Southern Alumni Magazine Summer 2020

Page 1

a publication for alumni and friends of Southern Connecticut State University


We are a


Working through UNCERTAINTY.








Online learning. Social distancing. Face masks. Life as we knew it became a thing of the past during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of continued uncertainty, here’s a look at how the Southern community is weathering the storm — and upholding its commitment to education.

An Elementary 18 School Rises

Designed with the latest educational advances in mind, the Barack H. Obama Magnet University School opened on Southern’s campus on January 7. While the school building and Southern’s physical campus are temporarily closed due to COVID-19, this rare partnership between a public school system and a public university has already proven a winning endeavor.

Charles Warner Jr. meets the children in the school’s welcoming entryway.

20 High Fidelity

As president of Kobalt Music Recordings North America/AWAL, Ron Cerrito, '84, champions an alternative to the traditional music industry. The company offers artists and independent labels a range of services — without having to give up ownership or control.

Southern |


Summer | 20

24 Art Seen

Running a New York City art gallery is all in a day’s work for three former members of Southern’s track and field team.

26 Sea Change


The water is just fine in New England, where research on coral and kelp offers a crash course on the influence of climate change. Sean Grace, professor of biology, dives in to investigate.

32 Catching Rays An ecologically minded health director turns to solar power to keep local waters clean — and sets an example for the nation. Plus, a look at Southern’s commitment to solar energy.

2 ■ From the President 3 ■ Campus News 11 ■ Social Southern 16 ■ True Blue 23 ■ Hidden Campus 30 ■ Supporting Southern Meet the founders of the Football Alumni Network.

35 ■ Spaces & Places in New Haven 36 ■ Owl Update

Mihai Marica, ’07, cellist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

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.

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


have recently completed an academic

be ready to pivot to fully online instruction and operation

year like none other in the university’s

at a moment’s notice, dependent on circumstances.

127-year history. For our extended

The goal is to complete the entire fall semester as

Southern family, the last two months of the spring

scheduled, with one caveat — on-ground classes will

semester were stressful and challenging, to say the least.

end at the Thanksgiving break. After Thanksgiving, all

Looking back, it was incredible that more than 1,660 faculty and staff moved to a remote teaching and student-service environment in just over a week, as the

remaining classes and final exams will be held online, and all student services will be offered remotely. Maintaining health and safety is the vital element

COVID-19 virus spread into

in any reopening scenario.

the state in early March. But

We will adhere to specific

the fact that we were able to

public health guidelines for

do so — and teach and guide

colleges and universities

our students through the end

concerning the wearing

of the semester says a great

of face masks, social

deal about the versatility and

distancing, and the number

resilience of our community.

and spacing of occupants in

We finished the year on

residence halls, classrooms,

a high note with a wonderful

and dining areas.

celebration of our senior

And clearly, as

class, both online and in

Connecticut pursues its

person, with hundreds of

gradual reopening process,

congratulatory yard signs

our fall plans will need to be

delivered personally across

flexible, dependent on the

the state. The high levels of

trajectory of the COVID-19

engagement and appreciation reminded me that the

virus and statewide directives that may be in place at the

beating heart of Southern is alive and well as we enter

time. But our ultimate goal is to reopen campus as a safe

the summer months and commence our plans to reopen

and healthy learning and working environment for all

campus in the fall.

members of our community.

For the new semester, Southern and our sister

As always, I thank you for your continued support

Connecticut State Universities will adopt a HyFlex model

of Southern and our students during a difficult time of

of learning — essentially offering a mix of classes both

transition for our university. Stay well, and find ways to

on-ground and online. Under Southern’s “OwlFlex”

make this summer relaxing and enjoyable.

system, classes will commence Aug. 26, following a staggered move-in for residence hall students. Every institution in the CSCU System will develop a plan of operation specific to its own campus — and must


Sincerely, Joe Bertolino President

New Health and Human Services Building Set to Rise





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. HUMAN SERVICES.

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 Melanie Stengel, Contributing Photographer Kenneth Sweeten, Sports Charlie Davison, Alumni Notes OFFICE OF ALUMNI RELATIONS

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.

[counterclockwise from top] An architectural rendering of the new home for the College of Health and Human Services. A ceremonial groundbreaking for the building was held on March 6. Sandra Bulmer, dean of the college, spoke at the event.

Among the highlights of the building will be: • expanded facilities for the Communication Disorders Clinic to serve more clients and train more graduate speech-language clinicians. • a human performance facility that will house Southern’s Running Injury Clinic and include labs for testing health and fitness, metabolism, neurophysiology, and biomechanics. This includes a high-tech “Bod Pod” to measure body-fat composition through air displacement. It also includes a biomechanics lab with motion-capture technology and a high-tech treadmill.

• a home-simulation apartment to train students from multiple professions in home care. • an athletics-training teaching lab. • a center for individuals with different abilities to have recreational opportunities under the supervision of recreational therapy students. • a demonstration kitchen classroom that seats 40 students and will be used by the Department of Public Health for teaching nutrition, food safety, and healthy food preparation.

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; Summer 2020 | 3


Major Grant Supports Students ■

Online Grad Programs Among Best in Class

Southern’s online Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program was judged among the best in the nation — coming in at

#5 on

Online Schools Report’s ( rating of the top 35 such programs in the U.S. for 2020. Programs were evaluated on numerous factors, including admission rates and student satisfaction. Southern is the only A $2.18 million grant is designed to increase student retention and success. The ultimate goal: graduation.




who face educational or economic disadvantages. The five-year, $2.18 million federal grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, through its Strengthening Institutions Program, was spearheaded by Kathleen De Oliveira, director of the university’s Academic Success Center. De Oliveira’s grant submission, “Promoting Educational Retention through Collaborative High-Impact Services,” or PERCHS (an acronym that nods at Southern’s mascot, Otus the owl), proposes one overall goal: to increase the success and retention of promising students who face educational or economic disadvantages and who will thrive with additional support. The need is apparent. Close to 40 percent of Southern’s undergraduates receive federal Pell Grants, awarded to those from low-income families. And nearly 30 percent of students are food insecure, according to Jules Tetreault, dean of students. The grant will support students through a multifaceted approach — including bolstering initiatives offered


through the Southern Success Center. The center encompasses the Academic Success Center, First-Year Experience, New Student and Sophomore Programs, Career Services, and Academic Advising. Within the center, the grant funds expansion of the Peer Academic Leaders Program (PALS). “PALS focuses on many gateway/foundational courses, particularly in STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics],” De Oliveira says. “Unlike tutoring, which can be sporadic, PALS helps students understand material on a week-by-week basis, and the grant helps us increase our number of PALS to almost 60. We’ve seen students improve as much as a grade level with consistent help.” The number of academic success coaches will increase as well. These coaches help students build academic skills in topics like time management, study strategies, and test preparation. The grant also furthers creation of an Opportunity Center, a physical space that will house a food pantry, and a full-time and parttime position to support it. Though the pantry will give students immediate access to food, the center also will connect students to various types of assistance they might need.

Connecticut-based institution of higher learning to offer a fully online library science master’s degree. The program was granted candidacy status for accreditation by the American Library Association — and is the only program in the state to have achieved this distinction as of May. The master’s degree in sport and entertainment management program, which is offered fully online, was also evaluated among the nation’s best, included on’s guide to the Top 49 graduate programs in the field in 2020. The organization reviewed 333 educational programs offered through 137 colleges and universities to compile the guide, evaluating curriculum quality, graduation rate, reputation, and postgraduate employment. Southern’s program was specifically lauded for its focus on experiential learning.

Fulbright Scholar Doubly Honored

New Dean Named


second prestigious honor: the Barzun Prize for Youth Engagement. The award funds pioneering community projects run by U.S. Fulbright scholars who are studying in the United Kingdom. The award is named in honor of former U.S. Ambassador Matthew Barzun and his wife Brooke, who provided generous support to establish the prize. In addition to completing her graduate studies in London, Brabham is working on a play she wrote while attending Southern. The play — entitled Homegoing: A Herstory of Black Women — draws on the history of black womanhood in America, beginning with the Yoruba tradition of West Africa and moving on to share the voices of numerous African-American women. In London, Brabham is incorporating voices from black Britain into the play. Aiding by the Barzun Prize, she established student internships to develop and produce the play in the U.K.

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Bruce Kalk


ollowing a national search, Bruce Kalk was named dean

of the College of Arts and Sciences. Kalk joined Southern in 1992 after receiving his Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at Southern, he was granted tenure and promoted to full professor, and went on to serve as chairman of the Department of History. He held increasingly responsible leadership roles at Southern, and, most recently, had served

Fulbright scholar Daisha Brabham, ’17, in London.

as interim dean since fall 2017.

Are you seeking to enhance your skills set to advance your career?



Southern has launched a partnership with MindEdge to deliver a suite of affordable, online, non-credit Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses and industry-specific certificates to help you acquire new skills on your timetable. LEARN MORE AT Summer 2020 | 5


Student Awarded Nation’s Premier Public Service Fellowship



This highly competitive national scholarship — presented by the Washington, D.C.based foundation named for the 33rd president of the United States — was given to 62 outstanding students from 773 applicants nationwide and provides recipients up to $30,000 for graduate studies. Rahimyar is the first Truman Scholar in Southern history and the first among the four Connecticut State Universities. The only other Connecticut college represented among the 2020 fellows is Yale University. The first American-born daughter of parents who emigrated from Afghanistan, Rahimyar was raised in Trumbull, Conn., and grew up listening to her parents’ memories of Kabul. “My parents’ stories of the joy and beauty of Kabul were juxtaposed with the reality of air strikes and war,” Rahimyar says. “Kabul has beauty but also tragedy, and it’s one world.” Post-higher education, she plans to practice international human rights law. The Truman Scholarship is the latest in a line of accolades for the dedicated student, who is majoring in political science and philosophy, and minoring in English. A Dean’s List student, she has received the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Research, a Diversity Scholar Excellence Award, the Dr. Hilton C. Buley Scholarship, and numerous other honors. She is also president of both Southern’s Muslim Student Association and the Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society, and works in the university’s Academic Success Center.

Wells Fargo Awards $40,000 to School of Business


University’s School of Business. The BSC provides a range of professionaldevelopment programming and services to students and alumni. These include paidinternship placements, resume and interview preparation, and professionaldevelopment workshops and seminars — on topics ranging from networking basics to managing your social media presence to business communication. The Wells Fargo grant will fund expanded services at the BSC, including faceto-face mentoring and mock interviewing. It will also provide software platforms so students can film virtual interviews and receive feedback. The grant was awarded in conjunction with 6 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

Southern’s Day of Caring, which took place on April 22. The School of Business designated the BSC

as a key priority during the Day of Caring campaign. The Wells Fargo grant, along with gifts from alumni, faculty and staff, and friends, provided vital funding. “I am very grateful for

this support for our students, which will be directed to offering them paid internships at New Havenarea nonprofits,” says Ellen Durnin, dean of the School of Business.

Visiting the Business Success Center are [from left]: Patty Conte, internship coordinator; business administration major Kiersten Snyder, ’20; business administration major Paulina Lamot, ’20; Kevin Burke, Wells Fargo; Ellen Durnin, dean of the School of Business; Amy Grotzke, program coordinator; and Sue Rapini, director of external relations.

Camille Serchuk professor of art history JAN ELLEN SPIEGEL PHOTO

faculty spotlight

Camille Serchuk, a recipient of Southern’s Faculty Scholar Award (see page 9), discusses maps in the exhibit with her cousin, Dean Karlan. THE DISCOVERY: In 2006, Serchuk

Renaissance; it merely needed to be excavated from the archive.

discovered a previously unknown map of France in a manuscript in the national library in Paris.

THE END RESULT: An exhibit of more

than 100 maps at the Archives Nationales in Paris. The maps were made between 1312 and 1619, throughout France. Many were previously unpublished; most exhibited for the first time.

QUESTIONING NATURE : Skeptical of the

widely held belief at that time that the French hadn’t made any maps before the 17th century, Serchuk wrote to hundreds of French local archives to inquire about what kinds of examples they had in their collections.

THE RESPONSE : Serchuk received numer-

ous invitations to look through archives. Following those leads, she discovered about a dozen local and regional maps that were little known or unpublished.

CLOSING THOUGHT: “Maps are not

TEAMWORK : Serchuk met Juliette

Dumasy-Rabineau, a medieval historian who had come to a similar conclusion: the French had a robust tradition of mapmaking in the Middle Ages and the


traditionally classified as works of art, but there is no doubt that there is considerable overlap in production methods and techniques, and the frequent role of painters as cartographers reveals how artists worked on a daily basis, between major commissions,” says Serchuk. Summer 2020 | 7


The Play’s the Thing


bringing home awards and other recognitions for their work. The festival took place in Hyannis, Mass., on Jan. 27 – Feb. 2. The KCACTF is a national theater program representing more than 600 academic institutions and 18,000 students. The annual Region 1 festival, in which Southern competes, unites more than 600 students from colleges and universities in the northeast region. MORE AT

Tyler Newkirk, Ariana Harris, Vittoria Cristante, Christopher Varanko

Barnard Scholars Honored



BARNARD DISTINGUISHED STUDENT AWARD , who were recognized for academic achievement and contributions to the community. The award is one of the most prestigious student honors presented by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system.

