Southern Alumni Magazine Spring '21

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a publication for alumni and friends of Southern Connecticut State University




14 Unmasked

Students paint and draw their way through the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling assignments that nod to life today — from masks to six feet of separation.

22 The Business Builder

Serial entrepreneur Robert Leary, ’77, is making his mark across businesses and industries — tackling Broadway, information technology, and a sports-drink alternative.

25 #StayingStrong Cover: Students studying with Professor of Art Thuan Vu are inspired by COVID-19. In his last semester, December-graduate Joshua Fitzpatrick, ’20, drew several siblings. More on page 14.

Masks. Social distancing. Outdoor classrooms. COVID-19 continues to reshape every aspect of higher education — but Southern is meeting the historically unprecedented challenges head-on.

Southern |


Spring | 21

32 The State of Social Justice at Southern



Southern is committed to being a social justice university. Here are some of the many ways the university community is taking a stand.

Finders Keepers

A Southern MBA graduate turns to genetic testing and discovers the sister she didn’t know she had.

2 ■ From the President 3 ■ Campus News 10 ■ Hidden Campus 11 ■ Social Southern 12 ■ True Blue 30 ■ Supporting Southern Meet Kevin McNamara, clinical director emeritus of Southern’s Department of Communication Disorders, and scholarship donor.

36 ■ Owl Update

Aileen Ferraro, ’14, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Minnesota Medical School, pays a virtual visit to campus to help business students.

38 ■ Spaces & Places in New Haven

Share Southern Do you know someone who’d be a great fit for Southern? Please share this issue with a prospective student. Thank you!

Expect more. Be more. Southern.

39 ■ Alumni News 43 ■ Alumni Notes 48 ■ Seen on Campus



much of 2020 was

pandemic, the financial pressures that many students

trying and challenging. But at Southern, the fact that

face have never been greater: nearly 80 percent rely

we were able to keep COVID-19 positivity rates to

on jobs to provide for life’s essentials, yet many are

modest levels and maintain our campus operations

still coming up short.

until the Thanksgiving break — when many other

Recently, we took another step to meet that need

institutions could not — says a great deal about our

with the opening of Southern’s Food Pantry and Social

caring community and its shared resilience and

Services Center in the Wintergreen Building. The center

commitment to student success.

was funded in large part by the remarkable $530,000

I assure you that, despite all the difficulties we have

contributed by a record number of donors during our

endured during the last several months, we remain a teaching university, serving a diverse student population

2020 Day of Caring last spring. As we move forward this semester, we do so with

under the mantle of social

optimism. The majority of

justice. Our mission and

our activities will again be

values will not change

remote, at least in the early

moving forward. By necessity,

part of the semester. But

however, we will have to

there is one positive by-

make adjustments as we

product of the pandemic:

emerge from the pandemic,

all of us have been forced

and we will need to examine

to think and act in new,

what a public regional

innovative ways. This has

university such as Southern

ensured that Southern

will look like in a post-

continues to operate

COVID-19 world.

effectively and interact

We will need to discuss

positively with our many

essential elements of our

constituencies during these

mission — access,

extended months of remote

affordability, and retention —

learning and working.

and how to enhance them. We must examine how to

I thank you again for your support of our students,

improve the strength of our curriculum, including online

and I wish you continued good health as we advance

options; how to build a more diverse community of

into a year of hope and healing. Together, we remain . . .

faculty and staff that reflects our student population; and

Southern Strong.

how to capitalize on new philanthropic opportunities. And we must also find ways to ensure that our


students receive every support they need to complete

Joe Bertolino

their degrees at the lowest possible cost. During this




Daughter of Afghan Immigrants Selected as Southern’s First Rhodes Scholar



Joe Bertolino, President Michael K. Kingan, Vice President for Institutional Advancement Executive Director, SCSU Foundation, Inc. STAFF

Patrick Dilger, Director of Integrated Communications & Marketing Villia Struyk, Editor Mary Pat Caputo, Associate Editor Christina Levere, Editorial Assistant Marylou Conley, ’83, Art Director Isabel Chenoweth, Photographer Jason Edwards, Student Photographer Kenneth Sweeten, Sports Mary Verner, ’14, MBA, ’18, Alumni Notes



who fled Afghanistan in the wake of violence after the Soviet occupation. In November, she realized another milestone when she was named the first Rhodes Scholar in Southern’s history, becoming one of 32 Americans chosen for the award, widely considered one of the most prestigious academic honors in the world. She is the only Connecticut native selected. In May, Rahimyar will graduate from Southern with degrees in political science and philosophy as well as a minor in English. Come October 2021, she will be among more than 100 students representing 60 countries who will attend Oxford University in England through the scholars program. The Rhodes Trust will cover all tuition costs and provide a stipend for necessary expenses. Rahimyar learned of the honor during a COVID-19 surge, while sitting in her brother’s bedroom, “the only quiet room in the house.” She shared the experience of telling her mother with Connecticut Public Radio’s Lucy Nalpathanchil: “[There were] a lot of tears on both of our ends — and there are still some when we receive calls from our relatives and explain the significance of this for my community as a whole.” Rahimyar plans to pursue masters’ degrees in global governance and diplomacy, and forced migration and refugee studies. She eventually hopes to obtain a doctoral degree and work to empower women in Afghanistan and the U.S.


Earlier this year, she was selected as a recipient of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship for outstanding leadership potential, commitment to public service, and academic excellence. She also has earned various other awards and serves as president of the Muslim Student Association at Southern. In addition, she has participated in a United Nations Conference on Cultural Diplomacy. Patricia Olney, professor of political science and Rahimyar’s academic adviser, was among those who recommended her for the Rhodes Scholarship. Olney points out that Rahimyar also won a competitive Southern summer research grant of $3,000 to reconstruct the history of two Afghan villages, which had suffered the ravages of wartime abuses during the Soviet Union’s invasion in the late 1970s. Rahimyar is studying war crimes for her senior thesis. “It was these horrors her parents fled from to seek refuge in the United States and why she developed a passion for human rights, as well as refugee and immigrant rights,” Olney wrote in her letter of recommendation. Rahimyar’s parents came to the U.S. in 1997, after living in Pakistan. Rahimyar credits her mother and father, a doctor at Norwalk Hospital, with guiding her success — and has praise as well for the university community. “There are brilliant minds everywhere,” she says, lauding her professors and classmates. She notes, in particular, the strength and perseverance of those she works with as a tutor. “I am not an anomaly to Southern,” she says.

Gregory Bernard, ’04, Director of Alumni Relations (203) 392-6500 EDITORIAL OFFICE

Southern Connecticut State University Office of Integrated Communications & Marketing/Southern Alumni Magazine 501 Crescent Street New Haven, CT 06515-1355 Telephone (203) 392-6591; fax (203) 392-5083 Email address: University website: Printed by The Lane Press, Inc.

Southern Alumni Magazine is published by the university in cooperation with the SCSU Alumni Association two times a year and distributed free of charge to alumni and friends of the university. Opinions expressed in Southern Alumni Magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the university or the SCSU Alumni Association. Although the editors have made every reasonable effort to be factually accurate, no responsibility is assumed for errors. Postage paid at Burlington, Vt. Southern Connecticut State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religious creed, age, gender, gender identity or expression, national origin, marital status, ancestry, present or past history of mental disorder, learning disability or physical disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, genetic information, or criminal record. Inquiries related to nondiscrimination policies and Title IX may be forwarded to Paula Rice, Title IX Coordinator and Director of Diversity and Equity Programs, 501 Crescent Street, BU 240, New Haven, CT, 06515; (203) 392-5568;

Spring 2021 | 3



New Health and Human Service Building Rises

Members of the Southern community signed a beam before it was installed in the new Health and Human Services Building. A small fir tree attached to the beam is a nod to an early Scandinavian tradition. Today, the tree symbolizes lasting craftsmanship and good luck.



was put into place on October 23, part of a celebratory “topping off” ceremony. Located on Fitch Street, the four-story, 94,750-square-foot brick building will house most departments in the College of Health and Human Services, including: nursing; communication disorders; health and movement sciences (formerly exercise science); public health; and recreation, tourism, and sport management. Scheduled for completion in spring 2022, the building will enhance research and experiential learning opportunities for students and faculty. The new facility also will be a resource for the off-campus community through an expanded Communication Disorders Clinic, an Audiology Clinic, a Human Performance Teaching and Research Laboratory, and a Center for Adaptive Sport and Inclusive Recreation — all of which will be open to the public.



Andoh Named Chief Reader for AP Program bout 145,000 students annually take the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) test in macroeconomics — and Samuel Andoh, professor of economics, is playing a critical role in the success of the program. In July, Andoh was named the AP macroeconomics chief reader, with responsibility for overseeing the more than 170 readers charged with scoring students’ exam responses. The AP Program enables academically prepared high school students to pursue college-level studies — with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement, or both.

Samuel Andoh


New Program Helps Businesses Go Online


— with the pandemic heightening the importance of extending businesses and services online. A new partnership between the School of Business and the nonprofit organization Get Virtual helps businesses adapt to the virtual landscape — while providing college students with important realworld experience and course credits. Get Virtual was founded by Toby Corey, ’84, who graduated from Southern with a degree in business administration and a concentration in economics. A successful entrepreneur who’s lectured at Stanford University for 10 years, Corey has held numerous


Toby Corey, ’84

executive positions at Novell, USWeb (founder), Autodesk, Solarcity, and Tesla. As the East Coast anchor of Get Virtual, the School of Business will match local Connecticut companies seeking help with college students looking to gain experience as well as college credits. The program offers assistance in numerous areas, including website development or redesign, ecommerce, and online marketing — from email to social media campaigns. Participation in the program is free to businesses, except for needed software and other hard costs. Local Connecticut businesses can learn more about the program at For information on how your organization can participate in the program, contact Amy Grotzke with the School of Business at

Southern’s Standout Faculty — recognizing a commitment to excellence in the classroom — is annually presented to both a full- and part-time faculty member. The award is named in honor of Smith, who continues to teach at Southern and, prior to his retirement, held key leadership roles at the university, including interim president and vice president for academic affairs. THE J. PHILIP SMITH TEACHING AWARD

• The honor was bestowed on Elliott Horch, professor of physics, an astronomer and the principal investigator on numerous National Science Foundation-funded studies. He also was tapped by NASA to assist with the Kepler Mission. • The award also was presented to Carolyn Thompson, an adjunct faculty member Elliott Horch

in the Department of the Environment, Geography, and Marine Sciences. Her teaching interests include urban geography and urbanism; race, class, and gender; and colonialism and neocolonialism.

In related news, Horch was named a CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY (CSU) PROFESSOR by the state Board of Regents for Higher Education in May. Only three faculty members at each of the four CSU campuses (Southern as well as Central, Eastern, and Western) can hold the title at any given time. Horch joins Vivian Shipley, professor of English, and one more to be named (David Levine, professor of art history, has recently retired), as the designated CSU professors at Southern.




Library Science Program Earns Accreditation


Music Department Among Select Few Accredited by NASM


accreditation this spring from the American Library Association (ALA). Southern’s MLIS is the only accredited program of its MLIS kind in Connecticut and ALA ACCR EDIT AT I O N one of just three in New England. With an emphasis on technology, the program is designed to prepare professionals to implement and manage library and information services in academic, public, school, and special libraries, as well as related information agencies and settings. Southern’s former Master of Library Science (MLS) program was accredited for 45 years, from 1970 to 2015. True to its name, the new online MLIS program, which launched in fall 2016, builds upon the expertise of the former program but features a curriculum that teaches students to embrace and critically assess both current and emerging information technologies.

Students studying music work in the electronic music lab (left) and perform in numerous ensembles. SOUTHERN’S DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC EARNED ACCREDITATION FROM THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOLS OF MUSIC (NASM) — becoming one of just

six universities and colleges in Connecticut to hold the prestigious distinction. NASM has accredited fewer than 650 institutions of higher learning across the country. Further setting the department apart, Southern is developing a new degree program in music therapy — the first in Connecticut. Music therapists work in hospitals, hospice centers, behavioral health facilities, and other health-related settings, using music to help patients with physical rehabilitation, patient motivation, and emotional support.


Grant Supports Those Teaching Future Nurses


need for highly experienced faculty to prepare the future nursing workforce. Forwarding that goal, an $891,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP) will support students enrolled in the Doctoral program in Nursing Education (Ed.D.) The program was developed collaboratively by Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) and Western Connecticut State University (WCSU). The grant will cancel a percentage of students’ educational loans in exchange for full-time employment as nursing faculty after graduation. The Ed.D. program in nursing is designed for individuals with clinical experience and a master’s degree in nursing. “There’s a huge nursing faculty shortage nationally,” says Barbara Aronson, professor of nursing and director of the Ed.D. program at Southern. She secured the funding as well as previous grants from the NFLP, totaling more than $3 million. (Western will receive a share of the grant.) 6 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

faculty spotlight

RECENT HONOR : Walters (left) is the 2020

Mensa Foundation Distinguished Teacher of the Year. He was nominated by senior and Mensa member Paul McKee (right), who is majoring in psychology with a minor in biology and data science.

