Announcements

Lewis DeLuca, coordinator of Student Financial Literacy & Advising, works with students and their families on financial literacy matters.

Figuring out how to pay for a college education can be one of the biggest hurdles students and their families face when planning for the future. To help educate students and families on financial literacy, Southern’s Student Financial Literacy & Advising Office, run by Lewis DeLuca, provides counseling, workshops, and other related services. The financial literacy program was recently recognized by CollegeCliffs.com as one of the “Top 10 College Financial Literacy Programs of 2020” in its article “Financial Literacy in College.” Southern is in good company: other institutions in the Top 10 list include Stanford, George Washington, Syracuse, and Duke universities.

“Southern Connecticut State University offers more than 100 workshops annually, discussing purely financial literacy and education,” CollegeCliffs wrote. “The most common workshops include Budget Talks, Paying for College, and Life After College. Also, the school features more than 3,174 individually created personalized financial advising programs for students. You can see several other resources on their centralized website, such as recommended readings, student discounts, and videos.”

Earlier this year, LendEDU, a website that helps consumers learn about and compare financial products, including student loans, recognized the top 50 financial literacy programs in the country, and the program at Southern was featured in the top 50 for 2020. This the fourth consecutive year Southern’s program is nationally ranked by LendEDU.

Lew DeLuca, coordinator of Student Financial Literacy & Advising at Southern, says, “Financial literacy has always been an email or phone call away for a timely and comprehensive response in addition to in person and walk-in appointments. During the COVID challenges, those appointments have obviously been virtual but still extremely effective. No matter the circumstances, Financial Literacy’s commitment to excellence and support will always be there for any current, prospective, and alumni students and their families to support paying for college and all other financial literacy needs.”

Lewis DeLuca

 

The spring 2020 issue of Southern's alumni magazine and the distribution of celebratory lawn signs to the graduating class of 2020 during COVID-19

Southern’s efforts to keep its community informed and uplifted during the COVID-19 pandemic have been acknowledged with six statewide awards recognizing the work of the Office of Integrated Communications & Marketing (ICM).

In the annual Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Connecticut Chapter Awards, Southern’s team received two golds for its COVID-themed spring alumni magazine and its social media campaign highlighting a virtual commencement, in-person congratulatory yard sign deliveries and other efforts to honor the graduating Class of 2020.

Southern earned silver recognition for its public service awareness campaign highlighting racial injustice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd; its Virtual Commencement Ceremony video and President Joe Bertolino’s communication strategy during the pandemic, which included videotaped messages and Town Halls, and extensive social media.

A bronze award was earned for “We’re All in this Together,” a campaign in partnership with Southern’s development team that raised more than $500,000 to help meet students’ basic needs during the pandemic.

“This is wonderful recognition for the efforts of our talented communications and marketing team,” said Michael Kingan, Vice President for Institutional Advancement. “And it reflects very positively on our University’s efforts to keep the campus alive and engaged during the course of the pandemic.”

Asma Rahimyar
Asma Rahimyar

Asma Rahimyar – a senior pursuing a double baccalaureate degree in political science and philosophy at Southern – will become the first Rhodes Scholar in the university’s history.

Rahimyar, a Trumbull resident and daughter of Afghan refugees, was among 32 Americans chosen for the prestigious award from an applicant pool exceeding 2,300, according to Elliot F. Gerson, American secretary of the Rhodes Trust.

The award is considered one of the most prestigious academic honors in the world. Applicants are chosen based on several criteria with academic excellence being the foremost. “We seek outstanding young people of intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service,” Gerson said.

Rahimyar said she is proud to represent her family, community and Southern.

“It’s exciting, overwhelming, and also very humbling,” she said. “I had no expectations of making it to this point.

“Southern has taught me how to keep my feet on the ground and reach for the stars,” Rahimyar continued. “So many of our students have life struggles outside of the classroom and it’s difficult for them to pursue their studies. They should know the sky’s the limit; there’s no limit to the extent of their aspirations.”

SCSU President Joe Bertolino said the award is a source of great pride for SCSU and all those who have supported Rahimyar throughout her “journey of great accomplishment,” noting that Rhodes Scholars are typically recipients from Yale, Harvard and other leading colleges and universities across the nation.

“Being named a Rhodes Scholar is a tribute to her outstanding qualities as a student and her passion for human rights,” he said. “And it is also testimony to the mission of empowerment and opportunity that we pursue at Southern, through a deep and enduring commitment to social justice.”

