WCSU News

WCSU partnership with NOAA yields research, results, awards

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

image of 2019 Finding our Way award winners

2019 Finding our Way award winners

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. The program hopes to make this an annual event.

Award winners

1st place – Joshua Maruffi, Westside Middle School Academy. His stewardship focused on learning about and helping several kinds of wildlife – birds, bats and pollinators. Maruffi built and installed several habitats at his house, recorded frog calls and tracked bird development. He involved younger students by leading a Cub Scout troop on a trail cleanup.

2nd place – Esther Ribeiro, Bethel Middle School. Ribeiro engaged the public with a well-designed website that educates on several environmental themes, particularly on waste reduction. She also built a compost bin to reduce food waste, fed ducks, planned a method of protecting sea turtle eggs and created an engaging baby activity book using recycled materials.

3rd place (tie) – Sabrina Serpa Smith and Marisol Tapia Rodriguez, Westside Middle School Academy. Their project is continuing, but they have already planned and executed important steps to improve pollinator diversity at their school. Smith and Rodriguez planted native plants and built benches for their school’s outdoor classroom in coordination with school officials. They also established a school “Green Team” in which they lead younger students in restoring and developing the wildlife habitat.

 3rd place (tie) – Juliet Dahlstrom, Westside Middle School Academy. Dahlstrom learned about composting and built a bin in her yard. She also cleaned an extensive local trail adjacent to a stream, collecting 26 pounds of garbage.

3rd place (tie) – Sereen Amezzane, from New Haven. Amezzane is home-schooled. She researched the problem of pollution from straws and gave a presentation on sustainable straw options. She engaged other students by having them sign a pledge not to use plastic straws.

Honorable mention – Joshua Hatter, Westside Middle School Academy. Hatter cleaned up a park and worked to improve his school’s recycling system. He worked over a long period creating flyers and speaking to classmates to encourage compliance in using school recycling bins.

Honorable mention – Matthew Waldron, Rogers Park Middle School. His project, to encourage lunchroom recycling, is in planning stages and will be implemented during the 2019-20 school year. With his school’s environmental club, Waldron will create a recycling bin for single-use plastic utensils and work with custodians on proper disposal. Additionally, he will create an incentive program using raffle tickets to reward students for bringing in their own utensils.

Participation Awards

Participation Award – Megan Iolova, New Fairfield Middle School. Iolova’s awareness of the widespread use of plastic straws has inspired her to meet with her school principal to reduce usage.

Participation Award – Jake Ledan, Bethel Middle School. Ledan approached his town’s First Selectman to install a town moss garden to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, improving the air quality of Bethel. He has monitored moss growth factors at his home and is expanding the moss environment there.

Participation Award – Diego Soto, Broadview Middle School. Soto’s project explored the pollution mitigating properties of moss and possible ways to use it to reduce car exhaust contaminants.

Participation Award – Tyler Tang, Middlebrook School, Wilton. Tang conducted a garbage clean up along the Norwalk River Valley Trail. He also put up posters at school water fountains to encourage refilling and reusing water bottles.

Teacher Awards

2019 WCSU NOAA B-WET Stewardship Classroom Award – Carrie Rowe, Teacher and Environmental Club Leader, Rogers Park Middle School. Rowe was recognized for encouraging environmental stewardship in the school community through leading the environmental club and fostering Matthew Waldron’s lunchroom recycling initiative, a program that will continue throughout the 2019-20 school year.

2019 WCSU NOAA B-WET Stewardship Classroom Award – Jonathan Neuhausel, Magnet School Coach, Westside Middle School Academy. He was recognized for fostering hands-on science learning for students through a renewal project of the Outdoor Habitat area. Neuhausel encourages all students to make stewardship a part of their daily lives.

Finding Our Way partners with WCSU’s Weather Center, the Candlewood Lake Authority 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 four 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 on the Westside campus. Family science meetings during the academic year provide support for parents to complete online content training and certification, habitat use analysis experiments, participation in a Tri-State Weather conference, and Skywarn Weather Monitoring training.

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 were selected by lottery from Bethel, New Fairfield, New Haven, Ridgefield and Wilton.

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.

 

WCSU exhibition ‘American Subtitles’ explores nation’s diversity

Chaparro and Hudson show interprets American experience of people of color

DANBURY, CONN. — “American Subtitles,” an exhibition of works in many media by acclaimed Connecticut artists Andres Chaparro and Robert Charles Hudson, will be presented from Monday, Aug. 26, through Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in the Gallery at the Visual and Performing Arts Center at Western Connecticut State University.

