Monthly Archives: April 2020

younger students looking at laptop

The coronavirus pandemic has brought upheaval to students throughout America, leaving the education system to struggle with a temporary “new normal.” But for those individuals with an autism spectrum disorder, these changes are creating additional distinctive challenges.

Barbara Cook, associate professor of communication disorders who also collaborates with SCSU’s Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders, offers some suggestions to teachers and professors on how students with autism – particularly at the college level – can better deal with these challenging times.

Challenge: Navigating the social expectations with remote learning.

Cook said these can include addressing the following questions:

*How do students alert the teacher/professor when they have a question or comment?
*How do students step away from a live session (do they announce that they are leaving, or do they just walk away from the computer)?
*Where do students look or direct their gaze?
*How do students consider the background being displayed from their computer when showing video?
*Where do students sit during these online classes?

Suggestion: A course professor may need to reach out to individual students to clarify expectations and rules for engaging during synchronous learning. Examples would include how students should indicate they have a question or comment, and whether they are expected to keep their video on throughout a session, or if they can leave unannounced. Raising awareness of the subtleties during a private conversation will be greatly appreciated by the students.

Challenge: Navigating the social expectations for asynchronous learning. This might prove to be especially challenging given the heightened need to self-manage the review of materials and complete course readings and assignments.

Because of the sudden shift to an online platform, a professor may have created additional assignments that can monitor and assess the engagement of students for this type of learning. This might be perceived as “breaking the contract” of the original syllabus. The student may struggle to connect with the professor to gain clarification or request an accommodation to align with their learning needs.

Suggestion: Check in with each student to learn about their strategy for organizing and planning assignments. If you use BlackBoard, take advantage of its calendar function, which can show all students the due dates of assignments. And the announcement feature can provide the ability to link to specific assignments in the course to serve as weekly reminders. Course instructors are encouraged to connect with their school’s disability resources office to better understand the needed accommodations for online learning of their students.

Challenge: Navigating one’s home as a classroom or learning environment.

Learning in a physical classroom is conducive to engaging in one’s course work. But a home setting can create distractions for students, causing them to relax and focus on leisure activities, rather than course work. Organizing, planning, and time management for completing course work might be interrupted.

Suggestion: Share similar challenges experienced by many peers, and hold discussions or possibly check-ins to encourage continuation of learning. Offer suggestions for creating a daily routine that includes a set time and location for completing course work. This daily schedule also should include designated time for leisure activity.

Challenge: Navigating group projects. Students may inconsistently initiate or respond to email with other students during group projects.

Suggestion: Teachers and professors can arrange meetings with student groups to find out their approach to communicating, as well as the timeline they have outlined to complete the steps of the project(s). It would be important to arrange check-in meetings between the course instructor and the groups to keep momentum.


Pat Mottola

Patricia Mottola, a graduate of Southern’s MFA in creative writing program and now an instructor in the program, was featured recently in the Hartford Courant’s CT Poets’ Corner section. Read the article here: Pat-Mottola-Hartford-Courant-042620

Mottola was hired to teach Introduction to Creative Writing immediately after receiving her MFA from Southern because, as one colleague noted, “She was an exceptional student in our department’s MFA program,” and she has been an extraordinary instructor ever since. Mottola’s adviser and now colleague English Professor and CSU Professor Vivian Shipley awarded Distinction to Mottola’s MFA thesis, “If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit: Poems About Relationships,” something rarely done. Shipley remarked that since 1969, she has “never had a better student or known a more dedicated and inspiring teacher.”

Mottola was the 2019 Recipient of the Connecticut Board of Regents Adjunct Teaching Award. She is co-president of the Connecticut Poetry Society; works online with Afghan women and girls through the Afghan Voices project, encouraging them to write poetry in order to empower themselves; and she works with senior citizens, encouraging them to have a rebirth at a time when they are nearing the end of life.

She earned her MFA in creative writing from Southern in 2011; an MS in art education from Southern in 1990; study in the Art Psychotherapy Institute, SCSU Department of School Psychology, in 1988; and a BS in art education from Southern in 1987.


The SCSU President’s Recognition Committee proudly presents our second group of SouthernStrong awardees. These awards shine a light on faculty, staff, and students who are lending a helping hand, with acts of kindness large and small, not only for their fellow Owls, but also for friends, neighbors, and strangers.

We recognize and celebrate Maria Diamantis, David Martin, Laura McKay, Amanda Valentin, and Nicole Van Etten for their commitment to making a difference and stepping up during the pandemic crisis. Their acts of kindness are making a positive impact during this difficult time.

