Off to a Great Start in Housing and Residential Life

The Office of Housing and Residential Life welcomed more than 2,545 students to campus during the annual student move-in days, held on Aug. 26 and 27. Despite not using the Best Western Hotel this year, and having one of the smaller residence halls closed for repairs, Eastern was still able to accommodate all first-year and transfer students, and nearly all upperclassmen who desired on-campus housing.
Although construction sites made some areas of campus a little difficult to navigate, the move-in process went well, as faculty, staff, student volunteers, student leaders and Eastern alumni were on hand to greet and welcome students and their parents to campus.

 Students were emailed check-in instructions prior to their date of move-in, and University Police and other staff provided directions to students and families upon their arrival to campus, which helped things  go smoothly.

Residential students come from 18 countries, 25 states, and more than160 different municipalities throughout Connecticut. As such, the Eastern residential population is a diverse community of scholars who will benefit from the inclusive communities; active learning opportunities; and life skills development that the residence halls provide.

Partaking of a collegiate experience like none other, on-campus students embrace Eastern’s philosophy of a liberal arts education, practically applied, and they can look forward to a productive year in Housing and Residential Life!


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New Eastern Students Get Involved to Start the Semester


On Aug. 26-27, freshmen and transfer students participated in the annual Warrior Welcome. After a long day of moving into the residence halls and attending campus orientation, more than 500 students were provided a variety of late-night activities in the Student Center. Eight hundredstudents participated in the campus-wide scavenger hunt; 300 attended the mind reader’s performance; and approximately 30 enjoyed yoga and Zumba exercises.

The following day, more than 100 students took advantage of volunteer opportunities with the Center for Community Engagement. Activities included clearing brush around Willimantic’s Railroad Museum; preparing and serving lunch at the Covenant Soup Kitchen; weeding, harvesting and maintaining community gardens with the Willimantic Chamber of Commerce; organizing and folding clothes with the Windham Area Interfaith Ministry; and assisting Sweeney Elementary School with its Field Day, among other activities.

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“Those Who are Eastern!”


On Aug. 27, Eastern President Núñez delivered her State of the University Address, titled “Those Who Are Eastern,” a theme reflected in the University’s new interactive, online recruitment viewbook. Núñez said that after nearly a year of research, a consulting team found Eastern to be “a learning community with a palpable sense of connection and a mutual commitment to educating our students.”
Núñez said Eastern’s faculty and staff have collaborated to achieve fiscal stability and institutional progress. She cited the University’s operating budget, noting that declining state allocations have put pressure on the budget, but “we developed strategies to save money; we innovated; we collaborated at the department level, in ad hoc teams, and as a campus community; and we brought renewed stability and opportunity to our campus. This year marks the sixth straight year that we will have a balanced budget.”

Examples of a collaborative approach included Eastern saving almost a million dollars a year in energy-related savings, and saving $1.2 million this year by holding positions open and doubling up job duties.  “We would not have a balanced budget without those sacrifices. There is no greater sign of a community united than shared sacrifice. All of these prudent fiscal measures have allowed Eastern to reallocate and focus the limited financial resources we have on the University’s most important human resource—the faculty.

“We have made a significant increase the number of full-time tenure-track faculty at Eastern.  “A year ago, 175 of the 201 full-time faculty positions were tenured or tenure-track. Today, 194 out of 201 faculty positions are permanent—that is 97 percent!  This is outstanding and was one of the most critical and fundamental objectives in our 2013 Strategic Plan,” she said.   
Núñez said increasing our tenured faculty numbers makes possible everything else Eastern wants to do, such as create new majors; renew and improve our curriculum; innovate and create new programs, spend more time mentoring student researchers, and collaborate more across disciplines.