• Communications disorders major Alexis Zhitomi, ’20, plans to pursue a master’s degree in speech-language pathology at Southern this fall. A member of the Honors College, Zhitomi is president of the Student Government Association and presented her undergraduate thesis last fall at a national American Speech-Language Hearing Association convention in Orlando, Fla. • Amber Archambault, ’20, a social work major, plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work at Southern this fall in the advanced standing program. On campus, she was named Resident Advisor of the Year in 2019, served as an orientation ambassador, and earned several awards and grants, including a Connecticut State University grant in 2019. • Brooke Mercaldi, ’20, an environmental systems and sustainability studies major, plans to attend the Elizabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University this fall. She is a fellow with Southern’s Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies and served as research coordinator for the center. She also was executive vice president of the Student Government Association and interned with the Connecticut General Assembly and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Clockwise from top: Alexis Zhitomi, ’20, Amber Archambault, ’20, Melissa Palma Cuapio, ’20, Brooke Mercaldi, ’20

• Chemistry major Melissa Palma Cuapio, ’20, was named the American Chemical Society’s Outstanding Senior Organic Chemistry Student in 2019. At Southern, she was a member of the Math Club, the Botany Club, Club Taekwondo, and the Service Commission Club.

Traveling in Style


addition to designing for print and other media, Marylou Conley, ’83, graphics coordinator at the university, has brought a “Southern look” to countless items — from the ordinary (coffee mugs, magnets, lapel pins) to the extraordinary (multistory banners for buildings and the patrol cars used by Southern’s Police Department.) Most recently, she gave a Southern vibe to two university shuttle buses. Look for them on campus and en route to downtown New Haven and Union Station.


Mind-Expanding Lecture


March 4, author, philanthropist, and Southern alumnus Neil Thomas Proto, ’67, previewed his book, Fearless: A. Bartlett Giamatti and the Battle for Fairness in America. The book, published in May 2020, is a biography of the early years of A. Bartlett Giamatti, who would become Yale University’s first non-AngloSaxon Protestant president and the commissioner of Major League Baseball. Proto is a lawyer who has also taught at Yale University and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. His books include The Rights of My People: Liliuokalani’s Enduring Battle with the United States 1893–1917. “Proto writes with the candor, directness, thoroughness, and passionate pursuit of truth that also characterized Giamatti. His compelling biography is a shining achievement,” notes Nick Kotz, Pulitzer Prizewinning reporter and author.

Southern’s Standout Faculty


• Anthony Rosso, professor of English, was recognized for his book, The Religion of Empire: Political Theology in Blake’s Prophetic Symbolism (2016), an exploration of the work of the English poet and artist William Blake (1757-1827). • Camille Serchuk, professor of art history, was honored for the exhibition/catalogue for Quand les artistes dessinaient les cartes: vues et figures de l’espace français, Moyen Âge et Renaissance (When artists made maps: views and figures of France in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance). The exhibit ran through Jan. 7 at the Archives Nationales in Paris.

[Above] The University Choir performs in Rome. MORE AT

University Choir Tours Italy

rior to the outbreak of the coronavirus-19 pandemic, the University Choir traveled to Italy where they performed in many of the country’s most-celebrated cities, including Rome, Padua, and Pistoia. The trip, which took place over spring break from Dec. 28 — Jan. 6, was marked by numerous once-in-a-lifetime experiences — from leading the faithful in song at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City to performing beneath the Pantheon’s rotunda. The Stutzman Family Foundation generously underwrote the cost of the trip for 60 singers. Students who were choir members for at least three semesters as well as longtime alumni and community members paid only $500 to participate. Isabel Chenoweth, university photographer, accompanied the choir and captured the experience in photos. Summer 2020 | 9


Housing Developments from research we know that houses tend to strikingly reflect cultural values,” says Farley. Although their research examined more than 100 archeological sites from New York City to Newfoundland, “we didn’t move a spoonful of dirt,” Farley says. Instead, he spent eight hours a day for nearly two months in libraries around the

• The new bachelor’s degree program in

data science


When humans invented agriculture some 10,000 years ago, it forever changed how people worked and lived. In just about every place in the world where agriculture took hold — from Mesopotamia to Mesoamerica — small, transient huntergatherer tribes morphed into villages and large cities. With these new, bustling settlements came sweeping cultural

Fast Facts. Good News.

changes, new social hierarchies and, often, vast extremes of poverty and wealth. (Think pharaohs and slaves; kings and commoners.) Except, that is, in New England. In fact, around 1,000 A.D., when maize agriculture migrated here from Central Mexico and the Southwest, life seemed to go on pretty much as usual. Or so archaeologists thought. Now, new research conducted by Assistant Professor of Anthropology William Farley is challenging that assumption. In a paper published in April 2019 in American Antiquity, Farley and coauthors Gabriel Hrynick, a professor at the University of New Brunswick in Canada, and Amy Fox, a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto, highlight a pattern of architectural changes that coincide with the arrival of maize farming in New England — shedding new light on a mystery that has stumped archaeologists for decades. “The changes are subtler than in places like Mesopotamia, where you had 50,000 people living in a city. But we start to see these subtle changes in houses. And

region, poring over more than a century’s worth of often-obscure archaeological literature. “Anytime anybody had excavated a house, a wigwam, a preEuropean Native American house, we were going to measure them,” Farley says. After he amassed and crunched all the data, an interesting pattern emerged. In the Maritime Peninsula, where agriculture had not taken hold, houses stayed the same size and shape — small and round — for some 3,000 years. The same was initially true in southern New England — until about 1,000 years ago, when bigger, more elongated houses appeared. “Things changed right at the same instant, archeologically speaking, that maize arrived in the region. You got a bifurcation of the data,” says Farley. He can’t say exactly why the shift occurred. “It could be that a social hierarchy is emerging. It could be changes in labor practices,” he says. “I don’t think we’ve got enough data to say for sure. But I think there’s evidence that when maize agriculture arrived, society started changing,” he says.

A reproduction of an Algonkian Village from the Institute for American Indian Studies Museum & Research Center shows features that were common some 350 to 1,000 years ago. The Algonkian peoples have traditionally inhabited much of the eastern United States and Canada. 10 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

the skills they need to thrive in this fastgrowing, lucrative field — which LinkedIn called the “most promising in the United States.” • The SCSU Foundation manages more than

400 scholarships

for undergraduate and graduate students, generously funded by alumni and friends. •

100% of the

electricity used on campus is green:


is solar generated

and the remaining is from Engie, a Greene-certified electric company. • Thank you to alumni and friends for helping Southern raise more than


through the annual Day of Caring. • In addition to


academic programs, Southern now offers

Continuing Professional Education non-credit courses and certificates.

Look Whooooo’s Talking

Posts, ’Grams, Tweets, and More

Southern seniors continue to inspire, including public health major Kelly, a member of the Class of 2020 who works at Yale New Haven Hospital, supporting stroke and heart patients and those with COVID-19.

Faculty and staff sent a heartfelt message to students when Southern turned to online teaching in response to state-ordered closures caused by the pandemic. “You’re the reason we do what we do.” Rachael Ann This is the best video ever.

So proud to be an Owl. 36K+ Views 155 Shares

As the largest provider of education graduates in Connecticut, we could not be prouder of the alumni teachers who are going the extra mile to teach online.

Marissa Lavorgna Class of 2016 and I’m missing my kinders big time! Online teaching is going well, but much rather be back singing and dancing with my little loves!

Puppies make everything better — especially when showing Southern spirit. Thanks for sharing photos of your four-legged best friends.

Join the Conversation! Follow Southern on:

FACEBOOK • SouthernCT • 26,500+ followers TWITTER • @SCSU • 8,000+ followers INSTAGRAM • SCSUgram • 4,800+ followers SNAPCHAT • SouthernSCSU LINKED IN • Southern Connecticut State University • 50,000+ followers

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

Summer 2020 | 11



Southern’s physical campus is slated to reopen for fall 2020, with classes beginning on Aug. 26, following a staggered move-in for residence hall students. Courses will be offered in a HyFlex model, a combination of onground and online courses. Public health guidelines will be followed (face coverings, class size, etc.) and, if the need arises, the university is prepared to pivot to an all online schedule. After Thanksgiving, all remaining classes and final exams for the fall semester will be held online.


The plan is a promising return to normalcy for the campus community. The first campus-wide warning came in January: an email with tips for fighting seasonal influenza included a sentence about the outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus identified in Wuhan, China. The news became increasingly dire in the following weeks, and, on Feb. 26, U.S. officials reported the first non-travel-related case of the illness now officially known as COVID-19. On campus, the disease’s

rapid-fire spread came to light on March 10, after a Southern student attended an event where another participant later tested positive for the virus. Southern’s physical campus was closed (initially for five days) for a deep cleaning, a process that included licensed professionals in HAZMAT suits. As of June 8, when this issue went to press, Southern’s campus has remained shuttered, following the Office of the Governor’s directives for statewide closures and the decision of the Connecticut State Universities and Colleges system.

In the midst of continued uncertainty, here’s a look at how the Southern community is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic — and upholding its commitment to education.

At the macro-level, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented: in early June, in the U.S. there were more than 1,800,000 cases and 106,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — figures that will be dwarfed by the time this issue arrives in your mailbox. Like the nation and, indeed, much of the world, Southern is mourning profound losses. Students, university employees,


and alumni have become ill from the virus, some seriously. While impossible to track all cases, Southern graduates have died from COVID-19. (No student has died from the virus as of June 8). The university is also navigating a new world order, driven by an overarching directive: ensuring the health and welfare of the Southern community and the communityat-large. To be clear, the university

was never closed. Instead, over a 10-day period that corresponded with students’ spring break, faculty prepared to adopt remote/online learning for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. On March 23, all Southern courses began being offered remotely /online, with summer sessions soon following suit. With fall’s campus opening in sight, here’s a look at some of Southern’s responses to the pandemic. •

Summer 2020 | 13

The People: Piloting Southern

through the COVID-19 pandemic is • 11,072 PEOPLE complex. The university is a home-awayfrom-home for 11,072 people — more residents than 44 percent of cities/towns in Connecticut. In spring 2020, the Southern •• 9,212 STUDENTS community included 9,212 students , a figure that comprises 7,456 undergraduates and 1,756 • 190 GRAD ASSISTANTS/INTERNS graduate students, both fulland part-time. There are also • 2,050 FACULTY & STAFF 2,050 faculty and staff, including some 190 students working as graduate assistants/interns.

A New Way of Working: Following the

Changing Places:

On March 31, 2020, the National Guard began assembling a 300-bed “Connecticut Medical Station” inside Southern’s Moore Fieldhouse. Designed as “overflow” space for Yale New HavenHospital in anticipation of a surge of COVID-10 patients, the facility fortunately had not been needed as of early June. The university also made available 2,500 rooms in nine residence halls, which were used minimally to house some National Guard staff.


governor’s mandate for statewide closures, about 1,662 faculty and staff began working remotely. They are responsible for most university operations — from admissions and teaching to information technology and health services. Those designated essential employees — 34 unsung heroes as of press time — continue to regularly report to campus. Among them: the police chief and officers, and the facilities team, including grounds crew, custodians, receiving staff, mailroom workers, supervisors, dispatchers, and building tradesmen. An additional 116 employees are oncampus on an interim basis.

7,456 UNDERGRAD 1,756 GRAD

Teaching Remotely:

Between mid-March and the end of the month, the Office of Online Learning held more than 70 webinars — including individual and group support sessions. The focus was on teaching/learning through the use of several platforms: WebEx (web conferencing), Teams (an online communication and collaboration platform), Kaltura (video), and Blackboard (educational technology). In April, the office also held a three-day online Teaching Academy, with all sessions filled to capacity. In addition to the staff from the Office of Online Learning, faculty volunteers have helped with training. BEFORE CAMPUS-WIDE AFTER CAMPUS-WIDE MOVE TO REMOTE LEARNING REMOTE/ONLINE LEARNING WebEx Accounts



WebEx Sessions



WebEx Unique Participants 217* 2 Blackboard Learn 9 Instructors (1/31/20): 484



Student Users (3/31/20): 7,707


*1/31/20 – 2/5/20

**3/25/20 – 3/31/20

Academic Support:

The Academic Success Center is working virtually to help students succeed. The center’s hours have stayed the same and its tutors, 100 PALS (Peer Academic Leaders who focus on gateway and foundational courses), Academic Success Coaches, and more than 200 student workers all mobilized online through Microsoft Teams. “The short answer is we’re here,” says Kathleen De Oliveira, director of the ASC. “We want them to succeed. Just like before, all they have to do is come and ask.”

Buley Library:

The building is closed, but the library is open for business, with 100 percent of staff working remotely. They’re a busy group. Between the shutdown and mid-May, they redesigned their web page to promote online resources and services (100,000 visitors), answered 180 questions from students, hosted numerous online events (including an online exhibit for National Poetry Month), and even used 3D printing to create mask components for health care workers at UConn Health. Since the shutdown, they’ve also activated 3,500-plus online resources, including thousands of ebooks and streaming videos.

Celebration: With large gatherings

prohibited, Southern is holding a virtual commencement ceremony for undergraduate and graduate students on Aug. 15 — and found ways to immediately honor students safely. More than 1,000 celebratory yard signs were delivered to graduates; an emotional virtual pinning ceremony was held for graduating nursing majors; and seniors submitted photos and memories for a virtual yearbook and social media spotlights.

