Yearly Archives: 2015

Almost Maine, Theatre Department

For the second year in a row, a Theatre Department production has been selected for presentation at the John F. Kennedy Center American College Theater Region I Festival (ACTF). The December production of “Almost, Maine” is this year’s New England Region I winner and will be staged at the festival in late January 2016 at Western Connecticut State University. Directed by Theatre Professor Sheila Hickey Garvey, “Almost, Maine” was one of six productions selected for presentation out of almost 150 submissions entered from colleges across New England and New York.

Garvey describes the play as “a delightful comedy/romance with cosmic overtones” and says the invitation to perform at the festival is “a great honor.” Written by playwright and actor John Cariani, the play has a small cast of eight and a minimal set, designed for the SCSU production by Theatre Professor John Carver Sullivan, who also designed the costumes. There will two performances of “Almost, Maine” at the festival on Friday, January 29, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Almost Maine

The play portrays 20 different residents living in a tiny mythical community located in Northern Maine. At 9 p.m. on December 21, during an occurrence of the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights, select community members are mystically gifted with a very special opportunity, one that affords them the chance to renew their lives and live them with an open heart.

“Almost, Maine” was developed at the Cape Cod Theater Project in 2002, and received its world premiere at Portland Stage Company, where it broke box office records and garnered critical acclaim. It opened off Broadway in the winter of 2005-2006 at the Daryl Roth Theatre and was subsequently published by Dramatists Play Service. To date, “Almost, Maine” has been produced by over 2500 theater companies in the United States and by over a dozen companies internationally, making it one of the most frequently produced plays of the past decade.

If you would like to support the Crescent Players’ performance at the ACTF, visit this page and in the dropdown menu next to “I would like to support the,” choose “Other,” then type “Crescent Players Fund” in the box to indicate the fund name. Thank you for supporting Southern students!

Dr. Sandra Minor Bulmer, professor of public health, has been named as the university’s new dean of the School of Health and Human Services, effective immediately.

Bulmer has served as a faculty member in Southern’s Department of Public Health since 1999, as a full professor since 2009 and interim dean of HHS since 2014. A specialist in college student health issues and women’s exercise and health, she has excelled as a teacher/scholar, demonstrated a strong commitment to mentoring students, and provided a high level of service to her department and the university.

Bulmer has been active in campus leadership activities, including a six-year term on the Faculty Senate, chairing the Honors Thesis Committee since 2010 and chairing searches for the Vice President of Student Affairs and, most recently, the new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Since fall 2014, in her role as interim dean, Bulmer has focused on building a community environment within the School, expanding inter-professional collaboration among faculty and students, increasing resources for high-demand degree programs, and developing new programs that address workforce needs in the state of Connecticut.

Under her leadership the Department of Nursing initiated reforms to their admissions process, the Exercise Science Department created and launched a new degree program in respiratory therapy, and the Social Work Department is creating a new doctoral degree program.

She also led a team of 20 faculty through the development of an initial building program for the School, worked with her associate dean to expand collaborations and build relationships in the New Haven community, and supported faculty with the launch of academic partnerships with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture (BUCEA).

In addition to her work at Southern, Bulmer is the current president for the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), volunteers with the Institutional Review Board and Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars program at Yale University, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut and Western Massachusetts Division of the American Heart Association.

Bulmer has been the recipient of several notable honors, including the J. Philip Smith Outstanding Teaching Award in 2003 and the Society for Public Health Education’s Outstanding Service Award in 2011. During her tenure as Director of Fitness Operations with Western Athletic Clubs in San Francisco, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) selected her as their first ever Fitness Director of the Year in 1991.  Under her guidance, Western Athletic Clubs was one of the first major employers in the fitness industry to require college degrees and relevant certifications for personal trainers and other fitness professionals.

In 1997, Bulmer left her position at Western Athletic Clubs to obtain her Ph.D. in health education at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Tex.  She also holds a B.S. in physical education from California State University Hayward and an M.S. in physical education with a focus on exercise physiology from the University of Oregon.

