Monthly Archives: November 2012

Deborah Carroll, professor of psychology, views her position as more of a journey than a job – a voyage she takes with her students each year and finds memorable, challenging and personally rewarding. But Carroll – who has taught as a full-time faculty member at Southern since 1994 – never imagined that journey would include recognition as the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Connecticut Professor of the Year.

The Carnegie Foundation and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) have announced that Carroll is the 2012 recipient of the prestigious award. A professor of the year was chosen this year in 30 of 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia. A total of 300 professors were nominated throughout the nation for the various state awards.

“It is an honor to be named as the recipient of the award and I’m particularly honored to bring recognition to SCSU,” she says. “I hope it affords me opportunities to share discussions, strategies and information about teaching with colleagues at all levels of education.”

Carroll credits her late mother, RoseMarie Carroll, with playing a key role in her selection, as well as her career. She passed away in March.

“She valued education tremendously and instilled in me a burning desire for learning and all things educational,” she says. “I consider myself to be a life-long learner and hope I can inspire others to be the same.”

The Stratford resident said that on the first day of class each semester, she tells her students that they are on a journey together. “I’ve been to the destination before, but not with them,” she says. “I look forward to our exploring the territory together, and to my learning to see the territory through their eyes… I look forward to sharing with my students the joy and excitement of learning new things and new ways of seeing the world and each other.”

SCSU interim Provost Marianne Kennedy says the campus is thrilled that Carroll has been recognized with the award.

“Not only is she a gifted teacher and advisor, but she is also a gracious colleague, mentor and role model to other faculty,” Kennedy says. “She epitomizes the teacher-scholar that we all try to emulate.”

Judges for the competition evaluate nominees on four criteria:

Impact on and involvement with undergraduate studentsScholarly approach to teaching and learningContributions to undergraduate education in the institution, community and professionSupport from colleagues, as well as current and former undergraduate students

Carroll has been recognized during the last two years by both the SCSU and the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities communities. She was selected as the 2011 recipient of SCSU’s J. Philip Smith Outstanding Teaching Award. And she was named in 2012 as a university-level recipient of the Board of Regents/Connecticut State University Teaching Award.

Carroll has earned the praise of both colleagues and students.

Cheryl Durwin, assistant chairwoman of the SCSU Psychology Department, says Carroll teaches all of her courses as writing intensive because she believes in the power of writing to help students understand course material and to think critically.

“It is the way in which Debby does so that sets her apart,” Durwin says in a letter of support for Carroll. She points to an assignment in Carroll’s Psychopharmacology class – a course Carroll created — as an example. “Students were required to explain how a particular drug affects brain functioning and subsequent behavior, but they were to write their response as if they were explaining this effect to (an elementary school student),” Durwin says. “This type of assignment challenges college students not only to understand the concepts, but to demonstrate their knowledge by translating a very complex process into simple language.”

Carroll’s students often point out that while her classes are demanding, they actually understand what they are studying beyond what is necessary for the next test.

Kelly Webster, one of Carroll’s students who graduated earlier this year, says that is one of the characteristics that make her an effective teacher.

“Dr. Carroll is fundamentally concerned with students learning the material, rather than regurgitating it,” Webster says in a letter of support. “I’m sure every college student has taken at least one class in which their success was determined by a few multiple choice tests that could be crammed for,” Webster said. “Students walk out of these classes feeling happy about their ‘A’…but with no more knowledge about the subject matter than they started with. (Conversely), Dr. Carroll measures success in a manner that really encourages and evaluates understanding.”

The Professors of the Year program began in 1981, when one national winner was named. The awards program expanded in 1985 so that state winners were also named.

The Carnegie Foundation is an independent policy and research center that supports needed transformations in American education through tighter connections between teaching practice, evidence of student learning, the communication and use of this evidence, and structured opportunities to build knowledge. CASE is a professional association headquartered in Washington, D.C. that serves educational institutions and the advancement of professionals at all levels who work in alumni relations, communications, fundraising, marketing and other areas.

    Erin McPike

    Erin McPike, a reporter covering the presidential race for Real Clear Politics, shared her insight into the 2012 elections during an Oct. 24 forum at Southern.