Rahimyar plans to pursue masters’ degrees in global governance and diplomacy, and in refugee and forced migration studies. She eventually hopes to obtain a doctoral degree and empower women in Afghanistan, while helping to rebuild that country through stable government.

Earlier this year, she was selected as a recipient of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship for outstanding potential for leadership, commitment to public service and academic excellence. She also has earned various other awards and serves as president of the Muslim Student Association. In addition, she has participated in a United Nations Conference on Cultural Diplomacy.

Patricia Olney, professor of political science and Rahimyar’s academic advisor who recommended her for the Rhodes Scholarship, pointed out that she also had won a competitive SCSU summer research grant of $3,000 to reconstruct the history of two Afghan villages suffering the ravages of wartime abuses during the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s.

“It was these horrors her parents fled from to seek refuge in the United States and why she developed a passion for human rights, as well as refugee and immigrant rights,” Olney wrote in her letter of recommendation.

Olney said Rahimyar has compiled a remarkable 4.0 GPA, while also being very active in other activities.

“The flurry of extracurricular activity I see her so devoted to has always confounded me as she spends a minimum of six hours daily in the library and seems entirely devoted to her studies,” she continued. “Yet to Asma, academic and service activities are twin passions — neither of which can be compromised, including her many acts of kindness outside of her formal activities.”

Rahimyar will be among more than 100 students representing 60 countries who will attend Oxford University starting next October. The Rhodes Trust will pay for all of her college and university fees; provide a stipend for necessary expenses while at Oxford; and cover transportation costs to and from England.

Of the more than 2,300 applicants, 953 were endorsed by their college or university. Selection committees in each of 16 U.S. districts then invited the strongest applicants to appear before them virtually for an interview.

Two students were chosen in each of the 16 geographic districts, based on a student’s home address. Rahimyar joins a student from New Jersey attending the U.S. Naval Academy to represent District 2.

 

James Thorson

As School of Business Dean Ellen Durnin has recently announced her impending retirement, Dr. James Thorson, chairman of the Department of Economics, has accepted the position as interim dean for the School of Business.

Thorson, who has been at Southern since 1992, knows the institution well and brings an excellent mix of skills and experience to the role.

In addition to serving as chair of the Department of Economics (his second round in this role, his first from 2009-2015), Thorson served as interim director of the MBA program, and has been chair and vice chair of the Graduate Council.

He has an array of publications and presentations ranging from works on overpaid baseball players to lawyers’ salaries to hedge fund returns.

Thorson will start his role as interim dean on January 1, 2021, concomitant with Dean Durnin’s official (semi)retirement. Durnin will continue to work with the School of Business through the spring 2021 semester in focused roles on accreditation and fund raising.

Durnin said, “I am pleased that Dr. James Thorson has accepted the position as the Interim Dean of the School of Business. Jim is a long-time colleague who will ensure that the School is successful while the university searches for a permanent dean. He has the respect of his colleagues, and has served as a department chair and an interim MBA director.  He will do a fine job in this role.”

School of Business Dean Ellen Durnin

After 10 years at the helm of the SCSU School of Business, Dean Ellen Durnin has announced that she will retire effective January 1, 2021.  Over the past decade, Durnin has led the School’s move into a fully renovated and vastly improved building, and the School now awaits the groundbreaking for a new net-zero facility.

During her tenure, Durnin has been responsible for recruiting 65 percent of the current faculty and has brought the school to the verge of AACSB accreditation, with a mock visit scheduled for fall 2021. She gathered corporate leaders to form the School’s Business Advisory Council, has been pivotal in ensuring a strong and modern curriculum, and was the stimulus in developing the Women’s Leadership Program.

Durnin’s work with the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, strong ties with the business community, external fund raising success, and creation of the Business Success Center are a few of the many efforts that have strengthened the standing and competitive stature of the School of Business. Both as dean and during her stint as Interim Provost, Durnin has brought her business savvy approach to the fore, along with a student-centered passion for ensuring high quality programs that provide excellent career opportunities for business graduates.

Provost Robert Prezant said, “I thank Dean Durnin for her remarkable work ethic, insight, and dedication.  Personally, I thank her for sharing her time and guidance upon my arrival at Southern. During her tenure, she has clearly had a transformational effect on our institution and has built a wonderful legacy.”

Details about School leadership for the spring semester and a search for a full-time replacement for Durnin will be forthcoming.

