Yearly Archives: 2017

Facey: (adjective) When someone’s face can be seen everywhere. — Urban Dictionary, top definition Jason Facey, ’14: choreographer, actor, motivational speaker, and dancer who toured nationally with Gwen Stefani. (See above.)

Photo by Anya Chibis

It’s the last Wednesday in May, and Jason Facey, ’14, is flying out of Los Angeles to dance with Gwen Stefani — one of several pop star royalty headlining at Wal-Mart Stores’ infamous annual shareholder meeting. As far as hump days go, Facey is having a good one, and his week will only get better. On June 2, more than 14,000 shareholders and guests will pack the Bud Walton Arena to cheer on Blake Shelton, Mary J. Blige, Ne-Yo, The Band Perry, and Stefani — the latter joined on stage by Facey, a lead dancer on her 2016 North American tour. “What kind of life is this! Performing for thousands,” says Facey, a quick laugh punctuating his Jamaican accent.

His star is clearly on the rise. Soon after graduating from Southern with a degree in communication and a minor in theatre, Facey came to LA for an internship with the Hallmark Channel arranged by the university’s Department of Communication. Since then his career has unfolded like the plot of a feel-good movie. It’s a musical, one that begins in a small home in Saint Mary, Jamaica, where Facey was born in 1989. He elaborates: “I was born inside of that house not in a hospital. The entire house is about the same size as two dorm rooms put together. My whole family lived there.”

Facey found his passion for performing at an early age. A DJ was playing at a community gathering, and the then 4-year-old talent was dancing his heart out. Gradually everyone stopped to watch. “I remember thinking, ‘This is all right!’” he says, before turning serious. “Music and dance were our escape in Jamaica. It took us away from the poverty we were facing.”

Facey came to the U.S. at the age of 11 with his older brother, joining family in Hartford.  “It wasn’t difficult, but then again it was,” he says, recalling efforts to downplay his Jamaican roots. He was held back twice in fifth grade while learning English, but took the momentary set back in stride. “If that hadn’t happened, I would not be where I am today,” says Facey, who opted to attend Hartford’s Classical Magnet school. The challenging college-prep curriculum focuses on the classics and liberal arts in the middle grades and high school — and includes an award-winning theater program.

Jason Facey, '14, hit the road with Gwen Stefani's national tour and has worked with Alicia Keys, WizKid, Major Lazer, and Pharell.
Jason Facey, ’14, hit the road with Gwen Stefani’s national tour (above) and has worked with Alicia Keys, WizKid, Major Lazer, and Pharell. That’s Facey with country star Blake Shelton at the far right. Photos: Anya Chibis and supplied by Facey

At Classical Magnet, Facey caught the attention of then eighth grade teacher Marydell Merrill, M.S. ’08, who encouraged him to try out for the school production of “A Raisin in the Sun.” “I tried out because of her, but only for the smallest role —  about five lines,” says Facey, who has a speech impediment — a stutter. He got the role and Merrill also named him the understudy for the lead. When said lead was later kicked out of the production, Facey rose to the occasion. “On the day of the show, I figured it out. I don’t stutter at all when I act,” he says.

Soon after he landed the first of numerous roles in Hartford Stage’s summer productions of Breakdancing Shakespeare, which combine the Bard of Avon’s works with breakdancing and hip-hop.

Facey applied to Southern at the suggestion of his high school soccer coach, whose brother had attended the university. At Southern, he joined the Crescent Players and continued acting, his first role playing Cassius in “Othello.”

Still something was lacking. “I was used to dancing every day, whether at a party or for Hartford Stage. I didn’t know dancing was a career choice, but I knew I missed it,” he says. In 2009, he teamed up with three other Southern students —Isaiah Lyte, ’11, Jesse Kroll, ’14, and Muonia Wiley —  to start the university’s Symphonic Pulse Dance Company (SPDC). The group, which blends different genres of dance including hip-hop and street-style, is still going strong today.

Facey’s internship with the Hallmark Channel was another college highpoint. “It showed me a whole new world. I learned what goes into making a movie — and I learned that acting is what I want to do,” he says.

He stayed in Los Angeles when the internship ended, and was working at a city call center when he had an epiphany. “I remember thinking, ‘What am I doing here. I have a college degree and I have talent.’” He drew up a list of goals: Get acting and dance agents; work as a motivational speaker; and build the ‘So Facey’ brand, playing off his surname.

“I see Facey as standing for ‘Faithfully Accomplishing Challenges Every Year,’” he explains.

