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Peter Marra, ’85, says a love of nature saved his life. Today, the longtime Smithsonian scientist and newly named director of the Georgetown Environment Initiative is returning the favor.

Peter Marra, '85, on shoreline releasing bird with tracking device back to the wild.
Smithsonian Institute Photo

Scientist Peter Marra, ’85, views the world through the eyes of a naturalist — and that includes his childhood. “I was a feral kid,” says Marra, of growing up largely unsupervised in a wooded neighborhood in Norwalk, Conn. The youngest of four siblings, he was raised in a broken home. His father, an Army veteran turned baker, left when Marra was only 1 and his mother was left seriously struggling.

By middle school, Marra was struggling as well, smoking and experimenting with alcohol. He also spent time wandering, often ending up at the neighboring Westport Nature Center. One day, the center’s staff set up a mist net: made of very fine threads, it blends with the surroundings and is used to catch birds without harming them. “I was able to experience a chickadee up close and personal. I’m pretty sure I even held it,” says Marra. “I don’t remember a lot, but I remember there being this moment that was pretty magical.”

The experience was an epiphany and a saving grace. “I could have continued down this really bad road. Some of my friends from that time did, and it didn’t end well,” says Marra, who, instead, opted to pursue his passion. Today, he’s an internationally recognized naturalist and ornithologist (expert on birds), an emeritus senior scientist with the Smithsonian Institute, and an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2014).

“You could live without art. You could live without music. But would you want to? Would we want to live in a world without warblers, shorebirds, and hawks?”
— Peter Marra, ’85

In August 2019, Marra left the Smithsonian after a 20-year tenure, where he most recently served as director of the Migratory Bird Center at the National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C. For the next chapter of his career, he’ll direct the Georgetown Environment Initiative, which integrates Georgetown University’s scholarship and outreach efforts related to the earth’s stewardship. Marra also was named the Laudato Si’ Professor of Biology and the Environment, and a professor in the McCourt School of Public Policy.

The significance isn’t lost on Marra, who notes he was first in his family “to even think about going to college.” He’d applied only to Southern for his undergraduate degree. The draw: the late Noble Proctor, ’70, M.S. ’72, professor emeritus of biology — a nationally recognized naturalist and author who, during his lifetime, traveled to some 90 countries conducting avian research. Marra, like many students, called him Nobe.

Southern proved a great match for Marra. “I think it cost me $350 a semester. Having a really quality education available to me at an affordable price made all the difference in the world,” says Marra, who studied — and often simultaneously worked — full time. As a senior, he received the university’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Biology, and more than 30 years after graduating, he easily recalls his professors’ names. He credits Proctor with helping him secure an internship with the U.S. Department of Agriculture — he researched the interaction between gypsy moths and birds — and says the professor also helped him get into graduate school. Marra earned a master’s from Louisiana State University and a doctorate from Dartmouth College, before joining the Smithsonian in 1998.

SCSU alumnus Peter Marra, '85, with students observing bird, writing in journal
Scientist Peter Marra, ’85, has co-authored more than 225 papers in journals such as Science and Nature.

 

Through it all, curiosity was a driving force. He’s jointly published more than 215 peer-reviewed papers in journals such as Science, Nature, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. His research has three broad themes: the ecology of migratory birds, urban ecosystems, and disease. Basically, if an issue relates to birds, Marra has probably investigated it. He’s studied migratory birds wintering on military bases; what happens to birds and otters when a dam is removed; and the role migratory birds play in the spread of West Nile virus.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Marra, who’s received top research awards from organizations such as the Smithsonian (Secretary’s Distinguished Research Prizes in 2008 and 2010) and the American Ornithological Society (the Elliott Coues Award in 2018). In sum, Marra is an experts’ expert — the one the White House and members of Congress call for briefs on the highly contagious bird flu.