More than a dozen science students attended the CT Health and Life Sciences Career Initiative “Bioscience Careers Forum” on Wednesday, December 9, 2015. The event was held at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington.

The forum gave students some crucial advice for gaining a competitive edge in the bioscience career market, from CV boosts to ideal skills and mindsets for getting hired. But perhaps the most impactful aspect of the forum was the opportunity for students to network across Connecticut state colleges and universities and with some of the state’s biggest names in bioscience, including:

  • Matthew McCooe, CEO, Connecticut Innovations
  • Todd Arnold, Ph.D., director of Mount Sinai Genetic Testing Laboratory
  • John Davidson, Ph.D., CSO and Co-Founder, Tangen Biosciences
  • Rong Fan, Ph.D., Co-founder and Board Director of IsoPlexis; associate professor of biomedical engineering at Yale
  • Ellen Matloff, M.S., president and CEO, My Gene Counsel
  • Clifton McPherson, Ph.D., vice president, Regulatory CMC at Protein Sciences Corporation
  • Rajiv Pande, Ph.D., president and CEO, Smpl Bio
  • Petros, Tsipouras, MD, CEO, GenePraxis; adjunct professor at Yale School of Medicine

In Connecticut, the health and life sciences represent an area of strategic growth supported by significant public and private investment. Approximately 200,000 people in the state work in health and life science industries, with another 11,000 additional jobs expected in the next eight years.

The Health and Life Sciences Career Initiative (HL-SCI) is designed to prepare workers to take on these new jobs with a particular focus in recruitment on veterans, TAA-eligible workers (those displaced by foreign trade), dislocated, unemployed and under-employed workers. Learn more.

 

 

Operation Smile

Kelly Mabry just wants to help put a bright shiny smile on the faces of children all over the world – especially those who suffer from a cleft lip or palate.

And after assessing more than 300 children in Bolivia this fall as part of a week-long volunteer effort to help kids with a cleft, the associate professor of communication disorders at Southern has made a difference.

“I am so blessed to be able to do this. I feel like the lucky one in being able to make a difference in these kids’ lives,” Mabry said.

Mabry, an expert on craniofacial disorders, participated in Operation Smile’s outreach effort at the Hospital Japones in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Operation Smile is an international children’s medical charity that provides reconstructive surgery on kids who have facial deformities, such as cleft lip and palate, in developing countries.

For Mabry, the effort in Bolivia marked her second volunteer effort in a foreign land. Four years ago, she traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on a similar mission, also coordinated by Operation Smile.

“Both nations need help, although Bolivia has a somewhat better infrastructure to provide people with medical care,” she said. “Nevertheless, even most of the poorer people in the United States would live like kings if they took their money to live in these countries. That’s the kind of poverty in which many of the poor kids are living.”
The Mansfield resident noted that 115 surgeries were performed to help those in need as part of Operation Smile’s recent effort, which included an international team of doctors and other health professionals. Mabry was responsible for prioritizing the surgical needs of the children, noting that those who had any functional difficulty in the ability to eat and drink properly were put at the top of the list for surgical interventions. She also screened the children for speech problems that were related to cleft palates.

A cleft is an opening in the lip or the roof of the mouth that occurs during early pregnancy. A child can suffer from a cleft lip or cleft palate, or both. If left untreated, this birth defect can cause serious medical complications, such as malnutrition, because of the functional difficulty in eating or drinking.

Mabry is already planning her next volunteer effort – this one coming in March in Guayaquil, Ecuador, as part of an initiative sponsored by the Global Smile Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Massachusetts that also specializes in caring for people with cleft lip and palate deformities.

She created an Operation Smile Club on campus several years ago – a club that seeks to help others in the Third World with similar health problems. Thanks to a fundraiser conducted by the SCSU club, Mabry brought with her about 50 toothbrushes that she distributed to the Bolivian children.

Mabry’s passion for craniofacial disorders sparked her to pursue a Ph.D. in communication disorders, which she earned in 2002 from the University of Connecticut. She has served on craniofacial teams as a speech pathologist since 1988 and is currently a member of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Craniofacial Team in Hartford.

