As we move into the heart of summer, our campus is alive with New Student Orientation programs, which will continue through July and August. During the sessions that I have attended, I have been impressed by the breadth and diversity of programming and the extent to which each and every new student is made to feel welcome. Developing these events has required significant commitment from many members of the campus community, and I thank all who have participated, in particular Sal Rizza, Director of New Student and Sophomore Programs, and his team.
The campus is also being prepared physically to welcome these new students come the fall. Along with the completion of the new Academic and Laboratory Science Building, which should be ready for occupancy in August, 16 classrooms in Davis and Engleman halls are being renovated and refurnished with a new, higher standard of furniture for the start of classes, as phase one of an annual classroom renovation project. Behind the scenes, there are several information technology infrastructure enhancement projects underway, including classroom wifi and technology upgrades and a complete replacement of the university network, including massive bandwidth improvements.
Looking ahead to the new academic year, we continue to monitor the budget outlook, which remains fluid. We have already had some funds restored but then a portion of that was removed via rescission. While there is potential for more funding restoration, we are well aware that there were three rescissions during the last fiscal year, meaning that it is essential that we maintain our reserves as best we can.
Much will depend on the outcome of our fall enrollment, as our budget is predicated on a flat count. Currently, our freshman entering class remains strong, and thanks to the excellent efforts of Admissions Director Alexis Haakonsen and her team, we are very close to our goal of 1,400 freshmen. Transfer numbers are also gaining momentum, but we are still seeing a decline in returning students from the sophomore to junior years, adding importance to new initiatives such as the launch of the new Academic Success Center this fall.
On a positive fiscal note, we are ending the year in a very strong position with our private fundraising efforts, which help support a range of areas, including scholarships, undergraduate and faculty research, study abroad programs and equipment needs. Our overall goal for this past year was $2.2 million, and we are currently at $2.4 million, or 110 percent of goal. Cash commitments alone stand at $2.1 million, or 112 percent ahead of this year’s goal of $1.87 million.
Given that we have historically raised an average of $1.54 million during the last decade, this year’s result is a wonderful achievement. Congratulations to Vice President for Institutional Advancement Robert Stamp and his development team.
At the close of each academic year, I and the members of my senior leadership team look carefully at the structure of our academic and support services, making sure that they are aligned to best meet the needs of our mission and our commitment to student success.
This month, we welcomed Dr. Terricita Sass as the university’s new Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management. Terricita will report directly to the Office of the President, reflecting the critical importance of enhancing our enrollment and improving our retention rates. As you know, we have been reconfiguring the Wintergreen Building to consolidate our enrollment management services in one convenient location and promote greater synergies among the respective departments. As part of this effort, the Office of Financial Aid will report to Terricita, returning to an alignment that served the university well under previous administrations.
In other moves, campus Sustainability Coordinator Suzanne Huminski will report to Christine Broadbridge, Director of STEM Initiatives, allowing us to strengthen our community outreach efforts in this key area.
And finally, Greg Paveza, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, has assumed oversight of the library, working with Director of Library Services Christina Baum to ensure that our newly renovated, beautiful multi-faceted library is used to its fullest potential in the coming years.
NATIONAL RECOGNITION FOR SCIENCE CONTRIBUTIONS
We have just received news about a wonderful recognition for several of our faculty, who collectively have been selected by the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement (NCSCE) as a recipient of the 2015 Team William E. Bennett Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Citizen Science.
Southern’s honorees are: Vincent Breslin, Susan Cusato and James Tait, (all science education and environmental studies); Therese Bennett (mathematics); Terese Gemme (music); and Winnie Yu (computer science).
NCSCE is the parent organization for SENCER (Scientific Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities), whose methods and strategies we have pursued on campus during the last decade, offering courses and programs connecting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics content to critical local, national, and global challenges. Students and faculty report that the SENCER approach –introduced to Southern by former Dean of Arts and Sciences DonnaJean Fredeen and enhanced by her successor Steven Breese – makes science more real, accessible, “useful,” and civically important.
Writes Dr. Yu, who is co-director of the SENCER Center for Innovations New England: these efforts have helped us “build prolific academic and professional collaborations in science education and civic engagement in our coursework and research, within and beyond the local and national community.”
Congratulations to all the recipients of this prestigious award for your dedication and commitment to the advancement of science education.
In my previous blog, I mentioned excellent news from the state Capitol, where a statute change was unanimously approved allowing Southern and our sister CSU institutions to offer professional doctoral degrees.
Accomplished after extensive conversation and engagement at the Capitol, this move will further enhance Southern’s ability to meet the developing needs of the 21st-century workforce. And through our outreach efforts, it also presented a welcome opportunity to demonstrate to legislators the valuable and unique role that our institutions play in educating students and supporting economic development in our state and our region.
As you know, we now offer doctoral degrees in educational leadership and nursing education, but due to changes in the educational requirements for employment in numerous other professions and scientific fields, expanding into offering additional advanced professional doctoral degrees is a practical necessity.
Our first clinical doctorate – in social work – has already progressed through internal governance and will soon go to the Board of Regents for final review and approval. This program, and others in health-related fields, holds great potential for growth both here and abroad.