An opening reception for the artists will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29, in the VPAC Gallery on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The exhibition will be open for viewing from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission for the opening reception and general viewing 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 exhibition program is sponsored by the WCSU Department of Art with support from patrons of the Gallery; donations to sustain the program will be accepted.

Chaparro also will present an artist talk at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, at a location to be determined. Admission will be free and the public is invited.

The exhibition will feature a richly varied range of paintings, sculptures, collages and mixed-media works that interpret the American experience of people of color. Chaparro and Hudson share a common passion in their artistic work to invite and challenge viewers to re-examine social crises from a fresh perspective and to explore the individual’s contributions to humanity, while embracing visions of both unity and diversity.

image of Rise and Kneel by Andrews Chaparro

Rise and Kneel by Andres Chaparro

Chaparro, a Hartford native who pursues his creative work at his Windsor studio, has gained international recognition for mixed-media paintings and collages featuring bold color contrasts and expressive visual representations of legendary jazz artists and their music. Inspired since his youth by the dynamic interplay between art and music, he incorporates oil pastel, marker, crayon, pencil, acrylic, spray paint, found objects and collage in interpretive works that evoke spontaneous and powerful emotions.

“I work without premeditation, simply following the path that each painting sets forth for me,” Chaparro explained. “Through my artwork, I strive to create an example of ideas that reflect my desire to raise social consciousness and cultural awareness. Jazz music is the catalyst of all my work, and plays a major influence in each piece of work.”

An aficionado of the jazz scene during his studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Chaparro has found subjects for his interpretive works in John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Christian McBride, Albert Ayler, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk and other jazz greats. His images of Ralph Peterson and Aggregate Prime were featured at the 2017 WCSU Jazz Fest and he has held artist residencies at the Montclair and New Haven jazz festivals. He has participated in more than 60 solo and group exhibitions across the Northeast, and his works are held in many public and private collections. He received the SBNO Greater Hartford Arts Leadership Award and the Maria C. Sanchez Arts and Culture Award, and earned nomination for the Latino de Oro prize in arts and culture. His works appeared in the Crooks Press book, “Making the Cut: The World’s Best Collage Artists.”

Chaparro said that his work continues to reflect his spiritual, emotional and intellectual growth as a person and as an artist. “My connection with jazz has fostered the sense of improvisation and freedom in my work,” he observed. “I sometimes feel that I relate more to a jazz musician’s process of composing or performing than I do to an artist creating a piece of art.”

image of Knowing by Robert Charles Hudson

Knowing by Robert Charles Hudson

Hudson, a Bristol resident and recipient of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Connecticut, draws inspiration from his family traditions and his African American heritage in his multi-faceted work as a sculptor, painter, collagist and quilter. He has exhibited in more than 20 solo and group shows across Connecticut and in Massachusetts, New York and Washington, D.C.

Among his solo shows have been presentations at the Hartford Public Library, the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury and the New Britain Museum of American Art. His NBMAA exhibition, “Above the Underground,” explored through quilts and paintings the ways in which slaves communicated with each other on their perilous quest for freedom along the Underground Railroad. His Hartford Public Library show, “The Door of No Return,” evoked through sculpted busts, a canvas tunnel, collages and paintings the journey of kidnapped Africans walking to slave ships bound for the Americas.

Hudson’s sculpture works have included representations in terracotta, stone and marble of the human head. “These are the result of my inner visions and my desire to express the human spirit and the American experience,” he said. “For the ‘American Subtitles’ exhibition, I will be creating metal sculptured work to enhance the message and give another perspective.”

 Hudson received a sculpture grant from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and was commissioned to create a series of paintings for the UConn African American Center. His works are held in the collections of the New Britain Museum, the UConn Health Center and the City of Hartford Division of Cultural Affairs, as well as many corporate and foundation collections. He also is a longtime educator, serving as an art instructor at UConn and public schools in Hartford and New Britain. He remarked after conducting a painting class at the Hartford Library that what inspires him most when working with aspiring artists “is when the students break through their resistance and come to a new place where they realize that creating art is a gift.”

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 student, alumnus to attend International Diplomacy Forum in Thailand

image of Bakhtawar Izzat and Victor Namer

Bakhtawar Izzat and Victor Namer

DANBURY, CONN. — When the International Diplomacy Forum convenes at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand, in July 2019, emerging young professionals from more than 50 countries will assemble for practical sessions, interactive workshops, solution-based discussions, negotiation exercises, career advice and networking relating to opportunities in global diplomacy.

