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#SouthernStrong graphic with photo collage of SCSU students, faculty, staff, and alumni
As the university prepares to reopen, here’s a look at how the Southern community responded to the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic — and upheld its commitment to education.

First, the good news. Southern’s physical campus is slated to reopen for fall 2020, with classes beginning on Aug. 26, following a staggered move-in for residence hall students. Courses will be offered in a HyFlex model, a combination of on-ground and online courses. Public health guidelines will be followed (face coverings, class size, etc.) and, if the need arises, the university is prepared to pivot to an all online schedule. The goal is to complete the entire fall semester as scheduled, with one caveat – on-ground classes will end at the Thanksgiving break. After Thanksgiving, all remaining classes and final exams will be held online and all student services will be offered remotely.

The plan is a promising return to normalcy for the campus community.

The first campus-wide warning came in January: an email with tips for fighting seasonal influenza included a sentence about the outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus identified in Wuhan, China. The news became increasingly dire in the following weeks, and, on Feb. 26, U.S. officials reported the first non-travel-related case of the illness now officially known as COVID-19.

On campus, the disease’s rapid-fire spread came to light on March 10, after a Southern student attended an event where another participant later tested positive for the virus. Southern’s physical campus was closed (initially for five days) for a deep cleaning, a process that included licensed professionals in HAZMAT suits.Southern’s campus has remained shuttered through spring and summer to date, following the Office of the Governor’s directives for statewide closures and the decision of the Connecticut State Universities and Colleges system.

At the macro-level, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented: in early June when the university magazine in which this article first appeared went to press, there were more than 1,800,000 cases and 106,000 deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — figures that have been tragically surpassed today. Like the nation and, indeed, much of the world, Southern is mourning profound losses. Students, university employees, and alumni have become ill from the virus, some seriously. While impossible to track all cases, Southern graduates have died from COVID-19.  No student has died from the virus as of June 24. The university is also navigating a new world order, driven by an overarching directive: ensuring the health and welfare of the Southern community and the community-at-large.

To be clear, the university was never closed. Instead, over a 10-day period that corresponded with students’ spring break, faculty prepared to adopt remote/online learning for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. On March 23, all Southern courses began being offered remotely /online, with summer sessions soon following suit. With fall’s campus opening in sight, here’s a look at some of Southern’s initial responses to the early phases of the pandemic.

More at:  go.SouthernCT.edu/strong    inside.SouthernCT.edu/coronavirus

Demographic of SCSU students, Grad assistants/interns/faculty/staff, with collage images
The People:

Piloting Southern through the COVID-19 pandemic is complex. The university is a home-away-from-home for 11,072 people — more residents than 44 percent of cities/towns in Connecticut. In spring 2020, the Southern community included 9,212 students (1), a figure that comprises 7,456 undergraduates and 1,756 graduate students, both full- and part-time. There are also 2,050 faculty and staff, including some 190 students working as graduate assistants/interns.

FEMA setting up cots in response to Covid-19 at SCSU Moore Fieldhouse
Changing Places:

On March 31, 2020, the National Guard began assembling a 300-bed “Connecticut Medical Station” inside Southern’s Moore Fieldhouse [above]. (2) Designed as “overflow” space for Yale New Haven-Hospital in anticipation of a surge of COVID-10 patients, the facility fortunately had not been needed as of early June. The university also made available 2,500 rooms in nine residence halls, which were used minimally to house some National Guard staff.

A New Way of Working:

Following the governor’s mandate for statewide closures, about 1,662 faculty and staff began working remotely. They are responsible for most university operations — from admissions and teaching to information technology and health services. Those designated essential employees — 34 unsung heroes as of press time — continue to regularly report to campus. Among them: the police chief and officers, and the facilities team, including grounds crew, custodians, receiving staff, mailroom workers, supervisors, dispatchers, and building tradesmen.  An additional 116 employees are on-campus on an interim basis.

Chart showing pre- and post-Covid remote learning accounts, participants, and sessions

Teaching Remotely:

Between mid-March and the end of the month, the Office of Online Learning held more than 70 webinars — including individual and group support sessions. The focus was on teaching/learning through the use of several platforms: WebEx (web conferencing), Teams (an online communication and collaboration platform), Kaltura (video), and Blackboard (educational technology). In April, the office also held a three-day online Teaching Academy, with all sessions filled to capacity. In addition to the staff from the Office of Online Learning, faculty volunteers have helped with training.