A BIT ON MENSA : Membership is highly

selective. To join, you must score in the top 2 percent of the general population on an accepted standardized intelligence test.

COMMON BONDS : McKee and Walters are

both first-generation college students and veterans, who enrolled in college soon after completing their service.

STUDENT AND MENTOR : Newly enrolled

at Southern, McKee approached Walters seeking research experience. McKee’s nontraditional student background

Kenneth S. Walters associate professor of psychology

complicated matters: he did not have SAT scores or a college transcript showcasing past grades. He did, however, have a strong will to succeed, an excellent writing sample, and his Mensa membership card. “He is now the lab manager for my research team, putting to good use his notable leadership skills,” says Walters. McKee is on track to graduate this spring and is applying to doctoral programs in behavioral neuroscience. His goal is to become a college professor. WALTERS ’ RESEARCH FOCUS :

Psychopathology, and substance use and abuse among college students. In recent years, Walters and his students have studied depression, traumatic stress,


suicidality (thoughts about taking one’s life, suicide plans, and attempts), and the non-medical use of stimulants and opioids among college students. STUDENT GUIDE : At Southern since 2009,

Walters has mentored 45 students on his research team. They’ve published nine papers in scientific/professional journals, delivered 12 oral presentations, and presented 76 posters at scientific conferences.


“[Dr. Walters] has spent his life in service of others, first in the United States Army, then as a clinical psychologist, and now as a professor. It was fantastic news to hear about his winning. He deserves every second of this.” Spring 2021 | 7


Fast Facts. Good News.

Southern PR Team Honored for Excellence




received six statewide awards from

the Public Relations Society of America’s Connecticut Chapter, recognizing efforts to inform and uplift the university community through 2020. • GOLD | Southern Alumni Magazine issues spotlighting

the university’s response to COVID-19 and internationally recognized naturalist Peter Marra, ’85 • GOLD | Social Media Campaign, which highlighted the

virtual commencement, in-person congratulatory yard sign deliveries, and other efforts to honor the graduating Class of 2020 • SILVER | Public service awareness campaign focused on

racial injustice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd • SILVER | Virtual Commencement Ceremony video • SILVER | President Joe Bertolino’s communication strategy

during the pandemic, which included videotaped messages, town halls, and extensive social media • BRONZE | “We’re All in this Together,” a campaign in

partnership with Southern’s development team that raised more than $500,000 to help meet students’ basic needs during the pandemic



student clubs and organizations continue to connect students while maintaining social distancing guidelines. For example, the Virtual Involvement Fair hosted students on Sept. 2.



• Southern typically provides experiential learning and workforce-prep opportunities for students each year. In response to COVID-19, Career Services is providing virtual career fairs for the 2020-21 academic year, implementing a new practice interview platform, and integrating digital resources for networking and connecting virtually.


• Southern has lowered its carbon footprint for buildings by more than since 2008 through energy efficiency, automated sensors and controls, and green energy purchasing.


• In January 2020, the Barack H. Obama Magnet University School opened on campus. The elementary school is a collaboration between Southern, the city of New Haven and its school system. As such, it is a rarity — a public university with a public school system.

uniting • There were 52,000 visits to the Academic

Success Center in 2019-20 for free services, including academic success coaching, tutoring, and the Peer Academic Leaders (PAL) program. In the latter, weekly review sessions are held for historically challenging courses.

Dollars & Sense


as one of the “Top 10 College Financial Literacy Programs of 2020.” Southern is in good company: other institutions in the Top 10 list include Stanford, George Washington, Syracuse, and Duke universities. Southern’s program also was once again named among the top 50 in the nation by, a website that helps consumers learn about and compare financial products, including student loans. This is the fourth consecutive year that Southern’s program was recognized for excellence on the listing. Yale University is the only other college in Connecticut included for 2020. Southern’s Financial Literacy Program annually presents more than 100 workshops on topics such as paying for college, money management, financial aid 101, loan repayment, and more as well as numerous online resources at: 8 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

Lewis Deluca Jr., director of student financial literacy and advising, works with students and families throughout the year.


Food Pantry to Forward Student Success

Southern students provide assistance in the new Food Pantry.




while nearly 80 percent of students at Southern work to provide for their basic needs, many are coming up short. With a goal of supporting student success, on Oct. 28, Southern opened a Food Pantry in the Wintergreen Building — providing clients with almost 820 pounds of food in the first several weeks. The Food Pantry is a true community initiative, supported by Southern’s

alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends. Some $531,720 was raised during the university’s 2020 Day of Caring — more than 34 percent of which went directly to the Support Our Students (SOS) Fund. The SOS Fund helps finance the pantry in addition to other critically needed student-support initiatives. This funding is “an enormous part of the reason” Southern can provide aid, according to Kaitlin Ingerick, director of Annual Giving. Sue Zarnowski, student affairs case man-

ager, notes that faculty, staff, and students have donated “everything inside the pantry.” She continues: “We are part of the Connecticut Food Bank, but it is so inundated, they can’t help as much. We also team up with M.L. Keefe Community Center for produce and dairy. The food pantry’s aisles look like a mini supermarket. We have baby food items, a cereal section. Even snacks.” While the pantry gives students immediate access to food, looking forward, Southern also is establishing a Social Services Center

to connect students to other types of assistance. Jules Tetreault, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, comments: “I work with students who are homeless. We have students whose families have been laid off, and they are the breadwinners on minimum wage. The Social Services Center will be a hub to support these pieces, like referrals for other assistance programs as aid is shrinking. It will help us make connection points as we continue to increase access and success.”

PLEASE HELP FUND SOUTHERN’S FOOD PANTRY AND OTHER STUDENT-SUPPORT INITIATIVES by making a gift with the enclosed envelope or at (Select the “Support Our Students Fund” in the dropdown menu.)

Donors also can donate through Amazon Prime, which ships free to the pantry, or through similar platforms. Spring 2021 | 9

H IDDE N C AMP US ■ Caitlin Hansen, ’16, a graduate student in the applied physics program, uses the telescope inside the


campus observatory.

Look Whooooo’s Talking

Posts, ’Grams, Tweets, and More Southern asked: What good things happened in 2020? Your answers brought hope and inspiration.

Southern’s alumni health care heroes are on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19 — and recently shared photos of themselves receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. #SouthernStrong

Zen Master Mooks Andrea Walter Tevis — author of The Queen’s Gambit, The Hustler, The Color of Money, and The Man Who Fell to Earth — taught at Southern in the early ‘60s. William Conlon, ’16, a graduate student in the English Department‘s MFA in creative writing program, knew Tevis then — and shares some of the tale.

I graduated.

Achieved my highest term GPA in my college career (3.8)!

Dr. Dawn Martorelli Began to work (part-time) at the university I received ALL five degrees from — SCSU

Students talk about why they vote in this video from the Student Government Association.

FACEBOOK • SouthernCT • 27,400+ followers

Join the Conversation! Follow Southern on:

TWITTER • @SCSU • 8,200+ followers INSTAGRAM • SCSUgram • 5,400+ followers SNAPCHAT • SouthernSCSU LINKED IN • Southern Connecticut State University • 51,000+ followers

Connect with President Joe Bertolino: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @SCSUTopOwl

Spring 2021 | 11

From the pool to the playing field, a look at SOUTHERN ATHLETICS.

n n

National Champion Continues to Inspire



Looking for an inspirational answer, Under Armour, a leading performance-apparel company, and Popsugar, an online media site for women, turned to an Owl: Georgette Nixon, ’17. A four-time track and field All American, Nixon and her teammates were Georgette Nixon, ’17 the NCAA Division II national champions in the 4x400 relay. Today, she’s serving her fourth year as an assistant track and field coach at Southern and also is a strength trainer. “‘It’s no secret that athletes love competition. I had to figure out how to channel that same thought process into my career,’” said Nixon in the online series, which focuses on “women who are redefining what it means to be an athlete once their college careers come to an end.” Nixon’s influence certainly remains strong, inspiring student-athletes on Southern’s track and field team as well as many of Popsugar’s 300 million monthly readers. MORE AT:

Owl Named Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Board President

Carol Stiff, ’83, M.S. ’89, played basketball and field hockey for the Owls in the early ’80s. But her influence in women’s college sports has grown exponentially since she earned two Southern degrees: an undergrad in physical education and a graduate degree in exercise science. Throughout her 30-plus-year career at sports-media powerhouse ESPN, Stiff — now vice president, women’s sports programming and acquisitions — has remained widely viewed as one of the most prominent leaders in women’s college sports. This is particularly true in basketball, where ESPN has held exclusivity rights for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament since 1996. Building on this legacy, Stiff was named president of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Board of Directors and is serving a two-year term, which began in June 2020. Looking forward, she will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the 2021 class. The honor adds to an ever-growing list of accomplishments. Stiff was inducted into the Connecticut Basketball Hall of Fame, recognized by Sports Business Journal as one of the most influential executives in women’s sports (2009), named one of the “50 Most Influential People Behind the Scenes in Sports” by Business Insider (2014), and crowned one of “35 Game Changers of 2016” by Sports Business Journal. The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is located in Knoxville, Tenn. Visit online at

Carol Stiff, ’83, M.S. ’89


ur Owl rO s o F


Homecoming was virtual this year, but alumni and friends came out in full force. The “Sellout the Stadium” campaign raised more than $23,750 in support of student-athletes, with contributions coming in from 558 donors. Thank you!


Coach Knox, ’82, Leading Gymnastics

Byron Knox, ’82, is the new head coach of Southern’s gymnastics team, bringing 40 years of experience to his alma mater. He comes to Southern after 16 seasons at the University of Bridgeport, having guided his teams to six-straight USA Gymnastics/NCAA Division II national championships from 2009 through 2014. A four-time USA Gymnastics National Coach of the Year, Knox has received numerous regional and conference coaching honors. He has coached 70 USA Gymnastics/ Individual All-Americans and 150 scholar-athletes during his career.

Abigail “A

bby” Epst

• Senior jo



• Volleyba


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• Hometo wn: Cryst

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Getting started: Epstein’s mom

coached high school volleyball and brought her young daughter along to practices, where she fell in love with the game at the age of 5. Even then, she refused to serve underhand.

Game style in three words: aggressive, passionate, intense Dreaming of normalcy: At the time this magazine went to press, Owls

volleyball was potentially moving competition to the spring. “I’m hoping to get some taste of a senior season,” says Epstein. “I’ve played about 13 years. To make it all the way to your senior year of college and not have a season would be . . . a real bummer.”

Write from the start: In fourth grade, Epstein wrote a story that won a

competition run by the Story Pirates, a celebrated national organization that turns children’s writing into plays. Epstein’s story was performed at a major festival in Florida, which brought numerous perks, including newspaper coverage and a VIP-style golfcart ride through the fairgrounds to meet the actors performing her story.

Becoming an Owl: Epstein transferred to Southern from Pasco-Hernando

State College, located about an hour away from her hometown in Crystal River, Fla. “It’s right on the Gulf Coast. We are known for scalloping and manatees,” she says.

Byron Knox, ’82

Career goal: sports journalist, ideally working as a sideline reporter

Commenting on his return to Southern, Knox says: “My mission is to help student-athletes achieve their academic and athletic goals, one individual at a time. Then, championships will follow. This is a ‘2020-360’ moment for me. Everything has come 360 degrees in 2020! I began my college career at Southern Connecticut over 43 years ago and now I’m coming home.” As a student-athlete competing for storied Southern Hall of Fame Coach Abie Grossfeld, Knox helped the Owls win four-consecutive Eastern Intercollegiate Gymnastic League (EIGL) team championships and the 1979 NCAA Men’s Eastern Region Gymnastics Championship, following a NCAA National Championship Bronze Medal finish in 1978. In 1982, Knox was a member of the USA Men’s Gymnastics National Team and also won the all-around and high-bar events at the EIGL championships.

On campus: Epstein is the news editor of the Southern News student

newspaper. While sports are on hold at Southern, “there is always news to report on,” she says.

Staying game ready: Over the summer, Epstein worked with a personal trainer, five days a week, 45 minutes a day.

No before-game jitters: “Sports are my outlet. I’ve always been really comfortable on the volleyball court. It’s a second home,” she says.


Want sports?


look at the university’s winning sports program. The site, which has a mobile-device friendly design, includes expanded video content, competition highlights, game day schedules, a social media hub, photo galleries, student-athlete profiles, and access to the Owls online store.