Of course, in most cases, the birds are the ones in danger, and Marra has spent his career studying direct anthropogenic stress: the many ways humans harm birds. “The number one killer is cats,” says Marra, who discusses the issue in-depth in his book, Cat Wars, the Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer, co-authored with Chris Santella.

Marra estimates that cats kill 1.3 – 4 billion birds annually in the U.S. — and three to four times that many native mammals. (There’s limited data on feral cats, hence the wide-ranging statistics.) But the end results, Marra says, are devastating for bird populations. Cats have contributed to the extinction of 63 species around the world, he explains. “DDT, in comparison, has never caused the extinction of a species,” he says, stressing the importance of keeping pet cats inside and on leashes when outdoors. The book also advocates management of feral cat populations, including euthanasia in some cases.

Bluethroat
The Bluethroat • Smithsonian Institute Photo

Another decidedly less controversial research project is centered just outside of Nome, Alaska, and focuses on a small bird called the bluethroat. It’s primarily an Old World species — meaning it breeds and spends most of its life in Europe and Asia, says Marra. But long ago, one population of bluethroats started traveling to Alaska. The birds annually arrive in May and remain through June to breed. These bluethroats then migrate to another location. “Probably to someplace in Southeast Asia, but we don’t know where,” says Marra.

In summer 2018, Marra and other researchers began catching the birds and tagging their backs with light-level geolocators that use daylight to estimate location. It’s an intense process. In Alaska, Marra jump-started the day with a cup of coffee, followed by trudging through deep snowbanks to reach small patches of vegetation. The goal: stay clear of musk ox and grizzlies while searching for the newly arrived bluethroats, which must be caught and tagged.

The scientists then wait. “If we catch the birds again when they come back next year, we can download the data off their backs,” says Marra. The project was a dream assignment for the naturalist, who is working on The Atlas of Migratory Connectivity for the Birds of North America. Still, recapturing a bird is a challenging task. Only about one in every five birds that scientists tag is captured again the next year, according to the Smithsonian. But Marra remains undaunted, inspired by how much remains to be learned.

“The last 10 years, we’ve made some real advances because of the miniaturization of tracking devices and other technology. It’s been a remarkable time to be in migratory animal ecology,” he says.

Marra’s new post as head of the Georgetown Environment Initiative will capitalize on his commitment. Ask Marra why we should care about the conservation of various bird species, and he turns thoughtful. There are practicalities: removing insects and rodents, spreading seeds, pollinating plants. Birds fulfill critical ecosystem services, he explains: when populations decline or worse, become extinct, it’s a sign that something is deeply unhealthy with the environment.

Other motivations are more difficult to articulate, says the conservationist. “You could live without art. You could live without music. But would you want to?” asks Marra. “Would we want to live in a world without warblers, shorebirds, and hawks? I don’t think so. . . .When I wake up in the morning and hear birdsong outside — that fulfills me.” 

Bird Calls

Want to attract more birds to your yard? Get planting — and be sure to include as many native species as possible, according to a study from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. The magic ratio of native plants? Seventy percent.

“If more than 30 percent of the [plant] species in your yard are non-native, your yard will not produce enough insects to successfully support bird populations,” says Peter Marra, ’85, outlining the results of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

The research looked specifically at chickadees, but has widespread implications. More than 90 percent of herbivorous insects target only one or a select few plants for food. “Everybody, even those in an urban or suburban environment, should be thinking about their yard as a natural park, a place that wildlife depends on — including insects and birds,” says Marra.

The Smithsonian suggests these online sites for information on bird-friendly plants: the Audubon’s Native Plants Database, the National Wildlife Federation’s Native Plant Finder, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness map. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and conducted in conjunction with the University of Delaware.

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

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

Southern Connecticut State University’s nursing program hit the half century mark this year, and the future looks exceptionally bright. The program has maintained its commitment to nurse education and excellence – its pass rates are near perfect – and can now add expansion to its roster, as the university will soon break ground on a building that will serve the Nursing Department and other health-related programs.