    McPike was the keynote speaker for the forum, “Politics and Apple Pie: A Look Into The 2012 Presidential & Congressional Elections.” The event drew about 225 people into the Michael J. Adanti Student Center, Grand Ballroom.

    She had been a frequent guest on MSNBC and FOX offering analyses of national politics. She also had appeared on CNN, ABC, CBS, C-Span and BBC, as well as NPR radio. Since the forum, McPike has landed a job as a general assignment correspondent with CNN.

    Before working for Real Clear Politics, an online political news and polling publication, McPike was a reporter with National Journal, a weekly political magazine. She also had written articles for Campaigns and Elections, a political insiders’ magazine. She covered former Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R-Mass.) first presidential bid in 2008 as an embedded reporter with NBC News. She holds bachelor’s degrees in journalism and in political science from the honors program at American University.

    She encouraged students to make their voices and opinions about local, state and national politics heard. She also discussed how Ohio was a key state to watch on Election Day.

    A panel discussion – moderated by Diane Alverio, publisher of CT Latino News and a former TV journalist — followed McPike’s keynote speech. The panelists included: Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and Political Library at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.; Art Paulson, chairman of the SCSU Political Science Department; Theresa Marchant-Shapiro, SCSU assistant professor of political science; Julian Madison, SCSU associate professor of history, and Lesley DeNardis, associate professor of political science at Sacred Heart University.

    Levesque was frequently tapped by national media during the months leading to this year’s New Hampshire primary. The New Hampshire Institute of Politics hosted presidential debates run by ABC, FOX and CNN.


      Think back to your college philosophy professor. If you can remember them at all, you would probably recall that were well-versed in the theories and thoughts of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. Chances are they talked in depth about existentialism, epistemology and syllogisms. And perhaps they challenged you to think about mind-bending questions such as, “What is the meaning of life?”

      But here are a few things they probably didn’t do: They probably didn’t write a chapter in a book called “The Red Sox and Philosophy: Green Monster Meditations.” They probably did not link “Red Sox Nation” with an Eastern philosophical approach that values “we” more than “I” and attributes the opposite philosophical outlook to the New York Yankees. And they almost certainly didn’t share those views as part of a talk in a bar located in New York.

      Nevertheless, Chelsea Harry, 31, a newly hired assistant professor of philosophy at Southern Connecticut State University, has combined the academic philosophical studies of Descartes and Confucius with real world subjects, such as baseball. Her book chapter, “We Are Family: The Self and Red Sox Nation,” published two years ago by Open Court, weaves in the differences between Eastern and Western culture and how they apply to the Red Sox and Yankees. In her teaching, she hopes to weave the traditional deep, philosophical subjects with some of today’s popular culture as a way to show students how philosophy is relevant to their lives. “I had written the Red Sox piece as a way to teach an important difference between eastern and western concepts of self using a popular model of rivalry,” she says.

      What she found – with a mixture of factual information and an admitted biased perspective – was that while both teams and their fans enjoyed much success, there are significant differences that are rooted unconsciously in Eastern and Western philosophical approaches to life.

      “Red Sox fans view the players and coaches as almost an extension of their families,” Harry says. “The team and the fans view each other, in many respects, as one and the same. Whether they realize it or not, they embody many of the values of Eastern philosophy, such as that espoused by Confucius.”

      She notes that this sort of “oneness” with the team may be attributable, at least in part, to the decades and decades of shared disappointment. The Red Sox had gone 86 years without a World Series championship until their victory in 2004. To make it even more painful, several times they had risen to the brink of baseball nirvana during their drought, only to fall short in post-season play.

      By contrast, she said the Yankees have embodied more of a philosophy that has been historically pervasive in the West. It’s more oriented to the individual – hiring many all-star players and hoping that the whole will equal the sum of all the individual talent. She said they seem to have a sense of entitlement – a belief that they should and must win the World Series each year. Anything less than winning the World Series is viewed as a failure in their eyes.

      “Yes, the Red Sox sought to hire some all-star players, as well, but not to the same degree,” she says. “And they have relied more on the intangibles and a sense of community.” The ultimate success of the “Idiots,” the nickname of the Red Sox team in 2004, is an example.