MORE AT Spring 2021 | 13

Students paint and draw their way through the pandemic, tackling assignments that nod to life today — from masks to 6 feet of separation. By Villia Struyk


[From Top] Thuan Vu, professor of art, works with Brandon Lee, Nathan Shilling, and Kyra Catubig.

has dramatically altered life as we know it, including the intermediate drawing and painting courses taught simultaneously and in person by Thuan Vu, professor of art. Like many colleges and universities, Southern launched the fall semester with plans to switch entirely to remote education after the Thanksgiving break. But throughout the unseasonably warm months leading to that date, Vu’s students met for almost three hours each Tuesday and Thursday on the second floor of Southern’s Earl Hall to learn, create, and social distance. Many aspects of the courses shifted in step with health and safety guidelines. Throughout Earl Hall — home to Southern’s departments of art and music — signs highlight one-way traffic patterns, separate entrances/exits, and reduced room-occupancy rates. Vu’s students were assigned to workspaces in three separate but adjacent studio classrooms to ensure social distancing, and all always wore protective masks. In addition to shaping how the students worked, COVID-19 also informed their assignments. “I can always say, ‘Do a portrait.’ But there is so much going on right now in the world. Why not be topical, while still leaving the assignments open-ended so students can express what they want to express?” says Vu. And so, through their art, the students were asked to explore 1. masks (be they physical or psychological), 2. 6 feet of separation (a work at least 6 feet long or wide, reflecting socialdistancing guidelines) and 3. the year 2020. For the latter, students hand-stretched two 20 X 20-inch canvases. On one, they presented a positive aspect of the year; on the other, a negative. Some of the results are seen in these pages, with more online at Vu is an award-winning, practicing artist — the recipient of a 2020 Artistic Excellence grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts, one of only two visual artists to receive the honor. He’s taught at Southern since fall 2019, but notes that he and his fellow faculty members are navigating uncharted territory. “I have done this for 21 years, and [in the past] students would have concerns or be facing situations that usually fell into certain categories. But we’ve never had a worldwide pandemic. We’ve never had to switch to online teaching in the middle of a semester [like Southern did last spring], turning on a dime,” he says. In contrast, faculty and staff had time to prepare for the 2020-21 academic year. “To teach onground is a blessing. They chose to be here,” says Vu, gesturing to the students. He stresses the need to be cognizant of students’ greater challenges — family and friends sick with COVID-19, personal illnesses, financial issues caused by the pandemic, or a potential need to quarantine. In response, he has created 10 videos to demonstrate techniques both online and in the classroom, so students can watch him up close and personal while social distancing. Supplies also were ordered so the artists wouldn’t need to make additional trips. Above all, Vu insists that health concerns are first and foremost. On a sunny day in October, he considered several of the 6-feet projects being drawn and painted: “Some people are drawing trains in the desert. Others are creating mythic graphic works that are super detailed or propaganda movie posters. And one is making an autobiographical portrait about being the son of a fisherman. Everyone has a take on it, because they are living through it. We want to hear their voices coming out in the work, and we do — and I love it all.” Spring 2021 | 15

Jaime Roy When the COVID-19 pandemic surged last spring, Jaime Roy, a senior majoring in studio art, was taking the art history course, “Global Arts of the Renaissance.” At the time, it seemed apropos to be studying art and the plague. Her mask paintings are inspired by what she learned. In particular, Roy recalls a painting the professor shared of bodies being placed in a mass grave. “One of the people carrying the bodies had a little slip of paper tucked in his hat, a prayer that was supposed to protect him from the plague. But if you looked closely, you could see a sore on his face, a sign that he was already infected,” says Roy.

“This is my hand and my boyfriend’s hand,” says Roy of her 6-feet project. “I used to see him every single day. Now, when I do get to see him, I don’t know when the next time will be. It could be two weeks. Or, it could be a month. Especially with the lockdown, we had no idea. So, that is what this is about.”

Joshua Fitzpatrick, ’20

Family is a central theme in the projects created by Joshua Fitzpatrick, ’20, who is one of seven siblings. “I have never drawn any of them, so I thought it would be a fun way to approach the [mask] project” says Fitzpatrick, then a senior majoring in studio art with a concentration in graphic design. While his siblings’ faces are depicted realistically, he rendered the masks in a flattened style without shadowing, adding a pop of color on images that graphically depict one of many aspects of the wearers’ personalities — from a love of star gazing to an analytical nature. For his youngest sibling, 15-year-old Hazel, a heart depicts the artist’s high regard and acknowledgement of the challenges facing teens, especially during the pandemic. “She is such an amazing person, so much better than anything she could possibly show on social media,” he says.


Brandon Lee Sophomore Brandon Lee has weathered his share of recent challenges. The week prior to beginning freshman classes at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, he learned that its partnership with the University of New Haven was ending at the close of the 2018-19 academic year — effectively shuttering the degree-granting program he was enrolled in at the Lyme campus. And so, as a sophomore, he finds himself at Southern. It’s been a fine move artistically, says Lee. In the midst of the pandemic, on-campus, in-person courses bring peace and relief. “It’s a shared experience, everyone committed to the same common goal of completing works. It definitely gives you motivation,” says Lee. He notes that his 6-feet drawing — among the largest he’s ever done — is his favorite from the course — a selfportrait based on a narrative he imagined about a fisherman’s son.

The inspiration for his 6-feet project came from a visit home and a momentary pause he took before hugging his mother goodbye. “I guess everyone understands where that pause came from. But it made me think about the people who normally see their friends all of the time, but haven’t been able to visit for a while. I haven’t seen my friends in months,” he says. His project is 10-feet across — so the figures at each end are truly 6-feet apart. In the center of the drawing, figures embrace. “They just want to be close to each other, and, obviously, COVID got in the way of it,” he says.

Spring 2021 | 17

Shaina Alexander Senior studio art major Shaina Alexander is a transfer student who came to Southern with credits from Middlesex Community College and Montserrat College of Art. “She embraced the idea of having a little more humoristic aspect to her work,” says Vu, with a smile. “So, I thought, why don’t I do strange masks that I’ve seen,” she says. Included are a self-portrait and drawings of her cousin and father, all donning intricate masks complete with zippers, an opening for straws, or a clear space to reveal the wearer’s mouth.

Emelia Luz Emelia Luz, who transferred to Southern from the Maine College of Art, appreciates Professor Vu’s willingness to embrace whimsy in her drawings. In search of inspiration for her mask project, the sophomore turned to the nation’s health care workers. Her initial muse: a parent who works as an emergency room nurse. “I wanted to show how basically we see health care workers as warriors,” she says of her cartoon-inspired images of health care heroes fighting the COVID-19 virus. “And I do love playing with a little bit of fantasy in my pieces,” she continues.


Thomas DeFranco “My series is about how masks change us — who we appear to be to ourselves and the world,” says senior Thomas DeFranco, a studio art major with a concentration in graphic design. “For this [self-portrait], I thought about how we perceive ourselves under the mask. Nobody sees under the mask anymore — the fear associated with the sickness and the threat of death.” For the 6-feet project, DeFranco was inspired by the three parts of Italianwriter Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem the Divine Comedy: Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise). DeFranco’s work reflects the etching style often used to illustrate Dante’s masterpiece, “with some personal twists,” he says.

Nathan Shilling A self-described “handson learner,” Nathan Shilling says he’ll enroll in on-campus course options whenever possible. He’s an interdisciplinary studies major, with concentrations in biology and studio art. Commenting on one of his mask drawings, he notes: “Originally, I didn’t want to have a definable figure. Just a mask. But then I figured with the political climate [in October before the election], everything is devolving right now, so I drew a chimp.”

Spring 2021 | 19

Ryana Kelsey Senior Ryana Kelsey is a general studies major, enrolled in a flexible program that allows students to delve into broad academic themes: business, humanities, social sciences, or STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Kelsey’s interests pointed her toward the social sciences concentration. She took both online and in-person classes for the fall 2020 semester, among them, courses from the departments of anthropology, psychology, women’s and gender studies, and art — including intermediate painting with Professor Vu. Her portraits reference both COVID-19 and social justice — deeply connected issues based on racial health disparities and the high percentage of Black Americans to get the disease.

Kyra Catubig

Samantha Melendez

With Professor Vu’s urging, Kyra Catubig moved on from a self-portrait to create a more surreal image for her second mask project. The painting includes two of her friends, who were originally drawn in separate sketches. Sunflowers and bees nod to one of Catubig’s favorite album covers: Flower Boy by Tyler, the Creator. A studio art major with a concentration in graphic design, Catubig is a resident adviser and desk attendant at Chase Hall, and also works for Southern’s Office of Orientation, Transition, and Family Engagement. Looking forward, she is considering graduate school, most likely, to pursue a degree in counseling. Meanwhile, she welcomes the opportunity to connect in class. “Honestly, it feels really good. I look forward to going to those classes,” she says.


Her loved ones figure prominently in the three mask paintings created by Samantha Melendez. She typically uses a more realistic style, but with Vu’s guidance explored the use of color for a portrait of her boyfriend. A second imagine shows her baby sister, who was born last year, bringing great joy to the family — as well as the worries and challenges of protecting a baby. “I think it’s because I am already in my 20s, and she is so small. I tend to have this almost motherly love toward her,” says Melendez. Another portrait depicts a young woman pulling an octopus from her mask — and was created after Melendez learned that a beloved family member had been raped. “I made this intentionally,” she says of the image of a young woman wearing a shirt printed with the phrase: Just Say No. “A lot of people say, ‘If you don’t want to have sex with someone, just say no.’ . . . But that’s not always the answer. Sometimes you are forced to do things. They are out of your control.”

Isabelle Reina

Isabelle Reina, a senior art education major, is student teaching this spring. But she first experienced the power of art education at age 15, while working at Cindy Stevens Fine Art in Clinton, Conn. “I was inspired by all of the positive things [my boss] was doing for the community — working with children, adults, people facing addiction. I saw how a creative outlet helps to positively impact lives,” says Reina. She strove to relay that positive spirit in Vu’s class. Her mask projects portray close friends, her brother’s girlfriend, and her new dog, Max, a husky puppy, who joined the family when he was 4-months old, right before Southern closed its physical campus and switched entirely to remote education for the spring 2020 semester. Max was a joy and a challenge for Reina, who was tackling upper-level, online courses. “He’s ripping up the masks [in the painting]. Because he’s a dog — and that’s his thing,” says Reina, with a laugh. She was thrilled to return to Earl Hall when campus reopened for the fall 2020 semester. “I love working in a classroom setting,” she says.

Samantha Pansa “Being around other creative people really encourages you to push your boundaries. I would never have moved toward [so much] color if I wasn’t surrounded by people who were experimenting with their own art,” says Samantha Pansa, a senior studio art major, with a concentration in photography and a minor in art history. Pansa focused her mask projects on the environment, referencing the California wildfires, pollution, and threats to the oceans in her surrealistic paintings. Initially a journalism major, she changed course after studying photojournalism. “I realized I liked the camera aspect much more than the journalism,” she says.

Spring 2021 | 21

The Business Builder


Serial entrepreneur Robert Leary, ’77, is making his mark across businesses and industries — tackling Broadway, information technology, and a sports-drink alternative. By Natalie Missakian



too many of his young athletes were gulping down sugary sports drinks to quench their thirst after practices and games. Worried about the health effects of chugging so many empty calories, the father of four brainstormed with two other sports dads to develop a healthy — yet still tasty and refreshing — alternative. One that would not only hydrate, but curb hunger and boost energy, too. They started a company and came up with Trimino, a protein-infused water with 7 grams of protein; the full recommended daily allowance of major B vitamins; zero sugar, fat, or caffeine; and only 28 calories per 16 oz. bottle. “It’s a still [noncarbonated] beverage, which is good in the athletic context because you can chug it,” Leary says. “But the product is great for everybody. Our biggest segment of the market is women on the go.” Leary and co-founders Casey Hoban and Peter Dacey, all from Guilford, Conn., worked with a flavor chemist in New Jersey to create the drink, and fine-tune the flavors and mix of ingredients. They started selling it around six years ago to local mom-and-pop delicatessens. “We were doing self-delivery, just knocking on doors. It was insane,” says Leary. But when the company landed a distribution deal in 2016 with Polar Beverages, the product took off. Today, the sports-drink alternative, which first hit grocery shelves in 2014, can be found in 90 percent of supermarkets in New England, including large regional chains like Big Y, Stop & Shop and ShopRite, according to Leary. The drink, which retails for about $2 a bottle and comes in seven fruit flavors, has also broken into markets in

Spring 2021 | 23

“You don’t need that ultimate unique idea, but what you do need is superior execution.”

Texas, Florida, and Southern California and is sold online in 49 states via the company website and Leary’s foray into the beverage business is the latest chapter in a long and fruitful entrepreneurial career. A retired health care software executive, he also owns Vineyard Point Associates, a boutique investment firm specializing in health care and technology startups and “other offthe-wall projects,’’ according to his LinkedIn profile. He also produces film and theater productions and, yes, is even a Tony Award winner (and two-time nominee). Barefoot and wearing khaki shorts and a tropical-print shirt that belie the chilly temperature outside, Leary sits on a couch in the living room of his waterfront home one morning last November, looking relaxed as he chats about his eclectic career and his time at Southern. To his right, an expanse of windows offers a view of Long Island Sound stretching to the horizon. Behind him, three glass cabinets display an assortment of colorful crystals and other geological specimens. He traces his passion for collecting rocks and minerals to his years as an earth science major at Southern. “You want to see something really cool?” he asks as he heads to his foyer, where a small black meteorite sits on a pedestal. He says he purchased it during a trip to Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival. “I saw it and fell in love with the piece. It was one of those I had to have,” he says. Leary grew up in East Haven, Conn., and got his first taste of the business world with a paper route when he was 12. He followed his older brother to Southern in 1972 because he wanted a school that was affordable and close enough to commute from home. He paints a picture of his younger self as a bit of an academic slacker, cracking jokes about how he graduated on the “five-year-plan” with a “gentleman’s B-minus,” although it was clearly no obstacle to his future success. After initially enrolling as an economics major and hating it, he switched to earth science because he enjoyed the subject in high school. “I was working at least one job Previous page: A long-time if not two, so those were crazy youth sports coach, Robert times for me,” he says. He paid Leary, ’77, [photographed at most of his own way through school his Connecticut home] turned his business acumen to the with a job as a toll collector on beverage industry and coInterstate 95 in West Haven (at a founded Trimino. time when toll booths still dotted Connecticut’s highways).

