‘Sip & Sketch’ evening at WCSU pairs art with wine and refreshments

Guests of all artistic levels invited to participate in Aug. 17 event

Image of Sip & Sketch posterDANBURY, CONN. — An entertaining and creative evening that pairs the experience of drawing from a live model with wine and refreshments will be offered in the “Sip and Sketch” series event to be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, at Western Connecticut State University.

Guests of all artistic skill levels are invited to create original drawings as they enjoy wine and assorted snacks during the “Sip and Sketch” evening in the Drawing Studio, Room 241 of the WCSU Visual and Performing Arts Center on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The ticket fee of $25 per person includes admission and refreshments as well as basic art supplies including charcoal and paper. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own drawing supplies.

Admission to the event is open to adults 21 years of age and older. Tickets may be purchased at the VPAC ticket office or online at www.wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com. The “Sip and Sketch” series is sponsored by the Department of Art and the WCSU Alumni Association.

For more information, contact the Department of Art at (203) 837-8403 or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.



WCSU partnership with NOAA yields research, results, awards

Middle schoolers from Bethel, New Fairfield and Danbury honored at ceremony

image of Finding Our Way award winners

Finding Our Way award recipients with program administrators Dr. Theodora Pinou and Carol Ball

DANBURY, CONN. — Dr. Theodora Pinou, professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences and faculty curator of the H. G. Dowling Herpetological Collection at Western Connecticut State University, runs Finding Our Way: An Experiential Watershed Learning Program for Middle School Children and Their Families, an environmental science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills education program.

With a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Pinou brings students from regional middle schools to WCSU to provide a wide-ranging educational experience focusing on water resources and ecosystem biodiversity as part of the NOAA Office of Education’s Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Program.

WCSU, Danbury Family Learning Center and Danbury Public Schools collaborate on the program, which offers 30 seventh-grade middle school students and their families a yearlong integrated environmental community stewardship experience focused on New England watersheds.

The Finding Our Way program recently held an awards ceremony, the WCSU NOAA B-WET Stewardship Awards, to recognize the outstanding work done by the program’s participants.

Shristi Ramakrishnan, of Danbury, won the first place award for her in-depth research into the use of microbeads in consumer products and the harm they cause to the environment and wildlife. Ramakrishnan studied labels of skin products and initiated an email writing campaign to CEOs of major retailers, to the companies marketing these products and to Danbury School principals asking for change. CVS responded detailing its efforts to remove microbead products from stores, and Beiersdorf personal-care company explained its efforts to remove microbeads from its skin care lines. Ramakrishnan created posters about microbeads for the Danbury Public Schools and will deliver a presentation about microbeads to 8th graders at Broadview Middle School.

Sahil Patel, of Danbury, explored and took action that addressed a range of watershed stewardship issues, including organizing a group clean-up at Candlewood Lake and North Ridge, creating a website to spread awareness about pollution that features his blog, inventing a method to stop water pollution worldwide, and creation of posters and images to raise awareness of water pollution issues. His efforts earned him the second place award.

New Fairfield resident Braedi Caraher, recipient of a third place award, undertook Frogwatch training to become an official frog-watcher. Three nights a week, she visits the same pond and listens for frogs, logging her data into a national database.

Abby Riolo and Petra Cirella, of Bethel, also earned third place honors for their combined work detailing the environmental impact of a new housing development planned for their town. Their Powerpoint presentation, revealing the projected effects of 25 acres of trees being cut and animals and helpful bacteria displaced, was presented to the Bethel First Selectman and members of the town Planning and Zoning board.

An honorable mention award was presented to Mia Dannucci, of New Fairfield, who researched watershed protection and created a brochure she delivered to her neighbors about ways to safeguard the local water supply. Dannucci’s focus was on pesticide reduction and recommended alternatives such as encouraging birds and bats to control the insect population.

Two Danbury Public School Teachers also were recognized, Joy Pires and Jeff Brewster from Broadview Middle School. Pires received the 2018 Finding Our Way Classroom Engagement Award for her implementation of hands-on water conservation activities learned during her program training into her classroom lessons. Activities included measuring and monitoring in-school personal water consumption, and teaching students about cellular respiration through the biodiversity found in different types of mud. Brewster received the 2018 WCSU NOAA B-WEST Stewardship Classroom Award for his hands-on classroom activity of growing and releasing fish in Kettletown Park. He is a strong advocate for watershed conservation and associated habitat protection, and the anadromous fish training activity he experienced in this program helped him bridge his love of the environment with the priorities of the B-WET program and the new Danbury Public Schools NGSS-aligned curriculum.

