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It's a challenging time for student-athletes with all Northeast 10 fall competitions canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — including football. Helping to lighten the load, the Football Alumni Network, a dedicated group of former players, remains committed to directly supporting today's student-athletes.

[From left] Longtime friends Larry Ciotti, 66, M.S. '71, 6th Yr. '92, and Joe Ginnetti, '69, M.S. '75, have teamed up alongside other former Southern football players to support the Owls.

Joe Ginnetti and Larry Ciotti go way back — to the summer of ’65 when Ginnetti was a recent high school graduate from Wilbur Cross attending preseason practice with Southern’s football team, and Ciotti was a rising senior picked to captain the team that fall. The two hit it off and began a friendship that has spanned six decades. “I call Larry my big brother from another mother,” Ginnetti says. “The bonds you develop over the years last a lifetime.”

It’s a special friendship born of Southern football, one they hope to pass on. Their shared goals: to give future generations the opportunity to forge similar bonds with teammates and to help them enjoy success like they had in their glory days. Together, they launched the Football Alumni Network (FAN), which raises money to provide additional scholarships to the program, a unique venture for Southern athletics.

Ciotti, a center and linebacker, led the ’65 team to the first of four consecutive conference titles as captain his senior year, when he was All-New England and All-Eastern League. In 1998, he was inducted into the Southern Athletics Hall of Fame. Ginnetti was also an all- conference center on conference championship teams. His junior year, they whipped University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a team stocked with future NFL players, including Art Shell and Emerson Boozer. “To this day we still don’t know how the hell we did it, but we did,” Ginnetti says. “We were a powerhouse.”

Ciotti clearly recalls the impact Southern played during his formative college years. “I, like many of the others, had such a wonderful time at Southern,” he says. “The coaches were very nurturing. So were the professors. They really cared for us. It’s still the same way even though the faces have changed. We all have a passion for Southern.”

The friends also understand the university’s unique challenges. Southern is the only public university in the Northeast 10 (NE 10) conference and, as is the case for most urban state universities, its resources are limited. In the 2019-20 season, the Owls competed against eight private colleges in football. (Not all NE 10 members play the sport.) “There are a couple of teams in the league that have historically been on top in terms of scholarship dollars. But in the last 20 years, there’s also been a huge increase in the importance of football at many of the private institutions,” says head football coach Thomas Godek, ’88. “We have one-fourth of the scholarships of our conference rivals.”

Without scholarships, Ciotti says, “We don’t get the players” to remain competitive on the field.

Building a Legacy
When Ciotti and Ginnetti attended Southern, tuition was $50 a semester — providing both with an opportunity to earn their degrees. Ciotti grew up in Portsmouth, N.H., the son of an ironworker, who was frequently out of work. He ended up marrying the girl who gave him and his teammate a ride to a social mixer his first day of orientation. They wed spring of senior year, one of six football couples who married that spring and summer. Five are still together, 55 years later. Larry and Barbara now have four children and 12 grandchildren.

After graduation, Ciotti took a job teaching physical education at Daniel Hand High School in Madison, Conn. Over 19 seasons (1970-1988) he became a legendary football coach, winning four state championships and being inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame. He then coached 21 years at Yale University, primarily as the running backs coach, and now serves as a special adviser to head coach Tony Reno.

Ginnetti, the son of a first-generation, Italian-American father with an eighth grade education, grew up in the Annex neighborhood of New Haven and was the first in his family to go to college. He chose Southern because he wanted to stay close to his high school sweetheart, Ida, who followed him to the university the following year and graduated with a degree in art education in 1970. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary earlier this year by renewing their vows in a 14th century church in Florence, Italy.

Like his buddy Larry, he, too, became a teacher, working with sixth-grade students who had learning disabilities and emotional difficulties. Ginnetti also played five years in the Atlantic Coast Football League. While he and Ida raised their three children, Ginnetti supplemented his teaching income by waiting tables in the evenings for half a dozen years so she could stay home with the kids. A friend offered him a job in sales and eventually he moved to The Raymond Corporation, a division/subsidiary of Toyota, where he was vice president of sales until he retired last year. He and Ida have two granddaughters.

