March 31, 2015

Posted in Campus Updates on March 31st, 2015

Spring is here – really! – and while this signals new growth and the promise of warmer days ahead, on our campus it also ushers in a period of intense activity as we reach the heart of the semester.  It is a time of big events – the ribbon-cutting for Buley Library, the Fusco Distinguished Lecture, our annual Celebration of Philanthropy , Honors Convocation – but also host to myriad other activities that define our campus experience.

A wonderful example was our inaugural Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference this past Saturday, which showcased innovative students and projects from across the disciplinary spectrum. The daylong event at the Michael J. Adanti Student Center included oral presentations, poster presentations, an art crawl, a panel discussion on careers from Southern alumni, and dramatic scenes performed by students who recently competed at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

As well as providing an overview of the range of research opportunities available to our students, the day-long conference highlighted the value of a Southern education – which gives undergraduates the opportunity to conduct research under the mentorship of engaged faculty, and in many cases, partner with them on research projects.

Students also heard presentations from alumni who have made their mark in their respective fields, including Jacquelynn Garofano, ’06, who is now a research scientist at United Technologies Research Center.  Jacquelynn earned a B.S. degree in physics in 2006 before going on to receive her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in materials science and engineering from the University of Connecticut.

Working under the tutelage of Dr. Christine Broadbridge, director of the CSCU Center for Nanotechnology, Jacquelynn conducted extensive materials science research as an undergraduate at Southern.  And as a scientist who made the most of her opportunities as an undergraduate at Southern and is now undertaking groundbreaking research in a cutting-edge field, she is a tremendous role model for our students.

Congratulations to the Conference Committee for creating this excellent opportunity to highlight the creative work of our students as they prepare to become key contributors to Connecticut’s knowledge-based economy.

An upcoming highlight on the calendar is Accepted Students’ Day (April 11), when we have a myriad of activities planned to highlight our academic programs, student support services and campus activities, for prospective students and their families. I encourage all of you to help out in any way you can to ensure that this day is a success and that our guests feel welcomed and receive any assistance and information that they may need.  While our application numbers remain very strong, we must continue our concerted efforts to ensure that the final yield meets or exceeds our goals.

BUDGET UPDATE

As you know, efforts are ongoing at the state level to close a projected deficit of $1 billion in each of the next two fiscal years. Higher education has not been spared, and the CSCU system faces a $20.6 million cut, or $48 million short of what it is projected that the system would need to support existing programs.

If this projection holds, it will present significant challenges system-wide and here at Southern, where our reserves have been significantly depleted in recent years to offset a series of enrollment shortfalls and resulting loss of tuition income.

The 4.85 percent tuition and fees increase approved last week by the Board of Regents will only go part-way toward helping offset the $10 million deficit that we are facing in the next fiscal year. If our fall enrollment is flat, we will be facing a deficit of $3.1 million; if it is a 2 percent decline, the deficit would be $4.8 million. 

MASTER PLAN NEARING COMPLETION

Despite these near-term budget issues that ultimately will be solveable as we work through them together, planning for the future of this 122-year-old institution continues, as it must. To that end we will be presenting the final draft of the master plan for a final round of campus discussion very shortly.

The Master Plan Advisory Committee, co-chaired by Provost Bette Bergeron and Executive Vice President Mark Rozewski, has been developing a blue print that will carry us forward into the next decade. This evolving plan reflects new opportunities for growth and academic focus and will be aligned with our new strategi plan over the coming months.

Meanwhile, construction continues to move forward smoothly on our new Academic and Laboratory Science Building, which is expected to be available for occupancy by the beginning of August. Move-in will start in July, and our development staff is working with area technology companies to provide the additional equipment that will be needed to utilize fully the new space.

We plan to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony in early fall for the new building, which will open the door to exciting new opportunities to grow and promote our STEM programming, as you will read below. 

BIOTECHNOLOGY PARTNERSHIP WITH NEW HAVEN

On Monday, May 4, we formally will announce an exciting new partnership with the City of New Haven and its burgeoning biotechnology industry. Through its Economic Development Administration, the city will be supporting Southern in the development of a new Biotechnology Program that will provide an important link between academia and the science sector.

This program will include four academic pathways for incoming students: a new major in biotechnology with a chemistry minor; an updated biochemistry concentration; graduate-level certification programs in areas such as project management and healthcare or pharmaceutical management and new biotechnology concentrations for students in other STEM disciplines.

The city will assist in promoting these offerings to industry partners and area educational institutions, support an internship program with area companies and create biotechnology pathways in city schools that would prepare students for entry into Southern’s programs.

Greater New Haven already is home to the second-largest cluster of biotechnology companies in New England, and Connecticut is making concerted efforts to further develop this important economic growth center. For example, as the first phase of its Downtown Crossing 100 College Street, a 495,000 square-foot medical research and laboratory building is being constructed as the future home of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a world-class bioscience company. The project is expected to bring approximately 960 jobs to New Haven upon completion this year.

The stars are aligned for Southern to be a key player in New Haven’s biotechnology expansion, given our location in the city, the pending opening of our new science building, our establishment of the Office for STEM Initiatives and our commitment to increasing the number and quality of students graduating in the STEM disciplines.

Thanks to Steven Breese, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Christine Broadbridge, Director of STEM Initiatives, Sean Grace, Biology Department Chair, Gerald Lesley, Chemistry Department Chair, and Ian Canning, Director of Special Academic Programs & Sessions, for spearheading the development of this latest innovative partnership with the City. Please mark your calendars for May 4 and stay tuned for further details.

REACHING OUT

Recently, I traveled to Washington, D.C., for the American Council on Education annual meeting. While I was in the nation’s capital, I also met with members of the Connecticut Congressional delegation to speak about economic development and higher education policy.

The visit was rounded out with a successful gathering of more than 40 D.C.- area alumni – many of them younger alums who welcomed the chance to reconnect with their alma mater. 

Carrying our message to alumni in various parts of the country is a crucial step as we seek to strengthen and broaden our support base in advance of our first comprehensive campaign. Alumni gatherings in coming months are also planned in Boston, Atlanta and Los Angeles. 

We have a solid core of loyal, dedicated alums who are fully engaged and supportive of the university. But we are also seeking to connect with those who have had sporadic contact with the university since graduation and would likely be interested in learning about the many new developments at their alma mater.

SIMPLIFYING THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE TRANSFER PROCESS

As part of our focus on improving the enrollment process for transfer students, we have established a new partnership between Gateway Community College and Southern that will help transfers expedite their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. Students earning an associate of arts (A.A.) degree in liberal arts and sciences from Gateway will now automatically have nearly all their general education course requirements waived when they enroll at Southern.

Under the agreement, most students with an A.A. in liberal arts and sciences from Gateway will be exempt from at least 39 of the 48 general education credits. They will still have to earn 3 credits in a foreign language class; 3 credits in math above an intermediate algebra level; and take a capstone course. The math and foreign language requirements may be earned at Gateway, as well, but the capstone must be taken here at Southern.

We have determined that students who earn an associate degree in liberal arts and studies have already attained a level of proficiency in most of the core competencies that we require of our own students.

And with Gateway being our largest feeder community college, this agreement will now dramatically simplify the transfer procedure for potential students. Previously, transfers from Gateway needed a course-by-course analysis with an academic adviser to determine how many of their Gateway credits would count toward our general education requirements.

Thanks to Deborah Weiss, acting chair of the SCSU Undergraduate Curriculum Forum; the members of our Liberal Education Program Committee and Lauren Doninger, coordinator of Gateway’s liberal arts and sciences program for their work in devising this important partnership.

 BULEY LIBRARY OPENS

Our renovated library opened its doors during spring break week, and if you who have not yet viewed the new interior, please take the chance to do so.

Last week, the spacious study commons area at the front of the building was filled with students, while the reinstalled Tiffany windows provided a beautiful backdrop.

Staff will continue to move into the new building over the following two months. Several departments now based in the Wintergreen Building temporarily will be moved to Buley while Wintergreen is renovated to provide a new home for our Enrollment Management Services.

