Monthly Archives: December 2017

Four CARE leaders in front of SCSU Buley Library

This fall, The Community Alliance for Research and Engagement (CARE), based at Southern’s School of Health and Human Services, launched its “New Haven Neighborhood Health Leaders” program, a leadership program for SCSU students, faculty, and New Haven residents to work together on solutions to pressing social and health issues identified by the community.

Alycia Santilli, CARE director, explains, “The program is based on CARE’s work in New Haven – organizing around health issues at the grassroots level. This program helps to put a framework on and build upon several years of work.” Examples of past CARE projects have been community gardens, creating urban walking trails, bringing mobile farmers’ markets and food pantries to underserved neighborhoods, nutrition education and exercise programs, and supporting neighborhood antiviolence initiatives.

The Health Leaders program is open to faculty and graduate students in the School of Health and Human Services, as well as to residents of the Dixwell, Newhallville, West Rock, Beaver Hills, and West Hills neighborhoods. Two cohorts are being funded in the 2017-18 academic year, with the opportunity to implement a community-based participatory research (CBPR) project. The health leaders that started this fall include two city residents — Jacqui Pheanious, a resident of the Beaver Hills neighborhood and Makia Richardson, a resident of the West Rock neighborhood – and two MPH students, Cerella Craig and Meadeshia Mitchell. The graduate students are GAs, paid through a grant. The neighborhood health leaders are asked to commit about five hours a week to the program in return for a monthly $200 stipend.

The same four people will be continuing through the spring semester and are working on project planning now. In West Rock, they are focusing on transportation and safety issues, and in Beaver Hills/Whalley, they are focusing on health promotion in barber shops.

To find health leaders from the community, Santilli says, “We got the word out through neighborhood networks and through our community connections at CARE.”

The intent of CBPR is for researchers to work side by side with community members to define questions and methods, develop interventions, implement research and evaluation, and disseminate the findings. The two cohorts are focusing their work in two geographic areas — Dixwell/Newhallville/Beaver Hills and West Rock/West Hills — as a means to better engage with neighborhoods immediately adjacent to Southern. The health leaders work closely with residents of these neighborhood to identify an issue to tackle together.

The responsibilities of the health leaders include working in collaboration with CARE’s community coordinator and SCSU faculty and students to build relationships with leaders, other residents, and organizations in the New Haven community. Part of the work they do is to develop health activities and initiatives in collaboration with neighborhood groups and SCSU faculty and students; conduct outreach about neighborhood level projects and other CARE-related projects; and work with leaders and residents through neighborhood associations and groups to develop and implement projects that meet their priorities and needs.

So far, Santilli says, “The program is going great! We provided three initial co-learning workshops, in which we focused on CARE’s New Haven Health Survey data, social determinants of health, community organizing, and community based participatory research/planning.”

The mission of CARE is to improve health in New Haven. CARE seeks to build bridges and share resources between Southern and the community to improve the quality of life for all residents. It is developing neighborhood-level health interventions with local neighborhood groups.

SCSU students at the Connecticut Intercollegiate New Venture Competition 2017

It’s a three-peat for Southern’s business students in the Connecticut Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC).

The team of Paige Decker, Tyler Fedak and Mike Sullivan earned first-place honors recently to mark the third consecutive year in which an SCSU trio triumphed in the event. Student teams from Connecticut colleges and universities presented business and investment plans for hypothetical companies, which were evaluated by investment industry professionals. The program was held at Gateway Community College.

Connecticut is the only state with its own VCIC competition, according to Mike Roer, president of the Entrepreneurship Foundation Inc., which sponsors the statewide event. On the basis of its victory, the SCSU team advances to the New England Regional Finals in Boston on Feb. 24. Southern will compete against schools such as Boston University, Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania), Yale University, Cornell University, and Babson College. In addition to retaining the Connecticut team trophy, the team also earned $1,000 for travel expenses to the Northeast Regional competition.

