Diane Nowak
Health & Movement Sciences

You’ve researched careers, searched your heart, and found your calling. You excitedly begin to look at the programs at your state’s universities and…crickets. Your chosen major isn’t offered locally. You find programs in other states, but out-of-state tuition costs are substantially higher than going to your state’s university. What do you do?

If your interests lie in athletic training, the exercise sciences, or physical education & school health education and you are a New England state resident, you may be in luck. Southern Connecticut State University’s Health and Movement Sciences Department (HMS), recently had its programs added to those offered under the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) Tuition Break Flexible Program.

The NEBHE Tuition Break Program, also known as the New England Regional Student Program (RSP), was originally a program designed to provide permanent residents of the six New England states; Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, a reduced cost when one’s own state does not have their chosen program. Recently, the organization expanded this tuition break to include a Flexible option. This Flexible option allows participating schools to offer the reduced tuition rate to the entire New England region instead of to just the state where the program is not offered. In fact, eligible out-of-state full-time students pay a tuition rate that is significantly less than regular out-of-state tuition, saving an average of $8200 annually.

“Our [Health and Movement Sciences] department has been fortunate to offer four of our programs as part of the NEBHE Flexible program – our Accelerated BS to MAT Athletic Training program, our Accelerated BS Physical Education and MS School Health Education program, and our two concentrations that are part of the Exercise and Sport Science degree.” said Chairperson Gary Morin regarding HMS’ programs. “More impressively, the program has been extended to our graduate programs in Athletic Training, Exercise Science and School Health Education as well.”

Here’s some information on the specific HMS degree programs at Southern that are available under the NEBHE Tuition Break:

The accelerated BS to MAT Athletic Training program is the longest running accredited athletic training program in Connecticut, and it allows students to complete both their bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in five years. It is designed for a student who wants to work in athletic, occupational, performing arts, military, and other areas providing prevention, examination, treatment, and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses.

Those in the Accelerated BS Physical Education and MS School Health Education programs are eligible to apply for a CT pre-K-12 teacher certification in Physical Education and in Health Education upon completion of this five-year degree.

The Exercise and Sport Science degree has two concentrations, Allied Health and Sport Science. The Allied Health concentration has been re-designed for students interested in applying to graduate professional health studies, like physical or occupational therapy, or for careers in exercise science fields, such as cardiac rehabilitation and research. The new Sport Science concentration is specifically designed for future fitness and performance specialists as it prepares them to become strength and conditioning experts, personal fitness instructors and performance specialists.

HMS graduate programs are also part of the NEBHE Tuition Break Flexible program. Graduate programs in Athletic Training, Exercise Science, and School Health Education are available for students completing their undergraduate degrees. The MS in Exercise Science program offers concentrations in human performance and sport psychology and prepares students to enhance the performance and health of their clients through better physical and mental preparation. The MS in School Health provides educators and others providing health instruction with advanced knowledge in curriculum design and methodology.

Starting this summer, HMS will begin offering classes as part of its new MAT in Athletic Training. This 2-year innovative professional degree program will prepare graduate students to serve as athletic trainers in a variety of professional settings.

“The NEBHE Tuition Break Program gives students the chance to think about a state school outside of their own borders because the programs are more affordable,” commented Morin.

Black History Month, also known as National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by Black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

Please join us for the following array of events in observance of Black History Month!

Black History Month events poster

Mr Nyle Fort
Mr Nyle Fort

On January 15, 2021, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 92 years old. The university commemorates Dr. King’s birthday each year with special events highlighting issues that resonate with his mission of racial equality and justice. This year, Southern will host two virtual events to honor the legacy of the civil rights pioneer: one on January 27 (co-hosted with other local institutions) and one on February 8.