SCSU Academic Success Center has Coach Team Meeting online

Academic Support:

The Academic Success Center is working virtually to help students succeed. The center’s hours have stayed the same and its tutors, 100 PALS (Peer Academic Leaders who focus on gateway and foundational courses), Academic Success Coaches, and more than 200 student workers all mobilized online through Microsoft Teams. “The short answer is we’re here,” says Kathleen De Oliveira, director of the ASC. “We want them to succeed. Just like before, all they have to do is come and ask.”

Buley Library:

The building is closed, but the library is open for business, with 100 percent of staff working remotely. They’re a busy group. Between the shutdown and mid-May, they redesigned their web page to promote online resources and services (100,000 visitors), answered 180 questions from students, hosted numerous online events (including an online exhibit for National Poetry Month), and even used 3D printing to create mask components for health care workers at UConn Health. Since the shutdown, they’ve also activated 3,500-plus online resources, including thousands of ebooks and streaming videos.

A Global Issue:

The pandemic has been particularly challenging for students who were far from home. There were 13 Southern students studying abroad during the spring 2020 semester: 10 returned home in mid-March and three signed waivers after deciding to remain in their host countries. International students studying at Southern — both exchange students and those who are matriculated at SCSU — were helped by the Office of International Studies (OIS) and, when needed, Residence Life. (They coordinated flights and airport shuttles, ensured access to food and housing, and much more.) The 26 international exchange students studying at Southern this spring returned home by early April. But many of the 65 matriculated international students remained in the U.S., staying with extended family or in campus-sponsored accommodations at an extended stay hotel with other students.
Looking forward, Southern is holding strong to its long-term commitment to international education. Intercultural engagement and global diversity in the classroom “are the antidote to the isolationism and nationalism that the pandemic has fueled in some parts of the world,” says Erin Heidkamp, director of the Office of International Education.

SCSU student and Army National Guard member Renee Villarreal with baby
Renee Villarreal — parent, student, Army National Guard member
The Ties that Bind:

“The current situation is hard for students,” says Sal Rizza, director of New and Sophomore Programs, reflecting on the spring 2020 semester. “We’re trying to bring a little life and enjoyment. There are a ton of activities happening.” Among them: SCSU Music Trivia, The Dan Baronski Hour (peer mentor and orientation ambassador Baronski talks fashion and music), Cooking with Kyra, Coffee Chat with Student Involvement, and more.

Campus Recreation and Fitness held programs to get students moving, including a live-stream workout with President Joe Bertolino and his trainer, Hunter Fluegel, that drew about 300 viewers. Similarly, more than 200 students and 100 faculty and staff signed up for A Southern Strong Step Challenge. Many student clubs also met online, with Daphney Alston assistant director of Student Involvement, noting that the university is “really proud of how clubs and organizations have tried to figure out this new normal.”

SCSU President Joe Bertolino and volunteers deliver lawn signs to 2020 future graduates

Celebration:

With large gatherings prohibited, Southern is holding a virtual commencement ceremony for undergraduate and graduate students on Aug. 15 — and also found ways to immediately honor students safely. More than 1,000 celebratory yard signs were delivered to graduates; an emotional virtual pinning ceremony was held for graduating nursing majors; and seniors submitted photos and memories for a virtual yearbook and social media spotlights.

Helping Hands:

When the Southern campus closed suddenly in mid-March, Chartwells was left with an abundance of food. That’s when an existing food recovery program run by Southern’s Office of Sustainability and Chartwells sprang into action. Several students and Chartwells staff packaged more than 300 pounds of food for delivery to St. Anne’s Soup Kitchen in Hamden, Park Ridge Tower Affordable Senior Living in New Haven, and Monterey Place Senior Living in New Haven.
There were countless other outreach efforts. Southern police collected equipment from university labs/clinics to assist in relieving the PPE shortage, numerous community members made and donated face coverings, Buley Library staff 3D printed components for face masks, and more.

You helped, too:

Responding to students’ heightened need, more than 1,000 donors contributed over $500,000 during Southern’s Day of Caring, held on April 22.

SCSU Alumni collage during Covid-19 pandemic

Alumni Pride:

Thoughts are also with our alumni, many of whom are in the frontlines of fighting the pandemic. Among them are more than 11,000 graduates of the College of Health and Human Services. Similarly, as the largest educator of teachers and educational administrators in the state, Southern salutes its graduates of the College of Education — who have turned to technology to educate their young charges.