Do you know an unsung hero who’s been making a difference during the pandemic? Please nominate them so their kindness can be celebrated!

Maria Diamantis

Maria Diamantis, professor of curriculum and learning, was nominated by a student who wrote that she “has been amazing at not only transitioning our classes to online but providing support to students in this time of need! She keeps an open line of communication and continues to make sure her students are doing well and have everything they need during this time. She emails us frequently even if it is just to check up on us! She even has offered to make her students and their families cloth protective masks and mail them to us if we need them. She has gone above and beyond and cares not only about her students but everyone around her as well!”

Maria Diamantis

David Martin

Graduate student David Martin ran four miles, every four hours, for 48 hours so he could feed people in the state of Connecticut who could not feed themselves. According to Martin’s nominator, a fellow student, Martin saw that the Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport was having a tough time running its food kitchen. Their donations were down 80 percent and the number of people coming in for meals increased fourfold during the COVID crisis. Martin decided to take part in a charity run and spent a week working with Catholic Charities, designing a donation page, reaching out to members of his community for donations, and then started running at 6 p.m. on April 3. He ran at 6 p.m., 10 p.m., 2 a.m., 6 a.m., 10 a.m., and so forth until his final run on April 5 at 2 p.m. He raised almost $4,000, which paid for the food center to operate for four months. It’s also enough money to feed 160 people for 2 weeks. As Martin’s nominator wrote, “He used his athletic abilities to bring together the community and he inspired others to run for for the poor that same weekend. David ended up running just over 50 miles, he ran for 7 hours and 35 min over the weekend, and ran a total elevation of 2,265 feet.”

David Martin

Laura McKay

Laura McKay, secretary in University Access Programs, has been going above and beyond her schedule for the outreach to prospective SEOP students and families, according to her nominator. McKay makes “available on weekends and after her shift if we have Webex events going on,” her nominator wrote, adding, “She has also cared for our staff by giving new face masks she was able to procure in limited supply, a sign of her generosity and concern for the well-being of our team and not solely looking out for oneself.”

Laura McKay

Amanda Valentin

Senior Amanda Valentin “is a fantastic human being that has done a ton for her friends, peers, and he community! wrote her nominator. Valentin is peer mentor, works with VPAS, and helps her friends while balancing classes and an internship. Her nominator, a fellow student, wrote that “I met her during the overnight stay starting our freshman year and she has made such an impact on me and so many others. I am amazed on how much she cares and advocates for those that are pushed down and hurt in some way. She is not afraid to stand up for those that need someone in their corner. She will constantly post things on social media about staying connected with one another, letting people know they still have assistance and services available to them, and that she is there if someone needs it. She’s always laughing and smiling and is just all around a perfect example of what our university stands for and what others should strive to be.”

Amanda Valentin and Otus

Nicole Van Etten

Nicole Van Etten is a senior, majoring in social work, and is the president of the student-run Social Work Organization (SWO). Her nominator, a faculty member, wrote that Van Etten has exhibited kind and generous leadership throughout the year and during this time of crisis has continued to rise to the occasion. “On and off campus, she has shown herself to be ‘SouthernStrong,'” her nominator wrote. Van Etten is currently employed at Liberty Community Services, a community-based agency in New Haven that provides housing and supportive services to our neighbors. She continues to work remotely with clients providing critical support to the most vulnerable members of our community. “In addition,” her nominator wrote, “she has rallied to keep the spirits of our graduating seniors high as they move through this final semester of college. Nicole manages the SWO Instagram account, sharing news from school and positive messages with our undergraduates. She helped to organize the SWO participation in the SCSU Walking Challenge, and thanks to her steps, we are in the top 10! In addition, Nicole has been collecting ideas and feedback about how to best commemorate the accomplishments of our graduating class, now that we are facing remote year-end ceremonies. Finally, she has also done a wonderful job sharing student feedback with Social Work faculty about the transition to on-line learning. Now more than ever, this honest and clear ommunication is critical. Clearly, she has exhibited leadership and hope on many different levels over the last month. And always with a calm smile and grace that embodies her personality. We are lucky to have her leadership in our SCSU community!”

Nicole Van Etten



Grant helps Southern prepare tomorrow’s workforce while supporting the community.

