April 4, 2014

Posted in Campus Updates on April 4th, 2014

Last weekend I had the pleasure to attend the inaugural ball for New Haven’s new Mayor, Toni Harp. Ms. Harp has a long association with Southern from her many highly productive years as a State Senator and co-chair of the legislative Appropriations Committee. I believe that her knowledge of, and appreciation for, our mission will make for an even more fruitful partnership in the months and years ahead.

As you know, I have emphasized enhancing our involvement with the Elm City, and many of New Haven’s key players are excited about the fact that we have now established a presence downtown through Southern on the Green, at 900 Chapel Street. The suite of offices and seminar rooms look professional and polished, with new furniture and photography highlighting all that is good about the university.  You will be able to see for yourself during an internal open house to be held in May, along with a second event for corporate and community leaders. Southern on the Green will officially open April 7, with an open house for selected graduate programs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

You can read more about Southern on the Green and its role in our mission in a recent New Haven Register article: http://tinyurl.com/omyc4ys

NEW CIO

I’m pleased to announce that Dr. Robert J. Rennie has been confirmed as our new Chief Information Officer, succeeding Dr. Pablo Molina. Pablo returns to Washington, D.C., on April 30 to become CIO of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS).

Since 1997, Rob has been the CIO and Vice President of Technology for Florida State College at Jacksonville, Fla., a multi-campus institution serving more than 60,000 students.

Rob’s CIO experience spans more than 20 years, and he is known for building the reputations of organizations on a foundation of innovation, value creation, excellence and technology leadership. Honored as one of Computerworld’s Premier 100 IT leaders in 2004, Rob serves on Software AG’s International Executive Committee, is a member of Apple’s University Executive Forum and was an advisory board member of Curriki, an online, nonprofit organization that provides free curricula and instructional resources primarily in support of K-12 education.

Under Rob’s leadership, Florida State College has won numerous awards for its highly innovative and successful technology environment. It was ranked first in the nation three out of four years by the Center for Digital Education, rated “Most Wired” by Yahoo; has been featured by several major technology firms for best practices and successful innovations and was named a Computerworld Gold Laureate in 2008.

Prior to his tenure at Florida State College, Rob was the CIO for Mt. San Antonio College in Los Angeles; was a principal of the technology strategy practice of Xentrek Systems, Inc. and held a visiting scholar appointment in Information Systems at the John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA.

Rob’s first day at Southern will be July 15. Pablo will provide consultancy services during the interim period between his April 30 departure and Rob’s arrival. I am confident that the transition between these two talented CIOs will be smooth and that our OIT will continue to provide excellent and innovative service to our campus community.

NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!

We have had much to cheer about in athletics with the heroics of our men’s basketball team, and the dual national titles earned by swimmer Raymond Czwerko and heptathlete Nick Lebron (his career second).

Raymond completed the nationals as a three-time All-American, with a title in the 200 fly and a runner-up spot in the 400 individual medley. Nick captured the heptathlon title two years after his first triumph, earning All-America honors and setting a new NCAA Division II record score of 5,765 points.

On their path to the Elite 8 for just the second time in Southern history, the men’s basketball Owls captured the Northeast-10 regular season and conference tournament titles, and won a program-best 30 games, including a school-record 19 straight.

Not surprisingly, Coach Mike Donnelly has been named a finalist for the 2014 Clarence “Big House” Gaines award. The 2013-14 Northeast-10 Conference and Daktronics East Region Coach of the Year is one of 12 finalists for the award, which is presented annually to the top Division II men’s basketball coach.

In his four seasons on the bench for the Owls, Mike has turned around a struggling program in compiling a 73-41 overall record, which represents the most-ever wins by a Southern coach in his first four seasons. The winner of the 2014 Gaines award will be announced at the CollegeInsider.com Awards Banquet today (Friday, April 4) in Dallas, site of this weekend’s Division I Men’s Final Four.

MOVING ON

As noted above, our national profile in athletics continues to grow. And in recent years that has owed much to the leadership of our Athletic Director, Patricia Nicol, who will be leaving Southern May 29 to take up the Director of Athletics position at Emerson College in Boston.

Pat has been a member of the Owls’ athletics administration for the last 15 years, and since her appointment as director in 2005, our student-athletes have excelled on the playing fields, in the classroom and in the community.

Pat emphasized that success for our student-athletes extends beyond the competitive arena. During her tenure, our athletes have engaged in thousands of hours of community service, creating a spirit of volunteerism that will endure after their playing days. Additionally, our teams’ collective academic performance is a justifiable point of pride, with their overall GPA recently reaching the highest level in our program’s history.

On behalf of our campus community, I thank her for her tireless commitment to student success, for her exceptional leadership of our athletics program and for her dedication to advancing the university in general. Please take the opportunity to congratulate Pat on her new appointment.

This week, I informed the campus community that James Blake, our Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, will be retiring in early January 2015.

On the one hand, I am very pleased for Jim. He has been an integral part of the growth and sound financial health of Southern Connecticut State University since 1996. And, with almost 30 years of dedicated state service behind him, his pending retirement has been well earned.

On the other hand, I am sure you will concur with me that we will be losing one of the true stalwarts of our university community. As you know, Jim has worked with and counseled five presidents of Southern. Certainly, one of the first items on my agenda when I assumed the presidency in early 2012 was requesting that Jim would be able to stay on for as long as possible. He committed to three years – and I am sure we are all glad that he did!

During Jim’s tenure as our chief financial officer, the state’s economy – and therefore Southern’s operating budget – has been subject to severe fiscal challenges. But thanks to Jim’s prudent spending and sound long-term planning, we have been able to maintain modest surpluses that have negated the need for the deep cuts that would have severely impacted student learning.

Jim has also been a key player in the ongoing transformation of our campus, guiding the university through the completion of two Master Facility Plans and ensuring that sufficient resources were in place to advance our construction program – often a challenging task! Signature projects during Jim’s tenure included the Engleman Hall expansion; the Adanti Student Center; the School of Business building and now, the Buley Library renovation, and the Academic and Laboratory Science Building. Before his departure, Jim will again be a key part of the planning process for our 2014–2024 facilities plan update.

Despite all of these responsibilities, and in the midst of every challenging circumstance, Jim has been a constant: unflappable, good-humored, wise and honest. He is an individual of integrity, and a reassuring presence on our campus.

