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.
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.
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.
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).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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