The Business Success Center at SCSU
The grant from Wells Fargo supports the School of Business Success Center. Pictured from left are: Patty Conte, internship coordinator; business administration major Kiersten Snyder, '20; business administration major Paulina Lamot, '20; Kevin Burke, Wells Fargo; Ellen Durnin, dean of School of Business; Amy Grotzke, program coordinator; and Sue Rapini, director of external relations

A $40,000 grant from Wells Fargo will significantly enhance initiatives offered through the Business Success Center at Southern Connecticut State University’s School of Business — providing students with the “soft skills” most valued by hiring professionals. Soft skills, which encompass everything from time management to conflict resolution, are in high demand as revealed by a slew of business studies. For example, 91 percent of hiring managers agree that finding candidates with strong soft skills is increasingly important, according to LinkedIn, which also designated soft skills as the top business trend last year.

“The School of Business Success Center (BSC) was established based upon feedback from employers about the skills sets they were looking for in new hires. Employers report that college graduates are generally well-prepared academically, but lack the soft skills that are necessary to succeed,” says Ellen Durnin, dean of the School of Business.

The BSC provides a wide range of professional-development programming and services to students and alumni. These include paid-internship placements, resume and interview preparation, and professional-development workshops and seminars. The latter are offered in a range of topics, including networking basics, managing your social media presence, and business communication.

The Wells Fargo grant will fund expanded services at the BSC, including face-to-face mentoring and mock interviewing. It will also provide software platforms so students can film virtual interviews and receive feedback.

Students in SCSU Accounting class, School of Business
Students attending an accounting class in the School of Business.

The grant was awarded in conjunction with Southern’s Day of Caring, which took place on April 22. The School of Business designated the BSC as a key priority during the Day of Caring campaign. The Wells Fargo grant, along with gifts from alumni, faculty and staff, and friends provided vital funding.

“I am very grateful for this support for our students, which will be directed to offering them paid internships at New Haven-area nonprofits,” says Durnin. Click here to see a video about a business major interning with Marrakech, a New Haven-based nonprofit organization.

The Wells Fargo Foundation cites financial health as a primary philanthropic focus, notes Kevin Burke, a senior vice president and market executive for Wells Fargo Commercial Banking in Connecticut and the New York Capital Region.

Burke is also a member of the School of Business Advisory Council. “In my experience one of the best ways to ensure financial health is through education,” he says. “As the economy has evolved, the importance of a college education has become even more critical. Dean Durnin was passionate about the need for the Business Success Center and we at Wells Fargo are proud to contribute in a small way to the success of Southern’s business students.”

Like many in Connecticut, the Burke family has a personal connection to Southern. Burke’s wife, Margaret, is a Southern alumna from the Class of 2002. She had earned an associate’s degree immediately after high school. After raising two daughters, she returned to college at Southern and earned a bachelor’s degree.

Durnin adds that the center and, indeed, the School of Business in its entirety have a particularly strong partnership with the regional corporate community. “More than 85 percent of our graduates live, work, pay taxes, and serve their communities in the state of Connecticut,” she says.

She also emphasizes the need for the support to Southern students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college.

“In these challenging times, our students and area nonprofits need our support more than ever as they prepare for their careers and help those in the community who need it most,” says Durnin.

Parent and young child studying at home

Since schools have closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, parents and teachers of elementary and middle school students have been working hard to foster a climate in which students can succeed in an online learning environment.

It hasn’t been easy for parents, students or teachers. But Cheryl C. Durwin, a parent and professor of psychology whose expertise is in educational psychology, has offered suggestions on how to make this transition easier and more effective for all. She is also a parent.

“Educational psychology, the science of linking psychology to educational practice, can provide us with some evidence-based tips for remote education,” Durwin said.

Tips for parents:

“We parents need to realize that we are not our children’s teachers, nor are we actually homeschooling our children,” she said. “Our focus should be on providing the right amount of structure and support for their learning.”

*Establish developmentally appropriate expectations. For example, younger children with shorter attention spans cannot sit and focus for long periods of time and may need more direct assistance and monitoring from parents. But students in upper elementary through middle school grades should be allowed greater independence in completing their work with assistance as needed. This will give them experience at monitoring and evaluating their own progress, an important self-regulatory skill of successful learners.

*Create a designated workspace and schedule for your child. A designated workspace simulates conditions that students experience at school. Sitting at a desk or table facilitates concentration and reduces distractions that occur when students sit in front of a TV or on their bed. Creating a flexible schedule for your child prevents procrastination and teaches them time management, another important self-regulatory skill. Older children can create their own schedules with assistance from parents as needed.