Through it all, our 93,500-plus alumni have remained a source of pride, strength, and optimism. Consider Fairfield, Conn., couple Maureen and Dan Rosa (3), both graduates of the Class of 2010, who met as Southern students in 2006. Tragically, Maureen’s father Gary Mazzone was among those killed in the crash of a World War II-era B-17 bomber plane on Oct. 2, 2019, at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn. A year later, the couple faced the fear of welcoming their first child during the epicenter of the pandemic. And, yet, they persevered and triumphed — and the media heralded their joy on April 2 when they welcomed their new daughter: Cecilia Hope Rosa.

Cover of SCSU Southern Alumni Magazine Summer 2020Read more stories in the Summer ’20 issue of Southern Alumni Magazine.

At a time when the U.S. is deeply divided politically and ideologically, Jonathan Wharton, associate professor of political science and urban affairs, is committed to students — democrats and republicans.

The office of Jonathan Wharton, associate professor of political science and urban affairs, houses numerous mementos.

Americans are divided on everything — except division. That’s the not-so-stunning conclusion of an NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll in which 80 percent of respondents described the U.S. as divided.

Helping to bridge this political and ideological rift, Jonathan Wharton, associate professor of political science and urban affairs, is a unifying force on campus — serving as adviser to the College Republicans and the College Democrats.

“I never thought I had to be partisan,” says Wharton of his students-first approach. Wharton is a member of the Republican Party, but was raised with an acceptance of opposing viewpoints by parents, who are members of different political parties. “They actually agree on 80 to 90 percent of things. But they are sticking [with their parties], and it was never problematic or disrespectful,” says Wharton.

The College Democrats and College Republicans work well together. The two student organizations held on-campus viewing parties during the 2016 presidential election. (Inspired, in part, by Wharton’s dual advisory roles, the vibrant gatherings received significant attention from the media.) In 2018, 20-plus students — members of both parties — joined faculty at the gubernatorial debates at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven. More joint events are promised for the 2020 election.

When it comes to political action, Wharton describes himself as “a behind the scenes kind of guy,” drawn to planning fund raisers and networking. “My students would rather do the door knocking, the phone banking, the social media. They’d rather follow the research, get the data,” he says.

Adept at wearing multiple hats, Wharton is also the internship adviser for the department. Many students complete multiple internships, up to 15 credits, working in federal and state congressional offices, law firms, nonprofit organizations, city offices, think tanks, and more.

“Most are much better students because of it,” says Wharton, who finds their commitment inspiring and heartening. “Do you know how many students love to do campaign work? It boggles my mind,” he says.

Wharton was raised in West Hartford but was born in New York City — and his parents came from Boston and Chicago. “As a child, I grew attached to these cities we visited. I think that’s why I studied local politics,” says Wharton, shown participating in Southern’s 2019 undergraduate commencement exercises.

Following, Wharton shares more on his commitment to urban planning, politics, and students.

A born educator: “One could argue it’s in the DNA. Both sides of the family have been educators,” says Wharton. His parents met in the doctoral program at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. His grandmothers were teachers. Both grandfathers were lawyers; his paternal grandfather an ambassador as well. “There was always this interest in politics, law, and education,” he says.

A career change: Wharton left a position working with the New Jersey State Legislature to pursue a career in education. “The classroom drew me back in every time,” he says.

In the class: “I like to spark debate and discussion. . . . I want students to be intrigued, curious, and provoked.”

Always civic minded: Wharton serves on the City Planning Commission of New Haven.

Thinking local: “What I try to convey to [students] is that you can make a difference in your community at the local or state level. It takes them a while to get their heads around that. But when they recognize it, the potential is there,” says Wharton.

Why he choose Southern: “I was struck by the fact that it was a teaching university. . . . I liked the small classroom sizes at Southern. And I like the regional universities dynamic. They take teaching so seriously, which I think is critical. They do faculty development workshops, analyze teaching methods, and focus on pedagogy concerns.”

Four treasured office mementos:
1) campaign signs — “A great opener with students when discussing the ins and outs of campaign work,” he says.
2) a first-place banner from a National Collegiate Club Golf Association tournament (2017), signed by the participating students. Wharton also is adviser of Southern’s golf team, which competes in the Metro region.
3) several awards for exceptional work as an adviser
4) a “Distinguished Alumnus Award” from Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity (March 2019)

Research focus: Wharton and Theresa Marchant-Shapiro, associate professor of political science, are working with university librarians to accession the archival papers of several former New Haven mayors. The collection was established through the generosity of attorney Neil Thomas Proto, ’67, and is housed in Buley Library.