Nursing alumni, faculty, students, and university officials will have the chance to come together to celebrate this week at “50 Years of Nursing Excellence – Looking Back as We Look Forward.” Dr. Leslie Mancuso, ’78, PhD, RN, FAAN, president and chief executive officer of Jhpiego, an international nonprofit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, is the keynote speaker.

“It is a true milestone,” said Lisa Rebeschi, BS ‘84, and MS ‘91, former associate professor and chair of the Nursing Department.* “[In 1969] we started with just 13 students. The difference we are making to state healthcare field and in nurse education is drastically different than it was 50 years ago. Certainly, we’ve come a long way.”

One of the staples of the program, since inception, has been its quality of excellence.

“The Nursing Department takes great pride in the quality of education that they provide,” said Dr. Sandra Bulmer, dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Southern. “Students are both going to be prepared to practice nursing on day one and be able to pass the NCLEX-RN, the National Council Licensure Examination, on the first try. Consistent accreditation is another marker of the high quality.”

Growth and evolution have played key roles in the program’s success as well. When the nursing program was established in 1969, it consisted of a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree program. The program now includes a bachelor’s degree program with two admission pathways, an accelerated career entry (ACE) program for those with a BS or BA in another discipline, and an RN-to-BS completion program.

In 1985, Southern added graduate MSN programs that allow students to choose from one of three tracks: Nursing Education, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Clinical Nurse Leader; students who already have an MSN can enter certificate programs in any of these three areas. And in fall 2012, Southern added an EdD in nursing education in collaboration with Western Connecticut State University. It’s one of the few doctoral programs in nursing education in the United States.

Across the board, pass rates for programs are stellar: The NCLEX-RN first-time pass rate for the 2018 graduates from the traditional program was 100 percent. The NCLEX-RN first-time pass rate of 2018 graduates from the ACE program was 97 percent. Ninety-two percent of MSN graduates passed their FNP (family nurse practitioner) certification exam on their first attempt.

“The range of degrees is across the spectrum,” Bulmer said. “Our interdisciplinary curriculum is developed to be the core in innovation in the way we educate; we train our own nurse educators to go out and train.” Added Rebeschi, “We literally train from bedside to practitioner.”

More growth looms on the horizon: Southern is about to break ground on a new building that will serve the Nursing Department. The building will feature increased, dedicated space for practice-based learning, lab rooms for hands-on instruction, and a simulation center.

“There will be one high-fidelity lab with computerized high-tech mannequins, known as Sim Man, and video capture,” Bulmer said. “It mimics the floor of a hospital with a medical station and nursing station, and different patient rooms. Students will encounter real-life situations. Students will be debriefed, which gives them the opportunity to see what they’re doing right and wrong. It’s a highly effective way to train.”

In addition to the high-tech Sim Man — some of these mannequins talk and can even give birth — the program will use patient actors, guided by scripts, in realistic “doctor’s rooms” and a home simulation room that will mimic home visits.

Of course, growth comes with a price tag. Technology is expensive, as is the manpower to manage it. Opportunities for clinical sites, which are heavily supervised and monitored, are taxed as well. But the program’s 50-year evolution always has been guided by keeping a close ear to the needs of the local healthcare system, so the program will keep doing what it’s been doing all along: innovate.

“Southern is a leader in preparing the next generation of academic nurse educators,” said Cheryl Resha, chairperson and professor, Nursing Department. “We have accomplished and talented faculty who have authored books, chapters, articles in peer-reviewed journals, and practice guidelines. SCSU’s faculty is dedicated to evidence-based practice and is committed to ensuring students are educated on the most up-to-date evidence.”

Bulmer added, “Everyone does a great job training nurses in Connecticut, but we provide access and opportunity and produce a workforce that’s diverse. There’s a need for nurses of color and doctors and nurses of diverse income to serve their counterparts. We want to help healthcare diversify its workforce and to grow our capacity to serve students and Connecticut.”

“The future,” Bulmer said, “is incredible.”