He also kept dancing, letting off steam at Federal Bar, a North Hollywood club that holds throw-back Thursday dance nights. Facey doesn’t drink or smoke. He does, however, “dance like crazy,” and at the urging of a club friend decided to try out for a video. Then fate stepped in. “The choreographer at the audition was Fatima. The. Legendary. Fatima. She has worked with everyone,” says Facey of the famed artist who has collaborated with Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears, the Black Eyed Peas, Usher, Prince, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, and others.

Fatima, named one of Entertainment Weekly’s “100 Most Creative People in Entertainment,” saw something in Facey, and gave him and the two friends he auditioned with roles in Pharrell Williams’ ”Freedom” video. It was Facey’s big break. He was signed to a major agency; performed at the BET [Black Entertainment Television] Awards and the Video Music Awards; and booked a commercial for Comcast Xfinity.

Jason Facey, '14, dancing on the street in LA

Then Gwen Stefani entered the picture. Facey was signed as a lead dancer in her “Misery” video, and went on to tour nationally with the star, traveling across the U.S. and Canada from July through November 2016. He continues to perform with her as needed and has nothing but praise for his experience on the road with Stefani: “She’s an artist in the truest sense — awesome and adorable. She’s very talented but also very down to earth. She has spent years working incredibly hard to be standing in the light she’s in today,” he says.

Facey’s own light is shining brightly. In addition to dancing, he hopes to break into acting. “I’ve used skills gained at Southern in video production to promote myself,” he says of a series of short comic skits he’s produced. “I’ve had about 12 go over a million views,” he says of the videos, many of which play on his Jamaican roots and dance talents. [Be warned, some are racy and include explicit language.]

He’s also moved on to motivational speaking, incorporating dance in his presentations. “I love the idea of being able to inspire somebody the way that I was inspired . . . to do what Ms. Merrill did for me,” he says of his former theater teacher.

Facey has reached another milestone, appearing in a national advertisement for Old Navy. In the spot, a traffic light is the site of an impromptu dance party. Facey kicks off the action, launching himself off the front of a car in to the street.

Meanwhile, he continues to dance. In addition to teaching classes, he is studying dance — something the self-taught performer hadn’t done before coming to LA. And while nothing thrills like booking a performance with the likes of Alicia Keys, WizKid, and Major Lazer, he says he’ll always dance for the joy of it. “I still love it,” he says of hitting the club. “It is the only thing I can control 100 percent . . . where no one can tell me what to do. I was always a freestyler.”

Cover graphic for Southern Alumni Magazine, Fall 2017 issue

map showing solar panels projected for SCSU campus

Southern Connecticut State University will soon be the new home for over 3,000 photovoltaic solar panels. The culmination of over two years’ planning, the renewable energy project will generate over a million kilowatt hours of electricity annually and will be installed with no capital investment or up-front cost by Connecticut taxpayers.

The Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) has partnered with Current powered by General Electric and Connecticut Green Bank to install the solar energy system on the SCSU campus in order to decrease operating expenses. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2018.

Solar panels will also be installed at Manchester and Middlesex Community Colleges, with the goal of extending to other campuses including Central, Housatonic, Asnuntuck, Quinebaug, Tunxis and Western in the next two years. The solar energy initiative is funded entirely with private capital sourced by Connecticut Green Bank and once fully implemented is estimated to save CSCU more than $10 million within the first 20 years.

SCSU’s panels will be installed in three arrays: as a combination ground mount and carport array in parking lot 9 near Brownell Hall, and a rooftop array at Wintergreen garage. The panels will help power the west side of campus, which largely comprises residential areas and business operations. Eric Lessne is the associate director for project management and engineering for the CSCU system, and has a long track record improving SCSU’s energy efficiency. “This is a public-private partnership with Current, powered by General Electric, and the Connecticut Green Bank,” Lessne says. “SCSU will purchase the electricity that the solar panels produce with substantial and immediate savings compared to our current utility rate. These solar panels will power about 4% of our electricity use as a campus.”

illustration showing solar car port on SCSU campus

SCSU President Joe Bertolino, who in early summer 2017 signed We Are Still In, joining over a thousand business leaders, university presidents, mayors and governors to support climate action to fulfill the Paris agreement, is very pleased about the project. “Clean renewable energy and social justice go hand in hand,” Bertolino says. “There was no question we wanted to do this. We’re already planning a second project.”

Robert Sheeley, SCSU associate vice president of facilities and capital budgeting, chairs the SCSU Sustainability Committee. “Our partnership with GE and CT Green Bank is a triple bottom-line win for the environment, our campus community, and for taxpayers,” Sheeley says. “Ten years ago, we dreamed about projects like this. We’re looking forward to breaking ground next year.”