“The Work Ahead, The Work Within: Reflecting on King’s Dream”
Wednesday, January 27, 2021 
7:15-8:30 p.m.
Registration required
The university and Greater New Haven communities are invited to attend this year’s intercollegiate virtual MLK Commemoration that honors the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. With generous sponsorship from our campus partners, Yale University’s 2021 MLK Commemoration Planning Committee, Gateway Community College’s Office of Student Activities, Quinnipiac University’s Department of Cultural and Global Engagement, and Southern Connecticut State University’s Multicultural Center are co-hosting this inaugural intercollegiate event that will feature Patrisse Cullors (co-Founder of Black Lives Matter and best-selling author of When They Call You a Terrorist) and Yamiche Alcindor (White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour and NBC and MSNBC political contributor).

This virtual event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please visit this site to register:

Visit MLK.YALE.EDU for more info.

poster for intercollegiate MLK event 

“Commemorating the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
Pandemic, Privilege and Protest” Virtual Event
Monday, February 8, 2021
1:00 p.m.                                  

Join us as we celebrate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  This event will feature keynote speaker minister, activist, and scholar Nyle Fort. Mr. Fort will explore not only how the pandemic reveals deeper patterns of racial inequality, but how students and staff can respond in order to save our fragile experiment in democracy by drawing reference to some of Dr. King’s work. Sponsored by the Multicultural Center. Register here to receive the meeting link.

Nyle Fort
Nyle Fort

From Mr. Fort: Pandemic, Privilege and Protest

About 2 million people worldwide have fallen victim to COVID-19. Over 380,000 have died in the United States. While the pandemic affects everyone it disproportionately harms black communities.

Racial inequality in medical care, wealth, employment, housing, and incarceration all impact death and infection rates. African Americans have more underlying conditions and less access to health care than white Americans. Black workers bore the brunt of coronavirus layoffs and those still working risk their lives to make ends meet. Even the ability to practice social distancing depends on race, class, and zip code.

Meanwhile, police violence continues to run amok as evidenced in the recent police killing of George Floyd. Amid the deadliest pandemic in over a century, protesters are taking to the streets to challenge legacies of racial injustice.

This is an unprecedented moment in American history. 

This virtual talk and Q&A with Nyle Fort will explore not only how the pandemic reveals deeper patterns of racial inequality, but how students can respond in order to save our fragile experiment in democracy by drawing upon Dr. King’s teachings



Dr. Jonathan Wharton
Dr. Jonathan Wharton

Jonathan Wharton, associate professor of political science and urban affairs, has agreed to continue to serve as the full-time interim associate dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies for another year. He served in this role for the fall semester, beginning August 26, 2020. Given the complexities the COVID-19 situation poses in conducting a nationwide search, the arrangement allows the university to maintain continuity for ensuring student success and effective completion of the ongoing SGPS and SCSU initiatives. Wharton has “passion for, and a proven track record in, effectively contributing to graduate education at SCSU,” said Manohar Singh, dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.

Wharton is faculty advisor to SCSU’s College Republicans, College Democrats, and Golf Club. He earned his BA in history, cum laude; MPA (Public Policy Analysis); and Ph.D. in political science, state and local government from Howard University, and an MA in history from Rutgers University.

Wharton’s full-time appointment began January 1, 2021. The search for a permanent associate dean has been postponed and will be resumed at an opportune time.

BioPath – an SCSU-led partnership of industry, academic and government leaders — has announced several new programs designed to meet the workforce needs of Connecticut’s growing bioscience industry.

The BioPath Skills Academy initiative will include a series of workshops for teachers and school administrators on how they can meet the emerging needs of the bioscience industry. The program will include equipment and software training, as well as a loan program enabling educators to use those materials within their schools and classrooms.

BioPath Skills Academy is being funded through a variety of sources, including two new grants from CTNext via the New Haven Innovation Collaborative (NHIC). The allocations will enable the program to expand its efforts to reach out to underrepresented and underserved populations in the Greater New Haven region.