*Rebeschi is currently Associate Dean, School of Nursing, Quinnipiac University.

Alumna wins the "Oscars of Teaching," becoming the first Milken Educator Award recipient of the 2019-20 season.

A group of students come in for a group hug to support their award-winning teacher.
Excited students swarm Sepulveda for a group hug. Photo: Milken Family Foundation

Social studies teacher Lauren Sepulveda, ’10, entered the gym prepared for an upbeat but typical morning assembly at Clinton Avenue School in New Haven. Instead she received the surprise of a lifetime when her name was announced as the first recipient of the 2019-20 Milken Education Award and its $25,000 prize. Watch Sepulveda receive the award.

Hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching,” the Milken Educator Awards are designed to “celebrate, elevate, and activate the American teaching profession.” It is not a lifetime achievement award. Instead, the recipients are recognized for exceptional mid-career achievements — and the promise of what they might accomplish given the resources provided with the award.

Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, made the presentation to a shocked Sepulveda in front of a cheering crowd of students, colleagues, and local and state officials. “Lauren Sepulveda brings history to life by demonstrating how past events have shaped our nation, world, and people today. Students develop a greater understanding of the responsibilities as global citizens and lifelong learners,” said Foley.

Sepulveda, who earned a B.S. in history 7-12 at Southern is the sole award recipient in Connecticut. Nationwide, no more than 40 educators will be honored during the 2019-20 season.

Sepulveda, who teaches seventh and eighth grade, was lauded for efforts to help her students become global thinkers and empathetic citizens. In her classroom, students have met guest speakers who share personal stories of their experiences during World War II, the Korean War, and the Rwandan genocide. Another assignment challenged students to review coverage of the Revolutionary War in their text books — and determine whose perspectives were missing. The students next drafted a new chapter that included the stories of significant minorities. Sepulveda then helped the students submit their work to the text book publisher for consideration for the next edition.

In addition to the cash prize, the award includes networking and mentoring components. Sepulveda will join the other 2019-20 honorees at an all-expenses-paid trip to the Milken Educator Forum in Indianapolis from March 26-28, to connect with other educational trailblazers. In addition, each 2019 recipient will be paired with a veteran Milken Educator mentor.

Southern takes steps to address basic needs

Responding to an issue occurring at colleges nationwide, Southern is looking to establish an on-campus food pantry and social services resource center to help a growing number of students meet their basic needs of food, shelter, transportation, child care and other essentials.

Based on surveys conducted with Southern students over the last few years, about 30 percent of the student population falls into the category of food insecure, said Jules Tetreault, dean of student affairs. (Food insecurity is a term to describe a lack of adequate access or money to buy food.)

“It’s a problem we are seeing at all levels – local, state and national,” Tetreault said. “In fact, 14 percent of the total population in Connecticut is considered food insecure, while at a national level, we are seeing a range of 14 to 40 percent at four-year universities.”

Student Affairs is planning to have a pantry operating by the spring semester, eventually including a social services resource center that would provide guidance for students struggling with other basic needs.

To support the project, the university is donating proceeds from its 125th anniversary gala on Oct. 4.  The sold-out “A Night of Inspiration,” in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom, will feature Tony Award-winning actor Leslie Odom Jr. – who played the role of Aaron Burr in the original cast of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton.

“As we conclude our 125th anniversary year, it’s important to look at how Southern has changed, especially in recent times,” said President Joe Bertolino. “The demographics of our population are vastly different, the expectations of students, parents and employers are increasingly outcomes oriented and the competition for enrollment and private support has intensified.

“With this in mind, the continued well-being of our students is a high priority. It is important to acknowledge the complexities of their lives, and particularly, those of our low income and working students.

As the cost of higher education has increased, the availability of financial assistance has not kept pace – and these factors have seen an increase in the number of students who are not able to meet their basic needs, Bertolino said.

