May 29, 2015

Posted in Campus Updates on May 29th, 2015

Our recent commencement ceremonies at Lyman Center and Webster Bank Arena were wonderful celebrations of student accomplishment and a job well done by all members of our campus community. At our undergraduate ceremony, students witnessed an exceptional role model in the form of honorary doctoral recipient and critically acclaimed author John Searles ’91, who has credited much of his success to the mentoring he received from Southern faculty.  And our students were inspired by the poignant words and life lessons shared by Heather Abbott, an amputee and survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, who delivered the commencement address. For a retrospective look at our ceremonies, in words, video and pictures, visit: http://go.southernct.edu/scsu2015/

Now we enter the summer months, preparing our budget, finalizing our enrollment numbers, fine-tuning our strategic and master plans and also engaging in a range of activities that will carry the institution forward on a number of fronts. New Student Orientation for both first-year and transfer students is soon to begin, and we also need to think about our individual opportunities to connect with current students throughout the summer to ensure strong retention in the fall. One good way to do that is through our Week of Welcome Activities (more details on that at the end of this blog).

I also hope that you take the opportunity for some much needed rest and relaxation during the coming weeks. This has been a busy year and the forthcoming one already promises challenge and opportunity in equal measure. I thank you for your accomplishments, your innovative ideas and your commitment to the academic and personal success of our students.  

PROFESSIONAL DOCTORATES

There was excellent news from the state Capitol in recent days when the legislature’s Higher Education Committee and the General Assembly both unanimously approved a statute change that – pending Governor Malloy’s signature – will allow Southern and our sister CSU institutions the ability 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.

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 degrees is a practical necessity. 

A number of professions, including social work (DSW), marriage and family therapy (DMFT), speech and language pathology (SLPD), and public health (DPH), have developed professional doctorates 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 the business arena, creating a demand for the Doctor of Science (ScD) degree in many disciplines. 

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.

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.

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, hold great potential for growth both here and abroad, as you will read below.

THINKING GLOBALLY

2015 has already been an outstanding year for international education. 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 (department of recreation and leisure), Belize (department of biology) and Peru (department of nursing). This is in addition to eight existing programs in Guatemala, Tuscany, Rome, Iceland, Spain, Paris, Jamaica and South Africa. Interest in faculty-led programming abroad has never been higher!

By far, the sharpest increase in international programming has been in institutional partnerships. Work undertaken in October 2014 by Provost Bette Bergeron and Erin Heidkamp, director of the Office of International Education, is bearing fruit in the most marvelous ways. Their trip to China led to a follow-up delegation visit by members of the social work department – Todd Rofuth and Bill Rowe – accompanied by Jin Jin Yang of exercise science. As a result, 24 students from Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture will be visiting our campus this July to take a course in social work and gain exposure to clinical environments here in the United States.

Todd and Bill also made a follow-up visit to Central China Normal University to discuss doctoral-level collaborations, which they hope to explore this coming fall semester. Also stemming from the fall trip to China, Tianjin University of Technology will be sending 16 administrators and 10 students to Southern in June for academic and cultural programming. Finally, a third group – high school students from Turkey – will visit Southern in June for language and culture programming. Altogether, we will be welcoming around 70 students and administrators for programming this summer! Southern has never had inbound international groups or camps visit over the summer months, and we anticipate this to be an area of increased demand in coming years.

In addition, thanks to a grant from the Donchian Foundation, I will accompany Interim Dean of Health and Human Services Sandra Bulmer and two nursing faculty members to Armenia in late June, to explore potential nursing collaborations there.

This year, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Professor Carlos Arboleda’s summer abroad program in Salamanca, Spain. This has been long in the planning! Erin will be attending the celebration, to be hosted by the city and universities with which this program has been affiliated over the years. At this meeting, Southern will be signing a new MOU with the pontifical University of Salamanca, and we look forward to expanding that partnership in the coming months and years. A follow-up celebration in September will take place on our campus in honor of the several hundred alumni who have expressed interest in celebrating this anniversary with Carlos.