*Try to maintain typical family routines. Keeping routines creates a sense of normalcy in your home and eases children’s anxiety about these uncertain circumstances. It is important for your child to get enough sleep and keep a “school night” bedtime and waking schedule. Sleep is important for strengthening memory of learned information. Continuing to read with your children is also important, especially for those in grades K-3.

Tips for students:

“Students should remember that remote education requires the same types of effective learning strategies as face-to-face learning,” Durwin said. “These practices are even more important while learning remotely as the lines between home and school become blurred.”

*Put all electronic devices away. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is an educational myth. We do not perform two tasks at once, such as completing a learning activity and checking Snapchat. Rather, we alternate our attention between the two tasks, which causes us to take longer and make more errors, especially on the learning task! For optimal attention and performance, put electronic devices out of sight, not just face down or on silent mode.

*Take frequent breaks and spread out learning activities. Working in small chunks of time with breaks for physical activity enhances a learner’s attention and working memory and results in improved academic performance. Also, learning and studying information over multiple days is more effective than cramming material into one long session. For example, if an assignment is due at the end of the week, it is better to complete a little each day, reviewing your work from the previous day and adding to it, rather than completing it all in one sitting the day before the deadline.

*Reward yourself for a job well done. Teachers use small rewards for effort, mastery, and achieving goals to promote students’ intrinsic motivation and encourage them to keep working hard. Likewise, you can reward yourself after diligently completing a learning activity by choosing a preferred activity, such as checking social media, listening to music or having a snack.

Tips for teachers:

“Teachers should be reassured that there is no single correct approach to effectively delivering remote instruction,” Durwin said. “This issue involves various factors, such as the school district’s resources, technology platforms, student population, subject area, and grade level, much of which is out of the teacher’s control. My tips for teachers focus on methods that are within their control.”

*Create a sense of belonging. For many students, the transition to remote learning was sudden with no chance to say goodbye to friends and teachers. Therefore, it is important for you to create a virtual learning environment where students feel connected. You should be accessible daily (while preserving your own personal time). Also, although no one expects you to perfectly replicate your classroom approaches, remember that remote instruction is not just assigning content for students to tackle on their own. Think of ways you can interact with your students, as well as seek opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction.

*Keep workload manageable. Realize that you cannot accomplish all the learning objectives and activities that you would have in your actual classroom. Also, the time allotted for a learning activity in class may take students much longer to complete on their own. It is a good idea to break activities into smaller, manageable tasks with separate deadlines. This helps students set short-term, achievable goals, which is important for encouraging a sense of mastery.

*Focus on meaningful learning. This means encouraging a deep understanding of content in which newly learned information is related to prior knowledge and real-life experiences. Meaningful remote learning can be accomplished in many ways and will depend on the subject and grade level. For reading and math, provide students with spaced practice of skills and problem solving. For subjects such as science, social studies, and language arts, you can create learning activities that encourage open-ended explanations, experimentation, problem-solving, writing and real-life application.

(These suggestions are based on content from EdPsych Modules, published by Sage Publications and co-authored by Cheryl C. Durwin, professor of psychology at SCSU, and Marla Reese-Weber, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at Illinois State University.)

Just Bagels President Cliff Nordquist, '90

When Cliff Nordquist, ’90, and James O’Connell, ’90, founded Just Bagels in 1992, philanthropy wasn’t their No. 1 priority — growing the business and paying the bills was. But now that the company has established roots in its Bronx neighborhood, supporting the neighbors has become a part of daily operations, even though business is down 60 to 70 percent.

Until COVID-19 hit, Just Bagels sold their distinctive line of water-bath bagels nationally and internationally to large retailers such as Fresh Direct, Whole Foods, and Starbucks; airlines such as United Airlines; college campuses; Marriott and Hilton properties; and Barnes & Noble cafes in all 50 states. Now, with the market upended by the pandemic, Just Bagels President Nordquist said his biggest revenue generator is QVC.

“We are non-stop with QVC,” he said. “We started with them last May, and it’s what’s keeping us alive.”

The market may be uncertain, but Just Bagels’ continued commitment to the neighborhood isn’t. The company has started donating bagels to frontline workers and nurses in nine local hospitals in the Bronx.

“Being here so long, as you grow, you want to give back, so we love giving back and supporting the local community,” he said. “We have donated to churches, homeless shelters, the local police station, and food pantries, and I thought that would be a nice thing to do, to give something to our frontline workers, so we started. We can’t do it forever, but the neighborhood knows they can come in and we will be there, supplying the bagels.”