A national search for a new vice president for finance and administration will commence this summer, and we hope that a hire will be made by Thanksgiving. In this way, Jim will be on hand to assist with the transition, and also to provide his invaluable counsel for the new strategic planning process, the design for our planned Student Recreation Center and other key institutional initiatives.

Please take the opportunity to congratulate Jim on his retirement and thank him for his stellar service to Southern.

WOMEN AND HIGHER EDUCATION

Southern was well represented at a March 25 roundtable discussion on “Higher Education and its impact on Connecticut Women and their Families,” hosted at New Haven City Hall by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Mayor Harp and Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. This was the fourth in a series of similar roundtables statewide addressing pay equity, workforce policies, and education issues facing women in Connecticut.

Southern’s attendees were: School of Business Dean Ellen Durnin, Interim School of Education Dean Deb Newton, Assistant Dean of Health and Human Services Esther Howe, Professor of English and Women’s Studies and Liberal Studies Program Director Ilene Crawford, and Professor of Sociology Shirley Jackson. They joined about 30 other women working in government, education and non-profit organizations in New Haven and Fairfield counties to improve Connecticut women’s and girls’ access to education.

Teresa Younger noted that while women now earn the majority of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, they remain clustered in traditional fields of employment and have yet to achieve pay equity, earning 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. This gender gap has a direct impact on the quality of life for the many Connecticut families where women are the primary wage earners.

Ilene reports that roundtable participants shared success stories from specific programs they operated and identified issues in need of further action, such as mentoring programs for girls that happen in the context of girls’ families and communities and support services for women allowing them to stay in school and follow more diverse career paths.

The roundtable concluded with a reminder from Mayor Harp that women need to make full use of their political strength to effect change for women and girls.

 NOTABLE EVENTS

As usual, the academic year will begin winding down with a flurry of events that showcase the breadth of interests and activities on our campus. Here are just some of the notable ones:

This Monday, a forum on “Crisis in Ukraine: What Happened and What’s Next?” coordinated by the Office of Public Affairs will be held from noon to 1:45 p.m. in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom. Six faculty panelists will address key questions regarding a standoff between Russia, the United States and our NATO allies that has analysts harking back to the Cold War era: www.southernct.edu/ukraineforum

Also next week, former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, whom the New York Times has called “the most popular poet in America,” will give a campus reading on Wednesday, (April 9), at 7:15 p.m. The reading in the Charles Garner Recital Hall (Engleman C112) will be followed by an audience Q&A and a book signing of his most recent collection, “Aimless Love.” The event is co-sponsored by the university’s MFA Program in Creative Writing: www.southernct.edu/news/billy-collins.html

The Big Event is an annual campus-wide service initiative in which Southern comes together to support the New Haven and surrounding communities. This year, on April 12 hundreds of Southern students will volunteer for local organizations, agencies and other locations in need of assistance. To register, students – and employees who would like to help out – should go to https://southernct.collegiatelink.net/ and click on the Big Event icon.

On April 12 and 13, Southern will host our 21st annual Womens’ Studies conference: “Ecology, Spirituality, Sustainability,”offering 24 sessions and almost 80 presenters from across the country and abroad.  The impressive list of speakers is headed by keynotes Majora Carter (a visionary, urban revitalization strategist, and public radio host) and Dr. Hyun Kyung Chung (a Korean eco-feminist and theologian and Associate Professor of Ecumenical Studies at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York): www.southernct.edu/academics/schools/arts/departments/womensstudies/annualconference

On April 23, “Take Back the Night,” an annual event to stop violence against women, will take place in the Adanti Student Center Ballroom from 7-9 p.m. Since its inception in 1976, Take Back the Night has become internationally known as a way to take a stand against sexual violence and speak out against these crimes. Sponsored by our Women’s Center, it is one of a series of campus events being held to promote awareness during national “Sexual Assault Month”: www.tinyurl.com/mlcz5th

From 3 p.m. April 26 through 9 a.m. April 27, Southern’s annual Relay for Life will be held at Jess Dow Field. Relay For Life is a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society (ACS) hosted at Southern by Colleges Against Cancer, a student organization affiliated with ACS. Teams camp out overnight, and team members take turns walking or running around the track. Each team is asked to have at least one participant on the track at all times, and team members have sponsors who have pledged to donate money to Relay for Life on their behalf. This year’s theme is “Superheroes”: www.relayforlife.org/scsu.

Southern will be participating in the Greater New Haven Heart Walk 3-mile Heart Walk, a fun, family event where participants join more than a million people in 300 cities nationwide to raise funds supporting the research, education and advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association.  The event will be held on Saturday, May 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Savin Rock Beach in West Haven. Fitness Center Coordinator Jess Scibek and Associate Athletics Director Mike Kobylanski are leading Southern’s effort, recruiting team captains and members. If you are interested in starting a team or joining team SCSUfit you can also CLICK HERE to visit Southern’s company page. I am a member of the Executive Leadership Team for the Heart Walk, and I encourage as many of you as possible to join this enjoyable and rewarding community event!

At the end of a long academic year, we can all do with a laugh, and good humor is guaranteed at the 16th installment of the Mary and Louis Fusco Distinguished Lecture Series, featuring one of America’s best-loved comedians, Jay Leno. On May 9 at 7 p.m. in the Lyman Center, the two-time Emmy Award winner will deliver a classic “Tonight Show” monologue in his inimitable “everyman” style, which has earned him millions of fans worldwide:  www.southernct.edu/jay-leno.html

AUTISM CONFERENCE

Last weekend, our Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders hosted a highly successfully conference – “Bridging Communities: Strategies for Success.” The 24th Annual Northeast Regional Conference on Autism offered presentations and panel discussions on topics such as assessment, parenting teens with autism, life after high school for young people with autism, living with Asperger’s, and strategies for success.

Keynote addresses were delivered by Jesse A. Saperstein, best-selling author of “Atypical: Life with Asperger’s in 20 1⁄3 Chapters,” and Temple Grandin, the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world. In 2010, Time Magazine named Dr. Grandin one of its Most Important People of the Year and her life story was made into an HBO movie titled “Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes,” which won seven Emmy awards and a Golden Globe.

The annual conference brings cutting-edge thinking from top professionals in the field of autism, so that families and professionals may gain as much knowledge and understanding as possible to have maximum impact in working with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) individuals. It is a tribute to the standing of our Center that we were able to host such a significant event on our campus and Director Ruth Eren tells me she and her staff have received many positive congratulations and comments via e-mail in the days since.