Suzie Huminski, SCSU’s sustainability coordinator, explains, “We chose sites for this solar project that are best for maximizing energy production and don’t compromise other potential land uses or ecological value. Even though our goal is to maximize solar installation, it is just as important to consider ecosystem and community value for potential sites as it is to consider southern sun exposure. We’re proud to take such a big step forward with our climate leadership efforts.”

SCSU students have been involved in the process as well. Huminski recalls that in 2015, four students worked with her as part of a fellowship funded by Energize CT. Together, the student fellows worked with consultants at Celtic Energy to conduct a campus solar feasibility study. The university was already in early stages of solar planning, and these students got a real-time firsthand view of planning a large commercial renewable project.

Of the four fellows, Huminski reports that Skyler Edmondson, ‘16, got a job working in the solar industry after graduation, and another fellow, Justin Lipe, M.S. Chemistry, ’16, now works at Quantum Biopower, Connecticut’s first anaerobic digester located in Southington. The facility converts food scrap to renewable energy and landscape products.

“Anything we can do to make our system and our planet more viable and sustainable in the future is a step we’re willing to take,” said CSCU President Mark Ojakian of the solar project. “I want to sincerely thank all our partners who worked hard to make this important project possible.”

“The CSCU has shown tremendous leadership with this initiative,” commented Connecticut Green Bank President and CEO Bryan Garcia. “The Connecticut Green Bank is thrilled to be supporting CSCU’s efforts to go green. By not only installing solar energy systems across multiple campuses at once but using private capital to finance the projects, CSCU will be saving significant dollars for the State. And with a high-quality partner like GE overseeing the installations, there is little question these systems will perform and create a win-win-win for all involved.”

“This project is a great representation of the potential of solar generation,” said Amol Kapur, Current by GE’s business development manager for the CSCU portfolio, “CSCU is demonstrating the value of bringing together engineering, technology and finance to support both business and sustainability goals.”

 

Ten Southern students recently received prestigious internships or full-time positions with Deloitte. Yes, we’re counting!

Louis Signor, ’17, who graduated with a degree in business administration, is one of numerous Southern alumni who recently joined Deloitte.

It’s the Holy Grail for many accounting students: a position with one of the “Big Four” accounting firms — Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young, and KPMG — widely recognized as the largest professional services networks in the world. In 2016, they earned a combined revenue of $128.2 billion through work in auditing, advising, consulting, tax services, and more.

Deloitte is the largest of the Big Four in terms of revenue ($36.8 billion in 2016) and number of employees (244,400) — the latter figure receiving a boost from a growing number of Owls who recently joined Deloitte’s Stamford, Conn., office as interns and full-time employees.

“Once I became an accounting major, my only goal was to work for a Big Four firm. The goal now is specifically [to become] a partner at Deloitte,” says Kayla Seminoro, ’17, who graduated from Southern with a degree in business administration and a concentration in accounting. In September, she moved closer to realizing that dream, joining Deloitte as an audit assistant after interning there.

Her interest in accounting came relatively late in her college career. After transferring from Central Connecticut State University, she took her first college-level business course at Southern — an accounting class taught by Janet Phillips, professor of accounting and chair of the department. Several years later, Phillips recommended that Seminoro apply for an internship with Deloitte.

“The best advertisement for Southern’s accounting program is definitely our students,” says Phillips. Her confidence in Seminoro was well placed. After interviewing online and in person, she was selected for the highly competitive internship, which began at Deloitte University, The Leadership Center, a 700,000-square foot training facility in West Lake, Texas.  She was then assigned to a client-team, receiving extensive real-world experience. “Deloitte values the importance of networking and making genuine connections with the professionals around you. This is one of my favorite aspects about both the firm and my internship experience,” says Seminoro.

Such positive feedback is icing on the cake for Lori Charlton, a partner at Deloitte based in its Stamford, Conn., office. Southern flashed on Charlton’s radar screen several years ago when she was working with an especially talented young colleague. “I asked her where she went to school, and she said Southern,” she says.

Soon after, Deloitte made its first campus presentation. “We had a very good turnout. The students were well-dressed and well-prepared, with resumes in hand. They asked great questions and were very enthusiastic,” says Charlton. “The faculty also came, showing a lot of support for their students and for us being there.”

In September 2017, Deloitte made its fourth campus visit — and many Southern students now know a classmate who’s interned or become an employee there. “They’ve been terrific,” says Charlton of the students and alumni who’ve received offers in both the audit and tax practices. “They interviewed very well and were very competitive. . . . It’s been a great success from my perspective. We’re really encouraged by our partnership with the university and want to keep the relationship going.”

Deloitte rates first among accounting companies for formal training, according to Vault, which annually ranks firms on numerous criteria. The services provider also finished among the leaders in the “prestige” and the overall accounting categories.

