Professor Salters-Pedneault Wins Statewide Research Award

left to right, BORPresident Greg Gray, Kristalyn Salters-Pednault and BOR Chair Nicholas Donofrio

On April 15, the Connecticut State University System Board of Regents’ (BOR) presented Psychology Professor Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault, with its statewide Faculty Research Award for 2015. Kevin Donohue, adjunct assistant professor in business information systems, won a statewide Teaching Excellence Award for adjunct faculty, and Daniel Donaghy, assistant professor of English, won the Eastern campus Teaching Award.
Salters-Pedneault was honored for her work in the area of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She is currently involved in a project funded by the Departments of Defense and Veteran Affairs totaling more than $1.5 million that is designed to evaluate treatment techniques for PTSD among returning veterans.

Salters-Pedneault also has an interest in experimental psychopathology, which takes questions of clinical interest and brings them into laboratory settings. “Together, these streams of research further the understanding of human suffering and work to alleviate it by informing effective clinical practice,” wrote James Diller, associate professor of psychology, in his letter nominating Salters-Pedneault for the award.

Widely respected for the impact she has on her students and the 11 research assistants she supervises and mentors, Salters-Pedneault’s research and mentoring have achieved high levels of national visibility. “Her full body of publications has been cited in 397 published works,” said Psychology Professor Wendi Everton. “This is amazing, given the fact that research published recently must usually rest for a few years before it begins to be cited in other published works. This indicates that her work is held in very high regard by her peers in the clinical psychology community.”

Donahue is highly regarded for using his deep knowledge and information technology experience to creatively engage students in learning information technology, digital collaboration, business to consumer electronic commerce and business telecommunications.
“Students always rate his teaching and knowledge of the subject matter very highly,” wrote Don Petkov, professor of business information systems. “His teaching is always well structured, understandable and at the same time, mixed with a fresh sense of humor that keeps his evening classes interesting and contributing to the intellectual growth of our students.”

Donaghy is a practicing poet and scholar in British and American poetry. English professor Christopher Torockio say Donaghy’s work is top tier. “His record of teaching excellence and commitment to Eastern students has been incalculable. He has established himself as one of the top poets in America today.”  Award-winning poet Jim Daniels said Donaghy’s latest book, “Start with the Trouble,” which won the University of Arkansas Press Poetry Series Prize, illustrates that Donaghy “is the real deal.”

People Helping People Wins Statewide Award

 At the Capitol, left to right, are William Dyson, chair of the Connecticut Commission on Community Service; Jane Ciarleglio, executive director of the Office of Higher Education; student Jeannine Gemma, vice president of People Helping People (PHP); Eastern alumnus and AmeriCorps VISTA Max Goto, former president of PHP; student Lily Egan, member of PHP; and commissioner of the Connecticut Commission on Community Service.

Because of its dedicated service to disabled adults who live in the High Chase Residential Center in Willington, People Helping People (PHP), a student club at Eastern, won one of two statewide “student group” community service awards on April 14. Student representatives of PHP accepted a Connecticut Higher Education Community Service Award at the State Capitol, given by the Office of Higher Education.

“Receiving this award is such an honor as the clients at High Chase have been through so much,” said Jeannine Gemma, vice president of PHP and a senior majoring in social work. “I am so glad that we are able to bring happiness to their lives.” For the past seven years, PHP has organized a group of students to visit High Chase every week during the academic year. From socializing and playing games to bringing residents on field trips to Mystic Aquarium or to Eastern’s campus for lunch, PHP provides High Chase residents with a high point they can count on every week.

“Many of the residents didn’t expect the students to return week after week,” wrote Kim Silcox, director of Eastern’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE), in her nomination letter. “After being let down throughout their lives, residents admittedly have trust issues. However, as the group of Eastern students continues to return, “The number of residents spending time with the students has grown from only a handful to nearly all of them. In addition, residents who were very shy and almost never spoke now greet the students and converse until the Eastern van leaves. Eastern could not be more proud of People Helping People and its members for their commitment to social justice, community service and the betterment of our world.”

Undergraduate Research Showcased on and off Campus

CREATE Conference a Huge Success

CREATE (Celebrating Research Excellence and Artistic Talent at Eastern), the premier undergraduate research and art conference at Eastern, held its inaugural event on April 17 and 18. By providing exemplary students of all majors an on-campus venue to present their research and creative work, CREATE was the culmination of the 2014–15 academic year, as well as the beginning of a new era.

The two-day event showcased approximately 170 student projects, including oral and poster presentations, art and photography exhibits, video and documentary viewings, and live music and dance performances.  “This is a very dynamic and action-packed event, balanced in subject matter, presentation type and departments represented,” said Professor Dickson Cunningham, co-chair of CREATE, during the opening remarks. “It’s an interdisciplinary forum where we can all learn from each other, so we encourage everyone to attend multiple presentations and see what your classmates and colleagues have been up to.”