 

Food Recovery NetworkEver wonder what happens to that sandwich in The Bagel Wagon that has reached the “best by” date on its label? Prior to this past summer, it would be thrown away, but now, foods that Chartwells can no longer sell when they reach that date no longer go to waste, thanks to the efforts of the Sustainability Office, Chartwells, and a dedicated student intern.

This past summer, Southern joined the Food Recovery Network, a national organization that supports college students recovering perishable and non-perishable foods on their campuses that would otherwise go to waste and donating them to people in need.  Heather Stearns, recycling coordinator, says that Chartwells hired a student intern, Ashley Silva, who is focused on sustainability, and has been working with her on a weekly food collection schedule. Each week, Silva makes the rounds to the Bagel Wagon, Davis Outtakes, and the North Campus Kiosk and collects perishable foods — including salads, sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, bagels, and hummus — that have reached their “best by” date. The foods would be thrown away when they reach that date, but they are still safe to eat. So after Silva collects them, they are donated to Connecticut Food Bank, a private, nonprofit organization that works with corporations, community organizations, and individuals to solicit, transport, warehouse and distribute donated food.

newshub-triad-food-recovery-15
In addition to the food collected from campus Chartwells locations, fruits, vegetables, and herbs from the campus organic garden are harvested and donated to local soup kitchens such as the Community Dining Room in Branford and St. Ann’s Soup Kitchen in Hamden. Pounds of produce such as squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, various greens, corn, peas, potatoes, peppers, and basil, are donated on a regular basis. This fall, Southern donated almost 200 pounds of fresh produce that was grown at the garden, located behind Davis Hall.  Suzanne Huminski, sustainability coordinator, says that throughout the fall semester, between the garden and FRN efforts, over 600 pounds of food have been collected and donated.

To promote community awareness of hunger and food insecurity in Connecticut, students working on FRN at Southern organized a recent campus event called “Hunger 101,” meant to be a conversation about food access and food justice in the state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines “food security” as “access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” According to the Sustainability Office’s website, over 14 percent — of New Haven County residents — nearly 123,000 people — are food insecure, and over 19 percent of all hunger-stricken residents are children.

To expand the university’s food donation program, the Sustainability Office is placing permanent food donation boxes in the lobby of the Facilities building, in the Wintergreen building, and on the second floor of Engleman, outside of the FYE Office. Members of the university community are encouraged to donate non-perishable food items year-round. Donations from these collection sites will be brought to the Connecticut Food Bank in Wallingford each week. Stearns also encourages staff and faculty to bring food items to the Sustainability Office during the regular Swap Shop open houses.

Anyone interested in helping with FRN efforts on campus can call Silva in the Sustainability Office at (203) 392-7135.

In spring 2016, the first group of students will cross the Atlantic to study abroad under a new agreement formalized Dec. 3 by Southern and Liverpool John Moores University.

This “Trans-Atlantic Alliance” will offer students the chance to take classes in both New Haven and Liverpool, England, as well as benefit from dual-taught undergraduate and graduate-level programs, delivered by LJMU and SCSU faculty members through video link and guest lectures.

SCSU President Mary Papazian and Edward Harcourt, LJMU’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement, formally signed the agreement in the foyer of Southern’s new science building.

“(LJMU) is an institution very much like ours,” Papazian told the New Haven Register. “This allows us to look at problems around sustainability, public health, health care management, business, creative writing from a variety of perspectives.”

Papazian predicted the partnership would be “a robust exchange, so many of our students have that chance to have that global experience.”

“It’s a great place, a safe place for our students to experience the world,” she said of the historic port city, home to the Beatles, the Cunard steamship line and Liverpool F.C., one of the world’s most well-known professional soccer clubs.

LJMU traces its roots back nearly 200 years to 1823 and the opening of the Liverpool Mechanics’ Institute. Over the decades, the institute merged with other institutions to become Liverpool Polytechnic; traditionally providing training, education and research to the maritime industry, before earning university status in 1992. Now ranked among the top 400 universities world-wide, LJMU offers 250 degree courses to 25,000 students drawn from more than 100 countries.

