The end of the academic year is approaching quickly, with commencement in just three weeks! This is the time of the semester when all of us are trying to catch a breath as we run events, complete research papers, grade finals and balance year-end budgets. But as graduation nears, this is also a time to reflect on our commitment to student success and a job well done. Every student who crosses the stage to receive his or her diploma is a reflection of the efforts of each and every one of you – and on behalf of our soon-to-be graduates, I thank you for your many contributions to their achievements.
Spring is also a time of big events. Last Monday, despite the rain, we celebrated a joyous ribbon-cutting ceremony for Buley Library. The fact that the event was held indoors somehow made it even more poignant – with the glorious Tiffany windows and students studying in the background as the speaking program proceeded in the Learning Commons. It was wonderful to have more than a dozen members of the Buley family present on this special day, which marked not only the completion of the library renovations, but also paid tribute to the legacy of President Hilton C. Buley, an innovative educator whose vision led to the construction of the library that bears his name.
As we all know, the completion of the renovation project was a long time in coming, requiring a great deal of meticulous planning and thought. On behalf of the campus community, I thank the members of Southern’s facilities team, especially Bob Sheeley, Associate Vice President for Capital Budgeting & Facilities Operations and Paul Loescher, Director of Facilities Planning and Architectural Services. Executive Vice Presidents Jim Blake (recently retired) and Mark Rozewski, also have provided key leadership to the project.
And kudos, too, to Director of Library Services Christina Baum and her team, who have been models of patience as they have moved into the new wing of the building and now back to the renovated original library while the renovation work took its course.
OTHER NOTABLE EVENTS
Also this past Monday, the 17th edition of the Mary and Louis Fusco Distinguished Lecture featured a compelling conversation with New York Yankees legends Joe Torre and Mariano Rivera. The discussion, moderated by ESPN’s Linda Cohn, was heartfelt and insightful and the speakers clearly connected with the sold-out Lyman Center audience. Messrs. Torre and Rivera were also engaging and, in a special moment, gathered with members of our baseball and softball teams prior to the event.
Friday we held a special reception in Buley Library to mark the opening of Ashfall, an art exhibit by Robert Barsamian that tells the stories of the victims of the Armenian genocide. The observance of the centennial of the genocide was marked worldwide by events on Friday and during the weekend. At Southern, we also marked the centennial with a SCSU Symphonic Band concert featuring Armenian folk music last Thursday, and a recital the following evening by guest musicians Anna Hayrapetyan and Tatev Amiryan, featuring pieces connected specifically with the Genocide theme by Armenian composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. A special thanks to Dr. Craig Hlavac, chair of Southern’s music department, for his work with our students and our special guests to bring these concerts to life.
Our university’s commitment to social justice is very much animated by the recognition of man’s inhumanity to man. The centenary of the Armenian Genocide gives us pause to recall the mass suffering that occurred at that time and at other periods throughout history. I have emphasized these points during several public appearances during the last week, including remarks at the Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day – gathering at the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven and an address sponsored by the United Nations – Connecticut organization at the Kent, CT, Town Hall. By remembering the past, we can work to build a better future for all.
While the Friday Ashfall reception and related events drew members of the surrounding community, the exhibit itself has been seen by a number of student groups and classes during the past week and will continue to be available for public viewing through early July (weekdays 1-4 p.m., or by special arrangement).
Capping the week was the annual Big Event, a campus-wide service initiative in which the we come together to support New Haven and surrounding communities. On Saturday, hundreds of our students, faculty and staff volunteered their time and effort for local non-profit organizations, agencies, and other groups in need of assistance – the type of initiative that has three times seen the university recognized on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
And of course, we are not finished yet. This weekend we celebrate the accomplishments of our most accomplished students at Honors Convocation, while recognizing our donors and scholarship recipients at the annual Celebration of Philanthropy.