Challenging as those days were, he had the foresight to imagine a future in computers. While Southern didn’t offer a computer science major at the time, he loaded his schedule with as many programming classes as he could. It would pay off handsomely. His entrepreneurial journey actually began with a “temporary” software engineering job at Yale during his final year at Southern. “They promised me two days of consulting work, and it turned into a 30-year career,” he says. Leary worked for a health services research program that was developing new methods for measuring and managing health care — an experience that would later provide the framework for his first startup. After doing similar work for a few years in the private sector, in 1980, he struck out with his wife Renee, also a Southern grad (Class of 1975), launching HSS, a company that developed software for hospital payment. He eventually sold the company, bought it back, then ran it independently for 11 years before it caught the eye of health insurance behemoth United Healthcare, which acquired it in 2005. Leary retired two years later, but not for long. “All I wanted to do was coach lacrosse and read books,” he remembers. “And that lasted for about two years until my daughter graduated from NYU and wanted to go into the movie business.” That’s when Leary got involved in the entertainment industry. So far, he has financed around 15 movies, some produced by his daughter, along with a handful of offBroadway and Broadway productions. Among his film credits are Stanford Prison Experiment, All These Small Moments, 7 Days to Vegas and — one of his favorites — Super Troopers 2, a sequel to the 2001 screwball comedy turned cult classic about the antics of five Vermont State Police troopers. In 2014, a Broadway production he backed, The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Meanwhile, Leary continues to build up and market Trimino, which just debuted a flavor called Orchard. “It’s like an apple-pear flavor. It’s very compelling,” he says. His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? “You don’t need that ultimate unique idea, but what you do need is superior execution. “My software business was developed around software that was in the public domain, so we didn’t invent anything,” he says. “But we made it more accessible, and we developed an expert team that our customers could rely on.” n

— Robert Leary, ’77



Masks. Social distancing. Outdoor classrooms. COVID-19 continues to reshape every aspect of higher education — but Southern is meeting the historically unprecedented challenges head-on. By Villia Struyk


but a glimmer of light has appeared at the end of the tunnel. Students were welcomed back for the spring semester on Jan. 26 — albeit remotely — and campus was open for business the following week, on Feb. 3, for those opting for in-person courses and services. As in the fall, courses are being offered in a variety of formats: 62 percent are entirely online and 38 percent are in-person or a hybrid. And with prevention of a potential virus surge in mind, Southern, like many colleges and universities in the U.S., eliminated spring break. The semester builds on prior successes. The university met its operating goal for fall 2020, offering on-campus and remote learning until the Thanksgiving holiday, then making a planned-for switch to entirely online 26 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

education/student services. In contrast, “scores of colleges and universities” throughout the nation scrambled, significantly altering plans throughout the fall in response to skyrocketing COVID-19 cases, according to Inside Higher Ed. “The fact that we were able to keep COVID-19 positivity rates to modest levels and maintain our campus operations until the Thanksgiving break — when many other institutions could not — says a great deal about our community and its shared resilience and commitment to student success,” says President Joe Bertolino. Hope also arrived on the national front. On Dec. 14, the United States began a nationwide COVID-19 vaccine campaign, with frontline health care workers receiving the first FDA-

approved inoculations. Yet, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States surged to record levels in the winter. As of Feb. 8, the U.S. reported more than 26,761,000 COVID-19 cases and 460,582 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — devastating statistics that will be dwarfed by the time this magazine arrives in mailboxes. Keeping campus safe remains the overarching goal for spring 2021, with Southern maintaining and building on safety protocols put in place for the start of the academic year. To help


M guide the process, in August 2020, Erin Duff, ’16, MPH ’20, was named to the newly created position of COVID-19 coordinator. (She shares more on Southern’s response to COVID-19 on page 28.) The Southern community includes about 11,070 students, faculty, and staff — a greater population than 45 percent of Connecticut’s cities and towns — and working toward their safety is a monumental task. Residence hall attendance was cut to 1,500 students — about 60 percent of regular capacity — to promote social distancing. Similarly, 100 percent of classrooms and student support areas were adapted to meet social distancing guidelines. Ironically, the campus has never been cleaner. Essential staff are following numerous cleaning/sanitizing protocols, including the use of

electrostatic sprayers purchased to disinfect classrooms and public meeting areas at the end of each day. Student programs have shifted as well, often moving online. In the fall, the university hosted a virtual involvement fair that drew 1,100 students. Similarly, Career Services is responding by providing 10 virtual career fairs for the 2020-21 academic year; implementing a new practiceinterview platform; and integrating digital resources for networking and connecting virtually. Even commencement and Homecoming were successfully held online (see sidebar). Regular randomized testing of students for COVID-19 continues to be conducted on campus — and everyone is required to social distance and wear

ore than 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students from the Class of 2020 were recognized at an ONLINE COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY ( scsu2020) on Aug. 15 — and the excitement online was palpable. Family and friends shared joyful comments throughout the 2.5 hour event, which garnered a statewide award for excellence. Highlights included the Blue Steel Drumline and other musical performances; commencement speakers Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and Honorary Doctorate awardee Marna Borgstrom, the chief executive officer of Yale New Haven Health; and a postcommencement slideshow of graduates’ photos and comments. As more events were held remotely in response to COVID-19,

continues on page 46

continues on page 46 Spring 2021 | 27

GUIDING US through the Pandemic

A year ago, her current job didn’t even exist. Now, at the age of 26 and having earned her Master of Public Health in December, she’s helping to guide the university through the pandemic. Meet Erin Duff, ’16, M.P.H. ’20, Southern’s COVID-19 coordinator.

DUFF’S JOB RESPONSIBILITIES COVER A LOT OF TERRITORY: “First and foremost, is the randomized testing

that we do on campus of residential students, studentathletes, and students in clinical placements, among others,” says Duff, who coordinated COVID-19 testing of 450 to 500 students a week in the fall. She also assists with Southern’s contact tracing program, on-campus quarantine and isolation, and educating the Southern community on COVID-19. TESTING: takes place in Engelman Hall in the grab-and-go

store/dining area, affectionately known as the Bagel Wagon. (It’s temporarily closed for dining, etc.) The site meets public health guidelines: adequate airflow, separate entrance and exit, no carpeting, and adequate space for people to wait safely. “Our student wait time is no more than five minutes, which is really great. . . . When I talk with other schools, their wait can be up to 45 minutes,” says Duff. Results are typically available within two days.


FIRST PRIORITY: “Students and staff fill out a COVID-19 report

if they have been exposed or have tested COVID positive. The first thing I do is look for those in my email,” says Duff. She calls those members of the campus community, gathers information, and shares it with Southern’s team of contact tracers. TRACERS AND OTHER TEAM MEMBERS: Dr. Diane

Morgenthaler, director of health services, is the lead contact tracer, working alongside a team of six Southern graduate students. “For most, it is their internship, either for a Master of Social Work or Master of Public Health,” says Duff. All complete contact tracing training from the Department of Public Health. Duff also works closely with the directors of the wellness office and residence life, along with key people in student affairs. STAYING CONNECTED: Duff meets virtually with the

Connecticut Department of Public Health once or twice



bout 85 percent of Southern classes have 25 students or fewer, but classrooms still needed to be adjusted to meet social-distancing guidelines requiring six feet of separation among all students and faculty. In fact, 100 percent of classroom spaces on campus were reconfigured to help students stay safe. In some cases, temporary classrooms were created on campus, including in the Lyman Center and the grand ballroom in the Michael J. Adanti Student Center. Additional modifications also were made — including scheduling and employing livestream video in classrooms so some students could work from home. Teaching in the great outdoors was another creative solution. Jonathan Wharton, associate professor of political

a week, along with representatives from all of the state’s colleges/universities. She also connects virtually with COVID-19 coordinators from Southern’s sister universities in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system (Central, Eastern, and Western). “We have many similarities, so it’s helpful to connect on a more personal level to share ideas,” she says. PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW: Duff receives 15 – 30 questions

a day about COVID-19 from Southern students, parents, faculty, and staff.

THE MOST COMMON QUESTION: What is meant by close

contact? Southern follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) definition: someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Duff echoes the CDC in noting that extremely close contact, such as kissing, should also be considered.

continues on page 46

science and urban affairs, and interim associate dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies, first asked about teaching al fresco during an online forum on reopening campus in fall 2020. His suggestion earned a few chuckles. But many faculty and administrators were intrigued by the idea, which Wharton next addressed in an op-ed for Soon after, he was tapped to discuss the topic on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront. At Southern, outdoor “classrooms” ultimately were available to faculty by reservation in three locations: the Davis Hall parking lot under the solar panel overhang, under the overhang of Earl Hall, and behind the sculpture overlooking the pond at the rear of Engleman Hall. Spring 2021 | 29


Talking Points

Kevin McNamara, clinical director emeritus of the Department of Communication Disorders, has devoted decades to his clients, peers, and profession. Post-retirement, he continues the tradition by establishing a scholarship to support graduate students in the field. By Natalie Missakian



Students in Southern’s master’s program complete between 67 and 72 credits, comprising both academic Montclair State College in New Jersey as a freshman in courses and clinical experience. McNamara notes that the early 1970s. But he always knew that whatever career many are paying their own way through school. he chose, it would be a helping profession. “I knew I “Ultimately, if they’re successful, they go out into the wanted to do something that served a greater cause — community and people with disabilities are served better,” that wasn’t mercenary but could maybe he explains. “It [funding the scholarship] someday make the world a better becomes a social justice issue.” place,” he says. McNamara grew up “down McNamara has lived out the shore” in Atlantic Heights, that aspiration with a long N.J, and “stumbled into” and distinguished career in his life’s passion by accident, the field of speech and while casually browsing language pathology, through a college course retiring in September after catalog. “I really wasn’t 20 years leading Southern’s familiar with the field,” Center for Communication he recalls. “But I read a — KEVIN MCNAMARA Disorders. He’s spent the description [of the better part of three communication disorders decades helping people program], and it talked about fulfill one of the most language and linguistics and basic and powerful human psychology and service.” desires: the ability to It meshed communicate and be perfectly with his understood. interests, checking Now, he is all the boxes for helping Southern his ideal job. students carry “So I signed on his legacy. In up for it, and the the fall of 2020, journey began,” McNamara says McNamara. established the After Kevin M. McNamara graduating from Endowed Scholarship Montclair, a school at Southern, which that was similar in size provides financial support and mission to Southern, to a promising second-year he moved to Connecticut student in the speech and to enroll in the University of language pathology graduate Connecticut’s graduate program program. in speech and language pathology, But he also has a larger goal in mind: chipping away and never looked back. at a national shortage of qualified speech and language He landed his first full-time job with the state pathologists, who are needed to meet rising demand in after grad school with what is now the Department of hospitals, rehabilitation centers, private practices, and Developmental Services, where he served as a therapist especially schools. The employment outlook for speech and clinical coordinator in residential programs for people and language pathologists is expected to increase by with severe developmental disabilities. The job wasn’t 25 percent from 2019 to 2029, according to the U.S. solely about helping his clients be able to communicate, Bureau of Labor Statistics. In comparison, the average he says, but also “helping the world around those folks growth rate for all occupations is 4 percent. understand their potential and worth.” Despite the outstanding job outlook, for students Today, he lives with his husband, Michael Sayers, intent on entering the field, “it’s a tremendous amount in the Beaver Hills section of New Haven, right next to of work and a tremendous amount of debt in a lot of Southern’s campus. “I used to walk to work, and still cases,” says McNamara. “The scholarship is one little view the campus as part of my neighborhood,” he says. thing to help make it easier for a hardworking, committed student to make it through the program,” he says. continues on page 47 EVIN MCNAMARA WAS STILL FIGURING OUT WHAT

HE WANTED TO DO WITH HIS LIFE when he arrived at

“The scholarship is one little thing to help make it easier for a hardworking, committed student to make it through the program.”