This spring, four SCSU undergraduates with academic interests in business, wellness, geography and global health will be leaving for Liverpool to study abroad for a semester. They include senior Shayne O’Brien (pictured with President Papazian and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Harcourt), who plans a career as a glaciologist. Additionally, Mark McRiley, a graduate student from public health, also will be attending LJMU in 2016 to earn his Ph.D. on full scholarship. Several students from LJMU are also expected to be attending Southern.

Liverpool John Moores University visit

Harcourt told the Register that the Alliance was a “game-changer for both institutions.

“We’re very similar, very connected to our local regions,” he said. “What we looked for is aligning comparable interests and strengths.”

Liverpool also has smaller-scale partnerships with colleges in China and Malaysia, Harcourt said, but with Southern, “the big prize longer-term is, could we get to the point where we’re presenting a joint prospectus of master’s programs,” which would be unique and enticing to students in overseas markets.

On the home front, several academic departments have hosted classes or colleagues from Liverpool via videoconference or in person. In November, the nursing departments from the respective institutions participated in a symposium in which Assistant Professor Christine Denhup presented her research on parental bereavement following the death of a child, an area of mutual interest for both groups.

In late November, John Morrissey, senior lecturer in environmental geography, natural sciences and psychology at LJMU, spoke about “Enabling Sustainability Transitions in the Coastal Zone,” during Southern’s Department of Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences’ Geography Awareness Week.

And in October, the visit of former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent for the Dr. Joseph Panza Sport Management Lecture was broadcast live to LJMU so that sport management students there could participate and ask questions of the speaker.

More collaborations are forthcoming. During the most recent visit of the LJMU delegation, Tim Nichol, dean of the Liverpool Business School, met with SCSU School of Business colleagues (below) to discuss a wide range of potential initiatives. These include collaborative research and teaching, an MBA program in comparative healthcare offered by both institutions and a shared DBA that could be offered internationally.

Liverpool John Moores University visit

James Tait, professor of science education and environmental studies, is proposing a doctoral research project examining evidence of prehistoric hurricanes in the marshes of Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Conn., with a goal of plotting how the intensity of these storms have changed over thousands of years.

Tait has done extensive work researching and proposing solutions to beach erosion along Connecticut’s Long Island Sound shoreline in the wake of recent hurricanes. With SCSU geography colleague Elyse Zavar and faculty from LJMU, Tait recently visited Formby Point, home of the United Kingdom’s largest collection of sand dunes, an area that faces similar issues in the wake of violent storms.

 

Human exploration of Mars won't be easy. Jennifer Stern, a space scientist for NASA and Martian expert, talks about the differences between Earth and Mars during a recent astronomy forum at Southern.

For those of us old enough to remember the Apollo space program of the 1960s and ’70s, the images of man walking on the Moon will forever be ingrained in our memories. It was a time of excitement, accomplishment, wonder and promise. After all, if we could make it to the Moon, then interplanetary travel could not be too far away, right? And Mars would logically be the next stop with astronauts walking on the Red Planet perhaps as soon as 1984 or 1990…but certainly by the turn of the century.

Well, obviously that didn’t happen. The national enthusiasm for the space program seemed to wane throughout the tumultuous 1970s. Budget restrictions limited NASA programs. And let’s face it, in the afterglow of successful missions to the Moon, maybe we underestimated what a similar voyage to Mars would entail.

The truth is, such a manned flight to and back from Mars is a huge undertaking. By comparison, a trip to the Moon is about 240,000 miles in length. A journey to Mars – even when Earth and Mars are in their closest proximity to each other – is about a 35 million-mile expedition. Flying to the Moon took about three days. A human flight to Mars, based on current technology, would take about six months, according to Jennifer Stern, a NASA space scientist who spoke at a recent forum at Southern, “Missions Possible: A Manned Flight to Mars, & Finding ‘New Earths’ in the Milky Way Galaxy.”

The forum examined both the Kepler Mission (the search for Earth-like plants in the Milky Way Galaxy), and what a manned flight to Mars would entail.

Part I of this series focused on the Kepler Mission. Today, we look at a future trip to Mars.