Helping Hands: When

the Southern campus closed suddenly in mid-March, Chartwells was left with an abundance of food. That’s when an existing food recovery program run by Southern’s Office of Sustainability and Chartwells sprang into action. Several students and Chartwells staff packaged more than 300 pounds of food for delivery to St. Anne’s Soup Kitchen in Hamden, Park Ridge Tower Affordable Senior Living in New Haven, and Monterey Place Senior Living in New Haven.

You helped, too:

Responding to students’ heightened need, more than 1,000 donors contributed over $500,000 during Southern’s Day of Caring, held on April 22.

Renee Villarreal — parent, student, Army National Guard member

The Ties that Bind:

“The current situation is hard for students,” says Sal Rizza, director of New and Sophomore Programs. “We’re trying to bring a little life and enjoyment. There are a ton of activities happening.” Among them: SCSU Music Trivia, The Dan Baronski Hour (peer mentor and orientation ambassador Baronski talks fashion and music), Cooking with Kyra, Coffee Chat with Student Involvement, and more. Campus Recreation and Fitness held programs to get students moving, including a livestream workout with President Joe Bertolino and his trainer, Hunter Fluegel, that drew about 300 viewers. Similarly, more than 200 students and 100 faculty and staff signed up for A Southern Strong Step Challenge.

Alumni Pride: Thoughts are also with our alumni, many of whom are in the frontlines of

fighting the pandemic. Among them are more than 11,000 graduates of the College of Health and Human Services. Similarly, as the largest educator of teachers and educational administrators in the state, Southern salutes its graduates of the College of Education — who have turned to technology to educate their young charges. Through it all, our 93,500-plus alumni have remained a source of pride, strength, and optimism. Consider Fairfield, Conn., couple Maureen and Dan Rosa , both graduates of the Class of 2010, who met as Southern students in 2006. Tragically, Maureen’s father Gary Mazzone was among those killed in the crash of a World War II-era B-17 bomber plane on Oct. 2, 2019, at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn. A year later, the couple faced the fear of welcoming their first child during the epicenter of the pandemic. And, yet, they persevered and triumphed — and the media heralded their joy on April 2 when they welcomed their new daughter: Cecilia Hope Rosa. ■ Summer 2020 | 15

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

Ruling the Pool: Women Crowned NE 10 Champs


Owls Repeat NE 10 Championship Win

he men’s indoor track and field team won their fourth consecutive Northeast 10 (NE 10) Championship with a score of 242.50 points, the third highest in meet history. The Owls hold the record for the top two tournament scores as well: 265 points earned in both 2003 and 2006. This year, the Owls took first-place in eight events: Ruvens Exantus (60-meter hurdle); Justin Kelly (400-meter dash); Sachin Manning, Aren Seeger, Ramsley Exantus, and Jordan Lembo-Frey (4x400-meter relay); Oghenefejiro Onakpoma (triple jump); Bernardo Mbaya (shot put); Philip Quaye (heptathlon); Quaye (pole vault); and Daniel Brown (1,000-meter run). Capping off a spectacular season, Onakpoma was crowned the East Region Men’s Field Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches (USTFCCCA) — the second consecutive time he received the honor. Head coach John Wallin, ’00, was named the East Region Men’s Coach of the Year for the fourth season in a row.


he women’s swimming and diving team won the Northeast 10 (NE 10) Conference Championship on Feb. 9, building on Southern’s storied history in the sport. The team was named the NE 10 champions in three of the last four years — and claimed the title at 13 of the 17 tournaments ever held. In 2020, the Owls brought home 16 medals, including eight golds awarded to: Erin Leirey (200 and 400 individual medley); Avery Fornaciari (500 freestyle, 100 and 200 butterfly); Fornaciari, Leirey, Morgan Fernald, Alina Tucker (400 medley relay); Fernald, Leirey, Fornaciari, Megan Garner (200 medley relay); and Faith Littleton (1,650 freestyle). The men’s team finished second at the championship with senior Leonardo LaPorte named the tournament’s “Most Outstanding Swimmer” and freshman Andrew Buehler crowned “Most Outstanding Diver.” The men won 19 NE 10 championship medals, including the following golds: Evan Bombery (500 freestyle); Chandler Tucker (200 individual medley); Buehler (1-meter and 3-meter diving); LaPorte (100 and 200 butterfly); Tucker, Matthew Widlar, Colby Delia, LaPorte (200 medley relay); and Tucker, Widlar, LaPorte, Tyler Cusano (400 medley relay).

Oghenefejiro Onakpoma 16 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE


Living Hoop Dreams

Francisco Roldan

port management major Imani Wheeler was crowned the 2020 Northeast 10 (NE 10) Player of the Year in recognition of her prowess on the basketball court. The senior point guard ranked first in the NE 10 this season in steals per game (3.0) and total steals (85). In the latter category, she’s eighth in the nation among all NCAA Division II players.

• Senior business administration major, concentration in marketing with a minor in accounting • Soccer, forward • Hometown: Malaga, Spain A few claims to fame: named to the 2020 Northeast 10 Academic AllConference team * led the Owls in goals (4) and points (8)

World view: Roldan — a transfer student from Spain — is one of nine

international student-athletes playing Owls Soccer. Players also hail from Argentina, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, and Norway.

Getting started: “In Spain, the most famous sport is soccer. I started when I was 7,” says Roldan.

Balancing act: In addition to soccer, Roldan takes six classes a semester and

Imani Wheeler On Feb. 25, she scored her 1,000th point against Adelphi University, becoming the 23rd player in program history to achieve this feat. Earlier in the season, Kiana Steinauer became the 22nd player to score 1,000 points for the Owls. Capping off a phenomenal year, on March 17, the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) named Wheeler and teammate Alexa Kellner to the 2020 Division II Women’s Basketball All-ECAC First Team. In related news, the ECAC also honored a player from the men’s team. Taurus Adams II was named to the 2020 Division II Men’s Basketball AllECAC First Team. He is one of only two NE10 players to receive the honor.

works in Southern’s Athletics Communications Office. “I think I am most proud of how I manage it all,” says Roldan.

Hometown fans: Roldan’s parents watch many of his matches live online. “A game at seven in the evening [on campus] is at one in the morning there,” says Roldan.

Driving force: “I look forward to trying to get better. If I had a 3.9 [gpa] this

semester, I want to get a 4.0 next semester. If I had eight points this season, I want to get 16 next time,” he says.

Good luck rituals: He steps onto the field with his right foot and wears his girlfriend’s hair band on his wrist. (She lives in Spain.)

Dream destinations in the U.S.: California and Chicago

Want sports?


provides an inside look at Southern’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.


Taurus Adams II Summer 2020 | 17



By Villia Struyk


March 13, both the Obama School and the university had temporarily shuttered their buildings and were moving to online learning in response to New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker’s call for citywide closures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. But while students — both elementary age and Southern education majors — had worked in the new building for only a few months, the potential had already been demonstrated, and it’s a win-win for all involved. For Southern students, the Obama School provides an opportunity for allimportant experiential learning. The elementary school’s students and their teachers, in turn, benefit through additional support in the classroom from student-teachers and field workers — as well as the experience of Southern’s staff and faculty. An overarching goal: to serve as a national model, highlighting best practices and promoting educational innovation.

[Clockwise] Principal Susan DeNicola with some of her charges. Student uniforms will be Owl blue next year. The school’s mascot is an owlet. • The building is designed to stream light inside. • Southern President Joe Bertolino (left) and Roland Regos are guest readers on World Read Aloud Day. • A student art project focused on the building’s namesake.

The new elementary school is a collaboration between Southern, the New Haven Board of Education, and the city of New Haven. As such, it is a rarity — uniting a public university with a public school system. “A lot of times, the schools found on college campuses are private enterprises, so they are selective. You pay tuition to go. The faculty’s kids attend,” says Stephen Hegedus, dean of the College of Education. In contrast, the Obama School is part of New Haven Public Schools, a magnet program that accepts students from regional school districts but primarily serves New Haven. The Obama School is designed to educate close to 500 students. It opened with classrooms for kindergarten through fourth grade. Looking forward, three preschool classrooms will be added, bringing 60 three- and four-year-old children into the fold. “Part of our social justice mission is to create access for all kids. It just makes sense to me, for the Obama School to have this connection with Southern, a public university in New Haven that has had a 100-plus-year mission dedicated to teacher and educator preparation of the highest-quality,” says Hegedus. The Obama School — formerly known as the Strong 21st Century Communications Magnet — has evolved dramatically over many years. About six years ago, aided by grant funding, it became a magnet school with an educational focus on communications, technology, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Students receive instruction in Chinese and American Sign Language — and the elementary school was named a “School of Distinction” by for 2018-19, the most recently available data.

continues on page 46 Summer 2020 | 19



As president of Kobalt Music Recordings North America/AWAL, Ron Cerrito, ’84, champions an alternative to the traditional music industry. The company offers artists and independent labels a range of services without having to give up ownership or control. By Natalie Missakian


— a chance encounter while attending a concert at a legendary New Haven nightspot, just a few months after graduating from Southern. “I met somebody at Toad’s Place who worked at Billboard magazine, and we became friends,” recalls Cerrito, ’84. “They told me about an opening, and I sent in my resume and got the job. It was a really lucky first stop.” It would be the springboard for Cerrito’s ascension through the ranks of the tough-to-crack recording industry, which includes stops at some of the world’s biggest record labels along the way.

Summer 2020 | 21


Jam, U2, Florence + the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins, Backstreet Boys, Weezer, Jane’s Addiction, and Lorde are only a sampling of the artists listed on his resume. He even enjoyed a brief stint as a professional rock musician in his own right, as the guitarist on Los Angeles heavy metal band Lizzy Borden’s 1989 album Master of Disguise, performing under the stage name Ronnie Jude. Today, he is shaking up the music business as president of the edgy Kobalt Music Recordings North America/AWAL — whose roster includes both established artists like Nick Cave and up-andcoming talent like Girl in Red, Finneas (brother of rising indie-pop sensation Billie Eilish) and pop singersongwriter Lauv. Lauv has gone gold or platinum in 15 countries. AWAL — the name is reflected in the company’s slogan, “A World Artists Love” — allows artists to bypass traditional record-label deals — and maintain ownership and control of their music. “We are the fastest-growing recording business in the world, and I think it’s fair to say that we’re the biggest independent recording company,” says Cerrito. “Our mission is to provide worldclass marketing at a level that’s competitive with any record company in the world, while giving artists creative control and flexibility they can’t get anywhere else.” Raised in East Haven, Conn., Cerrito found his passion for music early. He took up guitar at age 10, studying jazz improv during his early teens. At 15, he joined his first rock band, and a few years later began playing gigs around the state, including at popular New Haven venues like the Keg House, Toad’s, and the Agora Ballroom. When it came time for college, Cerrito chose Southern, where he majored in economics, over a chance to study at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. He decided a business degree would better complement his already well-honed musical skills. “I’d been reading music since I was 10 and logged 10,000 hours of guitar playing by the time I was 18. I really didn’t think I would get a lot more out of Berklee,” he explains. By the time he arrived on campus in 1980, he was playing four to five nights a week at clubs around the tri-state area. His college experience was anything but conventional. 22 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

“I would sleep in the afternoon after finishing class and then wake up at like 6 p.m. and go to a gig somewhere in upstate New York, do my homework in a dressing room somewhere, and then come back for class [in the morning],” he says. “It was nonstop, really. But I guess that’s just my nature.” Though those years were a whirlwind, he hasn’t forgotten his favorite class: a first-year course through what was then the IDEA program, which brought an interdisciplinary approach to learning. “It focused on ancient philosophers and the philosophy of learning,” he recalls. “It was mind-extending and really thought provoking and interesting, and I think it probably set the tone for the next three years.” After earning his degree, Cerrito went to New York for the Billboard job, working in the chart department. He spent his days calling retailers and radio stations to find out which albums and songs were selling and getting airtime — data that was used to tabulate Billboard’s famous weekly charts. Three years later, he moved to LA and took a job in radio promotions at a small independent label before being hired in 1990 as director of rock promotions for Epic Records. His arrival came just as the Seattle grunge scene was about to explode, ushering in a new genre of music with artists like Pearl Jam, whose 1991 debut album Ten was Cerrito’s first campaign. It would go on to surpass 10 million in sales. “The ability to work with artists who were shaping culture at the time was really something special,” he says. Following his 10 years at Epic, he held senior positions at several major music labels, including Columbia Records, Warner Bros. Records, and Republic Records, before joining Kobalt in 2016. He was named president of Kobalt Music Recordings North America/AWAL a year later and has already put his stamp on the company. He led a push to diversify the label’s roster, signing younger, up-and-coming artists across several different genres. The model, he says, is in line with how people listen to music today, thanks to streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. “The truth is, people don’t listen to music by genre. They don’t even listen by decade. They listen by mood. So diversification is super important,” says Cerrito. “I really wanted our roster to look like what a 17-year-old’s cell phone playlist would look like.” Having worked with numerous legendary artists, Cerrito says he can’t single out a favorite project. But he feels proud knowing that, in some small way, his work is changing culture and making music history. “When you’re with an artist from the early stages and then you have that moment when they’re playing in an arena or a stadium somewhere, it’s just a great feeling knowing that you were a small part of it,” he says. ■



eight came to campus on Saturday, Feb. 22, for GIRLS AND WOMEN IN SPORTS DAY, which was hosted by Southern Athletics for the past 16 years. Female student-athletes from eight Owl varsity teams and three club sports coached the girls during the action-packed day. Girls who play sports in high school have higher test scores as well as higher graduation rates from high school and college. The benefits continue: girls active in sports during adolescence and young adulthood have lower rates of obesity and chronic illness — and are 20 percent less likely to get cancer later in life, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.



