Monthly Archives: August 2014

*Lew DeLuca, Southern’s new financial literacy advisor, was featured as part of Channel 30’s Back to School series on Aug. 29. The position was created to address the financial literacy needs of students and their families. Southern is one of the few schools – at least in Connecticut – to have such a position. Lew DeLuca was interviewed, along with one of our students and her mom.

*The Fairfield County Business Journal posted a story online about the new position, as well.

*Channel 61 ran a story on Aug. 28 during its 5 p.m. newscast on Aug. 28 about a proposed bill to address sexual assault on college campuses, and included interviews with Cathy Christy, director of the Women’s Center, and a couple of our students. The segment discussed Southern’s efforts to address sexual assault and how the university is ahead of the curve in dealing with it. It mentioned how the university already has various educational and preventative programs.

*Southern’s participation in a national study that found a regular exercise program can prevent or delay elderly people from losing their mobility was highlighted Aug. 26 on the Channel 8newscast. Bob Axtell, professor of exercise science, and several participants were interviewedfor the piece.

*Laura Bower-Phipps, associate professor of elementary education, was interviewed during the Aug. 25 newscast on Channel 8 about her participation in “Rain of Hope,” a non-profit, after-school program in which kids are encouraged to help change the world for the better through community service projects.

*The New Haven Register posted a photo essay online on Aug. 24 of the move-in day for freshmen.

*Police Chief Joe Dooley, who is also the president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, was interviewed Aug. 24 on Channel 61’s talk show, “The Real Story” regarding the recent unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

*The rigorous practices and dedication of the Owls’ football team were highlighted in an articlethat ran Aug. 23 in the New Haven Register. The team has been holding doubles (two practices a day) with the morning sessions at 5:15.

*U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal held a press conference at Southern on Aug. 21 about the growing societal danger of “pure caffeine.” It was covered by the New Haven Register (anarticle that ran Aug. 22) and Channel 3 (story that aired on Aug. 21). Sarah Michaud, director of Southern’s Drug and Alcohol Resource Center, was interviewed by both media organizations.

*Jim Thorson, chairman of the Economics and Finance Department, was quoted in an Aug. 17story in the New Haven Register pertaining to the economic fallout in Connecticut related to the crises in the Middle East and Ukraine.

*Lew DeLuca was interviewed Aug. 15 on WTIC radio (1080 AM) about the newly created position at Southern of coordinator of student financial literacy and advisement, a post he now holds. He discussed the need to help students and their families with regard to financial literacy at a time of saddling financial aid debt among college students throughout the nation.

*Jon Bloch, professor of sociology, was quoted in an Aug. 11 article in the New Haven Registerabout panhandling. The story was written amid Milford’s consideration of a ban on panhandling.

*Jan Jones, associate professor of recreation and leisure, was interviewed Aug. 7 on WCPNradio, a National Public Radio affiliate in Cleveland, about “voluntourism,” a growing trend in which people are spending their vacations volunteering to help others in places around the globe. She was one of three guest on the “Sound of Ideas” talk show.

*President Mary Papazian was quoted extensively in an article in the August edition ofBusiness New Haven that examined the perennial debate on whether liberal arts or workforce development should be paramount in higher education. The president emphasized the importance of both, and how Southern incorporates both into its curriculum. She added that there is no need to pit one against the other, and that they can work synergistically.

    Managing finances has always been a challenge for college students, who are often on a tight budget and on their own for the first time. But in recent years, students are borrowing more to pay for college, resulting in skyrocketing loan debt. In fact, student loan debt in America exceeded $1 trillion in 2014.

    In an effort to help students plan for the cost of education and manage their financial obligations, Southern has created a position devoted specifically to provide financial literacy and planning information for current and prospective students, as well as their families.

    Lew DeLuca, who had served in the university’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships for 10 years, has been tapped for the position of coordinator of student financial literacy and advising. Through advising, outreach and on-campus programming, he will work closely with students and parents to raise awareness about financial literacy, student aid programs and scholarships, as well as the advantages of the timely completion of a degree.

    “Southern is excited to provide financial planning services to our current and future students and their parents to help ensure our students are informed and prepared for the full cost of the degree, not just for one semester or year,” says Kimberly Crone, associate vice president for enrollment management.

    Both Crone and DeLuca agree that the new service will bolster student success and ultimately improve overall degree completion.

    “Financial aid departments in colleges and universities have people who talk with students, but generally not in the kind of depth that we will be able to provide on a consistent basis,” DeLuca says. “And we are available to talk with high school students and potential transfer students, as well.”