Muhamad Chowdhury, ’16, knew of Deloitte’s reputation. Before graduating in December, he’d explored different career options, including a potential winter internship with the organization. But after an in-depth interview process, Deloitte offered him a full-time position as an audit assistant in financial services. He started in January 2017.

His success comes after a period of intense struggle. In 2014, Chowdhury was a full-time junior at the University of Connecticut, among the first generation in his family to attend college. His parents both immigrated from Bangladesh to the U.S., where they built a successful life operating several Subway franchises in the Wallingford and New Haven areas. Then the family patriarch became seriously ill. Chowdhury left UConn, returning home to help run the family business. He also enrolled at Southern — working full time, attending school full time, and commuting.  “It came out of a difficult situation, but I have to say it was the best decision I ever made,” he says.

At Southern, he majored in business administration with a concentration in economics — a program he says develops a comprehensive understanding of the business world. He also volunteered with the campus VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program, which helps those with low-incomes, disabilities, and limited English. “My career is not in taxation, but the knowledge and experience I gained translate to any business environment,” he says of the program overseen by Frank Bevvino, associate professor of accounting.

Today, things are looking up. His father has recovered, and Chowdhury’s transition to Deloitte has been remarkably smooth. “After working for Deloitte for six months, I can absolutely say that this was the right decision for me. It’s been priceless in terms of the experience and many benefits,” he says.

Lubna Sparks, ’17, also transferred to Southern — and says her interest in Deloitte peaked after the organization made a presentation to the SCSU Accounting Society. After interning at the company last year, she’s been offered a full-time position. But she asked to remain an intern while preparing for her examinations to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) — a request Deloitte honored.

A fellow graduate of the Class of 2017, Louis Signor is preparing for his CPA examinations as well. It’s a welcome development for the talented alumnus who had worked at Home Depot for about six years when, in 2016, his position as an asset manager was eliminated.

“I’m not a typical student,” says Signor, who graduated from Southern at the age of 29. He’d attended Utica College right after high school, but didn’t return after his first year. Instead, responding to his father’s request to “get a job,” Signor applied at Home Depot — and steadily moved up the corporate ladder. Armed only with a high school degree, he ultimately found himself overseeing asset protection for all stores in the Norwalk, Conn., and New York Metro area — a market grossing $105 million.

“At the age of 24, I had a really good job making much more money than I thought would be possible,” says Signor. A watercooler conversation with coworkers changed his perspective. “The general consensus was that they felt stuck. They were paid well. It wasn’t a bad situation, but they didn’t have alternatives,” he says. He began attending Southern part-time, using Home Depot’s tuition reimbursement benefits. Then in August 2016, Home Depot underwent a corporate restructuring and his position was eliminated. Signor took the compensation package and, as a Southern senior, began attending the university fulltime for the first time ever.

In May 2017, Signor became the first in his family to earn a college degree, graduating magna cum laude. He interviewed with six employers and received five job offers — including one from Deloitte. He started in September.

[From left] Students Luke Velez, Brooke Davis and Lyman DePriest interned with Deloitte over the summer, while student Yenny Bayas completed an earlier internship during the busy tax season.
[From left] Students Luke Velez, Brooke Davis and Lyman DePriest interned with Deloitte over the summer, while student Yenny Bayas completed an earlier internship during the busy tax season.
The Interns

Deloitte consistently earns top ratings for its formal training program, a benefit experienced firsthand by a growing number of Owls, including four who participated in coveted summer internships in 2017. The interns — all business administration majors with a concentration in accounting — are students Luke Velez, Lyman DePriest, and Brooke Davis, and alumnus Nicholas Intino, ’17.

Velez and DePriest completed Deloitte’s Discovery Internship, with time spent exploring two company functions — audit and tax services. The hands-on learning kicked off at Deloitte University, the Leadership Center, in West Lake, Texas, where they connected with other high-achieving students from around the U.S.

“Before heading to Deloitte University, I heard so much about it that my expectations were through the roof. . . . Those expectations were met,” says DePriest.

During one team-building exercise, the students were placed in groups and challenged to develop a presentation. DePriest’s team took first place out of 25, earning an assortment of Deloitte gear.  The victory was particularly sweet for DePriest. His team’s presentation focused on a startup mobile application that he is developing (myhypeeye.com) — Here Are Your Parties and Events Everywhere.

Looking forward, there is certainly a lot to celebrate. After completing their summer 2017 internships, Intino and Davis received offers to join Deloitte’s audit practice. Meanwhile, Deloitte’s Discovery Internship will continue for DePriest and Velez. Both chose audit as their area of focus and are invited to intern with Deloitte again: Velez in summer 2018 and DePriest in the winter. “It’s a very unique experience because it allows you to get a glimpse of both aspects of accounting to possibly steer your career decision-making before you graduate,” says DePriest.