BIOTECHNOLOGY PARTNERSHIP WITH NEW HAVEN
This coming Monday (May 4), Mayor Toni Harp and I 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, formally known as the Bioscience Career Ladder, 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 Innovation and Leadership and our commitment to increasing the number and quality of students graduating in the STEM disciplines.
Please join me on Monday at 10:30 a.m. in front of Engleman Hall (the Fitch Street entrance) as we celebrate this exciting new partnership.
Our April 11 Accepted Students’ Day was highly successful, with more than 690 prospective students attending and 140 making tuition deposits on the day (compared with 114 last year). The attendance was all the more impressive considering the University of Connecticut and our sister institution, Central Connecticut State University, held similar events the same day.
Congratulations to our admissions and student affairs staff, along with the faculty, administrators and staff from various departments who highlighted our academic programs, student support services and campus activities for our guests and and their families.
Boosted by the Common App, our application numbers remain strong, and we are continuing to stay ahead of last year’s pace in freshman enrollment. While we are making good progress toward our fall goals, we still have a long way to go and we must continue our concerted efforts to ensure that the final yield meets or exceeds our projections.
GREEN CAMPUS NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED
Southern is once again one of the 353 most environmentally responsible colleges in the nation, according to The Princeton Review (www.PrincetonReview.com). The education services company known for its test prep and tutoring services, books, and college rankings features Southern in the 2015 edition of its free book, “The Princeton Review Guide to 353 Green Colleges.”
Published April 16, a few days before the April 22, 2015, celebration of Earth Day, the free, 218-page guide can be downloaded at www.princetonreview.com/green-guide. The Princeton Review chose the schools for this sixth annual edition of its “green guide” based on data from the company’s 2014 survey of hundreds of four-year colleges concerning the schools’ commitments to the environment and sustainability.
In the “Green Facts” section on Southern, the guide cites the university’s available transportation alternatives such as indoor and secure bike storage; shower facilities and lockers for bicycle commuters; free or reduced price transit passes and a free campus shuttle; a carpool/vanpool matching program and a car sharing program. It also cites our 15 percent of school energy from renewable resources; 28 percent waste diversion rate; formal sustainability committee and sustainability officer, and the fact that 100 percent of new campus construction is LEED certified.
Congratulations to our sustainability committee, our facilities team and all of those whose dedication to conservation efforts on campus have garnered us deserved national attention.
Recently, we recognized the recipients of the university’s most prestigious faculty awards (see list of awardees below) at our annual Celebration of Excellence. Our faculty members are truly vibrant, immersed in research, creative activity, teaching, and service and inspiring and mentoring our students. Their talents are also recognized in the wider community, as evidenced by these two recent examples:
Gary Morin, Professor of Exercise Science and Director of our Athletic Training Education Program, has been elected to the Connecticut Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame. Gary will be inducted during the business meeting at the CATA Annual Symposium on May 21.
The Connecticut Athletic Trainers’ Association (CATA) strives to improve the quality of health care for athletes, patients and clients and enhance the profession of athletic training, through leadership, education, and cooperative efforts with other organizations and allied health professions.
This award for lifetime achievement honors dedicated members that have contributed to athletic training by their leadership, service, scholarship, promotion of the profession and professionalism at the local, state, district and national level. A Hall of Fame candidate exemplifies the mission statement of the CATA by their conduct and advancement of the profession.
Arthur Guagliumi, Professor of Art, has been named the Connecticut Art Education Association’s (CAEA) Outstanding Higher Education Art Educator for 2015. CAEA is the state’s largest professional organization representing Connecticut’s visual art and museum educators from all levels, and Art was recognized at an April 26 award ceremony in Farmington.
Criteria for the award include demonstrated outstanding teaching and leadership in the field of art education; research, publication, or exhibition that contributes to the body of knowledge of the field at the local, state or national level; a demonstrated local, state or national reputation in the area of art education; and development of an outstanding program in the field at the local, state or national level
Kudos to both Art and Gary! Their well-earned recognition also shines the light on their respective disciplines at Southern and the university as a whole.
