Last week, I was honored to be the recipient of the 2014 Athena Leadership Award, presented annually by the Greater New Haven and Quinnipiac chambers of commerce. The Athena award recognizes women who “strive toward the highest levels of personal and professional accomplishment, who excel in their chosen field, devote time and energy to their community in a meaningful way, and forge paths of leadership for other women to follow.”
While such individual recognition is welcome, I view this award as a public acknowledgement of the collective efforts we are making to enhance our students’ educational experience here at Southern and expand our image in the wider community. Clearly, our work is not going unnoticed, and so once again, I thank you all for your dedication, creativity and innovative thinking as we work to raise our profile and ensure student success.
LEADING OUR STEM INITIATIVES
As I announced during my State of the University address, Christine Broadbridge has been named as the university’s new Director of STEM Initiatives.
Christine will be responsible for developing and leading new STEM collaborations both on campus and externally. She also will build strategic partnerships with statewide academic, legislative and corporate stakeholders to identify potential areas for program development and growth in the sciences and technology.
As you know, Christine has an exemplary background as Education Director for the National Science Foundation-funded CRISP Center, director of the CSCU Center for Nanotechnology and Chair of our Department of Physics. Her work has justifiably received widespread recognition.
Christine’s new role will help elevate our STEM disciplines both on and off-campus. And these are exciting times for the sciences at Southern, with our new Academic and Laboratory Science Building on track for completion next spring and new academic programs being developed. Meanwhile, our state continues to show growth as a center for research, promising future job prospects for our science graduates and new possibilities for partnerships. For example, last week I attended the opening of the new Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington – the latest symbol of an industry that is growing internationally at more than 11 percent a year.
STRATEGIC PLAN UPDATE
Marianne Kennedy, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, notes that the initial draft of our new Strategic Plan is now available for viewing at: http://www.southernct.edu/files/emailblast/20141014/goals-objectives-oct-13.pdf
A Town Hall meeting will be held on Friday, October 24, from 1 to 3 p.m. in Engleman C 112 for initial discussion and feedback.
During November, members of the steering committee will meet with various groups, committees, and constituencies to solicit feedback. This information will be incorporated into the final goals and objectives, which should be ready by January.
The spring semester will be spent developing the action/work steps for each objective, including metrics, timelines and resources needed. Then another round of vetting and feedback will take place before the plan is finalized by semester’s end.
SOUTHERN ON THE GREEN
In the early months of my presidency, I mentioned how important it is for Southern to become a more visible, active and integral part of the wider community beyond our campus boundaries. Already, as you know, we have established Southern on the Green, a suite of offices and seminar rooms at 900 Chapel Street in downtown New Haven that 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.
Southern on the Green is now available to faculty and staff for the following usage opportunities.
- Meetings/Guest Lectures/Public Lecture Series
- Seminars/Workshops/Academic Classes
- Retreats/Open Houses
- New Haven Green Event Collaboration
- Networking/Business Development/Community Engagement
- Advising Admissions/Recruitment
For questions on how to reserve a room or host an event please contact Southern on the Green Coordinator Alice Selverian at firstname.lastname@example.org or (203) 641-8437.
PARK CITY COLLABORATIONS
As I mentioned in my State of the University address, I and members of my senior leadership team have recently been engaged in discussion with city officials in Bridgeport about avenues for collaboration with the Park City.
City leaders are eager to establish partnerships with a public university in areas such as education, business and environmental science. We have the expertise, and such partnerships will also help us establish a profile in Fairfield County as we seek to expand our presence there and enhance the recruitment of students from outside Greater New Haven.
In early September, Provost Bette Bergeron and Marianne Kennedy met with the interim President of Housatonic Community College, Elizabeth Roop, and the Department Chair of Humanities, Rebecca Adams. They examined existing articulation agreements and began to devise smoother pathways between Housatonic and Southern. Five programs were identified as areas of focus: business; interdisciplinary studies; psychology; pathways to teaching and early childhood education.