Since the two friends started FAN three years ago, they have held several events to raise awareness for their cause. These include a gathering of about 50 football alumni early on at Brazi’s Italian Restaurant; a production of The Guys, a play about New York firefighters during 9/11; and a tent at Homecoming this past fall.  The Guys, starring Dan Lauria, ’70, a former Owl linebacker turned actor (best known for his roles as the father in The Wonder Years and as Vince Lombardi in the Broadway play) and Wendie Malick (This is Us and Hot in Cleveland), raised more than $20,000. But Ciotti and Ginnetti emphasize that these events are more about educating Southern football alumni and fans about the need to support the program.

Coach Godek, also a former Owl football player, concurs: “We have more than seven decades of former players. They have great history and wonderful memories — and through the Football Alumni Network they can help us take on the financial challenges that will ensure the program’s future.”

He notes that the support has never been more vital, particularly with so many students and their families facing economic difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a very organized and committed executive board as well as an advisory board — and we are always looking for former players who are interested in joining the program and sharing ideas,” says Godek. He notes that all proceeds directly benefit members of the team as scholarship support — adding that consistent contributions ensure that Southern can continue to help students each year.

FAN has already made a significant impact. Their first year, FAN raised $67,500. FAN’s fundraising increased to more than $114,500 their second year and the goal is to continue to raise $100,000 annually — enough to provide 25 players with a $4,000 scholarship. The first scholarships were awarded to students for the 2018-19 academic year.

Ciotti and Ginnetti are pleased with what they’ve started and how well it has been received. Perhaps that goes back to a lesson Ginnetti learned from his father. “He taught me there are two types of people in this world, givers and takers,” Ginnetti says. “The takers eat well. The givers sleep well.” ■

Directly support student-athletes on Southern’s football team with a gift to the Football Alumni Network. Please write “FAN” in the memo section of your check, or for online contributions, select “Other” in the designation section and add “FAN.” Thank you!

Cover of SCSU Southern Alumni Magazine Summer 2020Read more stories in the Summer ’20 issue of Southern Alumni Magazine.

John and Nina Caragianis firmly believed in the transformative power of education. Their daughter — now a celebrated Southern professor and administrator — has established a memorial fund that extends her parents’ legacy by helping Southern students.

Christine Caragianis Broadbridge, Southern professor, administrator, and donor, shares a photo of her parents — Nina and John W. Caragianis — taken when she earned her doctorate from Brown University.

When Christine Caragianis Broadbridge was deciding on a college major, it was her father who nudged her toward the sciences — still an unconventional path for a woman in the mid 1980s.
“He said, ‘Pick the most challenging thing you can think of, and I’ll be there for you,’” Broadbridge recalls. “So I picked electrical engineering and physics.”

Broadbridge’s initial exposure to technology came from watching her father repair jukeboxes and pinball machines at the family’s vending machine business. She is a first-generation college student, but earning a university degree was always a given. “My mother and I talked about college every day,” says Broadbridge, who went on to graduate first in her class at the University of Rhode Island (URI), where she was one of a few women engineering majors.

A master’s degree and doctorate from the esteemed Brown University of Providence, R.I., followed. “I had my child by this time,” says Broadbridge, “and my parents were so supportive and proud that I was able to earn my doctorate while starting a family.”

In 1993 — at age 26 — Broadbridge became the first female engineering professor at Hartford’s Trinity College. Today, she remains a tireless advocate for higher education at Southern, where she’s a physics professor, researcher, and the executive director of research and innovation — as well as a Yale Visiting Fellow.

Broadbridge is also a leader in the groundbreaking field of materials science, which studies the properties of materials like metals, glass, semiconductors, composites, and plastic. Her research focus is nanotechnology — the manipulation of matter at an atomic level — an emerging discipline scientists say has the potential to revolutionize everything from healthcare to alternative energy. As the founding director of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Center for Nanotechnology at Southern, Broadbridge has helped launch countless students’ careers in the field.