“Simply put, when students can’t eat, when they have no place to sleep, when they have little family encouragement for bettering their lives through education, we must do more than offer classes and assignments,” he said. “We must holistically help them navigate the complexities and challenges that they face, even as we focus intentionally on supporting their capacity to learn and ability to persist to graduation.”

The problem is also being addressed at the national level. Southern alumna and Connecticut Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, ’05, has introduced a new bill, along with Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, to address the food insecurity crisis among college students. The Closing the College Hunger Gap Act would empower low-income college students with the information they need and ultimately reduce food insecurity on campuses nationwide.

Tetreault said Southern is at the higher end – though not at the highest – of the food insecurity category. He said this is due, in part, to the demographics of the student population with a growing percentage of students who belong to racial and ethnic minorities, as well as a relatively high percentage of first-generation college students. He said these students tend to fall lower on the socioeconomic strata.

Tetreault echoed President Bertolino’s comment that financial assistance at the state and federal levels has not kept pace with the increased costs to attend college.

“We know that food insecurity has a negative effect on academic performance,” he said. “In fact, these students report lower GPA scores, are six times more likely to withdraw from a class, and 15 times more likely to fail a class. And food insecure students have reported poorer physical health and higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression.”

He noted that K-12 school systems throughout the country offer free or reduced lunch prices to students based on family income, and some also offer similar breakfast programs. “But the need and the hunger don’t stop when you graduate from high school.”

Tetreault added that Southern already has a community garden and a food recovery program at Connecticut Hall – the university’s main dining hall – which are designed to benefit less fortunate individuals in the local community.

“A food pantry would be consistent with these efforts, but would directly benefit our own students,” he said.

The university has also adopted smaller scale programs to help needy students, such as a mobile food pantry, departmental food closets and a “swipe it forward” program designed to enable students support their peers through meal donation in the dining halls.

You can support Southern’s Food Insecurity Fund by visiting southernct.edu/giving, and choosing “Food Insecurity Fund” upon checkout.

 

Christine Caragianis Broadbridge, Ph.D., professor of physics and executive director of research and innovation at Southern Connecticut State University, has been appointed vice president of the Connecticut Academy of Science & Engineering. Broadbridge will serve as vice president through June 30, 2020, with the Council’s recommendation that her name be submitted for election by the membership for President (2020 – 2022) and Past President (2022 – 2024).

Broadbridge began her faculty career at Trinity College. In 1998, she was appointed Visiting Fellow in Electrical Engineering at Yale University and in 2000 joined the Physics Department at Southern. She has been a principal investigator or co-principal investigator on ten National Science Foundation projects and a researcher on many others, including grants from NASA, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Broadbridge participated in the establishment and is a researcher and education director for the Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena (CRISP) at Yale/SCSU and is the director for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Center for Nanotechnology. Throughout her career she has implemented numerous industry workforce initiatives, most recently BioScience Academic and Career Pathway Initiative (BioPath) and the New Haven Manufacturer’s Association Summer Teachers’ Institute.

An active member of the Academy since her election in 2008, she chairs the Membership Committee, serves on the Development and Advocacy Committee, and was elected to the Council in 2016.

“I am honored to continue working with such a distinguished and dedicated group of scientists and engineers from Connecticut’s academic, industrial, and public sector communities,” said Broadbridge. “The work that the Academy does adds value to the state of Connecticut from promoting science education for K-12 students and the citizens of Connecticut to providing expert advice on issues of science and technology.”

Broadbridge has a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Rhode Island, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in engineering from Brown University. At Brown, she conducted research in the fields of materials science, physics and nanotechnology. Selected awards include the 2006 Connecticut Technology Council’s Woman of Innovation Award for Academic Leadership and the 2014 Connecticut Materials and Manufacturing Professional of the Year Award. Broadbridge was a Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame Honoree in 2008 for Outstanding Women of Science in Academia and was a Connecticut Science Center STEM Achievement Award nominee in 2016. She is a member of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of Sigma Pi Sigma and Tau Beta Pi (national honor societies for physics and engineering respectively).