      “I suppose we should leave open the possibility that the Yankee fans might be more of a community if they were to suffer for a long period of time with losing teams,” she says. “In fact, I would like to be able to test that theory,” she jokes, admitting that she is a lifelong Red Sox fan and grew up in Massachusetts.

      When a Red Sox player puts himself ahead of the team, the fans will turn on him, she says. She noted the departure of Manny Ramirez, who after months of reported temper tantrums and egoism, was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008. But the fans grew tired of him well before the trade, despite being among the best hitters in the American League.

      She points to the constant ego battles on the Yankees during the late 1970s and early 80s, such as between Reggie Jackson and manager Billy Martin, and between Martin and Steinbrenner, as typifying how they put “me” ahead of “we.” And while those dramas have subsided on the Yankees of today, she said you still see A-Rod’s celebrity status in social circles, and Derek Jeter appearing in TV commercials.

      Another difference between Yankee and Red Sox values can be demonstrated in how many of their players have had their number retired. While the Yankees have retired the number of 16 of their players, the Red Sox have only retired the number of seven of theirs. “Again, this points to a difference in emphasis between team and self.”

      Harry admits that the Red Sox have had some problems of their own this year, driven in part by personalities. “After the success of 2004 and 2007, you might be seeing some of the ‘it’s all about me’ mentality creeping into the organization. There may be a bit of an identity crisis going on right now. But I suspect this is an aberration and that the team will go back to its roots.”



      *A Nov. 18 column in the New Haven Register by Randy Beach focused on Lisa Siedlarz, who has written a book of poetry about her brother’s (Kevin) deployment in Afghanistan. Lisa is a loan administrator in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.

      The following is a link to the Register column:

      *Deborah Carroll, professor of psychology, was interviewed Nov. 18 on Channel 61’s morning news show for her recent selection as Connecticut Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The interview ran for about 4 1/2 minutes.

      The following is a link to the Channel 61 interview:

      Deborah was also featured in the Nov. 15 edition of the New Haven Register for the same award.

      The following is a link to the Register story:

      And Channel 8 posted an article on its website about her award on Nov. 14.

      *Wes O’Brien, chairman of the Media Studies Department, was the focus of a Page 1 story in the Nov. 11 (Sunday) edition of the New Haven Register pertaining to his research on music that is played in war movies. He found that the music is often indicative of society’s changing attitudes toward a particular war.

      The following is a link to the Register story:

      *The SCSU Veterans Association was highlighted in an article that appeared in the Nov. 8 edition of the New Haven Register. The organization had participated in a charity event for a Connecticut veteran who killed during the Iraq War.

      The following is a link to the story:

      About 125 seventh graders from New Haven’s schools will take classes at Southern starting next summer as part of a federally-funded program designed to improve college access and readiness.

      Southern is one of three higher education institutions in Connecticut participating in the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP), a seven-year, $31.5 million project that is designed to serve 3,000 middle school students in New Haven, Waterbury and East Hartford. Southern has been awarded $2 million from the grant, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, according to Patricia Zibluk, director of Southern’s Sponsored Programs and Research (SPAR).

      The 125 students will be selected from about 340 incoming seventh graders next summer from eight schools in New Haven. They will participate in classes and programs in math, science, literacy, and arts and culture for a five-week period during the summer of 2013. A group of 125 students from the same class will do the same in the summer of 2014 – some of whom will be the same students who came to Southern the summer earlier. The summer sessions will continue through 2018.

      “The GEAR UP grant presents Southern with the opportunity to strengthen our partnership with the New Haven School District,” Zibluk says. “By working together, we can bring services, mentoring, summer experiences, as well as academic and arts enrichment to 340 entering seventh graders and their families for the next six years.”

      The 320 incoming seventh graders from New Haven – as well as about 2,700 other incoming seventh graders statewide — will be eligible for college scholarships after high school graduation. About half of the $31.5 million grant is being set aside for college scholarships. In addition, Southern will allocate $1.2 million specifically for those students who participate in the summer program at Southern. They also will be allowed to take 6 credits of classes at Southern tuition free.

      Students will be given graphing calculators, which will be required to participate in the summer program. Southern also will be playing a key role with the students during the regular school year – such as providing students mentors and tutors, who will be Southern students participating in a teaching program. In addition, both students and their parents will be eligible to participate in financial literacy programs, as well as information sessions about financial aid.