Her commitment to these future scientists echoes her parents. Both cheered her on throughout her career, helping with college expenses so she could travel for research and training opportunities. “Education was so important to my parents,” she says. “It was something they stressed to me from a very young age.”

In 2018, Broadbridge and her husband William, who works in the high-tech electronics industry, established the John and Nina Caragianis Research and Innovation Endowed Fund at Southern. The gift continues the couples’ long-held commitment to education while honoring their memory. John Caragianis passed away in 2006; his wife, Nina, died in November at age 85.

The fund benefits undergraduate or graduate students at Southern with at least a 3.0 GPA who are enrolled in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) or STEM-related field. The money can be used for books, supplies, travel, conference fees, software — or any academic endeavor that would enhance a student’s education or interest in research and innovation. Preference is given to first-generation college students.

“There are huge opportunities at Southern, and it’s really about encouraging students to seek them out, just like I did as a student,” says Broadbridge. She remembers her father taking her on trips to the bookstore at nearby Brown University, inspiring her to pursue a research opportunity at the Ivy League campus while still a senior at URI. “He always encouraged me to think about what I could do to expand my horizons,” she says. That early work — a partnership between Brown’s engineering department and Rhode Island’s jewelry industry — helped plant the seeds for her future research.

When establishing the fund at Southern, Broadbridge focused on STEM students not only because that’s where her passions lie, but as a nod to her father’s deep interest in science and technology. A self-taught businessman who ran a successful Newport, R.I., vending machine company — Newport Music/Automatic Vending Service — Caragianis chose the Navy over college. But he never stopped learning, says Broadbridge.

“As he got older, he wanted to learn everything he could about technology,” she says. Broadbridge recalls her father devouring science magazines and clipping articles he thought she’d find interesting or relevant to her work. “He was the one who started sending me articles about nanotechnology, way back before it was a hot field,” she recalls.

John and Nina instilled that same love of learning in their three children and eight grandchildren, says Broadbridge, who has a daughter, 22, and a son, 26, who graduated from Southern with a master’s in science education.

“The kids are getting older, but they still talk about my parents and their message,” Broadbridge says of her extended family. “That message was very consistent for everyone they knew: Look for opportunities, work hard, and we will be there to provide encouragement and support.”

Broadbridge says she chose to establish the fund at Southern for the same reason she joined the faculty: She believes strongly in the university’s mission and diversity, and the power of public education to transform lives.

Her life’s work has focused on projects that encourage young people in underrepresented populations — including women and minorities — to consider careers in the STEM fields. At Trinity, she started a program that paired Hartford high school students with research opportunities at aerospace giant United Technologies Corporation. It was highly successful, with 100 percent of participants going on to college, Broadbridge says.

While at Southern, she helped found the National Science Foundation-funded Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena (CRISP) at Yale and Southern. As the center’s education director and a senior researcher, part of her role is helping high school science teachers inspire new generations of STEM students.

Broadbridge says her parents would be proud to know their commitment to education will live on at Southern through an endowed fund established in their memory. “I think they would be happy that I’ve chosen to do something that celebrates their legacy by inspiring and supporting the next generation of researchers and innovators,” she says.

SouthernCT.edu/giving

See other stories from the online issue of Southern Alumni Magazine.

Walter Stutzman, Stutzman scholars
Walter Stutzman, ’09, found his calling in music. Today, with the leadership-level support of the Stutzman Family Foundation, he’s dedicated to helping Southern students discover their sound.

The idea came to light in the midst of tragedy and terror. “I was at the World Trade Center on 9-11 when it was attacked,” says Walter Stutzman, who was working in information technology. “It was that awful day that planted the seed. What if this had been the last day of my life?”