During the University Meeting, several individuals were recognized for their years of service to the University. Presented with awards for 10 years of service were Math and Computer Science Professors Kehan Goa and Bonsu Osei; Psychology Professors Alita Cousins and Jennifer Leszczynski; Benjamin Pauley, associate professor of English; Elise Browne, library technician; Michael Gadoury, library technical assistant; Kevin Snow, detective in public safety; Cedric Lindsey, general trades worker; Charles Liskiewicz, craft worker-HVAC; Diane Osunniyi, processing technician; Gerald Provost, skilled maintainer; and custodians Rosemary Petrovics and Kathryn Dodge.

Awards for 20 years of service were presented to English Professors Elena Tapia and Rita Malenczyk; Visual Arts Professor June Bisantz; Environmental Earth Science Professor Catherine Carlson; History Professor David Frye; and Denise Bierly, Head Women’s Basketball Coach.

Political Science Professor Christopher Vasillopulos, Business Administration Professor Ronald Lowy and Education Professor Ann Gruenberg were honored with 25-year awards.

Susan Herzog, librarian; Rachael Gavin, library technical assistant;  Cheryl Durand, custodian; Patricia Kucharski, administrative assistant; Performing Arts Professor Robert Lemons; Social Work Professor Margaret Martin; and Education Professor Leslie Ricklin were honored as they retired from University service.


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Eastern Takes the “Ice Bucket Challenge” for ALS

On Sept. 4, more than 200 students, faculty and staff from Eastern converged on the lawn of Gelsi Young Hall to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The Eastern community was challenged by President Elsa Núñez, who completed the challenge on Aug. 28 with her senior staff of seven vice presidents.

Mike Burke, executive director of the ALS Association’s Connecticut Chapter, visited campus for the event. “ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a degenerative disease that is always fatal and has no cure and no treatment,” he said. Nearly 6,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, with a life expectancy of two to five years after diagnosis. There are approximately 30,000 Americans with ALS at any given time.

 “I think it’s great that students, faculty and staff can all come together as a community to help raise awareness for ALS,” said Jason Coombs, director of Eastern’s dining services. “I’m going to challenge other Chartwells (Eastern’s food service provider) accounts in the region.”
Sophomore Ashley Bressette, a communication major, said, “I’m happy to go to a school that comes together to support important causes such as ALS.” Abby Perriera, a sophomore majoring in social work, added, “I’ve done the challenge already on my own, but it was great to do it with a bunch of friends from Eastern.”

In regards to giving, Burke said, “Whether or not the students can afford to donate is inconsequential. What’s important is that this younger crowd has done its part in raising awareness of a terrible disease that, up until recently, few people were aware of.”

The ALS Association Connecticut Chapter reported that as of Sept. 3, $107.4 million has been raised among the 38 association chapters nationwide, compared to the $3.2 million that was raised last year—this year’s amount does not include donations to other ALS organizations.

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President’s Annual Picnic and Student Activities!

On Sept. 8, hundreds of students, faculty and staff came out to enjoy the Annual President’s Picnic and Student Activities Fair. This year’s event was held behind the Student Center and Occum Road. 

With more than 100 tables representing students clubs and activities, there was something for everyone!  Now that the clubs and organizations on campus have an extensive list of students interested in joining, they are off to the races, planning all kinds of great experiences and events for the campus community.

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The Board of Regents Holds “Town Hall” Meeting at Eastern

On Sept. 10, Gregory Gray, president of the Board of Regents (BOR) for Higher Education, and three of his colleagues came to Eastern to discuss Transform CSCU 2020, the strategic plan for the 17 Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU). The “Town Hall” meeting was a forum for the Eastern community to provide input on the plan.

Gray opened the meeting with an overview of Transform 2020, which aims to unify and increase efficiency and effectiveness within the CSCU system. “Access, affordability and unparalleled excellence are the three pillars of Transform,” he said.

Sharon Palmer, BOR member and commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Labor, explained the five goals of Transform 2020: ensure a successful first year for students; increase graduation rates; maximize affordability for students and financial sustainability for institutions; create academic innovation; and eliminate achievement gaps among minority groups. “Everything in Transform circles back to these goals,” said Palmer.