In the News: Wharton is a monthly state/local politics analyst on WNPR’s Where We Live and The Wheelhouse.

Southern Alumni Magazine cover, Fall 2019, featuring Peter Marra, '85

Read more stories in the Fall ’19 issue of Southern Alumni Magazine.

Several major faculty awards were presented at this year’s Celebration of Excellence, an annual ceremony to honor awardees for outstanding achievements in teaching, scholarship, research and innovation.

This year’s honorees included:

Million Dollar Club
Ms. Alycia Santilli, Director of CARE

Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship
Dr. Meghan Barboza, Assistant Professor Histology, Physiology, Marine Mammalogy
Dr. Victoria Zigmont, Assistant Professor of Public Health

Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship
Dr. Md Shafaeat Hossain, Associate Professor of Computer Science

Senior-Level Faculty Research Fellowship
Dr. Kalu Ogbaa, Professor of English

Faculty Scholar Award
Dr. C. Michele Thompson, Professor of History 

Robert Jirsa Service Award
Dr. Michele Vancour, Professor of Public Health

Outstanding Academic Adviser Award
Dr. Gayle Bogel, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the School Library Media Program

Board of Regents Teaching Awards for SCSU
Dr. Charles Baraw, Associate Professor of English
Ms. Patricia Mottola, MFA Adjunct Faculty, Creative Writing

Board of Regents Research Award for SCSU
Dr. Darcy Kern, Assistant Professor of Medieval Mediterranean History

J. Philip Smith Outstanding Teacher Award
Dr. Kyle O’Brien, Assistant Professor of Social Work

Social Justice Community Award
Dr. MaryJo Archambault, Assistant Professor of Recreation, Tourism, & Sport Management

Celebration of Excellence: Undergraduate Research Assistants – Faculty Award Grant

2019 Recipient: Todd Ryder, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

About the award

This initiative, Undergraduate Research Assistants, is funded by the SCSU Office of the Provost. One grant of up to $3,000 is awarded to a faculty member to support one or more undergraduate research assistants to assist with said faculty member’s research in any academic discipline represented on the SCSU campus. The purpose of this program is to support a research experience for undergraduates and also to support faculty research.

About the recipient

Todd Ryder, assistant professor of chemistry, is researching ways to identify novel compounds with antibacterial activity as potential drug candidates. As he writes, “most antibiotics have been found through screening of microbes found in the environment, for example, an approved drug called fidaxomicin is produced by Dactylosporangium aurantiacum subspecies hamdenesis that was originally extracted from a soil sample collected in Hamden.” He also is interested in developing a new synthetic methodology with applications to the synthesis of these compounds.

Dr. Ryder anticipates publishing a paper on incorporating the antibiotic extraction experiments in the undergraduate organic chemistry teaching lab sequence, as well as a paper on the antibacterial compound isolated from the Lysobacter strain if the upcoming mass spectrometry results suggest it is novel.

All of the results of the research will be included as preliminary data in a grant application to the National Institutes of Health R15 AREA program in the spring.

Professor Ryder received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Rochester; his M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan; and his B.A. in Chemistry and Biology from Cornell University.

Celebration of Excellence: Social Justice Community Award – Outstanding Faculty

2019 Recipient: Dr. MaryJo Archambault, Assistant Professor of Recreation, Tourism, & Sport Management

About the award

The Social Justice Community Award for Outstanding Faculty recognizes a faculty member who incorporates diverse values in the classroom, curriculum and/ or research; displays a commitment to diverse cultures, religions, abilities, gender identities, sexual orientations, and other areas of inclusion and perspective; makes the classroom accessible for and supportive of diverse learning styles; engages in equity, diversity and inclusion efforts in the campus community; uses innovative teaching methods to support students with special learning needs; and/or mentors underrepresented students or diverse populations of students, faculty and/or staff. The awardee receives $500 towards professional development funds or to go to their department.

About the recipient

Dr. Archambault was described by her nominator as going “above and beyond in all she does in and out of the classroom, with the utmost fairness, compassion, and integrity.”

She has been active in applying for research and program-related grants and has been awarded over $45,000 in grant dollars over the course of the past four-plus years. Most noteworthy, she along with a colleague serve as the co-project directors for a $38,000 grant awarded to Southern by the Office of Veteran’s Affairs in Washington, D.C., for the purpose of providing or facilitating the provision of adaptive sports opportunities for disabled veterans.