Several years of contemplation followed. “I’m not necessarily an impulsive person,” says Stutzman with a smile. But in 2005, he said goodbye to a successful 30-year career in IT to become a 50-something-year-old music major at Southern.

In some ways, it was a return to his roots. Stutzman began studying piano when he was 8, and has been the cantorial and choir accompanist for Temple Beth Tikvah in Madison, Conn., for more than three decades. But his academic and career pursuits were largely directed elsewhere. Stutzman played in the band at Pomona College in California —  but he majored in mathematics, then earned a graduate degree in linguistics at Yale University and ultimately launched a career in the computer science field.

At Southern, music came first. “It was a phenomenal experience. The Music Department was extremely welcoming, and I learned a tremendous amount,” says Stutzman, who graduated from Southern in 2009 with a perfect 4.0 grade point average and was named one of only 12 Henry Barnard Distinguished Scholars by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.

Today, Stutzman is at the head of the classroom, teaching both traditional and online classes as an adjunct faculty member with Southern’s Department of Music and the First Year Experience (FYE) program.

Through his leadership, the Stutzman Family Foundation also has funded numerous initiatives that directly benefit Southern students. “It is a way to say thank you to my alma mater for all they’ve done for me,” he says of the contributions that pay tribute to his late parents, Geraldine and Jacob Stutzman, who established the family foundation to further education.

At Southern, their vision has supported the creation of an electronic music laboratory, in addition to: 1) the Southern Applied Music Program, which provides free weekly voice or instrument lessons for all music majors and minors, 2) underwriting for the University Choir’s biennial performance trips abroad, 3) support for the Drum Line and, most recently, 4) the Stutzman Family Foundation Music Scholarship.

The foundation’s generosity has been transformative, says Craig Hlavac, associate professor and chairman of the Department of Music. “There is no question in my mind, the department would not be operating in the manner we are without the tremendous support we’ve received from the Stutzman Family Foundation, especially considering the fiscal constraints of the state today,” he says.

In addition to the many students who take music courses as electives and as liberal arts requirements, Southern has about 45 music majors and 20 music minors. They’re a hardworking group: one-third of students majoring in music work 21 hours a week or more, according to research conducted by the department. “Couple that with a full-time academic course load, practice time, and rehearsal demands. You see why we need scholarship support,” says Hlavac.

First awarded in the 2016-17 academic year, the Stutzman Family Foundation Music Scholarship answers that need, benefiting music majors with a 3.0 grade point average or higher. Five students currently receive the scholarship, which ranges from $250 to $1,000 per semester, and is renewable up to a total of eight semesters. The recipients — known as Stutzman Scholars — are selected through musical auditions and a review of their musical and academic achievements.

The process is competitive but not restrictive. “We take the access part of our mission very seriously,” says Hlavac. “We can accept students who other universities might not take — not because of a lack of talent — but because they might not have the traditional background or experience of someone majoring in music.”

Stutzman concurs. “We want students to become the musicians they want to be,” he says. For current Stutzman Scholar MaryRose Garych that meant studying the pipe organ and choral conducting. Homeschooled through high school, she transferred to Southern from Norwalk Community College where she earned an associate degree in 2014, graduating summa cum laude. “Attending Southern has reshaped my entire career plan,” says Garych, who began studying piano and singing in choir in her early teens. Like all music majors and minors, she was eligible to receive free lessons through the university’s Applied Music Program, funded by the Stutzman Family Foundation. “Because of the excellent music faculty and their support, I am planning to pursue a master’s degree in choral conducting — something that I would not have dreamed of three years ago,” says Garych, who is working in the field as a part-time cantor and organist.

Fellow Stutzman Scholar Terri Lane was always drawn to music. At the age of 3, she’d sit at her grandmother’s piano, pinging out songs playing in the background. By age 11, she was receiving classical voice training. She also was in the midst of surviving years of horrific child abuse, which continued until age 15 when she left home.

Lane planned to study music in college, a natural progression for a high school honors student. “That’s when the tragedies — everything I had gone through with my family — essentially hit home and prevented me from going. But I always said I would go back,” she says.