Southern senior Yenny Bayas, who interned with Deloitte in the winter of 2017, agrees, noting the experience confirmed her career aspirations. Although she’s wanted to study business since high school, she was unsure what specialization to select. But she loved her accounting classes — and a trip to a major European accounting conference with Robert J. Kirsch, professor of accounting, and three other Southern students cemented the deal. Southern was the only college or university from the U.S. at the event. “That’s where I really fell in love with accounting,” says Bayas. “But my internship at Deloitte made that even clearer.”

Like the others who won internships after completing several rounds of interviews, Bayas is a hard-working, high-achieving student. She — and classmate Velez — are School of Business ambassadors, two of only nine in the selective leadership program. At the age of 23, she has also been a licensed realtor for several years. In sum, Bayas — a native of Ecuador and a first-generation college student — is no stranger to a challenging workload. Still, she concedes that her Deloitte internship, conducted during the busy tax season, was very intense at times. “I loved the challenge,” she says.

In terms of a future career, she says being an accountant who specializes in real estate would combine her passions. But she’s also drawn to audit services. “I like that you are with a team and that you are investigating,” says Bayas. “You see the financial statements, think about the facts and numbers, and combine them into the story to make sure it all makes sense. I discovered that I really enjoyed that at Deloitte — and that’s one of the things I loved most about my internship.”

Southern has been awarded a $10,000 Seeds of Hope grant – an allocation that will enable the university to develop a support program for students already in recovery from substance abuse disorders.

The grant emanates from the non-profit organization “Transforming Youth in Recovery,” which focuses on the creation of campus collegiate recovery programs across the nation. It has been awarded at a time of a growing opioid abuse problem throughout the country.

Sarah Keiser, SCSU’s coordinator of alcohol and other drug services, said the three-year grant will enable Southern to provide the social, academic and in some cases, residential support systems for these students.

“The idea is to create a community for these students to engage with others who have similar interests and who want to live a healthy, sober lifestyle,” Keiser said. “In higher education, we are seeing students who not only faced an addiction problem in high school, but who received recovery treatments at that age. That is a big change from 20 years ago.”

Keiser said the focus of the first year of the grant will be to identify the students who are in recovery and need assistance. “We want to know how many students are in need of help, who they are, and how Southern can help them.”

She said that in the second year, the university will seek to establish programs and means of support. Keiser said among the possibilities are the creation of a lounge area for the students; connecting them with the Academic Success Center and peer-mentoring programs; and the development of a living, learning community and roommate pairing.

The third year of the grant would be focused on maintaining programs after the funding ends. “The good news is that the costs associated with these kinds of support are relatively small,” Keiser said. “And we may even be able to tap into other grants and sources of funding.”

Keiser said that in addition to the primary objective of helping students maintain a clean living style in recovery, the programs that will be funded through the grant also can have a positive effect on student retention and graduation rates.

She applied for the grant in April, and received word that Southern would be a recipient at around the time fall classes began a few weeks ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. William Faraclas and his students prepare to cross Lake Atitlán to visit a comadrona—a traditional birth attendant—in San Juan La Laguna.

This summer, two groups of Southern students — one studying special education, and the other, public health — traveled extensively in rural Guatemala during a two-week short-course abroad. Journeying together, while learning in two separate courses, participants from both groups explored the colonial town of Antigua, Guatemala, and its surrounding pueblos; Mayan villages in the country’s central highlands, including breathtaking Lake Atitlán, the caldera of an ancient volcano; and the lush jungle rainforest at Tikal National Park, site of vast archaeological ruins.

Students enjoyed a walk through the village of San Juan La Laguna following the Public Health group’s meeting with Ana Toc Cobax, a traditional birth attendant (far right), and the Special Education group’s tour of Casa Maya School for students with disabilities. Students enrolled in the special education course, led by Dr. Kara Faraclas of the Department of Special Education and Reading, visited a variety of schools and programs for persons with disabilities, and met their inspiring founders and directors. Public health students, led by Dr. William Faraclas of the Department of Public Health, explored health program and facilities and engaged other providers of health services in Guatemala, including shamans and traditional birth attendants. The use of field guides developed especially for the two programs — the Quest for Understanding for public health students, and the Field Guide for the Journey for the special education group — fostered the interaction of students with people in the communities they visited, as students sought and analyzed information provided by cultural informants, used to compose essays for their field guides and perform community assessments.