Spring 2021 | 31

Southern is committed to being a social justice university. Here are some of the many ways the community is taking a stand.



he pledged to make Southern a social justice university by ensuring that all members of its extended community were treated with dignity, respect, kindness, compassion, and civility — inspired by the tradition of Cura Personalis (care for the entire person) that he had learned during his Jesuit education at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. Four years later, this goal — and the actions and conversations it sparked — remain at the forefront, further informed by an international outcry for racial justice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May. COVID-19 has also graphically illuminated racial and economic disparities. How does a campus community committed to social justice move forward? In July, Diane Ariza joined Southern as vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion — a new senior-leadership position. The move echoes 32 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

a national trend: the number of chief diversity officers is on the rise on college campuses and in the business community. But while many developed the position in response to a major incident, this was not the case at Southern. Instead, strategic leadership was sought to bring the university to the next level of commitment and change. Ariza was raised in a bi-racial, bi-cultural community in Puerto Rico. She brings decades of experience to Southern, including, most recently, social justice-related leadership positions at

Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Diane Ariza

Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y., and Quinnipiac University in Hamden. She began her Southern tenure by talking to hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Within months, she developed a three-year strategic plan: Advancing Southern Towards a Social Justice and Antiracist University: Priorities and Recommendations (2020-2023). “In recent years there has been some great work done at Southern promoting antiracism and social justice that I haven’t seen in other places,” Ariza says. “But we will not solve systemic racism and inequality overnight, so we must find ways to take meaningful action by contributing however we can and moving forward as a community.” Working with Ariza, students are continuing to drive Southern’s social justice mission throughout the 2020-21 academic year. The Student Activism Committee, often working alongside the Student Government Association and multicultural student groups, held many events — including an on-campus Black Lives Matter (BLM) March

(Sept. 30), a Voter Teach-In (Oct. 26), and the State of Social Justice at SCSU Town Hall (Nov. 18). For the BLM march, hundreds gathered at Buley Library, then traveled on to the residence life quad. The event included speakers, art, and music, and culminated with a vigil commemorating Black lives lost to police brutality and racial injustice. “The community came out and they came out in force. . . . If you wanted an example of a peaceful, intelligent, informative, teachable rally — that focused on action and the future while simultaneously acknowledging the pain of the present and the past — Southern was it. . . . I couldn’t have been prouder,” said Bertolino, commenting on the event during a Diversity in Higher Education podcast. (See Resources sidebar.) The State of Social Justice at SCSU Town Hall, moderated by Ariza and held online, was also a semester highlight. The event outlined ongoing goals and

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES • The Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

shares a wealth of information online, including social justice priorities, ways to get involved, resources, a podcast, and more.

Diversity in Higher Education Podcast • Recent topics include

COVID-19 and health inequities; mental health; journalism, objectivity, and fake news; and student activism. Co-hosted by Diane Ariza, vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and Shanté Hanks, ’97, M.S. ’99, 6th Yr. ’05, deputy commissioner of the State of Connecticut Department of Housing. Listen/subscribe at Spotify, Apple podcasts, or

History Department Teach-in Series • Watch the series — which

addresses topics ranging from militarization to incarceration to the psychology of racism — at

Crucial Conversations • A Southern video series addressing critically important topics, including Race in America. Facebook links at

continues on page 47 Spring 2021 | 33

Finders Keepers A Southern MBA graduate turns to genetic testing and discovers the sister she didn’t know she had. 9, A ’1 MB eimer , r h te Hun edig uby ah Bo R Le ers Sist t) and h g i r (


uby Hunter, MBA ’19, always knew she was adopted from China. “My mom was very open and honest about it. As I grew up, she answered any questions I had and always encouraged me to learn more about my Chinese background,” says Hunter, who was raised as an only child in Connecticut, primarily in Branford. Hunter has a tattoo that playfully nods to her heritage with the text: “Made in China.” But she was never certain of her lineage. “I have always wondered if I was mixed … because being adopted from China doesn’t necessarily mean my parents were Chinese,” she says. Looking for answers, in November 2019, she completed genetic testing through 23 and Me. A month later, the results came in: Hunter is 100 percent Chinese — and she also has a sister, Leah Boedigheimer, who lives in Minnesota, some 1,350 miles away. “It was surreal. You always hear about these kinds of stories, but I never thought it would happen to me,” says Hunter of the discovery. Initially skeptical, the two women communicated by text and online, and uncovered uncanny similarities. “Once I had connected with her and talked for a bit, I knew she was my sister. We are so alike,” says Hunter. Like many siblings, the two share mannerism and physical traits. They also sound alike, despite being raised in different parts of the country. Hunter says both are night owls; love shopping, food, and dogs; and are “very straight forward and blunt.” Another tattoo also figures prominently in the sisters’ story. Each has a tattoo of the quote, “Veni, Vidi, Vici,” a Latin phrase popularly attributed to Julius Caesar, which translates as, “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Clearly, the two women are motivated. “I work as a data analyst, and she is getting her master’s in health care analytics. I have my MBA from Southern. We are both driven and hard working,” says Hunter, who works in the Windsor Locks, Conn., office of Collins Aerospace, a unit of Raytheon Technologies Corp. The sisters later learned they were adopted from the same orphanage. Hunter’s adoption story began in Hangzhou, China, where she was born in September 1994. Found at a bus stop, she was wrapped in a blanket, a note listing her birthdate attached. At the age of nine months, she was adopted by Mary Hunter of Seattle, a single mother who moved with her child to Connecticut. Across the country in Minnesota, Leah Boedigheimer’s adoption story had similar twists. Born in 1995, she was discovered in a government ’19, building in China, her RN MBA , R E UTHE T birthdate also pinned O N S U E H cal and CHOS to her blanket. RUBY was lo E n r H e S h hile HY t Sout On July 1, the sisters ld do w ed tha ON W t I cou a : “I lik h G t d IN N met in person for the first rate LEAR accele H IL E at was time at the airport in Detroit h IN G W t K R m a O W progr ork en route to a July 4 holiday n MBA e to w ered a ff o r for m o o visit to Hunter’s relatives. d e d th elped g.” opene rking h ly o (Her mother had moved workin e w it e in n whil o onA def sons t outher to Michigan in 2018.) My MB ool les g to S OB: “ h J in c s o E G e H th ... “We hugged and then ON T plying space. hile ap s Aero w in n r ll went to grab a drink and catch a o C at nd le each skills a up,” says Hunter of the sisters’ ild my o know . t u s y b t a e e s g m e eally first meeting. She recalls feeling g,” sh rly us to r trainin rticula owed ll a the-job It ere pa nervous but also a sense of “ w : T s R n O io H uss A CO comfort, a sort of homecoming, ss disc W IT H The cla . Y IN G s D d U n T S frie “like seeing someone you just come line. I and be and on haven’t seen in a while if that n o s other r e .I in p person makes sense.” s were l.” classe s all in a helpfu e w h t it w She continues: “We had ool if raction ked ho to sch ial inte k c S : “I li c o a s D L b e R been talking via FaceTime and text go WO felt th able to BOTH ause I e been beforehand, so it was like seeing an e, bec v n a li h n o ’t n all would o do it old friend. We clicked so naturally.” n tion.” want t ’t n id ect op also d e perf h t s a w y. This was ke Spring 2021 | 35


Aileen Ferraro, ’14 Postdoctoral Research Associate University of Minnesota Medical School



Aileen Ferraro, ’14, was among the first five students to receive a summer Undergraduate Research Grant of $3,000, funded by the SCSU Foundation. In October 2020, Ferraro — having earned a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Georgia earlier in the year — returned to campus, albeit virtually. Her goal: to help students enrolled in Management 450, Business Policy and Strategy, a capstone course for business majors. The course challenges teams of students to “run” a computer-simulated global business — a company that creates and sells genetic testing devises. The highly immersive business simulation was developed by Capsim, creator of programs used by more than 1,000 academic and corporate institutions from more than 60 countries. Working online and in a socially distanced classroom, each Southern


team draws on everything learned in previous business courses: accounting, economics, management, marketing, and more. Experience with genetics, or even biology, is not a prerequisite. But with knowledge comes power. And so, Linda Ferraro, an adjunct professor of management who teaches the course, issued an invitation to the newly minted Dr. Aileen Ferraro — an expert in the field of microbiology who is also her daughter. On a sunny fall afternoon, the students, all donning protective face masks, met in the School of Business building to virtually connect with the younger Ferraro, who offered a wealth of guidance. Ferraro was screened in from the University of Minnesota Medical School, where she became a postdoctoral research associate in August. Her research focus is Candida auris (C. auris), a multi-drugresistant yeast (a type of fungus) that can cause severe infections and spreads easily among hospitalized

patients and nursing home residents. “You may have seen it mentioned in the news,” says Ferraro, of C. auris, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has categorized as an urgent threat. Some 1,625 clinical confirmed/ probable cases were reported in the U.S. as of January 2021. “We basically are trying to figure out what makes it resistant to drugs,” says Ferraro of her research. At Southern, her advice to the business students touches on many topics. Among them, how genetics are used in the medical field (research on pediatric cancer, cancer survivorship, sickle cell disease, etc.), the benefits and challenges of four types of genetic-sequencing platforms in use, and risks to consumers (learning that you or someone in your family has or is at-risk for a disease can be upsetting and tests can cost more than $2,000). Equally important, Ferraro relates the importance of mentorship and credits her

“ first mentor, Elizabeth Lewis Roberts, associate professor of biology and chairman of the department at Southern, with changing the course of her life. During a follow-up conversation in November, Aileen Ferraro shares more of her Southern story. A nontraditional student, she came to Southern when she was 28 years old — an experience that was simultaneously invigorating and challenging. “This was a point when a lot of my friends were starting to get settled into their careers. They seemed to have their lives figured out, and here I was basically starting over,” she says. Ferraro was working in Southern’s Department of Biology through the Federal Work-Study Program, a position that led her to meet most of the professors. In the office one day, Professor Roberts shared that she was looking for someone to assist in the lab. Ferraro signed on. “We looked at grasses

I still talk with Dr. Roberts, and she reminds me, ‘I’m always here for you. I’ll always be your mentor.’ And there are other members of the biology department who I can always talk to as well. There is a culture of everyone keeping in touch at Southern.”

that make a compound that, when it goes into the soil, attracts bacteria that helps [the grasses] grow. It’s a symbiotic relationship,” says Ferraro, who received Southern’s Excellence in Research Award (2013) and professionally presented her undergraduate research capstone. Active as an undergrad, she was president of the student organization Southern Women in Math and Science and a member of the Botany Club — and went on to graduate magna cum laude. But, Ferraro says, she wouldn’t have considered graduate school without Roberts’ urging. “I owe a lot to her,” says Ferraro, who was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow at the University of Georgia from 20152020, when she earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Microbiology. Looking forward, she foresees several career options: working for


the federal government with the CDC or the National Institutes of Health or joining industry as a field application specialist/scientist. “You act as a liaison between the customer, the sales team, and research and technology. You might help customers with the equipment they purchase. You might train them or help them design experiments with the equipment. It’s a mix of science, sales, and communications,” says Ferraro. Her advice to students reflects her educational path. “Faculty members are there to support you — at least, that was my experience at Southern. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help, because they want to give it.” n Spring 2021 | 37




EW HAVEN is a public art hub: more than 500 publicly

COVID-19, with public health guidelines stressing the benefits of social distancing and spending time outside. There are other timely advantages: 72 percent of surveyed Americans believe “the arts unify our communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity,” and 69 percent say the arts “lift me up beyond everyday experiences.”*



accessible works of art adorn the city, including sculptures, monuments, stained glass, paintings, murals, and more. (Several stunning examples are found at Southern: 11-not-to-be-missed-spots-on-campus.) The city’s outdoor art installations, in particular, offer a welcome respite in response to

* Why Public Art Matters, Americans for the Arts, 2018 38 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE


Teresa Sirico, ’70, M.S. ’73, President Valencia Goodridge, MBA ’08, Vice President Angela Hudson Davis, ’88, M.P.H. ’97, Treasurer James (Jimmy) Booth, ’97, Secretary


Memories, Milestones, and Mentors


he SCSU Alumni Association is fortunate to have 23 dedicated members, representing graduating classes from seven decades. Twenty were elected to a multi-

year term and serve alongside three emeriti members who have been involved with the organization for decades. What inspires their ongoing connection to Southern and its students? We asked and many responded, reminiscing about their student days and optimism for Southern’s future. MORE AT:

What’s your best Southern memory? “Being part of the University Choir and traveling to Europe. We performed concerts in Germany, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. It was an awesome experience for a 19-year-old student.” — Kathy Coyle, ’74, M.S. ’78, 6th Yr. ’81 “Playing collegiate sports, joining Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, and being president and founder of Men About Business rank in my top three most memorable experiences at Southern. Those things made me into the man I am today.” — Trevor Ford, ’05 “Serving on resident adviser duty in North Campus. My coworkers and I used to play Maroon 5 and dance down Soul Train lines in the lobby with the residents. Truly memorable!” — LaShanté Kelley-James, ’04, M.S. ’14