Finding Our Way partners with WCSU’s Weather Center, The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation and the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society to study the life cycle and behavior of organisms that rely on the watershed for resources. It also works with the NOAA Fisheries Lab in Milford and FirstLight Power Resources to learn about sustainable clean energy such as biofuel and hydroelectric power, and to examine the cost and benefit of such resources in terms of impact on local fish populations and associated habitats.

With the help of Praxair, the yearlong family program was able to include a 12-day summer enrichment experience, two family science summer events and six family “Science Saturdays” during the academic year. The program is housed at WCSU and uses facilities at the university’s two campuses in Danbury, including the computer science and library facilities and Weather Center on the university’s Midtown campus, and the Nature Preserve and Olympic-size indoor swimming pool on the Westside campus. Family science meetings during the academic year provide support for parents to complete on-line content training and certification, habitat use analysis experiments, participation in a Tri-State Weather conference, and overnight travel to and and NASA space station.

The 12-day summer enrichment program hosts a variety of science and math experiments and field trips, providing students with a head start in STEM fields, as well as building a foundation of environmental stewardship and literacy. The program integrates writing, skills building, recreation, reading, data analysis and teamwork. By the end of the summer, teams of families led by their students develop bilingual public service announcements in the language of their choice.

Selected middle school science teachers receive 28 hours of professional development during the fall and spring to develop, implement and refine their fresh water-related classroom. They also are hired to work the summer experiences, which adds another 60 hours to their STEM training.

Additionally, science teachers are trained to integrate NOAA Ocean Literacy program with Next Generation Science Standards in their classrooms.

Reaching out to disadvantaged, minority and female students, the participating schools include Broadview Middle School, Rogers Park Middle School and Westside Middle School Academy. Ten additional students are selected by lottery from Bethel, New Milford and New Fairfield.

For more information, contact Carol Ball, Finding Our Way Science Education Outreach Coordinator, at (203) 837-8753, or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.



Mock Stock tribute band festival returns to Ives Concert Park

Friday night celebrates Prince and his influences; Saturday is all about metal

image of Ives gazeboDANBURY, CONN. —Ives Concert Park on the Western Connecticut State University Westside campus will host the second annual Mock Stock tribute band music festival this weekend at the venue located at 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. Tickets are $30 at the gate. VIP experience tickets are available. Find more information at www.mockstocktributefest.com/. Get tickets at www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1705023.

Friday, July 20, 2018, will feature Mock Stock Purple, celebrating the music and influences of Prince. The event will begin with Sly & the Family Stone cover band, Everyday People, at 6 p.m. Following a short break, Kiss The Sky will perform the music of Jimi Hendrix at 7:30 p.m. The main act, Dean Ford & The Beautiful Ones, will close the show at 9 p.m. with a Prince set of unparalleled realism.

New Jersey-based Everyday People promotes itself as “a nostalgic look at the ’70s, and in particular the music of Sly Stone or Sylvester Stewart.” The band’s online biography states, “Sly’s music as well as his band was unique and innovative, one might say ahead of his time. Today you can still hear the influence Sly had on music by listening to artists such as: Prince, Bootsie Collins, John Legend and Michael Jackson, just to name a few. Everyday People will take you back in both sight and sound, so you can relive the genius of Sly’s music. … Just as in Sly’s original band, Everyday People is multi-cultural, energetic and rhythmically funky! Comprised of the same components as the original Family Stone, Everyday People has both the look and sound as the original band.”

Based in New York, New York, Kiss The Sky bills itself as “the most historically accurate and authentic Jimi Hendrix-tribute show ever.” According to the band’s social media profile, “Fronted by virtuoso guitarist and showman, Jimy Bleu, and backed by world-class touring musicians, Kiss The Sky is the only Hendrix tribute with spot-on look and sound-a-like performers for both of Jimi’s bands: The Experience & The Band of Gypsys.” The band also promotes itself as “the only show using authentic replica costumes and the same musical gear Jimi used in the 1960s” and “the only show that can faithfully reproduce three of Hendrix’s most historic concerts: 1967’s Monterey Pop, the 1970 Fillmore’s Band of Gypsies & 1969’s famous Woodstock.”