in grades one through

Running a New York City art gallery is all in a day’s work for three former members of Southern’s track and field team. By Christina Levere

T’S ONE THING TO HAVE AN IDEA. It’s another to implement it, especially when there are multiple people involved — three — and other responsibilities call — full-time jobs — and a physical space is needed — a bright, airy gallery would do nicely — and bills need to be paid — rent! — and there are only so many hours in the day — 24, to be exact. But when Melissa Sutherland, ’09; Jarryn Mercer, ’09; and Symone K. Wong, ’09, saw the need for a dedicated space for artists of color to express themselves, Wong says, “We made a decision and just went for it.” The women, who have been friends for 14 years, met on the track and field team at Southern and, as they put it, “immediately connected.” They were in different academic programs at the university: Sutherland majored in studio art, Wong studied communication, and Mercer pursued a liberal studies degree. But alongside running, they also shared a love for the arts. In 2015, after Sutherland and Wong headlined a twowoman show at VM Nation Studios, they began talking about having their own creative space, namely for black artists, to exhibit. 24 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

ccording to Sutherland: “Response has been quite amazing, sometimes overwhelming. People love and enjoy what we’re doing, and they think it’s something we really need, so they support us. There aren’t many galleries in our neighborhood that provide this platform.” That’s not to say there haven’t been struggles. Before the women opened sk.ArtSpace they were working nine to five jobs as executive assistants in different industries. They still are: Mercer is with a wealth management firm; Wong and Sutherland at different marketing companies. Says Mercer, “There are never enough hours in the day, but somehow the work always gets done.” The friends manage the workload by dividing

“Artists show art in places that don’t align with their vision, like in bars and coffee shops,” Sutherland says. “It takes away from the experience.” “The main point isn’t the art,” adds Wong. “We needed a place that represented a space for artists.” “We put the numbers together and said, ‘We can actually do this. Let’s do it,’” Mercer says. By June 2016, sk.ArtSpace in Brooklyn was born. The two-level locale, which is bright and inviting, is one part gallery and one part event space, with a courtyard in the back. “It’s much more like a traditional gallery space, with white walls and lighting,” Wong says. “It’s a blank canvas.” In addition to showcasing artists and musicians in the gallery, the women host product launches and wedding showers, and offer cost-friendly services to fellow creatives. The SK team also has launched successful events, including an annual Future Is Female exhibition, which features an all-women roster of artists from throughout New York City. Reaction to the show has exceeded the women’s expectations, creating a conclave of artists with close bonds.

From new graduates of the Class of 2009 to entrepreneurial business leaders: [both photos, from left] Jarryn Mercer, Melissa Sutherland, and Symone K. Wong

and conquering. “We pick up each other’s slack. We all do whatever needs to be done, day-to-day,” says Mercer. Finances, too, are a critical consideration. The gallery combines an event-space business model with a traditional gallery structure. The women receive commission for some collaboration packages as well as group exhibitions they curate, and they rent the gallery for private events. They are continually looking for support to keep the momentum going. “Support doesn’t always have to mean money,” Sutherland says. The gallery relies on interns, for example. Support could also mean assistance from a videographer to help with marketing. “We’re also trying to find sponsors and donors. We want to take the gallery and creative space to another level,” says Sutherland. She continues: “One of our top priorities that we look forward to is offering services for beginning and emerging artists, like workshops on how to write an artist bio, and being able to coordinate panel discussions on how

continues on page 46


The water is just fine in New England, where research on coral and kelp is providing a crash course on the potential influence of climate change. Sean Grace, professor of biology, dives in to investigate. By Villia Struyk On November 22, Sean Grace (left), professor of biology, and Gabriella DiPreta, ’16, M.S. ’19, a researcher at the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, wade into Long Island Sound to conduct research. PATRICK SKAHILL/CONNECTICUT PUBLIC PHOTO

Summer 2020 | 27

It’s a chilly February day in New England, and Sean Grace, can’t wait to get back in the water. A dive is scheduled for later in the week in Rhode Island, and despite the frigid temperatures, the professor of biology is primed to continue his research on temperate coral and kelp systems. Say “coral” and the average person thinks Aruba, St. Thomas, or Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. But Grace has a different research paradise in mind: Long Island Sound, Rhode Island Sound, the waters off Cape Cod. All offer a wealth of opportunity for the scientist who typically has several studies in progress. When it comes to marine research, much like real estate, it’s all about location — and Grace considers southern New England to be ideal. “We’re at the northern-most [habitat] range of many southern species. And we’re at the southernmost range of many northern species. They all come together — living and competing in a very interesting way,” says Grace, chairman of the Department of Biology and co-director of the Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies at Southern. He’s particularly interested in how environmental factors, specifically global warming, are influencing this melting pot of northern and southern species. One example: the decline of kelp and the increase of bushy turf algae in Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island between 1980 and 2018. This study — conducted by Grace and two 28 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

other researchers and published in Scientific Reports — points to increasing water temperatures as the primary reason for the shift. Grace continues to collaborate with other scientists on kelp research: they’re compiling video records; conducting transect studies; and studying the attachment strength of kelp growing on rocks versus kelp growing on the aforementioned turf algae. The kelp attached to the latter “pops right off,” notes Grace, despite attachment points that extend out — seemingly looking for a firm footing. This kelp is smaller. Less healthy. “Every time an organism expends energy in one area, they lose it in another,” says Grace. In southern New England, the shift is in full swing — and the kelp is losing ground. “If I was a young person interested in climate change, I’d want to be where it was going to be demonstrated really quickly — which is what we’re seeing here,” says Grace. Such research is important on a global perspective: kelp is a vital home for marine life and similar shifts are

being seen in many locations. But research is also significant from an educational standpoint — and it has been greatly forwarded by the Werth Family Foundation. In 2014, the foundation pledged $3 million to Southern, to be awarded over 10 years, for several initiatives, including $1,500,000 to endow Southern’s Center for Coastal and Marine Studies, and an additional $750,000 to cover operating


A Scientist is Born

[From top] In Milford, Conn., Grace (left) and DiPreta prepare to enter the water. • Research on the hardy coral species Astrangia poculata could help tropical corals threatened by climate change.

costs. The center was named in honor of the Werth family. The remaining funds were earmarked for two initiatives that combine science education and real-world experience through

Raised in Fall River, Mass., several blocks from the Rhode Island border, Grace has been pulled by the tides since boyhood. His father, a high school graduate who served in the military, was a dock worker for Shell Oil with a shiftworker schedule. When his afternoons were free, he’d take Grace and his brother fishing at a nearby dock. Grace loved the outings. “But I could have cared less about the fish,” he says, instead recalling a deep fascination with the barnacles and mussels growing on the dock. Grace, a first-generation college student, followed his passion to the University of Maryland, where he earned an undergraduate degree and was hired as a research assistant. “We went all over the Caribbean to study how corals feed,” says Grace, who lived in the underwater Aquarius laboratory for two science missions. He was set to begin graduate school on the West Coast, but changed plans to be closer to his parents, who were dealing with medical issues. Enrolling instead at the University of Rhode Island’s graduate program, he shifted his research focus to the coral found along the New England coastline. Grace was certified to SCUBA dive in Rhode Island — and had long known about this local coral. Still, he remembers the early warnings: “The best coral people would say, ‘You might find five or six here. Maybe 20 over there. You’re never going to find a lot. So be careful what you want to study, because you might not have enough for a sample size.’” His first dives as a graduate student were deeply disappointing. Then he changed his search pattern. “And I saw what I was looking for — and it’s everywhere,” he says. Called Astrangia poculata, it’s also known as northern star coral, and like all corals,

continues on page 47


he global ocean economy could double in size by 2030, reaching approximately $3 trillion, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Looked at locally, in Long Island Sound, the “Blue Economy” — defined by the World Bank as sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and ocean ecosystem health — is projected to grow by 67 percent during that same period to an estimated $13.3 billion, according to a team of Southern researchers. Helping to drive this growth, Southern has launched Project Blue Hub, with a goal of creating a Blue Economy center for research, tech transfer, and innovation in New Haven. Created by a team of dedicated researchers and uniting academia, business, and the government sector, Project Blue Hub was spearheaded by Colleen Bielitz, associate vice president for Strategic Initiatives & Outreach, and Patrick Heidkamp, professor in the Department of the Environment, Geography, and Marine Sciences. Among the first focuses: expansion of the locally grown kelp industry by finding alternative channels and niche markets for kelp to grow local businesses. Through partnerships with Gateway Community College and CT Next, Southern is prepared to provide up to 300 students with practical research and learning experiences in the burgeoning kelp industry in the next two years.


seminars, internships, and research opportunities. “If it wasn’t for the foundation’s support, we would be having a completely different conversation — and it would not be about research,” says Grace.



MORE AT: Summer 2020 | 29


It’s all about teamwork for Lawrence Ciotti, ’66, M.S. ’71, 6th Yr. ’92, and Joseph Ginnetti, ’69, M.S. ’75. The former Owl football stars and founders of Southern’s Football Alumni Network are inspiring graduates from across the decades to support today’s players. By John Rosengren


to the summer of ’65 when Ginnetti was a recent high school graduate from Wilbur Cross attending preseason practice with Southern’s football team, and Ciotti was a rising senior picked to captain the team that fall. The two hit it off and began a friendship that has spanned six decades. “I call Larry my big brother from another mother,” Ginnetti says. “The bonds you develop over the years last a lifetime.” It’s a special friendship born of Southern football, one they hope to pass on. Their shared goals: to give future generations the opportunity to forge similar bonds with teammates and to help them enjoy success like they had in their glory days. Together, they launched the Football Alumni Network (FAN), which raises money to provide additional scholarships to the program, a unique venture for Southern athletics. Ciotti, a center and linebacker, led the ’65 team to the first of four consecutive conference titles as captain his senior year, when he was All-New England and AllEastern League. In 1998, he was inducted into the Southern Athletics Hall of Fame. Ginnetti was also an allconference center on conference championship teams. His junior year, they whipped University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a team stocked with future NFL players, 30 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

including Art Shell and Emerson Boozer. “To this day we still don’t know how the hell we did it, but we did,” Ginnetti says. “We were a powerhouse.” Ciotti clearly recalls the impact Southern played during his formative college years. “I, like many of the others, had such a wonderful time at Southern,” he says. “The coaches were very nurturing. So were the professors. They really cared for us. It’s still the same way even though the faces have changed. We all have a passion for Southern.” The friends also understand the university’s unique challenges. Southern is the only public university in the Northeast 10 (NE 10) conference and, as is the case for most urban state universities, its resources are limited. In the 2019-20 season, the Owls competed against eight private colleges in football. (Not all NE 10 members play the sport.) “There are a couple of teams in the league that have historically been on top in terms of scholarship dollars. But in the last 20 years, there’s also been a huge increase in the importance of football at many of the private institutions,” says head football coach Thomas Godek, ’88. “We have one-fourth of the scholarships of our conference rivals.” Without scholarships, Ciotti says, “We don’t get the players” to remain competitive on the field.




[From left] Longtime friends Larry Ciotti, ’66, M.S. ’71, 6th Yr. ’92, and Joseph Ginnetti, ’69, M.S. ’75, have teamed up alongside other former Southern football players to support the Owls.

Building a Legacy When Ciotti and Ginnetti attended Southern, tuition was $50 a semester — providing both with an opportunity to earn their degrees. Ciotti grew up in Portsmouth, N.H., the son of an ironworker, who was frequently out of work. He ended up marrying the girl who gave him and his teammate a ride to a social mixer his first day of orientation. They wed spring of senior year, one of six football couples who married that spring and summer. Five are still together, 55 years later. Larry and Barbara now have four children and 12 grandchildren. After graduation, Ciotti took a job teaching physical education at Daniel Hand High School in Madison, Conn. Over 19 seasons (1970-1988) he became a legendary football coach, winning four state championships and being inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Hall of Fame. He then coached 21 years at Yale University, primarily as the running backs coach, and now serves as a special adviser to head coach Tony Reno. Ginnetti, the son of a first-generation, ItalianAmerican father with an eighth grade education, grew up in the Annex neighborhood of New Haven and was the first in his family to go to college. He chose

Southern because he wanted to stay close to his high school sweetheart, Ida, who followed him to the university the following year and graduated with a degree in art education in 1970. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary earlier this year by renewing their vows in a 14th century church in Florence, Italy. Like his buddy Larry, he, too, became a teacher, working with sixth-grade students who had learning disabilities and emotional difficulties. Ginnetti also played five years in the Atlantic Coast Football League. When he and Ida had three children, Ginnetti supplemented his teaching income by waiting tables in the evenings for half a dozen years so she could stay home with the kids. A friend offered him a job in sales and eventually he moved to The Raymond Corporation, a division/subsidiary of Toyota, where he was vice president of sales until he retired last year. He and Ida have two granddaughters. Since the two friends started FAN three years ago, they have held several events to raise awareness for their cause. These include a gathering of about 50 football alumni early on at Brazi’s Italian Restaurant; a production of The Guys, a play about New York firefighters during 9/11; and a tent at homecoming this

continues on page 47 Summer 2020 | 31

s y a R g n i h c t a C An ecologically minded health director turns to solar power to keep local waters clean — and sets an example for the nation. By John Rosengren

ong Island Sound is a little greener, a little cleaner, and a little quieter, thanks to Michael Pascucilla, ’92, who oversaw the development of the world’s first fullsize solar- and electric-powered pumpout boat. The utility craft, which removes sewage from other boats, finished its first season in the Branford River and Branford Harbor last summer. Christened the Solar Shark, the boat is being heralded as a model response to the climate crisis. Its carbon footprint is one-tenth that of gasolinepowered counterparts, prompting Rosa DeLauro, U.S. Representative for Connecticut’s third district, to call the Solar Shark “a great achievement” — and it’s an idea unlikely to have seen the light of day if Pascucilla hadn’t taken Professor Emeritus of Public Health Gary Gesmonde’s “Diet and Nutrition” course as a college sophomore. 32 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