I know that all of you are excited to see this project finally come to fruition, after many years of delay and frustration. Please mark your calendars for Monday, April 20 at 10 a.m., and join me for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the library as we celebrate the opening of a building that will provide our campus with exciting new opportunities for learning and engagement.

LIBRARY EXHIBIT COMMEMORATES GENOCIDE VICTIMS

Buley Library’s new art gallery will host its first major exhibit in April with the opening of Ashfall, an exhibit by Robert Barsamian that tells the story of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, the 100th anniversary of which will be commemorated worldwide on April 24.

A 16’ by 16’ structure to be erected within the gallery space with the help of Southern art students, Ashfall contains its own lighting and sound system. Inside the structure are various pieces: portraits on lace, framed by branches — elements from Armenian culture – along with text panels and other objects that symbolize the violence and loss the Genocide engendered. Benches inside the structure allow visitors to pause and contemplate the exhibit, which has been called a “sacred space.”

The Ashfall opening will be one of several activities held on campus during the week of April 20 to observe the anniversary of the Genocide, examine its context in contemporary international relations and promote human rights and understanding.

On April 22, soprano Anna Hayrapetyan and composer/pianist Tatev Amiryan will present a lecture/performance for music students and the campus community in general at 1 p.m. in the Garner Recital Hall. A University Band concert: Music of Armenia, featuring folk music by five Armenian composers, will be held April 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the same venue.

On April 24, the Ashfall exhibit will open with a public reception, commentary by the artist and a walking tour in the Buley Library Gallery at 5 p.m. A recital featuring pieces connected specifically with the Genocide theme by 20th and 21st century Armenian composers will follow at 7:30 p.m. in the Garner Recital Hall.

HUMAN PERFORMANCE LAB TESTS NEW ATHLETIC INSOLE

With support from the SCSU Foundation, Southern will soon be the testing site for an innovative athletic shoe insole that may help athletes jump higher and sprint faster while improving their agility.

Our Human Performance Lab will be testing the XG4, an insole made predominantly of carbon fiber and produced by the Milford-based ROAR (“Redefining Optimal Athletic Response”) Athletic Performance Corp.

Rich Salerno, an SCSU alumnus who oversees the company’s business operations, says the insole differs from others in that it returns most of the energy created by the athlete back to the athlete. It is much more rigid than traditional inserts, which generally return little energy, Rich says.

The insert was first developed in 2005 for use by the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Team. And it has since been refined and improved for athletes in various sports requiring explosive action, such as football, basketball, baseball, track and field, volleyball, tennis, soccer and lacrosse.

Rich says he has been impressed with the quality of our Human Performance Lab and thought it was an ideal opportunity to test the new product in a research-based setting.

Robert Gregory, assistant professor of exercise science, is the lead researcher on the XG4 study, and says the insole will be subjected to several tests – a 10-yard sprint, a 20-yard shuttle run and a maximal vertical jump.

Rob says that the XG4 “is an intriguing product to research and complements the wide range of basic and applied research being performed at Southern.”

The Human Performance Lab will be using several cutting-edge pieces of equipment to test the insert, including force platforms to measure explosiveness during sprinting and jumping, and an instrumented gait analysis treadmill to evaluate efficiency in distance runners.

Stay tuned for the final results of this exciting study.

POETRY AWARD

Congratulations to Professor of English Vivian Shipley, who won first prize in the national poetry competition in the 2014 Hackney Literary Awards for her poem, “Foxfire.” 

Vivian is a Connecticut State University Distinguished Professor who has earned wide acclaim for her work, including the 2011 Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination for All of Your Messages Have Been Erased (Louisiana Literature Press, 2010).

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!

Four members of Southern’s women’s indoor track and field team won the NCAA National Championship in the women’s 4×400 relay at the NCAA Div. II Indoor Track and Field Championship.

Sophomore Crystle Hill ( from Norwalk); junior Georgette Nixon (Naugatuck); graduate student Sarah Hill (Vernon) and sophomore Shatajah Wattely (Uncasville), earned the Owls the 79th individual title in program history, the fourth for women’s track and the second for our  women’s indoor track and field program.

The quartet won the event with a time of 3:44.91, defeating Northeast-10 rivals Stonehill College and the University of New Haven, along with teams from seven other Division II schools as well.

Congratulations to these four outstanding young women, who also earned All-American honors with the win.

 

CAMPUS CLIMATE SURVEY

I want to reinforce the message from Dean of Student Affairs Jules Tetreault last week asking faculty to encourage our students to participate in an electronic Campus Climate Survey on sexual violence.

The survey, to be distributed to all graduate and undergraduate students, was designed by the Educational Advisory Board, a best-practice higher education research firm in Washington, D.C. Southern is one of about 30 campuses across the nation and Canada that will participate in the pilot survey during the spring 2015 semester.

The results will help us gather systematic information about sexual violence on campus in order to address it and ensure that we are taking every measure possible to ensure that our students live, study and work in a safe and healthy environment.

Participation in the survey is voluntary, and all responses are completely anonymous and confidential.  If a student approaches you with a concern or for advice regarding issues raised in the survey, please advise them to contact the SCSU Women’s Center at 203-392-6946, any members of the SCSU Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART) http://www.southernct.edu/student-life/health/womenscenter/sexual-misconduct/sart.html or the SCSU Counseling Office at ext. 2-5475. 

General questions about the survey may be addressed to Jules at tetreaultj4@southernct.edu

HEART WALK

And finally, Southern is a major sponsor of the forthcoming Greater New Haven Heart Walk, and I invite you to participate in a kick-off event on Wednesday (April 1). Faculty, staff and students are invited to come together and get some fresh air with a 1.4-mile self-paced walk around campus, starting outside Moore Fieldhouse at 12:15 p.m. (Rain location will be the fieldhouse indoor track).  Click here for more information and to register.

The Greater New Haven Heart Walk will be held May 2 at 10 a.m. at Savin Rock, West Haven. I hope you will join me and show your Southern colors during a 3-mile walk to raise funds supporting the research, education and advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association. You can join a team from the university, donate or help out, here: http://tinyurl.com/ndok5xy

 

February 24, 2015

Posted in Campus Updates on February 24th, 2015

Winter has hit us with its full force this month, disrupting schedules, making for difficult commutes and providing a challenge for those engaged in keeping our campus accessible and safe. With this last thought in mind, I thank our facilities staff, our university police and our residence life team for their herculean efforts during and after the recent succession of winter storms.  Though the days lost – particularly Mondays! – have been frustrating for us all, we have been able to return to full operation quickly thanks to this core of dedicated staff members.

BUDGET OUTLOOK

Last week we welcomed Mark Rozewski to lead our Division of Finance and Administration. Mark comes to us from the University of Southern Indiana, an institution that mirrors Southern in scale and has a similar emphasis on access and affordability. This familiarity will be an asset to Mark as he begins his career at Southern with a difficult budgetary outlook looming ahead.

Many of you, I am sure, read the news last week about Governor Malloy’s proposals to close a projected deficit of $1 billion in each of the next two fiscal years. Higher education has not been spared, and the CSCU system faces a $20.6 million cut, or $38 million short of what it is projected that the system would need to support existing programs.

 If this projection holds, it will present significant challenges system-wide and here at Southern, where our reserves have been significantly depleted in recent years to offset a series of enrollment shortfalls and resulting loss of tuition income. As soon as I know more specifics about the impact on our campus I will share with them you.

On a positive note, our enrollment numbers for fall 2015 continue to show signs of promise. The 7,001 freshman applications as of early last week – boosted in large part by our adoption of the Common App – are almost double the number of total applications for fall 2014. The final yield rate will be critical, however. And the potential inherent in these early numbers re-emphasizes the need for us to complete our internal curricular and process repair work this spring, so that new students who arrive this fall are quickly engaged with the campus and have an unobstructed path to their chosen degree.

ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT AVP SEARCH

A search committee led by Elena Schmitt, chair of the Department of World Languages and Literatures, is commencing a national search for a new Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management. A candidate pool will be assembled by late March, with finalist interviews on campus anticipated for April. Richard Riccardi, associate vice president for institutional effectiveness, is overseeing our enrollment initiatives on an interim basis.