From top row, left to right: LaShanté Kelley-James, ’04, M.S. ’14 Philip Robertson, ’66, M.S. ’75 Carolyn Vanacore, ’52, M.S. ’68, 6th Yr. ’73 (Emerita) Jimmy Booth, ’97 Judit Vasmatics Paolini, ’73, M.S. ’79, 6th Yr. ’93 Renee Barnett Terry, ’76 Aba Hayford, ’10 Shermaine Edmonds, ’04, MBA ’06 Debrah Manke, M.S. ’90, 6th Yr.’17 Trevor Ford, ’05 Angela Hudson Davis, ’88, M.P.H. ’97 Patricia Miller ’69, M.S. ’75, 6th Yr. ’81 (Emerita) Donald G. Mitchell, ’57, M.S. ’61 Dorothy Martino, ’54, M.S. ’69 (Emerita) Andrew “Mo” Marullo, ’10, M.S. ’14 Teresa Sirico, ’70, M.S. ’73 Valencia (McLeain) Goodridge, MBA ’08 Karl “Stephen” Wilson, ’02 Brian West, ’80 Kelly Hope, ’03, M.S. ’10 Madison Correia, ’19, M.S. ’20 Kathy Coyle, ’74, M.S. ’78, 6th Yr. ’81 Jodi Hill-Lilly, ’88, M.S.W. ’94

Madison Correia, ’19, M.S. ’20 Kathy Coyle, ’74, M.S. ’78, 6th Yr. ’81 Shermaine Edmonds, ’04, MBA ’06 Trevor Ford, ’05 Aba Hayford, ’10 Jodi Hill-Lilly, ’88, M.S.W. ’94 Kelly Hope, ’03, M.S. ’10 LaShanté Kelley-James, ’04, M.S. ’14 Debrah Manke, M.S. ’90, 6th Yr. ’17 Dorothy J. Martino, ’54, M.S. ’69 (Emerita) Andrew Marullo, ’10, M.S. ’14 Patricia Miller, ’69, M.S. ’75, 6th Yr. ’81 (Emerita) Donald Mitchell, ’57, M.S. ’61 Judit Paolini, ’73, M.S. ’79, 6th Yr. ’93 Philip Robertson, ’66, M.S. ’75 Renee Barnett Terry, ’76 Carolyn Vanacore, ’52, M.S. ’68, 6th Yr. ’73 (Emerita) Brian West, ’80 Karl Stephen Wilson, ’02 Southern Connecticut State University Office of Alumni Relations Alumni House 501 Crescent Street New Haven, CT 06515 Gregory Bernard, ’04, Director Doreen Cammarata-Gilhuly, ’89, Associate Director

Spring 2021 | 39


and the population. Dr. John Nwangwu, [professor of public health], was extremely knowledgeable in the area, and he presented the information in a way that made it interesting and informative.” — Angela Hudson Davis, ’88, M.P.H. ’97

“Acquiring the Alumni House. The alumni director and assistant director are in one building and meetings can be held there. It is a dream come true.” — Dorothy J. Martino, ’54, M.S. ’69 (Emerita) “The professors who inspired me to expand my horizons and to learn as much as I could about as many things as I could. Today I am still friends with Dr. Marie Garcia-Abrines, [professor emeritus of foreign languages], who has remained my inspiration, mentor, and friend for more than 50 years.” — Teresa M. Sirico, ’70, M.S. ’73

What inspired you to join the board? “To be a board member requires passion. I find that I am most passionate about doing good for others, which was instilled in me by many in my life, including my time at SCSU.” — Jimmy Booth, ’97 “As an adviser to a student club on campus, I find myself emphasizing to them how important it is to get involved and stay connected. When the call for nominations came out, it was the right time to lead by example.” — Shermaine Edmonds, ’04, MBA ’06

What was your most memorable course at Southern? “African American Literature with Dr. Audrey Kerr, [professor of English],was by far my most memorable course because she challenged me to move beyond the periphery of my own experiences to intentionally engage with course readings.” — Kelly Hope,’03, M.S. ’10 “Completing my master’s degree in public health was the best thing that I did. My Epidemiology course because it taught me about the foundation of diseases and how they affect people 40 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

“The things I learned in Sports Psychology have stuck with me throughout the years. Knowing how much psychological factors affect performance has really helped me better focus in sport and in my career.” — Andrew Marullo, ’10, M.S. ’14 “During the 1950s, distance learning was not as common as it is today. As an experiment, some of us were selected to take a science course from the television in our homes while others were taught in class at school.” — Donald Mitchell, ’57, M.S. ’61

How did your time as a Southern student prepare you for the work you do today? “I am currently deputy commissioner at the Department of Children and Families. . . .The bachelor’s and master’s programs in social work at Southern were foundational to my learning and professional development. Social work values learned at Southern impacted more than what I do. They became who I am. . . . I rely on principles such as ‘start where the client is’ in my daily interaction, whether I’m working with individuals or trying to affect large systems.” — Jodi Hill-Lilly, ’88, M.S.W. ’94 “Southern prepared me well for my career as an educator. Yes, the subjects I learned directly related to my field teaching English and reading. However, the last semester student teaching prepared me directly for teaching and commanding the classroom. In fact, there was one lesson from my time student teaching that I modified and used at Tunxis Community College many years later!” — Judit Vasmatics Paolini,’73, M.S. ’79, 6th Yr. ’93 “Southern provided this first-generation college student with a wealth of opportunities to work with exceptional staff and administrators. I was president of OAAS (now the Black Student Union), a resident adviser in Wilkerson Hall, and an assistant in the

Office of Minority Affairs with Mr. Jim Barber, who inspired my career path in the field of student affairs. Mr. Barber [’64, M.S. ’79, now director of community engagement,] was a mentor, a light along my SCSU path, and an advocate who showed me what I could do for college students in higher education. I have modeled my career after him as a dean and vice president for student affairs at campuses across the country.” — Renee Barnett Terry, ’76 “My professors taught me the skills to research and analyze. I went on to get my Master in Public Administration. All four jobs I’ve had in the past 40 years came about because I went to Southern, developed great relationships with my professors, and was smart enough to take their advice.” — Brian West, ’80

Share one thing you wish everyone knew about Southern? “Southern has a plethora of clubs, organizations, services, courses, and job opportunities that people should definitely take advantage of — because these are doors to the next steps in potential careers and internships. In addition, the staff is impeccable.” — Madison Correia, ’19, M.S. ’20 “I have attended the University of Connecticut as an undergraduate, taken classes at Yale when I worked there briefly, and received my master’s and sixth-year certification from Southern. Of all my experiences, Southern remains in my heart as the most caring. I always felt welcome on campus. . . . Both of the people who I consider my career mentors were professors at Southern — one in 1988 and one in 2017. They forced me to challenge myself, while believing in my capabilities.” — Debrah Manke, M.S. ’90, 6th Yr. ’17 “Come home to Southern so you can learn about and see the amazing changes throughout campus, including the new home for the School of Business, the College of Health and Human Services building under construction, and the Academic Science and Laboratory Building.” — Teresa M. Sirico, ’70, M.S. ’73

How can alumni best support Southern students? “Time, treasure and talent! Take the time to come to campus and enjoy events that support our efforts, donate to scholarship opportunities for our students, and volunteer to serve on

the board/act as a mentor.” — Patricia Miller, ’69, M.S. ’75, 6th Yr. ’81 (Emerita) “This is our time to give back to the university whether it be through mentoring, scholarships, financial aid, and/or your time and talent.” — Teresa M. Sirico, ’70, M.S. ’73

“By providing mentorship, specific career development tracks, funding for programs and initiatives, employment opportunities, and all other networking opportunities.” — Karl “Stephen” Wilson, ’02

Play On



[the event was first celebrated in the

sing, I couldn’t dance, and I couldn’t

U.S. on April 22, 1970], along with

act — I gravitated to the technical

recently unearthing a Jefferson

everything else that hit,” notes

side of the theater,” he says of his

Airplane poster off his bookshelf.

Capp, who shared the poster and

career as a stage manager and

memories of his campus days with




Southern magazine. Among his recollections:

Capp has helped numerous stars take the stage, from Willie

studying English and history, and

Nelson to Bruce Springsteen to Ella

running cross country as a college

Fitzgerald. “I’ve worked corporate

senior under the late Lloyd Barrow,

shows, stadium rock ’n’ roll concerts,

professor emeritus of health and

legit theater, ice shows, car shows,

physical education. Capp is still

and pretty much anything that came down the pike requiring theatrical expertise,” he says of the productions he’s helped bring to fruition, which include Les Misérables, Jersey Boys, South Pacific, and even the reopening of

The group had performed

the Statue of Liberty in

at Southern’s 1969

the 1980s. Not all of his work

Homecoming (tickets were

is behind the scenes.

$4.50!) and while Capp — living in Lancaster, Penn. — was socially distancing

Phil Capp, '71, performs before COVID-19 shut down much of the entertainment industry.

Before COVID-19 temporarily shut down

at home due to COVID-19, the find

running and has completed nine

much of the entertainment industry,

provided an opportunity to travel

marathons over the years.

Capp performed as a solo act.

across the miles and the years.

He’s also built a career in the

He’s also a guitarist with the

arts. “I stumbled into show business

Moonlighters Big Band, playing

more of an impact on the world than

as an actor in a local community

swing-era tunes from Benny

I realized at the time. I was on

theater. One thing led to another

Goodman, Duke Ellington, and

campus for the first Earth Day ever

and being a triple threat — I couldn’t

Count Bassie. “It’s pretty cool to

“My time at Southern had much

Spring 2021 | 41


be in an 18-piece horn Band,” Capp says. You can catch him playing online at: As for Jefferson Airplane? The group disbanded in 1973,


Alumni Educators Top in State


ou’d be hard pressed to find an organization more dedicated to educational excellence than the PTA. That’s why Southern is so proud to recognize three graduates of the College of Education who are among those honored by the Connecticut PTA in 2020 for being leaders in their field.

spawning a next generation of bands, including Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna, and others. Jefferson Airplane reunited only briefly, but its legacy remains. In 1996, the band was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, and in 2016, earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award — which is why it’s such a kick that Capp

2020 Connecticut PTA Outstanding Elementary School Teacher Jennifer Cecarelli, M.S. ’96, 6th Yr. ’00 Wesley Elementary School, Middletown

cheered them on at

2020 Connecticut PTA Outstanding Magnet School Principal Sequella Coleman, 6th Yr. ’98 Davis Academy for Arts & Design Innovation, New Haven

2020 Connecticut PTA “Dawn Hochsprung” Outstanding Elementary School Principal* Gail Krois, 6th Yr. ‘02 Meadowside School, Milford


teachers and school

include: North Haven High


administrators in the state

School teacher Federico

as well as an inspiration to

of Connecticut, has been

Fiondella, M.S. ’03, 6th Yr.

students, parents, and

long recognized for its

’18 (Connecticut History

educators during these

exceptional teacher-

Teacher of the Year in

challenging times. “Now,

preparation programs and

2020); Lauren Sepulveda,

more than ever, teachers

education graduates.

’10 (2019-20 Milken

Share memories of that epic Southern or New Haven concert from your student days.

need to come back to why

These include alumna

Educator Award recipient);

we got into this profession

Jahana Hayes, ’05, who

and Liam Leapley, ’00 (the

in the first place: to create

was honored by then

George Olmsted Jr. Class

Send your recollections and photos if available to be considered for a future story to: or SCSU Attn: IC&M/ Alumni Magazine 501 Crescent Street New Haven, CT 06515

relationships with students

President Barack Obama

of 1924 Prize for

and families. It has always

as the 2016 National

Excellence in Secondary

been about relationships.

Teacher of the Year. Hayes

Education from Williams

Nurture them, and the rest

went on to be elected to

College in 2019).

will fall into place,” says

the U.S. House of

elementary school teacher

Representatives — and is

honoree Jennifer Cecarelli,

the first African American

M.S. ’96, 6th Yr. ’00.

woman to represent the

Southern way back when.


Submissions may be edited for content and length.


Southern, which has

state of Connecticut in

historically produced the

Congress. Other recently

largest number of

honored alumni teachers

*The award is named in honor of the late Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, M.S. ’97, 6th Yr. ’98, who was killed while serving as principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

SEMINA DE LAURENTIS, ’71, the artis-

tic director of Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury, Conn., was named a 2020 “Connecticut Arts Hero” by the Connecticut Office of the Arts. The award-winning theater is based in the historic Hamilton Park Pavilion. DOLORES ENNICO, ’74, M.S. ’77, was

named to the board of directors of RBC Bearings, an international manufacturer of precision bearings and components for the industrial, aerospace, and defense industries that is headquartered in Oxford, Conn. Ennico served as the chief human resources officer of Olin Corporation from 2009 to 2018. She also recently was elected as a board member of the Girl Scouts of Connecticut. NANCY ROSE, ’75, joined the United

States Fire Insurance Company and Crum & Forster as counsel on their accident and health team and business unit.


KATHLEEN HAUSER, ’80, is the recip-

ient of a 2020 “Health Care Heroes Award” from the Hartford Business Journal. Hauser was recognized for her contributions as a registered nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London, Conn. DANIEL C. YOUNG, ’81, is a managing

director and chief compliance officer for Quantum Capital Management, a boutique investment advisory firm in San Francisco. Young is also the chairman of the Hanna Boys Center Board of Directors. Located in Sonoma, Calif., the treatment and residential center is designed to transform the lives of youth and families impacted by trauma and adversity.