    The position was created in response to recommendations by Southern’s Student Success Task Force. “There was a clear, demonstrated need to help students gain financial literacy,” he says.

    DeLuca says he has financial planning worksheets geared toward undergraduate and graduate students, both in-state and out-of-state.

    “We can look at the estimated yearly tuition and fees, as well as the projected costs for room and board, books and supplies, transportation and other items,” DeLuca says. “We’ll then estimate how much in revenue a student has – including grants and scholarships, student/parent loans, savings and credit cards.”

    Students also will receive a financial planning guide that offers tips on saving money and reducing debt.

    “Students often don’t realize how much cheaper it is to save money now, rather than borrowing money and paying it back later,” he said. “Interest really adds up.”

    For additional information, check out the university’s financial literacy and advising webpage.

      The application process for students interested in attending Southern next fall will be noticeably easier, thanks to the university’s launch of the Common App.

      The university is now accepting the Common Application, generally known as the “Common App,” a uniform application used throughout the United States and several other countries.  Students who use this standard form will save considerable time in not having to submit a separate application to Southern.  Students interested in applying for admission to the university for the fall 2015 can do so using the Common App, effective immediately.

      Southern joined more than 500 other colleges and universities in becoming part of the Common Application membership association, a non-profit organization that promotes access and integrity in the admissions process. During the 2012-13 school year, 723,576 individuals used the Common App, according to the organization’s website.  This total represents a 9.2-percent increase from the previous year. During the four-year period from 2008-09 to 2012-13, an increase of 74.9 percent was recorded.

      Students interested in applying to Southern may do so via the Common Application, or they may continue to choose to complete and submit our Southern-specific Web-based application.

      We are pleased to report that we are already receiving applications for fall 2015!

      Starting a new school year brings both challenges (expected and unexpected) and opportunities. It gives students a chance for a fresh start — a way to right some of the wrongs from the previous year and to exceed expectations. But to do so, it is important to have a plan of action.

      Students wishing to improve their chances for a successful year should begin with a plan before the first day of classes.
      Students wishing to improve their chances for a successful year should begin with a plan before the first day of classes.

      Today, Wise Words offers the last half of a 2-part series on how to start the year off right and lay the groundwork for a successful year.

      Part II

      Kelly McNamara, assistant professor of counseling and school psychology at Southern and a former school psychologist in both Connecticut and Massachusetts, shares her suggestions:

      *Develop a schedule…Using the previous tips as a guideline, create a plan to get everything done (including fun). “If you tend to be a more detail-oriented person, or an overachiever, a schedule can help reduce feelings of anxiousness that may arise when contemplating how all of the tasks you have taken on will actually get done,” McNamara says. “If you tend to have more of a laid back, go-with-the-flow type of personality, a schedule can help provide an anchor to keep you grounded so that you are less likely to get caught up in the here-and-now, running out of time for completing assignments and having fun.”

      *…But be flexible… “Life has a way of throwing us curveballs, so make sure there is room in any schedule to move things around,” she says. “On any given day, you may need to spend more time completing assignments; a fun activity may run later than expected; a project may take longer than you thought it would; your club meeting or sporting event may run late; or you may need to pick up am extra shift at work.”

      *…And find some balance. “Certainly, there will be times when you are spending more time studying, working and completing assignments than you might like,” she says. “But it is important to remember that spending all of your time studying and completing assignments, working or even going to meetings or practice can start to feel routine. Try to balance your time so that you are (fulfilling your obligations), but also spending time with your friends, family and having some fun. “This balance is often hard to achieve, but if we plan for it, and consciously try to achieve it, we have a better chance of realizing it.”

      *Establish priorities. Since balance can be difficult to achieve, know what really matters so that you can be sure to put what matters first when time runs short. “It can be really challenging to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life, and you may even change your mind a few times along the way,” McNamara says. “But at any given time, it’s important to have an idea of where you want to go, and have a plan to get there. So, decide what is important to you, and make sure that this priority, or those priorities, show up prominently in your schedule and in your life.”

      Good luck to all the students — and their parents — for a successful 2014-15 school year!

      The start of a new school year generally spurs a bit of anxiety to students – especially for those about to enter a new school. Who doesn’t have some butterflies in their stomach the night before classes begin, or when meeting your teacher for the first time?