The Connecticut Academy of Science & Engineering is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 institution patterned after the National Academy of Sciences to provide expert guidance on science and technology to the people and to the state of Connecticut, and to promote the application of science and technology to social and economic well being. The Academy’s 400+ members include leading scientists, physicians, engineers, and mathematics who are experts in a wide range of science and technology-related fields.

U.S. Soccer star and World Cup winner Alex Morgan will speak with noted soccer commentator JP Dellacamera at SCSU’s John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, September 21, 2019, at 7 p.m. Morgan will discuss her life and career, what it takes to become a champion, and the challenges facing women’s soccer, including the issue of gender equity and equal pay for female athletes. Reserved seats are $100 (VIP, with post-event photo opportunity), $45 and $35, available at lymancenter.org or 203-392-6154.

A forward with the Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League, Morgan earned a gold medal with the 2012 U.S. Olympic team and played a key role on two FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning squads, in 2015 and 2019. She finished as joint top-scorer in France, with five goals against Thailand and another against England in the semi-final victory. Since 2018, she has been a co-captain of the U.S. team with Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd.

Alex Morgan

With 107 goals and 43 assists in 169 appearances for the national team, Morgan is one of the most prolific goal scorers in U.S. Soccer history. In college she played for the UC Berkeley California Golden Bears, leading Cal in scoring for four years in a row and graduating a semester early with a degree in political economy.

Winner of an ESPY award for Best Female Athlete in 2019 and a two-time U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year, Morgan has one of the largest social media followings of any female athlete in the world, with millions of followers on Instagram and Twitter.

Learn more about Morgan:

The Stunning Transformation Of U.S. Soccer Player Alex Morgan

Alex Morgan Best ● Goals & Skills 2018

One of the pioneering voices of American soccer, JP Dellacamera serves as a FOX Sports play-by-play announcer for its premier soccer portfolio, including FIFA World Cups, Major League Soccer and the U.S. Women’s National Team. This summer, the Colin Jose Media Award recipient was once again FOX Sports’ lead play-by-play announcer for its presentation of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™, a role he held in 2015. The legendary broadcaster was also the lead announcer for the 2017 and 2019 SheBelieves Cups and 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship, and called matches for the 2016 Copa America Centenario and UEFA Europa League.

JP Dellacamera

Dellacamera is also the lead television play-by-play voice for Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union on 6ABC and PHL17, a position he has held since 2010.

Dellacamera is regarded as the original voice of U.S. Soccer with a broadcasting career spanning 30 years. He brings decades of experience covering a total of 14 FIFA World Cups (nine men’s, five women’s) on television and radio beginning with ESPN in 1986 and, most recently, the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ on FOX. He was the lead ESPN radio voice for the FIFA World Cups in 2010 and 2014.

 

Joe Andruzzi with his family and President Bertolino, after receiving his degree

Southern football alum and Super Bowl champion Joe Andruzzi arrived on campus on July 22 with a goal in mind. Twenty-three years after completing his playing career with the Owls, Andruzzi came back to Southern to receive his undergraduate degree, a milestone he had put off for years, after being recruited into the National Football League during his senior year.

The two-time All-American played for head coach Rich Cavanaugh from 1993 through the 1996 season before a 10-year career in the NFL that featured three Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots. But it always bothered him that he hadn’t received his Southern degree, and on a warm July day, with his wife, children, and parents around him, Andruzzi wore a cap and gown and was presented with his bachelor’s degree by Southern President Joe Bertolino.

In introducing Andruzzi, Bertolino said, “This is an historic occasion for Southern Connecticut State University: to welcome a Super Bowl winner back to campus to receive his degree. How often can a university president claim that honor? But as with all of our students and alumni, Joe is more to us than ‘just’ a Super Bowl winner. He is an Owl, a member of the Southern family. And today, we celebrate his many accomplishments – in particular, his receipt of his Southern degree, a notable milestone in a remarkable life.”