Hailing from Portland, Maine, Dean Ford says he “embodies Prince with every fiber of his being, giving you a show as close as you will ever get to the real thing.” Ford and his band perform all the hits audiences know and love, including the “Purple Rain” album in its entirety. According to the band’s Facebook bio, “… it’s more than just the songs. He’s got the look, the moves and the sounds down jaw-droppingly well. So well, you’ll forget it’s only a tribute. … It all started in 2012, when Ford and his musician friends put on their first of many sold-out tributes to the Purple One in Portland. The show, lovingly entitled ‘Purple Brainz’ is now held annually at the prestigious Port City Music Hall. Past shows have featured Prince and The Revolution’s own keyboardist Matt ‘Doctor’ Fink. Lately, Ford has been sticking with a rotation of his core band, The Beautiful Ones, although he and the band have plenty of surprises up their frilled sleeves.”

Get some rest and catch your breath during the day on Saturday, because beginning at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 21, 2018, Ives Concert Park will be rocking again with Mock Stock Metal, a tribute to the music of AC/DC, Metallica and Guns ‘n’ Roses.

For those about to rock, Pennsylvania-based Halfway to Hell will salute the Ives audience with its “tribute to AC/DC featuring two vocalists, one covering Bon Scott and one covering Brian Johnson.” A fan post on the band’s Facebook page from a recent show proclaimed, “Amazing band, they played three sets (over 3h long) and the different style of the two lead singers allowed them to sing a wide variety of AC/DC songs. YOU GUYS ROCK!”

At 7:30 p.m., Metallica tribute band, Four Horsemen will keep the Ives stage rocking. A recent Facebook fan post raved of the Cleveland, Ohio-based band, “The Four Horsemen don’t just cover early Metallica classics — they actually re-create them, note-for-note. I was blown away by their skill, speed and accuracy, as well as by their showmanship. If you like metal even a little bit, you need to see these guys!”

Mock Stock Metal will close with a performance at 9:10 p.m. by Guns ‘n’ Roses tribute band out of northern New Jersey, Get Your Guns. According to the band’s bio, “Get Your Guns is undeniably, the definitive Guns ‘n’ Roses tribute. From the incredible reproduction of the music to the same raw attitude on stage, Get Your Guns truly recaptures the aura that made GN’R famous. The show begins with a reproduction of ‘Appetite For Destruction,’ the album that started it all. As the set continues, GYG lets the crowd call the shots. Set lists are not an issue, it’s all about audience participation. A ‘you want it, you got it’ attitude.”

Mock Stock Tribute Band Fest is produced by Promotions in Motion, i95 and Ives Concert Park. For more information, visit ivesconcertpark.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter at www.facebook.com/ivesconcertpark and twitter.com/ivesconcertpark.



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.



Student meteorologists provide coverage, analysis as severe weather hits Connecticut

DANBURY, CONN. — Students interested in pursuing a degree in meteorology have a rare opportunity at Western Connecticut State University, where the weather can change on a moment’s notice. Mark Twain noted the highly variable and often wild atmospheric extremes of the region. His musings evolved many years ago to the often-heard commentary, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a minute” — but his observation still rings true.

That became evident on Tuesday, May 15, when four tornadoes, a macroburst and a microburst converged upon Connecticut. Four of WCSU’s student meteorologists — Paul Taschereau, Stephen Puglisi, Nick Uhlman and Zack Duhaime — put their education to work and covered the freak weather event from all angles. They created a video with local media partner, Charter Communications, for broadcast on local access television and multiple social media platforms. Watch the storm coverage [here]

WCSU has the only undergraduate meteorology program in the State of Connecticut and one of only a few in the Northeast. The program offers a solid science degree curriculum that meets American Meteorological Society recommendations and National Weather Service employment requirements.

It’s a small program with enhanced faculty mentoring and opportunities for student-faculty research collaboration — along with particular strength in broadcast meteorology. WCSU’s facilities include the latest green-screen broadcast technology.

Students in WCSU’s meteorology program have access to strong internship relationships in southern New England and the New York metro area, enhanced by the program’s biennial Tri-State Weather Conference. WCSU student meteorologists are well-prepared for employment following graduation or graduate studies in the physical sciences, and many have gone on to become on-air weather personalities both in Connecticut and in other markets.

WCSU boasts an active student-run Meteorology Club, which is a student chapter of the American Meteorological Society. Members participate in local activities and attend regional and national conferences.

Students in the program also have the chance to work and receive credit or compensation in WCSU’s widely recognized Weather Center that has numerous clients and corporate partnerships. It also provides student activities that include community outreach, research, Bridge and STEM programs.

Learn more about WCSU Meteorology at www.wcsu.edu/pam/meteorology/.