Fascinated to learn how food could be considered medicine and changing eating habits could cure illnesses, Pascucilla registered for more nutrition and public health courses. He ditched his plans to become an accountant, majored in public health, and went on to complete a master’s degree in public health at the University of Connecticut. After stints with state and federal government offices, he has been the chief executive officer/health director of the East Shore District Health Department since 2010, serving the communities of Branford, East Haven, and North Branford. “It’s not just a job or a career,” he says. “It’s a calling.” Several Southern professors were influential in encouraging Pascucilla to answer that call. The beloved late faculty members Danny Gonsalves and A. Kay Keiser both provided the

structure he needed as an undergraduate. Professor of Public Health William Faraclas gave counsel, discussing various career options and connecting him with his first internship with the public health office in West Haven. “He was the voice of reason,” Pascucilla says of Faraclas. “He gave me that direction.” Pascucilla pays it forward by teaching courses in wellness and environmental health at Southern and serving on the advisory board for the university’s Department of Public Health. He also lectures on epidemiology at Yale University. The solar/electric pump-out boat began with an epiphany almost five years ago. Pascucilla’s office had been looking for ways to save taxpayer money and be more environmentally friendly at a time when one of its two pump-out boats needed to be replaced. Having just received a grant for an electric-hybrid vehicle, he thought, “Why not use the same technology for a pump-out boat?” A boater himself — he lives by the water with his wife and their two young

sons — Pascucilla had witnessed firsthand the effects of climate change in his neighborhood, with roads flooded by rising tides. He’d also seen the global impact on the news: fires, floods, and storms. The pump-out boat project gave him the opportunity to do his part in response. He pitched the idea to state officials, wrote some grants, and secured $150,000 in funding through the Federal Clean Vessel Act through the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CDEEP). Pascucilla credits the CDEEP’s Kathryn Brown for championing the idea. He raised an additional $50,000 through fundraising efforts, assisted, in part, by his Southern students. Yale University students assisted with research.

continues Michael Pascucilla takes the wheel. The team recently applied for a U.S. intellectual patent for the project.



ascucilla admits to being intimidated by the responsibility of developing the new concept. “It was a little scary given the amount of money at stake,” he says. It got scarier when the initial bid for a solar/electric boat that could perform like a conventional gaspowered design — able to reach speeds of 40 miles per hour — came in at over half a million dollars, more than double the budget. Forced back to the drawing board, Pascucilla and his team realized they could aim for less power since the boat would travel primarily on rivers or no-wake areas. They also swapped out the fiberglass hull for an aluminum one. It took two years, but they eventually came up with a viable design that had a 400-gallon holding tank and two four-horsepower Torqeedo engines powered by rechargeable batteries and a canopy of



solar panels. With the batteries providing the main source of power and the solar panels a trickle charge, the boat is able to run for up to 10-12 hours at zero emissions. From May through September 2019, the boat serviced five communities in the Long Island Sound, which is a no-discharge area, meaning boaters must have the waste on their boats pumped out, similar to the way a truck empties a residential septic tank. Boaters can schedule appointments at one of two marinas where the pumpout boat docks. The electric/solar boat costs less to operate and maintain than a traditional gas-powered pump-out boat. Pascucilla and Sean Grace, chairman of Southern’s Department of Biology and co-director of the university’s Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies, are studying the benefits to aquamarine life of reduced noise from the quieter pump-out boat. [See more on Grace’s other research projects on page 26.)



Pascucilla has been presenting data on the boat’s features at national and international conferences. “We’re hoping to see [that] the boat not only helps with air and water pollutions, but also with noise pollution for humans and marine life,” Pascucilla says. He and his team are working on the problems of how to dispose of the batteries and reduce development costs. Pascucilla is optimistic about finding solutions for both. In time, he believes the operational savings of electric/solar boats will offset higher production costs, especially if they are manufactured in volume — which he sees as the future of recreational and commercial boats. “In time, you’re going to see boats like this everywhere,” he says. That will be an important step toward addressing the climate crisis — with the Solar Shark leading the way in reducing carbon emissions, keeping coastal waters clean, and lowering noise. “We need to be better stewards of our planet,” Pascucilla says. “It all connects back to the environment. What affects the environment affects our health.” ■

olar power provides approximately eight percent of the electricity used at Southern — thanks to two multifaceted solar installations on opposite sides of campus. Combined they produce almost 2 megawatts of energy. The newest solar project, located on the east side of campus off of Fitch Street, went online in early 2020 and almost doubled Southern’s solar-generation capacity. It includes two large canopy arrays located above the Fitch Street parking garage and the adjacent graduate parking lot near Davis Hall. The initial solar project, installed on the west side of campus and operational since mid-2019, includes more than 3,000 photovoltaic panels. They are installed in three arrays located on: the roof of Wintergreen Garage, a ground mount near Brownell Hall, and a carport in the main parking lot. There were no capital investment or up-front costs to Connecticut taxpayers for either of the projects thanks to a partnership between the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system, Distributed Solar Development (a GE Renewable Energy venture), and the Connecticut Green Bank. Southern purchases the electricity generated by the panels at significant discount compared to previous utility rates. How eco-friendly is the rest of Southern’s electricity use? It’s 100 percent green! In 2018, Southern entered a 3-4 year contract for Green-e-certified electricity with a company called Engie, paying the same rate as previously contracted for conventional-generation electricity. Southern has lowered its carbon footprint for buildings by more than 50 percent since 2008. 34 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE






to supporting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and was recently crowned “Connecticut’s Top STEM City” by data scientists at, an online insurance business site. One city from each state was recognized on the list, placing Southern’s hometown of New Haven in the company of Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, and other STEMforward cities. Several factors were evaluated, including employment and diversity in STEM fields, and STEM educational opportunities for those in grades K-12 through college. Southern has a long history of partnering with New Haven in support of STEM. Check out the university’s Office for STEM Innovation and Leadership at for highlights — including academic offerings (a bachelor’s degree program in data science and the Drone Academy are among newer programs), STEM research, workforcepreparation initiatives, community outreach, sustainability commitments, and more.





Romania-born cellist, Mihai Marica, ’07, first asked for a cello at age 3, wanting to emulate his talented father. The family held off, presenting Marica with the longed-for instrument on his seventh birthday. Years of training led to stunning accomplishments — including first-place finishes at some of the world’s most prestigious musical competitions and an invitation to study with the late Aldo Parisot, professor of music at Yale University. “Even though I was very young — 16 — and my heart was 36 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

functioning perfectly, I almost fainted. That wasn’t in the plans,” says Marica of the invitation to come to the U.S. At Yale, he completed a Certificate in Performance program, a three-year option for those who do not yet hold a bachelor’s degree but are studying their craft at the highest level. If a student goes on to earn an undergraduate degree, he/she can petition to convert the coursework into a Master of Music degree. This became the plan for Marica, who enrolled at Southern as an undergraduate in 2004, majoring in music while continuing to study with

Parisot. “I have very, very good memories of my experience at Southern,” says Marica, who completed numerous Honors College courses and took musical improv classes. He also formed close bonds with faculty members. Among them is Mark Kuss, professor of music, who wrote a Cello Concerto for Marica. The cellist premiered the concerto with Orchestra New England at Battel Chapel. The two eventually traveled to Romania to record the piece. Today, Marica performs up to 100 times a year at celebrated venues

[Clockwise from top] Mihai Marica, ’07, is a cellist with the acclaimed Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. • As the newest member of the Apollo Trio, Marica (far right) also plays with Marija Stroke (center) and Curtis Macomber • He has performed throughout the world, gracing the stages of the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

throughout the world. He’s played in Austria, Canada, Chili, Germany, Hungary, Holland, Japan, Spain, and South Korea. In the U.S., he’s graced the stages of Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Both are “among the highlights of my musical life,” he says. At the latter, Marica successfully auditioned for the Chamber Society of Lincoln Center’s highly prestigious Bowers Program — an ultracompetitive, three-season residency for outstanding young musicians. He completed the residency in 2015 and,

today, often performs as a seasoned artist with the center. Additionally, in 2018, the cellist joined the acclaimed Apollo Trio, which plays throughout the U.S. and Europe. Marica also is committed to supporting young musicians. He coaches the Julliard Pre-College Program’s cello choir and is set to work with student groups at the Chamber Society of Lincoln Center. In addition, he spends several weeks each summer at the Classical Music Institute, an educational outreach WATCH MARICA PERFORM AT:


program run by the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio, Texas. Looking forward, he hopes to travel to Romania — likely performing the six Cello Suites by Johann Sebastian Bach for the first time. “It is a big project, but also one of the most exciting things I can do as a cellist,” he says of practicing the suites. “I will come to learn many new and useful things from this experience. Spending time with myself, my instrument, and this great music.” ■ By Villia Struyk Summer 2020 | 37


How’s This for a Hollywood Story?

music videos. Then, two months to the day after moving to the West Coast, he had his Hollywood moment while waiting at a and filming short parodies of Indiana Jones and Star Wars, stop light on Melrose Avenue. “I’m staring at the red light, starring his brother and friends from the neighborhood. suffering from anxiety ’cause money was drying up quick,” Through the years, Schrader kept telling his tales — and says Schrader, recalling the minutes that changed his life. in fall 2000, he enrolled at Southern, majoring in comGazing out his car window, he recognized a producer from his munication with a concentration in video production. Boston days. The two shouted out greetings, which ultimately Schrader worked led to a job offer for Schrader to work on a new at the on-campus Video show, Life Below Zero, a documentary series Production Studio in about life in the remotest areas of Alaska. Earl Hall (it’s the Digital Schrader was hired as a production assistant Production Facility now), and, over three years, worked his way up to as well as Wallingford editor, garnering industry accolades along the Public Access TV, and a way. He and his teammates were nominated for local video store. He an Emmy Award for work on the series in 2017, learned on the fly while 2018, and 2019 — and they won the award for soaking up professors’ “Outstanding Picture Editing for an Unstructured expertise — even if he Reality Series” that first year. didn’t always realize it “One of the greatest, if not [the] greatest at the time. moment in my life, shared “I can remember transcribwith incredible co-workers ing interviews for projects at and close friends,” he says. SCSU, thinking to myself, ‘I’ll Schrader also never need to do this in the real continues to make world.’ Sure enough, I’ve tranpictures, including scribed multiple interviews for Zulu Summer, which our own documentary films that he codirected with have truly helped with the story Joseph Litzinger. The telling,” says Schrader. He adds documentary, about a that the department’s focus on Zulu prince’s unlikely team projects also reflects the journey to Butte, Mont., industry — and he quickly to see the “real” America, learned the importance of netpremiered at the Santa working. Barbara International His first big break came Film Festival and in the from a friend who sold a show Northeast at the to National Geographic and then hired New Haven Schrader to work as a production assistant in Documentary Boston. Among the initial perks: a couch to Film Festival. sleep on. “I was in charge of all the grunt Currently work,” says Schrader of his earliest assignliving the dream, ments, which included picking up food orSchrader’s advice to ders, setting up lights and tripods, and would-be filmmakers driving the producers around Massachusetts. is matter of fact: “That first show for me was grueling as work on every much as it was educational and inspiring. I possible project — learned a lot about on-location shoots,” says indies, shorts, Schrader. In 2012, he headed to Los Angeles, low-budgets, noarmed with “some flashy-stylish business budgets. As for [From top] Picture editor Eric Michael Schrader, ’10, cards” and a reel of his best work. He fi- (center) with Sue Aikens and Rick DeWilde, the reality Hollywood? Get there, he nanced the trip by selling most of his belong- stars of the National Geographic series Life Below says: “Make moves and ings, including his DVD collection, and Star Zero. • Emmy in hand, Schrader gives thanks at the make the move! Take the 69th award ceremony in 2017. • Schrader (second Wars and Simpsons action figures. leap and at least try to from left) and his colleagues accept their Emmy for In LA, he hit the local music scene, and “Outstanding Picture Editing for an Unstructured make it out in Hollywood.” found work filming and editing low-budget Reality Series.” Sequel expected. ORN IN THE EARLY ’80S, ERIC MICHAEL SCHRADER,



Designing Woman



freshman browsing through Middlesex


Community College’s undergraduate


catalog, she was immediately drawn to

has officially arrived as a business owner.

a course in metal and jewelry design.