Given our enrollment challenges, and the changing landscape of student recruitment, this is clearly a critical position. National projections show that, while the traditional population of 18 to 22-year-olds will remain a staple at most institutions, demographic and economic changes will see future enrollment growth come from other student segments.

In its report, “Future Students, Future Revenues: Thriving in a Decade of Demographic Decline,” the Education Advisory Board (EAB) reports that populations such as community college transfers, international undergraduates, professional master’s students, and adult degree completers offer the best opportunities to grow enrollment and tuition. These are all areas of opportunity that we are seeking to enhance.  To that note, Southern has recently completed a seamless transfer pathway with Gateway’s Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, a unique partnership that has been facilitated by Deborah Weiss, the chair of the department of Communication Disorders and interim chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Forum, with support from members of our LEPC and UCF.

PROFESSIONAL DOCTORATES

In a recent blog, I mentioned that we have had success in target marketing new master’s-level programs to meet workforce demands and the time constraints of adult professional workers. During this legislative session, I and the other Connecticut State University presidents will be lobbying for a statute change that would allow us to offer professional doctoral programs, further enhancing our institutions’ ability to meet the developing needs of the 21st Century workforce.

Under a current statute the CSUs are permitted to offer programs that provide for “the preparation of personnel for the public schools of the state including master’s degree programs, education doctoral degree programs, including an education doctoral degree program in nursing education and other graduate study in education, and the authority for providing liberal arts and career programs at the bachelors, masters and sixth year programs.” 

As you know, we now offer doctoral programs in educational leadership and nursing education, but due to changes in the educational requirements for employment in numerous other professions and scientific fields, the current authorization should be expanded. 

A number of professions, including social work (DSW), marriage and family therapy (DMFT), speech and language pathology (SLPD), and public health (DPH) have developed advanced doctoral clinical degrees for those wishing to assume senior practitioner and clinical administrator roles within organizations. Other fields have also recognized the need for professionally trained scientists, or scientist administrators, with advanced skills in both a scientific specialization and business skills, creating a demand for the Doctor of Science (ScD) degree in many disciplines.  Schools of Business have for many years offered the Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) for those interested in the advanced study of management, practical finance, and accounting. More business organizations are now requiring their senior managers, at the vice president level and above, to hold this academic credential.

All of these degrees reflect the understanding within these professions that the level of knowledge required to be effective at senior clinician, senior scientist, administrator and management levels is advancing rapidly and requires a degree of specialization that only a doctoral-level education can provide.

Recognizing the increased educational and clinical preparation required, several disciplines have already made the move to the professional doctorate as the entry level credential to the field. For example, the field of audiology has moved in the past decade from the master’s degree as the acceptable entry-level practice degree to the Doctor of Audiology (AuD). Other professions, such as physical therapy (DPT), have adopted similar strategies for changing the entry-level practice credential to the doctorate. Similarly, the field of nursing is moving steadily from the MSN in advanced nursing practice to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) as the entry-level credential.

Southern and our sister institutions will need to address this demand for increased education if we are to continue to promote Connecticut’s economic vitality and remain viable providers to organizations and businesses in the state that employ our graduates.

NEW DIRECTIONS FOR STEM

Christine Broadbridge, our new director of STEM Initiatives, reports that a key initiative of the Office for STEM Innovation and Leadership involves promoting multidisciplinary projects that engage faculty and students in cutting-edge research. The timing is perfect, Christine says, as our new academic and laboratory science building was built specifically to promote these types of interactions.

One recent successful example of this initiative was the first offering of the Werth Family Foundation- sponsored Industry Academic Fellowship (IAF) program by the CSCU Center for Nanotechnology (CNT), which is based on our campus. The program provided four undergraduates and one graduate student with the opportunity to conduct team-based interdisciplinary research in nanotechnology. The disciplines represented included biology, chemistry and physics and during the eight-week summer program, the IAF students partnered with educators and industry professionals, while exploring the business-related aspects of technology.  The students also worked part-time on their projects during the spring and fall semesters and have already presented their work at professional meetings. For this first year the project topics included nano-medicine and nano-environmental studies.

The deadline for applications for the second year of the program is March 1 (see www.southernct.edu/nanotechnology for more information).  The CNT is also actively engaging faculty in interdisciplinary working groups to support additional projects for future IAF interdisciplinary teams.  

On the STEM outreach front, Professor of Mathematics Maria Diamantis (representing the Center for Excellence in Mathematics and Science – CEMS) continues to host weekly group meetings for the local National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Jr. Chapter.  Last November, five of these students traveled to Hauppage, N.Y., where they attended the Region I, NSBE Jr. Regional Conference and earned third place in a Try-Math-A-Lon.  The students are meeting at Southern twice a week in preparation for the NSBE National Convention in San Diego, California, led by Southern alumna Gwen Brantley.

Additional STEM outreach events are scheduled for March, including an Education Connection Center for 21st Century Skills Academy for Digital Arts and Sciences class visit by 100 high school students. A teacher professional development workshop on STEM careers will also be jointly hosted by the Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena (CRISP) and the New Haven Manufacturers Association (NHMA).  More information on these events is at: http://www.skills21.org/ and http://crisp.southernct.edu/images/f/ff/2015_March_21_Draft_Flyer.pdf

REACHING OUT

During the early part of this week, I will be in Florida with Robert Stamp, vice president for institutional advancement, and members of our advancement team for two alumni gatherings in Naples and Boca Raton. As I write this, the advance numbers for both events were very encouraging, with more than 40 alumni registered for each event.

Carrying our message to alumni in various parts of the country is a crucial step as we seek to strengthen and broaden our support base in advance of our first comprehensive campaign. Following an event last fall in New York City, alumni gatherings in coming months are planned in Boston, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Los Angeles. 

We have a solid core of loyal, dedicated alums who are fully engaged and supportive of the university. But we are also seeking to connect with those who have had sporadic contact with the university since graduation and would likely be interested in learning about the many new developments at their alma mater.

STUDENT SUCCESS INITIATIVES

Last Friday we marked the first-year anniversary of the Student Success Taskforce with the Playbook for Student Success workshop led by Education Advisory Board Consultant Holly Chatham. Holly presented EAB’s best practice research on student success and progress to graduation. She placed emphasis on students in the “murky middle” – generally those earning between a 2.0 and 3.0 GPA – who present compelling opportunities for intervention and degree completion.

As you know, the Student Success Taskforce was established last year to find ways to strengthen our retention and graduation rates, to provide more strategic and proactive student advising, and to remove any obstacles students may face as they move toward completing their degrees.

We have already enacted a number of recommendations, including creating an Academic Student Success Center to support academic achievement; adding new, specialized academic advising positions; adopting a predictive analytics academic advising platform; and introducing more co-curricular activities for freshmen, sophomores and transfer students to build stronger connections with the university.

These are just the first steps in our institution-wide commitment to student success as we strive to ensure that students who come to Southern have the best possible educational experience, and stay on to complete their degrees in a timely manner.

HUMAN RIGHTS LECTURE

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in a conversation on campus with Osman Kavala, a philanthropist and human rights advocate in Turkey and founder of Anadolu Kültür, a civil initiative, committed to fostering mutual understanding through arts and culture.

The organizations Mr. Kavala founded and supports have been on the forefront of human rights issues including Armenian genocide recognition and the denial of Kurdish cultural and political rights. During this event, which was also supported by our Department of Philosophy, Mr. Kavala spoke on the current status of these issues in Turkey.

As you may know, 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. In 1915, the Ottoman rulers of Turkey seized the opportunity of a world preoccupied by global conflict to attempt to erase the Armenians’ presence within Ottoman territory through executions and forced marches into the desert.

During the spring, we will have several activities on campus to commemorate this anniversary, examine its context in contemporary international relations and promote human rights and understanding. Planned events include an art exhibit, music concert and a literature reading – details will be forthcoming shortly.

ATHLETICS SUCCESSES

Our athletics teams are coming to the end of the spring season. Our men’s indoor track and field team was No. 1 in last week’s United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division II East Regional team rankings. Earlier this month, the men’s swimming and diving team captured its fifth straight Northeast-10 Conference Championship, and 11th in the past 12 seasons.