“This is not just academic rhetoric,” said Gray. “Our goals will be reached through Transform’s 36 initiatives.” The initiatives concern enrollment, retention, academic offerings, student services, workforce readiness, instructional innovation and other topics.

“Higher education is amid a revolution, and Transform is going to keep Connecticut ahead of it,” said Gray. He highlighted the concept of “smart classrooms,” which he assures will be available among the CSCUs very soon. “Smart classrooms will enable students from across the system to take the same course, or allow for lectures from professors internationally.” He continued, “The responsiveness of the technology will be instantaneous, as if the course is not being taken digitally.”

Gray and his colleagues admitted to not having all the answers. “That’s why we are here, for your input,” said Gray.

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Neville Brown Named MVP!


Neville Brown, assistant director of financial aid, was named Most Valuable Professional by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Association Administrators earlier in September. Brown has worked in financial aid for nearly 22 years and has served on NASFAA’s board of directors since 2009, and as the 2010-11 EASFAA president. He was the recipient of the 2008 EASFAA Outstanding Volunteer Award and the 2009 CAPFAA P. Jerome Cunningham Award for distinguished service to the financial aid profession.

Brown said financial aid has taught him patience and empathy, and how to be an effective voice for students and his profession. He named numerous motivating financial aid experiences: Giving hope to a student/family that lost hope; helping students fulfill their college dreams; knowing that my small contribution as an aid administrator will have a big impact on the lives of students for many years; being a part of the success of College Goal Sunday as the University site coordinator; creating the Eastern Connecticut State University Book Scholarship to help students with defraying the cost of textbooks; and creating National Financial Aid Day (NFAD), which is the third Wednesday in October.

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Women in Leadership

On Sept. 15 in the Student Center Theatre, a panel of six female leaders from different sectors of Connecticut’s workforce spoke to Eastern students about women in leadership. The event was a program of the nonprofit organization Connecticut Humanities and sponsored by Eastern’s Women’s Center.
The panelists, shown above from left to right, included Maryam Elahi, CEO of the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut; Mae Flexer, state representative of the 44th Assembly District of Killingly and Plainfield; Christine Pina, vice president of institutional advancement at the University of Hartford; Camila Ross, president and co-founder of the Emerson Theatre Collaborative; Carolyn Treiss, executive director of the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women; and Jessica Carso, development director for Connecticut Humanities.

Some of the topics discussed included the need for women to have role models that nurture them to become leaders; the challenge of balancing home life with work life; the need for both partners of adult relationships to share roles and responsibilities; the importance of supporting and encouraging each other to take risks and take on leadership roles; and the need for women to display confidence in the working world.

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Authors Present Books

“Imagine one day you go to the sink, and there is no water. That is the reality in Haiti every day,” said poet and photographer Marc-Yves Regis when he visited Eastern on Sept. 10. “There are 10 million people in Haiti; nine million of them don’t have water.” Regis, a native Haitian who has written five books and worked for the Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times and Hartford Courant, visited campus for the first University Hour event of the semester. During his hour-long lecture, Regis shared his poetry and photography and, in doing so, a bit of his homeland.
“No well to fetch water; no water to flow from spigot,” he repeated in his thick Haitian accent as he read a poem from his book “Haiti through My Eyes.” Water scarcity, hunger and the general struggle to survive for the Haitian people are common topics of his work.

Following his reading, Regis presented a slide show titled “Old Enough to Walk, Old Enough to Carry Water.” The collection of photos showed children holding and balancing buckets of water — and other materials such as baskets of fruit and boxes of donated shoes — upon their heads. This often aimless and futile journey for water happens every day, and the children carry the brunt of the work.
When he was 18 years old, Regis moved to Miami. “I have a 17-year old son. He cannot carry five gallons of water on his head, but children growing up in Haiti can.” Before he moved to the United States, Regis didn’t realize how destitute his country was. “When you have nothing to compare, you think there is no problem. I thought I was rich.”