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.


WCSU M.F.A. program to present distinguished author readings

Acclaimed writers, M.F.A. alumni and faculty to read from their works Aug. 4-9

DANBURY, CONN. — Award-wining novelists, poets and nonfiction authors will read from and discuss their works during the Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing summer residency session in August at Western Connecticut State University.

A series of programs each evening from Aug. 4 through 9, 2018, will feature distinguished writers whose achievements include selection as recipients of the Housatonic Book Award as well as major national honors in the fields of fiction, nonfiction, memoirs and poetry. All readings will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the President’s Reception Room, located in room 218 of the Classroom Building on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. Admission will be free and the public is invited to attend.

The evening series is presented as part of the summer residency for graduate students currently enrolled in the M.F.A. in Creative and Professional Writing program. Launched in 2005, the M.F.A. program at WCSU enables participants from across the nation to pursue master’s degree studies in a diverse range of creative and professional writing genres through a comprehensive distance learning program complemented by summer and winter on-campus residencies. The coordinator of the WCSU M.F.A. program is Anthony D’Aries, a widely published essayist and author of “The Language of Men: A Memoir,” winner of the PEN/New England Discovery Prize and Foreword magazine’s Memoir of the Year Award.

Following is the program schedule:

  • Saturday, Aug. 4: An evening of readings by M.F.A. program alumni will also include a featured faculty reading from writer and educator Elizabeth Cohen. Cohen is the author of the memoir, “The Family on Beartown Road”; the short story collection, “The Hypothetical Girl”; as well as poetry collections and literary essays and articles. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia University, she has taught at WCSU, the New School, SUNY Plattsburgh and the University of New Mexico.
  • Sunday, Aug. 5: “In Conversation with Dan Pope” will feature the author of the novels “Housebreak” and “In the Cherry Tree,” and of short stories that have appeared in many literary publications including McSweeney’s, Harvard Review, Crazyhorse, Iowa Review and “Best American New Voices 2007.” Pope, who serves as a mentor in the M.F.A. program at WCSU, graduated from the Iowa Writers Workshop and is the recipient of the Glen Schaeffer Award from the International Institute of Modern Letters and the John Leggett Prize in Fiction.
  • Monday, Aug. 6: Featured reader Peter Selgin, an educator and writer whose acclaimed works include novels, essays, memoirs, plays and children’s books, received the 2017 Housatonic Book Award in Nonfiction for his memoir, “The Inventors.” Other recognitions include the Flannery O’Connor Award for Fiction for the novel, “Drowning Lessons”; the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Prize for the novel, “The Water Master”; and finalist for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing for “Confessions of a Left-Handed Man: An Artist’s Memoir.” His stories and essays have been published in many journals and collections including Glimmer Train, Gettysburg Review, Ploughshares, and the “Best American Essays” and “Best American Travel Writing” anthologies. Selgin, recipient of an M.F.A. at the New School, is an associate professor of creative writing at Georgia College and State University.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 7: Jo Knowles will read from several of her fiction works including “Still a Work in Progress,” winner of the 2017 Housatonic Book Award in the Young Adult and Middle Grade category. Knowles has gained national recognition as a young-adult book author with seven titles published since 2006, among them “Lessons from a Dead Girl,” “Jumping Off Swings,” Living with Jackie Chan” and “Read Between the Lines.” Knowles, who resides in Vermont and teaches in the M.F.A. program of Southern New Hampshire University, has earned numerous honors including two SCBWI Crystal Kite awards, an Editor’s Choice and Notable Book citation from the New York Times, Bank Street College’s Best Books for Children, and the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults prize.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 8: Featured readers will be essayist and memoirist Lisa Romeo and poet Julia Lisella. Romeo, an M.F.A. graduate of the University of Southern Maine and member of the Bay Path University M.F.A. faculty, is the author of “Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love after Loss” and nonfiction works that have appeared in the New York Times, O the Oprah Magazine, Brevity, Tishman Review, “Best American Essays” and other publications. Lisella, an associate professor of English at Regis College, has been a contributor to many poetry journals and anthologies and published three poetry collections including “Always,” “Terrain” and “Love Song Hiroshima.”
  • Thursday, Aug. 9: Mystery, suspense and horror writing will be the theme for the concluding presentation by poet, novelist and essayist Stephanie Wytovich and mystery author Jane Cleland. Wytovich, an M.F.A. graduate of Seton Hill University and poetry editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, earned a Bram Stoker Award for her poetry collection “Brothel” and nominations for “Hysteria: A Collection of Madness,” “Mourning Jewelry” and “An Exorcism of Angels.” Described in her biographical notes as “an instructor of English by day and a horror writer by night,” she published her first novel, “The Eighth,” in 2016. Cleland has earned numerous awards for her popular Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series. An M.F.A. mentor at WCSU and director of the Program for Professional Communications at Lehman College, she has authored books on the craft of writing including “Mastering Plot Twists” and “Mastering Suspense, Structure and Plot,” winner of the Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction.