      But along with that angst and a need to prove your scholastic mettle once again, September also offers the opportunity for a fresh start. In baseball, if a pitcher’s ERA was uncharacteristically high the previous year, or if a hitter’s batting average was surprisingly low, spring training offers hope and promise to turn things around.

      A new school year offers students parallel academic opportunities – reclaiming a spot on the honor roll, a chance to boost your overall average and class rank, successfully completing an Advanced Placement course to earn college credit. Last year was last year. This year is now.

      A new school year gives students a chance for a fresh start. Wise Words offers some tips on how to start the new school year off right.
      A new school year gives students a chance for a fresh start. Wise Words offers some tips on how to start the new school year off right.

      But what steps can you take to start the school year off right? Kelly McNamara, assistant professor of counseling and school psychology at Southern, offers several suggestions. She is a former school psychologist having worked in Connecticut and Massachusetts schools.

      Today, Wise Words launches a 2-part series on how to start the new school year off right. McNamara shares her ideas in both posts.

      Part I

      *Learn from those who walked the path before you. Talk to students who recently completed the course or year you are about to start. Ask about workload, topics addressed in classes, teachers/instructors and other important pieces of information that will help prepare you for the year to come. While finding out that Mr. Jones or Ms. Smith is a tough teacher is good to know, ask what specifically makes them so tough. What do they like or dislike? Similarly, you might hear that sophomore English is very difficult. But then ask why and what kinds of assignments are forthcoming. “Remember, people will differ in their opinions about what was enjoyable, tolerable or unpleasant, so be sure to get a variety of opinions,” McNamara says.

      *Seek guidance. Talking to a guidance counselor, or perhaps a teacher or two, can answer some questions and concerns you might have. Maybe you had a good relationship with last year’s algebra teacher. Ask them what geometry will be like. If you don’t know any students to talk with about a course or year, counselors might even be able to help put you in touch with someone. “These professionals are great resources to help you navigate the unknown at school,” she says.

      *Have some fun. In fact, plan for it. Various studies show that engagement in school is important, yielding benefits to students, such as higher academic achievement and lower dropout rates. “One way to be more engaged in school is to have something that you look forward to and motivates you to be there,” McNamara says. “Find something you enjoy and do it, whether it is a class that is interesting, a sport you love, or a club that fulfills your creative or volunteer spirit. It’s a lot easier to get out of bed and get to class when you have something motivating that is waiting for you.”

      *Make the most of your electives. Most schools have a certain number of required, or core courses. For example, every sophomore might need to take English II. But electives are those classes in your schedule that you choose to take. For example, you may need to take five classes next year, but only three of them are core courses, leaving room for two electives. Courses in the arts are frequently electives, as are those in computer science. But even additional courses in the “basics” can be electives, such as going beyond your three-year requirement in foreign languages and taking a fourth year of a language. “Use these ‘flexible’ credits to make the most of your school experience, whether it’s for fun or to help you achieve your goals,” she says. McNamara points out that a larger number of students today apply to majors or specialized schools when applying to college (such as engineering). Electives can be a way to provide you with specialized training and give you a “leg up” on the competition.

      Coming soon:

      Part II – More helpful hints to start the new school year out right

      Science teachers from schools throughout southern Connecticut recently got a first-hand look at how the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are actually used in producing manufacturing materials.

      About 25 teachers participated in the second annual Materials & Manufacturing Summer Teachers Institute — a three-day workshop co-sponsored by Southern, as well as the New Haven Manufacturers Association(NHMA), Platt Tech of Milford, the Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena (CRISP) at Yale and Southern, and other education- and manufacturing-focused groups.

      While the institute was based at Southern, it included tours of several area manufacturing firms.

      “Teachers felt they left the workshop energized and equipped with a variety of ideas and tools to help them further engage their students on the topics of materials and manufacturing,” said Christine C. Broadbridge, chairwoman of Southern’s Physics Department and education director at CRISP, who is co-director of the summer teachers’ institute.

      Broadbridge was recently honored as the 2014 Connecticut Materials and Manufacturing Professional of the Year. The award was presented at a combined meeting of the NHMA and the Southern Connecticut chapter of the American Society for Materials International. She was recognized for her contributions to materials science, STEM education, her work with the NHMA Workforce Enhancement Committee and in playing an integral role in coordinating the summer institute.

      Robert Klancko, a representative of the NHMA and co-director of the summer teachers’ institute, said the workshop was intended to result in new lesson plans, advanced curriculum development, better-informed career advice for students and a more informed perspective on the manufacturing process.