In 2013, she made the move, leaving a successful 20-year career in the fields of energy efficiency, sales, and marketing, much of it with United Illuminating. Through it all, she’d never left the music behind. Now a blues-inspired rock recording artist, Lane sang lead and backup on dozens of CDs. She also teaches three music courses at the University of New Haven — and is well on her way to earning her bachelor’s degree in music at Southern.

She says receiving the Stutzman Scholarship was a defining moment. “I was shaking when I got the envelope,” she says. “What the Stutzman family has done is so meaningful. They have built a wonderful legacy through their commitment to the arts and now I can be part of that forever.” Stutzman, who shares his parents’ commitment to education, says such stories offer the ultimate reward.

“The students love his courses because he is very organized, very responsive to students, and very engaging,” says Hlavac of Stutzman, who received Southern’s Outstanding Teaching Award in the adjunct professor category in 2014.

Stutzman credits highly interactive assignments with fostering student engagement. He was invited to present a poster on the topic at the College Music Society’s national conference in October 2016. The presentation showcased Stutzman’s First Year Experience course, “Thinking about Music,” which he has taught for six years. The course culminates in a unique capstone project: after studying protest music, students compose a 75-second protest rap. Students have tackled a variety of topics, including 8 a.m. classes, cafeteria food, gun violence, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fueled, perhaps, by the presentation, Stutzman says he’s thought a lot about teaching methodology — and he says he knows he’s found his true professional calling. “I mean no offense, but no one teaching the first semester of chemistry is going to learn anything about the subject from their students. But I have this wonderful opportunity to learn from them, and that is incredibly inspiring.”

Vocalizing with some of this year’s Stutzman Scholars

Kristen Casale
A vocalist with an interest in opera, Broadway, jazz, and choral music, Casale helps finance her education by holding down two jobs.

“The Music Department is like a big family. I have developed a relationship with each and every one of my professors. I feel comfortable and learn so much every day because of that fact.”

MaryRose Garych
Homeschooled through high school, Garych graduated summa cum laude from Norwalk Community College before transferring to Southern. Music drives her college experience. She’s a member of the University Choir and Chamber Singers, and has studied the pipe organ, choral conducting, voice, and piano.

“Because of the excellent music faculty and their support, I am now planning to pursue a master’s degree in choral conducting — something that I would not have dreamed of three years ago.”

Jaromy Green
A transfer student from Kansas, Green says he’s primarily a singer, but also plays the piano and trumpet.

“I have been studying music since I was first able to phonate,” says Green, who has both full- and part-time jobs to help pay for college. His future plans include teaching music at the high school or collegiate level.

Terri Lane
Lane studied classical voice as a youth. Today, she’s a blues rock performing artist, who most recently worked with Harry Connick Jr. She also teaches three courses at the University of New Haven and is enrolled in seven classes at Southern.

“I take comfort every day, even working so hard as a student. I am so proud. Yes, I am losing a lot of sleep. It is aging me a bit. But I am so excited. . . . Every day is a joy.”

Southern Alumni Magazine Spring 2017

Scott Graves, drone

In April 2010, Scott Graves was watching news coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. A geologist and oceanographer who spent his early career making maps from aerial views of the landscape, Graves began wondering: How would scientists document the spread of the spill along the coastline and into surrounding marshes?

Curious, he started poking around the internet. The federal government had basically shut down flights over the area, but Graves learned a small group of researchers was getting aerial shots by dangling cameras from kites and balloons.

Thinking it would be great to bring the technique to Southern, Graves, associate professor in the Department of the Environment, Geography and Marines Sciences, decided to learn what he could and worked with his department to acquire a balloon and a kite.

“I just started ‘MacGyvering’ camera systems together,” he recalls, referencing the 1980s TV character known for cobbling together everyday items to get out of tough situations. Then, a few years later, drones became widely available, and Graves thought: “That’s it.”