“GREAT COLLEGES” SURVEY

As you know, Southern is taking part in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Great Colleges to Work For” program, a study designed to gather benchmarking data within higher education and to recognize institutions that have built great workplaces.

Part of the program involves an employee survey distributed to each institution’s full-time Faculty, Administrators, Exempt and Non-exempt Staff. An invitation to take this survey was distributed to all of our full-time employees on or about March 17.

The email was from “Great Colleges” with the subject line: The Chronicle’s Great Colleges to Work For 2014 Faculty/Staff Survey. To ensure the confidentiality of your responses, your survey will be processed by ModernThink LLC, a research and consulting firm focusing on workplace excellence.  Southern will not receive any information that would enable us to trace survey data back to any one individual. The deadline to complete the survey is Monday, April 14, 2014.

 I thank those of you who have already completed the survey and I appreciate you taking the time to share your views and opinions.

If you have not yet completed the survey, please take a moment to do so. Your feedback is valued! The results will be factored into the overall scoring process that will ultimately determine the institutions recognized. The Chronicle will publish the findings this summer in a special Academic Workplace supplement, due to be released at the end of July.

I encourage everyone’s participation! A high response rate helps ensure accurate results and demonstrates the commitment of our workforce. Whether or not our institution is recognized, we will learn from the feedback and make improvements for our future. In fact, this information will be very useful to my Commission on Campus Climate and Inclusion and also will inform the development of our new Strategic Plan.

 Thank you for your participation. Please contact Rick Riccardi, who is serving as our survey coordinator, or visit www.ChronicleGreatColleges.com, if you have any questions.

March 5, 2014

Posted in Campus Updates on March 5th, 2014

Thanks to the many of you who attended Monday’s Town Hall meeting and shared your thoughts about the findings of our Student Success Task Force. Its recommendations were pointed – we still have a great deal to accomplish, despite all the good work that has taken place in recent times. Our 4-year and 6-year graduation rates of 17 percent and 49 percent, respectively, do not compare favorably with those of all public universities in Connecticut (40.6 and 61.5 percent), and public universities nationally (31.3 and 56 percent).  While our graduation rates have started to swing upward, as I mentioned in a recent blog, we clearly have some catching up to do.

The task force – whose findings to which many of you contributed  – recommends improvements in many key areas. For example, creating an ombudsman-type position to help students find assistance when they have questions or concerns; or introducing more flexible hours of operation in key student service offices. To help bolster our retention rate, the task force recommends examining the credit-load needed for graduation and reinforcing our advisement ranks – some students are accumulating as many as 149 credits, meaning extra months in the classroom and the added burden of extra tuition and related expenses. Other proposals included recommending more opportunities for student employment on campus; increased support for second-year and transfer students and enhanced academic intervention.

The full report will be available online shortly, along with an opportunity for members of our community to offer comments and suggestions during this month. Watch for an email with a link to the task force website in the next few days.

My thanks to Nicole Henderson, Academic Director of our First-Year Experience program and Peter Troiano, Dean of Student Affairs, who led the task force through its first phase; and then Tracy Tyree, Vice President for Student affairs and Steven Breese, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, for completing the fact-finding process. Soon, we will announce a new team to review the recommendations and carry them forward within the structure of our Strategic Plan – ensuring that this is a living document that will generate positive change on our campus.

TRANSFORM CSCU

I have met with Governor Malloy twice in recent weeks – once at the launching of his new Transform CSCU 2020 Initiative, and again yesterday at the Hamden Chamber of Commerce’s annual Lunch with the Governor, where I had the pleasure of offering remarks. As you know, this multi-year initiative will provide more than $134 million across our 17 institutions, with an emphasis on access, affordability and retention – all themes that we are intimately familiar with here at Southern.

The program also provides for more smart classrooms, in an effort to create technology-rich learning environments; seeks to streamline administrative processes to ease the path to registration and degree completion, and looks to create effective bridges between K-12 schools, community colleges and higher education institutions like Southern.

Coming as it does in the second year of a biennial budget cycle, this initiative can be viewed as an initial investment that will be repeated if we are successful in advancing its agenda. Certainly, it will help us to further our strategic goals and enhance synergies with our sister institutions. In my remarks yesterday at the Hamden Chamber luncheon, I emphasized the work that we are already undertaking to enhance both access and retention. And I also detailed how we are adapting both our facilities – such as the new science building – and our academic offerings, (e.g. the Accelerated MBA; M.S. in applied physics) to meet the future needs of our students and Connecticut’s workforce.

Reflecting the themes contained in Gov. Malloy’s initiative, ConnScu President Gregory Gray’s has proposed that tuition and fees be capped at 2 percent for the 2014–2015 academic year. He recommends that this becomes part of a long-term tuition plan extending through 2016–2017. The Board of Regents has a stated goal to keep college accessible and affordable for Connecticut residents – as President Gray pointed out: “Higher education must remain within reach if Connecticut is to develop a strong, thriving economy.”

With inflation expected annually to exceed 2 percent over the next several years, individual institutions will need to make up much of the budget differential through efficiencies and increased enrollment. At Southern, the lower tuition increase will certainly present less of a financial deterrent for many prospective and current students; and new developments such as the implementation of the Common App will help to expand our pool of applicants. But the onus will be on all of us to continue our work to enhance enrollment and improve retention, following the recommendations outlined by the Student Success Task Force and through the development and implementation of our new Strategic Plan.

DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION

In a move that will support key strategic initiatives, Dr. Erin Heidkamp has been named Director of International Education. Erin has served as Interim Director of International Education at Southern since January 2012 and has achieved a great deal during that short time.

She has coordinated the merger of our three branches of international education: Study Abroad and Reciprocal Exchange Programs (formerly the Office of International Programs), J-1 Visa and Risk Management (formerly housed in Sponsored Programs and Research) and Matriculated International Student Services (formerly International Student Services).

During Erin’s tenure, student study abroad participation has increased by 25 percent, faculty-led spring break and summer study abroad programs have increased by 40 percent, and the number of reciprocal exchange partner universities has increased by 40 percent. These are all excellent trends and reflect our strategic goals to prepare our local students for global lives by giving them more international exposure both at home and abroad. Please congratulate Erin on a well-deserved appointment.

SSC ADVISING PLATFORM

Southern’s partnership with the Education Advisory Board’s Student Success Collaborative (SSC) is reaping benefits, Kim Crone, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management reports.  A pilot program using the SSC advising platform – a predictive analytics system that uses grades and other data to help students measure their likelihood of success in a specific major -  was successfully used by exercise science, communication and inquiry faculty. Full implementation and use of the technology is being rolled out to all faculty advisors this spring.