And in case you missed earlier notifications, here are the award recipients from the Celebration of Excellence held April 15:
- Joan Finn Junior Faculty Research Fellowship — Michael Fisher, biology, and Elyse Zavar, geography
- Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship — Kenneth McGill, anthropology
- Technological Teacher of the Year Award — Elizabeth Lewis Roberts, biology
- Robert Jirsa Service Award — Deborah Weiss, communication disorders
- Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award — Marie Basile McDaniel, history
- Board of Regents Teaching Award for SCSU — Marie Basile McDaniel, history, and Donald Brechlin, mathematics
- Board of Regents Research Award for SCSU — Chulguen (Charlie) Yang, management
- Faculty Scholar Award — Troy Paddock, history
- J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teacher — Julia Irwin, psychology, and Jess Gregory, educational leadership
- Million Dollar Club Inductee — Joy Fopiano, elementary education.
Congratulations to all these recipients for their achievements and commitment to academic excellence.
STRATEGIC PLAN STATUS
Representatives of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee met with many campus constituency groups during April and received anonymous feedback on the latest draft through the web site. This was the second round of feedback (the first was solicited in the fall).
The Steering Committee is now considering all the feedback received during April and plans to have an updated draft available for one more round of comments around May 8. This document will be posted on the web, and anonymous feedback may be provided once again via the web site from May 8-22.
The goal is to deliver the plan for review by me and the Cabinet by the end of May, with implementation set to begin July 1.
HUMAN RESOURCES and ODE MOVES
Due to the hiring freeze that is currently in place, several employees have agreed to take on temporary roles to cover critical functions during this time.
Paula Rice is now the interim Director of Diversity and Equity, with responsibilities including assisting with searches, developing the Affirmative Action Plan, handling complaints and overseeing ADA compliance. Paula may be reached at ext. 25568 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean of Students Jules Tetreault will continue in his current role as interim Title IX coordinator through the summer. Jules may be reached at ext. 25556 or at email@example.com
Marlene Cordero will serve as interim Human Resources Administrator, overseeing all aspects of hiring and personnel-related issues for faculty, administration and management employees. Marlene may be reached at ext. 25537 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Just a reminder that Southern is a major sponsor of the Greater New Haven Heart Walk, which will be held this Saturday, May 2 at 10 a.m. at Savin Rock, West Haven.
I hope that you will join me and show your Southern colors during this 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
One of our 2015 Barnard Scholars, Daniel Elliot, an exercise science major, is a seven-time Northeast-10 Conference champion as a member of the swimming and diving team, and served as team captain this year. He also is an Academic All-American.
But it was as a New York State Ocean Life Guard for four years that Dan’s life changed. In that role, he saved the lives of more than 200 people. Ironically, it was a situation in which he could not rescue someone that was the turning point.
During Hurricane Bertha in August 2014, he suffered a major spinal injury while trying to rescue someone stranded away from shore. The injury could have taken his life, or at least, left him with serious deficiencies in his motor skills. But Dan has recovered completely, which has amazed his doctor.
He was an outstanding swimmer for the Owls’ men’s swimming and diving team before sustaining the injury. Following his graduation next month, he plans to earn a master’s degree in occupational therapy in a two-year program at Columbia University. WFSB-TV ran a story on Dan Thursday: http://www.wfsb.com/story/28921564/scsu-student-looks-forward-to-graduation-after-life-changing-injury, a fitting tribute to an outstanding young man.
I hope that you will join me to celebrate our students’ accomplishments at our commencement ceremonies on May 14 (graduate, Lyman Center) and May 15 (undergraduate, Webster Bank Arena). This year’s undergraduate ceremony will feature the award of an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters to critically acclaimed author and Southern alumnus John Searles ’91, and a commencement address by Heather Abbott, an amputee and survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. I am sure that Ms. Abbott’s presence and words will be an inspiration to us all.