In June 2019, she launched her first

She earned an associate degree and

collection of jewelry through her

transferred to Southern where she was

namesake company S. Howell Studios —

a studio art major “from day one,” with

and within months was named a top five

a concentration in jewelry and

finalist in the Halstead Grant competition


for emerging silver jewelry designers. Applicants to the annual competition

She recalls a small, tight-knit group of classmates, and cites Professor of Art

submit a portfolio of their work and answer

Terrence Lavin as being “invaluable” in

15 questions related to their businesses.

terms of shaping her education. “He

“Applying for the Halstead Grant is

constantly challenged me to step outside

essentially like creating a well-thought out

of my creative comfort zone and become

business plan,” says Howell, who won a

a better artist,” says Howell, who

$500 grant and received national media

graduated magna cum laude.

exposure from the competition. The recognition was a welcome

She continues to design in metal, valued equally for its permanence and

confirmation for the entrepreneur, who

malleability. She uses the lost-wax casting

traveled extensively after graduation.

process to create “silver fossils, preserving

She financed her trips by working in

plants indefinitely.” Botanical details —

restaurants while keeping future business

the delicate veins of an aspen leaf or

plans in mind. “I set a goal to start turning

the floral whorls of lupine — embellish

one of my passions into a career by the

her handcrafted collection of earrings,

time I turned 30,” says Howell. At 29, she

bracelets, and necklaces, which are

decided to devote her career to jewelry

often accented with gold and

design. “Once I was ready to settle down,

semiprecious stones.

it felt like a no-brainer,” she says. The clues to Howell’s future career were there. Years earlier, as an incoming


Robert Felder, ’08, President Dara Onofrio, ’81, Vice President Robert D. Parker, ’76, Treasurer LaShanté Kelley-James, ’04, M.S. ’14, Secretary James (Jimmy) Booth, ’97 Christopher M. Borajkiewicz, ’98 Teresa Cherry-Cruz, M.S. ’86, 6th Yr. ’06 Kathy Coyle, ’74, M.S. ’78, 6th Yr. ’81 Thomas R. Dolan, ’58 Aba Hayford, ’10 Angela Hudson-Davis, ’88, M.P.H. ’97 Jerry Katona, ’74, M.S. ’88 Debrah Manke, M.S. ’90, 6th Yr. ’17 Dorothy J. Martino, ’54, M.S. ’69 (Emerita) Patricia Miller, ’69, M.S. ’75, 6th Yr. ’81 (Emerita) Donald Mitchell, ’57, M.S. ’61 Sandy Hittleman Myerson, ’69 Judit Paolini, ’73, M.S. ’79, 6th Yr. ’93 Philip Robertson, ’66, M.S. ’75 Teresa Sirico, ’70, M.S. ’73 Renee Barnett Terry, ’76 Carolyn Vanacore, ’52, M.S. ’68, 6th Yr. ’73 (Emerita) Brian West, ’80 Southern Connecticut State University Office of Alumni Relations Alumni House 501 Crescent Street New Haven, CT 06515-6500 Gregory Bernard, ’04, Director

“By featuring subtle beauty in my work, I encourage people to take a closer look at the world around them,” she says. Summer 2020 | 39


Owl Named Pickering Fellow


ONGRATULATIONS TO COLLIN WALSH, ’08 , who was awarded a highly prestigious Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs

Fellowship for 2020. Designed to prepare outstanding young people for Foreign Service careers, the fellowship is funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Howard University.

[Clockwise from left] Collin Walsh, ’08, triumphantly completes the 55 meters at Southern. • Walsh and his wife, Amika, pose for engagement photos and during their wedding ceremony. THE AWARD: Each Pickering Fellow receives $75,000 to

complete a master’s degree; two internships with the State Department (one in the U.S., the other overseas); and mentoring and other professional development. A STANDOUT : Only 3.5 percent of applicants were successful:

the program received 844 applications for 30 spots. “My emotions were a mix of elation and peacefulness, as if years of dedication realized their purpose in that instant,” says Walsh of receiving the acceptance letter. AT SOUTHERN: As a student-athlete majoring in political

science, he served as a White House intern and vicepresident of the Pre-Law Society. An NCAA All-American athlete, he was captain of the cross country, and indoor and outdoor track and field teams — and graduated magna cum laude. “Collin’s academic talent is unparalleled,” notes Patricia Olney, professor of political science. HIS EARLY CAREER: Shortly after graduating Southern, he

enrolled at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, where he studied abroad in India. (He’s proficient in Bengali.) Building on a commitment to public service, he next become a police officer in Milford, Conn., and taught law courses at the Connecticut Police Academy. His tenure with the U.S. Department of State began with an appointment to the Foreign Service as a Diplomatic Security Special Agent. CHALLENGING TIMES: “Three days after achieving my career

dream of being appointed a Special Agent in the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service, I became suddenly and unexpectedly paralyzed with a disease I did


not know I had,” says Walsh. The disease: a severe form of Multiple Sclerosis (M.S.) FIGHTING SPIRIT: Told he’d unlikely walk again, Walsh began

extensive medical treatment in the U.S. and India. “I was aimless and hopeless until my wife [Amika] shook me back to reality and taught me what it meant to believe and to fight. And those two things we did — all day long, every day — until I was back on my feet,” says Walsh. RETURNING TO CAMPUS: On Nov. 11, 2017, he participated

in the James Barber/Wilton Wright SCSU Alumni Track and Field Event, completing the 55 meters as the Southern community cheered on. Walsh now serves as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, where his work spans the fields of national security, intelligence, and counterterrorism. WHAT’S NEXT: Supported by the Pickering Fellowship, he’s

pursuing a Master of Public Affairs from the Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. ON SHARING HIS DIAGNOSIS: “I believe in the power of

story. Anyone with a disability understands the impact of stigma, but I am here to change the conversation: the community of the disabled is powerful,” says Walsh. FUTURE PLANS: “It is difficult to imagine literally where I will

be in five to 10 years, because, by definition, I will be ‘worldwide available.’ However, I can say with certainty that I will be working hard every day in support of our foreign policy objectives,” says Walsh.

Lights, Camera, Action!


the camera. She recently appeared in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, portraying a young Connie Sheeran. In the high-profile, nonspeaking role, she’s cast as Robert De Niro’s daughter. DiNatale has appeared in numerous television series (Madam Secretary, The Punisher) and film roles (Truth Slash Fiction, Fry Day.) Her most recent projects include Fear Street, from 20th Century Fox Studios, a feature adaptation of R.L. Stine’s bestselling horror fiction series.

The Power of Listening



in New

Haven, is working with a team of Yale researchers studying how music influences people with psychotic illnesses. The project is funded by a $2.1 million grant from the

professor in the Yale School of Medicine, is the principal investigator of the Yale study. For Christoferson, the research project will further a long-held commitment to helping others through music. At Musical Intervention, he shares the therapeutic power

National Institutes of Health (NIH) through its Sound

of music with the community, including New Haven’s

Health initiative — a partnership between the NIH and

homeless and those in recovery. The nonprofit

the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in

organization, located in a downtown storefront on Temple

association with the National Endowment for the Arts.

Street, provides a drug- and alcohol-free space where

Philip Corlett, a cognitive neuroscientist and associate

people can write, record, and perform their own music.

a publication for alumni and friends of Southern Connecticut State University


THE GOOD OWLS: Changing Lives in the Elm City

[From left] Musical Intervention’s Adam Christoferson on the cover of the summer 2018 issue of Southern Alumni Magazine. • Highlights from a community gathering include a performance by Christoferson’s uncle, Orrin Bolton (center).


Summer 2020 | 41


Alumni Educators Honored


everal Southern alumni educators were among

those recognized at the annual African-American Scholarship Luncheon, held on Jan. 25 in Prospect, Conn. The event was sponsored by the New Havenbased Delta Phi Chapter of the A glimpse at the work of Clifford Chieffo, '59 — artist, author, and educator.

Kappa, a professional

Creative Expression



organization of educators. The

has been showcased in more than

60 national and international exhibitions, and is held in numerous major collections — including the Library of Congress, the Baltimore Museum of

Art, the National Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian, and the White House. In the spring, Southern hosted an exhibition of his large-scale paintings and works on paper in the Buley Art Gallery. (The show was unfortunately put on hold when campus was closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.) He and his wife Patricia Hurley Chieffo, ’59, have long supported emerging artists. Chieffo is an emeritus professor of art at Georgetown University, and was instrumental in establishing its Department of Art, Music, and Theater. Patricia, his oft-time muse, worked with him at the Georgetown University’s art gallery and had a long, distinguished career at the Smithsonian Institution. In 1974, Southern recognized the couple’s accomplishments by jointly presenting them with the Distinguished Alumni Award. With an eye toward encouraging future artists, the couple have established an endowed scholarship in their names to benefit Southern students who are majoring in art education, art history, or studio art.


National Sorority of Phi Delta

honorees include:

Kathy Russell Beck, ’90, principal of L.W. Beecher Museum Magnet School of Arts and Sciences in New Haven.

Derek G. Stephenson, ’04, M.S. ’14, principal of Riverside Academy with New Haven Public Schools.

Alysha Russell, 6th Yr. ’16, member of the leadership team at New Haven-based Wexler Grant Community School. She is responsible for climate, operations, and family engagement.


M.S. ’59, 6th Yr. ’81, was inducted into the Shelton High School Hall of Fame. Beattie taught physical education and biology for 36 years, and cofounded the school’s first varsity team for girls (basketball) in 1962 — 10 years before the passage of Title IX. She has been inducted into five state and regional basketball halls of fame and has had many scholarships awarded in her name. ARTHUR GUAGLIUMI, ’59, M.S. ’66,

professor emeritus of art, has exhibited his collages on the East Coast, including Manhattan, for 60 years. He teaches collage media at the Guilford Art Center.



’76, is the 2020 recipient of the Harwinton Outstanding Citizen Award. She retired in 2014 after working with special education students in school systems throughout northwest Connecticut. An active volunteer, she shares her talents with the Harwinton Democratic Town Committee and more, as reported in The Register Citizen.



housing navigator for the Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless in Vermont. FRANK NELSON, ’72, M.S. ’86, bought

a small orchard overlooking the mountains and fields in Berkeley Springs, W.V., when he retired after 42 years of teaching and coaching. He writes that his retirement title is “chief apple picker.” NICHOLAS CHACONIS, ’74, M.S. ’81,

was inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He had a 42-year career as an educator at Portland High School, coaching girls basketball and track for 41 of those years before retiring in 2016. JOAN BONVICINI, ’75, was inducted

into the 2019 University of Arizona Sports Hall of Fame. She is the “winningest” coach in Arizona women’s basketball history, with 287 victories. PETER NEFF, ’75, M.S. ’84, is the in-

terim town manager of Clinton, Conn. He formerly was director of the town’s Public Works Department. MARY MARTINIK, ’76, M.S. ’86, 6th Yr.

’99, received the Pathfinder Award from the Connecticut Association for Health, Physical Education, Recrea-

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

tion and Dance. She recently retired from her position as a physical education teacher at Bedford Middle School in Wesport, Conn., after a 41year teaching career. RON ROSENBERG, M.S. ’77, is the

group technical innovation director at Azelis, a distributor of specialty chemicals and food ingredients. MARIBETH SARNACHI, ’78, M.S. ’86,

was inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame. She coaches cheerleading in Cromwell, Conn.

1980s RAPHAEL CALZADILLA, ’81, competed

in the 2019 National Physique Committee Masters National Championship in Pittsburgh, Pa. At 61 years old, his body-fat percentage runs between four percent and five percent. He lives in Palm Beach, Fla., with his wife, Pam. HARRY WELFARE, ’81, M.S. ’90, was

honored at the Norwalk Old Timers Athletics Association awards dinner. A former three–sport captain at Norwalk’s Brien McMahon High School, Welfare is the assistant principal at the Augusta Lewis Troup School in New Haven. PAUL TARCA, ’82, was named the 2019

Lumber Person of the Year by the Massachusetts Retail Lumber Dealers Association. Tarca has worked for Concord Lumber Corporation for 20 years, and is head of purchasing and part of the company’s leadership team. He lives in Littleton, Mass., with his wife, Anne. SHAUN BRENNAN, ’85, an employee at

the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., has made his 450th blood donation. SUSAN CAPRIO, ’86, is development and

outreach coordinator of The Watertown Stage. She lives in Milford, Conn. SHAMAIN JOHNSON-COHEN, ’88,

M.S. ’03, 6th Yr. ’09, was appointed interim chief human resources officer for Greenwich Public Schools. ROBIN COMEY, ’89, serves in the

Connecticut House of Representatives, representing the 102nd district in Branford. Comey is house vicechair of the Committee on Children, the cochair of the CT Kid’s Report Card Leadership Committee, and a member of the Education and Public Health Committees.

1990s ANGELO CALLIS, M.F.T. ’91, has retired

from Norwich Youth and Family Services after 34 years as the agency’s youth services coordinator. DESMOND BROWN, ’92, M.S. ’97, is

the deputy associate director for the Consumer Education and Engagement Division of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He lives in Washington, D.C. GERALYN NELSON, M.S. ’92, 6th Yr.

’00, a third-grade teacher at East Haven Academy, was named the city’s “Teacher of the Year.” THOMAS “JEFF” MILLER, ’93, is a real-

tor in Wesley Chapel, Fla. URSULA PENDZIWATER, ’94, is a spe-

cial education educator at Wilbur Cross High School. Her focuses include preparing special education students for life after graduation. SEILA MOSQUERA-BRUNO, M.S. ’97,

the commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Housing, was a keynote speaker at the Charter Oak State College Foundation’s 2019 Employer of the Year Award ceremony. An alumna of Charter Oak College, she also completed the Achieving Excellency in Community Development 18-month fellowship program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. CHRISTOPHER MONTINI, ’98, M.S. ’03,

6th Yr. ’06, was appointed assistant superintendent of Schools in Naugatuck, Conn. FRANCESCO BIANCAMANO, ’99, a

former NFL Europe/XFL/AFL professional football player and alumnus of the Owls football and track and field teams, is the chief executive officer of Biancamano Ventures in Rockville Centre, N.Y. COLLETTE FEARON, ’99, M.S. ’09, 6th

Yr. ’13, is principal of New Beginnings Family Academy in Bridgeport, Conn. CINDY JOHNSON, ’99, lives in Florida

and is a hospice nurse.