Kim says the SCC Advising Platform has helped us move toward proactive advising, where advisors can easily identify and seek out at risk students who are in the “murky middle” of deciding whether to persist with or complete their degree program. It provides our advisors with accurate, consistent information about a student’s degree planning, progress toward completion, and the effect of switching or changing majors. And it allows us to migrate to a standardized system and technology so that our advisors can share information automatically.

As we know, student retention is a critical element of our efforts to rebuild our enrollment, and effective academic advising plays a central role in helping students stay on track toward degree completion. Our SSC partner, Griha Singla, will be on campus today and Thursday (March 5 and 6) to continue with training and implementation.  All interested faculty advisors are encouraged to check with their deans for more information.

TOBACCO-FREE COLLEGE INITIATIVE

Last month, I received a letter from U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy requesting that Southern consider joining the Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched the initiative in 2012, and there are currently more than 1,200 smoke-free or tobacco-free colleges and universities nationwide. Our neighbor Gateway Community College recently became a smoke-free campus, the first Connecticut public institution to do so.  HHS is targeting colleges and universities in its campaign because about one-third of young adults between the ages of 18 to 24 smoke.

As a public university, the enhancement of healthy living for our students, faculty and staff is a key point of emphasis through our wellness programming. And so I have charged our university Health and Safety Committee, chaired by Police Chief Joseph Dooley, to explore the issue and outline the steps that would need to be taken to make our campus tobacco-free. The committee will soon be reaching out to the campus community for reaction and recommendations.

EXPANDING WORKPLACE FLEXIBILITY

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I will be a signatory on the university’s behalf to the 2013 Statement of Support for Expanding Workplace Flexibility. This initiative is part of a national challenge by the American Council on Education (ACE) to U.S. colleges and universities to pledge a commitment to creating a workplace flexible environment for faculty.

This challenge is based on evidence that shows a connection between workplace flexibility and improvements in faculty commitment, engagement, productivity, recruitment and retention, as well as reductions in stress and turnover. A workplace flexible environment can lead to increased faculty performance inside and outside of the classroom, translating into improved quality of instruction and increased grant revenues. And furthermore, flexibility can help faculty meet increasing demands at work, as well as in their personal and family roles.

I have asked Dr. Michele Vancour, professor of public health, to serve as Southern’s point person for the Challenge, due to her experience and leadership in university work-life areas. Michele is a past president of the College and University Work-Life-Family Association, and has fostered relationships with key members of ACE’s Institutional Leadership Group, which focuses on programs, research and resources that assist senior leaders in improving institutional effectiveness.

Michele has a longstanding commitment to helping Southern become a great place to work and learn for faculty, staff and students. I know that she will be a valuable asset in helping us ensure that Southern continues to be a healthy, inclusive and welcoming environment in which to work, study and teach.

GREAT COLLEGES SURVEY

Continuing with the work-life balance theme, Southern is participating in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Great Colleges to Work For program, a study designed to recognize institutions that have built excellent workplaces.  

Part of the program involves an employee survey that will be distributed to all of our full-time faculty and staff. On March 17 you will receive an email with instructions on how to complete it. This confidential survey was designed specifically for higher education, and the aggregate results will be useful in not only assessing our workplace culture but also in establishing benchmark metrics for future initiatives from our continuing Strategic Plan work.

Your participation and honest feedback will be critical to the assessment process.  To ensure the confidentiality of your responses, the survey will be processed by ModernThink LLC, a research and consulting firm focusing on workplace excellence.  Our institution will not be given any information that would enable us to trace survey data back to any one individual.  Everyone’s participation is encouraged! A high response rate helps ensure accurate results and demonstrates the commitment of our faculty and staff.

HEART WALK

Did you know 1 in 3 Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease and that heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined? We can help to change these statistics by showing our Southern colors as part of the Greater New Haven Heart Walk on Saturday, May 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Savin Rock Beach in West Haven. The 3-mile Heart Walk is a fun, family event where participants join more than a million people in 300 cities nationwide to raise funds supporting the research, education and advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association.

Fitness Center Coordinator Jess Scibek and Associate Athletics Director Mike Kobylanski are leading Southern’s effort, recruiting team captains and members. If you are interested in starting a team or joining team SCSUfit you can also CLICK HERE to visit Southern’s company page. I am a member of the Executive Leadership Team for the Heart Walk, and I encourage as many of you as possible to join this enjoyable and rewarding community event!

STUDENT CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

As you know, Southern and its students have a long and proud tradition of community engagement and volunteerism – highlighted several years ago by our inclusion on the U.S. President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Reflecting this tradition, I have been elected as a board member of the Connecticut Campus Compact, which focuses on civic engagement and creating partnerships between public and private institutions statewide.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents—representing about 6 million students — who are committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education. As the only national higher education association dedicated solely to campus-based civic engagement, Campus Compact promotes public and community service: develops students’ citizenship skills, helps campuses forge effective community partnerships, and provides resources and training for faculty seeking to integrate civic and community-based learning into the curriculum.

This is an excellent opportunity for us to enhance our students’ volunteerism and community contributions so that they will develop into the engaged citizens on which our democracy depends.

HERI FACULTY SURVEY

Our strategic planning process will be informed by data, including the results from the National Survey of Faculty developed by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute (HERI).

The last time that Southern administered HERI was during the 2005-2006 academic year, and there has been a great deal of change on campus since then.

The link to the HERI faculty survey has been sent to all faculty members’ email accounts. It is critical that the Strategic Planning Committee has complete and accurate information on such topics as pedagogical practices, faculty goals and expectations for students, research and service activities, sources of stress and satisfaction, and the connection between learning in the classroom and practices in the local and global community.

HERI is absolutely anonymous, and I hope that all faculty members will complete the survey.

ATHLETES EXCEL IN CLASSROOM

Excellent news from our Athletic Department, where our 392 student-athletes combined to record a semester grade point average of 3.04, the best mark in school history.

Eleven of our 19 programs achieved a team grade point average of 3.0 or higher during the fall semester. The women’s cross country team led all programs with a 3.6 team GPA. Individually, 46 percent of our student athletes achieved a GPA of at least 3.0, while 25 percent had GPAs of 3.5 or higher. Four student-athletes recorded a perfect 4.0 GPA during the semester.