“We are excited to broaden and deepen BioPath’s impact with the launch of the BioPath Skills Academy for both educators and students,” said SCSU Executive Director for Research and Innovation Christine Broadbridge.

“The BioPath Skills Institute (an umbrella entity that includes the academy) has been identified by the state as a model for workforce development that advances educational and career outcomes while providing targeted support for students from underserved communities,” she said.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with organizations including BioCT and New Haven Works,” Broadbridge added. “The timing could not be better for a partnership that is focused on getting the word out about bioscience opportunities, especially for those who might not have access to this information otherwise. We thank CT Next NHIC for its continued support.”

Established in 2015, BioPath addresses training needs identified by area life science businesses. From its inception, it formed an industry advisory board and conducted an industry-wide needs assessment to guide its growth and development.

Bioscience industry representatives have consistently rated access to a talent pool as a major factor of such companies when considering where to establish themselves and grow, according to Rong Fan, a professor at Yale University and co-founder of IsoPlexis and Singleron. Fan also is founder of AtlasXomics and founding chairman of the BioPath Advisory Board.

“SCSU BioPath is an indispensable program in our biotech industry ecosystem,” Fan said. “How to develop the next-generation workforce with a forward-looking training program is one of the most critical factors to the success of our biotech companies. BioPath was uniquely designed to meet this pressing need.

“As the greater New Haven area is becoming a major bioscience hub in our country, the continued support (and advancement) of BioPath is essential to the long-term success of the industry in this area and across the state of Connecticut,” he said.

Julia Harrison, who graduated from SCSU in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and completed a BioPath-NHIC supported internship at IsoPlexis (a single-cell technology company), exemplifies the opportunities offered through BioPath. She now works at Potentiometric Probes in Farmington.

“My internship experience with IsoPlexis provided me with invaluable knowledge regarding the applications of science in industry,” Harrison said. “I was able to participate in nearly every aspect of the company’s operations and biological components of their research and development.”

The city of New Haven, SCSU and the SCSU Foundation provided program funding to the launch BioPath. That support has been augmented by NHIC, federal grants and private gifts, which have been used to implement programs aligned to help our student body and community residents prepare to support and lead in the bioscience industry. BioPath also has built a partnership with statewide entities, such as BioCT and AdvanceCT.

Peter Dimoulas, who has 10 years of experience in teaching and administration (including in the New Haven School District), will manage the new grant-funded programs.

“Our efforts will be driven by two questions — what are the workforce needs of the bioscience industry, and what must we do to help students and community residents meet those needs?” Dimoulas said.

Three new programs that provide direct support to students and residents are also in the works:

*BioPath Skills Academy for Students will consist of six non-credit, bioscience bootcamps to prepare students for research and internship opportunities (followed by direct hire) and afford opportunities for mid-career professionals to learn new skills.

*BioPath Research Experiences (REU) and Internship programs will offer students experiential learning integral to developing requisite skills and knowledge. These opportunities markedly improve student readiness to make meaningful contributions among Connecticut’s fast-growing bioscience companies.

*A partnership with New Haven Works that will provide on-going academic support and mentoring for New Haven students and residents.

Melissa Mason, executive director at New Haven Works, said her organization is excited to partner with BioPath on the development of innovative pathways for New Haven residents to access careers in the region’s growing bioscience sector. “We are especially energized by the prospect of developing candidates for roles outside of the traditional Ph.D. track,” she said.

NHIC Executive Director Michael Harris highlighted the importance of the BioPath program for the bioscience sector’s growth.

“With several successful IPO’s in recent years and the upcoming development of additional laboratory capacity, New Haven is gaining momentum as a national leader in bioscience,” Harris said.

“By adding bioscience exposure to our public school classrooms, real-world lab experience for undergraduate students, and bootcamp experience for adult learners, CTNext’s investment in new BioPath components fuel that growth and provide pathways for more New Haven residents to access the jobs of this fast-growing sector.”



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 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.”