2000s MARITZA BOND, ’00, is head of the

New Haven Health Department. Previously, she was health director of the city of Bridgeport.

CLARENCE C. COOPER, M.S. ’00, is di-



rector of Norwich Free Academy’s (NFA) night programs. He has taught mathematics for 18 years and is administrator of NFA’s Summer School Credit Recovery Program. He lives in Salem, Conn. CATHERINE POULIN, M.S. ’00, of

Essex, Conn., is the community relations manager for the Channel 3 Kids Camp. The camp provides yearround educational and recreational opportunities to children of all abilities to promote diversity, acceptance and environmental appreciation. WENDY HALLABECK GARLAND, ’01,

was a presenter at the American Library Association’s international conference in the United Arab Emirates. She worked with school librarians in the Middle East to create personal learning networks and to support engaging, literacy-rich environments. She lives in Norfolk, Mass. CHRISTINA LAMEIRAO, ’01, lives in

Parrish, Fla., and specializes in resort and second-home properties with Keller Williams Realty. ALEX PALLUZZI JR., M.S. ’02, has re-

ceived the Distinguished Service Award from the Connecticut Recreation and Parks Association. He is the parks and recreation director for the city of Branford. JASON TRACY, M.S. ’02, Ed.D. ’06, was

appointed principal of Amity Middle School, Bethany. TAWFIK ADAMS, 6th Yr. ’03, is a social

studies teacher with Charles County Public Schools in Maryland. JILL BASSETT, ’03, M.A. ’08, was ap-

pointed assistant dean of student affairs at Quinnipiac University. Formerly, she was the assistant dean of student affairs and retention at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H. ROSEMARIE VITHAYATHIL, ’03, is a

faculty member in the Department of Biology at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Ill. JAMES ZAVODJANCIK, ’05, is the

principal of Booth Hill Elementary School in Shelton, Conn. JACQUELYNN GAROFANO, ’06, was

recognized as one of “Three Wise Women” by the National Organization of Italian American Women in Connecticut. She is the program manager of the Margaret Ingels Engineering Development Program at Raytheon Technologies and serves on the SCSU Foundation Board of Directors. Summer 2020 | 43


JOHN JESSEN, M.L.S. ’08, was named

city librarian of the New Haven Free Public Library, the lead librarian role at the system that includes five branches as well as numerous services and initiatives. MICHAEL TOMKALSI, M.B.A. ’09, of

Wallingford has joined the Pearce Real Estate office as a realtor.


BRIAN MARIANO, M.S. ’10, is dean of

students for Naugatuck High School. LAUREN SEPULVEDA, ’10, was

awarded the Milken Educator Award from the Milken Family Foundation, an honor which includes a $25,000 prize. She is a social studies teacher at Clinton Avenue School in New Haven and the sole recipient in Connecticut. PETER SWAN, M.S. ’10, is a physics

teacher at Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden, Conn. CIERRA STANCIL, ’11, is the program

officer for grants at the American Savings Foundation. She also serves on the Greater New Britain Hunger Actions Team and on the Advisory Committee of New Britain High School’s Academy of Finance. PATRICK ROSSITER, M.S. ’12, is the in-

terim director of North Branford Parks and Recreation in Connecticut. THOMAS BELIVEAU, ’14, was inducted

into the Watertown High School Gridiron Club Hall of Fame at the 24th annual enshrinement dinner. He lives in Oakville, Conn. BRANDON CYR, ’14, a chiropractor in

Oxford, Conn., renovated a 1900s schoolhouse to house his practice. KRYSTAL FORTIER, ’14, is the owner of

Rise & Grind Nutrition in Woodbridge, Conn. In addition to smoothies, the business offers fitness classes and a variety of wellness options. LEIGH CURTIS HIGGINS, Ed.D. ’14, is

senior director for professional development for the executive office at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. She also is the vice president of the Board of Directors of The Madison Foundation. ZACH FAIELLA, ’15, was named direc-

tor of public health for Westbrook, Conn. MICHELLE RUSSELL, 6th Yr. ’15, is in-

terim dean of students at Naugatuck High School and heads the school’s Mathematics Department. DEREK TORRELLAS, ’15, the com-

mander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of the United States New Haven Post 12150, was awarded the VFW Connecticut All-State Post Commanders Award. 44 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

DOLORES BATES, 6th Yr. ’16, is princi-

pal of Haddam-Killingworth Middle School. She lives in Portland, Conn.

In Print and On Screen

BRIANNA LYNN BAUCH, ’17, a former

member of the Crescent Players, had the starring role in A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas, in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. NICOLE MATTIOLI-CORTIGIANO, ’18,

is an art teacher with Ansonia Public Schools. GUERSCHOM JEAN-LOUIS, ’19, is a

volunteer coach for the Tyrick B. Keyes Basketball League. He says that he draws on his past experiences as a college student athlete to instill confidence and motivate the young players. DEVIN LYNCH, ’19, is a second-grade

teacher at the Catholic Academy of Bridgeport. He lives in Watertown, Conn. JAMES J. PALMER, ’19, of Milford, was

sworn in as a new police recruit at the New London Police Headquarters. He began his police training in January 2020.


Greenwich, Conn. RHODA RAFKIN, ’43, Sept. 11, 2019,

San Clemente, Calif. RUTH VANVALKENBURG ZEIL, ’47,

July 31, 2019, Glastonbury, Conn. DOROTHY QUINLAN MCDONALD,

’50, M.A. ’52, Oct. 13, 2018, Meriden, Conn. ANDREW PORTO, ’50, Sept. 21, 2019,

Branford, Conn. LUCY VODOLA PRELL, ’50, Feb. 11,

2020, Winston-Salem, N.C. JANICE WIGHTMAN BELL, ’51,

M.S. ’68, Jan. 14, 2020, Cranston, R.I. ALLAN SCHWARTZ, ’51, M.S. ’66,

Feb. 27, 2020, Cheshire, Conn. LAWRENCE A. MENTA SR., ’52,

June 16, 2019, Shelton, Conn. HELEN FALSANI, ’54, Aug. 8, 2019,

Boise, Idaho RHODA K. GORENBERG, ’54, Nov. 21,

2019, Orange, Conn. JANE HEALY CAROLLA, ’56, Dec. 5,

2019, Hamden, Conn. EVELYN SILVERMAN, ’56, Sept. 15, 2019,

Guilford, Conn. CATHERINE WOKANOVICZ, ’56,

Oct. 29, 2019, Fairfield, Conn. ROBERT E. VITALE SR., ’58, M.S. ’70,

Aug. 4, 2019, Hamden, Conn. WILLIAM “BEN” BENNI, ’59, M.S. ’73,

Feb. 19, 2020, Branford, Conn.

Mark Okrant, ’69, M.S. ’72, an expert on New Hampshire tourism, has written a series of murder-mystery novellas set in the Granite State. An article about his talents was featured in the He lives in Loudon, N.H. R. Bruce Connelly, ’71, has published short stories in several volumes of Harvey Duckman Presents, a British anthology of science fiction, horror, and fantasy stories. MaryEllen Beveridge, ’72, is the author of After the Hunger: Stories. Many of the stories in the collection feature a central figure described as a physically wounded World War II veteran. Characters question ideas about selfhood and their role as daughters, mothers, sister, friend, wives, and lovers. Arthur Ciaramicoli, M.S. ’72, is author of The Triumph of Diversity: Rejoice in and Benefit from the Interconnectedness of Humankind. He lives in Hopkinton, Mass. Gayle Byrne, ’74, who has worked at the Killingworth Library as the children’s librarian for 10 years, has written a children’s book titled, Sometimes It’s Grandmas and Grandpas, about a child’s experiences living with grandparents. Byrne lives with her granddaughter, Jasmine. Donald C. Smith, ’80, is the author of The BiPolar Professor – A Survivor’s Story. He lives in Wallingford, Conn. Julie Hill Barton, M.A. ’03, is the New York Timesbestselling author of Dog Medicine – How My Dog Saved Me from Myself. Elizabeth Appel, M.A. ’05, has published a novel titled, Good Luck and a Benevolent God, under her pen name, Zeb Appel. Nick Benas, ’06, M.S. ’14, is the author of Mental Health Emergencies and Tactical Mobility. He travels around the United States training individuals how to recognize a developing mental illness and prevent someone from slipping into a crisis. He lives in Long Beach, Wash. Dan Garitta, ’09, is co-author of A Hometown Doughboy, a book about World War I infantryman, Ernest Stevens. The book is a compilation of the infantryman’s letters and photos from the 1919 302nd Regiment’s unit book. Garitta retired from teaching and lives in East Haven, Conn. Ryan Meyer, ’16, works for book publishing company Globe Pequot in Guilford, Conn., and has published his first book of poetry, Haunt.


Dec. 28, 2019, Hamden, Conn. MARY LOU VITELLI, ’59, Oct. 4, 2019,

Milford, Conn. ALICE PLATT BROOKS, ’61, Jan. 28,

2020, Vestal, N.Y. THOMAS J. GERSZ SR., ’61, M.S. ’69,

6th Yr. ’74, Feb. 7, 2020, Yalesville, Conn. JAMES LEON DEJOHN, ’63, Nov. 1,

2019, Rocky Hill, Conn. JANET LEINSTER BRINTON, ’64,

Nov. 3, 2019, Bethany, Conn. LAWRENCE E. SOBOLEWSKI, ’64,

Aug. 22, 2019, Yardley, Pa. BARBARA ANN ROMANO, ’65, M.S.

’76, Feb. 23, 2020, Cheshire, Conn. MARY JEANNE WALSH, ’66, Oct. 2,

2019, Clinton, Conn. JAMES PANDO, ’68, Aug. 28, 2019,

Stratford, Conn. JOHN B. ROONEY, ’68, Nov. 17, 2019,

Huntington, Conn. EDWARD COCCHIOLA, ’69, M.S. ’76,

Aug. 26, 2019, New Haven, Conn. ANTONIA C. GUERRA, ’69, Oct. 16,

2018, Camano Island, Wash. MARY LOU HOLMES, M.S. ’69, July 29,

2019, Middlebury, Conn. VITAMARIE TORRES, M.S. ’69, 6th Yr.

’89, Oct. 7, 2019, Gilford, N.H. BLANCHE T. CLARK, M.L.S. ’70, Jan. 4,

2020, Waterbury, Conn. JAMES V. JENNETTE, ’70, Dec. 31,

2019, West Haven, Conn. EDMUND G. SCARPA, ’70, M.S. ’79, 6th

Yr. ’84, Jan. 29, 2020, New Haven, Conn. MYRA A. THISTLE, ’70, Dec. 4, 2019,

Madison, Conn. TAMMIE HAYES IVES, M.S. ’71, ’82, July

17, 2019, Meriden, Conn. HARRY TAYLOR, ’71, M.S. ’75, M.S. ’97,

Sept. 12, 2019, Killingworth, Conn. ROBERT J. WINTERS SR., M.S. ’71,

Nov. 3, 2019, New Haven, Conn. BARBARA JOAN BLOOM BELZER,

’72, Oct. 30, 2019, Glastonbury, Conn. JOHN D. KELLY, M.S. ’72, June 27,

2019, Guilford, Conn. ELIZABETH E. NEAL, ’72, M.S. ’81, 6th

Yr. ’95, Aug. 19, 2019, Cheshire, Conn. EILEEN CLARK ROWE, ’72, April 25,



2020, Hartford, Conn. LORI ANN CARBERRY, M.S. ’74, Oct.

31, 2019, Hamden, Conn. EVALINE T. GREEN, ’74, Jan. 25, 2020,

Mt. Gilead, N.C. SHARON KLUCHNICK, ’74, 6th Yr. ’91,

Oct. 19, 2019, Milford, Conn. MARY GERALD CREEDEN, ’75, Aug. 9,

2019, West Hartford, Conn. THOMAS W. RYBAK, ’75, Jan. 16, 2020,

North Haven, Conn. JOHN P. BERRY, M.S. ’76, Nov. 12, 2019,

Watertown, Conn. PATRICIA WESTBROOK, M.L.S. ’76,


2020, Meriden, Conn. JAMES PRESTON OWENS, ’16, Dec.

28, 2019, Hamden, Conn. WHITNEY D. MAUS, M.B.A. ’17, Feb.

24, 2020, Granby, Conn. JERRY AINSWORTH, professor emeri-

tus of public health, Sept. 6, 2019, Shreveport, La. JAMES R. BARRANTE, professor emer-

itus of chemistry, March 3, 2020, Cheshire, Conn. MARGA BROCKHAGEN, professor

emeritus of foreign language, Sept. 5, 2019, Hamden, Conn.

Feb. 1, 2020, Westbrook, Conn.