      “This is a novel partnership that has created an opportunity for teachers to learn how products are made,” he said.

      The program included presentations on materials science, plant tours, hands-on projects, working groups, networking opportunities, student presentations at Platt Tech, and a luncheon with keynote speaker James Gildea, plant manager for Bigelow Tea in Fairfield.

        Alyssa Battipaglia had planned to work on her honors thesis this fall – a project that would require a considerable amount of time in her busy senior year.

        But thanks to Southern’s new Undergraduate Research Grant program, the psychology major (and Honors College student) has been able to launch her research during the summer months — and will be compensated $3,000 for her hard work. And by being able to complete a considerable portion of the project early, she will have time to engage in a valuable internship this fall in the Marriage and Family Therapy Department – a position that will enable her to get first-hand experience in a field she is exploring as a career path.

        “My heart stopped when I read the letter that I had been awarded one of the grants,” she says. “It is a wonderful opportunity and I am really thankful to Southern for it. And I am proud to represent the Psychology Department.”

        Battipaglia is exploring a topic that affects a significant portion of the college student population — the relationship between Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and substance abuse. An estimated 5 to 11 percent of college-age students in the United States tend to have measurable symptoms of the disorder, according to Kenneth Walters, assistant professor of psychology and faculty advisor to Battipaglia. Studies also have shown that between 1 and 6 percent of the general population actually has a BPD diagnosis.

        By starting her project during the summer, she also will have an opportunity to share her findings next spring during a poster presentation at the Eastern Psychological Association annual meeting. In addition, she plans to make three other poster presentations on other research topics at the New England Psychological Association annual meeting this fall.

        Participating in such conferences bolster a student’s academic credentials, which can help open doors when applying to graduate school. It also can help them make potentially valuable contacts with professors and other experts throughout this part of the country.

        Battipaglia is one of five undergraduates to receive the $3,000 grant this summer. The program was an initiative of President Mary A. Papazian and operates under the auspices of the Office of the Provost. The funding stems from the SCSU Foundation, which seeks to help students financially with their education. Faculty advisors working with these students also will receive a stipend for their work.

        “By providing financial assistance to students to carry out their research during the summer, we hope they can work less in jobs unrelated to their academic and career goals, and spend more time engaged in learning,” says Marianne D. Kennedy, associate vice president for academic affairs. “Students are mentored by a faculty member who is an expert in the subject area they are researching. This mentorship provides a great way for students to learn in a supported, yet independent environment.”

        Kennedy says funding already has been secured from the SCSU Foundation for grants to be awarded for the summer of 2015. “We owe a big thank you to the SCSU Foundation,” she says.

        Walters says his student’s research is exploring some new territory.

        “We know a lot about Borderline Personality Disorder. We know a lot about substance abuse. And we know a lot about college students. But there hasn’t been much research published regarding the link between BPD and substance abuse among college students,” he says.

        What Battipaglia found – based on archival data – is that college students (between the ages of 18 and 24) with BPD symptoms drink more heavily on average than their peers. This is likely due to their tendency toward impulsivity and to engage in risky behavior.

        In fact, while the average college student consumes 11 alcoholic drinks a week, those with BPD symptoms have an average of 15. And the bulk of the drinking – both for those who have BPD and those who do not – tends to be on Friday and Saturday nights. In other words, many students will have five drinks on each of the weekend nights, but the average college student with BPD would have seven.

        “We know that BPD affects women in greater numbers than men, so that increased drinking due to the disorder is obviously going to affect young women more than young men,” she adds. “And because women generally weigh less than men, their tolerance to alcohol is less, creating the potential for devastating consequences.”

        Walters adds that while five drinks over five hours can be problematic, especially for women, the consequences of seven drinks in that time period are even more pronounced.

        Other students who have been awarded summer research grants include:

        • Aileen Ferraro, biology, testing the ability to plant root bacteria to remove the harmful chemical Atrazine from the soil. Elizabeth Roberts, faculty mentor.
        • Michelle Ritchie, geography, assessing the experiences of people living in a New Haven “food desert.” Patrick Heidkamp, faculty mentor.
        • Liana Feinn, chemistry, studying the synthesis of tetrazoles – commonly used in explosives and pharmaceuticals — using late transitional metals. Adiel Coca, faculty mentor.
        • Chandra Kelsey, public health, examining the attitudes, trends and health behaviors of shoppers in Bridgeport’s farmers markets. Peggy Gallup, faculty mentor.