They will hear from speakers like Kishore Mahbubani, former president of the U.N. Security Council and a senior adviser in University & Global Relations. One of Prospect Magazine’s “Top 50 World Thinkers,” Mahbubani is a professor in the Practice of Public Policy. Also addressing attendees will be Felipe Quiepo, communications officer, Civil Society & Advocacy Section, Department of Global Communications, at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

In addition to some of the top names in global diplomacy, two of the invited attendees will have Western Connecticut State University ties: 2019 graduate Victor Namer, of Danbury, and Bakhtawar Izzat, of Bethel, who will be entering her junior year at WCSU in the fall.

Namer received dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Psychology and Political Science with a minor in Conflict Resolution in May. He was named one of two 2019 Henry Barnard Distinguished Students from WCSU, was a Kathwari Honors student, and received a number of scholarships and awards while obtaining his degrees. Namer graduated with a 3.91 GPA and was on the Dean’s List every semester.

Izzat is a current Kathwari Honors student pursuing a degree in Political Science with a minor in Business Administration. She is a certified NASPA peer educator, a peer leader for First Year students/the Career Success Center and social media manager for the WCSU Rotaract Club. She has been on the Dean’s List every semester, and was awarded an Alumni Association scholarship in the spring.

Izzat said an email was sent to political science students and alumni with a description of the International Diplomacy Forum and information about how to be considered.

“I absolutely love being involved, and responded to the email by tagging my adviser, Professor of Social Sciences Dr. Averell Manes,” she said. “I asked if she would be interested in nominating me, and she responded to me by requesting my resume. From there, the adventure to finesse my resume began. It was with her constant encouragement that I felt confident in the process.”

Manes said that while she made sure all social sciences students were aware of the opportunity, “I specifically invited Baki and Victor because I thought they would be so perfect for it. In addition, I wrote a strong nomination letter with their resumes, which I was told by the secretariat was instrumental, as I believed that they would both be very well-suited to it because of their backgrounds.” Manes also assisted with the funding aspect from behind the scenes.

When notified of her acceptance to the forum, Izzat ran to her mother with the news.

“She is the backbone of everything I do and my biggest supporter,” Izzat said. “I am a first-generation college student, so hearing this brought tears to her eyes. I told her that I am extremely honored to represent our university and the United States. Knowing that I can make some sort of difference globally, and learn while I am at it, is a privilege that I am greatly honored to have.”

Namer also was enthusiastic about his nomination.

“I realized that I was one of 200 students worldwide who would be participating in this forum, but also that I would be representing the United States and WCSU,” he said. “Not only was I nominated by the community that raised me, but now I am able to represent WCSU and the U.S. on an international level, and I couldn’t be more honored.”

Izzat said one reason she wants to attend is that she wants to learn about the experiences people have had in different parts of the globe.

“I know the conference will be hosting a lot of ambassadors, government officials and activists, so learning about their roles and lives is something I look forward to doing,” she said. “Additionally, my main goal that I hope to accomplish at this conference is to make long-lasting relationships with individuals who are different than I am. I hope to engage in conversation with almost all 200 students there, and to understand what their lives are like. I am humbled that I have earned the chance to be in the presence of such wonderful people, and interacting with them is a goal I look forward to accomplishing.”

Namer shared similar aspirations.

“During this conference, I want to learn ways to practically apply the skills of diplomacy, peacemaking and social justice into my career. Having just graduated from WCSU, I want to work in either the nonprofit world, or go into the political realm. Having these skills under my belt of how to tangibly impact local, state and national communities is something that I am greatly looking forward to learning through these seminars and workshops.”

Izzat added, “My ultimate goal in life is to be an influential female, and being able to understand who/what is around me becomes a key factor in trying to foster growth and societal change. I want to initiate the positive change in the world that people so often talk about, and I think this conference will allow me to tap into how that change exactly looks like on a larger scale.”

While at WCSU, Namer studied abroad in Thailand and Spain through the International Student Exchange Program. He also took advantage of every travel opportunity presented to him. “As of now, I have visited 17 countries,” he said.

Izzat has traveled to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Ireland and England. “Although these were not trips for the purpose of studying abroad,” she explained, “I have gained immense knowledge about the various cultures and traditions of these areas.”

In addition to being well versed in international travel, both Namer and Izzat said their studies at WCSU have prepared them for the forum.

“First and foremost, my two study-abroad experiences have molded me into a global citizen, laying the framework for my interest in these respective fields of peacemaking,” Namer said. “My political science major has offered course work in global and interpersonal conflict resolution/international relations, where I got to study under my two amazing mentors at WCSU: Dr. Averell Manes and Dr. Christopher Kukk. This education provided me with groundwork that I can now mold into more concrete and tangible applications. Finally, taking everything into perspective, I am incredibly excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Working at the United Nations was something I never thought would happen in this lifetime for myself, but this was something made possible thanks to WCSU. I am truly grateful and ecstatic to be a part of such a dynamic group whose mission is simply the spread of peace to the world.”