I echo the words of Athletic Director Patricia Nicol: “The academic success achieved individually and collectively by our student-athletes this past semester continues to demonstrate their presence as outstanding ambassadors for Southern Connecticut State University.”

Congratulations to the coaching staff, administrative support team and our student-athletes for these praiseworthy accomplishments.

Concluding on the theme of athletic excellence, please take the opportunity to support our men’s basketball team in person as they continue their march through the post-season and their rise in the national rankings. Currently on a school-record 14-game winning streak, the 25-2 Owls host  Le Moyne in the Northeast-10 Conference Semifinals today at 7 p.m. in Moore Fieldhouse.

February 11, 2014

Posted in Campus Updates on February 11th, 2014

The persistence of winter has made for a trying start to the semester, with class schedules and the rhythm of campus life disrupted by a series of storms. On snow days, when most of us are comfortable and warm at home, please send your best thoughts to our facilities team and our University Police who are working long and hard into the small hours to keep our campus safe and accessible in the most difficult of conditions. Also to our residence hall and dining hall staffs, who ensure that our residential students’ “home away from home” experience remains a positive one.

900 CHAPEL is now “Southern on the Green”

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the University now has a point of contact in the heart of New Haven’s downtown business district via a lease of space at 900 Chapel Street, the headquarters of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce. The SCSU Foundation has entered into an initial 12-month lease with the chamber, and we are now finalizing programming for the space. We will be focusing on several areas, including fundraising; admissions, financial aid and advisement; business development and community engagement and academic programming. Open houses for the campus and off-campus community will be scheduled during the next few weeks and a Graduate Admissions Open House for our master’s degree in computer science and Accelerated MBA programs (see next item below).

Having a strategic and highly visible presence downtown will enable us to maximize networking, development and partnership opportunities with the city’s key players in politics, commerce, education and the non-profit sector. The leased space will also provide us with the chance to expand our collaborations with nearby Gateway Community College, and enhance the recruitment of transfer students. It will give us a venue to offer off-campus classes for academic programs. And it will provide a convenient location to network for student internships and job opportunities. Look for an open house announcement soon so that you can view “Southern on the Green” for yourself.

TARGETED MARKETING

As you know, rebuilding our enrollment is a major goal, and this spring we are embarking on a new, targeted marketing approach by highlighting several programs that offer growth opportunities. These include an Accelerated MBA; a certificate in accounting; a B.S./B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies; and our current master’s degrees in human performance, applied physics and computer science (with a new focus in cybersecurity and software development). As noted, some of these programs already exist, others are new. The common thread is that all have growth potential and all provide a path to in-demand career opportunities.

Recent high-profile breaches in cybersecurity, for example, have revealed a huge demand for individuals who have expertise in identifying and minimizing these risks for companies and organizations. Connecticut is also expected to be fertile ground for new accountants and auditors, and our new certificate program is specifically aimed at individuals who wish to become a CPA as a second career. Our interdisciplinary offerings, which include a variety of concentrations such as criminal justice, allied health and international studies, are geared for individuals who want to design a major that will fit with their individual career goals.

The graduate offerings reflect the time constraints of today’s working professionals. Our Accelerated MBA is a fast-track, hybrid-style option combining quality, convenience, and affordability. Through the AMBA, students will be able to complete their degree in just 17 months with combined Saturday and online courses.

Congratulations to the faculty who have devised and implemented these innovative programs. If this new marketing approach is successful, as we believe it will be, it will not only boost our enrollment, but provide a template for future academic programming by departments campus wide.

TRANSFORM CSCU 2020

As anticipated, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy introduced a new program of investment in our state university and college system during his “State of the State” address at the Capitol last week. This “Transform CSCU 2020” initiative will provide an initial investment of more than $134 million which, according to the governor, will “help bring all 17 campuses into a single, student-centered, technology rich-system.”

This investment will help our state institutions “adapt to student needs and offer the kind of dynamic higher education experience that students want and employers expect,” Gov. Malloy told legislators. A multi-year, multi-phase initiative, Transform CSCU includes $60 million in new operating funds, $60 million in new capital, and $14.5 million in new funding from existing OPM capital. While specifics of the plan and what it will mean for Southern will unfold in coming weeks, the general goals include:

  • Improving student retention rates and increasing enrollment through new initiatives like Go Back to Get Ahead, which targets residents seeking to complete degrees, and outreach to returning military personnel to evaluate experiential learning for academic credit.
  • Building more high-tech smart classrooms to enhance learning.
  • Establishing a long-term tuition model to help plan for the cost of college.
  • Improving system-wide credit transfer and course articulation to reduce time to degree completion and keep tuition costs in check.
  • Streamlining core administrative processes; establishing a common academic calendar and a single application; creating opportunity for system-wide course registration and degree pathway management.
  • Aligning the workforce development mission with the strongest industry growth sectors as identified by the state Department of Economic and Community Development and the state Department of Labor.
  • Strengthening teacher-training programs and providing ongoing support for new teachers.
  • Building strong partnerships with business and industry to give students access to internships and a strong career network.
  • Developing a system-wide academic/facilities master plan to strategically map out program expansion.
  • Addressing deferred maintenance at all 17 institutions.

A number of these goals may sound similar to initiatives that we are currently pursuing on campus, or to objectives identified in the system-wide strategic planning discussions that were held last semester. Certainly, having Governor Malloy’s support, not to mention the injection of substantial state funding, will help us to further our strategic goals and enhance synergies with our sister institutions.  And the core themes of improving access, enhancing retention and better preparing students to successfully enter the workforce resonate with us all. Our thanks to Governor Malloy for promoting this ambitious agenda, to our ConnScu leadership for laying the strategic groundwork, and to the many of you who contributed your ideas during the on-campus meetings and helped to frame Southern’s contribution to this plan.

COMMON APP

Director of Admissions Alexis Haakonsen received welcome word last week that Southern has been approved as a member of the Common Application organization. While there is still work to be done to fully implement the process, the introduction of this standardized application form will certainly enhance our enrollment efforts.

Routinely referred to as the Common App, this single online application is used by more than 400 colleges to streamline the admissions process for students as well as colleges. Using the Common Application allows students to spend their time crafting their essays rather than filling in the same information (demographics, family data, high school courses and activities) on multiple applications. For Southern, it will mean a rise in applications, and as a result, a wider pool of prospective students to draw from. As you know, improving access for prospective students and building enrollment are two of our key strategic goals – the adoption of the Common App is a win-win on both fronts. Our goal is to have it up and running this fall for prospective students applying for fall, 2015.

