Monthly Archives: April 2013

    The Chemistry Department has developed a couple of new formulas designed to bolster student success in the workforce.

    The department will launch its new accelerated B.S./M.S. degree program in the fall. Commonly referred to as the “Four Plus One” program, it will allow students to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. Typically, it would take a student six years (four years for the bachelor’s and two years for the master’s).

    Students can apply for acceptance into the program after their junior year as an undergraduate. If accepted, they will be required to conduct two years of research, eventually leading to their master’s degree thesis. They also take two graduate-level courses in their senior year. A total of 18 credits are needed in their final year in the program.

    “Two of the biggest advantages of this program are that students can enter the workforce a year earlier than normal, which also reduces the cost of their education, and they are involved in significant research that will bolster their resumes when they apply for a job,” says Andrew Karatjas, assistant professor of chemistry and program coordinator.

    “The research will be conducted alongside a full-time faculty member, where students will learn advanced techniques not ordinarily taught,” he says. “These techniques include training in current instrumentation. They will gain valuable skills that are highly coveted by graduate programs, medical programs and potential employers.”

    The program is designed for undergraduate chemistry majors and acceptance requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, according to Karatjas. Students also must maintain at least a 3.0.

    “There are only a few ‘Four Plus One’ programs in Connecticut right now,” says Karatjas, who points to Yale and Wesleyan universities as among the few offering them.

    Meanwhile, the Chemistry Department also is starting a professional science track within the current Master of Science degree program. The track is designed for students who seek advanced training in both chemistry and business. The 36-credit curriculum is divided equally between credits in chemistry and business administration.

    “This program is intended to help students who are in the chemistry field and wish to pursue a managerial position,” says Karatjas, who also serves as program coordinator for the professional science track.

    Among the benefits are the development of analytical and critical thinking skills needed when interpreting data, and improving communication skills for the dissemination of chemical information to colleagues and the public. It is intended primarily for students seeking a career in the sciences in business, government or non-profit organizations.

    The new graduate-level chemistry track follows the creation of an M.S. in applied physics program, which also includes a curriculum that combines science and business courses. That program, which began last semester, has two focus areas – materials science/nanotechnology and optics/optical instrumentation.

    Both are part of a university effort to enhance students’ marketability upon graduation and to meet Connecticut’s changing workforce needs for the years ahead.

    Anyone seeking additional information about either program can contact Karatjas at (203) 392-6271 or at


      A few days after returning to campus from Birmingham, Ala., site of this year’s NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving Championships, Amanda Thomas stood in front of a display in the lobby of Moore Fieldhouse. The array of quotes, images and stories recognizes the historical achievements of the Southern Athletic Department, its coaches and student-athletes.

      The setting was fitting, given that the Oakville native had recently completed a storied 4-year swimming career that leaves her as one of the most decorated student-athletes in school history. Among her accomplishments are 18 All-America titles and four individual NCAA crowns. In addition, she was just selected for the second consecutive year as the Division II National Swimmer of the Year.

      “Coming into college, I never thought that I would get half as many awards as I have gotten,” Thomas says. “I (accomplished) what I wanted, so I’m happy. But it’s sad that it’s over. I’m going to try to find other things to do to compete.”

      Tim Quill, coach of the women’s swimming and diving team, notes that the hard work of Thomas during her collegiate career played an integral role in her success.

      “It was a phenomenal career,” he says. “If you think back to where she started as a freshman, she obviously came in with a lot of talent. But talent only takes you so far. Many student-athletes have a tendency not to want to make the sacrifice that is needed to take it to the next level. But Amanda certainly made that sacrifice with hard work, dedication and commitment. It’s good to see the work pay off.”

      And while collegiate sports teams often point to a family atmosphere, in Amanda’s case it was also literally the case. Her twin sister, Ashley, competed for three years on the squad and capped her own career by qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the 3-meter diving event.

      In addition to her title in the 200-yard individual medley, Amanda finished as the runner-up in the 200-yard butterfly, third in the 400-yard individual medley and sixth in the 200-yard backstroke.

      “I don’t think you see that very often – a situation where twins or sisters are competing in the same championship on the collegiate level. I think that’s pretty special.”

      “I think that overall I did pretty well (in the NCAA Championships),” Amanda Thomas says. “I was happy with all of the outcomes. There were a few things that I wanted to do that I didn’t do, but I can’t complain. I tried my hardest. I did my best and I’m happy with it.”

      Thomas was named Division II National Swimmer of the Year last year after placing among the top three finishers in four events, including a pair of individual victories. Her efforts this year earned her a repeat selection as voted on by the coaches.

      “It (the award) means a lot to me, says Thomas, noting that it was the coaches who chose her. “I didn’t think that I was going to get it, so it was a shock to me…It meant a lot, especially in my senior year.”

      The short-term future for Thomas includes completion of her classes towards a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. Athletically, triathlons could be a new outlet to fuel her competitive fire. A career in coaching could wind up as part of her long-term plans.

        To err is human. But when it comes to forgiveness being divine, Steve Larocco parts ways a bit with the famous English poet Alexander Pope.

        Oh, it can be divine if granted in its purest form – an unconditional, unilateral forgiveness, Larocco says. But in contemporary society, forgiveness is often associated with the quid pro quo of an apology. “I’m sorry,” says the transgressor. The aggrieved often replies with a “That’s okay.” And while the victim can show class by accepting the apology – and, in fact, it may be the right thing to do – the mere exchange of an apology might muddy the waters between true forgiveness and justice.

        “Forgiveness is a very complicated, conflicted phenomenon,” says Larocco, professor of English. He has been researching the subject for a book he plans to write and has presented papers on the topic for at Oxford University.

        “I’ve been trying to find out what forgiveness really is vs. what it ought to be,” he says.

        Larocco says that justice involves some type of redress for wrongdoing. In that way, an apology is a form of redress. “If an individual forgives a person before an apology is made, that is more in line with true forgiveness. If it’s only done after an apology, that’s more of a form of justice.”

        In Christianity, the concept of forgiveness is more like a free gift, according to Larocco.

        He says there is considerable debate within academic circles about whether a socially performed act (e.g. acceptance of an apology) constitutes forgiveness, or whether forgiving someone is more of an emotional change of heart, such as the subsiding of resentment. “You can tell someone or in front of people that you forgive someone, but chances are there is still some lingering resentment toward the person,” Larocco says. “On the other hand, it can be extremely difficult to change your internal, emotional state to the point where you completely forgive someone.”

        Sometimes, a public act of forgiveness can be a symbolic act of violence, according to Larocco. “If you tell someone that you forgive them for something, and that person doesn’t believe they offended you, it can create some ill feelings,” he says. “That kind of comment imputes guilt.”

        Larocco also says there is a dilemma and debate about whether forgiveness requires one to forget about an incident in which they were aggrieved – the so-called “forgive and forget” proposition – or whether true forgiveness requires a person to remember the transgression and forgive them anyway. Interestingly, the quote from Shakespeare is actually “to forget and forgive,” he says.

        Although acts of forgiveness occasionally stem from profound transgressions, most are generated from banal acts, Larocco says. “In everyday life, people say or do things that can mildly offend someone else. In many cases, the transgressor isn’t even aware that they may have irked someone. These everyday, minor offenses are often quickly passed off by the person offended. Most people don’t even bring them up.”

        Larocco has concluded that he comes down on the side of the “free gift” being the true form of forgiveness. “There is an implied recognition in this type of forgiveness that there is an ‘offensiveness’ in all of us,” he says. “None of us are perfect.” He adds that justice – such as when there is a verbal exchange of apology and acceptance – can’t redress the disorder of social life.