where nursing mothers can pump in private when away from their infants. Such a room was eventually made available in Connecticut Hall.

          Vancour knew from her research that colleges and universities were an area where lactation support was lacking. National public policy initiatives such as the Affordable Care Act have put out guidelines requiring workplaces to have more supports in place for breastfeeding mothers, so Vancour and Griswold decided to collaborate on a book that would look specifically at such support in the higher education setting. They say it should serve as a useful resource to those who are working to bring their workplaces into alignment with such policies.

          “In the book, we place breastfeeding in a larger context – why it is important for both mothers and children. It’s good for our country’s future – breastfed babies grow up healthier,” says Griswold. She points out that breastfeeding can help to prevent childhood obesity, ear infections, colds and flu. And for mothers, it can protect against breast and ovarian cancers. Premature infants do much better when they are fed their mothers’ milk.

          Vancour says she has always been a big proponent of best practices, and the book focuses on six institutions that she and Griswold believe have created environments that support breastfeeding: George Washington University, the University of Rhode Island, the University of California Davis, the University of Arizona, Michigan State University and Johns Hopkins University.

          Vancour and Griswold say that for an institution to become fully supportive of their employees who are breastfeeding, a paradigm shift is required: a move from thinking about the company to thinking about how to support employees – which in turn is good for the company.

            The U.S. Forest Service uses it to help fight fires, build trails, and protect wildlife. Fast-food chains rely on it to track sales and predict the most profitable sites to build new restaurants. Electric companies depend on it to shorten the duration of power outages and improve response times.

            Welcome to the expanding field of Geospatial Information Science (GIS), in which state-of-the-art technology — including the global positioning system (GPS), remote sensing, and geographic information systems — is used to gather information related to the Earth’s surface and then combine it with social, economic, environmental, and other data. Experts in the field gather, store, analyze, and use the information extensively in research, business, government, nonprofit organizations, and more.

            “GIS and geospatial technology are used almost everywhere — from forestry to marketing to public health. The opportunities and possibilities are vast,” says Eric S. West, associate professor of geography, who spoke to students about the field and Southern’s new minor in Geospatial Information Science and Technology.

            Launched in the fall 2014 semester, the minor requires the completion of 18 credits. Students take two core courses — “Maps and Map Making Technology” and “Introduction to GIS” — and complete a minimum of seven credits, choosing from electives such as “Remote Sensing” and “Cartography.” A capstone experience — a culminating course and/or an internship — furthers students’ knowledge.

            Southern formally celebrated the introduction of the minor on GIS Day, held on November 19. Students from numerous majors enjoyed presentations from two alumni, who discussed how maps and geographic information systems are used at their organizations: Ethan Hutchings, ’08, manager of operations for the city of New Haven’s Transportation Department, and Marwin Gonzalez, ’08, the GIS project manager at New England GeoSystems (NEGEO).  Both majored in geography and studied with West.

            “If you start to think spatially, you open up your world tremendously,” says Gonzalez. In addition to working at NEGEO where he conducts GIS projects for municipalities and regional planning agencies, Gonzalez is a marketing GIS coordinator for LEGO KidsFest and teaches at Central Connecticut State University. “I challenge my students to give me a field or career that does not use GPS,” he says. During his presentation, he highlighted numerous real-life applications for geospatial information science and technology. Examples include determining the amount of sand needed by a city snowplow driver and creating ways to securely store maps and other data for city water systems. He notes that the latter is critical in light of terrorism concerns.

            The outlook for those employed in the field is bright, with an average salary of $82,340 in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Alumnus Ethan Hutchings parlayed a successful internship obtained with the assistance of Associate Professor of Geography C. Patrick Heidkamp into a career with the city of New Haven. Hutchings initially attended the University of Maine, majoring in forestry and wildlife. The fit wasn’t ideal, and he left school and ultimately traveled across the U.S. and internationally, visiting Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Vietnam. When he later took an introductory geography course at Gateway College, he knew he had found his niche and transferred to Southern where he completed his B.S. in geography.

            As the manager of operations for New Haven’s Department of Transportation, Traffic, and Parking, Hutchings developed ways to help the city effectively manage data generated through SeeClickFix, which lets residents use cell phones and other technology to report non-emergency issues — like potholes or broken parking meters. He says GIS plays a major role in helping cities and businesses address peoples’ needs and concerns. For example, he notes that electronic parking meters provide a wealth of information. “They can tell us all sorts of things . . . how many people used a space in an eight-hour period . . . how they paid,” he says. “We can look at that data and determine locations where we need more meters. GIS has helped the city do a lot of interesting things.”