“This (manned flight to Mars) is going to happen in the next 20 years,” Stern said.

She said that while probes of the planet are of great value, it is only through human exploration of the planet that we can fully understand whether life could have existed on Mars, or might currently exist on Mars. “We need boots on the ground,” Stern said. “We need the human cognitive ability to make decisions, to take samples, to put things into context.”

She stressed that human exploration of Mars is a complicated endeavor. She pointed to three major challenges:

  • Getting and landing on Mars. – Mars has a very thin atmosphere, and it is therefore difficult to land large objects on the planet because there isn’t an adequate atmosphere to slow things down.
  • Living in space. – On Earth, people are protected against radiation by a magnetic field. But in space, the human body is exposed to very high doses of radiation. Part of the challenge is to assess how much radiation the human body can tolerate and how that level can be mitigated. Also, because there is no gravity in space, people lose bone density and muscle mass. That has to be addressed, as well.
  • Living on Mars – Scientists must learn how to use the natural resources of Mars to make oxygen, grow food, etc.

The audience at the forum included 650 people – including 425 high school students and 30 middle school kids. It also included 45 or so individuals from nearby senior centers. While there was a contrast in age of the audience, there wasn’t much difference in enthusiasm. Young, middle-aged and old alike made a point of asking questions of the speakers.

Kids growing up in the 1960s and early ’70s were excited about the prospect of going to the Moon. Some of them were in the audience. And watching the engaged high school and college students at the forum, you have to think that some of that enthusiasm will remain when these 15- and 20-year-olds are 30- and 35- and 40-year-olds, about the time that the first rocket to Mars – with humans aboard – is likely to be launched.

Stern said that those currently in high school or college are going to be part of this new mission in some way. She said that while only a small number of people will directly be involved in a Martian trip, many will be involved in the technology associated with it. And she said everyone will benefit from the research that’s done on bone density, radiation and other health and technological matters affiliated with the project. “It’s going to help the quality of life on Earth,” she said. “It’s going to help keep us strong as we age.”

And you have to wonder what the kids of the 2030s will be thinking when they see astronauts take those first steps in the Red Planet. Will they view that milestone the way that kids of the 1960s viewed Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin walking on the Moon?

Time will tell, of course. But if the enthusiasm displayed by the kids of 2015 is any indication, it appears to be a likely prospect.

The high schools attending the forum were:

  • Abbott Tech (Danbury)
  • Amity (Woodbridge)
  • Berlin
  • Derby
  • East Haven
  • Haddam-Killingworth (Higganum)
  • Hand (Madison)
  • Hillhouse (New Haven)
  • Lyman Hall (Wallingford)
  • Maloney (Meriden)
  • Morgan (Clinton)
  • Newtown
  • North Haven
  • Stratford

The audience also included middle school students from the Columbus Family Academy in New Haven;  senior center organizations from Branford, Guilford and New Haven; members of Southern’s campus community and folks from the general public.

*The collaborative nature of Southern’s STEM program was highlighted in a story that was published Nov. 30 in the New Haven Register. The article looked at how other disciplines, such as business and philosophy, are incorporated into some of the STEM programs. Christine Broadbridge, director of STEM initiatives; Ellen Durnin, dean of the School of Business; and Sarah Roe, assistant professor of philosophy, were quoted in the story.

*A forum conducted by Southern’s Psychology Department and its Journal of Student Psychological Research, in conjunction with the Literacy Coalition of Greater New Haven, was covered by the New Haven Independent with an article posted Nov. 24. The forum focused on early literacy experiences, the brain and child development. Among those mentioned in the story were panelists Julia Irwin, associate professor of psychology; Laura Raynolds, associate professor of special education and reading; and Cheryl Durwin, professor of psychology and an organizer of the event.

*The Nov. 16 Astronomy Forum, “Missions Possible: A Manned Flight to Mars, & Finding ‘New Earths’ in the Milky Way Galaxy,” generated a slew of media coverage for Southern.