The CREATE conference marked the merging of Eastern’s two previous end-of-year academic conferences: the Excellence Expo and the Arts and Sciences Research Conference and Exhibition. “The merging of these two separate conferences took a lot vision, time and work,” said Provost Rhona Free, pointing out the campus-wide efforts that led to the creation of CREATE, and the hard work of the conference’s organizational committee.

Free concluded the opening remarks with presentations of this year’s two Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Mentor Awards. Meredith Metcalf, environmental earth science professor and mentor tograduating senior Laura Markley, was the first recipient.  Miriam Chirico, English professor and mentor to graduating senior Renee Drouin, received the second award.
National Conference on Undergraduate Research

Fourteen Eastern students from 11 academic departments presented at the 2015 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) in Spokane, WA, from April 16–18. Eastern was the top school in Connecticut for NCUR participation this year, and second in COPLAC to Truman State.  With approximately 3,700 submissions, NCUR reported that the competition this year was fierce; 88 percent of Eastern submissions were accepted for presentation. Students accepted for the conference were told, “Your abstract demonstrates a unique contribution to your field of study and we are pleased to offer you the opportunity to present your work to your peers, faculty and staff from around the world.”

Posters on the Hill. 

Graduating senior Richard Magner and his mentor, Mathematics Professor Mizan Khan, presented at the prestigious Posters on the Hill conference in Washington, D.C., on April 22 and 23. Magner’s research, titled “Geometric Questions in Number Theory,”was one of 50 submissions selected from more than 500 applications. Eastern has a distinguished record of presenters at Posters on the Hill, which has a 10 percent acceptance rate. Of the years where a Connecticut institution was selected to present at Posters on the Hill, Eastern has been represented four times out of nine times. No other public university in Connecticut has been represented at all during that time.


ALANA Honors More than 120 Students

“Set ambitious, achievable goals. Make plans for achieving those goals. Embrace your diversity. Take chances and above all, find a good mentor.” That’s what Lenwood Gibson ’99, an alumnus from East Hartford and assistant professor of psychology at Queens College, a City University of New York, encouraged students to do during his presentation at Eastern Connecticut State University’s Third Annual Inclusive Excellence Student Award Ceremony.

The ceremony, held on April 29 in a packed Betty R. Tipton Room, recognized the academic and personal success of more than 120 African American, Latino, Asian and Native American (ALANA) students at Eastern who have a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or higher, and an additional seven students who have demonstrated exemplary co-curricular engagement across campus.

Awards ranged from academic achievements and athletic excellence recognition to career development and global partnership recognition. “This event presents an amazing opportunity to share the accomplishments of more than 120 ALANA students with the campus community,” said Damali Abbensetts, advisor in Eastern’s Academic Advising Center and organizer of the event. “I am thankful to be part of this event’s unique role in highlighting ALANA students’ success at Eastern.”

Gibson, who graduated from Eastern with a Bachelor of Science in psychology of Children and Youth, a Master of Science degree in applied behavior analysis from Northeastern University and a doctorate in special education and Behavioral Analysis from Ohio State University, said he was “blown away at seeing all the excellent new facilities on campus,” and that he was “glad to return to campus and help celebrate and honor excellence.”

First Annual Latin American and Caribbean Studies Conference

left to right, Luis Rodriguez, Rose Marie Hernandez and Kim Silcox listen to questions about the Puentes all Futuro/Bridges to the Future

Eastern hosted its first Latin American and Caribbean Studies Conference to a full house of students, faculty and staff in the Student Center Theatre on April 24. To kick off the conference, Kim Silcox and Luis Rodríguez of the Center for Community Engagement, David Stoloff from the Education Department, and Rose Marie Hernández, program coordinator for the Puentes al Future, discussed the rich Latin American and Caribbean education students experienced by participating in the program. “The Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future program has fostered Latino cultural education in Windham schools, as well as broadened Eastern student’s understanding of the rich cultural history of our community,” Rodríguez said.

Other panels throughout the day discussed tourism, politics and economics in Latin America and the Caribbean. Professors that participated included Emiliano Villanueva of the Business Administration Department, Ricardo Pérez and Dennis Canterbury of the Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work Department, Martín Mendoza-Botelho of the Political Science, Philosophy and Geography Department, Joan Meznar of the History Department, and Maline Werner-Rude of the Art and Art History Department.

Kimberly Jones, Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of the Arts of the Americas at the Dallas Museum of Art, delivered the keynote address. Jones discussed her work on water management and its symbolic importance to life in the early northern Andes. “The emphasis placed on water, and its physical, social and ideological appropriations within a cultural landscape, has roots in and developments from more than 3,000 years of water management in the Andean highlands.”