Izzat said she also feels prepared for what the forum will offer.

“My political science major has encouraged me to dive deeper into the historical understandings of our past and to not only answer questions about our present, but to question our answers for the present too. My professors, whether in the political science field or not, have all planted some sort of seed in me that helped me grow into the individual I am today. WCSU allowed me to become a certified peer educator and has paved a pathway for me to gain multiple levels of leadership experience. My time here has effectively made me aware of the necessities of the community, and has put me in the position of being able to help those around me.

“The Kathwari Honors Program has played an immense role in being an establishment that fosters confidence in young individuals like me,” Izzat continued. “Individuals like Dr. Manes; Professor of Communication and Media Arts Dr. Maryann Murtha; Associate Professor of Writing, Linguistics and Creative Process Dr. Kelli Custer; Honors Program Director Dr. Chris Kukk; Honors Program Assistant Director Jessica Lin; Career Success Center Director Kathleen Lindenmayer; Career Success Center Administrative Assistant Christine Hoy; and my own peers like Victor Namer, are all enthusiasts for being kind and fostering change throughout the community. And that, I believe, is what this conference is attempting to establish as well.”

 

 

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.

 

 

Photographer Bruce Dunbar to offer workshop July 15-18 at WCSU

Intensive four-day workshop focuses on alternative photographic processes

image of Roots by Dunbar cyanotype over ink jet

Roots by Dunbar cyanotype over ink jet

DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University Adjunct Professor of Art Bruce Dunbar will offer an intensive four-day Alternative Photographic Processes Workshop from July 15 through 18, 2019, at the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury.

The workshop, presented by the WCSU Department of Art, will meet Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Photo Suite in VPAC Room 343. Enrollment is open to the public at a registration fee of $365, including all materials. Class size is limited to 10 students. Advance registration is required and may be completed online through July 8 at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/alternative-photographic-process-workshop-intensive-tickets-60706359355.

The workshop is recommended for adults who are interested in a hands-on experience exploring the history of photography. Sessions will cover specific historical processes introduced in the 19th century for photographic printing that include cyanotype, Van Dyke brown and Kallitype. Students will learn techniques for application of these processes in working with digital photo negatives.

Recipient of an M.A. in Photography from New York University, Dunbar has shown his photographs and mixed-media works at numerous solo and group exhibitions in Connecticut and New York City. He described his artistic philosophy in combining photography with mixed media as “an attempt at capturing an impression, an inescapable essence of what once was, the invisible force through which matter changes, and the state of flux in which all organic matter is caught.”

In addition to his faculty position at WCSU, Dunbar serves as a photography instructor at the Silvermine School of Art, conducts workshops for the Art Explorer Program at Weir Farm and participates in the arts group Lamia Ink! in New York.

For 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 biologist Mitch Wagener honored as Environmental Champion

Aquarion award cites professor for outreach to educate public about climate change

image of Pictured at the 2019 Aquarion Environmental Champion Awards ceremony at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport are (l-r): Danika Wagener, Rita Wagener, Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Mitch Wagener, Biological and Environmental Sciences Department Chair Dr. Pat Boily and Karina Ross.

Pictured at the 2019 Aquarion Environmental Champion Awards ceremony at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport are (l-r): Danika Wagener, Rita Wagener, Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Mitch Wagener, Biological and Environmental Sciences Department Chair Dr. Pat Boily and Karina Ross.

DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Mitch Wagener has received the 2019 Aquarion Environmental Champion Award for Communications recognizing his wide-ranging efforts over many years to educate the public about the science and consequences of climate change.

At an awards ceremony held June 1, 2019, at the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, Aquarion Water Company President and CEO Charles Firlotte expressed thanks to Environmental Champion honorees for their “outstanding efforts to protect and enhance Connecticut’s natural resources.” The Communications Award citation noted Wagener’s exemplary contributions in developing and coordinating the “Climate and Human Civilization” program at WCSU, an annual series of free public seminars led by faculty and students to explore the scientific evidence of change in the Earth’s climate and various manifestations of its impact including wild fires, natural disasters and species evolution and survival. An important part of each series has been the presentation of constructive actions that can be taken at the individual and community levels to address environmental, health and sustainability challenges caused by climate change.