Durnin said, “I am proud to have served as Dean of the School of Business for the past decade. With the support of the university, my colleagues in the School and I have been able to grow programs and enrollments, hire new faculty and staff, move toward the final steps of initial AACSB accreditation, build strong relationships with the business community and engage in significant fundraising. The future of the School of Business is indeed bright, and I wish my colleagues the best.”

As a student-athlete Byron Knox, ’82, helped Southern build a gymnastics dynasty. Today, his Southern story continues as the new head coach.

Southern alumnus Byron Knox is the new head gymnastics coach.

Byron Knox, ’82, is the new head coach of Southern’s gymnastics team, bringing 40 years of experience to his alma mater. He comes to Southern after 16 seasons at the University of Bridgeport, having guided his teams to six-straight USA Gymnastics/NCAA Division II National Championships from 2009 through 2014. A four-time USA Gymnastics National Coach of the Year, Knox has received numerous regional and conference coaching honors. He has coached 70 USA Gymnastics/Individual All Americans and 150 scholar athletes during his career.

Commenting on his return to Southern, Knox says: “My mission is to help student-athletes achieve their academic and athletic goals, one individual at a time. Then, championships will follow. This is a ‘2020-360’ moment for me. Everything has come 360 degrees in 2020! I began my college career at Southern Connecticut over 43 years ago and now I’m coming home.”

As a student-athlete competing for storied Southern Hall of Fame Coach Abie Grossfeld, Knox helped the Owls win four-consecutive Eastern Intercollegiate Gymnastic League (EIGL) Championships and the 1979 NCAA Men’s Eastern Region Gymnastics Championship, following a NCAA National Championship Bronze Medal finish in 1978. In 1982, Knox was a member of the USA Men’s Gymnastics National Team and also won the all-around and high-bar events at the EIGL championships.

Members of Southern’s 20-21 gymnastics team.

 

The university is sponsoring a virtual International Conference on the Blue Economy from November 4-7. The conference will feature about 70 speakers, and people from 13 countries will attend.

The conference — Coastal Transitions 2020 – will focus on examining the Blue Economy from a transdisciplinary perspective. Sub-themes include:

  • Conceptualizing of the Blue Economy in economic geography
  • The interconnection between climate change impacts and the Blue Economy
  • Smart shipping, ports, transportation, and global connectivity
  • Employment, job creation, and poverty eradication
  • The role of ocean/maritime clusters in fostering a sustainable Blue Economy
  • Innovation in the Blue Economy
  • Cities, tourism, resilient coasts, and infrastructure
  • Sustainable energy, mineral resources and innovative industries
  • Managing and sustaining marine life, conservation and sustainable economic activities
  • Securing food supplies and promoting good health and sustainable fisheries
  • Climate action, agriculture and fisheries, waste management, and pollution-free oceans
  • Maritime security, safety and regulatory enforcement
  • Participatory governance and community driven Blue Economies
  • Synergies between the scientific research community and coastal stakeholders
  • Blue Economy and climate adaptation, resilience, disruption
  • Just transitions and the Blue Economy
  • Blue growth industries
  • Marine spatial planning and the Blue Economy
  • Critical engagement with Blue Economy
  • Towards a Blue New Deal
  • Learning from the challenges encountered when trying to implement sustainable development on land, to avoid repeating the same mistakes when implementing blue economy agendas in the coastal zone

For more information and registration please visit: https://whova.com/portal/registration/ctbe_202011

Learn more about Project Blue at Southern.

A dedicated scholar of the poetry and art of William Blake and a researcher studying medieval cartography will be presented with the 2019-20 SCSU Faculty Scholar awards at a Virtual Celebration of Excellence that will premiere on Nov. 5 at noon on Facebook Live. Anthony Rosso and Camille Serchuk, respectively, were chosen for their academic and creative work of exceptional merit and will each receive a cash prize of $2,500.

Anthony Rosso, professor of English, teaches courses in the British Eighteenth Century, the Romantic Era, the English Epic, the English Novel to 1900, Literature of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, a Seminar in William Blake, an Introduction to British Literature 1800-Present, and all levels of Composition. An avid scholar of Blake, Rosso has published numerous lectures and conference papers, reviews, and essays, as well as three books, Blake’s Prophetic Workshop: A Study of ‘The Four Zoas’ (1993); Blake, Politics, and History, co-edited with Christopher Z. Hobson and Jackie DiSalvo (1998); and The Religion of Empire: Political Theology in Blake’s Prophetic Symbolism (2016).

