HomeOn CampusA Look Back: Top News Stories of 2023

A Look Back: Top News Stories of 2023

Southern enjoyed another exciting year in 2023, with the university continuing to excel in academics, expand its campus facilities, and foster a vibrant community of diverse and motivated students.

As the curtain is drawn on the calendar year, here’s a list of research and news stories worth a second look:

Opening The New School of Business – We gathered to celebrate the new School of Business opening in September, with a guest keynote by Jeffrey “Skunk” Baxter, known for his innovative thinking in the Department of Defense and as the legendary guitarist from the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan.

Special Guests: Spike Lee and CC Sabathia – Academy Award-winning director Spike Lee delivered this year’s Mary and Louis Fusco Distinguished Lecture, while the celebrated Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia visited to share insights into his life, career, and personal challenges in a moderated discussion with Rob Parker ’86.

Celebrating the Class of 2023 More than 1,400 Southern graduates convened at the Total Mortgage Arena in Bridgeport for commencement with distinguished ABC News anchor and correspondent Juju Chang delivering the keynote.

Transitions – President Joe Bertolino announced his departure from Southern in March, with Dr. Dwayne Smith appointed as his interim successor. Interim President Smith brings over four decades of higher ed experience along with a steadfast dedication to social justice and access.

Supercharging STEM Diversity – Southern received a five-year $3.2 million NSF grant to attract, support, and graduate students from underrepresented groups in STEM. The grant marks one of the largest awards in Southern’s 130-year history.

Serving Ukraine From Afar Officer Nick Gusyev’s service this year went beyond protecting the Southern community — he also found time to support his home country in their time of need, donating military supplies, old unused hospital beds, and basic medical equipment to help care for ailing Ukrainians.

The Owl Way – Southern Athletics were victorious in 2023, with both Swimming and Diving and Cross Country teams clinching first place at their respective NE-10 Championships — a sweep of both the Northeast-10 Conference Championship and the NCAA East Regional Championships for the latter.

This fall also marked the completion of renovations to Jess Dow Field, including a new FieldTurf and a new track surface completed just in time for Homecoming and Family Weekend.

A Head Start on Higher Education –  More than 700 high school students in Connecticut — a nearly 350 percent increase over two years — took college-level classes through Southern’s Early College program this year, many of them at no cost.

Targeting State’s Social Work and Nursing Shortages – Southern’s nursing and social work programs received $3 million boost from CT Health Horizons, a new initiative in higher education introduced by Governor Ned Lamont in March.

The grant allocated $1.4 million to Southern’s accelerated nursing program and $1.6 million to its social work program for tuition support and recruiting and retaining faculty.

Planetarium Reopens to Campus Community – A new projector was at longlast acquired for the Morrill Hall Planetarium, equipping the university’s two resident astronomers, Elliott Horch and Dana Casetti, with a critical learning tool for students and the community.


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