Finally, last week we welcomed a 17-member delegation from Liverpool John Moores University. We are developing a unique and exciting partnership with this English institution. Collaborative work is taking place with eight different academic departments, fully supported by our deans and cabinet. The ultimate goal is to present a multitude of programming opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students from both institutions, ideally beginning in fall 2015. We plan to send a delegation of engaged faculty and deans to England this coming September to build upon the framework that has been established during the past year.

NEW ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT LEADER

As you know, our enrollment management team has worked long and hard in recent months to move our fall numbers toward their respective goals. These efforts will be enhanced in July with the arrival of Dr. Terricita Sass as the university’s new Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management. Terricita is a professional administrator with more than 25 years of service to public higher education and wide-ranging experience in student recruitment and retention.

During the last decade, Terricita has served as the chief enrollment management official at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va. At NSU, she has held leadership and team-building responsibilities for the offices of Enrollment Management, Admissions, the TransferMation Center (for transfer students), Financial Aid, Registrar, New Student Orientation, Customer Care and Military Services and Veteran Affairs.

Terricita’s collaborative efforts paid dividends, as during her 10-year tenure applications increased by 13 percent; new freshmen by 20 percent; retention by 9 percent; and total enrollment by 16 percent, with the highest entering-class profile on record.

At NSU, Terricita also led the Office of Institutional Research and organized a retention task force that led to the development of a dedicated office focused on advising. She has served as a consultant to other institutions and received several honors and recognitions for her exemplary leadership and dedication to her teams, students, and community.

Terricita brings to Southern specific expertise in improving student administrative operations through change management, engaging with the campus and off-campus communities, enhancing recruitment and retention efforts and crafting and executing holistic recruitment and enrollment management plans. She has experience in attracting and retaining students from many backgrounds including traditional, honors, first-generation, minority, low-income, adult, transfer and military students within an urban environment. 

Terricita completed her undergraduate studies at Francis Marion University, Florence, S.C., earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting.  She was conferred a Master of Arts degree in urban affairs from NSU, and a Ph.D. in education from Capella University, Minneapolis, Minn., with a specialization in leadership for higher education.  Additionally, she has earned two post-master’s certificates in enrollment management and completed leadership training at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Center for Creative Leadership.

I believe that Terricita’s range of experience in strategic recruitment and retention, her aptitude for team-building and her commitment to student success will serve our university well. Please take the opportunity to welcome her personally to campus when she joins us July 7.

FAREWELL MARIANNE KENNEDY

Marianne Kennedy, associate vice president for academic affairs, begins her retirement today and it is with very mixed feelings that we say goodbye to this great friend of Southern. As Marianne leaves us, I extend to her my own sincere personal thanks, as well as that of the entire university community, for the work she has done to help Southern become the institution it is today.

As you know, Marianne has played a key role in developing the university’s assessment processes and procedures. In 2009, she was appointed associate vice president for assessment, planning, and academic programs, a new position that evolved from her prior position of coordinator of assessment and planning, which she had held since 2004. Later, she stepped in to provide valuable leadership as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. Marianne also played an active role in Southern’s 2001 self-study in preparation for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation review and subsequently went on to chair the NEASC Steering Committee for the university’s 2011 reaccreditation. Most recently, she has chaired the university’s strategic planning process.

I could say much more about Marianne’s work here at Southern and the broad and deep impact she has had on the university’s processes and procedures. Few individuals in recent years have left such an indelible impression. We in the Southern community will miss Marianne not only for her accomplishments but also for her wisdom, grace, patience, good humor, and willingness – always – to work hard and get it right.

We wish Marianne a wonderful retirement full of new adventures. Marianne, you have earned it!