The conference was made possible with the support of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Faculty Board, the Department of Art and Art History, the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, as well as the Organization of Latin American Students.

Johnsonville – A Multi-Media Production

Race, feminism, and body image were only a few of the themes portrayed in Eastern production of the original multi-media production, “Johnsonville.” The play was performed April 16–19 by Professor David Pellegrini’s Experimental Theatre class, with Pellegrini directing.

Each student brought his or her own talent to the table, including singing, dancing, acting, playing instruments and even baton swirling. “A huge ingredient of “’Johnsonville’” was also collaboration,” said Kindee Queenan, a senior theatre major. “No one person is responsible for any one piece, which made the end product feel so much more than a class project. Students, professors and production teams all contributed poetry, songs, movements, dances, props, clothing, time and heart to ‘Johnsonville.’”

The production also incorporated images through video, interactive websites and live feed animated text — all portrayed on a giant projection screen. There were moments of depression, moments of comedy, and moments of enlightenment and insightfulness. The play used strobe lights in one scene, surprising many of the audience members. With all the unique elements compiled into one play, it was a one-of-a-kind performance by Eastern students. “Theatre is a community like any other, except far more intimate than many others,” said Queenan. “Working in a theatre for weeks on end every night and putting on a show takes not only you but everyone around you on a journey, together.”

“That a whole Connecticut town could be ‘up for auction’ seemed an intriguing metaphor for what  else might be ‘up for grabs’ in our culture and in our lives,” said Pellegrini. “From there we considered presence – both live and technologized – and the implications for how we view ourselves, our bodies our interrelationships … and also our theatre.”

Willimantic as a Work of Art

From April 25 and running through June 6, a one-mile stretch of historic Downtown Main Street in Willimantic, CT, has been transformed into an alternative art space. The art project is called “My Windham,” and is a collaboration of Eastern, the Town of Windham and the My Windham Partnership.

Yarn, thread, paint, concrete, vinyl, digital imagery, chalk, metal, clay, wax and ceramics will dangle from bridges, cover buildings, adorn windows, mark steps on sidewalks and fill exhibition spaces with art, music, dance and theatre.   For six weeks, three indoor venues are open Thursdays 5-8 p.m., Fridays 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Storefront windows and outdoor projects can be viewed day and night during the project.

The My Windham Project features 30 artists in 15 venues, including Town Hall, Whitewater Park, Kerri Gallery, Windham Public Library, Arts at the Capitol Theatre, Willimantic Records, the Hooker Building, the Nassif Building, Burton Leavitt Theater, Jamaican Me Crazy Restaurant, The Lily Pad, The Mill Museum, Heritage Park and the streets of downtown Willimantic. Gail Gelburd, art history professor at Eastern, is curating the exhibition.
“Many people who believe in the future of our town have come together to make this happen because we believe that art can reveal the soul of a place and reinvigorate it,” said Gelburd. “Willimantic has a wealth of unique and outstanding artists and this project will share their voices with friends and neighbors from all over the region. This is a truly collaborative event that will help people to see Willimantic as an art place. It could not have happened without the help of so many caring and talented individuals. We hope that everyone will start to see our town as we do.”

For more information contact Gelburd at, visit or, check out MyWindhamProject on Facebook or Instagram, or call (860) 465-0197

Eastern Hosts Sustainability Conference

Commissioner  Rob Klee, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and Stephanie Rogers, Eastern Student and Intern at the Institute for Sustainable Energy, pose for a “selfie” in the spirit of using social media to broaden engagement in sustainability.

This year’s campus sustainability conference, held at Eastern on April 28, brought together 125 students, faculty and staff from higher education institutions in Connecticut. Yale University’s Office of Sustainability and Eastern’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, co-chairs of the Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability, planned the conference as part of a series of events designed to convene institutions to share ideas and improve collaborative efforts.

Susan Mitchell of Cloverleigh Farm discussing her small-scale mixed vegetable farm where she uses organic growing practices.

Eastern President Elsa Núñez opened the conference, stating her delight in the success of the partnership between Eastern and Yale University. “It is fantastic to see institutions both public and private working together on such key issues as energy, climate change, and curriculum.”

The conference highlighted 12 presentations and four posters, focusing on a broad array of sustainability issues from transportation to large-scale solar power purchase agreements and the importance of sustainability and pedagogy. The Connecticut Green Bank and EnergizeCT co-sponsored the conference.