FIRST NURSING DOCTORAL GRADUATE
Recently, Dean Paveza reported that Ms. Linda Roney, MSN, RN-BC, CPEN successfully defended her dissertation and became the first person to be awarded the Ed.D. in Nursing Education in our collaborative doctoral program with Western Connecticut State University. Linda’s dissertation was entitled: “Technology Use, Technology Self-Efficacy and General Self-Efficacy Among Undergraduate Nursing Faculty.”
I echo Greg’s comments in congratulating the faculty of both nursing programs, particularly those who were engaged in the development and implementation of this program. It is the only one of its kind in Connecticut and one of a handful in the United States uniquely designed to prepare nurses for academic faculty roles.
Building on our long-standing tradition of excellence in preparing educators and nurses, the program offers individuals with clinical expertise and a master’s degree in nursing an innovative doctoral experience – one that focuses on the content and skills required to be effective faculty members, to advance the science of nursing education, and to transform the education of future nurses.
Nursing faculty positions are in great demand across the profession. Yet while 13 percent of nurses currently hold graduate degrees, fewer than one percent have a doctoral degree.
We applaud Dr. Roney on her accomplishment and look forward to recognizing her publically at our December Commencement.
A FINANCIAL BOOST FOR NURSING STUDENTS
In related nursing news, congratulations are due to Barbara Aronson, Professor of Nursing, for securing $430,673.00 under the federal Health Resources and Services Administration’s Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP). These funds will enable our Ed.D. and master’s degree students in the nursing program to finance their education with the possibility of excused repayment if they become nurse educators. As Patricia Zibluk, our Director of Sponsored Programs and Research points out, this money will make an enormous difference in the lives of our current students, the health of our community and the education of future generations of nursing graduates.
The purpose of the NFLP program is to increase the number of qualified nursing faculty to facilitate education of the nurses needed to address the nursing workforce shortage. Participating nursing programs make loans from the fund to assist registered nurses in completing their graduate education to become qualified nursing faculty members. The program offers partial loan forgiveness for borrowers that graduate and serve as full-time nursing faculty members for the prescribed period of time. The loan recipients may cancel 85 percent of the loan over four years in return for serving full time as faculty in any accredited school of nursing.
Patricia notes that as a result of this grant, Barbara – who coordinates our Ed.D. in nursing education program – will be inducted into our Million Dollar Club next spring. She has now brought in more than a million dollars to support nursing education. Congratulations to Dr. Aronson and many thanks to Gloria Lee, director of financial aid, for her valuable support of this program.
ENCHANCING HEALTH EDUCATION IN ARMENIA
Earlier this month, I led a delegation of Southern faculty and staff to Armenia to explore ways in which we might support the needs of nursing and healthcare professionals there.
During the visit, which was supported by funding from the Richard David Donchian Foundation of Greenwich, CT, we held talks with representatives from Armenia’s Ministry of Health and leaders in higher education (from the Erebuni Nursing College, Yerevan State University Medical College, the Armenian State Pedagogical University and the American University of Armenia). I also had the opportunity to meet with Armenian President Serzh A. Sargsyan; Galust Sahakyan, president of the National Assembly and His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.
Our Department of Nursing is actively involved in exploring the establishment of an “Armenian Center for the Continued Professional Development of Nurses.” Historically, healthcare education in Armenia has focused primarily on physician care. And as a result, the Armenian healthcare system, while making great strides in the area of physician care, has no formalized degree or certificate track for nursing education, and the demand is significant all over the world as populations age.
Armenia recognizes the need to develop its healthcare infrastructure beyond physician care, as evidenced by reforms in nursing training introduced at the Erebuni nurse-training college founded in partnership with the UCLA Medical Center. Our proposed initiative is intended to support these earlier efforts through collaborative programming that will meet the instructional needs for the preparation of Armenian nurses and healthcare professionals and ensure a forward-looking nursing and allied health curriculum and preparation. In doing so, we also hope to create a formal educational pathway for prospective nurses while significantly impacting the delivery of healthcare in Armenia.
During our highly productive visit, I also delivered a keynote address on “Health, Education, and Civic Welfare in the 21st Century” at the 4th International Armenian Medical Conference in Yerevan, the Armenian capital city, on July 2: http://tinyurl.com/pk4k89b. Southern nursing faculty members Cheryl Resha and Antoinette Towle spoke at a satellite conference on nursing, while Sandra Bulmer, Dean of the School of Health and Human Services, spoke at a meeting on public health issues at the American University of Armenia. Not only are we establishing valuable partnerships abroad but we are sharing our expertise as well!
25 YEARS OF STUDY ABROAD IN SALAMANCA
This summer, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of our study abroad program in Salamanca, Spain, and the work of its organizer, Carlos Arboleda, professor of world languages and literatures. Last week, the Spanish city and universities with which this program has been affiliated over the years hosted a special event attended by Dr. Aboleda, 18 of our students, Dean of Arts and Sciences Steven Breese and Director of International Education Erin Heidkamp: http://tinyurl.com/nb8junf. A follow-up gathering is planned for September on our campus in honor of the several hundred alumni who have expressed interest in marking the anniversary of our longest-running study abroad program with Carlos.