And our men’s basketball team re-entered the national rankings at number 25 last week on the back of a seven-game winning streak. The Owls have now reached the 20-win plateau for the second successive season and are poised to earn another place in the NCAA tournament, after reaching the Elite 8 last year.

The continued academic success of our student-athletes was highlighted by the women’s cross country team, which earned All-Academic Team honors from the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for the third successive year. The award recognizes those institutions that achieved a minimum GPA of 3.0 and compiled a team score at their respective NCAA regional championships.

January 22, 2015

Posted in Campus Updates, Letters on January 22nd, 2015

Welcome to the spring semester! I hope that all of you enjoyed a relaxing and happy Holiday period in the company of your friends and family.  While this will be a busy spring, I am confident that it will be a productive one, as there are many talented people on this campus doing remarkable things. It certainly began in vibrant fashion, with a wonderful array of Welcome Back activities prepared for our new and returning students by Student Affairs staff and their campus partners. I look forward to working with all of you to advance our mission and ensure student success in the weeks and months ahead.

TRANSFORM CSCU 2020

Last week, in the latest online Transform CSCU 2020 Update newsletter -  http://www.ct.edu/files/update/transform-Jan-9-2015.html – the Board of Regents detailed how this initiative has now moved from the initial planning stages into the review phase. President Gray has asked leaders from various key groups representing faculty and staff from all 17 institutions in our system to review and prioritize the original 36 initiatives and determine whether changes or additions need to be made to ensure that all outcomes are value-added at the end of the day.

As you know, this multi-year year effort is geared to increase the accessibility and affordability of higher education in Connecticut and to position the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system as a major economic engine for the state.  The definition of success in this endeavor is not that each institution will ultimately look and act alike, but that we leverage our unique strengths across the system to further our individual and collective missions.

I look forward to your input as this important process moves forward.

WINTER SESSION

I am very pleased to report that our enrollment numbers for the recently completed Winter Session were up in all categories. The total headcount of 636 students represented an increase of 39.8 percent over 2013-14. This turnaround was achieved through a systematic examination of our Winter Session course offerings; targeted marketing; and a concerted effort to meet our students’ time constraints and avoid winter-weather disruption through an emphasis on online courses.

Ian Canning, Director of Special Academic Programs & Sessions, points out an interesting aside that 46 non-matriculated students took Winter Session courses – double that of the previous year – showing that we have clear opportunities to bring outside students in and engage them with Southern.

Congratulations to Ian and everyone involved in helping to make this program a success!

ENROLLMENT OVERVIEW

We are taking a similar systematic approach to recruitment and retention in our overall enrollment. With our spring enrollment currently down by 1.1 percent – the lowest among our peer CSU universities – we clearly need to take corrective measures internally to enhance our retention rate.

The numbers speak for themselves – we have lost more than 2,000 students since our enrollment peaked at around 12,500 six years ago. Given the state’s projected budget challenges in the next fiscal year, a new enrollment-based funding distribution formula being developed for implementation by the BOR, and the prospect that tuition increases may be capped at 2 percent, we will face significant financial challenges in the next 12 months if our downward trend is not reversed by next fall.

Recent surveys of students who did not re-register for the spring semester revealed varied reasons for their departure, but the length of time to graduation and the resultant financial burden of staying in school were consistent themes. As part of our Student Success Initiative, we will examine a number of areas that have the potential to be roadblocks to timely graduation, such as the alignment of our general education with our major requirements and the quality and effectiveness of our advisement.  As I have mentioned previously, now is the time to take a serious look internally, to make the university “less difficult to be successful in” for our current students. And we can do that by identifying, and then modifying or removing, the policies and practices that are tripping them up.

On a positive note, our enrollment numbers for fall 2015 are showing early signs of promise. The 5,865 freshmen applications as of the start of this week – boosted in large part by our adoption of the Common App – are already double the number of total applications for fall 2014. The final yield rate will be critical, however. And the potential inherent in these early numbers re-emphasizes the need for us to complete our internal repair work this spring, so that new students who arrive this fall are quickly engaged with the campus and have an unobstructed path to their chosen degree.

 A 12-MONTH CAMPUS

Another means of enhancing enrollment is ensuring that our campus remains active year-round with academic and student life activities for current and prospective students. We have excellent facilities, outstanding faculty and talented staff to showcase what Southern has to offer.

In coming weeks, for example, we will play host to the Connecticut Odyssey of the Mind – a creative problem-solving program for high school students – and the New Haven School System’s High School Fair, each of which will draw upwards of 1,200 students to campus. It is particularly opportune for us to engage prospective students from New Haven schools, as only a small number of our host city’s annual graduating class currently attend Southern.

During the summer months, new STEM workshops, a summer recreational program for children, and several athletics camps are planned – and it is still early days. With our renovated library and our new science building soon to open, more opportunities for community engagement will be at hand.

THINKING GLOBALLY

We are also creating new partnerships beyond our shores.  As you know, a key part of our mission is “preparing our local students for global lives.” And we can achieve this by increasing opportunities for study abroad programs and by attracting more international and out-of-state students to attend Southern and further enrich the diverse tapestry of our campus.

Last semester, Erin Heidkamp, director of international education, and Provost Bette Bergeron visited five institutions in China, with a view to establishing new collaborations there. Representatives from our social work department made a follow-up visit recently and a delegation of Chinese higher education leaders will visit us this summer.

This semester, from Feb. 4 through 7, Southern will welcome a 13-member delegation from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) in Liverpool, England.

 In 2014, our respective institutions made a commitment to identify synergies in academic programming and faculty research, and to work towards the implementation of a wide range of cooperative and complimentary academic programs.

 The scale of this international collaboration is unprecedented for Southern, and our eventual goal is to develop a seamless connection between our campuses in a number of academic departments. 

This is a University-wide initiative which has received tremendous support from our faculty and Deans, and we look forward to expanding the scope of our international programming in the months and years to come.

FACULTY AWARDS

Congratulations to several faculty members who have received well-deserved recognition recently:

Professor of Anthropology Michael Rogers received $20,000 from the Leakey Foundation to further his field work in Ethiopia at an archaeological dig site where some of the earliest hominid remains have been found. One of the most noteworthy parts of this program is that Michael has taken small groups of students with him for the last few years – three have traveled to Ethiopia this month – giving them the rare opportunity to work with and learn from some of the top researchers in this discipline.

Ilene Crawford, Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies, has been awarded a 4- month Fulbright Flex research grant. The Flex grant allows awardees to travel to their host country in three segments over three years, and Ilene is spending her first segment in Vietnam from Jan. 3 through March 16.  Her host will be the Institute for Educational Research (IER) in Ho Chi Minh City, which is affiliated with the University of Pedagogy-HCMC, the site of her spring, 2010 teaching Fulbright and with whom Southern has an academic partnership.

Ilene’s research at the IER will examine higher education reform in Vietnam in the context of globalization, with particular attention to how globalization is reshaping women’s literacy practices, and their lives, more broadly.

And last but not least, Troy Paddock, Chair of the History Department, has been selected for this year’s Faculty Scholar Award. Troy – an expert on German history – was chosen for his book, “Creating the Russian Peril: Education, the Public Sphere and National Identity in Imperial Germany, 1890-1914.”

The book – published in March 2010 by Camden House of Rochester, N.Y. – explores the German perception of Russia before World War I, and Troy explores how Russia was presented in various books, newspapers, and academic writings.

His work has received many accolades. Andrew Donson, a University of Massachusetts, Amherst scholar, writes in The American Historical Review: “The book’s main argument – that the image of Russia created by German historians and journalists was largely a foil for their own concerns about German, their reflection in a panoptic mirror – is sharp and illuminating. It is commendable that, rather than writing a purely intellectual history, Paddock traces the transmission of this image from experts to school textbooks and the press.”

As a result of the book, Troy has been invited to participate in a multi-volume project, Russia in the Great War and Revolution.

STUDENTS COMPETE IN GERMANY-BASED ENTREPRENEURIAL COMPETITION

Our Tourism, Hospitality & Event Management program has received a generous donation from the Kamran Farid Foundation to send a team of 10 students (two graduate, eight undergraduate) to participate in the 2015 Emerald Forest Global Competition at Karlshochschule International University in Karlsruhe, Germany.