The event focused on two major astronomy projects by NASA – the exploration of Mars, and the Kepler Mission. Two NASA scientists – Steve Howell and Jennifer Stern – were the guest speakers. A panel discussion followed and included SCSU faculty members Elliott Horch andJames Fullmer, as well as a Yale University post-doctoral fellow Tabetha Boyajian.

The event attracted 650 people – including about 425 high school students from 14 Connecticut high schools. Also attending were 45 people from area senior centers; about 30 middle school students; and others from the general public, in addition to our students and other members of the campus community. Many of the high school students also toured the new science building and were treated to a lunch after the forum.

Media highlights included the following:

  • The Danbury News-Times included a column on Nov. 22 written by Robert Miller and focusing on a local angle (Newtown and Abbott Tech of Danbury high school science classes attending).
  • The Connecticut Post ran a front page story on Nov. 17 that incorporated the forum, as well as included a picture of our speakers – which included Elliott Horch, professor of physics, and Jim Fullmer, associate professor of earth science.
  • The Connecticut (Television) Network (CT-N)covered the forum in its entirety.
  • The New Haven Register posted several photos from the event online on Nov. 16 as submitted to the paper.
  • Channel 61 covered the forum with a story that aired on its Nov. 16 evening newscast.
  • The Waterbury Republican-American ran an advance about the forum on Nov. 13. (Please note that you have to be a subscriber to see beyond the first few sentences of the article.)
  • The Fairfield County Business Journal ran an advance about the forum in its Nov. 9 edition.
  • The blog, “Connecticut By The Numbers,” included a Nov. 12 post that previewed the forum.
  • A preview of the forum was posted Oct. 27 in the Hartford Courant’s online MyTownssection.
  • The East Haven Courier ran a Page 1 story in its Dec. 1 edition about how East Haven High School science students attended the Nov. 16 SCSU astronomy forum, “Missions Possible: A Manned Flight to Mars, & Finding ‘New Earths’ in the Milky Way Galaxy.” East Haven was one of 14 high schools at the event.

*Channel 8 aired an interview on its Nov. 11 morning newscast with Jim Tait, professor of the environment, geography and marine sciences, about the potential effects of climate change in this region.

*Channel 30 aired a segment during a Nov. 10 newscast about students participating in the “Our World” event, in which students sought to demonstrate how words written on their bodies can have a larger impact than the spoken word. Tracy Tyree, vice president for student affairs, was among those interviewed about the effort, which was part of Social Justice Week.

*The New Haven Register ran a story in its Nov. 9 paper about a new course being taught this semester by Jessica Suckle-Nelson, associate professor of psychology, called “Social Psychology of Stereotypes and Prejudice.” The story explores the psychological side of prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination.

*Vince Breslin, co-chairman of the Department of the Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences, was quoted extensively in a front page story Nov. 6 the Waterbury Republican-American. The article examined the presence of microbeads in New Haven Harbor as found during a study conducted several months ago by Vince and former SCSU undergraduate studentPeter Litwin. (Please note you have to be a subscriber to the paper to read more than the first few sentences.)

*Alan Brown, assistant professor of sociology, was rated by the Halifax, Nova Scotia weekly newspaper, The Coast, as the Best Professor in its circulation area. The article was posted online on Nov. 5 and refers to last year, when he taught at Mount St. Vincent University.

*Rosemarie Conforti, associate professor of media studies, was a panelist at a Nov. 4 symposium at Post University called “Navigating the New Media Universe.” The program, designed to celebrate Media Literacy Week, was coveredby Connecticut Network (CT-N).

*Jonathan Wharton, assistant professor of political science, was interviewed on Nov. 4 byChannel 8 and Channel 3 – the day after Connecticut’s municipal elections. Both interviews aired during those stations’ evening newscasts. The Channel 8 piece focused on the differences between two-year and four-year mayoral terms. The Channel 3 segment looked at the election of Joseph Ganim as mayor of Bridgeport.

*The Detroit Free Press quoted Melissa Talhelm, associate professor of English, in a Nov. 1 article with regard to research she is conducting in Michigan.