To further explain the situation in Haiti, Regis added, “People live on less than two dollars a day. School is a luxury; many children simply can’t go. Most people eat only once a day, sometimes just rice.”

Holocaust Reading

On. Sept. 15, Marion Blumenthal Lazan, author of the award-winning memoir “Four Perfect Pebbles,” read from her work in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center. 

Lazan’s work is her story of surviving the Holocaust as a young child.

After her presentation, Lazan signed books for students, faculty and staff.

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Akus Gallery Host FUSE Reception

On Sept. 4, Eastern’s Akus Gallery hosted a reception for the exhibition, “FUSE 2014,” which is running through Oct. 9. The exhibition features the work of 27 Eastern full-time and part-timeVisual Arts faculty.

“The work of the faculty artists demonstrates that they are well-versed and at the forefront of artistic technique in a number of innovative fields, including computer animation, digital design, oil on linen, performance art, welded steel, lithography jewelry design and time-honored traditional media,” said Professor Anne Dawson, chair of the Visual Arts Department.

“From materials as disparate as steel and digital technology, and styles as distinct as harsh realism and lyrical abstraction, these artists share a commitment to diverse artistic materials, processes and perspectives. Eastern’s students benefit from this diversity as they undertake courses in all of the department’s concentrations. Our students are encouraged to identify and define their own creative visions, inspired by the wide differences of expression they encounter among their art professors.”
For more information regarding this and other exhibitions at Akus Gallery, call (860) 465-4659 or visit:

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Eastern Students Experience British Theatre in London

From June 29–July 27, 11 theatre students from Eastern spent four weeks in London for an intensive program on British theatre. The program provided students a month-long theatre tour that included seminars, workshops, talks, tours and attendance at a number of performances and museums in London and neighboring areas.
 The program, co-supervised by Theatre Professors Ellen Brodie and David Pellegrini, has been offered by Eastern since 1999. “It is an intensive immersion into the world of professional British theatre,” said Brodie, who developed the summer ex[eroemce and is director of Eastern’s theatre program. “The emphasis was on experiencing the work firsthand, as a means of exploring some of the key ideas in British arts, from past to present day, such as shifts in artistic practice, functions and sociopolitical impact of the arts.”

Students worked alongside guest artists and teachers, who helped them learn new skills and techniques; expand their knowledge of theatrical styles and genres; and establish connections for mentoring and networking.

“What an exciting trip; I’m so grateful I got to spend the month in London,” said Caitlin McDonough, a theatre major from Clinton. “We saw 14 amazing shows, explored the whole city, and learned so much about culture and theatre.”
 The group also toured the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Modern Gallery, Hampton Court Palace, Shakespeare’s birthplace and museum in Statford-Upon-Avon, Stonehenge and more.

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Brian Tilley is Eastern’s new Men’s Lacrosse Coach

Having spent nearly a decade as a player and assistant coach at the University of Hartford Brian Tilley has been selected as the fifth head coach in the 20-year history of  Eastern’s men’s lacrosse program. The head coaching appointment is the first for Tilley, who spent the past five seasons as offensive coordinator at U. of H. after beginning his collegiate coaching career in 2009 as offensive coordinator at Division III SUNY-Oneonta.

A native of Lake Ronkonkoma, NY, Tilley moved into the coaching ranks at U of H after a four-year playing career at midfield and attack at U of H, where he was named to theNEILA East-West All-Star Game and team MVP as a senior and to the America East All-Rookie team as a freshman.

In his second season as an assistant coach in 2011, Tilley helped the Hawks to their highest America East regular-season finish (second place) since they shared the title in 2003, and their first-ever America East playoff championship and first NCAA tournament appearance. Of the team’s six regular-season losses that year, five came by two or one goal. In both 2012 and 2013, Hartford was ranked among the national top eight in shooting percentage (third in that category in 2012), goals, assists and points per game.

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