Rosso’s newest book, The Religion of Empire, specifically was recognized by the Faculty Scholar Award committee for its “precision of writing,” “thorough and comprehensive quality of research,” and “important contribution the book makes to the study of Blake’s later works.” The book, which is the first monograph in the history of Blake criticism to analyze three major poems in one study, has been enthusiastically received within and beyond Rosso’s field of Blake studies. Aimed at reaching audiences in contemporary biblical, gender, and empire/post-colonial studies, the book draws on Rosso’s writings about Blake published over the last 30 years, in essence, a culmination of a lifetime of research.

In Sibylle Erle’s review in the British Association of Romantic Studies, she noted that Rosso has achieved a “beautifully written, very confident and accessible book.” Other reviewers called the book “an unparalleled ability to communicate complex readings and meanings lucidly” and “a significant, indeed landmark, contribution to Blake studies in particular and the evolution of political theology.”

Camille Serchuk, professor of Art History and assistant director of the Honors College at Southern Connecticut State University, teaches courses that focus on the art of the Middle Ages, gender and Art, and the methodology and historiography of art history. Her exhibition/catalogue “Quand les artistes dessinaient les cartes: vues et figures de l’espace français, Moyen Âge et Renaissance” was recognized by the Faculty Scholar Award committee for its interdisciplinary nature, academic merit, and public impact. Serchuk further was lauded for the project’s “colossal effort” and “prestigious setting.” Even more, the language in the exhibition texts was “evocative yet precise” and “very fun to read.”

Serchuk is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the National Humanities Center and the Newberry and Huntington Libraries. In addition to being an impassioned researcher of art and cartography in France, 1400-1600, Serchuk has published several journal articles, book chapters and reviews; she’s also been the recipient or more than a dozen scholarly grants.

Additional awardees who will be recognized at the Virtual Celebration of Excellence are:

· Joan Finn Jr. Faculty Research Fellowship: Steven Bray (Biology), Rachel Furey (English)

· Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship: Kelly Stiver (Psychology)

· Senior-Level Faculty Research Fellowship: Armen Marsoobian (Philosophy)

· Robert Jirsa Service Award: Susan Cusato (Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences)

· Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award: Carrie Michalski (Nursing)

· J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching (F/T): Elliott Horch (Physics)

· J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching (P/T): Carolyn Thompson (Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences)

· BOR Teaching Award: Thomas Radice (History)

· BOR Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award: Shelley Stoehr-McCarthy (English)

· BOR Research Award: Steven Brady (Biology)

· Million Dollar Club: Kathleen De Oliveira (Academic Success Center)

· Undergraduate Research Assistants – Faculty Award Grant: Amy Smoyer (Social Work)

· Mensa – Distinguished Teaching Award: Kenneth Walters (Psychology)

· CSU Professor: Elliott Horch (Physics)

Artist's rendering of the new College of Health and Human Services building, scheduled to be completed by fall 2021

The College of Health & Human Services welcomes our nine new tenure-track faculty members! Read about them below:

Susan Burger, PhD, RN, CNE, is an associate professor in the Department of Nursing with more than 30 years of nursing experience. Her clinical expertise is in Community-Public Health Nursing and Maternal-Child Health Nursing. Dr. Burger is an active researcher and presenter. Her program of research focuses on reducing re-hospitalization among chronically ill individuals through more effective self-management.

Susan Burger

Anuli Njoku, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Public Health. Her research and teaching specialties include cultural competency in higher education, health disparities, health promotion and education, rural health, and environmental health equity. She has extensive experience developing and teaching university courses and publishing about health disparities.

Anuli Njoku

Karen D’Angelo, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work, specializing in community practice and community-engaged research. Her scholarship focuses on community-driven solutions to health inequities. Previously on the faculty at the University of Illinois Chicago, Dr. D’Angelo is excited to return to Connecticut in order to be closer to her long-term research partners, her family, and the world’s best pizza.

Karen D’Angelo

Jillian McNiff Villemaire, Ed.D., is an associate professor of sport management in the Department of Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Management. Dr. McNiff Villemaire has been teaching sports management full-time since 2011 and before that worked in marketing for Boston University’s Fitness and Recreation Center and in marketing and corporate sponsorships for the New England Patriots, New England Revolution, and Gillette Stadium. Her research primarily focuses on sports management graduates’ career outcomes and sport management education. She presented in September 2020 to the European Sport Management Association on creating opportunities where everyone can succeed in a sports management classroom.