NEW REGISTRAR

Siham Doughman will be joining Southern as our new registrar, bringing with her more than 15 years of experience managing registration services and student records at American and international institutions.  Currently, as associate registrar for Laureate Higher Education, Siham is responsible for directing registration services for eight institutions with a total enrollment of 75,000 students. Kimberly Crone, our associate vice president for enrollment management, says that Siham has successfully worked with faculty and staff across multi-functional areas to develop streamlined processes and quality control measures, with an emphasis on excellent student service.  She also is proficient in several student information systems, including Ellucian Banner. Please take the opportunity to welcome Siham when she arrives on campus April 4 – and warm thanks to Kim Laing, and then Chris Barrett, for their respective service as interim registrar during a time of transition for this key office.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

I believe that it is incumbent on a university president to engage with members of the on- and off-campus communities so that we can discuss topics of mutual interest regarding Southern and its mission. I have found that one productive way to do this is by hosting informal gatherings at my Woodbridge home. In recent weeks I have hosted student leaders; and then corporate and political figures, including former New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. current city Mayor Toni Harp and state legislators Toni Walker and Joseph Crisco.  And on Feb. 27, I will host one of 26 LEAP Year dinners being held citywide to support programming for this important community-based organization. LEAP provides social and academic enrichment, along with mentorship and leadership opportunities for at-risk youth in New Haven’s impoverished neighborhoods.

During the next three months I will host three gatherings for our faculty. Each event will be held from 4-5:30 p.m. on the following dates; Thursday, Feb. 20; Wednesday, March 26 and Tuesday, April 8. To ensure a lively dialogue, each event will be limited to the first 35 people who respond. If you are able to attend one of these gatherings, please RSVP to president@southernct.edu

LEGISLATIVE ROUNDTABLE

Monday we held an important roundtable discussion about sexual assault on college campuses with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Rep Rosa DeLauro and Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS).

This discussion with Southern students and administrators, as well as representatives from Yale and community service agencies,  followed the recent release of the White House Council on Women and Girls’ report that found that nearly one in five women (22 million) and one in 71 men (1.6 million) have been victims of sexual assault while in college. As Sen. Blumenthal pointed out: “Sexual violence is not a women’s issue; it is a societal issue. While law enforcement must be improved, society as a whole can lead by example.”

Sen. Blumenthal and Rep. DeLauro are seeking to learn more about campus sexual violence in Connecticut and what the federal government can do to further institutionalize best practices in primary prevention and response to victims/survivors, as well as increasing transparency and compliance with federal law.  After a series of roundtables on campuses across the state, the legislators plan to take back ideas to Washington to inform President Obama’s recently created Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.

HARD COURT HEROES

Finally, a shout out to our basketball teams, who are enjoying successful seasons.  After a hard-fought victory over its closest rival the University of New Haven last week, our men’s team was ranked 16th nationally and was 13-2 in the Northeast-10 Conference. Head Coach Mike Donnelly has done a wonderful job transforming a formerly struggling program in just four years. Our women’s team, too, is enjoying a late-season surge into contention. Please take the opportunity to support our teams at our home games during their crucial run in to the conference tournament and beyond.

 A reminder of our women’s national title in 2007 came with the announcement last week that former All-American Kate Lynch – a key member of that championship team – has been selected as one of seven individuals to be inducted April 23 into the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014. Kate is Southern’s all-time leading scorer, was named Most Outstanding Performer during the NCAA National Championship tournament and has now forged a successful career in coaching – currently in her first year as head women’s basketball coach at Molloy College. Congratulations to Kate, an excellent role model for our current student-athletes.

December 23, 2013

Posted in Campus Updates on December 23rd, 2013

Despite the snow, which disrupted final exam schedules earlier last week, our fall semester ended on a celebratory note with our inaugural winter commencements for undergraduate and graduate students. More than 350 students who had completed their degree requirements this fall walked across the Lyman Center stage to receive their diplomas before happy throngs of parents, family members and friends at the afternoon and evening ceremonies. The 2 p.m. undergraduate ceremony also gave us a welcome opportunity to give a formal “farewell and thank you” to New Haven Mayor John De Stefano Jr., who has been a great friend to Southern and is completing his final term after 20 highly productive years in office. In his typical exuberant manner, the mayor exhorted our graduates to take what they have learned and put it to productive use, making their own luck in life through hard work and commitment.

DOWNTOWN LOCATION

During his tenure, Mayor DeStefano did much to transform a moribund New Haven downtown into the vibrant economic and cultural center that it is today. And given our campus’ location on the outskirts of the city, a key area of focus in my presidency has been the need for Southern to become a more active and integral part of the New Haven community.

An excellent opportunity to establish a point of contact in the heart of New Haven’s downtown business district has come our way with the availability of space at 900 Chapel Street, the headquarters of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce. The SCSU Foundation has entered into an initial 12-month lease with the chamber, starting early in 2014. We are extremely grateful to the foundation for its support of this exciting venture.

Having a presence downtown will provide us with greater visibility and enable us to maximize networking, development and partnership opportunities with the city’s key players in politics, commerce, education and the non-profit sector. The leased space will also provide us with the chance to expand our collaborations with nearby Gateway Community College, and enhance the recruitment of transfer students. It will give us a venue to offer off-campus classes in areas such as the new Accelerated MBA or our health and human services programs. And it will provide a convenient location to network for student internships and job opportunities. I will update you further as our plans are developed for this new strategic location.

NEW LEADERSHIP HIRES

The last of our Cabinet-level leadership positions have been filled with the appointment of Bette Bergeron as the university’s new provost and vice president for academic affairs and Stephen J. Hegedus as our new dean of the School of Education.

Provost

Bette brings with her a proven record of success from more than 22 years of teaching, research and leadership in higher education.
She is currently the dean of the School of Education at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). SIUE is a masters-level comprehensive public university, located in the greater St. Louis region. As dean, Bette leads five distinct academic departments: Curriculum and Instruction, Special Education and Communication Disorders, Psychology, Kinesiology and Health Education, and Educational Leadership. The School of Education (SOE) is the largest of the University’s six Schools, and second only to the College of Arts and Sciences in total enrollment and diversity of programming.

Through Bette’s leadership, student access and retention have been increased through initiatives including articulated collaborations with regional community college partners, technology-enhanced courses, and evening and three-year graduation options for key programs. Overall enrollment grew by 11 percent during her six-year tenure as dean. The School of Education also leads SIUE’s schools in graduate enrollments – which grew by 36 percent during the same time period – and houses the university’s only research doctorate, the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.