Drawing upon the experiences of recent senior leadership tours of Bridgeport, and following meetings with Mayor Bill Finch, we have formed three internal subcommittees on campus to focus on three key areas of potential collaboration:
- A “Business and Professional Connections” subcommittee, under the leadership of Dean Ellen Durnin, will be working on strengthening business relationships with the Bridgeport Regional Business Council; formalizing internship models with area businesses and identifying sources of funding.
- The “Connections with Educational Institutions” subcommittee will work with Bette, Marianne, and all the Deans to strengthen educational pathways with Housatonic Community College and build stronger connections with Fairchild-Wheeler Magnet High School and the Aquaculture Science & Technology Education Center, providing students with avenues to Southern in various STEM disciplines.
- A third subcommittee will focus on partnerships centered on sustainability, which is a key area of interest for Bridgeport. We are working with Mayor Finch and his staff to identify space for the university within a city building that could be used as a Center for Applied Sustainability, and he has asked that Southern serve as the lead educational institution on various sustainability projects across the city. With primary areas of focus being coastal resilience and carbon reduction, this could be a natural extension of the work of our Center for Sustainability and the Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies.
Ian Canning, Director of Special Academic Programs & Sessions, is developing a visual depiction of the various Bridgeport projects and a list of short-term priorities that the university will focus on this academic year. This will be shared with the campus community, and additional participants from our faculty and staff will be invited to join the existing subcommittees.
We anticipate that our work in Bridgeport will help shape future research projects, special topics, and directed work experiences in the classrooms here at Southern. And while not all students and faculty may travel to Bridgeport, they will still be able to participate by supporting individual projects through their efforts here on campus.
A key part of our mission is “preparing our local students for global lives.” 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.
Each year, a significant number of Southern students study abroad – in places like Guatemala, Iceland, Germany, Chile, South Africa, Spain, Australia, and Ghana – and we have a growing contingent of international students.
With Erin Heidkamp installed as our director of international education, we are exploring new opportunities for engagement. In fact, this week, Erin and Provost Bergeron will be leaving for China to visit five institutions, with a view to establishing new collaborations there, and several visiting scholars from China will be on campus during the semester.
Southern has also joined 240 institutions nationwide in the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative to double the number of American students who study abroad by the end of the decade. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of all U.S. college students study abroad at some point in their academic careers.
And with 2.6 million students graduating with associate’s or baccalaureate degrees each year, it is clear that major segments of America’s young people are not getting the international experience they will need to advance their careers and to participate in the global economy, or to work together across borders to address global issues.
Here at Southern, we intend to do our part to ensure that students from all backgrounds and in all fields of study have the opportunity to gain this important experience.
STUDENTS EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS
Michael Ben-Avie, director of assessment, reports that, once again, Southern students have exceeded expectations on the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+) in terms of educational gains on competencies that are in high demand among employers.
CLA is a performance-based assessment measuring skills such as critical thinking; problem solving; scientific and quantitative reasoning; and writing effectiveness. In fall 2013, 145 freshmen were tested on this rigorous national assessment and 115 seniors completed it in the spring. The seniors exceeded expectations in how well they performed on the test compared with projections, which were based on the CLA test scores of the freshmen and their SAT scores.
By exceeding expectations, our seniors have demonstrated the value-added impact of a Southern education on their career preparedness – a testament to the quality of our faculty and the strong work ethic of our students. Michael notes that by this time next year, we will be able to compare the results of the seniors who studied in the previous general education program (AUR) to those of the students who studied in the new Liberal Education Program (LEP).
Good news from the School of Education, which will partner with the state Department of Education in the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR) grant announced at the University of Florida’s CEEDAR Center Oct. 6. Southern joins our sister school, Central Connecticut State University, and the University of St. Joseph in Hartford, with technical support from the lead team at the University of Florida.