Jillian McNiff Villemaire

Joshua Knickerbocker, PhD, earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing at SCSU in 2006. Dr. Knickerbocker worked as a registered nurse in pediatric emergency, adult emergency, and flight nursing. He obtained his MBA from SCSU in 2011 and worked at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, Quality and Safety Department. In 2018, he graduated from Quinnipiac University with a doctoral degree in nursing and has been practicing in emergency medicine as a nurse practitioner ever since.

Joshua Knickerbocker

Michele Griswold, PhD, MPH, RN, IBCLC, has a background in maternal-child and pediatric nursing and is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She has led statewide and global policy and advocacy efforts targeting equitable access to breastfeeding and lactation care as well as family-friendly policies. Dr. Griswold’s research interests involve the identification of unjust social barriers to breastfeeding and understanding how implicit biases of health care professionals contribute to poor health outcomes for marginalized populations.

Michele Griswold

Joanne F. Roy, PhD, RN-BC CNL, has been a nursing professional for over 39 years, earning a PhD in nursing from the University of Rhode Island, an MSN from the University of Connecticut, and a BSN from Western Connecticut State University.  Dr. Roy holds two specialty certifications as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist (RN-BC) and Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL), and has held numerous nurse educator/leader positions in practice and academic settings. Dr. Roy’s expertise resides in evidence-based practice, nursing leadership; and theoretical foundations and transitions within professional nursing practice roles.

Joanne F. Roy

Svenja Gusewski, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Communication Disorders Department. Dr. Gusewki’s research focuses on bilingual language and literacy development. As a multilingual speech-language-pathologist, she has provided clinical services in Germany, Spain, and the U.S. She is excited about connecting teaching, research, and clinical training at Southern. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her husband, Dylan, and their two dogs, Archie and Samson.

Svenja Gusewski

Kelly Coleman, PhD, is a nationally certified athletic trainer and a licensed athletic trainer in Connecticut, with over 10 years of clinical experience providing athletic training services at the NCAA Division I, II, and III levels. She is active in professional organizations at the national, regional, and local levels, with teaching experience at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Dr. Coleman’s research interests include academic and clinical leadership of athletic trainers as well as promoting access to appropriate medical care for athletes of all ages.

Kelly Coleman

Federico Fiondella

Federico Fiondella, M.S. ’03, 6th Yr. ’18, a teacher at North Haven High School, has been named the 2020 Connecticut History Teacher of the Year, an award presented annually by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to K-12 American history education.

Inaugurated in 2004, the History Teacher of the Year Award highlights the crucial importance of history education by honoring exceptional American history teachers from elementary school through high school. The award honors one K-12 teacher from each state, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools and U.S. Territories. In fall 2020, the National History Teacher of the Year will be selected from the pool of state winners.

Fiondella earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education (social studies) from Elizabethtown College and a master’s degree in political science from Southern, where he is currently an adjunct professor. He also completed a 6th year certificate in educational leadership at Southern and aspires to earn a doctorate in educational leadership in the near future.

Fiondella serves as board member of the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies (CCSS). He was selected as George Washington Education Scholar in 2002 and has received the North Haven High School Delio J. Rotundo Teacher of the Year Award (2007 and 2018), UNITAS Distinguished Service Award (2008), and John H. Stedman Passion of the Social Studies Award (2017). Fiondella was awarded a certificate of special Congressional recognition in teaching by Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (2008) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (2017). In 2019 he was inducted into the North Haven High School Sports Hall of Fame, after a long career coaching the high school boys’ soccer team.

As a teacher, Fiondella emphasizes a classroom culture where students discover the importance of engagement and become more responsible for their own education and personal growth. He hopes that students see the short-term and long-term benefits of studying history and understand how topics of history connect to both their own personal lives and to the world around them. He cultivates a positive, safe learning environment that supports intellectual risk-taking, challenges students to think critically, encompasses historical investigation, and emphasizes mutual respect and welcoming of diverse ideas and points of view.

In addition to a $1,000 honorarium, Fiondella’s school will receive a core archive of American history books and Gilder Lehrman educational materials and recognition at a ceremony in Connecticut.

 

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Now celebrating its 25th year, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, visionaries and lifelong supporters of American history education. The Institute is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education while also serving the general public. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. Drawing on the 70,000 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the Institute provides teachers, students, and the general public with direct access to unique primary source materials.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Organization of American Historians, and the Council of Independent Colleges.