The anchor of the Owls’ offensive line, Andruzzi was named an All-American by the American Football Coaches Association as a junior and senior. He was also twice selected to the All-ECAC squad and captured All-New England laurels as a sophomore, junior, and senior. He served as team captain as a senior.

Following his playing days at Southern, Andruzzi spent 10 years in the NFL, first signing as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers before joining the New England Patriots, with whom he won three Super Bowl titles before becoming a member of the Cleveland Browns.

Andruzzi was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt’s lymphoma in 2007 before founding the Joe Andruzzi Foundation in 2008. He currently serves as the CEO of the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, an organization that is leading the fight to tackle cancer by funding cancer research; assisting cancer institutes in achieving the highest level of patient care possible and by providing financial assistance to cancer patients and their caregivers to help ease the burden treatment places on their lives.

Before presenting Andruzzi with his diploma, Bertolino said, “We talk here at Southern about cultivating an ‘ethic of care’ — and Joe Andruzzi, you are the epitome of such an ethic. At Southern, we strive to treat others with dignity, respect, kindness, compassion, and civility — the five pillars of social justice — and Joe — you model these values every day. So today, we are proud to honor you as a member of the Southern family, and to recognize your academic work by presenting you with your degree — a recognition that is long overdue.”

Andruzzi’s degree ceremony drew considerable attention from local and regional media:

New Haven Register (Jeff Jacobs): Andruzzi achieves a new degree of success as SCSU grad

Hartford Courant (Dom Amore): Joe Andruzzi, 3-time Super Bowl champ with Patriots, cancer survivor, returns to Southern Connecticut to receive his degree after 22 years

WTNH – News 8: Former Patriots and SCSU star Joe Andruzzi receives degree

WVIT: Former New England Patriot Joe Andruzzi Gets Degree

WBZ – CBS Boston: 3-Time Super Bowl Champion & Cancer Survivor Joe Andruzzi Gets His College Degree

SCSU Athletics: Former SCSU Football All-American Joe Andruzzi Receives Degree

 

 

 

President Joe Bertolino signed the climate emergency declaration, with students (left to right) Michaela Garland, Idongesit Udo-Okon, Lauren Brideau, and Brooke Mercaldi, along with Suzanne Huminski, coordinator of campus sustainability, and Robert Prezant, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

May be the first college or university in the United States to sign such a declaration

In response to recent student advocacy for stronger climate action, Southern now publicly recognizes climate change as a global emergency because of impacts on the environment and humankind. SCSU President Joe Bertolino signed a climate emergency declaration on May 30, 2019, making Southern possibly the first university in the United States to make such a declaration.

The emergency declaration is based on the following:

  • The 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5C and evidence therein that a clear disproportionate burden of climate change impacts the most vulnerable members of societies
  • Unprecedented acceleration of atmospheric carbon levels that as of May 2019 are measured at 415 parts per million
  • Local community, health, environmental, and economic risk associated with hotter summers, declining air quality, diminished biodiversity, extreme weather and changes in precipitation trends, sea level rise and acidification, drought, and other manifestations of climate change

Southern pledged a carbon neutrality goal in 2008 and since then has cut its carbon footprint for buildings by 56 percent, a considerable achievement. Over 600 other campuses made the same pledge, and several have reached the goal of being net carbon neutral. Despite that collective progress, climate change presents humankind with a global emergency that will continue to grow — that is what this declaration signifies.

“Southern’s track record on reducing campus carbon emissions supports this declaration,” Bertolino said on signing the document. “We are a decade ahead of our original carbon goals, with additional projects planned. Carbon reduction has reduced operating costs and has not exceeded capital budgeting. Sustainable operations includes fiscal responsibility, community benefit, and environmental stewardship– we’re committed to all three.

“We welcome and support students’ advocacy for climate action and hope they continue. We understand the urgency of challenges that climate change presents to communities, and Southern is dedicated to leading and participating in solutions. The only way we will meet these challenges is if we work together.