They will be the first Americans to participate in this prestigious competition, which is designed for students to develop entrepreneurial collaboration and communication skills by engaging each other in a virtual, internet-based simulation game that models the management of a hotel business.

Jan Jones, Associate Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies and the department’s Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management Advisor, will serve as a global team coach for our students, who will gain firsthand experience as they build a hotel, develop a business/operational strategy, prepare a trade fair, analyze their competition, and respond to crises. We are very thankful to the Kamran Farid Foundation for enabling our students to receive this excellent opportunity.

Mr. Farid is the co-founder of Wallingford-based Edible Arrangements, which crafts, sells, and delivers edible bouquets of fresh fruit from more than 1,300 stores in 14 countries. And he is a current Southern student in computer science, returning to complete his degree last fall after suspending his studies 15 years ago to grow his then-fledgling business.

In the true spirit of giving back, he has also donated $20,000 to launch the Kamran Farid Helping Hands Fund at Southern, aimed at aiding students struggling with unexpected, short-term hardships that make it difficult to finish their degrees.  A wonderful example of philanthropy in action.

BULEY LIBRARY

Bob Sheeley, Associate Vice President for Capital Budgeting and Facilities Operations, reports that – barring any delays with final safety and accessibility inspections – the renovated Buley Library should be released for to us for occupancy by the end of January.

Staff will move into the new building over the following two months. Information technology employees currently located on the fourth floor of the addition will be relocated to the fourth floor of the library. And several departments now based in the Wintergreen Building will be temporarily moved to Buley while Wintergreen is renovated to provide a new home for our Enrollment Management Services.

The new Buley will feature the latest in information technology, with its computer labs, cyber cafe, tutorial centers and classrooms providing the best possible environment for teaching, learning and research. It will house an art gallery, where we will be able to showcase the work of our students and bring visiting exhibitions to campus.  And it will also provide a proper home for the Tiffany windows that link Buley to its past, as it is remade into a library for the 21st century.

I know that all of you are excited to see this project finally come to fruition, after many years of delay and frustration. Please mark your calendars for Monday, April 20 at 10 a.m., and join me for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the library as we celebrate the opening of a building that will provide our campus with exciting new opportunities for learning and engagement.

MASTER PLAN UPDATE

Just across the parking lot from the library, our new Academic and Laboratory Science Building is now an imposing presence. Construction has been moving forward smoothly on this project, which is expected to be available for occupancy by the end of May. Move-in will take place during the summer months, and our development staff is working with area technology companies to provide the additional equipment that will be needed to utilize fully the new space.

This truly promises to be a landmark building for our university, providing greatly enhanced research and career-based educational opportunities for our students in the STEM disciplines. We plan to hold an opening ceremony for the new science building in early fall.  

Of course, the transformation of our campus is far from over.  There are projects currently in the planning stages, such as the Recreation, Wellness, and Fitness Center.  And we are also looking to the future. During the past few months, the Master Plan Advisory Committee, co-chaired by Provost Bette Bergeron and Executive Vice President Jim Blake, has been developing a blue print that will carry us forward into the next decade. This evolving plan reflects new opportunities for growth and academic focus.

YANKEES GREATS AT LYMAN

Save the date for the 17th installation of the Mary and Louis Fusco Distinguished Lecture on Friday, April 10 at 7 p.m., featuring New York Yankees baseball legends Mariano Rivera and Joe Torre. While Rivera is known as the most dominating closer in the history of baseball, and Torre entered the Hall of Fame after leading the Yankees to four World Series titles, both are impressive individuals in their own right.

Torre is chairman of the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation, which he and his wife, Ali, launched in 2002 to help end the cycle of domestic violence and save lives through education. In 2010, President Barack Obama appointed Torre to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women and since October 2011, he has served as co-chair of the U.S. Justice Department’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. 

Outside of baseball, Rivera has been involved in philanthropic causes and the Christian community through the Mariano Rivera Foundation. With its emphasis on youth-oriented programs, the foundation makes a difference in the lives of thousands of underserved children in the United States and abroad.

A portion of the proceeds from this longstanding lecture series supports Southern’s Endowed Awards of Excellence, a merit-based scholarship program. A limited number of remaining tickets are available at: https://www.southernct.edu/dls/

 REMEMBERING DR. KING’S LEGACY

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders. Looking back at Selma raises the question: Where are we today?

On Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 1 p.m. in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom, we will celebrate Dr. King’s life and legacy through song and spoken word in “Going Beyond the Dream: Creating Solutions for Today,” a program organized by the Multicultural Center.

 Pastor James A. Lane of the Northend Church of Christ in Hartford will deliver the keynote address, discussing Dr. King’s nonviolence philosophy and sharing solutions to address the troubling issues of racial violence and discrimination that still confront us in contemporary America.

DRIVE OUT EBOLA

Last week, I and the members of my Cabinet collected donations for the Drive Out Ebola Fund, during a Week of Welcome lunchtime event at the student center. Thanks to all those who supported this effort, which helped raise funds for cargo transit vans to be retrofitted as ambulances, stocked with medical supplies and delivered to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone, in West Africa, has been one of the countries most acutely affected by the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged the region. With entire families wiped out and inadequate and limited facilities to isolate and treat the sick, Sierra Leone is completely dependent upon foreign assistance for its beleaguered healthcare system.

New Haven has been a Sister City to Freetown, since 1997 and this special relationship places our city in a unique position to provide much-needed medical aid. At the request of Mayor Toni Harp, I am serving as an honorary chair of Citizens to Drive Out Ebola, which is seeking to raise $100,000 by Jan. 31, 2015. If you would like to lend your support to this critical relief effort, donations may be made at: https://fundly.com/citizens-to-drive-out-ebola.

ENHANCING WELLNESS ON CAMPUS

Southern, which is a lead sponsor of this spring’s Greater New Haven Heart Walk, was recently recognized with Gold Fit-Friendly Worksite Status by the American Heart Association for promoting employee health and fitness. The university was one of 1,896 worksites awarded nationally. A key focus of our mission is providing a safe and healthy environment for all members of the university community, and this is a welcome recognition for the initiatives that we have put in place thus far.

Our wellness efforts on behalf of our students will be further enhanced following the arrival last week of our new Coordinator of the Wellness Center, Emily Rosenthal, MPH, MSW. Reporting to Student Health and Wellness Center Director Diane Morgenthaler, Emily has been tasked with developing a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to health and wellness education for students, reports Vice President for Student Affairs Tracy Tyree.  

“While we have a lot of great people and offices who focus on the health and wellness of our students,” Tracy says, “Emily will help us provide a more integrated and intentional approach.  It is my hope that she will lead a wellness team consisting of representatives from Student Health, Counseling, Fitness Center, Campus Recreation, Drug and Alcohol Center, Women’s Center, Multicultural/SAGE Center and relevant academic departments who use their collective expertise to shape a longer-term strategy for measurably impacting the well-being of our students. “ 

HELLO AND FAREWELL

Finally, you have just a few more days to extend your best wishes to Executive Vice President James Blake, who leaves us February 1 after stewarding our institution with care, efficiency and integrity during the last 18 years.

Jim’s successor, Mark Rozewski arrives Feb. 17 from the University of Southern Indiana, an institution that mirrors Southern in scale and has a similar emphasis on access and affordability. Please take the opportunity to welcome Mark personally to campus.

December 17, 2014

Posted in Campus Updates on December 17th, 2014

As we reach the end of the fall semester, we look forward to celebrating our students’ accomplishments at Thursday’s commencement ceremonies for undergraduates (2 p.m.) and graduates (7 p.m.) in the Lyman Center.

As we congratulate our students, we can also be proud of our own efforts in helping them achieve their goals, particularly in light of the fiscal and other challenges that we have faced in recent times. Your commitment to student success is admirable, and I thank you all for your many contributions.

As we did last year, we will hold a university holiday celebration in January, when the pace of campus life is a little less hectic! In the meantime, I wish you a happy, peaceful and relaxing holiday season with your family and friends.