As you know, a key part of our mission as an institution of higher learning is “preparing our local students for global lives,” and each year, a significant number of Southern students study abroad. We recently joined 240 institutions nationwide in the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative to double the number of American students who study abroad by the end of the decade.
Currently, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic careers. With 2.6 million American students graduating with associate or baccalaureate degrees each year, it is clear that major segments of America’s young people are not getting the international experience they will need to advance their careers and to participate in the global economy, or to work together across borders to address global issues. At Southern, we intend to do our part to ensure that students from all backgrounds and in all fields of study have the opportunity to gain this important experience.
Carlos long ago saw the need for students to have such experiences and has said that total immersion in another culture helps the individual not only learn about that society but also gain insight into him or herself. Carlos’ vision and his understanding of the importance of study abroad have set a foundation upon which the university can build.
Already, 2015 has been an outstanding year for international education at Southern. Our familiar facets of international programming – semester and year-long study abroad and faculty-led programs – have increased in enrollment numbers. We also launched new faculty-led programs this year to Italy, Belize, and Peru. This is in addition to eight existing programs in Guatemala, Tuscany, Rome, Iceland, Paris, Jamaica, South Africa – and, of course, Spain.
I thank Carlos for his vision and commitment to international study and congratulate all those involved with the Salamanca program over the years. May this program flourish for many more years to come!
We are also starting to host overseas student groups here. Twenty-three students from Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture are currently on campus for our first International Inbound Program – taking a social work course and participating in cultural activities coordinated by our Office of International Education. We are hoping that this will lead to future collaborations with this and other Chinese institutions of higher education.
WELCOMING NEW AND RETURNING STUDENTS
Orientation sessions may be ongoing, but plans are already in place for the return of our students at the end of August. New Student Opening Weekend (NOW) formally kicks off with Move-In Day on Thursday, Aug. 27. Move-In usually takes place on a weekend (with classes starting on Wednesday or Thursday). But this year, with classes starting on Monday, Aug. 31, there is the opportunity for members of the campus community to join student affairs and residence life staff in welcoming our new first-year students on this special day. This would not involve carrying and lifting, but rather greeting students at the residence halls and conversing with parents at the hospitality tents. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Rob DeMezzo, Director of Residence Life, at email@example.com, ext. 25886.
NOW continues with three days filled with activities for our new students. On Friday, August 28 we will have New Student Convocation at 3 p.m. in the Lyman Center. Then, WOW (the Week of Welcome) follows on Monday, Aug. 31. That day, the President’s annual Ice Cream Social will be held at 1 p.m. outside the Adanti Student Center, preceded by the launch of our Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative at noon in front of Buley Library. There will be a full week of activities to welcome our campus community to Southern for a new academic year. WOW concludes on Saturday, Sept. 5, with the first home football game against Gannon University.
Looking further ahead in the calendar, Social Justice Week is scheduled for November 9-13, hosted by the President’s Commission on Campus Climate and Inclusion. I ask our faculty to think about how they might incorporate related topics in their courses and otherwise promote the events of the week. In light of the tragic events that unfolded recently in Charleston, S.C., Social Justice Week provides a timely and appropriate forum to advance the cause of tolerance and understanding, while reinforcing our campus community’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
STANDOUT ALUM/NUTMEG STATE STAR TO LEAD OWLS BASKETBALL
We had exciting news in athletics during the past two weeks with the introduction of Kate Lynch ’08, as the new head coach of women’s basketball program and then Scott Burrell as head coach of the men’s program.
Kate was the MVP of our 2007 national championship team and the all-time leading scorer in the history of the women’s program.
As Director of Athletics Jay Moran stated at the press conference announcing her appointment: “(Kate) had an indelible impact on this program during her time as a student-athlete, highlighted by a National Championship in 2007. I am confident that her experiences as a student-athlete at SCSU, along with her outstanding coaching acumen, will allow our program to return to national prominence.”
Kate, who was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame last year, has enjoyed success as a coach at the Division I, II and III levels, along with the junior college ranks, since the conclusion of her playing career at Southern. But she says it has always been her dream to return to her alma mater.
We are thankful that she did.
Scott Burrell is a household name in Connecticut, thanks to his accomplishments as an all-round high school athlete in Hamden, his record-breaking basketball career at UConn, and his winning an NBA title with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. But Scott is much more than an accomplished athlete. As he showed during his eight-year stint as assistant coach at Quinnipiac University, he is also about building community relationships and molding student athletes to move on to productive lives beyond basketball.
And of course, Scott has his own ties to Southern, as both his parents are proud alumni – Gertrude ’80, M.S. ‘92 and Sam Burrell ’70, M.S. ‘92. His charismatic presence promises to have a positive impact on our recruiting and extend the achievements of our men’s team, which made strong post-season runs the past two seasons under former head coach Mike Donnelly.
With these two outstanding head coach appointments, it promises to be an exciting season on the hardwood this winter!