Education students in Guatemala

During their time abroad, participants in both courses distributed greatly needed supplies they had carried from the United States. Students in the special education course provided materials to support the work of teachers of students with disabilities, and those in the public health course presented greatly needed medical supplies to health clinics. Accentuating and complementing the academic experience, students in both courses spent a day with an indigenous Mayan family, hiked to outlying villages, climbed ancient pyramids, sighted monkeys and toucans in the wild, and observed smoke and fire from an active volcano.

Public-Health

Both courses focused on an underlying theme of culture as a way to prepare teachers, health practitioners and participating students from other disciplines to work effectively with an increasingly diverse population in the United States and for opportunities in other countries. Several past enrollees were accepted into the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, and this year’s students in both courses reported gaining from their experiences in Guatemala a new understanding of how their studies at Southern would enable them to work globally or at home to help alleviate suffering and promote social justice.

Education students in GuatemalaPlanning for next summer’s trip is underway, and graduate and undergraduate students in all majors are welcome to participate. For information, contact:

Exercise may actually be the best medicine.

And Southern has a contingent of exercise science students who have prescribed a healthy dose of questions designed to get the campus community thinking more about their own exercise program. For their efforts, the American College of Sports Medicine recently awarded SCSU a gold-level recognition for its Exercise is Medicine (EIM) program.

EIM is designed to create a culture of wellness on college campuses across the country. Southern was one of about two dozen schools throughout the nation – and only two in Connecticut — to earn gold-level status.

Robert Axtell, SCSU associate professor of exercise science, said he was excited for the exercise science students to earn the award. It was largely based on the Exercise Physiology Club students working with Dr. Diane Morgenthaler, director of student health services, to add questions to a survey that students fill out when accessing health care at the Student Health Center.

“It’s an honor for the students to be recognized for their efforts,” Axtell said. “Exercise is undoubtedly an important factor in the health of individuals, and our students are trying to attain information that can help people better understand that concept.”

The questions included:

  • How many days per week do you do moderate-to-strenuous exercise?
  • How many minutes do you exercise at this level?
  • What is the total number of minutes per week?

“The main goal of the Student Health Survey was to understand the physical activity and exercise habits of Southern students,” said Ted DeConne, a student in the Exercise Physiology Club who helped lead the push to become recognized by EIM. “We hope that we can use this information to further educate the on-campus community.”

DeConne said other steps were taken in addition to the questionnaire. He said the students spoke about the EIM initiative during the Week of Welcome; informed students and faculty about the benefits of exercise; and encouraged students to join the Exercise Physiology Club.

CSU Professor of Art David Levine

David Levine, chairman of Southern’s Art Department and an expert on art history, has been selected for one of the most prestigious faculty awards within the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.

The state Board of Regents for Higher Education on Tuesday bestowed Levine with the title of Connecticut State University Professor. Southern, Central, Western and Eastern Connecticut State universities each can have up to three such professors. It is awarded in recognition of excellence in the areas of creative activity (research), teaching and service, and includes a peer review process.

Levine fills an SCSU vacancy left by the recent retirement of Joseph Solodow, professor of world languages and literatures. He joins Vivian Shipley, professor of English, and Terrell Ward Bynum, professor of philosophy, as SCSU’s contingent of CSU Professors.

“During his long and distinguished career at Southern, (Levine) has received international acclaim as a scholar, in particular for his research on the Dutch and Flemish artists working in Rome during the Baroque era,” said SCSU President Joe Bertolino in his nomination letter. “His particular interest is in investigating the political dimensions of Dutch painting and the cultural competition with Italy.”

Troy Paddock, chairman of the CSU Professor Advisory Committee, said the committee concluded that Levine met or exceeded the standard of excellence required for consideration in each of the three criteria.

“Dr. Levine’s most significant research has been a new interpretation of the bambocciata, an anti-heroic genre painting style invented by Dutch artists in Rome,” Paddock wrote. “His work has been singularly responsible for a reassessment of the work of these figures.

“To redefine a field is no small achievement. He has co-edited or co-authored three books and written 17 articles, essays or book chapters. He has presented papers in North America and Europe.”

Paddock said Levine’s departmental colleagues and students hold him in high esteem. One former student, Laura Macaluso, wrote: “(Levine) changed my life when he opened his door to me 25 years ago. He was, I now realize, the first art historian I ever met, which means that my path might have been quite different if he had not been all the things he is: kind and warm, quietly brilliant yet at ease with laughter, humble, and genuinely interested in people.”

Paddock added that Levine’s service to the university has been exemplary. “Dr. Levine has served on every committee in the Art Department,” he said. “He played a leading role in establishing the Judaic Studies minor and has served as its coordinator on two different occasions. He is also a valued member of the Honors College and has served on numerous university-wide committees.”