The Northeast 10 Conference has named Southern senior Avery Fornaciari of Plymouth, Mass., the NE 10’s Women’s Swimming & Diving Sports Excellence Award winner. The award was announced on April 22, 2020. Fornaciari is the 11th SCSU student-athlete to win the NE10 Sports Excellence Award, one of the conference’s most prestigious honors.

Read more about Fornaciari and the award.

Read about Fornaciari’s swimming career.

Avery Fornaciari

Student interns work with Sustainability Coordinator Suzanne Huminski (left) on the campus' urban oasis at Beaver Pond.

Self-quarantine isn’t affecting just people. Fewer humans on beaches means sea turtle hatchlings are doing better than they have in years. Less boat traffic in Venice, Italy’s canals means marine life is actually visible. Reduced air pollution in Africa means that its second-highest mountain can be seen from Kenya’s capital city. And right here at Southern, sustainable efforts from the SCSU Campus Green Fund mean that the harvest from the Campus Community Garden can supply local soup kitchens with 800 pounds of fresh produce.

There’s no better time to keep up the momentum than on Earth Day! Help SCSU continue to make a big environmental impact by supporting the SCSU Campus Green Fund. The fund puts students at the heart of environmental change through sustainability internships and fellowships, ecological restoration at Beaver Pond, student conference travel, rain garden construction in New Haven neighborhoods, food recovery and composting programs, and more.

The bigger it is, the more we can do!

By the numbers:

  • 800 pounds: The amount of organic produce each season that has been donated by the Campus Community Garden to local soup kitchens
  • More than 60,000: The number of meals, since 2017, that SCSU has donated in the greater New Haven area through composting efforts as a member of the Food Recovery Network
  • More than 100 tons: The annual amount of food scrap SCSU has diverted from the waste stream thanks to its compost project
  • 36: The number of trees SCSU students have planted on Farnham Avenue in collaboration with Urban Resources Initiative and the City of New Haven
  • 200 campus community members: The number who have signed SCSU Climate’s Declaration — join here!
  • Less than 57%: SCSU has reduced its carbon footprint for campus buildings 57% below our 2008 benchmark
  • 100% Green Energy Purchase: SCSU made the switch to 100% clean, renewable electricity purchase in May 2018
  • 1.2 mega-watt solar array: SCSU’s first solar installation on Farnham Avenue

Give Now!

SCSU students Amber Archambault, Melissa Palma Cuapio, Brooke Mercaldi, and Alexis Zhiomi, 2020 Henry Barnard Scholars
2020 Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award recipients, Amber Archambault, Melissa Palma Cuapio, Brooke Mercaldi, and Alexis Zhitomi

Four Southern students who have displayed outstanding scholarship and a commitment to community service during their collegiate career have been selected as recipients of this year’s Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.

Each year, 12 seniors are chosen by the four Connecticut State Universities – four each from Southern and Central, and two each from Eastern and Western. It is considered among the university’s most  prestigious student awards. Criteria include a 3.7 GPA or better and having demonstrated significant participation in university and/or community life.

Alexis Zhitomi, a communication disorders major, has a GPA of 3.97. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in speech-language pathology at Southern this fall.

Zhitomi is president of the Student Government Association and a member of the Honors College. She has been the recipient of several scholarships. She has volunteered with the Friends of Rudolph, SCSU Day of Service, Adopt-a-Family, The Big Event, and was a Yale-New Haven Neuro-Speech Volunteer. She also has been an orientation coordinator for the Office of New Student and Sophomore Programs.

During her lifetime, she has traveled to all 50 states, and five continents. Zhitomi presented her undergraduate thesis last fall at a national American Speech-Language Hearing Association convention in Orlando, Fla.

“She has proven to be a passionate, diligent, and self-motivated student and is most deserving of this type of recognition,” said Heather Warner, associate professor of communication disorders. “…Given the depth of her classroom discussions, it was easy to see her passion for people, desire to help, and thirst for knowledge.”

Amber Archambault, a social work major, has a 3.96 GPA. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work at Southern this fall in the advanced standing program.

She is an intern at the East Hartford High School Student Assistance Center, where she evaluates and counsels students’ needs and concerns. On campus, she was a resident advisor for nearly two and a half years, and was named Resident Advisor of the Year in 2019.