Recognizing a gap in service delivery for persons with disabilities, Dr. Archambault has been instrumental in the development of the Institute for Adapted Sports and Inclusive Recreation. Reflective of her research and areas of interest, the institute provides programming opportunities, education experiences, and advocacy services for individuals with disabilities, and conducts research and evaluation relating to adaptive sports and inclusive recreation.

Dr. Archambault also provides exemplary service to the Department of Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management; the School of Health and Human Services; and to the University through her active and varied involvement in numerous committees and board memberships. In addition, she engages in numerous student recruitment activities.

Dr. Archambault earned an Ed.D. at the University of Hartford and an M.S. at Southern Connecticut State University.

 

Celebration of Excellence: J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching

2019 Recipient: Dr. Kyle O’Brien, Assistant Professor of Social Work

About the award

The J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching is presented to one full-time faculty and one part-time faculty member for exemplary teaching. This is one of SCSU’s highest honors, as faculty are recognized at the undergraduate commencement and receive an honorarium of $2500. Full-time and part-time faculty at all ranks who are currently employed at SCSU are eligible.

About the recipient

Dr. Kyle O’Brien’s teaching style of participation, discovery and discussion has brought classroom exercises to life for a multitude of students. According to one student, “his passion for social work shows through in each and every one of his lessons.”

Called “skillful and engaging” by a colleague, Dr. O’Brien brings a wealth of expertise to the classroom thanks to his education, his multidisciplinary background as an occupational therapist, his extensive knowledge of the health field, and his collaborative endeavors. He took a lead role in recruiting students to participate in the palliative care workshop collaboration with Yale University School of Medicine, and as a result, it has become an annual event. He contributed to a number of curriculum initiatives that benefit students. He also initiated the submission of a Faculty Development grant aimed at resolving conflictual conversations in the classroom; the grant brought a panel of social work faculty experts to campus to provide training.

Dr. O’Brien’s purposeful encouragement has impacted students both in the classroom and beyond. As one student noted, “This was the first time a professor impacted my view of life outside of the classroom, by teaching me the value and power of providing empathy toward others.” In short, he truly embodies the core values of social work.

Dr. O’Brien received a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work, a Certificate of Integrated Primary and Behavioral Health Care, and a Master of Social Work from New York University; a Doctor of Health Science from Nova Southeastern University; a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Sacred Heart University; a Connecticut Certificate of Gerontology and Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling from Gateway Community College; and a Bachelor of Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University.

 

Celebration of Excellence: Robert E. Jirsa Service Award

2019 Recipient: Dr. Michele Vancour, Professor of Public Health

About the award

Named in honor of the late Robert E. Jirsa, former Faculty Senate President and P & T Committee Chairman, the Robert E. Jirsa Service Award is given annually to a full-time faculty member who has made extraordinary contributions and demonstrated outstanding leadership in his or her service to the university.

About the recipient

Dr. Michele Vancour, professor of Public Health, has been with Southern since 1998. In those 21 years, her exceptional leadership and service to the university — and community — has not gone unrecognized. In 2012 Dr. Vancour received the Outstanding Academic Advisor Award and was nominated again in subsequent years. In 2015, she received the CT American Council on Education (ACE) Women’s Network, Distinguished Academic Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award. She has been nominated — multiple times — for the J. Philip Smith Outstanding Teaching Award and nominated for the New England College Health Association President’s Award.

Over the years Dr. Vancour has been either elected to, appointed to, invited to, or has participated in, at least 28 different committees, including the Food Pantry committee, the CT ACE Women’s Network Chapter at Southern, the Barnard Scholarship committee, the Undergraduate Public Health Program committee, and many, many more.

Her credo, that “service is (and has been) the foundation of my professional and personal work,” is evident in her life’s choices, and her focus on the needs of Southern’s students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors bespeaks to her high regard for the Southern community as a whole.

Dr. Vancour recalls Robert E. Jirsa for “his authenticity, deep care and concern for Southern, its students, and employees, and his commitment to and work for positive and impactful change on campus.” Her dossier, which displays evidence of this philosophy of service, heartily exemplifies the tenets of the award she is now receiving.

Dr. Vancour received a Ph.D. in Health Education from New York University; an M.P.H. in Community Health Education from Southern; and a B.A. in English from Central Connecticut State University.


 

Celebration of Excellence: Undergraduate Research Assistants – Faculty Award Grant

2019 Recipient: Cheryl Durwin, Professor of Psychology

About the award

This initiative, Undergraduate Research Assistants, is funded by the SCSU Office of the Provost. One grant of up to $3,000 is awarded to a faculty member to support one or more undergraduate research assistants to assist with said faculty member’s research in any academic discipline represented on the SCSU campus. The purpose of this program is to support a research experience for undergraduates and also to support faculty research.