“This year we focused on three themes for the conference:  Behavior Change and Engagement, Social Media and Sustainability, and Adaptation and Resiliency,” said Laura Miller, conference organizer and Energy Technical Specialist for the Institute for Sustainable Energy. “Working with campus stakeholders it is fascinating to see how social media is playing a key role in engagement and sustainability actions on campuses nationwide,” “In June we have our second round table workshop planned which will focus on power purchase agreements for large scale solar installations on campuses. Promoting this type of collaboration is essential to ensure continued momentum towards our carbon neutral goals.”
For additional information on the Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability and the conference, contact Miller at

EES Department Represents Eastern in New Hampshire at GSA Meeting

Kneeling, left to right, are Joshua Bartosiewicz, Matt Marsie, Michael Gozzo. Standing, left to right, are Professor Drew Hyatt, Mike Manzie, Brandan Sumeersarnauth, Ted Pycz, Vicky Szamocki, Laura Markley, Professor Brian Oakley, Jackie Lorange, Brian Wicks, Mackenzie Fannon, Professor Steve Nathan, Amber McDonald (front), Samantha Boyle (rear), Sydney Day (front), Kevin McCormick, Professor Peter Drzewiecki.

Fifteen environmental earth science (EES) students and four EES faculty members participated in the Northeast section meeting of the Geological Society of America. Attended by approximately 1,200 people, the 50th annual meeting was held at the Mount Washington Hotel/Omni Resort in New Hampshire in late March.
“With nearly 700 students participating, the meeting provided many of Eastern’s students with their first experience of being a part of a larger scientific community of geoscientists,” said EES Professor Steve Nathan. “Better than any lecture or lab, the students saw for themselves the value of sharing and exchanging their research with others.”

Seven EES students presented posters of their research, with topics ranging from arsenic in groundwater to coastal erosion to geothermal energy. All of Eastern’s students attended the meeting’s oral and poster presentations that occurred over the three days.

Eastern Named Green College for Sixth Year in a Row

Eastern is one of the 353 most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States according to The Princeton Review’s 2015 Guide to Green Colleges. With its sustainability-focused academic offerings, energy efficient facilities, on-campus Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE), local/organic sourcing for 50 percent of its food budget and other “green” components, Eastern received a “green rating” of 88 from the Princeton Review.

“Eastern has a campus-wide commitment to sustainability that goes back nearly two decades,” said Mimi Cedrone, energy technical specialist at the ISE. “We have a Green Campus Committee that is dedicated to promoting sustainability on campus, and students, faculty and staff are regularly engaged in lowering energy use, reducing water waste and improving recycling.”

“We strongly recommend Eastern and the other fine colleges in this guide to the many environmentally-minded students who seek to study and live at green colleges,” said The Princeton Review’s Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher.

Fun Mud Day Pushes Kids to Get Dirty

A preschooler enrolled at Eastern’s CFDRC crawling through the mud with Provost Rhona Free.
“I try.” That was the message to the preschool children during the Fun Mud Day obstacle course at Eastern on May 4. Based on the military-style obstacle course “Tough Mudder,” Fun Mud Day challenged the children of Eastern’s Child and Family Development Resources Center (CFDRC) to get out of their comfort zones and try a variety of muddy obstacles they typically do not come across.

Like the Tough Mudder, the goal of the children’s event is not to win, but simply to try. According to Darren Robert, chief organizer of Fun Mud Day and health and physical education professor, “The purpose is to push the children beyond their limits of comfort. With technology and sedentary living so prevalent, chances to get dirty aren’t as common.” “By experiencing different feelings and textures, and relying on gross and physical motor skills, the event also builds confidence and competence,” said Niloufar Rezai, director of the CFDRC.

The children were not the only ones getting dirty in the course. To supervise and encourage them, Eastern students from the education and kinesiology and physical education departments, as well as parents and staff members participated. Provost Rhona Free led the way on several of the obstacles. “It’s nice to see the kids responding to encouragement, trying things they normally wouldn’t,” she said. “It’s good to be uncomfortable every once in a while, considering all our time behind computer screens. It tests their agility and balance, and they’re so proud of themselves afterward.”

Softball Team to Play in NCAA Regional

The Eastern softball team will open play in the NCAA Division III tournament against Husson University in the four-team, three-day double-elimination tournament, which gets underway Friday at Clark Field on the campus of Wheaton College. The regional tournament winner advances to the best-of-three Super Regionals May 15-16, with the eight survivors advancing to the NCAA Division III national tournament May 21-26 at the James Moyer Sports Complex in Salem, VA.
Eastern (Little East Conference), Husson (North Atlantic Conference) and Johnson & Wales (Great Northeast Athletic Conference) all qualified automatically for the 62-team field, while Wheaton qualified on an at-large basis after the top-seeded Lyons were eliminated in four games in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) tournament Sunday. In the final regular-season NCAA New England regional poll that was released this past Thursday, Wheaton is ranked third, Eastern fifth and Husson tenth.
Making its 20th NCAA appearance since 1982, four-time national champion Eastern has won six straight this year, with the final four coming in this past weekend’s Little East Conference tournament at the Eastern Softball Stadium.