David Pettigrew, Bosnia

Through his writings, lectures and interviews with the media, Professor of Philosophy David Pettigrew has been a powerful voice for the victims of atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On Nov. 29, he delivered a lecture in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, on the legacy of the Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the ethnic conflict in the fledgling nation 20 years ago.

Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia on March 1, 1992, triggering a secessionist bid by the country’s Serbs backed by the Yugoslavian capital, Belgrade, and a war that left about 100,000 dead, including the mass slaughter of many Bosnian Muslims by Serb forces.

Following earlier lectures in Prague and Stockholm that identified human rights violations in Republika Srpska, (the Bosnian Serb Republic), Pettigrew’s Nov. 29 speech condemned efforts in the republic to deny the genocide and to demean and otherwise psychologically intimidate Bosnian Muslims who were targeted and driven from Višegrad, in the eastern part of the country, as well as from other towns and villages across Republika Srpska.


Join Dr. Pettigrew for a film screening and discussion: Friday, Dec. 4 from 1-3 p.m.


Pettigrew wrote that the political culture in Republika Srpska “is breeding hatred and contempt of the Bosnian Muslims”:

“The culture of genocide denial and dehumanization, produces what I call in my paper a ‘cumulative cruelty’ directed at genocide survivors,” he said. “The cumulative cruelty directed against Bosnia’s Muslims and non-Serbs is the sad legacy of Dayton. The lecture calls for constitutional reform to reunify the country with national laws against hate speech and genocide denial…”

This summer, Pettigrew led a delegation to the town of Višegrad in eastern Bosnia to meet with activist Bakira Hasečić and show public solidarity with her in defense of the Pionirska Street house, where 59 women and children were burned alive. Hasečić , who was a rape victim in Višegrad, has been prosecuted and fined for trying to rebuild the house in order to save it from destruction by the municipality.

Pettigrew became particularly interested in Višegrad because of the nature of the atrocities there and because the town continues to maintain a culture of denial. Regarding the crimes in the town, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia wrote in its Judgement that:

“In the all too long, sad and wretched history of man’s inhumanity to man, the Pionirska street [June 14, 1992] and Bikavac fires [June 27, 1992] must rank high…. By burning the victims and the houses in which they were trapped, Milan Lukić and the other perpetrators intended to obliterate the identities of their victims and, in so doing, to strip them of their humanity. The families of victims could not identify or bury their loved ones. … There is a unique cruelty in expunging all traces of the individual victims which must heighten the gravity ascribed to these crime.”

Newspaper 1Newspaper 2Newspaper 3

Today, only the Pionirska Street house remains, rebuilt by Hasečić and other local activists to prevent its destruction and preserve the memory of these crimes. The house is still threatened by an “expropriation” process by the city so the only memorial to the victims could still be destroyed, said Pettigrew, who joined the members of his delegation in laying flowers in the house in memory of the victims.

“When I put the flowers in the basement at the base of a display with the photos of the victims, everyone was in tears and speechless,” he said. “Without planning it, we formed a line-up for a photo in front of the basement where the crime took place: in memory of the victims, in solidarity with Bakira, and in defiance of genocide denial.”

The delegation who attended with Pettigrew (photographed below outside the Pionirska Street house) included: Ermin Kuka and Ilvana Salić, from The Institute for Research of Crimes against Humanity and International Law at the University of Sarajevo; Professor Benjamin Moore, from Fontbonne University in St. Louis; Marketá Slavková from Charles University Prague, and Jasmin Tabaković, a refugee who fled from Višegrad with his family when he was four years old. He lives now in Belgium, and this was the first time that he had returned since his family was expelled.

Pettigrew

Hasečić, president of the Association “Women Victims of War”-Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, wrote of Pettigrew: “At a time when the victims of the genocide and aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina have been abandoned, when we have been left vulnerable and exposed, while war criminals enjoy rights and protections, when we have again been forgotten by the international community, and when many historians around the world who serve the interests of the ideologues and lobbyists of greater Serbia seek to re-write history and wash the blood from the hands of the war criminals, there are a few intellectual and moral giants who dedicate their lives and research to telling humanity the truth about what happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992-1995. Among these few is the distinguished Professor Dr. David Pettigrew.”