Dr. Pat Boily, chair of the Biological and Environmental Sciences Department, credited Wagener’s work in reaching out to WCSU faculty members and students from many academic disciplines as well as teachers and students from Danbury High School to participate in a comprehensive public education program. “Not only have his efforts contributed significantly to educating the public about one of the most important environmental issues of our time, but also in engaging and training many students to communicate to the public about the wide range of consequences associated with climate change,” Boily said.

In his acceptance remarks, Wagener observed that public education about climate change is urgently needed to provide clarity about the difficult environmental choices that confront political leaders and society worldwide. “We are now seeing the effects of the climate crisis,” he said. “This is the world that we have made, but we don’t know how to escape. The youth of the world seem to understand what so many others do not — that climate change changes everything, that the status quo is not survivable.”

The “Climate and Human Civilization” series, sponsored by the Jane Goodall Center for Excellence in Environmental Studies at WCSU, represents only part of the extensive schedule that Wagener has maintained for more than two decades in speaking about scientific topics before university and public audiences. During the past three years, he has given more than 50 public talks and guest lectures, including 13 presentations since the beginning of 2019.

Acknowledging support from WCSU and the Goodall Center for his outreach efforts, Wagener observed, “Trying to save the world is a rational act. Choosing not to try to save the world is a clear statement that the Earth has no value, that life has no meaning other than to grasp and accumulate.

“What terrifies me is that at all scales of time that mean something to us and to our children and great-grandchildren, and on for several more generations, climate change is permanent,” he said. “”By standing up and speaking up now, we — the generation largely responsible for the problem — take on some significant inconvenience in order to lessen the pain and desperation of our descendants.”

The annual statewide Environmental Champion Awards are sponsored by Aquarion Water Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eversource. The Bridgeport-based public water supply company serves 52 communities across Connecticut as well as customers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The corporate mission statement notes that Aquarion “strives to act as a responsible steward of the environment and to assist the communities it serves in promoting sustainable practices.”

 

 

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 ‘Election Connection’ production receives prestigious honors

Election night news show cited for excellence in national and international competitions

image of Anchor desk at 2018 Election ConnectionDANBURY, CONN. — The Western Connecticut State University 2018 production of the annual election night program “Election Connection” has garnered prestigious recognitions from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Interactive Visual Arts.

The Boston/New England chapter of the NATAS chose the WCSU “Election Connection” broadcast as one of three winners earning Honorable Mention for Outstanding University Newscast in this year’s regional competition. The prize citation recognized the contributions of executive producer Dr. JC Barone, professor of Communication and Media Arts; director Samantha Saalborn, of New Fairfield; and student producers Rebecca Burton, of New Milford; Alanna Hill, of Ridgefield; Richard Lee, of New Milford; and Dion White, of Ridgefield.

The AIVA selected the WCSU program as recipient of a 2019 Communicator Award of Distinction for a live video production. The international awards program showcases creative excellence in education, public relations, corporate communications, advertising and broadcasting for productions in video, audio, print, digital and interactive media.

Since its debut in November 2011, “Election Connection” has provided election night coverage of news and results from congressional, state and local contests in western Connecticut, featuring an anchor team of student, faculty and expert commentators and field teams of student reporters at candidate and party headquarters. Thirty-five WCSU students from several academic disciplines participated in the editorial and production crews for the award-winning four-hour program on Nov. 6, 2018. Produced at a studio on the university’s Midtown campus in Danbury, the show aired live on Charter and Comcast Xfinity cable channels and WXCI-91.7 FM and streamed live on the university website.

Barone observed that he created the program “with the purpose of training students and serving the region with balanced news, commentary, analysis and real-time election results.” This year’s honors mark the latest in a series of recognitions for production and editorial excellence over the past eight years that have also included citations from the Telly Awards and the Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts.

The ninth annual “Election Connection” edition will feature live coverage of 2019 town and municipal contests as well as analysis of statewide and national electoral issues from 8 p.m. to midnight on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. The election night program and a preview show airing on Tuesday, Oct. 29, will offer multiple viewing, audio and social media platforms on cable networks, radio, YouTube, Facebook and the WCSU website.

 

 

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.

 

 

Retired WCSU professor’s gift of literacy to Zambian school

image of Professor Emeritus of Social Work Dr. Patti Ivry and Professor Emeritus of Education Dr. Darla Shaw with some of the books Shaw donated to Impact Network.

Professor Emerita of Social Work Patti Ivry and Professor Emerita of Education Dr. Darla Shaw with some of the books Shaw donated to Impact Network.

DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University Professor Emerita of Education Dr. Darla Shaw has had a collection of nearly 2,000 children’s books at an elementary school in Zambia named in her honor. The Dr. Darla Shaw Children’s Book Collection was donated by Shaw herself in spring 2018 to the education outreach group Impact Network. Shipping expenses for the books were helped by proceeds from the WCSU Social Work Club and Education Club.

Founded in 2009, Impact Network operates in over 40 tuition-free schools, reaching more than 6,000 students across Zambia. Impact Network’s curriculum is monitored by the Board of American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C. Reshma Patel, executive director at Impact Network, said that Shaw’s donation will soon have a home in a “mobile library” that will travel around to different schools run by the organization.

“When I first learned of Dr. Shaw’s intentions to donate a wealth of children’s books to Impact Network schools, I was taken aback with her ambitious goal,” Patel said. “Fast-forwarding to now, I am taken aback by how meaningful the donations have been to teachers, students and communities.”

Once completed, the mobile library will allow students to take books out for a week at a time and “broaden the impact of these books to include their whole families,” Patel added.

“Ample community members can profit from the wonders of Dr. Shaw’s generosity,” Patel said.

Shaw said, “This (Impact Network) is such a wonderful project,” and added that the link between WCSU and the organization’s schools in Zambia is an “important connection.”

Patricia Ivry, professor emerita of Social Work and former interim dean of the School of Professional Studies, traveled to Impact Network’s Joel School in the Katete District of Zambia in 2017 with her husband. It was through Ivry that Shaw learned of the schools’ needs and decided to donate.

“Darla is an incredible person, a unique individual,” said Ivry. “Her impressive career as an educator has been distinguished by always putting her students first. She herself is a student of life, traveling extensively to experience world cultures. Thus, her donation of books to rural schools in Zambia is a perfect gift.”

Shaw served as the Language Arts Coordinator for the Ridgefield School System for 38 years, and acted as an educational literacy specialist for the WCSU Education and Educational Psychology department for 25 years. During her tenure, she helped develop organizations such as the Education Club, the Future Teacher’s Club, the Read Across America program, the Danbury History Comes Alive program, the Oral History program with the Senior Citizens in Danbury and the Educational Honor Society Program, the Danbury Cultural Alliance and the Danbury Historical Society, among others.

In addition to her career as an educator, Shaw has been involved with outreach and artistic projects. She has traveled to over 80 countries for humanitarian work speaking on literacy issues. She is also a musician, playing accordion in the Ridgefield Founder’s Hall Band, and steel drums in the Wilton Steel Drum Band.

“We are thrilled to have created a library for our schools to foster a love of reading within our communities, and Dr. Shaw’s donation is what started this,” Patel said.

For more information about Impact Network, visit the organization’s website at www.impactnetwork.org/. For more information, contact 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 wins five Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival national awards

image of (l-r): Sam Rogers, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Alicia Napalitano, of Woodbury, in a scene from "Uncle Vanya."

(l-r): Sam Rogers, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Alicia Napalitano, of Woodbury, in a scene from “Uncle Vanya.”

DANBURY, CONN. — The Western Connecticut State University Department of Theatre Arts participated in the Region One Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) in late January/early February 2019 for the fourth year in a row. The department once again came out strong by staging a well-received performance of the university’s fall 2018 production, “Uncle Vanya,” at Cape Cod Community College that resulted in five national awards.

This year’s awards for “Uncle Vanya” are:

Distinguished Performance in a Play – Jillian Caillouette, of Meriden

Distinguished Performance in a Play – Sam Rogers, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Distinguished Performance in a Play – Caleigh Rose Lozito, of Bristol

Distinguished Achievement in Directing – Professor of Theatre Arts Pam McDaniel

Distinguished Achievement in Stage Management – Katie Girardot, of New Milford

McDaniel, chair of the WCSU Theatre Arts Department and director of “Uncle Vanya,” said the awards are particularly gratifying because it was the first time the university had staged a non-musical production at the regional festival.

“It is such an honor for our students to be nationally recognized for their work on ‘Uncle Vanya,’” McDaniel said. “It is one of the hardest modern classics in the canon and working with our students to meet the challenge with enthusiasm and skill was rewarding as a director. When we traveled to the regional festival, ‘Uncle Vanya’ was the only production from Region One designated as a national entry. It was such a pleasure to once again share the work of our theatre arts program, to receive the expressions of appreciation of the work and to expand the perspective for the diverse genres of theatre that we produce here at WCSU.”

In the past three years, WCSU has received national KCACTF honors for its productions of “Evita,” “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “Parade.”

KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from more than 700 colleges and universities nationwide. Eight regional festivals take place in January and February, with finalists and some award winners advancing to the national festival in April in Washington, D.C. WCSU is part of Region 1, which comprises Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, northeastern New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Western Marketing Association wins multiple awards at international conference

WCSU student organization is in top 10 of 388 international collegiate chapters; ranked No. 1 in New England

(back row, l-r): Jake Nimmo, David Cawley, Anna Adebambo, Alejandro Calderon, Mike Hess, Henry Ruck, Adviser Ron Drozdenko; (front row, l-r): Genesis Hernandez, Natalie Carnazza, Fatima Izzat, Hannah LaFontaine, Caroline Chaves, Adviser Donna Coelho, Allison Frenz

DANBURY, CONN. — The Collegiate Chapter of the American Marketing Association at Western Connecticut State University (WMA) received numerous recognitions for the 11th consecutive year at the AMA 41st Annual International Collegiate Conference held in April 2019 in New Orleans.

The WMA has progressed in the AMA’s rankings of its 388 active collegiate chapters, placing in the top 5 percent each of the past five years based on performance in professional development, social impact and philanthropy, planning, operations and external communications. Most of the other institutions in the top 10 have higher enrollments, such as Penn State University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas, the University of Wisconsin and Temple University.

Thirteen WMA members represented WCSU at the AMA conference, which assembled approximately 1,600 students from more than 200 universities. This year, WMA was one of the three host chapters for the conference. The WMA chapter earned an invitation based on its conference accomplishments last year as Top Small Chapter of the Year, and made a presentation on building a Top Small Chapter to other chapters in New Orleans. WMA members also participated in competitions, workshops, a career fair and featured talks during the conference. In addition to the top-10 ranking, the WCSU chapter received awards for the following accomplishments: Wall Street Journal Case competition, recruitment video, chapter website, marketing simulation competition, exhibit and Marketing Week activities.

WMA representatives at the New Orleans conference included Caroline Chaves, of New Milford; Jacob Nimmo, Alejandro Calderon, Jennifer Alvarado and Anna Adebambo, of Danbury; Hannah LaFontaine, of Waterbury; Genesis Hernandez and Henry Ruck, of Norwalk; Michael Hess, of Brookfield;  Allison Frenz, of Greenwich; Natalie Carnazza, of Ridgefield; Fatima Izzat, of Bethel; and David Cawley, of Bethlehem.

When asked about her takeaways from the conference, president Caroline Chaves said, “Overall it was an incredible experience to not only compete and win awards for our chapter, but to be able to bring and motivate new underclassmen members to feel that same spark of passion that all of us seniors have for this amazing organization.”

Chapter Advisers Dr. Ronald Drozdenko, chair of the WCSU Marketing Department, and Donna Coelho, adjunct professor of Marketing and director, Ancell Community Impact Collaborative, accompanied the WMA delegation. Coelho also serves on the International Collegiate Council of the American Marketing Association that directs the conference and all collegiate chapter activities in North America.

“Competing on the international level raises the bar for our students,” Coelho said. “Our active members are able to secure jobs because they already have professional experience and skills as a result of their involvement with the AMA.” She added, “Our dean, Dr. David Martin, is a great supporter of Ancell student organizations. The accomplishments of our AMA chapter contribute to the Ancell School’s commitment to Community Social Impact, which is one of the requirements of maintaining our AACSB accreditation.”

With a total membership of 20 students, the WCSU chapter offers a diverse range of opportunities to gain hands-on experience in strategic planning and marketing, conceptualizing and implementing advertising promotions, and interacting with marketing professionals in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. WMA “Think Tank” workshops afford an opportunity for local entrepreneurs and small business owners to brainstorm with WCSU students in designing strategies for marketing, advertising, content creation and other topics. Agency@Ancell, a WCSU student advertising agency managed and staffed by WMA members, has formed teams to work with clients in areas ranging from the music industry to online service organizations. The WMA also co-hosted its second Regional Marketing Conference during the 2019-20 academic year.

WMA community outreach activities have shared students’ marketing skills with nonprofit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and a regional organization for young entrepreneurs. Other WMA-sponsored events include the Leader Workshop series, where successful business and nonprofit professionals meet in small group discussions with students; and the annual Marketing Week at WCSU, which includes the popular “Big Idea Competition” that challenges students to present entrepreneurial ideas and inventions to a panel of judges who award a $500 grand prize for the best proposal.

“The accomplishments of our collegiate AMA chapter highlight the quality of our academic program and the engagement of our students outside the classroom,” Drozdenko said. “To achieve this level of excellence our students and advisers invest hundreds of hours on chapter activities throughout the entire year. These efforts have resulted in not only the international recognition, but also life-changing opportunities for our students.”