 

He’s not a medical doctor. Nor does he play one on TV or at work. But Greg McVerry is passionate about improving the health of the Internet, and ensuring that the public has access to it – especially as cyberspace is becoming more and more critical in our daily lives.

McVerry, an associate professor of curriculum and learning at Southern, has been working over the last six years with the Mozilla Foundation to foster an open and secure Internet. Among their goals are to reduce criminal hacking; enable more open sources of information to be available, especially when it comes to education curricula; enhance Web literacy and bolster access to the Internet.

“There are about a billion people online at the moment,” McVerry said. “But what is the Internet going to be like as the next billion people go online?” He said that is a question he keeps in the back of his mind.

One of the major projects McVerry has been working on is testing an online code editor called Thimble, which seeks to make it easier for people to create their own Web pages. McVerry said he has asked students in his “New Literacies” education class to test the program, as well as offer their perspectives on it.

For all of his efforts, he was recently named by Mozilla as one of 50 individuals worldwide who made the Internet a better place in 2016 – called the “Network 50.”

“Greg drives the Internet health mission forward through his contributions as a participation lead, Mozilla Club Captain, curriculum tester, and Thimble champion,” said the Mozilla Network in an online announcement. “As a teacher, Greg naturally thinks about how our tools and curriculum will be received by learners. His thoughtful feedback about how Thimble is used in learning contexts helped us make important decisions about the user experience, the feature set, and the curricular content. He has been an active tester of our curriculum and has made valuable contributions, helping to increase the overall quality.”

McVerry earned the Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship in 2014. One of the benefits of the award is to grant newer faculty members work time to pursue their research projects. “I was able to engage more thoroughly in creating open-source learning tools to help improve the learning curriculum,” he said.

He added that he is a staunch advocate of having more of the repository of knowledge available to all on the Internet for free. “As a state university, taxpayers pay for our salaries and other costs,” McVerry said. “In my view, all of the research we do should be published openly.”

 

 

U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT) met with nearly two dozen Southern students on Sept. 1 to discuss issues related to college affordability and other logistical hurdles toward getting a degree.

Murphy outlined his thoughts, as well as listened to the questions and concerns from the students and SCSU President Joe Bertolino. The hour-long roundtable discussion also attracted several staff members who work with students on a regular basis.

Murphy said the percentage of students nationwide who graduate from college in four years has declined in recent years. “Today, the traditional student is someone who is going to class for five to seven years, either full time or part time,” Murphy said. He also noted that the average age of a college graduate is moving closer to 30 years of age.

At the same time, “it is three times as expensive to get a bachelor’s degree today than it was in 1980, and that’s adjusted for inflation,” Murphy said.

Murphy expressed his support for the federal government to provide a free college education, at least for low- and middle-income families.

But he also suggested that it might be time to revamp how degrees are awarded – away from requiring a specific number of credits and toward a system that is based on competencies. In other words, if a student reaches a level of proficiency in a designated set of disciplines, they should be awarded a college diploma, whether it’s through a class or exam. He said that could reduce the time needed to spend in college. “The traditional four-year model is arbitrary based on what people had said it should be many years ago,” he said.

Students raised several issues during the meeting, ranging from frustration with the onerous financial aid forms to mounting costs to the challenges of working and going to school.

President Bertolino noted that the overwhelming majority of students work full time or part time. “(In many respects), we’re a working-class university,” he said.

One student praised the creation of the position of coordinator of student financial literacy and advising to help students navigate the financial challenges of college life. Lew DeLuca serves in that role.

Murphy praised Southern for being ahead of the curve in many respects.

 

 

Collage of new SCSU students

New students moved in today and we asked them how they were feeling.

 

Haley Adams

Haley AdamsHometown: Trumbull, CT
“I’m excited to move into Southern today!”

 

Rachel Bernabe

Rachel Bernabe

Hometown: Suffield, CT
“I’m excited and a little nervous to be moving in, but am also looking forward to meeting new people.”

 

Emily Balasco

Emily Balasco

Hometown: Seekonk, MA
“I’m excited to be moving in today and to be part of the gymnastics team.”

 

Dominic Maccini

Dominic Maccini

Hometown: Enfield, CT
“This is the start of a new era!”

 

Sean Ancheta

Sean Ancheta

Hometown: Milford, CT
“This is the beginning of a brand new journey!”

 

Gene Footman

Gene Footman

Hometown: Meriden and transfer from Springfield College
“New year, new school”

 

Christina Prevot

Christina Prevot

Hometown: Stamford
“Wondering if I’ll have room for everything! And I’m excited about meeting new people and learning about the school and nursing department.”