“The consistent professionalism and courage of the Southern team speaks well of the acumen and state-of-the-art curricula of the (academic) Finance Department and School of Business,” Roer said. “The Entrepreneurship Foundation is proud to support the SCSU contingent by underwriting the entry fee and providing a travel stipend.”

Benjamin Abugri, chairman of the SCSU Economics and Finance Department, said he was proud of the students.

“As business faculty, we all celebrate the impactful achievement of our students and their two faculty advisers, Drs. Han Yu and Dave Tyson,” Abugri said. “Winning the trophy three consecutive times, taking the Connecticut State trophy for keeps at the SCSU Business School and advancing to a regional final for the second time as state representatives are historic achievements.”

Roer explained that under the rules of the VCIC program, the first team to win three competitions gets to keep the team trophy. A new one will be purchased for future competitions.

Decker said she learned much from participating in the event. “This competition was a great real world experience for my fellow classmates and me,” she said. “We were able to be venture capitalists for the day, judging startup ideas from various local colleges. We won the competition and had a lot of fun participating.”

If she had to do it all over again, she’d wouldn’t change a thing.

Lushka Vazquez is graduating with her second degree from Southern this May.

As a graduate student in Southern’s exercise science program with a focus in human performance, Lushka is determined and driven by nature and by trade. She loves to challenge herself and has high professional aspirations.

When asked why she chose Southern, Lushka pointed to the location of the university, the cost of attendance, and our well-known exercise science program as key factors. She also appreciates the opportunity to continue growing in her field as a graduate student.

“Based on the professor’s experience and knowledge, I love it here,” says Lushka. She explains that each professor in the Department of Exercise Science holds a doctorate, and they each bring their diverse backgrounds and expertise to the classroom.

“I enjoy Southern’s atmosphere and having the same professors for the graduate program also helped my transition [from undergraduate to graduate] go smoothly,” she explains. In addition, she believes that the opportunity to pursue a graduate internship at Southern stood out from other universities.

Lushka works 35 hours per week as the graduate intern in the SCSU Fitness Center. She is also a personal trainer and helps coordinate events within the facility, which gives her the opportunity to build her resume while earning her degree.

And now Lushka is thinking about pursuing her own doctorate in Physical Therapy.

If you want to know how she does it or learn more first-hand about Southern’s graduate program in Exercise Science, you know where to find her!


SCSU President Joe Bertolino, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, and others representing New Haven Promise

Southern will provide residential leadership scholarships that cover housing expenses for 10 incoming New Haven Promise scholars beginning next fall.

The selected students — known as Promise Community Ambassadors — will provide mentorship and outreach to Southern’s New Haven Promise scholars and high school students in the New Haven Public Schools. To date, SCSU has had more New Haven Promise scholars (339) than any other university. To be eligi­ble, students will be able to indicate interest and submit an essay on the New Haven Promise senior application. In addition, they will be instructed to supply a letter of recommendation.

“At Southern we are committed to academic excellence, access, social justice, and service for the public good,” said SCSU President Joe Bertolino. “As part of this mission, it is vital that we support our home community by providing educational opportunities and pathways to academic and person­al success for New Haven students.”

University officials — in collaboration with New Haven Promise — will select the recipi­ents of the residential leadership scholarships.

“We are thankful to Southern for providing this deep leadership development opportunity designed to support our many scholars at the university and for those students to give back to New Haven Public Schools,” said New Haven Promise President Patricia Melton. “This immersion into campus life is guaranteed to provide voice and agency for our scholars and we are proud that Southern has com­mitted to that.”

New Haven Promise Community Ambassadors will participate in the Freshman Leadership Experience (FLEX) pro­gram, a six-week leadership experience beginning in August of their first semester, which will prepare them to serve in their campus and community roles. Ambassadors will explore their leader­ship potential, participate in meaningful leadership experiences, interact with current student lead­ers, faculty and staff, and discuss topics impacting students. The program commitment will last the entire academic year.