Dean Stephen Hegedus reports that the core goal of the grant is to design and implement pre-service curricula for all teacher candidates that will improve core and specialized instruction of students with learning disabilities and other special needs. The ultimate aim is to ensure that these students reach college- and career-ready standards in reading, writing and comprehension skills.
The School has also been invited to share a report with the New Haven Board of Education regarding the success of the second Gear Up Summer Academy, which was held on campus last July. Gear Up New Haven is a cooperative initiative between Southern and the New Haven Public Schools designed to support the academic and social/emotional success of students drawn from nine New Haven schools who this year are all freshmen in high school.
Our goal at Southern is to continue to support and mentor this group of students for achievement through high school and prepare them for college admission and success. We will be following them consistently until they graduate from high school. When they reach the stage where they are ready to apply for college, there are federal funds available for Gear Up participants to attend a post-secondary experience of their choosing.
Our yearly Summer Academy strengthens academics for the students with a theme-based curriculum designed by Southern faculty coordinators in partnership with corresponding New Haven schools faculty. The program emphasizes cultural arts, language arts, mathematics, science, college preparation, and the strengthening of social skills and team building. Each week a different professional resident artist exposes all the students to a unique art medium such as digital photography and African drumming, and there are weekly cultural field trips.
This is a successful effort promoting achievement and real-world success. Stephen writes: “Our strength is in our team, in our belief in our goal of education for all, and in the contract to partner with the NHPS cohort as they move toward attaining their dream to succeed in college and beyond.”
GUIDING STUDENT SUCCESS INITIATIVES
In my previous blog, I mentioned the range of Student Success initiatives that we are now introducing to help enhance our retention rate and smooth our students’ path to graduation. Two key leaders in this effort will be our new Assistant Vice Presidents in the Division of Student Affairs: Christopher Catching and Jules Tetreault, who both joined us last month.
Chris will focus on leading broad-based retention programs and services that will provide academic and transitional support to enhance student learning and promote student success. He will work with key stakeholders to collaboratively develop and evaluate strategic efforts designed to enhance our students’ intellectual and vocational development. Chris will also work with his team to provide a blend of support programs, opportunities and services designed to maximize students’ personal development and long-term success. The Disability Resource Center, University Access Programs, Academic Success Center and New Student and Sophomore Programs all report to him. Chris comes to us from Hofstra University where he served as Assistant Provost and Executive Director of the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program. Prior to this role, he worked at Rutgers University as Director of Multicultural Education, Assistant Dean of Students and Assistant Director of Student Involvement and Programs.
Jules replaces Peter Troiano as Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students, with a portfolio of providing strategic leadership and oversight for the engagement and wellness of our students. Working with teams in Student Life, Multicultural Affairs and Judicial Programs, Jules will develop programs, services and initiatives that also foster diversity and inclusion; accountability, civility and respect; and service learning, civic engagement and volunteerism. Working with teams in Student Health Services, Counseling Services, Drug and Alcohol Resource Center, Wellness Center and the Women’s Center, he will provide oversight for a comprehensive and integrated approach to the health and wellness of Southern students.
Jules comes to Southern from Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, where he served as Dean of Student Affairs. At that institution, he also served as Associate Dean, Assistant Dean and Director of Residential Life and Judicial Affairs
Please make Chris and Jules welcome and lend them your support as they develop and implement these important student success initiatives.
TOBACCO-FREE CAMPUS PROPOSAL
As you know, the Health and Safety Committee, chaired by University Police Chief Joseph Dooley has been working on a Tobacco-Free Campus proposal since February 2014. A subcommittee, chaired by Dr. Diane Morgenthaler, Director of Health Services, was formed to ensure that this initiative had representation from all groups of students, faculty and staff.
Part of our mission to foster a safe, healthy and respectful environment on campus, this effort was the result of a letter from U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy last February encouraging Southern to join campuses nationwide in maintaining smoke- or tobacco-free campuses.
As of July 3, at least 1372 institutions had adopted policies that eliminate smoking in indoor and outdoor areas across the entire campus, including residences. Of those, 938 were completely tobacco-free, and 176 prohibited the use of e-cigarettes anywhere on campus.