For more information, visit the M.F.A. program website at www.wcsu.edu/writing/mfa or call the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.


Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.


WCSU to offer special telescope viewings of Mars at close approach

Science Building rooftop observation nights for public to be held July 21, 27 & 30 and Aug. 4

image of Mars

Mars (photo credit: NASA)

DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University will host special telescope viewings of Mars as the planet reaches its closest approach to the Earth during 2018 in four public observation nights to be held in late July and early August 2018 on the rooftop of the Science Building on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury.

Telescope viewing of Mars will be offered from 10 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, July 21; Friday, July 27; Monday, July 30; and Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018. Admission will be free and the public is invited. Access will be available at the Science Building main entrance; guests should proceed from the Science Building Atrium by elevator or stairs opposite the entrance to the third floor, and there should proceed through the exit to the rooftop where observations will take place.

WCSU Professor of Astronomy Dr. Dennis Dawson observed that Mars will reach opposition — the point where Earth passes directly between Mars and the sun — on July 27, and will reach its closest approach to Earth this year at a distance of 35.8 million miles around 4 a.m. on July 31. This year’s opposition will bring Mars’ closest encounter with Earth since 2003, and its relative nearness to Earth has increased its magnitude in the night sky to a level of brightness exceeded only by the moon and Venus.

Dawson noted that the Science Building rooftop observation deck has been selected to permit unobstructed telescope viewing of Mars, which will be at a relatively low position in the southern sky at an elevation of no more than 22 degrees. Observations also are expected to feature Saturn and Jupiter, as well as a full moon on July 27. Viewing will not be offered when significant cloud cover prevents sky observations; guests are advised to check local weather conditions before their planned visit.


Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.


WCSU appoints dean of Macricostas School of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Michelle Brown to begin new position on July 16

image of Dr. Michelle Brown

WCSU Dean of the Macricostas School of Arts & Sciences Dr. Michelle Brown

DANBURY, CONN. —   Dr. Michelle Brown has been appointed dean of the Macricostas School of Arts and Sciences at Western Connecticut State University.

Brown begins her new position at WCSU on July 16, 2018. The school is home to 13 academic departments in the sciences and liberal arts, which offer a total of 21 undergraduate majors and five graduate majors.

Brown has served since June 2017 as university fellow for academic excellence at Shenandoah University. In this capacity, she has been a member of the senior academic leadership team, assisting the vice president for academic affairs in many areas including university program accreditation reaffirmation, strategic planning, and faculty and curriculum development. She also administered the honor code and created and led a series of diversity initiatives.

A member of the Shenandoah University faculty since 2010, Brown is an associate professor of English and served from 2014 to 2017 as English Department chair, leading a restructuring and expansion of the department curriculum that earned her the Wilkins Appreciation Award for Significant Contribution to the Development of the University. She previously was coordinator of Core Quest, an initiative to develop a centralized framework of academic advising for students who have not declared a major.

Other assignments at Shenandoah University have included her roles as coordinator of a College of Arts and Sciences assessment of oral and written communications needs and instruction across all disciplines in the college, and as a unit leader and steering committee member responsible for a general education program overhaul funded by a Teagle Foundation Consortium Grant. Brown was a member of the team managing the grant, which was shared with three other institutions. She also served as chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate, addressing faculty concerns in areas of professional development, shared governance, and contract and benefits provisions.

Brown said that her recent visit to WCSU left her deeply impressed with the scholarship and vitality of the university community. “After interacting with Western’s fantastic students, faculty, staff and administrators, I was smitten,” she said. “I am honored and excited to have this opportunity to lead the Macricostas School of Arts and Sciences, where talented, innovative faculty help students become engaged world citizen-learners. I look forward to working with campus and community partners to achieve our collective vision for inclusive academic excellence.”