“Recent reports from the United Nations show that even if we and other universities meet our carbon reduction goals, there will, of course, still be a global crisis caused by climate change. With this declaration, we’re signifying that we understand the need to boost our efforts even further through collective action, community engagement, partnerships, sharing best practices, and open platforms for innovation.”

Learn more about sustainability at Southern

The Declaration:

A Climate Emergency

Southern Connecticut State University is a public university with a mission to foster social justice on campus and as part of a broader community. In response to recent student advocacy for stronger climate action, SCSU reaffirms its Climate Leadership Commitment and the We Are Still In Declaration and publicly recognizes climate change as a global emergency because of impacts on the environment and humankind.

We base this emergency declaration on:
• The 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5C and evidence therein that a clear disproportionate burden of climate change impacts the most vulnerable members of societies
• Unprecedented acceleration of atmospheric carbon levels that as of May 2019 are measured at 415 parts per million
• Local community, health, environmental, and economic risk associated with hotter summers, declining air quality, diminished biodiversity, extreme weather and changes in precipitation trends, sea level rise and acidification, drought, and other manifestations of climate change

Building upon a decade of participation in the Climate Leadership Commitment for colleges and universities, today, May 30, 2019, Southern Connecticut State University declares a climate emergency.

After a decade of prioritizing climate leadership, SCSU is proud of its longstanding commitment to climate action, including:

  • Installation of a 1MW solar array on the west side of campus, and the development of a further 1MW of solar power on the East Campus
  • LEED Gold certification for the Academic Science and Laboratory Building
  • A four-year contract to procure 100 percent Green-e certified electricity, 2018-22
  • Extensive energy efficiency and waste reduction throughout campus, including commercial-scale composting of food scrap
  • 2018 launch of an undergraduate major in Environmental Systems and Sustainability
  • Endowed interdisciplinary research on climate and coastal resilience at the Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies
  • Designing a new $48 million net-zero emissions School of Business building that will generate all of its energy and power needs through sustainable technologies

Through this emergency declaration, SCSU also recognizes the need to accelerate both pace and scale of our efforts, and a need for more unified and collective action to address the climate crisis. SCSU pledges to:

  1. Maintain our commitment to become carbon neutral and accelerate outcomes of the Climate Leadership Commitment and We Are Still in Declaration
  2. Expand research to advance climate action and resilience as part of a broader community
  3. Align SCSU climate action with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  4. Expand university partnerships with business and industry; local, state, and federal agencies; community organizations; and other institutions of higher education to advance climate and sustainability goals
  5. Expand collaboration with local and regional communities to enhance resilience from climate impacts
  6. Galvanize inclusive, equitable participation in climate action across all sectors of the SCSU community, and allow citizen assemblies to support the direction of our climate actions
  7. Expand and participate in open-source platforms and networks that support rapid interdisciplinary innovation to meet challenges of the changing climate
  8. Create and maintain a roadmap projecting where and how the campus becomes carbon neutral.

Signed,

President Joe Bertolino
May 30, 2019

 

Watch Graduate and Undergraduate Commencement LIVE on Facebook and YouTube.

Graduate Commencement — Thursday, May 23, 2 p.m. (School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Health & Human Services) and 7 p.m. (School of Business and the School of Education, including Library Science)

Undergraduate Commencement — Friday, May 24, 10 a.m.

We asked graduating seniors — “What will you miss most about Southern?” See what they had to say.

More information about Commencement

Congratulations, graduates! #SCSU19

The men's track and field squad, after winning the 2019 NEICAAA New England Outdoor Championship

The Southern Connecticut State University men’s track and field squad captured their second-straight NEICAAA New England Outdoor Championship title, edging out a 112-109.5 victory against University of Rhode Island. The championships took place at Southern’s Jess Dow Field on May 10-11, 2019. The Owls were the defending champions, having claimed in 2018 their fifth NE title in program history and the fourth for the outdoor squad.

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