NATIONAL RECOGNITION FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE

The recipients of the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll have been announced, and I am very pleased to report that Southern has received recognition in two categories: General Community Service and Education Community Service. 

Launched in 2006, this national honor highlights the role colleges and universities play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement. Each year, the President of the United States recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful, measureable outcomes in the communities they serve.

This is the third time that Southern has been named to the Honor Roll; the previous occasions were in 2008 and 2009. This year’s application highlighted the following exemplary projects: 

For the Education Community Service award:

•          Gear Up-Reach Up

•          Southern Academy

•          Jumpstart

For the General Community Service award:

•          Southern Athletics Community Service Cup

•          Adopt-A-Family Food and toiletry drive

•          Ronald D. Herron Day of Service

As a public university, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to impact positively the civic and economic health of our state and our nation. Southern has stepped up to the challenge of supporting our community in any way that we can, and I am very proud of the efforts of our students, faculty and staff in helping to solve local problems. 

A long-standing example of our community commitment was held on Sunday, when more than 100 students and a team of staff volunteers joined the New Haven Police Activities League to collect and distribute toys to 1,200 city children at the Lyman Center. The annual Friends of Rudolph event has been held since the early 1990s and is a wonderful way for our students to perform community service, interact with local children and deliver a slice of joy during this holiday season. Congratulations to student affairs, residence life, university police and other campus groups for coordinating this fun-filled event.

NEW FISCAL LEADER

As I announced last week, we have found a worthy successor to our long-time Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, James Blake. Mr. Mark Rozewski is currently the Vice President for Finance and Administration at the University of Southern Indiana (USI), a state university of about 10,000 students. The Evansville, Ind.-based institution mirrors Southern in scale and has a similar emphasis on access and affordability.

During the last decade at USI, Mark has held a broad and deep portfolio, including oversight of accounting and finance; facilities planning; campus security; human resources; student housing and financial aid. His record as a strong, experienced and innovative fiscal planner will serve us well during a period of continued financial uncertainty for our university.

I thank Dr. Frank Tavares and his search committee for their excellent efforts in selecting a high-quality group of finalists for this important position. And I again extend our gratitude to Jim Blake, who has stewarded our institution with care, efficiency and integrity through 18 years of challenge, turbulence and transformation. Jim will be leaving us on Feb. 1 and we have all benefited immensely from his able guidance and deep experience.

Like Jim, Mark is not a newcomer to higher education, having begun his career in the Office of Physical and Capital Planning at Rutgers University nearly 30 years ago. Mark spent two decades at Rutgers, starting at the central Brunswick campus, where he rose to the position of Director of the Office of Physical and Capital Planning. Later, he served as Associate Provost for Finance and Administration at the Camden campus for nearly 10 years. During his time at Rutgers, Mark gained a great deal of experience in campus facilities development and, latterly, managing in collective bargaining environments.

In 2005, Mark moved west to Evansville, where he led the development of a campus master plan to support an eventual doubling in enrollment. This effort included the completion of a new library, a business and engineering building, a fitness center addition and a theater. He worked to realign employee benefits, in consultation with the campus community, and introduced a new retirement plan for support staff. And he developed initiatives aimed at preserving the institution’s affordability while providing needed resources to offset declining state support.

Mark holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Rutgers and a B.A. in urban studies/planning from the same institution. He is looking forward to returning to Connecticut, where he began his career as a research assistant at the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority in Hartford.

We are indeed fortunate to have identified and attracted a professional of Mark’s experience, knowledge, integrity, and strategic planning and fiscal management skills. I have no doubt that he will transition seamlessly to Southern, while bringing his own special flavor to the next stage of our university’s development. Please take the opportunity to welcome him personally to campus when he joins us on Feb. 16.

FACULTY RECOGNITION

 A well-deserved recognition for long-serving Exercise Science Professor Bob Axtell came when the New England Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine’s (NEACSM) executive committee voted to name the organization’s undergraduate scholarship in his name.

Bob has been teaching at Southern since 1984 and has been involved with NEACSM Leadership for nearly 25 years, including the presidency from 1994-97 and regional chapter representative from 1998-2001.  Now the coordinator of our graduate program in human performance, he has been an exemplary teacher and mentor to scores of undergraduates, many of whom have gone on to earn advanced degrees.

Congratulations to Bob on this notable honor.

ENROLLMENT

In my previous blog post, I mentioned the encouraging upward trends in our early enrollment numbers for fall 2015, at both graduate and undergraduate levels. While these trends are continuing, the outlook for spring 2015 is not as positive, as we face a potential 1.3 percent decline in overall enrollment, mainly due to students transferring or dropping out. 

Certainly, there is still time for the spring scenario to improve. However, it does beg the larger question: Why are students leaving – or not coming to – Southern, in significant numbers?

I have already mentioned our enhanced efforts in recruitment and marketing, which appear to be bearing fruit as we look toward next fall. However, now is the time to take a serious look internally, to make the university “less difficult to be successful in” for our current students. In short, we need to start identifying, and then modifying or removing, the policies and practices that are tripping them up.

Our Student Success initiatives, including enhanced advisement, more co-curricular opportunities for sophomores and transfer students, and increased emphasis on academic skills building will certainly help retention. However, these are new initiatives, and we must collectively examine our existing practices and decide if they are a help, or a hindrance, to student progress.

With a 2 percent decline in the available pool of Connecticut high school graduates, recruitment is going to remain a competitive process for the foreseeable future. With this in mind, the emphasis must not only be on bringing students in, but also on assuming responsibility for helping them make the smoothest possible progress all the way to graduation.

FIFTEEN TO FINISH

Finding new ways to improve graduation and retention rates nationally was the central theme at the Complete College America conference in Miami, Fla., that I attended recently with a delegation of Connecticut state legislators and higher education officials.

Against the specter of spiraling student loan debt, more colleges are adopting the 15 to Finish program – a campaign that provides incentives for students to take 15 credits per semester to graduate in four years. Studies have shown that students who earn 15 credits a semester – or a combination that equals 15 including summer classes – are more likely to finish college on time, earn better grades and have higher completion rates. As part of this process, students taking English and Math courses in their first year of college are also more likely to graduate on time.

Graduating in four years alleviates the need for additional tuition and housing costs – and therefore, more loan debt. And it gives students the option to enter the workforce and begin their career, move on to graduate school or take time off to travel or perform volunteer service.

Of course, non-traditional students may find that 15 credit hours are more than they can handle both financially and academically. So the key again, as I stated earlier, is to make the path to a degree clearer and achievable.

As we know, the accessibility of evening, weekend and online courses is important to working students. Planning and high-quality advisement are also crucial:  for example, in states such as Florida and Tennessee, colleges are developing “meta pathways,” using information such as past performance in high school to recommend programs of study to students that match their skills and interests and help refine their academic and career goals.

With this information, students work with their advisors to choose from an initial set of broad academic pathways that lead to specific academic programs. First-year students select a “meta major” in a broad area — such as STEM, arts and humanities, social sciences, health care, business, or education — and then narrow into a more specific major — such as chemistry, nursing or early childhood education.

Clearly, innovative thinking is the key to helping more students enter college and stay the course to complete their degree in a timely, goal-oriented and cost-effective manner. And with the CSCU Board of Regents recent policy requiring a 120-credit maximum on bachelor’s degree programs, it is time to seek more effective ways to help our students achieve their academic goals without conceding the rigor of a quality education.

 COMMITTING TO GROW STEM NUMBERS

On Dec. 4, I had the pleasure to join hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders at the White House, where President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden announced new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college. The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the president’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to assist students across the country in helping the nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.  

Participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion; creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness; investing in high school counselors as part of the first lady’s Reach Higher initiative; and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Our commitment at Southern is to increase the number and quality of students graduating in the STEM disciplines, and in particular, to ensuring the preparation of effective K-12 STEM teachers. To this end, we aim to increase our graduation rate in STEM degrees by 35 percent and STEM teachers with initial certification by 25 percent over the next 10 years.