            West concurs: “GIS has transformed the way organizations operate and the way people in organizations handle their work flow. We are excited about propelling students forward in their knowledge of GIS and geospatial technology, and working with them to customize their education in a way that will have a positive impact on their careers.”

              The avoidance of eye contact is a well-known characteristic of those who have an autism spectrum disorder. But does that avoidance result in the common speech difficulties and other language development problems generally seen in those with the disorder?

              Southern – in a partnership with Haskins Laboratories, which is affiliated with both Yale University and the University of Connecticut – hopes to find out the answer to that question as part of a three-year study that recently began. The research is being funded through a $500,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health. SCSU is receiving about $300,000 of the grant.

              “This study could be transformative in terms of what we learn about autism spectrum disorders and for intervention for speech language programs,” said Julia Irwin, associate professor of psychology and the lead investigator for the project. “We hope it will enable us to better understand the roots of language difficulties, which in turn, will help us to treat children at an earlier age.”

              Irwin said that most research and clinical practice involving forms of autism emphasize the auditory perception component, but the visual aspect (exposure to mouth movements in face-to-face communication) receives relatively little attention.

              “Yet, reduced gaze to the face may have cascading effects on language learning in two important ways,” Irwin said. “First, it limits a child’s experience with the movements of a speaker’s face — movements that can help the listener understand what is said, especially in a noisy environment. Second, it can make it less likely that children will imitate the speaking faces of others, which is a powerful way to learn words.”

              The non-invasive study has children watching videos of people speaking and using an eye tracker to see where they are gazing during the video. The children will wear a specially designed cap that will enable researchers to look at the electrical activity of their brains with EEG and determine if there is an underlying problem integrating the auditory and visual information.

              Later, the children participate in a therapeutic training game called “Listening to Faces” with the use of an iPad. The game encourages the participants to look at the faces of individuals speaking. They will then be tested to see if there an improvement in their ability to hear and understand people speaking.

              “Our preliminary indication is that they do show improvement,” Irwin said. “But we need to expand the pool of participants before we can reach any conclusion.”

              Irwin said the researchers are asking for child volunteers, between the ages of 6 and 12, who will be paid $10 an hour for about six hours. The testing is conducted over two visits with about three hours per visit.

              Parents wishing to have their children tested should contact project coordinator Jacqueline Turcios, an SCSU graduate student, at listeningtofaces@haskins.yale.edu to see if they are eligible.

              Several SCSU departments and individuals are involved in the project, including Larry Brancazio, chairman of the Psychology Department; Ruth Eren, director of the SCSU Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders; Barbara Cook, assistant professor of communication disorders; the Center for Communication Disorders; Jonathan Preston, a former assistant professor of communication disorders; and graduate student Jacqueline Turcios.

              To learn more about the study, check out a recent article in the New Haven Register and the text version of a story on Channel 8.

                The Tourism, Hospitality, & Event Management students went to Germany! Follow their adventures in the new blog.

                Southern students soon will test their hotel management skills in a global competition with their peers from Germany, Belgium, China and Turkey.

                The 10 students will compete from Feb. 2 to 6 in a virtual, Internet-based simulation game called the “Emerald Forest Global Competition” at Karlshochschule International University in Karlruhe, Germany. The event models the management of a hotel business and is designed to develop entrepreneurial collaboration and communication skills, according to Jan Jones, associate professor of recreation and leisure studies. Jones is organizing the trip and will accompany the students, who are recreation and leisure studies majors with a concentration in tourism, hospitality and event management.

                “Our students are actually the first Americans ever to participate in the Emerald Forest competition,” she said. “It’s very exciting and I’m confident this will be a rewarding experience for them. Besides honing their skills, they will have an opportunity to network with their peers from several countries.”

                The participants will be divided among 10 teams, and the format requires the students to interact and cooperate with those from other countries. The event is conducted in English.

                The teams will seek to maximize profits for the hotel by developing a business/operational strategy that includes the generation of press releases and promotional materials; advertising; preparation of a trade fair; analysis of their competition; and development of responses to crises. Jones has been selected to coach one of the teams. The Southern group includes eight undergraduate and two graduate students.

                Jones says she was invited by a German professor who she met at a program in Portugal last year to participate as a coach.

                “This opportunity is really a dream come true for me,” she adds. “I have always wanted to take my students abroad for an educational experience.”

                The students attending are: Kristen Leigh, Lorette O’Connor, Jessee Keirsread, Eric Larson, Brendan Donovan, Julianne Prusinski, Brianne Horn, Valerie Kaoud, Kaitlyn Wetzel, and Jessica Teixeira.