The New Haven Register, New Haven Independent and Channel 8 each ran stories about the press conference and the new scholarship program.


interview with SCSU Professor David Pettigrew with the the Federal News Agency (FENA) regarding the then-impending verdict in the Ratko Mladić case in Bosnia

For more than a decade, Philosophy Professor David Pettigrew has been traveling to Bosnia to perform research, give lectures and interviews, and advocate for the victims of atrocities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 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. In addition, the crimes committed at the town of Srebrenica have been ruled to be genocide.

While all his efforts are part of a personal commitment to human rights and social justice, Pettigrew’s work on Bosnia also has an academic dimension, expressed through his lectures, publications, film screenings, and other work. He also teaches a holocaust and genocide studies course at Southern.

In late November, Pettigrew traveled to Bosnia to give two lectures in Sarajevo and an interview with the Federal News Agency (FENA) regarding the then-impending verdict in the Ratko Mladić case. The case concerned crimes Mladić committed during the Bosnian War in his role as a general in the Yugoslav People’s Army and the chief of staff of the Army of Republika Srpska. The verdict was delivered on November 22: Mladić was convicted of 10 of the 11 charges against him, including genocide, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Following the verdict, Pettigrew was called upon for expert analysis, appearing on one of the most popular talk shows in the Balkans, seen by Bosnians around the world, and now with over 20,000 views on YouTube.

Lecture poster, Professor David Pettigrew in Bosnia

Earlier this year, in July, Pettigrew was in Bosnia for about three weeks, during which time he gave lectures and interviews and engaged in activities around genocide recognition. He gave three lectures: one for KRUG 99, an association of independent intellectuals in Sarajevo; one for the International University of Sarajevo Summer Program; and one for the American University in Bosnia Summer Program. His lectures largely addressed obstacles to justice and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also gave three interviews, two for television and one for an academic journal, Novi Muallim.

During the July trip, Pettigrew also met with representatives from the International Commission on Missing Persons, the United Nations Development Program, and the European Delegation in Sarajevo. He attended a book launch by a genocide survivor and met with a foreign affairs adviser to the Bosnian president. In Višegrad, he went to see the new 15-foot-tall Russian cross that had been erected in honor of the Russian volunteers who served (that is, “committed atrocities,” says Pettigrew) with the Bosnian Serbs. Pettigrew calls the cross “another example of the glorification of the perpetrators.” He traveled to Srebrenica in order to help receive 71 coffins of genocide victims who had been identified for burial this year. He was an invited guest at a commemoration ceremony on July 11 with genocide survivors and dignitaries from around the world.

Pettigrew was also able to visit a new museum, a permanent exhibition installed in February 2017 in the Potočari Memorial Center in Srebrenica. He was seeing the museum for the first time, after having edited all the texts in the exhibition, the first permanent comprehensive educational exhibition of the Srebrenica genocide. He also proposed the title for the exhibition: “Srebrenica Genocide: The Failure of the International Community.” Instead of the word “war,” he proposed “Serb aggression,” or “genocide.” Instead of “fighters,” he referred to the armed militias that defended the civilians of Srebrenica as “defenders.”

The language used to describe what happened in Srebrenica matters, Pettigrew says. Different groups use the words “war” and “genocide” to describe the same events. “My research has addressed the extent to which the rhetoric of the ‘90s has been in full operation since 2007,” he says, “with the glorification of war criminals, genocide denial, threats of secession, a referendum challenging the authority of the national court, and many other provocations attempting to prevent refugee return.”

Professor David Pettigrew laying flowers in Bosnia

At the memorial service Pettigrew attended in the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Cemetery in July, people were burying their loved ones whose remains had been exhumed from mass graves and identified for burial. At one point, after Pettigrew had helped one family bury a loved one’s remains, a man stopped him and said “I know who you are and what you are doing, and I want to thank you for everything you are doing for my country [Bosnia]. I only ask that you promise that you will never give up.” Pettigrew promised the man he would not.