Brown received her Ph.D. in English in 2008 from the University of Maryland at College Park. She earned an M.A. in English and a B.S. in Communication and English at James Madison University. Her research and instruction have focused on African and post-colonial literatures, with additional teaching experience in women’s and gender studies, critical theory, LGBTQ literature and creative writing. She also has participated extensively in academic programs for first-year university students. She received several research grants at Shenandoah University as well as a Wye Faculty Fellow award from the Aspen Institute.

An active participant in community service activities, Brown has served since 2010 as a classroom volunteer at public elementary and middle schools in Rockingham County, Virginia.



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.



WCSU senior named a 2018 College Woman of the Year by Glamour

Juliett one of 10 North American college students honored by magazine

image of Leah Juliett

Leah Juliett

DANBURY, CONN. — Leah Juliett, a Western Connecticut State University student majoring in political science and minoring in justice and law administration, conflict resolution and women’s studies, was one of 10 college students recognized recently by Glamour magazine as a 2018 College Woman of the Year. Juliett is featured in the June/July issue of Glamour that celebrates the “campus leadership, scholastic achievements, community involvement, activism and entrepreneurship” of the women selected in the magazine’s 62nd annual competition.

The 21-year-old, who will graduate from WCSU in December 2018, is already a highly visible advocate and leader for LGBTQ+ rights, both on campus and on the world stage.

Juliett, who is nonbinary and uses they/them/their pronouns instead of gender-based pronouns for self-identification, founded March Against Revenge Porn, a civil rights organization that seeks to ensure cyber safety, after nude photos of them at age 14 were posted on the Internet. A 2017 march across the Brooklyn Bridge organized by Juliett to call attention to the lack of revenge porn legislation in New York City soon will be followed by marches in Boston, Pittsburgh, Hawaii and Florida.

Juliett expanded their focus to the country’s current political landscape with the creation this year of the National LGBTQ+ Youth Town Hall, a grassroots political mobilization campaign for voting-age queer and trans youth to interact with politicians in advance of the 2018 midterm elections.

How did a 21-year-old become so savvy to the machinations of politics? Much of their expertise in working with politicians and policy came as a result of their education at WestConn, which included stints as a legislative intern for Connecticut Rep. Elizabeth Esty and Sen. Chris Murphy, where they focused on constituent outreach and casework, especially as it pertained to the LGBTQ+ community.

In addition to directing two organizations and holding down both internships, Juliett is a member of the university’s Hancock Student Leadership Program (HSLP). The HSLP is designed to “promote, foster and acknowledge diverse student leadership, and their ability to inspire, motivate and influence others on campus and beyond.” Juliett clearly has taken the program’s mission seriously, capitalizing on a scholarship that allowed them to shadow Jillian Gilchrist at the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. There, they focused on the intersections of revenge porn and human trafficking, and presented suggestions for amendments to Connecticut’s revenge porn law at the Connecticut General Assembly’s Trafficking in Persons Council.

While at WCSU, Juliett has been a member of the Kathwari Honors Program and received the Rosien Scholarship for Political Science and the Rosa Parks Award for Global Citizenship from the Department of Social Sciences.

“Being a Kathwari Honors student allowed me to take courses that have increased my knowledge of leadership and democracy,” Juliett said. “The courses offered by the Honors Program challenge your thinking and expand your personal and political ideology.”

With graduation still six months away, Juliett continues to build upon their reputation as a leader. Earlier this year, Juliett received the Delta Airlines Accelerating Acceptance Grant at the GLAAD Rising Star Media Awards. The grant provided funding for the creation of the National LGBTQ+ Youth Town Hall. Juliett also has had a presence discussing social issues on screen and in print at CNN, MTV, Buzzfeed, Teen Vogue and Seventeen magazine.

Juliett said, “My education is an extension of my activism work. My career goal is to become a civil rights lawyer and U.S. congressperson. I have purposely registered for courses at WCSU that engage my personal interests and increase my abilities to fulfill my future career goals through expanding my knowledge and practicing skills required in my field.”

The first step in meeting those career goals is Juliett’s recent appointment as the Youth Engagement Coordinator for GLAAD in New York City. After receipt of a bachelor’s degree in December, law school is likely to follow.

Professor of Political Science and Conflict Studies Dr. Averell Manes, who coordinates the Hancock Student Leadership Program, said, “Leah is going to go far in life. They have all the traits necessary to be an important national leader in our country. They are highly intelligent, disciplined, self-reflective and tenacious. Their integrity and community conscience are unparalleled, and their desire to lead and bring change is only matched by their determination to do so. I am privileged to know them and will watch their career with glee.”



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.