Alumni Updates — including updates on regional alumni networks and clubs — go to or contact the Office of Alumni Relations at (203) 392-6500. Thank you! FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION

more than 20 years in the financial services industry working with highnet worth clients as a portfolio manager and trust officer. TERESA GUCWA HEINES, ’85, M.S.

’93, 6th Yr. ’09, was named the 202021 Teacher of the Year of Monroe Public Schools. She is a special education teacher with the Monroe Early Childhood Intervention Center in Connecticut. PATRICIA WHITNEY, ’85, M.S. ’93, is a

speech-language pathologist with CBS Therapy. After graduating from Southern, she went on to earn advanced degrees from Fairfield University and Nova Southeastern University in Florida, earning a Doctor of Speech-Language Pathology at the latter. She volunteers as a mentor to Southern undergraduates in the Communication Disorders Program. BETH ANN DOBIE, ’86, was named

provost and vice president of academic affairs at Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y., effective July 1. Dobie had served in those roles on an interim basis since 2019 and was previously dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Alfred. MICHAEL N. DIMAURO, ’88, M.A. ’91,

is the chief executive officer of Renzulli Learning, an international, online system that provides a personalized learning environment for students. STEVE FINSON, ’89, was named a Re-

search Fellow at Hampford Research, a manufacturer of specialty chemicals.


JOHN NISKI, M.S. ’90, was named the

Unified Sports Athletic Director of the Year by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference in recognition of his contributions to the success of unified sports in the state. Niski is the athletic director at Shelton High School. COLLEEN PALMER, M.S. ’90, 6th Yr.

’93, is head of school of the Mountain School at Winhall in Bennington, Vt. Palmer previously served as a school superintendent in Westport, Monroe, and Weston, Conn. DONALD M. CASEY JR., ’91, received a

Red Nose Award from Shrine Temple Clowns for volunteering at least 150 hours assisting needy children, who are receiving medical services through the International Shrine Clown Association Sneaker Fund. The Sneaker Fund supports research designed to improve care for children being treated at the Shriners Hospital. Casey is a clown with the Pyramid Shrine in Stratford, Conn. DESMOND BROWN,

’92, M.S. ’97, is the assistant director for the Office of Consumer Education at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington, D.C.

LOU GIANQUINTO, ’94, was named

president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s commercial health plan in Connecticut. Previously, Gianquinto was president of Missouri Care, Anthem’s Medicaid in that state.

MARIAN AMODEO, ’83, was appointed

GREG RIENZI, ’96, is the editor of Johns

Hopkins Magazine. He previously served as a contributing writer for the magazine, and as the associate editor of the Johns Hopkins Health Review and The Gazette magazine. LIZ FRANCO-SPANO, M.S. ’98, was

named the 2020-21 East Haven Teacher of the Year. She is a physical education and health teacher at both Momauguin and Ferrara elementary schools. THOMAS SCARICE, M.S. ’98, is the

superintendent of schools in Weston, Conn. Previously, he was the school superintendent for the town of Madison. KRISTEN JACOBY, M.P.H. ’99, the pres-

ident and chief professional officer of the United Way of Greater Waterbury, received the 2020 MSW Community Partnership Award. The Award, created by nonprofit Main Street Waterbury, recognizes an exceptional commitment to partnership and community involvement. PATRICK MANNING, ’99, was named

senior vice president of corporate development at Novolex, which develops and manufactures diverse packaging and food-service products for multiple industries.


MARC D’AMICO, 6th Yr. ’01, is the head

of curriculum for kindergarten through eighth grade for Greenwich Public Schools. He previously was a principal at Glenville School for 15 years. ARLEVIA SAMUAL, ’02, was named di-

the interim director of economic development for the town of Hamden by Mayor Curt Balzano Leng. Amodeo formerly served as Hamden’s library director for seven years and also has a background in municipal management.

rector of the Livable City Initiative (LCI), a neighborhood-focused agency with a mission of enhancing the experience of individuals who live and work in New Haven. LCI strives to accomplish this mission through enforcement of the city’s housing code and public space requirements; the design/implementation of housing programs to support high quality, affordable, and energyefficient housing opportunities; and other initiatives.

JEFF ZAINO, ’83, retired after 37 years

at the New Canaan Library. He was most recently head of infrastructure at the library. CHERIE L. B. TRICE, ’84, is the director

of development at Greenbriar Children’s Center, a nonprofit organization that promotes the healthy development of children through early childhood education and care, family support services, emergency shelter, and more. Prior to Trice’s work in the nonprofit field, she spent



KELLY HOPE, ’03, M.S. ’10, a teacher in

The Barack H. Obama Magnet University School opened on campus in January 2020 — a highly unique partnership between a public university and a public school system. [left to right] Susan DeNicola, ’86, M.S. ’90, 6th Yr. ’99, principal of the Obama School; teacher Peyton Northrop, ’20; and two recent graduates who were student teachers in the fall: Justin Pelazza, M.A. ’20, and Haley Dattilo, ’20.

New Haven, Conn., is the facilator of “The Ungroup Society’s Afro/Latino/a Zoom Virtual Classroom,” a series of online classes that explore topics and experiences minority groups have faced in the U.S. Spring 2021 | 43



associate professor at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Ill. MATT KASCAK, 6th Yr. ’04, is the

principal of South Elementary School in New Canaan, Conn. ROBERT DANIEL IRWIN, 6th Yr. ’05,

has released his debut album, Nature vs. Nurture, an acoustic blend of vocals, guitars, violin, and piano, with rock, folk, country, and blues influences. The album, which features 10 original songs, is available on iTunes, Spotify, and other streaming music sites, as well as on CD. Irwin teaches high school English in Meriden, Conn. DIANE M. MYERS, ’05, is the senior

vice president, special education-behavior, at Specialized Education Services, which serves K-12 students with alternative learning needs. Previously, she was chair of the department of teacher education at Texas Woman’s University, where she was a professor and the program coordinator for special education. She is the author of Classwide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports: A Guide to Proactive Classroom Management and Implementing Classwide PBIS: A Guide to Supporting Teachers. STEVEN WALKUSKI, ’05, celebrated 16

years at PFP Services, where he is manager of the information technology department. He is the winner of the Director’s Cup and other awards. THOMAS ERMINI, ’06, is the new

athletic director at Branford High School in Connecticut. MARK OTTUSCH, ’06, was named

athletic director/K-12 health and physical education coordinator at New Fairfield High School. GINA GALLO REINHARD, ’06, M.S. ’11,

who teaches Italian at Bristol Central High School, was named the school district’s Teacher of the Year for 2020-21. ABBY WARREN, ’06, was promoted to

partner at Robinson & Cole. Warren represents employers in labor and employment matters. She focuses her practice on counseling private-sector employers, including multinational corporations, health care organizations, educational institutions, and manufacturers, in all areas of employment law. REBECCA CAVALLARO, 6th Yr. ’07,

is the director of pupil personnel services for Southington Public Schools in Connecticut. ANDREA ULERY, ’07, is the program

director, CH-53K production at Sikorsky Aircraft, Lockheed Martin. She has held increasingly responsible roles in program and operations management with Sikorsky Aircraft. 44 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

ADAM COPPOLA, M.S. ’08, 6th Yr. ’10, is

a Connecticut-based commercial photographer specializing in lifestyle, sports, tourism, and portrait photography. His recent projects include “COVID Superheroes,” a social media campaign that he and his wife, Christy, ’04, created, that juxtaposes images of children dressed as essential workers transformed into superheroes. NICHOLE QUERZE, M.S. ’08, was

named interim dean of students of Middlebrook School in Wilton, Conn., for the 2020-21 school year. ALECIA POST WALKUSKI, ’08, M.A.

’12, was named to the Renaissance National Honor Roll of educators for guiding effective implementation of the program designed to enhance student success. Walkuski is a high school English teacher with the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System. MICHAEL GIAMPETRUZZI, M.S. ’09, is

the head football coach of Holy Cross High School in Waterbury, Conn.


CARLA JACKSON, MBA ’11, has joined

the Newton, Mass., firm of DangerLaw, with a focus on family-law, including divorce, custody and prenuptial agreements, and asset protection. She earned a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School. KRISTIN AHERN, ’13, joined the law

firm of Neubert, Pepe & Monteith in the medical malpractice group, focusing on the defense of dentists and other health care professionals. KELLY ZIMMERMAN BAINER, ’13, was

named the 2020-21 District Teacher of the Year for Watertown Public Schools. She is a special education teacher at Polk Elementary in Oakville, Conn. ANNE JORDAN, ’13, was named the

new director of human resources at the Anderson Center for Autism. Jordan is a certified professional with the Society of Human Resources Management. She also holds certification as a public librarian with the New York State Education Department and completed an executive leadership program sponsored by the Dutchess County Chamber Foundation. DAISY HERNANDEZ, ’16, is the emer-

gency preparedness coordinator/ health educator for the East Shore District Health Department, as well as the lead of the Connecticut Medical Reserve Corps Region 2. She heads up Region 2’s Shoreline Unit, covering towns stretching from East Haven to Old Saybrook. Hernandez led key COVID-19 crisis-focused efforts, supporting public health and medical needs.

MICHAEL PEREIRO, ’17, a volunteer

emergency medical technician, ran a 24-hour ultra-marathon to raise money to help Echo Hose Ambulance Corps purchase a new ambulance. He is a resident of Shelton, Conn. JARED POLTRACK, ’17, is a staff ac-

countant at Burzenski and Company in East Haven, Conn. ARIANNA RIVERA, ’17, was sworn in to

the East Hartford Police Department. HALEY R. MCGUANE, ’19, has passed

the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examination.


TIFFANIE EDWARDS, ’20, was the col-

legiate winner of the Aspirations in Computing Award from the Connecticut affiliate of the National Center for Women & Information Technology. At Southern, Edwards was a computer science major and also completed an honors minor in transdisciplinary concepts and perspec-


tives, and a minor in mathematics. The two runners-up for the award attended Yale University and Connecticut College.


March 22, 2020 DORIS I. MAIORANO, ’43, April 4, 2020 JEAN G. SHEA, ’48, May 14, 2020 MARJORIE VISEL, ’49, May 1, 2020 LAVERLE A. CONNELLY, ’50, July 22,

2020 C. JEAN MATTHEWS, ’51, M.S. ’60,

March 25, 2020 MARILYN FINN MENTA, ’52, Aug. 9,

2020 CARLYLE P. AVENI, ’53, Nov. 25, 2020 JOHN “JACK” MCCARTHY, ’53,

Aug. 24, 2020 CYNTHIA J. BUTLER, ’54, July 4, 2020

In Print and On Screen

MaryEllen Beveridge, ’72, is the author of After the Hunger: Stories. The central figure in many of the stories is a psychically wounded World War II veteran. Characters question ideas about selfhood and their roles as daughters, mothers, sisters, friends, wives, and lovers. Beveridge is an honors graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a two-time nominee for a Pushcart Prize. Linda Froschauer, 6th Yr. ’94, is the co-author of Bringing STEM to the Elementary Classroom. She lives in Pasadena, Calif. John Whitmeyer, ’94, is the author of Feel Through Me, a memoir of his journey after a life-threatening autoimmune disease. The book was published by Christian Faith Publishing. Mahogany Lowery, ’12, is the author of Greatness Over the Rainbow, which follows the story of four children from an urban city who are facing personal challenges. The book was designed to encourage children and inspire them to overcome obstacles. A first-time author, Lowery holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and a graduate degree in human services. Mona Gustafson Affinito, professor emeritus of psychology, is the author of My Father’s House: Remembering my Swedish-American Family. Karl Artur Johan Gustafsson left Sweden in 1910 to follow his older siblings to America. Affinito, his third child, shares the family’s journey through World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s. Affinito taught at Southern for 30 years before retiring in 1986.



’54, April 17, 2020 MICHAEL A. DELLACAMERA, ’56, Oct.


M.S. ’80, Jan. 20, 2019 AUDREY KAY GOCLOWSKI, ’56,

M.L.S. ’77, 6th Yr. ’82, Aug. 8, 2020 MARIE N. PASCUCELLI MCNABOLA,

’56, April 27, 2020 SILVIO SAGNELLA, ’56, July 29, 2020 ELIZABETH “BETTY” KELLEHER D’AMATO, ’57, May 10, 2020 JOAN HEALY HACKNEY, ’57, April 27,

2020 ANNE M. DALY BROWN, ’59, April 2,

2020 JOAN RITA ALBINGER, ’60, M.S. ’68,

Aug. 17, 2020 HENRY “HANK” LUZZI, ’60, June 9,


June 11, 2020 GEORGE R. DAYHARSH, ’64, May 29,

2020 KATHERINE PANDO, ’64, M.S. ’71,


M.S. ’71, June 4, 2020 SALVATORE DINICOLA, ’66, March 8,

2020 ARTHUR F. MARTORELLA, ’66, Nov. 12,


March 27, 2020 JAMES A. GUERCIA, ’68, June 22, 2020 MARYANN HEALEY, M.S. ’68, March 5,

2020 RICHARD G. HUNT, M.S. ’68, May 22,


July 14, 2020


’78, Oct. 14, 2019 GEORGE N. BARONE JR., ’76,

Sept. 15, 2019 GYLENE BOISVERT, M.S. ’76, 6th Yr.