During the past six years the school has strategically enhanced its graduate programming through off-campus partnerships and web-enhanced instruction, including two graduate degrees and a post-baccalaureate certificate that are taught entirely on-line. Bette has also initiated school-wide international endeavors, including new study abroad programs and partnerships. And she was instrumental in the creation of the SIUE Center for STEM Education and Outreach.

In addition, in October 2012 Bette assumed full governance responsibility for the university’s Charter High School, a public school that enrolls students within the district boundaries of East St. Louis, Illinois, a diverse and underserved urban community. The high school’s curriculum is shifting to a focus on the STEM disciplines, and has recently implemented pre-engineering instruction as part of “Project Lead the Way.” Bette led the school’s turnaround plan through the development of rigorous academic standards and faculty support, resulting in improved student performance and fiscal stability.

Prior to her appointment at SIUE, she led the development of educator preparation programs at Arizona State University’s Polytechnic campus, and served as a faculty member and program chair at Purdue University Calumet.

She earned her Ph.D. and MS.Ed. degrees at Purdue University and her B.S. at the University of Maine. A native of Maine, Bette began her career in education as a second grade teacher in Veazie, Maine. I believe that Bette’s proven leadership, talent for innovation and wide-ranging experience in areas critical to Southern, such as enrollment and retention, online learning and graduate programming, will serve us well. Please take the opportunity to welcome her personally to campus when she joins us on July 1, 2014.

School of Education

Stephen Hegedus brings with him a range of experience, talent for innovation and deep commitment to student success gleaned from more than 15 years of teaching, research and leadership at institutions both in the United States and England. He will take up the position of dean on Aug. 1, 2014.

Stephen is a professor of mathematics and mathematics education at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he has taught since 2000. He was department chair from 2010-13, has chaired several key academic committees and has designed numerous courses as well as a Ph.D. program in mathematics education. Previously, he held appointments as Research Fellow, educational consultant and lecturer at the University of Oxford in England.

At his present institution, he is also the founding director of the Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education.

Stephen is the principal or co-principal investigator of various projects funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. His present work involves the study and development of dynamic software environments, with associated curriculum focusing on classroom connectivity and haptic (force-feedback) technology. This project includes the professional development of pre- and in-service teachers and the large-scale integration of innovative technologies into K-12 curriculum.

Stephen has also directed a Mathematics and Science Partnership in Massachusetts, improving teacher content knowledge and growth within an entire district of teachers in grades 4 through 8. Additionally, his research interests include semiotics (the theory and study of signs and symbols) – specifically the co-evolution of symbolic thinking and digital technologies, and the role of metacognition in advanced mathematical thinking.
He has published and presented numerous papers and workshops at local, national and international venues and is the associate editor of several journals. Stephen has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in mathematics, mathematics education, computer science, engineering, pre-service and in-service education, and he has co-supervised seven doctoral students and eight master’s dissertations to successful completion. He was awarded the prestigious UMass Dartmouth Scholar of the Year award in 2009.

Stephen earned his Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of Southampton, England, where he earlier received a B.Sc. with honors in mathematics and economics.

EXPANDING WORKPLACE FLEXIBILITY

As you know, Southern has made great strides in recent years toward creating a better work-life balance for faculty and staff through a variety of campus events and resources. In this spirit, I will be a signatory on the university’s behalf to the 2013 Statement of Support for Expanding Workplace Flexibility. This initiative is part of a national campaign by the American Council on Education (ACE) to help institutions like Southern assist faculty as they balance personal, familial and professional responsibilities in an increasingly demanding 21st century workplace environment.

“Flexible work practices contribute not only to retention but also to productive work environments and effective work processes,” ACE states. And these in turn “help to increase institutional capacity to advance the mission and to meet strategic goals of diversity and inclusion by supporting a harmonic workplace culture that fosters academic excellence.”

More information on the campaign is available here: http://www.acenet.edu/leadership/programs/Pages/National-Challenge.aspx

Further enhancing work-life balance for all Southern employees is an area that will be addressed by the President’s Commission on Campus Climate and Inclusion, led by our Director of Diversity and Equity Pamela Lassiter. Our goal is to ensure that Southern continues to be a healthy, inclusive and welcoming environment in which to work, study and teach.

BASKETBALL REUNION

This past weekend, I had the pleasure to attend the Men’s Basketball Alumni Weekend festivities, which drew more than 70 former players back to campus. Southern basketball has a rich and honored tradition that deserves to be celebrated, and the gathering featured an alumni game and cocktail reception on Saturday and a Sunday luncheon honoring the 1955 and 1957 Owls’ teams that advanced to the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City.

This year’s team, led by Head Coach Mike Donnelly, is continuing that tradition, making an excellent start in the Northeast-10 Conference and aiming to qualify for the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. The Owls thrilled their alums with an exciting 82-74 overtime victory against NE-10 rivals the University of New Haven on Sunday, raising their conference record to 5-1. Thanks to the alumni organizing committee for an excellent weekend of basketball fellowship and activities.

GRADUATION RATES

I will conclude this final blog for the year with some highly positive news, courtesy of Rick Riccardi, director of our Office of Management Information and Research. As part of his institutional research, Rick tracks our graduation rates and the latest results show an excellent uspwing in 4-, 5- and 6-year categories.

The 6-year graduation rate for the fall Class of 2007 stands at 49.4%, up almost 5 % on the previous year’s graduating class. The 5-year graduation rate for the fall ’08 class stands at 47.7 %, an increase of more than 9 points over the ’06 class’s rate of 38.6%. And the 4-year graduation rate for the fall 2009 Class was 22.6 %, after years of struggling along in the high teens.

These rates are a direct reflection of all the excellent work being done to embrace and enhance student success by all members of the campus community, in particular those associated with our First-Year Experience Program. Given that all the entering students in fall 2008 participated in FYE that year, and we are already at 47.7% for a 5-year graduation rate, Rick projects that next year’s 6-year graduation rate will move over 50%. This is exactly the direction in which we need to be heading if which are to match the national average of 60%. This upward trend is something we can all be proud of as we conclude a year full of many accomplishments.

Thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of our students – and I wish you a peaceful, happy and healthy Holiday season with your friends and family.