Archambault also served as an orientation ambassador, and earned several awards and grants, including a Connecticut State University grant in 2019. She had volunteered at the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain, where she worked with children with physical disabilities.

“Ms. Archambault is a natural leader who is driven by passion to make a positive impact in the community for those who may otherwise be unable to advocate for themselves,” said Kyle O’Brien, assistant professor of social work. “(She) will represent SCSU well as an alum as she enters the social work profession and begins to leave a lasting footprint in the communities she works within.”

Brooke Mercaldi, an environmental systems and sustainability studies major, has a 3.93 GPA. She plans to attend the Elizabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University this fall.

Mercaldi is a member of the Honors College. She is a Werth Center for Coastal Marine Studies Fellow, and served as research coordinator for the center. She is a recipient of several scholarships and is executive vice president of the Student Government Association. She is a member of the Board of Regents for Higher Education Student Advisory Committee, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Taskforce, and the SCSU Global Education Advisory Council.

She has volunteered with the Friends of Rudolph and Adopt-a-Family programs. Mercaldi served as an intern with the Connecticut General Assembly and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“Brooke’s work was not only outstanding, but she exhibited an intellectual curiosity and a critical thinking ability that impressed me deeply…After 20 years of teaching, I can think of no student more appropriate for the Henry Barnard Award than Brooke,” said James Tait, professor of the environment, geography and marine sciences.

Melissa Palma Cuapio, a chemistry major, has a GPA of 3.8. She is considering applying to medical school in the future.

Palma is a chemistry tutor and was selected as the American Chemical Society’s Outstanding Senior Organic Chemistry Student in 2019. She was a member of the Math Club, Botany Club, Club Taekwondo and Service Commission Club.

She conducted research in the field of chemistry and presented her findings at the SCSU Research Symposium. Palma Cuapio served as a youth leader in the Junta Youth in Action Program.

“She is very gifted and works very hard…I find Melissa to be very excited about science and research. Melissa has a very strong desire to enter the medical field when she graduates from Southern, and I believe that she has taken the right steps to prepare herself for a career in medicine,” said Adiel Coca, chairman of the Chemistry Department.


Diane Ariza

Dr. Diane Ariza has been named as Southern’s Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, following a national search for this new senior leadership position.

“When she assumes her new role in July, Diane will bring with her more than two decades’ experience of administrative leadership in social justice and a background of teaching and research in ethnic studies,’” said President Joe Bertolino. “Her strategic vision will be invaluable in advancing the important and meaningful work that is already happening on campus as we establish Southern as a social justice university for Connecticut.”

Having worked at several large- and medium-sized institutions, Ariza has in-depth knowledge of both academic and student affairs. She has worked with senior officers on campus-wide strategic plans focused on increasing and retaining the number of underrepresented students, faculty and staff through programming, mentorship, and the development of  institutional policies.

Additionally, her service with the National Association for Chief Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) Conference, where she is now an at-large board member, has afforded her the privilege to work with leaders in higher education working toward inclusive excellence through institutional transformation, Bertolino said.

Most recently, Ariza served as Chief Diversity Officer at Quinnipiac University, and is currently Vice President for Community and Belonging at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y. As an administrator and strategist at both institutions, she has worked with senior leadership teams to promote greater access and inclusion through systematic and structural change, ensuring that all students, faculty, and staff reach their fullest potential.

“At Nazareth, an important responsibility for Diane is to engage the campus and beyond to help define, enable, and foster a community of belonging with a social justice lens – a task that resonates fully with our initiatives here at Southern,” Bertolino said. “I am confident that her blend of experience and accomplishment will further our efforts to build an inclusive, welcoming environment on campus.”

Earlier in her higher education career, Ariza was an assistant professor of ethnic studies at Albion College, Mich. She has published about the Black and Latino student experience on a predominantly white campus and also on Florida’s Puerto Rican and second-generation Hispanic communities and the challenges they face in education, identity, and adaptation. In 2015, Ariza was part of a NADOHE delegation to Cuba and contributed to a compilation of perspectives about issues of race, gender, cultural identity, and the African experience in Cuba.

Her research interests have included: internationalization and multicultural competency efforts in higher education; comparative global studies in immigration; Caribbean migration identity; health disparities; and race and ethnic relations.

Ariza holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Sociology from Western Michigan University (WMU) with a concentration in ethnic and race relations, as well as a Master of Arts degree in Anthropology from WMU. Her bachelor’s degree is in history and Spanish from Stetson University in Florida.