“Sometimes,” he says, “people ask me how I keep going in the face of the cruelty of genocide denial, the glorification of war criminals, and other human rights violations in Republika Srpska, along with the numerous tactics designed to intimidate Bosnian Muslims from returning to their former homes. Given the circumstances, giving up is not an option. Elie Wiesel wrote in his Nobel lecture that ‘There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.’ And I am always inspired by young people in Bosnia who lived through the genocide and through exile as refugees and who have kept their hearts open to the hope that telling the truth about the genocide will lead to justice.”


Media links:

December 9, interview that appeared in Al Jazeera Balkans website:

November 24, interview on popular FACE TV (international program) by host Senad Hadžifejzović, perhaps the most famous journalist in Bosnia. The program, FACE TO FACE, is watched all over the world by Bosnians. It had over 19,700 views on YouTube as of December 1:

November 22, after the verdict, interview with TV1:

November 21, interview with Mark Gollum of Canadian Broadcasting Company:

November 18, interview with FENA (federal news agency), published in Bosnia press:

July 10 and July 11, 2017, interview on N1, a CNN affiliate:

July 2, interview on national TV (TV1) in Sarajevo:

Press coverage for the KRUG99 lectures:

November 26, 2017 KRUG 99 press conference and lecture:

From July 2017: 
(includes a video link)











Since 2007, university photographer Isabel Chenoweth has told Southern’s story through photographs. Here are a few of her favorites.

SCSU University Photographer Isabel Chenoweth
University photographer Isabel Chenoweth has photographed campus for a decade.

Isabel Chenoweth has searched for light in the darkest places — including the basement of James Moore Field House. In Hutchinson Natatorium. Under the water.

On that particular day — April 8, 2013 — Chenoweth stood in the humid-thick air, her mind set on finding a new way to photograph Southern swimming sensation Amanda Thomas. Thomas, among the most celebrated student-athletes in Owl history, would go on to graduate with two degrees in exercise science (a bachelor’s in 2013 and a master’s in 2015) and four first-place finishes at the NCAA Div. II national championships. But at that moment some four and one-half years ago, victory would be a simpler thing for the 18-time All American — look serene while swimming horizontally across the pool, face aimed directly at a viewing window where Chenoweth stood camera-in-hand.

SCSU swimmer Amanda Thomas underwater

“We focused the lights into the water and then triggered them with radio transmitters,” says Chenoweth. “It took several takes to get her hands perfectly placed, with her legs right behind her. You can see where the light falls off. It wasn’t an instant portrait. It was trial and error.”

The resulting shot is one of Chenoweth’s favorites — and that is saying something. As of July 2017, she has chronicled campus life for more than a decade, taking close to 50,000 Southern-related photographs every year. The subjects and assignments are decidedly varied. They include portraiture, event coverage, and photo journalism as well as editorial and marketing shoots.

On a “typical day,” Chenoweth has captured megastar John Legend on stage at the Lyman Center, singing with such strength the microphone had to be turned down. She’s also traveled to Europe to photograph Southern’s choir performing to sold-out audiences — and made countless trips throughout New Haven neighborhoods to get shots of students volunteering, interning, and conducting research. And she’s spent hours taking portraits of faculty members, often learning about their fields of scholarship.

She says these and all other assignments share a common denominator: “Photography is storytelling with light and a moment in time. Light is key. You have to always be conscious of where your light’s coming from — its source and direction, the quality and quantity of light, and the patterns being created.”

The attached gallery showcases more of Chenoweth’s favorite photographs — images captured when the light was perfect and all was right with her world.

Gallery: 10 Years, Favorite Photos

Cover graphic for Southern Alumni Magazine, Fall 2017 issue

volleyball team wins first NCAA tournament game

Fresh off a thrilling four-set win in its NCAA Tournament debut, the SCSU volleyball team is back in action this evening when it faces the host, top seed and rival, the University of New Haven The Friday, December 1 contest is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start at Charger Gymnasium on the campus of the University of New Haven.