November 26, 2013

Posted in Campus Updates on November 26th, 2013

Thanks to all of you who attended our recent Town Hall meeting and other forums to discuss Board of Regents President Gregory Gray’s strategic objectives for the four Connecticut State universities. The discussion was informed and insightful, and I have used many of the general themes to help shape Southern’s response to this document. It is important to emphasize that this proposed plan is a starting point for discussion, and this period of review offers us an excellent opportunity to have our collective voice heard and align our own planning with a broader ConnSCU vision.

No one should lose sight of the fact that we are and will remain a comprehensive university, with numerous areas of academic strength, built upon the bedrock of a liberal arts education. As I have outlined several times in previous blogs, effective workforce development cannot take place without the liberal education that provides the critical thinking, the analytical reasoning and the communication skills that are all so vital in our continually evolving economic climate. But as we seek to win legislative and gubernatorial support for a plan that would potentially see an injection of major public funding into Southern and our sister campuses, it is also important to identify areas of strength that resonate with the state’s current and future demands for a knowledge-based workforce. In the long run, this public support would enhance our university as a whole, advancing our mission as a comprehensive, public university providing affordable access to higher education.

Dr. Gray is expected to release a more fully-developed plan for the system around the start of the new year, and I will keep you informed as developments unfold.

A BOOST FOR BULEY

In exciting news regarding the Buley Library renovation, the Board of Regents last week unanimously approved our request to use reserves and other monies to cover the $8 million cost of finishing the second, third and fourth floors. Pending legislative approval, this would mean that the complete project would now be finished by October 2014, with move-in likely during the following winter break.

When complete, the new-look Buley will offer our students the latest in media technology in a modern and attractive facility. The project includes the creation of an art gallery, as well as space for media collections, special collections and a reading area on the ground floor. The first floor will be highlighted by a cyber café and an “information commons” offering a variety of resources for students.

The remaining floors had been scheduled to be mothballed until extra funding became available. Plans call for the second floor to include classrooms, computer teaching labs and a Faculty Development Center. The third floor would be home to the Library Science Department and staff, and also house a tutorial center, offering support in writing, math and science. The fourth floor would be occupied by library administration and OIT offices.

I will update you when the legislative review is complete, but we are optimistic that Buley will be able to be completed in its entirety next fall.

NANOTECHNOLOGY CENTER

The sciences also received welcome news from the BOR meeting, with the designation of the ConnSCU Center for Nanotechnology at Southern by the Board of Regents. This move opens the door for students and faculty members from the 16 other institutions in our System to pursue collaborative research and partner with representatives from business and industry.

The center has been operating for several years as a Southern-based facility, offering hands-on training in a field that draws upon several scientific disciplines – including chemistry, biology, physics and engineering. Our students use specialized equipment, including a state-of-the-art microscope that uses electrons to image materials on the atomic scale.

The newly designated center arrives at an opportune time, as our new science building and related equipment will offer myriad possibilities for our program to grow in new directions.

For example, the new center will soon include research in the nano-medicine field. Physics Department Chair and Center Director Christine Broadbridge says that Southern faculty from the departments of Chemistry, Biology and Physics will be working together to develop topics such as examining how drugs are delivered in the human body, and research and development for new medical devices and implants.

The center will also feature environmental applications of nanotechnology – such as testing products that can sense microscopic pollutant particles – and manufacturing applications of nanotech. These include creating more durable products and examining devices that can enhance the speed of computers.

Christine notes that a fellowship program affiliated with the new center is also being developed. Several students who participate in nanotech research at the center will be awarded a stipend annually, allowing them to engage in their projects without having to worry about gaining outside employment during that time. And they will also learn the business side of science, such as marketing products.

The fellowship program will be funded through a gift from the Werth Family Foundation, which recently contributed a record $3 million to our science programs.

SEARCHES

As you have seen in recent campus wide postings, we are nearing the conclusion of our two senior leadership searches. Candidates for the Dean of Education have met with our various campus constituencies, and the search committee for the Provost position will soon be identifying finalists after interviewing potential candidates off-site last week. There are also 28 faculty searches under way, including nine positions that had been put on hold last year but were resurrected thanks to legislative approval. Of these, four will enable us to enhance our science offerings in areas such as bioethics, information security, biochemistry and physics.

KUDOS

Congratulations to Business School Dean Ellen Durnin, who received the Hamden Chamber of Commerce’s 18th annual Chamber Choice Award for Business Advocate of the Year during a reception last week. This is a very well-deserved recognition for Dean Durnin, who has championed our Business school’s cause on campus and in the community. Whether establishing new partnerships with the corporate sector, soliciting private support for the school and its programs, or seeking funding to provide business students, faculty and staff with the best possible facilities and support, Ellen has indeed been a tireless advocate – and raised the Business School’s external profile as a result.

CIO Pablo Molina was recognized as one of the “HITEC 100, Class of 2014” at the recent Hispanic IT Executive Awards Gala in Palo Alto, Calif. Pablo joined a list of notables representing the top 100 most influential and notable Hispanic Professionals in the IT Industry, including Timothy Campus, CIO of Facebook; Taddeus Arroyo, CIO of AT&T and Ramon Baez, CIO of HP. Congratulations to Pablo, who is already making his mark for his innovative, forward-thinking approach to technology management on our campus.

HAIL AND FAREWELL

Last week, head football coach Rich Cavanaugh announced his retirement, effective Jan. 1, 2014. I certainly concur with Athletic Director Pat Nicol, who said that Rich has “left an indelible mark on both our football program and our institution as a whole over more than three decades of service to Southern Connecticut State University.”

During his tenure, he did indeed guide our football program to newfound heights on the playing field, in the classroom and in the community, influencing and mentoring thousands of student-athletes along the way.  Rich ends his career as the winningest and longest tenured head coach in program history with 170 victories. He recorded 19 winning seasons on the Owls’ sidelines, highlighted by four consecutive NCAA Championship appearances from 2005-08. Scores of his players earned regional and national recognition, and several went on to play professionally in the NFL.

Congratulations to Rich for a wonderful career, and for establishing a tradition of excellence on and off the gridiron.

DECEMBER COMMENCEMENT

The Holiday season is almost upon us, but we have two significant events to celebrate before the semester break. Our inaugural winter commencement ceremonies for undergraduates and graduate students will be held on Wednesday, December 18 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively, in the Lyman Center. This is a fitting way to celebrate our fall-graduating students and also to reflect on what we have accomplished during the first half of this academic year. Information for students, their families and participating faculty is available at www.southernct.edu/commencement.

I hope that all of you enjoy a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving with your friends and family!