To achieve these student gains, we will focus primarily on three areas:

  •  K-12 student success in STEM disciplines through a teacher preparation program and associated initiatives. This will include enhancing STEM education for low-income, female and underrepresented minority students at the university level. Our efforts will focus on transforming the preparation of 21st century teachers by integrating STEM into various programs, including elementary education and school leadership programs.
  •  Our newly formed Office for STEM Innovation and Leadership, led by Director Christine Broadbridge, will generate opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to experience innovative research projects in STEM education, with the aim of translating this research into effective practices, particularly in urban contexts.
  • We will also expand our urban initiatives, including the mentoring of undergraduates to enhance their awareness of how to address the challenges of teaching in high-need schools. In addition, we will work to prepare students for success in business and industry, as well as graduate education and leadership in research and teaching at the university level.    

Enhanced success in STEM degree completion at the university level is a significant component of our broader student success initiatives, which strive to enhance retention and graduation rates across the university. Therefore, we are committed to graduating a diverse population of students with the skills and knowledge needed to compete and lead in the high-tech, STEM-oriented 21st century economy both locally and globally.     

President Obama will soon announce new steps on how his administration is helping to support these actions, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion, and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. Today, just 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile, according to the White House.

NEW TEACHER-TRAINING PARTNERSHIP

Our School of Education has joined Yale University’s Comer School Development Program and the New Haven Public Schools in a new partnership designed to improve teacher training. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich., recently awarded a $600,000 grant for the creation of the Collaborative for Developmentally Centered Education at Yale, and as part of this initiative, our students will take part in professional development workshops in Elm City classrooms.

Michael Ben-Avie, our director of assessment, says that previously these opportunities were limited to New Haven teachers. The benefit of this new collaboration is that our students will now be participants in the workshops, which will focus on coordination of child development. Michael says these activities will help our teachers-in-training “assess why students are not learning, and whether the problems are social, physical, cognitive, language-based, psychological or ethical.”

 Parallel to this effort, our School of Education will also be teaching a new course in the spring to apply this newly gained developmental knowledge. Combined with the new workshop program, this will help us better prepare our students to understand the needs of child and adolescent development.

 GRANT AWARDS

In more good news from the School of Education, we learned last week that a group of our students received approximately $100,000 from the Connecticut Board of Higher Education in Minority Teacher Incentive grants.  Nineteen Southern students received grants of $5,000 per year for up to two years.

The award also includes a loan stipend component, which they can use to help pay down any outstanding student loan debt they may have after graduation. The stipends are worth up to $2,500 a year for up to four years with certain stipulations. 

 Congratulations to the student recipients and to the faculty who nominated them for this competitive and valuable incentive program.

RESPONDING TO EBOLA

At the request of New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, I have been named an honorary chair of an emergency committee – Citizens to Drive Out Ebola – to help oversee a campaign to raise funds to supply Sierra Leone with vans and medical supplies.

As you may know, Freetown, Sierra Leone, has been a Sister City to New Haven since 1997. This special relationship places our city in a unique position to help drive Ebola out of West Africa.

The city received a request for aid from the Government of Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation. With entire families wiped out and inadequate and limited facilities to isolate and treat the sick, the country is completely dependent upon foreign assistance for its beleaguered healthcare system.

 The committee’s goal is to raise a minimum of $100,000 by Jan. 31, 2015, to purchase and send cargo transit vans to be used and up-fitted as ambulances and stocked with medical supplies. Donations to the fund may be made at: https://fundly.com/citizens-to-drive-out-ebola

On a side note, last week the first event in a new conversation series featuring Southern faculty discussing current cultural and social topics was held at our downtown location, Southern on the Green. In “Ebola: Facts, Fears and The Front Line,” John Nwangwu, professor of epidemiology, and Kathleen Skoczen, chair of anthropology, detailed what it is like to work on the front lines of the Ebola epidemic and explored the social and cultural impacts at home. John shared his first-hand experience working as a consultant for the World Health Organization in West Africa, where he and his team investigated the Ebola virus disease outbreak and provided control strategies to the government. Kathleen discussed the social, economic and political dimensions of Ebola.

A good attendance of almost 30 people attended the event on a rainy night – an excellent way to showcase the talents of our faculty to the broader community. Future conversations on global ideas in a local context are planned for 2015, including “Cyber Security Trends: The Anatomy of a Hack,” and “Limits to Labels: Are Eco-Labels like ‘Organic’ and ‘Fair Trade’ Working?” You’ll find more information at: http://www.southernct.edu/southern-on-the-green/social-series.html, or if you have ideas for future events, contact Southern on the Green Coordinator Alice Selverian at selveriana1@southernct.edu or (203) 641-8437.

November 14, 2014

Posted in Campus Updates on November 14th, 2014

I begin this blog with excellent news regarding the School of Education.  We have received notice that the School earned a full, five-year reaccreditation from The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)’s Continuous Improvement Commission at its October 29 meeting in Bethesda, MD.  CAEP’s Continuous Improvement Commission reviewed 64 institutions nationwide under the standards of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), which is now part of CAEP. 

We are very pleased that our professional education unit was among those institutions receiving full accreditation without conditions, and we look forward to further enhancing our program in the spirit of the continuous improvement model that is at the heart of successful teacher preparation programs.

As part of this commitment, we continue to make progress in addressing the areas of improvement identified by the state Board of Education when it granted our education programs probationary approval earlier this fall. While collecting and analyzing data is a time-consuming process, we firmly believe that everything will be complete, and the matter fully resolved, within the next 12 months.

I thank Dean Stephen Hegedus for his leadership, and the School of Education’s faculty and staff for their dedication to maintaining our School’s time-honored standards of excellence. Southern has been the frontrunner in teacher education in our state for the last 120 years, and our graduates will continue to teach and lead in Connecticut’s schools.

ENROLLMENT

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, the University’s biggest challenge this year is building our enrollment.  University-wide, focused efforts, including new initiatives to expand our recruitment sphere, are well under way.

For example, we have launched a new, targeted recruitment communication campaign to 35,000 prospective students from Connecticut and neighboring states whose academic profiles identify them as ideal applicants for Southern.  Our efforts to attract a more geographically diverse student body also extend overseas – Provost Bette Bergeron and Director of International Education Erin Heidkamp have recently returned from a successful trip to China, where they visited five institutions with a view to establishing student and faculty exchange programs.

Closer to home, the October Open Houses for both prospective undergraduates and graduate students were well-attended events that allowed our faculty, staff and current students to demonstrate first-hand the quality and value of a Southern education.

And while we are still early in the admission cycle, indications point to progress toward increases in both undergraduate and graduate enrollment for 2015. This prospect is supported in part by the new streamlined application process available through our adoption of the Common App.

Revised scheduling and targeted marketing for Winter Session is also paying dividends, with more than 625 registrations in the first week alone. Students are responding to the excellent array of choices offered by our faculty – 67 sections of coursework, 41 of which are online.

I thank all of those involved in our targeted enrollment efforts for their innovative thinking and teamwork in furthering this critical cross-campus initiative.

STRATEGIC PLAN

Following the Town Hall gathering on Oct. 24, members of the Steering Committee are now meeting with various groups on campus to receive feedback about the draft plan. I have also been meeting with stakeholders in the off-campus community to get their input on our current draft. Marianne Kennedy, associate vice president for academic affairs, reports that so far, reactions to the plan have been positive overall and some very useful suggestions have been received.

In December, the committee will be considering all the feedback and making some changes to the plan as a result. In January 2015, we will start fleshing out the plan in terms of action steps, metrics, persons responsible, timelines and resources needed. The campus community will again be invited to review and provide input.

LEARNING OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT

Southern is one of 68 institutions in nine states to participate in a new project by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) documenting how well students are achieving key learning outcomes in areas such as quantitative reasoning, written communication and critical thinking. Faculty members across the 68 institutions are sampling and assessing students work using a set of common rubrics and in doing so establishing the reliability and validity of cross-institutional assessment.

The Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment is supported in its initial year by funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is part of AAC&U’s ongoing Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE) initiative, which has already seen 16 assessment rubrics developed and tested by teams of faculty and other education professionals.

More than 2,000 colleges, universities and community colleges nationwide, including Southern, are using VALUE rubrics to assess student work.