Today, Graves is a pioneer in the growing movement to use drones for environmental research and conservation — and he’s passionate about sharing that technology with Southern students. Over the last year, he has donated about $10,000 worth of drones, mapping software and other related equipment to forward the effort at Southern.

He has also gifted about $70,000 to establish the Osprey Endowed Scholarship for Environmental and Marine Studies, named for the coastal bird that flies at the same altitude as his drones. The scholarship is earmarked for undergraduate and graduate students who are conducting research with a faculty mentor through the Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies or the Center for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Education, both research centers at Southern. Although it’s not required, the first two recipients have included drone technology as a focal point of their projects.

Peter Broadbridge, who is pursuing a master’s degree in science education at Southern, notes that receiving the scholarship in 2015 changed his perspective on life — and possibly his career path. Broadbridge, who studied the health of marshes along West Haven’s Cove River, worked with Graves to parlay the scholarship into a NASA-funded grant to continue his drone-assisted research. This year’s winner, Christine Woehrle, is using drones to study the health of local vineyards.

Graves’ commitment to students and the environment also is forwarded through his leadership-level involvement with GLOBE — The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment Program — which is sponsored by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), with support from other government agencies. An international science and education program, GLOBE connects students, teachers, scientists and citizens from around the world, inviting them to conduct hands-on science related to their local environment and put it in a global perspective. GLOBE’s 21st annual meeting and student research experience is being held at Southern from July 30 to Aug. 4.

In Graves’ opinion, drones hold enormous potential as a less expensive, more effective way for environmental scientists to collect data from aerial perspectives. “This is an incredibly powerful tool for getting information on landscapes that might otherwise be inaccessible,” says Graves. “In the past, if you wanted to have aerial photography, you either had to hire a helicopter or an airplane — either of which needed to fly very high. But now, for a couple thousand dollars, you can get a drone that carries a 4K camera, learn how to fly it yourself, and get very low-altitude imagery.”

Graves’ obsession with learning about his surroundings dates back to childhood. Growing up in Malibu, Calif., he spent hours with friends exploring the creek near his family’s home.

“I’d get home from school and my mom would say, ‘See you at sundown,’” he recalls.

During his senior year in high school, he took an earth science class and decided he wanted to become a geologist. After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of California-Santa Cruz, he took a job with the U.S. Geological Survey, where he was charged with producing a map of coastal erosion in the Arctic.

In 1986, Graves’ quest to earn a doctorate in oceanography led him to the University of Rhode Island. But funding for research was sparse, and Graves ultimately graduated with a master’s degree when his major professor retired abruptly before he could finish the program.

“I was devastated because I’d spent five years in a Ph.D. program and passed all the preliminaries and qualifications,” Graves says. “Here’s your dream. You’re pursing it and the door slams right in your face. So what do you do? You have to change directions.”

He took a break from academia to work as a snowboard instructor before landing a job with a nonprofit organization, where he co-designed an environmental education curriculum for middle schoolers. While presenting at a conference at the University of Idaho, he was recruited into a doctoral program, and earned his doctorate in science education in 1999.

It was there that he got his big break — authoring a successful $7.5 million federal grant to train teachers from New Jersey to Oregon in how to use GIS (geographic information system) technology to document 200 years of change along the Lewis and Clark Expedition Trail — a career highlight that would consume his time for the next five years.

In 2005, wanting to move to an urban area near the coast, he came to Southern and never looked back. “I fell in love with the programs and the people in this department,” he says.

While he has made smaller donations to his various alma maters, he reserves the bulk of his philanthropy for Southern. Graves also was among a group of benefactors — that included the Werth Family Foundation and others — who recently bought the Southwest Ledge Lighthouse in New Haven for student research.

Reflecting on the ups and downs of his own career, Graves says his philanthropy is a “pay it forward scenario,” noting he’s “had some breaks along the way.”

“I know what it’s like to have your dreams shut down — and I know what it’s like to suddenly see a new horizon and go for it,” he says.