Free admission will be provided for SCSU students with a valid ID, and free transportation is also available. The vans will leave from Hickerson Hall beginning at 6:30 p.m. Student tickets can be picked up on the bus or at the SCSU table at Charger Gym.

Fans who can’t make it in person can follow the action here with live video and live stats: News source via

Watch highlights from Thursday’s game and comments from team members in this “Pump Up!” video:

Let’s go Owls!

graphic for

Southern recognizes the importance of creating a family-friendly environment for students, employees, and the community, and as such aims to provide a supportive and flexible environment for breastfeeding students and employees as they transition back to study or work. Breastfeeding is known to offer health benefits for both infants and mothers, but mothers who are nursing their babies often encounter obstacles to continuing the practice once they return to work or school.

For women in the Southern community who are breastfeeding their babies, a new campus-wide initiative will ensure an environment that is supportive of breastfeeding. Southern is in the process of becoming a “Breastfeeding-Friendly Campus,” a designation given by the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition to recognize higher-education worksites that are supporting breastfeeding employees and students. As part of becoming a Breastfeeding-Friendly Campus, the university now expects each department to take reasonable measures to accommodate students and employees who wish to breastfeed or express breast milk on campus in accordance with Connecticut State Breastfeeding Laws.

State law protects the rights of women who wish to breastfeed or express breast milk at their place of employment, during breaks and in private spaces designated for these purposes. But students are not protected by the workplace law, points out Michele Vancour, professor of public health and director of the Office of Faculty Development. “The culture is different for students from employees,” she says. “As a result of unequal access to supports, students are forced to leave school, miss classes, or pump milk in unsafe environments like bathrooms and cars.” The Breastfeeding-Friendly Campus initiative broadens support to include students and even visitors to campus who may wish to breastfeed or express breast milk.

In August, the School of Health and Human Services (HHS) officially became a pilot program as a “Breastfeeding-Friendly School,” and now the initiative is branching out to the whole campus. Vancour has been leading the charge to bring this program to the university. As immediate past president of the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition and co-author with Michele Griswold of the book Breastfeeding Best Practices in Higher Education, Vancour has long been a champion of making the campus more friendly to breastfeeding mothers and was behind the effort to establish the university’s first lactation space (in Conn Hall) and a newer space in Buley Library.

“We’re the first university campus in Connecticut, and probably in the country, to do this,” Vancour says of the Breastfeeding-Friendly Campus designation. She explains that the goal for the initiative is for each department to have a “Breastfeeding Champion,” someone who knows how best to support a mother who comes to them looking for information on lactation spaces. Each champion will receive a packet of information and a sticker to display that shows she or he is a champion and will know who else can help and what spaces around campus are available for moms to pump in or breastfeed.

For the campus-wide initiative, Vancour says that so far, some of the pieces of the program have come together: several people have volunteered to be champions, and a process is in place for reserving the lactation space in Buley. But she is looking for more volunteers to serve as champions and more spaces to be set aside as lactation spaces. “Everyone needs to share in this if it’s to be successful,” she says. “It’s a campus-wide initiative, and if one group – the School of Health and Human Services — can do it, we can all do it.”

“In terms of social justice, I think that there are persistent disparities” in the experiences of breastfeeding mothers on campus, says Vancour. “The point of this initiative is that we can do better.”

Vancour is available to provide a brief presentation at department meetings on the multi-user lactation space in Buley and the overall Breastfeeding-Friendly Campus initiative. She points out that the Office of Faculty Development website has links to a video of the multi-user lactation space in BU 117; a registration form for all breastfeeding mothers on campus; and a room reservation form for BU 117. To become a champion or for more information, contact Vancour at (203) 392-5530, (203) 392-5488, or