WCSU exhibition this fall to feature new approaches to artistic realism

Four local artists participate in ‘The Real Unreal: Realism Now’ from Sept. 4 to Oct. 14

DANBURY, CONN. — Four critically acclaimed artists from Connecticut and New York will show selections from their works in “The Real Unreal: Realism Now,” an exhibition showcasing the use of traditional styles to deliver underlying cultural and social critiques that will run from Tuesday, Sept. 4, through Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in the Visual and Performing Arts Center Art Gallery at Western Connecticut State University.

An opening reception concluding with an artist talk will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, in the VPAC Art Gallery on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The exhibition will be open for public viewing during gallery hours from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission for gallery viewing and the opening reception will be free and open to the public; reservations to attend the reception should be made online on the VPAC events web page at www.wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com. The Art Gallery exhibition program is sponsored by the WCSU Department of Art with support from gallery patrons; donations to sustain the program will be accepted.

The exhibition will present works by each artist that outwardly demonstrate a traditional and realistic painting style, while evoking compelling critiques of contemporary culture and society through their unique reinterpretations of the subject matter presented in their works. Artists featured in the show include Mia Brownell, of New Rochelle, New York; Leeah Joo, of Middlebury; Jennifer Knaus, of Collinsville; and Nathan Lewis, of Seymour.

The curator of the exhibition is Jane Rainwater, of Andover, an independent artist, designer and educator who holds an M.F.A. from the Art Institute of Boston. Rainwater’s artistic work, presented in more than 30 solo and group exhibitions over the past two decades, includes drawings, prints, diagrams, installations and sculpture. “My work engages the viewer with its seemingly innocent decorative delight, yet upon closer examination the work challenges and questions our attraction by revealing darker truths,” her artist statement said. She is the owner of Rainwater Design; illustrator, author and designer of eight books; and adjunct professor in art, illustration and design at Eastern Connecticut State University, Manchester Community College and Great Path Academy Magnet School.

Following are biographical notes on the four artists featured in “The Real Unreal” show:

  • Mia Brownell has shown her paintings in more than 130 group exhibitions worldwide since 1997, as well as 18 solo
    Image of Still Life with Catch by Mia Brownell

    Still Life with Catch by Mia Brownell

    exhibitions across the United States including her “Plate to Platelets” show at the University of Colorado earlier this year. Her works are held in 10 private and public collections including the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, and she is a recipient of New York Foundation for the Arts grants, several artist residencies and invitations to participate in the U.S. Department of State Art In Embassies program. “She uses the conventions of the painted food still life as a means to comment on contemporary issues surrounding food,” her biography observed. “Her paintings simultaneously reference 17th century Dutch Realism and the coiling configurations of molecular imaging.” A profile of Brownell written by Rebecca Rudell for “At Buffalo” magazine described the “abstract, gestural lines” that lead the viewer into works that “touch on the complicated relationship we have with food” and “the impact corporations have on what we eat.” The artist told Rudell, “Food is the most profound relationship we have with nature. It’s an intersection with most things, so it’s a perpetual theme of inspiration for me.” Recipient of an M.F.A. in Painting from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Brownell teaches painting and drawing at Southern Connecticut State University.

  • Leeah Joo, a native of South Korea whose family immigrated to the American Midwest when she was 10, earned her
    Image of Pojagi Lush by Leeah Joo

    Pojagi Lush by Leeah Joo

    B.F.A. in Painting at Indiana University and her M.F.A. in Painting at the Yale School of Art. Her paintings have appeared since 1996 in 17 solo and more than 40 group exhibitions across the United States, most recently in one-person shows at galleries in Chicago and Kansas City. Honors include grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Puffin Foundation and the Connecticut Commission of Culture and Tourism, and the MacMillan-Stewart Painting Chair at the Maryland Institute College of Art. In an interview with the contemporary art publication Daily Serving, Joo said she has “always been fascinated with narrative-driven artwork” of diverse origins, from the Old Masters of western Europe to traditional Korean art forms. Her recurring subjects of curtains, coverings, windows and lattice doors provide surface details in fabric, glass and wood that “draw attention to pique the viewer’s interest,” Joo observed. “In great storytelling, the buildup and the anticipation keep us interested, not the ending itself. I like to think my ‘surface’ is the buildup.”