For more information, contact Drozdenko at drozdenkor@wcsu.edu 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/SCSU initiative trains new generation of biodiversity defenders

Master’s program prepares students to take local actions to address global crisis

image of Michelle Bissett and Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Dora Pinou track carp in Candlewood Lake

Michelle Bissett and Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Dora Pinou track carp in Candlewood Lake

DANBURY, CONN. — The sobering warning from a United Nations-backed panel that up to one million plant and animal species face imminent extinction because of human activities has focused attention on the global threat to biodiversity — a challenge that Western Connecticut State University is tackling head-on through science-based training to address the crisis at the grassroots level.

In a collaborative graduate studies program offered through the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, WCSU and Southern Connecticut State University recently introduced the Master of Science in Integrative Biological Diversity degree. The program seeks to educate students about research methods used to measure the health and diversity of organisms and their environments. Students will learn to apply ecological, molecular and spatial tools to examine, quantify and describe biodiversity. “The Master of Science in Integrative Biological Diversity requires that all students engage in biodiversity monitoring as a component of stewardship, and learn to communicate the importance of diversity to human health and the conservation of resources,” the mission statement said.

image of WCSU students at Peabody Museum

WCSU students at Peabody Museum

Coordinated by WCSU Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Theodora Pinou, the new M.S. program offers a 30-credit curriculum. Faculty from the WCSU Biological and Environmental Sciences Department and the SCSU Biology and Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences departments participate as course instructors and research mentors. The program has accepted 14 students since its launch in January, and applications received through June 30 will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for enrollment this fall.

Pinou explained that the recently released report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has raised public awareness of a crisis in rapidly diminishing species diversity that researchers in the field have recognized as a serious and growing global problem for decades. From the accelerating loss of open land to agricultural and commercial development to the impact of climate change and water scarcity on species survival, the UN-sponsored study has highlighted the many ways in which a growing world population threatens to destroy the fragile natural habitats and ecological balance that sustain global biodiversity.

At the local level, Pinou observed that the biodiversity crisis also has grown more acute as land development isolates remaining open space areas necessary to support the region’s many species of animal and plant life. Land use policies that ignore the importance of preserving natural corridors for pollinators to reach flowering plants and for wildlife to move freely across habitats pose a real threat to the survival of many species now found in Connecticut, she said. “Very few people even know what the level of local biodiversity should be,” she observed, and the environmental impact of diminished diversity “easily escapes us until we realize we have a water and food security problem.”

An important aspect of the biodiversity master’s degree program is to provide the opportunity for M.S. candidates to collaborate with a wide range of corporations, educational institutions, conservation and wildlife organizations and other partners where students can apply their skills and knowledge to real-world experiences in the exploration and monitoring of biodiversity.

“Our program has a required component of stewardship where our students go out to investigate biodiversity problems in the field and learn how the professionals are tackling these issues,” she said. “For example, we have a project in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Norwalk Aquarium looking at diamond back terrapin crossings and road mortality.” The study offers an opportunity to explore how the public need for transportation can be balanced with actions to monitor and preserve this turtle species, she noted.

“We study the global dimensions of the biodiversity problem, and then explore what we can do locally to make policy decisions, rooted in science, that produce measurable changes to improve the situation,” she said.

Pinou remarked that through hands-on research in monitoring species diversity, habitat conservation, environmental threats to organisms and other issues, students will gain valuable experience for future careers that contribute to advancing resilience and sustainability. The program mission statement sets the goal of preparing students for careers in ecosystem management and reclamation, policy and environmental consulting, sustainable business, education and non-government organizations. The program is also appropriate for secondary education teachers interested in obtaining an advanced degree focusing on the ecological, physiological and natural history of biological organisms.

Pinou noted that graduates of the program will gain a deeper scientific understanding of the many factors contributing to biodiversity while also being challenged to apply these lessons cooperatively in the public policy arena. “There is a great need to be trained to understand the scientific data, consider all the stakeholders, listen to everyone’s interests, and address the most important problems collaboratively by building consensus,” she said. “For instance, if we need to develop more land to grow food, how can we do the plantings wisely so that we keep a corridor for animals and insects to move between open habitats?”

Application inquiries should be directed to Pinou at pinout@wcsu.edu. Application requirements and additional details about the program curriculum may be obtained at http://wcsu.edu/biology-msbiodiversity/ and at http://catalogs.wcsu.edu/grad1819/master-of-science-in-integrative-biological-diversity/.

For more information, contact Pinou at pinout@wcsu.edu 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.