SUMMER AND WINTER TASK FORCE

In early March 2015, Provost Bergeron convened a 16-person Summer & Winter Task Force to improve the visibility, accessibility and profitability of our summer and winter sessions here at Southern. Representing all academic units and departments on campus, and chaired by Ian Canning, Director of Special Academic Programs and Sessions, Steven Breese, Dean of Arts and Sciences and Rick Riccardi, Associate Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, the Task Force will further our goals of attracting and retaining academically prepared students, supporting initiatives that foster interdisciplinary and interdepartmental collaboration, and other complementary initiatives. 

The Task Force has now concluded its formal meetings for the 2014-2015 academic year.  It now will turn its attention to small group work in order to create an optimal baseline summer and winter schedule, integrate marketing and advising campaigns, build a new course scheduling model, develop new program offerings and delivery modes and research a new non-credit registration system. 

SUMMER SESSION

While the Summer & Winter Task Force will build new innovation and creativity into its planning for Summer 2016, some exciting changes already have taken place this year, Ian Canning reports. The Office of Special Academic Programs & Sessions worked collaboratively with Public Affairs to create a new Summer at Southern website that provides an informational portal for current and prospective students alike. 

Our Summer at Southern Twitter account has grown to 283 followers and highlights new course additions, answers to frequently asked questions, and new developments such as the new summer food service that was developed through Student Affairs.  While Summer Session A has just begun, and we have great strides to make between now and August 16 when Summer Session C concludes, there are currently 3,163 students taking summer classes, with a 4.4 percent increase in billed credits.  There is also an increase of 5.1 percent in total seats filled, meaning students are taking more classes and taking full advantage of the offerings on campus this summer.

BIOSCIENCE ACADEMIC AND CAREER PATHWAY

Following the celebration of the our Bioscience Academic & Career Pathway MOU signing on May 4, staff and faculty representatives at Southern are continuing to build connections and streamline pathways with Gateway Community College and the New Haven Public School System.

Respective faculty members are working collaboratively to ensure a positive student experience, from the seamless transfer of credits to a hands-on, interdisciplinary classroom experience, to professional preparation as they consider the multitude of career pathways in the exciting bioscience field. 

The Biology and Chemistry departments will continue to work on course development throughout the 2015-2016 academic year for the launch of our new B.S. in biotechnology with a minor in chemistry, along with a revised B.S. in biochemistry. Campus representatives will continue to work closely with the City and institutional partners to assemble an industry advisory board that will closely assess the needs of New Haven’s burgeoning biotechnology industry and solicit support for these new programs.  We anticipate a wave of activity throughout the summer and upcoming academic year to fulfill the requirements of the MOU. 

WEEK OF WELCOME

Our 3rd Annual WOW! Fall Week of Welcome will kick off on Monday, August 31 and run through Sunday, September 6. The WOW! program strives to help create a sense of community at Southern by encouraging students to make new connections and to explore all that our university has to offer.

This is an excellent opportunity for your department, office or student organization to introduce Southern students to what you do best! You are invited to plan WOW! programs, events and activities to welcome and support our students as they begin a new calendar year on campus! I encourage you to think about fun and creative ways to bring attention to your programs and services that will appeal to our students.

The following link will allow you to submit a WOW! event for inclusion in the program of activities:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1wr0Jm9EdvcU5Ldgwh07-HUH-lCTh61Of8NWVTCM5h_0/viewform?usp=send_form

If you have any questions about planning an event for WOW! Fall Week of Welcome 2015 or if you are interested in sponsoring a program but would like some creative assistance, please email weekofwelcome@owls.southernct.edu

Thank you for your anticipated participation in making this year’s Week of Welcome one to remember for our students!

April 30, 2015

Posted in Campus Updates on April 30th, 2015

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.

BULEY RIBBON-CUTTING

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.

ENROLLMENT UPDATE

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.

FACULTY AWARDS

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 ricep1@southernct.edu.

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 tetreaultj4@southernct.edu

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 santiagom4@southernct.edu

HEART WALK

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

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES

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.

COMMENCEMENT

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.

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.