  • Jennifer Knaus has drawn inspiration from diverse sources ranging from classical portraiture to surrealism to create
    Image of Armed by Jennifer Knaus

    Armed by Jennifer Knaus

    paintings and drawings exhibited during the past 20 years at exhibitions in New York, California, Connecticut and across New England, most recently at the Washington (Connecticut) Art Association, the Bristol (Rhode Island) Art Gallery and the Carver Hill Gallery in Rockland, Maine. She received her M.F.A. from the University of California at Davis and earned fellowships from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism and the Greater Hartford Arts Council. She has been a member of the Art Department faculty at Central Connecticut State University since 1994, currently teaching painting, drawing and design. “My paintings are imaginary portraits that come from a desire to combine various unrelated attractions: portraits from the northern Renaissance, 17th century still-life paintings, the beautiful chaos of my backyard at the height of summer and mid-century pattern design, to name a few,” Knaus said in her artist statement. Using “surrealist techniques of tapping into the subconscious,” she observed that her works seek “to embellish icons with humor and a little absurdity, but also within those details to suggest a narrative that is mysterious and atmospheric.”

  • Nathan Lewis has exhibited his paintings and installations in seven solo and
    Image of I Burn Today by Nathan Lewis

    I Burn Today by Nathan Lewis

    more than 20 group exhibitions across the United States and internationally, with his works held in private collections throughout the Northeast as well as California, Russia, Germany and India. An associate professor of art at Sacred Heart University, Lewis received his M.F.A. in Painting from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University, and also has studied art in Italy and Russia. His paintings have appeared on numerous book and journal covers and in films shown at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals. Artist notes for an exhibition at the Fernando Luis Alvarez Gallery in Stamford observed that “Lewis’ work brings to light common mythologies replicated in reality. Known for its allegorical references, his work takes on the form and subjects of complex literary narratives and historical influences,” ranging from Greek and Roman mythology to Shakespearean and religious texts, popular magazines and culture, and post-apocalyptic literature. A review of Nathan’s works by Jane Rushmore published in Play Magazine remarked that the artist’s iconoclastic juxtapositions of images challenges the viewer to respond to his art. “I’m very interested in how an audience reads an image,” Lewis told the reviewer, “and tying it into the culture’s insecurities, desires and fears.”

For more information, contact the Department of Art at (203) 837-8403 or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.


Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.


Researchers expand study of blue-green algae blooms at Candlewood Lake

Public asked to report bloom events to WCSU

image of Associate Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Edwin Wong

Associate Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Edwin Wong collects samples at Jackson Cove in Oxford.

DANBURY, Conn. — For several years, Drs. Edwin Wong and Ghada Salah Hafez and their students in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Western Connecticut State University have studied microscopic cyanobacteria (formerly known as “blue-green algae”) that have caused recent nationwide health concerns. Part of that research entailed weekly sampling and reporting to local health directors on conditions at public beaches.

This year, there are plans to expand the study by sampling and examining conditions at additional sites — but the public’s help is needed.

While the density of cyanobacteria can get high during the summer, very rarely have levels of the cyanotoxins — which some species can produce — exceeded thresholds that warrant beach closure. On Candlewood Lake, the town beaches represent only a tiny fraction of the 65 miles of shoreline where swimmers might enjoy the water on a hot day.

The goal of this additional research is to see whether other areas along the shoreline exhibit similar conditions as the town beaches or, conversely, conditions that might keep swimmers out of the water in a particular area.

Image of Josh Sproule

Research assistant Josh Sproule examines samples in Wong’s WCSU lab.

Working with Wong this summer is Josh Sproule, a graduate of New Fairfield High School and currently a student at the University of Connecticut. Funded by a grant from a local family foundation, Sproule will collect water samples at additional sites around Candlewood and other nearby lakes, based on reports of blue-green algae “blooms” to local health departments, the Candlewood Lake Authority or directly to him. Once he is notified about a bloom, Sproule will collect a sample and test it for levels of cyanotoxins, as well as measure other diagnostic characteristics of the bloom.

Wong will look at the genetic makeup of the cyanobacteria collected to see if certain populations have the ability to synthesize toxins. Research to-date shows that some populations have the necessary genes and some don’t.

The public can help by reporting algae blooms for collection and analysis.



To report a bloom, send an email to Sproule at sproule003@connect.wcsu.edu. Information in the email should include the name and phone number of the person reporting the bloom, an address, location along the shoreline or GPS coordinates where the bloom can be found, and permission to access private property to sample, should it be required. If a picture of the bloom is available, that should be attached to the email, as well. 

The project is a collaboration between WCSU, Aquatic Ecosystem Research and the Candlewood Lake Authority.

For more information, contact Wong at (203) 512-8108 or Larry Marsicano at (203) 794-4395.


Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.