Along with cigarettes, Southern’s proposed policy would prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes and tobacco products on university property, including smokeless tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah and any other device using smoke or vapor, Chief Dooley reports.
The policy would be designed to help reduce health risks and related employee healthcare costs; increase productivity; reduce campus litter and prepare our students for careers in increasingly tobacco-free work environments. The proposal will continue to be refined this semester and presented to Cabinet for final review after community input and discussion.
DIRECTOR OF DIVERSITY AND EQUITY
Pamela Lassiter, Director of Diversity and Equity, will be leaving the university Oct. 31 to take up a new position as the New York City Fire Department’s first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.
Pamela will serve as a member of Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro’s executive leadership team and will hold the in-house title of Deputy Commissioner. Her responsibilities will include creating, implementing, assessing and gaining support for diversity and inclusion efforts agency-wide. She will also oversee the agency’s recruitment efforts and equal employment opportunity compliance.
At Southern, Pamela has played a key leadership role in several campus initiatives, including the President’s Commission on Campus Climate and Inclusion and our inaugural Social Justice Week (see item below). I thank her for her efforts to ensure that our campus remains an inclusive, welcoming environment for all members of our community.
While we prepare to undertake a search for Pamela’s permanent replacement, Dean of Students Jules Tetreault, will serve as interim Title IX coordinator and Chief of Staff Jaye Bailey will oversee the Office of Diversity and Equity, effective Oct. 31.
In the meantime, please congratulate Pamela on her new appointment.
SOCIAL JUSTICE WEEK
Our inaugural Social Justice Week will be held during the week of October 22 to 29. The full schedule is available at: https://southernct.edu/files/emailblast/20141013/social-justice-week-2014.pdf
This weeklong series of films, workshops and forums will be bookended by two keynote speakers: Michael Eric Dyson, professor of sociology at Georgetown University and a public intellectual and best-selling author on civil rights and popular culture; and Jane Elliott, internationally known teacher, lecturer and diversity trainer famed for her controversial “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise exploring the roots of prejudice.
Please take the opportunity to support this event and play an active role in enhancing inclusivity and civility at Southern.
MIDNIGHT MADNESS KICKS OFF HOMECOMING WEEK
Tuesday night saw an enthusiastic crowd of more than 1,500 people light up Moore Field House for our first Midnight Madness event. Fans had the opportunity to catch their first glimpse of the Owls’ men’s and women’s basketball programs, which are coming off excellent seasons in 2013-14. An array of contests and giveaways took place during the evening, including a slam dunk contest by the men’s basketball team, a “Hotshot” contest for spectators and a combined skills challenge involving student-athletes from both the men’s and women’s programs, along with lucky fans. Both teams will also held a brief intra-squad scrimmage.
Our women’s team returns nine players and four starters from last year’s squad that won 12 games and qualified for the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament.
The men’s team is coming off its finest season in school history (30-3) and reached the NCAA Division II Elite Eight for just the second time, while winning their first-ever NE-10 Conference regular season and tournament titles. The Owls are ranked No. 2 nationally in two preseason polls – and return 12 student-athletes from last year. In an exciting match-up to open the season, they will play the reigning NCAA Division I Champions, the University of Connecticut, in an exhibition game on Nov. 4.
Midnight Madness kicked off a full week of Homecoming activities under the theme #OwlNation!: http://www.southernct.edu/student-life/activities/officeofstudentlife/activities/homecoming.html
Homecoming has been a campus tradition for more than 30 years and is a wonderful way to celebrate our Southern community. I hope you will join me in welcoming our alums back to campus for our parade, pep rally, football game and more!
The weekend concludes with our Undergraduate Open House on Sunday. Our enrollment management team has done a wonderful job preparing for and spreading the word about this event, where we will showcase all that is best about a Southern education to almost 3,000 prospective students and parents. Our Graduate Open House will be held the following Saturday.