About the recipient

Southern’s Reading Evaluation And Development of Skills (R.E.A.D.S.) Lab, of which Dr. Durwin is a co-director, focuses on improving the reading skills of school-age children. As such, the lab has conducted ongoing research in two elementary schools that serve large populations of children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

The lab’s goal is two-fold: to validate research-based assessments that help schools better identify at-risk students and to investigate the efficacy of research-based interventions for improving the reading outcomes of these at-risk children. The stipend provided by this award allowed the R.E.A.D.S. Lab to support three undergraduate research assistants whose work was vital to maintaining progress on this project.

According to Dr. Durwin’s notes, the success of the collaboration with schools was recognized by the Hamden Public Schools Superintendent’s Office, and they requested that the lab add another school to the project. In light of the additional work, coupled with the sabbatical leave of one of the co-directors, the provision of paid research assistants by the award was critical for maintaining the project’s progress.

Armed with adequate pilot data, the R.E.A.D.S. Lab aims to apply for an IES Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Grant or similar competition. It will also continue to develop an Interdisciplinary Language & Literacy Research Consortium with colleagues in Communication Disorders and Education. In short, it will continue to advance its important mission and overarching reach.

Dr. Durwin received a Ph.D. and an M.S. in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Connecticut.

 

Celebration of Excellence: Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship

2019 Recipient: Meghan Barboza, Assistant Professor Histology, Physiology, Marine Mammalogy

About the award

SCSU recognizes the importance of faculty scholarship and creative activity in furthering its mission. The Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowships aim to support this goal by providing recipients with a significant amount of reassigned time at an early stage in their careers at Southern.

About the recipient

There has been a significant increase in the number of sick and dead seals along the Northeast coast. Phocine distemper virus, a respiratory tract infection, appears to be the cause. To further understand how the immune system of seals responds to infection, Dr. Meghan Barboza will conduct research that examines the seals’ respiratory epithelium — in particular its anatomy — as well as identifies particular cells, solitary chemosensory cells, or SCCs, a part of the immune system in this tissue.

According to Dr. Barboza’s notes, seals are especially vulnerable to respiratory infection because they breathe at the air/water interface and are exposed to both air and waterborne pathogens. Within Connecticut and Rhode Island, the stranding response group that assists with sick marine life is coordinated through Mystic Aquarium. If the animals die, the cause of death is determined through an animal autopsy, or necropsy. Following the necropsy, Dr. Barboza has a permit through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a research agreement with Mystic Aquarium to collect tissue samples from the dead seals. By comparing seals with respiratory illness to those without, additional information about the function of SCCs can be determined.

According to Dr. Barboza, the results will be shared with Mystic Aquarium to further their efforts to improve seal treatment and successful release back into the wild. The research data may also be included in an application to federal grants and will be presented within the Southern community and at a regional and/or international conferences.

Dr. Barboza holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Veterinary Medical Sciences from the University of Florida; a Master of Science in Marine Biology from Nova Southeastern University; and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Delaware.

Celebration of Excellence: Board of Regents Adjunct Teaching Award

2019 Recipient: Patricia Mottola, Adjunct Faculty, Creative Writing

About the award

The Board of Regents Adjunct Faculty Teaching Awards are given to recognize part-time faculty who have distinguished themselves as outstanding teachers with a track record of increasing student learning and promoting instructional improvements for their programs or departments.

About the recipient

Patricia Mottola was hired to teach Introduction to Creative Writing immediately after receiving her MFA in Creative Writing 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. Professor Mottola’s advisor and now colleague Vivian Shipley awarded Distinction to Professor Mottola’s MFA thesis, “If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit: Poems About Relationships,” something rarely done, and Dr. Shipley remarked that since 1969, she has “never had a better student or known a more dedicated and inspiring teacher.”

Professor Mottola has the words “respect,” “personal responsibility,” and “attention to detail” written on her classroom board. It is her goal to turn these values into lifelong habits and to help students thrive long after they graduate. Her instruction is one of collaboration, both inside and outside of the classroom. Students are encouraged to participate, discover, and share. Her fellow adjuncts refer new adjuncts to Professor Mottola for advice, and she is a mentor to full-time faculty as well, offering her colleagues advice on textbooks, syllabi, and assignment sheets.

Professor Mottola is a gifted instructor and an involved citizen, and her impact has a broad and significant reach. 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.

Professor Mottola earned an 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.