Pettigrew initially became involved in Višegrad in summer 2010 when he accompanied a government exhumation team there. Repairs on a nearby dam had caused the river level to drop, so the experts hoped they would be able to find the remains of the 3,000 victims who were murdered on the bridge and thrown into the river.

Pettigrew was assigned to a team that located loose bones on the river banks as well as full skeletons just beneath the riverbed. When about 60 of the victims had been identified, they were buried in the Muslim cemetery in Višegrad with a memorial inscribed to: “the memory of the victims of the Višegrad genocide.”

Local authorities began to plan to destroy the memorial and ground the word “genocide” from the inscription. In that and subsequent years, Pettigrew has written letters to United Nations and international government leaders, seeking to protect this memorial and the Pionirska Street house, as well delivering lectures and conducting media interviews to raise awareness about the genocide that occurred in the region and its lingering legacy. In October 2014, for example, he delivered a keynote address at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, on “The Suppression of Collective Memory and Identity in Bosnia: Prohibited Memorials and the Continuation of Genocide.”

The Institute for Research of Genocide Canada recently thanked Pettigrew for his “continuous struggle for the truth about the aggression against the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and genocide against its citizens.”

“Professor David Pettigrew is an example of an intellectual who put his knowledge at the service of truth and justice. It is a major contribution to peace in the world.”


Pettigrew’s Nov. 29 lecture and related press conference generated considerable media coverage in online portals, on television and in print:

On-line coverage

http://www.bhrt.ba/vijesti/bih/pettigrew-visoki-predstavnik-treba-postaviti-bih-na-put-ustavnih-reformi/

http://www.vecernji.ba/visoki-predstavnik-treba-postaviti-bih-na-put-ustavnih-reformi-1040948

http://www.klix.ba/vijesti/bih/krug-99-sada-vise-nego-ikad-potrebno-djelovanje-visokog-predstavnika-u-bih/151129045#18

http://novovrijeme.ba/pettigrew-visoki-predstavnik-treba-postaviti-bih-na-put-ustavnih-reformi/

TV News

http://www.federalna.ba/bhs/vijest/148748/video-na-krugu-99-o-bonskim-ovlastima

http://www.tv1.ba/vijesti/bosna-i-hercegovina/dogadjaji/25597-visoki-predstavnik-trenutno-kao-rijetko-kad-u-proteklim-godinama-treba-i-mora-koristiti-bonske-ovlasti.html

Latino high school students at SCSU

The university hosted about 300 Latino high school students on campus recently for The National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) Quest Education Summit 2015, a one-day event for Latino and other minority students run by a consortium of Hispanic professional and educational associations. The goal of Quest is to promote higher education and career development. The Connecticut chapter of NSHMBA organized and ran the summit, which included informational workshops, motivational speakers, a college fair, various networking opportunities, and a campus tour.

The Quest program provides students with a real-world connection between high school and college. Students engage with role models in the community who have overcome similar barriers to success and learn best practices for applying to and financing college; understand how to better market themselves to prospective colleges; build relationships with regional college recruiting representatives; discover the many resources available for educational and professional pursuits; and build confidence and self-sufficiency. This event is free to all attendees and includes a continental breakfast, lunch and transportation.

Latino high school students at SCSU

This year’s Quest at Southern included breakout sessions such as “Snapshot of Life on Campus,” “The Essay and the Recommendation,” “Living Healthy,” and “Balancing Life Skills,” among others. A keynote address, “Education Matters,” was delivered by Carlos Perez, principal and founder of Perez Technology Group, a Hartford-based solution provider delivering cloud and IT infrastructure services to small and midsize businesses, primarily marketing firms and law offices.

Perez, who was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, and now lives in Wethersfield, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business information technology at the University of Connecticut. He has worked in many different industries, including finance, health insurance, airlines, Microsoft OME Partners, and nonprofits, among others.

Southern is one of the sponsoring partners of the Quest summit. Members of the university staff who serve on the Quest Committee include Anna Rivera-Alfaro, Academic and Career Advising, and James Barber, director of community engagement.