BRINGING THE OUTSIDE IN

The School of Business recently hosted 350 high school students from around the state who are interested in majoring in accounting. Partnering with the School for this on-campus event were the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants (CSCPA), our admissions staff and accounting faculty.

In addition to being informative for the students in attendance, the event also gave the School of Business an opportunity to showcase its accounting curriculum. The accounting concentration is designed to prepare students for careers as professional accountants, and non-business majors can minor in accounting. In addition, we now offer a new Certificate in Accounting program for individuals interested in pursuing a career in accounting who currently hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college in a discipline other than accounting. This program has been developed in response to the tremendous demand for CPAs in the state of Connecticut.

This conference was a wonderful example of community impact and engagement, allied with workforce responsiveness.

In a similar vein, the 31st annual SCSU High School Journalism Day was held Oct. 24 at the Michael J. Adanti Student Center. About 300 high school students from across the state attended, hearing about the industry from several working journalists and professors of journalism.

Darren Sweeney, NBC meteorologist and journalist, was the keynote speaker. The program examined censorship of high school newspapers. It also included workshops with topics including: finding story ideas, public relations, source selection, digital media tools, high school press freedom, sports journalism, reporting on racially sensitive topics and social media reporting

And looking forward, on Nov. 21 and 22 the university will host the Fall meeting of the Northeastern section of the Mathematical Association of America, bringing more than 200 people to campus from community colleges and four-year institutions from throughout New England.

Mathematics Professor Joe Fields reports that activities during the meeting will include a student math competition in which almost 100 undergraduates will work – voluntarily! – on difficult math problems for two hours straight. There will also be workshops and presentations from well-known experts in the field as well as undergraduate students. Southern’s Math Club members are currently engaged in building an icosahedron – a gargantuan, three-dimensional geometric sculpture, to mark the event.

NOTABLE SPEAKERS

Another means of engaging with the wider community is through the continuous array of intellectual and cultural activities that we provide on campus. Earlier this week we had two excellent examples. At noon on Monday, during a forum marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, former U.S. Diplomat Nicholas Burns and a faculty panel spoke about this seminal event and its repercussions, which are still being felt today as we linger on the precipice of another Cold War. Burns played a key role in discussions about Berlin and Germany as a member of the U.S. State Department in 1989. The forum, coordinated by the Office of Public Affairs, drew more than 300 attendees, half of them high school students and teachers from Seymour, Shelton, Cheshire and New Haven.

Later Monday, our Research Center on Computing and Society presented an address by James H. Moor, the Daniel P. Stone Professor in Intellectual and Moral Philosophy at Dartmouth College and a leading expert on ethics and artificial intelligence. Dr. Moore’s book, “The Turing Test: The Elusive Standard of Artificial Intelligence,” is recognized as a standard in this cutting-edge field.

And coming up, Wally Lamb, one of America’s most notable authors, will visit Lyman Center at 7 p.m. on Dec. 4 for a special screening of the film version of his best-selling novel “Wishin’ and Hopin’.”  Lamb will speak prior to the screening with Andrew Gernhard, a 1999 Southern alumnus, who produced the film along with his Synthetic Cinema International co-owners and fellow alums Richard Lucas ’71 and Bonnie Farley-Lucas ’87, our director of faculty development and professor of communication. The screenplay is by another alum, John Doolan, ’09, giving this event a true Southern flavor!  All proceeds will benefit the SCSU Scholarship Fund: http://tickets.southernct.edu/eventperformances.asp?evt=771

SOUTHERN READS

Professor of English Tim Parrish’s reading/Q&A this week about his memoir, “Fear and What Follows,” served as the capstone event in a semester-long series of conversations, films, workshops, and other discussions around the book, which was this year’s Southern Reads selection.

As most of you know, the Southern Reads book is chosen by a volunteer group of students, faculty and staff to be given to all incoming freshmen and any other interested parties at Southern. Many First-Year Inquiry (INQ) courses were built around this text, along with campus presentations on topics ranging from PTSD, masculinity and social justice.

Tim has also been visiting several first-year classes and reports that his conversations with this diverse group have been “truly astonishing.” “Fear and What Follows” is the first book by a Southern faculty member to be chosen for the Southern Reads program; previous books have included Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir, last year’s selection.

CAREER ENRICHMENT FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS

Southern is now the presenting sponsor for the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce’s young professionals’ organization, PULSE. PULSE is a networking group of more than 500 young people representing a variety of industries and occupations. Administered by the Chamber, it is guided by a steering committee of young professionals.

Throughout the year, this organization hosts a range of social events and networking events, CEO roundtable discussions, educational seminars and community service projects: (http://www.gnhcc.com/pages/EventsOverview/).

As a benefit of our sponsorship, any Southern employee between the ages of 21 and 40 may join PULSE for free.  As a member, you will be able to attend a happy hour and concert that will be held today (Friday, Nov. 14) at the Toyota Oakdale Theatre.  If you are interested in joining, please contact Steve Marcelynas at marcelynass1@southernct.edu

Attracting and retaining young, energetic professionals is vital to the growth and success of New Haven – and Southern. I encourage qualifying members of our faculty and staff to take advantage of this exciting opportunity for career and personal enrichment.

CONNECT WITH SOUTHERN ANYWHERE

Now you can stay connected with Southern, even on the go, with the new SCSU Mobile, which is currently available for the iPhone (iOS7 or later). 

The new SCSU Mobile app was developed by the Office of Public Affairs for students, faculty, staff and visitors to provide access to important information from their mobile devices.  It provides instant access to a suite of helpful features including the university calendar, faculty/staff/office directory, a shuttle bus tracker, campus news, emergency contacts, dining hall menus and other general information about Southern. 

The app will continue to be enhanced based on future needs, and a version for Android users is now under development. For more information and a link to download the app, visit SouthernCT.edu/mobile.

OFFICE OF DIVERSITY AND EQUITY

Chief of Staff Jaye Bailey is overseeing the Office of Diversity and Equity while a search is conducted for a new director to replace Pamela Lassiter, now serving as the New York City Fire Department’s first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

Brenda Harris, a recently-retired, long-time affirmative action officer with the state Department of Social Services will handle daily operations for the office, which will be fully staffed throughout the week.  Brenda will be assisting with searches, responding to complaints and answering general questions.  She may be reached at ext. 25899 or at harrisb7@southernct.edu

Dean of Students Jules Tetreault will serve as interim Title IX Coordinator. He may be reached at ext. 25556 or at tetreaultj4@southernct.edu

Vice President for Student Affairs Tracy Tyree will assume responsibility for the President’s Commission on Campus Climate and Inclusion, which will continue its work this year. Members will receive notice of the next meeting date shortly from Dr. Tyree. Meanwhile, Diversity and Equity programming will continue through the Multicultural Center.

 ATHLETICS

 Our men’s basketball team, ranked second in the nation in a number of leading polls, earned a great deal of admiration for its play during a narrow loss last week to the national Division I champion University of Connecticut. Perhaps the most telling comment came from UConn Head Coach Kevin Ollie, who stated that, based on their performance in the friendly encounter, the Owls would beat many Division I opponents. It promises to be an exciting season for Head Coach Mike Donnelly and his team as they seek to build on their record-breaking achievements of 2013-14, when the team reached the Elite Eight in the NCAA Division II Championships for just the second time in program history. They also won their first-ever Northeast-10 Conference regular season and tournament titles on the back of a school-record 19-game winning streak.

While basketball season is just beginning, our men’s soccer team has earned an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since the 2010 season. The Owls have a proud history, winning a record six Division II national championships, with 32 NCAA Tournament appearances. The current team, which reached the NE-10 tournament final this past weekend, was ranked as high as fifth nationally this season after opening the season with five straight victories.

Congratulations to Coach Tom Lang and his players for their achievements thus far. Come out and cheer them on this Sunday when they play the winner of Merrimack vs. Philadelphia at Jess Dow Field at 1 p.m.

We will conclude the semester in five weeks with our December Commencement ceremonies on Dec. 18 – at 2 p.m. for undergraduates and 7 p.m. for graduate students. Before then, we celebrate Thanksgiving, and I wish you a happy and relaxing holiday in the company of your family and friends.