H. HARMON DIERS, professor emeri-

tus of music, Oct. 28, 2019, Eastham, Mass. SANDRA C. HOLLEY-CARTER, former

chair of the Department of Communication Disorders and former dean of the School of Graduate Studies, March 8, 2020, Mesa, Ariz. NANCY A. HUTCHINGS, professor

emeritus of social work, Oct. 15, 2019, Clinton, Conn. FRANK TAVARES, professor emeritus

of communication, Dec. 30, 2019, Coral Springs, Fla. Class notes are compiled from alumni submissions, as well as announcements made in newspapers and magazines.


’78, Aug. 6, 2019, Newington, Conn. JAMES R. ABBOTT, M.S. ’79, July 3,

2019, Wilton, Conn. JOSEPH P. WYERS, M.S. ’79, Aug. 26,


2019, Hamilton Square, N.J. LOIS DAY, 6th Yr. ’80, Sept. 11, 2019,

• MAIL this completed form to Southern Alumni News:

New Port Richey, Fla.

SCSU Alumni Relations Office, Alumni House


Jan. 14, 2020, Alpharetta, Ga.

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

CATHY INGLESE, ’80, July 24, 2019, N.Y.

• OR FAX: (203) 392-8726

GAIL ELLEN DEMKO, ’81, M.S. ’82, Feb.


24, 2020, Milford, Conn. BERYL STASIUK, ’82, Nov. 10, 2019, Ex-

eter, N.H. JOHN D. POOLE, ’83, Oct. 26, 2019,

Milford, Conn. LAURIE J. METZGER, ’84, Aug. 9, 2019,


Yr. ’84, Sept. 30, 2019, North Haven, Conn. TIMOTHY E. HART, ’86, Jan. 12, 2020,

Framingham, Mass. SEAN MORAN, ’86, July 16, 2019, Wa-

terbury, Conn. ANNE HOLZER PELKEY, M.S. ’87, Feb.

6, 2020, Waterbury, Conn. VICTOR DEFELICE JR., ’89, Jan. 21,

2020, Branford, Conn. DONALD J. “BING” KING SR., 6th Yr.

’89, Feb. 13, 2020, Venice, Fla. DEBORAH ANN CHIN, M.S. ’91, Sept.

7, 2019, Roxbury, Conn. SANDRA M. FOX-PLUMMER, M.L.S.

’94, Sept. 22, 2019, Manchester, Conn. JO-AN ANDERSON FOX, M.F.A. ’95,

Name ____________________________________________________________ Street Address ____________________________________________________ City

________________________________State ______________Zip______

Check if this is a new address. Phone (


Email ____________________________________________________________ SCSU Degree/Year __________________ Major ________________________ Name under which I attended college ________________________________ News Item ________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ Signature ______________________________________________Date______ Spouse’s Name ____________________________________________________ SPOUSE'S SCSU DEGREE/YR.

’73, Dec. 20, 2019, Prospect, Conn.

Sept. 25, 2019, Nashville, Tenn.

Children’s Names/Ages ____________________________________________

LEWIS DAVIS, 6th Yr. ’73, Dec. 8, 2019,



North Branford, Conn. STEPHEN M. SUJECKI, ’73, Oct. 5,

2019, Pawcatuck, Conn. ANNA M. THORPE, ’73, March 3, 2020,

Framingham, Mass.

Dec. 5, 2019, Springfield, Mass. MICHELLE E. PAVIA, ’00, Jan. 25, 2020,

Stamford, Conn. KATHLEEN S. GREER, ’02, July 27,

2019, Loudon, Tenn.

__________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________ Summer 2020 | 45

An Elementary School Rises continued from page 19 “With our technology, we’ve been able to open up the world to the kids,” says Susan DeNicola,’86, M.S. ’90, 6th Yr. ’99, principal of the school for the past nine years. But while the curriculum changed, the school, which had moved numerous times, was still located in an old building on Grand Avenue. It was welcoming and homey, teachers say. But there were serious issues. The building, situated on four streets, had a roof plagued with leaks. The playground was dilapidated, too dangerous for the children to use. Most-often mentioned: a lack of natural light. “In the other building we had very few windows — and what windows we did have were clouded up, so the kids could not see out. We had no ideas if it was pouring,” says DeNicola. “We had no idea if there was a hurricane.” Now located at 69 Farnham Ave., the Obama School is designed so sunlight streams into all interior spaces. Most classrooms are situated to provide views of West Rock and the surrounding forest of 200-plus-year-old trees. Cozy, built-in seating is located outside of classrooms, providing an ideal spot for tutors to work with students who might need additional support. There are dedicated music and art rooms as well as a STEM resource laboratory. A sensory room houses a ball pit, trampoline, and other activities, for students who need a physical outlet or support. There is a gym with basketball hoops — and an age-appropriate playground is adjacent to an outside STEM classroom with space for growing plants. The building also is designed with Southern students and faculty in mind. A centrally located Faculty Innovation Lab visually demonstrates the school’s focus on teacher preparation. “I think of the school as a course textbook in a

lot of ways,” says Laura Bower-Phipps, professor of curriculum and learning at Southern. In addition to inviting her students to tour the building, BowerPhipps teaches a course — “Responsive Curriculum and Assessment” — in the Faculty Innovation Lab space. In the spring 2020 semester prior to the shift to online learning, 16 Southern students were placed at the Obama School: six were student-teachers and 10 were completing field experiences, the final

step before taking a student-teacher assignment. The partnership extends to Southern’s Center of Excellence on Autism Spectrum Disorders. “They have helped us out quite a bit. Training our teachers and bringing support to the school,” says DeNicola. The Obama School has two self-contained classrooms for students who are on the autism spectrum, serving up to 24 students. The collaboration between Southern’s Center of Excellence and New Haven Public Schools was established years ago by the center’s

cofounder and former director, Ruth Eren. Services include professionaldevelopment opportunities for teachers, support-service providers, and paraprofessional as well as training and information sessions for parents and caregivers. “Our center team and the larger college community are eager to continue this collaboration, and excited about the myriad possibilities that exist for ongoing, bidirectional learning,” notes Kari Sassu, 6th Yr. ’15, associate professor of counseling and school psychology, and director of strategic initiatives at the center. Hegedus concurs: “Having a presence there is important not only to help the teachers and the families but also to try to advance our overall knowledge of helping students who are on the spectrum.” These and similar goals have the educators at Southern and the Obama School eagerly looking to the future and students’ return to campus. Like their peers, fourth grade teacher Kayla Seeley, ’12, M.S. ’17, and second grade teacher Karissa L. O’Keefe, ’04, M.S. ’13, have thoughts about potential initiatives. Mentoring visits from Southern athletics teams. Collaborations with the Department of Communications Disorders. Halloween trick-or-treating on campus. Visits to Buley Library, the new science building, and the Lyman Center for the Performing Arts. Both stress the importance of showcasing college as the future to their young charges. Principal DeNicola looks to the future as well: “We hope to really utilize campus, so our students get the most benefits . . . and we want to involve our student-teachers to the point that they feel like this [points around the school] is home. We want to be the teaching school. The school that teaches teachers.” ■

a huge list of initiatives that would help with expanding the depth and knowledge of black artists,” Sutherland says. “We are working on building a larger creative network where people are able to connect, collaborate, and expose each other to new opportunities.” If it sounds like a lot of work, it is, but Sutherland, Mercer, and Wong all

hope to parlay their work at the gallery into full-time positions. “That’s our ultimate hope, that we can make our own schedules and deep-dive into this,” Wong says. “We think about it every day. Our conversations as friends have always been, ‘How can we be our best selves and better ourselves and support each other and others?’” They’ve taken the first step by opening the gallery doors. ■

Principal DeNicola greets a student.

Art Seen continued from page 25 to become gallery artists, and the steps it takes to get there. We would love to connect with successful artists in the community and create spaces for artist talks.” Networking and building a community for black creatives — a place they can call home — was the impetus behind the gallery’s creation. It will always take center stage. “We have 46 | Southern ALUMNI MAGAZINE

Sea Change continued from page 29 it’s an animal, an invertebrate related to jellyfish and anemone. Far less showy than its tropical relatives, Astrangia, is a hard, small (typically smaller than a fist) non-reef-building coral, ranging in color from white to brown. Despite its more subdued appearance, Astrangia has its own superpowers. Many corals have a symbiotic relationship with algae called zooxanthellae that live in its tissue. “They photosynthesize and give the host some benefits, and they get a home,” says Grace. Tropical coral gets much of its vivid color from zooxanthellae, which produces oxygen, helps the coral remove waste, and provides vital nutrients. If there’s not enough zooxanthellae, the tropical coral bleaches, turns white, and usually dies. But Astrangia is another story. Healthy Astrangia sometimes has zooxanthellae in its tissue: the coral appears brown. But it also lives successfully with little or no algae: it’s white but doing just fine. And successful Astrangia colonies can include multiple polyps living side by side, ranging in color from white to brown (presumably with and without zooxanthellae). Astrangia is hardy in other ways. Reef-building corals cannot tolerate temperatures below 64° Fahrenheit, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In contrast, Astrangia withstands the extremes of New England — blazing-hot summers, frigid winters, and everything in between. “This coral is kind of a model system,” sums Grace. Other scientists agree. The Astrangia Research Working Group unites researchers from more than 15 institutions. Their goal: to establish temperate corals, including Astrangia, as a model system for investigating how coral responds to environmental change. Grace and faculty members Koty Sharp from Roger Williams University and Randi Rotjan from Boston University are co-organizers of the group. Grace is currently conducting several Astrangia studies — all of which have implications for exotic tropical corals as well. In one study, he is looking at the competition between Astrangia and Cliona celata, commonly known as the red boring sponge. The sponge settles near the coral, burrowing beneath it. “It literally produces a chemical that wears away

the coral’s ability to hold on. And it pulls the coral off the substrate,” explains Grace. The study will be among the first to examine the attachment strength of coral in a natural setting. “You can’t go to the Caribbean and pull coral off the reef. But there are billions of this organism out there. So, we get to ask and answer more questions,” says Grace, noting that sponges also are becoming more dominant in tropical reefs. A separate study, conducted in collaboration with the NOAH (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Milford, Conn., looks at the influence of ocean acidification on Astrangia coral. The research team includes two of Grace’s former Southern students: David Veilleux, ’99, M.S. ’06, the biological science laboratory technician and shellfish hatchery manager at the Milford center, and Gabriella DiPreta, ’16, M.S. ’19, a researcher at the U.S Environmental Protection Agency in the Office of Water. During the first phase of the study conducted at NOAH over a three-month period, pre-weighed Astrangia was kept in ocean water at three separate pH levels: 8 (similar to the ocean currently); 7 ½ (moving toward more acidic); and 7 (pH neutral). The pH scale is logarithmic, so a one-unit change on the scale means a tenfold change in concentration. During the next phases, Grace is examining how the various pH levels affect the corals’ weight, structural strength, and ultimately, its chemical composition. A lot is at stake — particularly as temperate coral also has implications for reefbuilding coral, which can’t be studied in the same way. Consider just some of the benefits coral brings to the planet: preventing coastal erosion, spurring tourism/recreation opportunities, and creating critical habitats for marine life. Coral is home to more than 1 million diverse aquatic species, including thousands of fish species, according to the International Coral Reef Initiative. So, the research continues. “Our oceans won’t hit 7 for — who knows — a very, very long time, if ever,” says Grace. “But we know the direction we are going. This will help us see how organisms with calcium carbonate skeletons or makeups might fare — if the oceans ever did get to that point.” ■

Super FANs continued from page 31 past fall. The production of The Guys, starring Dan Lauria, ’70, a former Owl linebacker turned actor (best known for his roles as the father in The Wonder Years and as Vince Lombardi in the Broadway play) and Wendie Malick (This is Us and Hot in Cleveland), raised more than $20,000. But Ciotti and Ginnetti emphasize that these events are more about educating Southern football alumni and fans about the need to support the program. Coach Godek, also a former Owl football player, concurs: “We have more than seven decades of former players. They have great history and wonderful memories — and through the Football Alumni Network they can help us take on the financial challenges that will ensure the program’s future.” He notes that the support has never been more vital, particularly with so many students and their families facing economic difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have a very organized and committed executive board as well as an

advisory board — and we are always looking for former players who are interested in joining the program and sharing ideas,” says Godek. He notes that all proceeds directly benefit members of the team as scholarship support — adding that consistent contributions ensure that Southern can continue to help students each year. FAN has already made a significant impact. Their first year, FAN raised $67,500. FAN’s fundraising increased to more than $114,500 their second year and the goal is to continue to raise $100,000 annually — enough to provide 25 players with a $4,000 scholarship. The first scholarships were awarded to students for the 2018-19 academic year. Ciotti and Ginnetti are pleased with what they’ve started and how well it has been received. Perhaps that goes back to a lesson Ginnetti learned from his father. “He taught me there are two types of people in this world, givers and takers,” Ginnetti says. “The takers eat well. The givers sleep well.” ■ Summer 2020 | 47


| S E E N O N C A M PU S â–

ON APRIL 22, SOUTHERN HELD A DAY OF CARING — a critically needed fundraiser to enhance scholarships and programming for students. The Southern community responded in force, raising more than half a million dollars — a record-level of support!

THESE ARE UNPRECEDENTED TIMES — and Southern students have never faced greater challenges. But thanks to the more than 1,000 donors who contributed to the Day of Caring, our students will receive vital scholarship funding and the life-changing benefits of an exceptional Southern education.


























Visionary donors offered a matching gift of $1,000 or more during the Day of Caring.

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

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

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.