’87, March 12, 2020 WILLIAM F. BONE, ’76, Nov. 14, 2020 TIMOTHY M. BURNS, ’77, Aug. 4, 2020 SALVATORE DIGRAZIA, ’78, May 15,

ALFREDA BURBLIS, professor emeritus

of nursing, June 20, 2020 LAWRENCE PISANI, professor

emeritus of sociology, April 25, 2020 DANIELLE SANTAL-MORRILL,

professor emeritus of foreign languages, March 10, 2020 GERALD SCHULTZ, professor emeritus

of mathematics, June 5, 2020

2020 JANE V. HALL, M.L.S. ’78, May 14, 2020

Class notes are compiled from alumni submissions, as well as announcements made in newspapers and magazines.

JUDITH B. MORTON, ’78, March 6,


M.S.N. ’80, April 8, 2020 LINDA CHIPKIN, M.S. ’79, 6th Yr. ’86,

March 5, 2020 SARA (SALLY) M. RICE, M.S. ’79,

April 19, 2020 HERMAN PAT GOETERS, ’80, Dec. 30,


• MAIL this completed form to Southern Alumni News: SCSU Alumni Relations Office, Alumni House


501 Crescent St., New Haven, CT 06515-1355



M.S. ’89, April 10, 2020

• OR FAX: (203) 392-8726 • OR EMAIL:

PAUL M. CURRIE, ’81, May 14, 2020 JUNE JOSLIN SCHAFER, M.S. ’83,

June 30, 2020 JEFF HEINRICH, M.S. ’85, May 10, 2020 ELAINE C. BUTLER, ’86, M.S. ’88,

June 24, 2020 GARY L. KUCHACHIK, ’86, Dec. 6, 2020 MARTHA FOWLER, ’87, Sept. 2020 MARY ELLEN BOLTON, M.S. ’88,

Sept. 16, 2020 JOHN BATISTE GRIMARDI, ’89,

Aug. 18, 2020 GARRY MEYERS, M.F.T. ’89, June 11,


’90, April 14, 2020 SARAH “SALLIE” ANDERSON LYONS, M.L.S. ’90, April 7, 2020

Name ____________________________________________________________ Street Address ____________________________________________________ City

________________________________State ______________Zip______

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Email ____________________________________________________________ Twitter Handle (if applicable): ________________________________________ Instagram Handle (if applicable): ____________________________________ SCSU Degree/Year __________________ Major ________________________ Name under which I attended college ________________________________ News Item ________________________________________________________

PAUL STETSON, M.S. ’68, May 28, 2020

JOHN DEBRITO, ’91, March 25, 2020


JUDITH A. SAMAHA, ’69, July 29, 2020

RICHARD P. SARCIA, ’91, M.L.S. ’99,


WINIFRED C. FLYNN, M.S. ’70, July 14,

2020 PAULA J. DIGIOVANNI, ’71, Oct. 16,

2020 LUCY B. FARRAR, M.S. ’71, March 22,

2020 MADELEINE SOBIN, M.S. ’71, July 28,


May 18, 2020 STEVEN P. ROSENBLATT, 6th Yr. ’92,

Aug. 1, 2020 MARY BETH FOX, M.L.S. ’93, April 15,

2020 ANDREA DAYHARSH, 6th Yr. ’98,

July 6, 2020 CHRISTINE LYNNE KEYS, M.S.W. ’03,

Aug. 10, 2020

__________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ Signature ______________________________________________Date______ Spouse’s Name ____________________________________________________ SPOUSE'S SCSU DEGREE/YR.

Children’s Names/Ages ____________________________________________

JOSEPH CARMEN, ’06, Oct. 11, 2020


CARMIE CALABRO, ’73, Dec. 2, 2020

JOSEPH E. CUSH, ’08, May 6, 2020



CESAR A. JIMENEZ, ’09, Sept. 20, 2020

Feb. 20, 2013

April 17, 2020 DONALD A. HEINIG, ’74, July 13, 2020

DANIEL C. CALLAHAN, ’16, May 24,


__________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ Spring 2021 | 45

#StayingStrong continued from page 27

When the Milestone Goes Virtual continued from page 27

a face covering in all buildings and outdoors when six feet of separation isn’t possible. (Southern began the academic year with a supply of 85,000 facemasks — 50,000 cloth reusable and 35,000 disposable — which were issued to all students, faculty, and staff.) The university is also working to support those students facing severe financial hardships exacerbated by COVID-19 — including a critical lack of basic necessities such as food and shelter. More than 30 percent of Southern students are food insecure and the virus has compounded economic disparities. In response, more than $42,000 from the Support Our Students (SOS) Fund was given to Southern students in need since July 2020. The fund covers emergency MORE AT:

medical expenses, food, transportation, housing support, and other necessities. On Oct. 28, Southern opened a Food Pantry in the Wintergreen Building and a Social Services Center will connect students to various other types of assistance. Of course, new developments related to the virus occur regularly and uncertainty remains the norm. Still, Duff remains hopeful. “I know we all crave normalcy. We want things to go back to the way they were — and eventually they will,” she says. “But we need everyone’s help with that. . . .We need to continue social distancing, washing our hands, and wearing our masks at all times. That’s the only way we are going to be able to combat the virus at this time and come out stronger.” n

the Southern community continued to respond creatively. Homecoming week in midOctober was a telling example. More than 800 alumni, students, faculty/staff, and families participated while adhering to social-distancing guidelines. Nearly 60 alumni and friends from throughout the U.S. ran and walked in the Bob Corda 5K, held virtually for the first time. Cars parked at an on-campus “drive-in” to watch movies on dual screens. Alumni representing more than six decades gathered online for events, including a conversation with coaches, trivia night, painting sessions , bingo, and more. The community also came out in support of Southern’s student-athletes: the “Sell Out the Stadium” virtual campaign raised more than $23,750 from 558 donors. Thank you!

Guiding Us Through the Pandemic continued from page 29 THREE GREAT MOVES SOUTHERN’S MADE FROM A PUBLIC HEALTH STANDPOINT, ACCORDING TO DUFF: 1) Creating

exceptional health-promotion signs for use throughout campus. “A lot of time, effort, and money went into promoting the best ways to protect yourself,” she says. 2) Requiring masks inside and outside, when social distancing isn’t possible. Duff comments: “I like the outside piece. We’ve set the standard: if you are at Southern, you are wearing a mask. There is no gray area.” 3) Creating the COVID-19 coordinator position. “That is pretty telling of the work we are trying to do. [The university administration] is doing the best they can in the situation we are in — even with budget challenges. It doesn’t matter what it takes, we are going to put our students first,” says Duff. WHY PUBLIC HEALTH: Duff, who’d worked at a camp for 46 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

those with special needs, came to Southern to major in special education. But an elective taken in her sophomore year — Wellness 101 taught by Lisa Seely, ’03, M.P.H. ’06 — changed her mind. “It ended up being the best decision I ever made,” says Duff. THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES: “That every day is different and

the many unknowns,” says Duff. MOST REWARDING: “Knowing I am helping make Southern a

safer place — whether I am answering a question, letting someone know that they are a close contact, or helping the student who is COVID-19 positive. Not everyone sees the day-to-day work. But I know how much effort is being put in by our team. We truly, genuinely care — and that motivates me to keep going even when the days are long,” says Duff. n

Talking Points continued from page 31

The State of Social Justice at Southern continued from page 33

McNamara’s Southern story began in 1992, when the late Sandra Holley, then-chairperson of Southern’s Department of Communication Disorders, recruited him as an adjunct professor and to help run the department’s diagnostic clinic. Her recognition of McNamara’s talent was telling. Holley, who later became Southern’s dean of graduate studies, was an expert in the field. During her lifetime, she served as president of the American SpeechLanguage-Hearing Association (ASHA) and received the Excellence in Communications Award from Howard University in 1987 and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from George Washington University the following year. McNamara seized the opportunity to come to Southern. He worked for six years in those initial roles while continuing in his state job until being elevated to full-time clinical director for the department in 1998. The clinic served about 130 clients per week prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. It remains open, but is operating at a reduced capacity due to the pandemic. Jennifer McCullagh, the current chair of the Department of Communication Disorders, says she “can’t even begin to talk about all that [McNamara] did for our program. Because he’s managed to do so much. There are only 24 hours in a day,” she continues. She says her colleague was known for being generous with his time, whether it was for his clients, his students, or the faculty members he’s mentored over the years. “He’s skillful at empowering people to maximize their own potential — or even to see their own potential,” she says. McNamara also left his imprint beyond Southern’s borders through his leadership in national and international professional organizations. He chairs a committee of the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders that’s developing a series of online courses for clinical supervisors and educators. He was also part of an ASHA team that led a successful push to add enhanced clinical educator training to national speech and language pathology program-accrediting standards. In 2019, the organization recognized his significant contributions to the profession by naming him an ASHA Fellow, one of its highest honors. But he says his proudest moments are the victories, big and small, that he achieved with his clients. There was the young man whose family was told he’d never be able to speak. “Yeah, you can’t shut me up now,” he told McNamara on the day of his discharge. There was the client with a progressive neurological disorder, who’s gone on to become a public speaker and fierce advocate for residents with disabilities in the state. There was the man who suffered brain damage from a massive heart attack, who was thrilled to go back to work after regaining his ability to speak. “My life’s been full of those kinds of stories,” he says. Through the scholarship, he hopes to continue to have an impact on the lives of the speech impaired, and to inspire others to be generous in their support of Southern students. “I think sometimes people are reluctant to do things because they know it won’t solve the big problems,” he says. “But if you do a small positive thing and enough people around you do as well, then momentum starts to grow.” n

progress made on multiple fronts, including campus diversity. (Watch at In recent years, Southern’s student body has come to increasingly reflect the community at large: about 38 percent of students are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and, last year, more than 50 percent of the incoming class were students of color, says Robert Prezant, provost and vice president for academic affairs. The developments were too numerous to highlight exhaustively during the town hall or in this article. But they cross all areas of campus, from curriculum development to residence life. Additional training programs are preparing staff and faculty to support all students, including those who are first-generation and BIPOC. Services offered through the Multicultural Center have been expanded, and a new initiative — Athletes Fighting Injustice — was launched this summer. In terms of academic developments, a new minor — Racial and Intersectional Justice Studies — will be launched. And Enrollment Management is working to enhance access to higher education, even for high school students not planning to attend Southern. Staff offer programs on topics like paying for college and completing the application for federal student aid. (Southern’s Financial Literacy and Advising program is listed among the top 10 in the nation.) Jules Tetreault, associate vice president and dean of student affairs, emphasized the importance of understanding the complexity of many students’ lives — most notably, a lack of access to basic needs such as shelter and food. In October, the university opened an on-campus Food Pantry along with a related Social Services Center to help students access vital resources. (See page 9.) Of course, a commitment to social justice is not a new endeavor for the university. COVID-19 altered plans for Social Justice Month, which is historically held on campus in November. For the first time, the event was offered online and given an overarching theme: Changing the paradigm from ally to antiracist. Southern also annually offers social justice grants, ranging from $500 to $2,500, to members of the campus community for projects/initiatives that forward a climate of inclusion and challenge injustice. And the Top Owls Social Justice Awards honor those who have taken a stand. Still, much remains to be done. Among the many goals cited during the State of Social Justice meeting: • Attracting and retaining a more diverse faculty. Approximately 23 percent of full-time faculty are BIPOC, compared to about 19 percent in 2005. • Determining how to best support housing-insecure college students and high schoolers who want to go to college. • Leveraging existing and external support to meet students’ pressing needs with limited resources. The list goes on — and the work continues. n

Spring 2021 | 47


| S E E N O N C A M PU S ■


Last year the Southern community raised more than half a million dollars for student programing and scholarships during the 2020 Day of Caring. More than $8.4 million in essential aid was awarded to Southern students in 2019-2020 —

and the need continues to grow.

To make an immediate impact on Southern and its students visit today!

Office of Annual Giving (203) 392-6514

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Burlington, VT Permit No. 19

Alumni Association 501 Crescent Street New Haven, CT 06515-1355 ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED


enrolled in painting and drawing courses taught by Thuan Vu, professor of art. (See page 14 for more of their work.) Like many, Joshua Fitzpatrick, ’20, who graduated in December, turned to family during this challenging time, using his siblings for models. The pandemic also shaped Southern’s approach to education. Among the strategies: hiring a COVID-19 coordinator; reworking 100 percent of classroom spaces for social distancing; holding many classes online and outside; organizing virtual events, from commencement to Homecoming; and much more (page 25).

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