 

Jacqui Locher

Jacqui Locher

Hometown: Wilton, CT
“Am excited to decorate my room and meet my new roommate!”

 

Megan Mahon

Megan Mahon

Hometown: Southington
“I’m looking forward to majoring in business administration.”

 

Kira Flynn

Kira Flynn

Hometown: Sandy Hook, CT
“I’m excited to start this journey on the path to the rest of my life.”

 

Christian Perez-Cameron

Christian Perez-Cameron

Hometown: Wallingford
“I’d like to be wealthy and this is the start!”

 

Jack Dalfonso and Milan Spisek

Jack Dalfonso and Milan Spisek

Jack Dalfonso
Hometown: New Britain
“Am excited for new opportunities and will be studying nursing.”

Milan Spisek
Hometown: Easton
“I’m excited to be here on the track team — I’m a pole vaulter, and will be majoring in exercise science.”

 

Nikolas Strickland

Nikolas Strickland and Kiah

Nikolas Strickland (photographed with his sister, Kiah, SCSU ‘19)
Hometown: Montville, CT
“Ecstatic!”

 

Jordan Lembo-Frey

Jordan Lembo-Frey

Hometown: Guilford
“I’m excited to be here on the track team – I’m a sprinter.”

 

Spencer Berty

Spencer Berty

Hometown: Branford
“Looking forward to a new beginning!”

 

Ashton Reina

Ashton Reina

Hometown: Old Saybrook
“Excited to start my life here and be in a new environment.

 

Sebastien Julien

Sebastien Julien

Hometown: Stamford
“Looking forward to a fresh start!”

 

Amber Drobnak

Amber Drobnak

Hometown: Naugatuck
“Hoping the freshman 15 isn’t true, and excited to be studying social work!”

 

Herman Winston IV

Herman Winston IV

Hometown: Ledyard, CT
“Strive for greatness! Am happy to be a sprinter on the track team!”

 

Ivey Collins

Ivey Collins

Hometown: New Milford, CT
“Excited to meet new people and study psychology!”

 

Miranda Tranquillo

Miranda Tranquillo

Hometown: Barkhamsted, CT
“I’m excited to live on campus and meet new friends!”

 

Taylor Beckham and Brian Petrucci

Taylor Beckham and Brian Petrucci

Taylor Beckham
Hometown: Southington, CT
“A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge. That is why I read so much.” George R.R. Martin

Brian Petrucci
Hometown: Southington, CT
“Excited to start the journey of my life!”

 

Emmanuella Henebeng, Gifty Asante, and Justine McInerney

Emmanuella Henebeng and Gifty Asante and Justine McInerney

Emmanuella Henebeng
Hometown: East Hartford, but originally from Ghana
“Everything happens for a reason, and I’m excited to be here and meet new people.”

Gifty Asante
Hometown: Manchester, CT
“I’m ready to achieve my goals!”

Justine McInerney
Hometown: Wallingford, CT
“I’m excited to start college and get a nursing degree!”

 

Brittany Post, Lorette Feivelson, Emily Petersen, and Camryn Arpino-Brown

Brittany Post and Lorette Feivelson and Emily Petersen and Camryn Arpino-Brown

Brittany Post
Hometown: Canterbury, CT
“I can’t wait to start classes and will study athletic training.  Am also on the cross country and track teams.”

Lorette Feivelson
Hometown: Bristol, CT
“I’m excited to be part of the honors college and hope to study secondary education and history.”

Emily Petersen
Hometown: Niantic, CT
“I’m excited to be pursuing higher education and will study special education.

Camryn Arpino-Brown
Hometown: West Haven
“I can’t wait for track and to get involved in clubs and different organizations. On the track team, I run the hurdles and short sprints, and I hope to major in political science.”

 

Maggie Yeh and Kevin Vazquez

Maggie Yeh and Kevin Vazquez

Maggie Yeh
Hometown: West Haven
“I’m excited to study nursing and contribute to my community.”

Kevin Vazquez
Hometown: New Haven
“I’m excited to start a new chapter of my life.”

 

Trevor Nguyen

Trevor Nguyen

Hometown: Enfield
“I’m looking forward to studying nursing and am excited to experience new things!”

 

Sarah Carroll

Sarah Carroll

Hometown: Enfield
“I’m excited to be part of such a welcoming community!”

 

Jalitza Mathews and Jenna Boccio

Jalitza Mathews and Jenna Boccio

Jalitza Mathews
Hometown: East Hartford
“Looking forward to being part of the honors college!”

Jenna Boccio
Hometown: Southington
“I’m excited to start classes and also be part of the honors college!”